FBI Is Seeking New 9mm Pistol for Special Agents

The Federal Bureau of Investigation seems to be moving away from the Glock pistol.

Last week, the Federal Bureau of Investigation issued a request for a new lineup of semi-auto duty pistols, apparently looking to replace the Glocks it has used for almost 20 years.

According to a request for a proposal from the FBI, the agency is looking for a full sized Class II pistol with a barrel between 4.26 and 5.2 inches with a minimum magazine capacity of 16 rounds. It must also come with night sights, six magazines, an FBI-approved gun lock, and a hard plastic container.

The agency is also looking for a compact Class I 9mm pistol with a barrel length between 3.75 and 4.25 inches and a minimum magazine capacity of 14 rounds. The rest of the specs are the same as those for the Class II gun. To go along with them, the feds also need an inert training pistol and a man-marker training pistol (firing SIMUNITION) for the Class II gun, plus parts for all models.

Whichever gun company wins the contract will have some business for a while. The contract will be structured with an indefinite delivery and indefinite quantity for a year and the option to renew for 9 additional years, with an overall budget of $85 million.

In May 1997, the FBI officially adopted the Glock in .40 caliber for general use. Currently, FBI special agents are issued a Glock Model 22 or a Glock 23 in .40 S&W. If they fail their pistol qualification, they are issued a Glock 17 or Glock 19 in 9mm to aid in their qualification. The Glock 26 in 9mm and Glock 23 and Glock 27 models in .40 S&W are authorized as backup weapons. Special agents are also authorized to purchase and qualify with the Glock Model 21 in .45 ACP if they so choose, and members of the FBI HRT (Hostage Rescue Team) and SWAT teams are issued the Springfield Professional Model 1911A1 in .45 ACP.

The FBI wants both new guns to fire 9mm Luger ammo, and they have to be based on the same platform with identical controls. It seems they want similar characteristics of the currently issued Glock lineup, which all have essentially the same controls on different sized pistols—and like the Glock, the Bureau wants magazines for both size pistols to be interchangeable.

Also, both guns may not have magazines or mag floorplates that extend below the pistol's grip, but they must have "a small ledge ('toe') on the front of the magazine to aid the shooter in rapid extraction of the magazine." Such a lip would allow a shooter to use his or her support hand to strip the magazine from the gun if it doesn't fall free.

You can check out every single requirement the FBI is looking for here, from the firing pin requirements to slide-resistance force.

It's worth noting that the FBI won't accept any guns with a decocking lever, grip safety, or finger grooves (like those present on the currently issued Glock 23 FG&R), which excludes a lot of popular semi-autos on the market today. The new duty gun must have a slot or rail for affixing a tactical light.

The U.S. Army is also looking for a new pistol, and is currently holding a competition for a standard-issue sidearm and a more potent round to replace the Beretta M9 9mm pistol. More than 20 companies are competing with each other for the potential $350 million contract. The U.S. military replaced the .45 ACP M1911 pistol with the M9 in 1985.

The FBI's handgun requirements have come a long way in the past 30 years or so. Back in 1991, the film The Silence of the Lambs was praised for its attention to detail, especially regarding the FBI training center at Quantico. In the photo below, Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) aims her Smith & Wesson Model 13, a .357 magnum six-shooter that was standard FBI issue at the time.

Clarice Starling's S&W Model 13 revolver in The Silence of the Lambs (1991). photo from imfdb.com.