While the US Army continues to make noise about adopting a new cartridge to replace the current NATO-standard 9mm caliber, Law Enforcement agencies across the country are migrating back to the round. Now, arguably the most respected LE agency in America, if not the world, the Federal Bureau of investigation is making good on their quest to transition from .40 to 9mm by taking the first step to purchase new weapons by issuing a Pre-Solicitation for Commercial Off The Shelf pistols. Although referred to as a Pre-Solicitation, it serves the same purpose as a Sources Sought Notice you’d see from DoD. This is a huge opportunity for the firearms industry. Not only with FBI but the entire LE community in America. Where the Bureau goes, so goes everyone else.
Specifically, they are seeking:
Various commercial “OFF THE SHELF” semi-automatic pistols chambered to fire a 9mm Luger cartridge as defined by SAAMI.
The following types of pistols, chambered to fire a 9mm Luger cartridge, may be requested for testing and evaluation purposes under a future solicitation:
Class One Pistol: barrel length between 3.75″ and 4.25″; with a minimum magazine capacity of 13 rounds.
Class Two Pistol: barrel length between 4.5″ and 5.5″; with a minimum magazine capacity of 15 rounds.
Class One Training Pistol (Red Handle): deactivated with full articulation, red receiver and slide, night sights.
Class One “Man Marking” (a.k.a., “Simunitions”) pistol: blue slide or slide with blue inserts.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation anticipates the release of a solicitation during FY2015/Q1; distributed solely through the General Services Administration (GSA) Federal Business Opportunities (FBO) Website.
The anticipated maximum, not to exceed, contract threshold is $100M for a twelve month base period and nine (9) possible additional one-year options.
Being much smaller than Defense (and much more fragmented) Justice along with the multitude of other agencies charged with law enforcement have been able to buy pretty much whatever they want over the years. For many, this has meant the .40 S&W caliber. It was developed about 25 years ago and is an outgrowth of the FBI’s interest in the 10mm cartridge but in a package that could be retrofitted to existing 9mm handgun frames. But now, with decades of data on the effects of the .40 cartridge and its toll on handguns themselves. Rumors have been swirling for sometime that they were moving back toward 9mm and this Sources Sought Notice is a step in that direction.
I’m not even going to get into the myriad reasons that the Department of Defense won’t adopt a new caliber for its sidearm but instead will point to the ill-fated Individual Carbine program which was open to new calibers. In the end, only standard 5.56mm NATO guns were down selected and even then, no weapons were capable of completing the trials which were ended early. You want a new caliber? Do the science. The Army hasn’t. Instead, they’ve set industry up for another fall in their open caliber Modular Handgun System program.
It would be prudent to keep an eye on what the Bureau is up to, and why. They rely on their handgun as primary weapon system and look to be willing to trust the lives of their agents with the 9mm caliber. Granted, they’re not shooting M882 Ball, and therein lies the rub. Regardless of handgun caliber, Full Metal Jacket ammunition doesn’t take full advantage of the latest in ammunition technology. DoD needs to consider that as well.