The Federal Bureau of Investigations, whose agents have already been issued with .40 caliber Glock handguns ever since the late 1990s, goes for the Austrian pistol again in its quest for a new 9mm service pistol
Ever since the in-famous 1986 Miami shootout, the Federal Bureau of Investigations has been in search of better and more effective service handguns that would act as a force multiplier for individual agents – and the U.S. law enforcement community often followed suit. The FBI was indeed the one that launched the long .40 Smith & Wesson caliber momentum, when the 10mm Auto caliber and the Smith & Wesson 1006 pistol adopted after the 1986 Miami shootout were found to have more downsides than advantages.
In 1997, the FBI adopted the .40 caliber Glock 22 and Glock 23 semi-automatic pistols as a standard issue for its agents, in partial replacement of the plethora of handguns that had been kept in service until then – and which included the then-cutting edge SIG Sauer P226 and P228.
From paper to contracts
The tide started to turn in May, 2014, when a study from the FBI training division was published that outlined the advantages of 9mm caliber (9x19mm, a.k.a. 9mm Luger, 9mm Parabellum, 9mm NATO) over .40 Smith & Wesson and other calibers in terms of service purposes. The reasons were identified in easier management of recoil and muzzle climb – allowing higher inherent accuracy, particularly in double-taps – and the current availability of more effective, purpose-developed loads that would provide superior penetration and stopping power than calibers such as .40 Smith & Wesson and .45 ACP.
The FBI's quest for a new service pistol in 9mm caliber started almost immediately after the publication of the study, and many observers immediately seemed to identify the almost purpose-built SIG Sauer P320 as the upcoming new service pistol for the Federal Bureau of Investigations – and possibly for other U.S. local, State, and federal law enforcement agencies, since the U.S. law enforcement community has more often than not followed the steps of the FBI when it came to choosing their equipment.
But in an unexpected turn of the events, on June 29th, 2016, the General Services Administration made public a $85 million contract awarded to Glock for the supply of 9x19mm-caliber semi-automatic service pistols and relevant spare parts to the U.S. Department of Justice, to be issued to FBI special agents.
What is known so far is that the selected pistols, chosen from a pool of commercial-off-the-shelf alternatives, are the Gen.4 Glock 17 full-size and the Glock 19 mid-size models, in replacement of the currently issued Glock 22 and Glock 23.
It's unknown whether agents trained with .40 caliber pistols will be able to retain their currently issued models, like they did with SIG Sauers. It's quite likely, though, that those FBI agents and operators who have a SWAT/HRT training will still retain their .45 ACP caliber Glock 21 and Springfield Armory 1911 HRT Professional pistols.