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US Customs and Border Protection Releases Solicitation for New Pistol

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the parent agency of the United States Border Patrol, has issued a solicitation for a family of lightweight, striker-fired, semi-automatic handguns chambered in 9mm.  With a 10-year period of performance and a contract ceiling listed at $85M, this is likely to be the largest handgun contract in the history of US law enforcement.

What We Know So Far

Unlike other agencies in recent contracts, CBP is looking for a family of firearms.  In their own words, the contract “shall include three distinct variations of sizes”.  This sounds like it will leave CBP the option of purchasing full-size, mid-size, or compact handguns for their agents.  Of particular note is that the full and mid-size handguns are required to include an optics ready slide cut, allowing the firearm to be compatible with both the Trijicon RMR and Delta Point Pro Mircro Red Dot Sights (MRDS).

Testing protocols are also unique for this solicitation.  The government is requiring manufacturers to foot the bill for all testing at a National Institute of Justice (NIJ) laboratory, prior to the close of the solicitation.  While it is not readily apparent what CBP’s motivation is for this, it certainly seems to make the process more fair and transparent than some of the typical closed-door government testing done in secret.

The performance testing standards seem to cover all the standard procedures we are used to seeing, but CBP takes things a step further by adding tests like rough handling, “Linear Guided” drop tests, and extreme sand and salt-water exposure tests.  The handguns will be tested to over 10,000 rounds each using two types of ammunition (Winchester Ranger 147gr. JHP, and Speer Gold Dot 124gr.+P JHP), and nearly half of those rounds will be fired with a SureFire X300U-A attached to the pistol.

To make things even more interesting, it seems as though CBP will be allowing actual field agents to rate the handguns as part of what they’re calling an Operational Personnel Handgun Evaluation.  The solicitation shows law enforcement personnel rating the guns on: Ease of Disassembly; General Ergonomics; Vehicle Entry and Obstacle Clearance exercises; Perceived Accuracy; Trigger Pull; Fast Fire Control; Ease of Reloading; and Slick Grip Firing.  By the look of the solicitation, this portion of the evaluation will happen only after CBP narrows down the submissions to the top four highest scoring vendors.

Who Meets The Requirements?

At first glance, no one currentky meets all of the requiremenes, at least with what we know is on the market.  CBP effectively rules out everyone at some point in the requirements, while leaving the door open for any manufacturer who is willing to put in a little effort.  As it stands right now, there doesn’t seem to be a single manufacturer with handguns meeting every specification.  While the biggest limitation may be the requirement of three sizes of the same type of gun (as well as red-inert and blue-marking variants), most others would only require simple modifications to an existing line of guns.  With a contract this size, it seems reasonable that most companies would be willing to make a few small changes for a chance to wind up in the holsters of the county’s largest law enforcement agency.

Specs:

·         Three sizes of handguns, with 70% overall interchangeability
·         Preferred that a trigger pull is not required for disassembly, and shall not require the use of tools
·         Matte black or dark grey finish (FDE and Ranger Green should be available as an option)
·         Polished internal components
·         No external safety (trigger safety OK)
·         Consistent trigger pull between 4.5 and 8 pounds
·         Aggressively textured polymer frame capable of accepting Streamlight and SureFire weapon lights
·         Multiple grip sizes for each pistol
·         Beveled magazine well, which is equal in height across the front edge
·         Integral magazine well flare is preferred
·         Magazine floor plate “toe” must extend past the front of the grip
·         Low Bore Axis
·         Full front and rear slide serrations
·         Optics ready with cover plate, compatible with Trijicon RMR and Delta Point Pro
·         Full ambidextrous controls
·         Trijicon HD style sights

CBP is also requiring extended magazines and suppressor-height sights to be available on contract.

All in all, this sounds like it could be an interesting duty handgun designed to include all the best features a shooter could ask for in a single package.  The solicitation closes on September 19, 2018, so before long we may be seeing some new guns on the market.

To read the solicitation in full, check it out at www.fbo.gov.

27 Responses to “US Customs and Border Protection Releases Solicitation for New Pistol”

  1. PPGMD says:

    “Beveled magazine well, which is equal in height across the front edge”

    I was wondering how they were going to write the “No Gen 5 mag well front cut out” in the solicitation. I was talking to one of the dudes involved in this solicitation, and we both agreed that we disliked the cut out.

    Well it is anyone’s game, but if Glock wins I am hoping we get a Gen 5.5 without the front cut out.

    • G says:

      Yeah, but give it 5 years and no one will care about the cutout anymore. After all, Glocks had them for ages and no one complained. It’s new (sorta) and different (kinda), people will get used to it soon enough. Doesn’t bother me in the least on my 19 Gen 5.

      • PPGMD says:

        Considering the amount of grip plugs that have been sold for years, I think people that actually measure their performance do care.

        But IME the back one isn’t as big of an issue as the front one, as the back of the mag is flat enough and there is enough other flat area that it is fairly hard to get stuck on the back cut out. But the front one is problematic, with the dimensions of a loaded round it is just much much less forgiving. I am actually faster on the reload with the Gen 4 than I am with the Gen 5. Which sucks because I like almost all the other new features of the Gen 5, so I will probably buy the 19X.

  2. ejb3 says:

    SSD, can you please change your header to say US Customs and Border Protection. It is not US Customs and Border Patrol.
    Thank you.

  3. BS says:

    Sounds like P320?

    • AS24 says:

      I don’t think Sig makes them for the RMR or DepltaPoint… and that magazine floor plate looks like it would rule them out right now too. Looks like it really could be anyone’s game with a little work though.

      • Kyle Kata says:

        The MHS P320 / XM17 is cut for Deltapoint already.

        * Polished internals – ok, weird…

        * Low bore axis – seems like they weren’t looking for Sig exactly

    • jbgleason says:

      I absolutely read that solicitation as being written for the Sig. Especially the part about the different sizes since you can just remove the fire control portion and switch it between frames. That is a huge advantage to a large agency that would save them from having excess weapons sitting around the armory. Guy moves from Patrol to a plain-clothes gig? Just report to the Armorer and have them swap his existing serial numbered weapon into a mid or compact grip frame.

      • Hodge Lyons says:

        Plus Sig has full Size and Compact slides milled already for RMR’s. If they can pass the extreme tests and tweak the frames they would have to be one of the favorites. It will more than likely come down to SIG and Glock.

        • jp3208 says:

          I thought Sig’s 320 milling was tapped to be proprietary – only allowing interface with their Romeo1…

          Are they now tapping for the RMR and DPP?

          • tcba_joe says:

            They made their cut for the DPP and said they’re changing the mounting for their MRDS to fit that footprint.

      • BDPD17 says:

        The 320 matches the requirements as much as G19/G17/G26, M&P 2.0, CZ P10, FN509, HK VP9/SFP9, and Beretta APX do. All of them seem to have an equal shot at this. The big ?? of the test is the Operational Personnel Evaluation. So even if was written towards one of these, it looks like the field agents are going to be able to have the driving input to pick the winner.

        • jbgleason says:

          “it looks like the field agents are going to be able to have the driving input to pick the winner”

          They did this same field agent testing several years back and ended up with the Beretta 96D DAO in .40 cal. EVERYONE hated that gun so I can’t figure out how the field testing had any input at all.

          • Stickman says:

            I would state with very little joy that the weapon is already selected. Throwing out a listing like the above sounds impressive, but reads to those of us who have been behind the scenes to seem like someone has already been approached with what the next generation pistol will have from a known vendor.

            Field agent input sounds a lot like, “cherry picking”.

            Regardless of LE or MIL testing, anyone involved in the process should be held to a formal contract to NOT be allowed to work for the winning company for 5 years.

            • BRNL0Sr says:

              “Regardless of LE or MIL testing, anyone involved in the process should be held to a formal contract to NOT be allowed to work for the winning company for 5 years.”

              I don’t think that’s a problem. I know that everyone of the guys responsible for this effort have approximately 15-19 years in service, with another 6 to 10 years before they’re even eligible for retirement. My guess is they’re more concerned that they’ll be carrying a high performing gun than the promise of a retirement gig that will be long gone before they can cash in.

            • SSD says:

              For acquisition professionals, it’s two years.

            • jp3208 says:

              “Field agent input sounds a lot like, “cherry picking”.”

              I disagree. Having input from the end user – and not picking a gun solely in the vacuum of the HQ element(or wherever) – is extremely valuable, huge for morale, and ensures buy-in by the end users upon adoption/transition. It is the best way of ensuring the gun selected is the best overall for the REAL end-user, and not the internal gun-nut that wrote the solicitation.

    • orly? says:

      “Specs:

      Low Bore Axis”

      Doesn’t sound like a Sig P320 at all to me.

      • Kyle Kata says:

        Yea, if you read all of the specs… it seems M&P matches the best right now. But no saying which specs are actually important – see “polished internals”.

  4. Just Brad says:

    After years of a shared services agreement with ICE for armory support, CBP struck out on their own and it’s good to see they are to a point they can do their own solicitation.

    As a tax payer it’s disappointing that the former ICE leadership didn’t built the capacity in their new contract to accommodate the possibility of future purchases by CBP, USSS, FPS and the FAMS, especially knowing other LE agencies within the department (DHS) were going to make purchases in the near future. These types of solicitations routinely top $1M and in this case it’s very duplicative to the ICE solicitation. Any special requirements seem to be minor and could have been easily hashed out by all parties.

    The last purchase by CBP under the circa 2004 DHS wide contract topped 75,000 units. CBP has increased their manpower since then so this will probably be the largest non-DoD firearm contract in my lifetime.

  5. Seamus says:

    Hi-Point for sure!

  6. Joel Paskauskas says:

    And the US Marshals Circus will cling to their G22s for years to come. 225 or so years unhampered by progress. The travesty is that the agents and officers won’t be able to purchase their old duty guns.

    • Ton E says:

      I’m calling this I see either the Gen 5 Glock or the P320 getting the contract.

  7. JK says:

    Field Agent input was actually a survey sent out to a great majority of the CBP LEO’s with a series of questions asking which features the LEO’s wanted and or preferred or recommended.

    • dwkmk3 says:

      This is exactly TRUE. I participated in that survey as well as a Firearms Instructor only input via email.