FBI Awards $85M Handgun Contract

FBI special agents will be carrying something similar to this Glock 17 Gen4 in 9mm, only without the finger-grooves.
FBI special agents will be carrying something similar to this Glock 17 Gen4 in 9mm, only without the finger-grooves.mfg photo

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has settled on a new 9mm handgun for general issue, and the agency is sticking with Glock.

Some thought the feds would be switching to the modular SIG Sauer P320, but according to this week's announcement, it's not to be.

Agents have carried .40S&W Glock pistols since 1997, after years of flip-flopping among calibers and models including pistols from SIG Sauer and Smith & Wesson.

In October of 2015, the FBI put out a call for a full-sized Class II pistol with a barrel between 4.26” and 5.2” with a minimum magazine capacity of 16 rounds. It was also required to come with night sights, six magazines, an FBI-approved gun lock, and a hard plastic container. It also must have a slot or rail for affixing a tactical light.

In fact, they were looking for a lot of features, which you can read about here. But more importantly, there's a list of features they weren't looking for, like a decocking lever, grip safety, or finger grooves. While this story from Recoil says the exact model hasn't been announced, possibly because all Gen4 model Glocks have integrated finger grooves. Has the FBI chosen an older model? Is Glock producing something new for special agents? We'll keep you updated.

The contract also includes a compact Class I 9mm pistols with a barrel length between 3.75” and 4.25” with a minimum magazine capacity of 14 rounds, as a backup pistol or sidearm for those with smaller hands. The contract will be structured with an indefinite delivery and indefinite quantity for a year and an option to renew for nine additional years, with an overall budget of $85 million.

Glock will also supply the FBI with inert training pistols and man-marking training pistols (firing SIMUNITION) for the Class II gun, plus parts for all models.

The first semi-autos ever issued to the FBI were S&W Model 459s in 9mm for the newly formed Hostage Rescue Team in the early 1980s.

The last time the FBI issued 9mm pistols, they were the SIG Sauer P226 like this one.
The last time the FBI issued 9mm pistols, they were the SIG Sauer P226 like this one.mfg photo

After the infamous Miami Shootout in 1988, the FBI phased out its revolvers and issued the SIG P226 in 9mm. Around the same time, the HRT started using customized Browning Hi-Power pistols, which were later replaced with .45 ACP 1911-style pistols made especially for the bureau by Springfield and later, other 1911s built on high-capacity frames and designed by Les Baer.

The FBI changed its philosophy on handgun calibers in the 1990s and briefly issued agents the S&W 1076 chambered for the new and powerful 10mm cartridge.

Little did the FBI know that S&W and Winchester were busy collaborating on a super-secret project meant to land somewhere between the 10mm and 9mm, which would of course become the .40 S&W. The 1076 proved too large, powerful, and unwieldy for every-day use by the FBI, and they were soon swapped out for SIG P226s in 9mm. More compact SIG 228s were also issued.

In May 1997, the FBI officially adopted the Glock .40 S&W pistol for general agent used. Initially , Models 22 and 23 were issued. The Model 23 Gen3 FG&R model (finger-groove and rail) is the current general issued sidearm for the bureau. The only personally-owned handguns on the approved list are the Glock 21 (full-sized .45ACP) and the Glock 26 (sub-compact 9mm) and the 27 (sub-compact .40 S&W).