For almost 30 years, the Beretta has been the sidearm of choice for the U.S. Army - but now the Pentagon wants a new pistol, and has put out the word to gun manufacturers: Let the bidding begin.An Army spokesman said to CNNMoney that officials will be requesting a proposal for a new standard-issue sidearm in January. Smith & Wesson and General Dynamics have already put their names in the ring, and announced the entrance of the M&P to the competition.Beretta is planning to fight for the contract, too, CNNMoney reported.PHOTOS: Hand cannons: The world's most powerful handgunsA U.S. Army contract is not only a financial windfall, but a boon to the maker's reputation. Guns chosen by the military frequently hit cult status and are often portrayed in Hollywood action flicks, from James Bond dramas to more modern-day, fast-action thrillers.The Beretta M9 has been used by the Army since 1985 - and was actually the "lethal weapon" in the 1987 hit, "Lethal Weapon."U.S. Army officials haven't specified if they want lighter handguns, like the Glock model frequently used by police. But it has already switched from the heavy wood-and-metal M-14 of the Vietnam era to the mostly plastic M-16 - and then, to the even lighter M4, CNNMoney said.Read more: Follow us: @washtimes on Twitter