The Federal Bureau of Investigation uses Glock as their primary handgun choice for standard FBI officers. There are a ton of different handguns the FBI could choose from but due to their deep investigation to find a suitable handgun for the whole bureau. The military’s new standard issue handgun is the modular SIG Sauer P320. They have used SIG Sauer before they used Glock so there must be a definite reason on why they switched. Let’s take a look on why the FBI uses a Glock instead of other handgun brands.
There are a number of things that set Glocks apart from other handgun brands. They are built a bit differently and are loved by many shooters alike not only because they are extremely reliable, but also because they have build specifics that distinguish themselves from other manufacturers.
One of the biggest things that set Glocks apart most other gun brands is the fact that they are built with a plastic polymer frame. This plastic polymer frame is extremely durable and has held up to many stress tests in the field. For most, the best thing about it is that the polymer frame is lighter in weight versus the usual steel frames that are usually constructed for other handgun brands. This makes the Glock much easier to carry around for longer periods of time.
Because Glocks are made with a polymer frame, the frame is thin but still as durable as other handguns. This means there is additional room for higher capacity magazines. Glocks have been known to really outshine other gun manufacturers for pistols in the same category when it comes to ammo capacity.
For example, the Glock 17 is a full sized 9mm semi-auto handgun. Most pistols in the same category usually max out at 15 rounds in a magazine. The Glock 17 is suited for 17 round magazines which is higher than the average.
Another example is the Glock 21. The Glock 21 is a full sized .45 ACP caliber handgun. Most other semi-auto handguns that shoot .45 ACP usually have a magazine capacity of either 10-12 rounds. The Glock 21 has a magazine capacity of 13. Not much of a bump but every round counts.
RELATED: See How to Shoot a Glock 21
The topics above are a couple of things that help with the reliability of Glocks. The manufacturing is also something that helps with a Glock’s specific reliability feature. Glocks are striker-fired pistols. This means the hammer is located internally under the slide, so you do not have to worry about cocking the hammer to prepare to fire. The safeties on Glocks are all passive safeties so the gun will only fire once the trigger pulled. No manual safety must be flipped to fire the Glock. These points all help with the ease of shooting a Glock.
FBI Sidearm Requirements
The FBI has some extensive requirements regarding their handgun requirements for the whole bureau. As nation’s top federal law enforcement agency, their requirements are very specific.
In 2015, the FBI issued an RFP to handgun manufacturers for a new standard sidearm. Here are the basic requirements in the FBI contract.
Caliber must be 9mm
The FBI chose 9mm as the required caliber for several reasons. The FBI has been using a larger caliber, the 10mm round, since the 1986 Miami shootout where their firearms were underpowered. They decided to switch to the lower caliber 9mm through statistical performance means.
The bump to 10mm was due strictly for firepower purposes. It was soon realized from FBI shooting statistics that not just firepower is important, but the quality of the shot by the shooter was just as important or even more important than the power of the round. Higher caliber rounds generally cause more recoil and lack of control with various shooters causing numerous missed shots which could lead to dangerous collateral damage in the field.
The 9mm round also yields a lower penetration rate so if stray bullets are fired, there is a lower chance of them going through surrounding objects and causing a mishap. This also applies to firing through intended targets. Another thing about the 9mm is that it is a smaller bullet. The fragments would be smaller which would cause less destruction if shots were to stray.
9mm is also the world’s most used handgun cartridge. This would make it a lot less expensive for the FBI to purchase 9mm instead a slightly bigger and less used cartridge because the rarity would be higher like the 10mm cartridge.
The FBI had sizing requirements in their RFP for several sized handguns. The barrel sizes had to be exact measurements for the their full-sized and compact-sized pistol requirements. For their full-sized handgun barrel requirements, they set it with a minimum of 4.26” (108.2mm) and a maximum of 5.2” (132mm). For the compact handgun barrel requirements, they set it with a minimum of 3.75” (95.25mm) and a maximum of 4.25” (108mm).
Another requirement was for the full-sized magazines to be compatible with the compact-sized handguns. This saves on purchasing numerous different magazine types. This also helps on compatibility issues for handguns throughout the Bureau. Agents don’t need to worry if their gun is compatible with other agents’ equipment. The full-sized magazine would also need to hold a minimum of 16 rounds while the compact-sized magazine would need to hold a minimum of 14 rounds of 9mm ammunition.
Glocks are known not to have a manual safety to flip before firing. All the safeties on a Glock are internal to make sure the gun does not go off when not in use. This is a nice feature for the FBI to have because when agents need to use their weapon, they can engage quickly without having that extra step of flipping a manual safety.
Why the FBI chose Glock
The main reason the FBI chose Glock is because Glock handguns fulfill all their requirements as stated above. On top of that, Glock went even further. They manufactured a specialized version of the Glock 17 (Full-sized) and Glock 19 (Compact-sized) for the FBI.
The Glock 17M and Glock 19M were both made to fit the needs of the FBI even further than anticipated with additional upgrades. Let’s take a look at these individual upgrades to the “M” (Military) versions of these pistols.
The Glock 17M
This is Glock’s specialized version of their Glock 17. This is a full-sized standard issue duty handgun. The standard magazine holds 17 rounds of 9x19mm ammunition with an overall length of 8 inches.
The Glock 19M
This is Glock’s specialized version of their Glock 19. The Glock 19 is a compact-sized handgun which can be great for undercover and female agents. The standard magazine can hold 15 rounds of 9x19mm ammunition with an overall length of 7.28 inches.
The FBI Glock “M” Model Features
Let’s talk about what makes this specialized version of the Glock unique. The “M” actually stands for “Military” model but was made for the FBI for more military purposes. The “M” model has a number of features that stand out from other Glocks that the FBI requested for these models.
Standard Night Sights
These “M” models come standard with Ameriglo Night Sights. These help in target acquisition night or day and in bad conditions. The bright red dot helps to aim in all circumstances while the tritium inserts help see in the dark.
Flat Grip – No Finger grooves
There are many kinds of shooters in the FBI. They are come in all different shapes and sizes. This includes hand size. If there is going to be a standard handgun, it needs to be set so everyone can use it no matter the hand size. This is why there are no finger grooves on the “M” version. A flat grip is compatible with all hand sizes. The FBI chose compatibility over comfort.
Rounded Magazine Release
One of the most unique features about the “M” model is that the FBI wanted a rounded magazine release button unlike most other standard Gen 5 Glocks. This was probably to ensure a clean draw to prevent snagging on fabric.
Ambidextrous Extended Slide Stop Lever
With Glock slide stop and releases generally being very small, it is hard to catch or release a Glock slide with out repositioning your hands and using the lever with your fingers for a more precise handling. With the ambidextrous extended Slide stop on both sides of the gun, all FBI shooters, either right-handed or left-handed, can lock and release the lever with just a push of the thumb without the use of the other hand to help you. This make operating the pistol much easier on the go when you might need to reload in a hurry – a necessity for FBI agents.
Glock has had the FBI contract for several years now and their FBI version of the Glock 17 and 19 are still the standard issue handguns of the FBI. Their requirements are very specific but are great criteria for normal shooter for their own requirements for buying a handgun. You can count any military or law enforcement specifications to make the best decision for your choice in handguns.
Feel free to share this information with any new beginner gunners or veteran shooters you might know. Also, if you have a Glock or looking to get one, check out those sights listed above so you can maximize your aiming potential on the range or in the field.
Keep shooting straight and remember, Practice Makes Proficient.