The Army recently released a second draft solicitation on the requirements for its next pistol, a step toward a final request for proposals — one that had been was scheduled to reach gun-makers in January.

Changes to the requirements for the XM17 Modular Handgun System were made "as a result of industry feedback and [the Defense Department's] decision to allow use of special purpose ammunition," Program Executive Office Soldier officials announced in a Wednesday news release.

The new requirements were not immediately available, but they're likely to change: The draft is designed to allow manufacturers "a final opportunity to review and provide feedback on the Army's refined strategy," the release stated. , and a An industry day, the fourth connected to the handgun project, will be held July 7-8 at New Jersey's Picatinny Arsenal to allow additional feedback.

Officials plan to unveil the final solicitation in 2016,, the release stateds; that reveal had been which was scheduled for Jan. 2 of this year, but was delayed to accommodate industry feedback. The new draft went out June 8 at

If the new schedule holds, three versions will be tested through 2016 and 2017 before a single manufacturer is selected to produce about a half-million handguns, the release says — 280,000 for the Army, 212,000 for other services, and another 7,000 compact versions for soldiers. Full-rate production would begin in 2018.

"The XM17 will provide Warfighters with greater accuracy, target acquisition [and] ergonomic design," Col. Scott Armstrong, program manager for Solder Weapons, said in the release. "The new handgun will also be more reliable, durable and easier to maintain."

Vendors are asked to submit questions on the draft by June 28, according to the FedBizOpps posting.

The M9 Beretta has been the Army's pistol of choice since 1985. Beretta had offered an M9A3 variant, with an adjustable handle and accessory rail, among other improvements, as a possible upgrade, but the Army rejected the suggestion.

Army officials have said the new handgun system solicitation will include more than the pistol itself, with changes to ammunition, holsters and accessories under consideration. All calibers will be considered in the competition, which could result in a larger bullet than the current 9mm round.