SIG MMG 338 Program Series

FBI Issues Pre-Solicitation for COTS 9MM Pistols

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.

FBI Pistol Training

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.

40 Responses to “FBI Issues Pre-Solicitation for COTS 9MM Pistols”

  1. HD says:

    Well for the DoD, there’s the whole pesky Geneva Conventions, Hague Conventions, and LOW that have to be complied with when choosing ammo

    • PNW_Tree_Octopus says:

      I think the bigger problem is that it is very unlikely DoD will want to pay for the increased cost of effective ammunition.

      • SSD says:

        That’s a good point.

        Consider this from 2010.

        All this talk of ammunition leads me to also comment that I do not believe the Army will adopt a new caliber. My belief is based mainly on economics and one fact given to me by COL Tamilio seems to support my assertion. He related that it cost $300 million to prepare for the transition to the new “Green” 5.56 mm ammunition adopted by the Army. He said it would cost this much to transition to a new caliber OR even to alter production to make 7.62 NATO the primary ammunition.

        https://soldiersystems.net/2010/04/12/the-future-of-us-army-small-arms/

    • Viking6 says:

      And there’s the rub for DoD. I have seen, written, or been part of several CONOPs where “non-standard ammunition” (read hollow points) were authorized. In my military capacity, I carried what was issued, but in my off duty time, I carry a compact 9mm with Hornady “Critical Duty” rounds as the need for concealment outweighs my need for lots of big lead, but to each their own.

      As to the average troop on the ground, pick a pistol and ammunition combination that is reliable, easy to employ, simple to train, and is cost effective with the BEST terminal ballistics for a chunk of ball ammunition being the primary consideration. SOF elements will always get what they need for their mission, all else be damned. May the best gun and bullet combination win!

  2. bulldog76 says:

    dod sadly cant use hollow points i dont know why cause we didnt sign or agree with the hague convention but i do think we need a new pistol ……

    • Major Smoof says:

      Just because a nation isn’t a signatory, doesn’t mean they don’t have an obligation to abide by the law/custom.

      http ://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Customary_international_humanitarian_law

      http ://www.icrc.org/customary-ihl/eng/docs/v1_rul_rule77

  3. JEFF says:

    I’m curious how many .40 S&W rounds they’ll have sitting around after this is all said and done. Didn’t DOJ and every other LEO just purchase a trillion rounds of ammo last year during the ammo crunch?

    • seans says:

      They did not buy a billion trillion rounds of ammo. That rumor comes from people not being able to understand the acquisitions process of the government

      • bob says:

        Plus, that wasn’t even the FBI. It was a DHS solicitation to support all of their LE training facilities like FLETC.

  4. Angry Misha says:

    Well, IMHO, I don’t think that the stipulations of The Hague are really applicable anymore considering I can dispatch hostile forces with a litany of munitions that “…aggravate injured soldiers or make their death inevitable”. Inasmuch, technology has changed quite a bit since 1899 coupled with the fact that the hollow point is not designed to maim the recipient. If you really want to get down to it, the SOST round would be in violation.

    I think what is more important here is to look into the reasoning behind the change, and that reason is “Hit Probability Percentage” which right now is at 20% for local, state and federal LEOs.

    For arguments sake, let’s consider one of the standard Bureau issue handguns, the Glock 22 .40 S&W which holds 15 in the mag and one in the pipe. That means that the average LEO will only connect 3 rounds out of 16. Now, if the change is made to 9mm, say the comparable Glock 17, that gives the carrier 17 in the mag and one in the pipe which equates to 4 hits (I’m rounding up), and FOURTEEN errant rounds traveling downrange which may find a home in a bystander.

    I know what you’re thinking: “eh, it’s only a 9mm”. Well, before you jump to conclusions, you better consider “what 9mm” they are using. I’m not going to step on toes and say what it is, and I like most of you was crying “blasphemy”. However, if you consider their terminal ballistic performance requirement for Safety Glass (car windows), Steel (car doors), plywood, wall board, heavy clothing, etc., it is a superior round and like the SOST, essentially “barrier blind”. It is also important to note that ballistic performance is based on soft tissue damage and does not take into account for bone, or if the intended target is wearing body armor. In regards to the latter, true you may not get a penetration, but there is something to be said about the effect of increased back face deformation and it’s relation to “stopping power” (i.e.: West Hollywood Shootout).

    However, there is that pesky concern of 14 errant rounds screaming downrange looking for a home. Remember, the Bureau originally adopted the 10mm until it was discovered (among other things) that agents of “smaller stature” could not handle the recoil, which led to the development of the .40 S&W which is the most prevalent LE handgun caliber in the US and in use by many Special Mission Units who by the nature of the bad guys (Unlawful Belligerents) they help “kick the oxygen habit” are not restricted by such trivial matters.

    So, this begs the question: “How will this impact the Army’s new handgun solicitation and its requirement that it “…provides more lethality when compared to the current U.S. Military M882 ammunition fired from the M9” coupled with the restriction that the ammunition will be evaluated to ensure that it meets “…international law of war conventions that bound current general purpose military ammunition”. So, that rules out saving BILLIONS by just adopting a new 9mm for combat. In addition, when one considers the limited service life of .40 S&W and .357 Sig platforms attributed to ammo induced failures coupled with the plethora of .45 in the system, well you don’t need to be a rocket surgeon to deduce that .45 will be the solution for a general purpose handgun in the military.

    I am sure that someone will pipe in with the fact that regardless of caliber, it’s all about shot placement coupled with the fact that out of the preponderance of its detractors, only a miniscule amount of “conventional forces” have actually employed the 9mm in combat essentially voiding the argument. True, and we have seen it before with the influx of depot supplied rack grade M-14s snatched up by Joe because his “Daddy told him it was better than the M-16” when in fact his “Daddy” is basing his opinion on something an old salt told him. The problem is the negative mindset, shunning by “cool guys” coupled with the inability to supply superior ammunition that has led to the downfall of the 9mm in the US military.

    It is going to be interesting to see how this plays out. One would think that a more cost effective way to address this would be to just adopt a 9mm variant of the current duty pistol and phase it in through initial issue and spares as old ones ware out considering that there are already approved holsters, training, etc. in place. But that would be logical. However, the real concern is that this decision may be based on the performance of ONE preferred proprietary round which in the long run may incur a Diminishing Manufacturing Sources and Material Shortages (DMSMS) issue, especially once the cat is out of the bag in regards to which round it is. This could be mitigated by restricting its “initial” sale to those related to contracts, then to state and local LEAs. However, companies want to make money, and the civilian consumer base will create a demand.

    One thing is true, a firearms company, ammo company(s) and possibly holster company(s) are going to make a lot of money in a time of “fiscal downturn”.

  5. CAP says:

    Considering that the FBI currently issues Glocks, that they already have 9mm Glocks in their inventory, and that there are already Red training and Blue simunition Glocks on the market….. Does anyone want to guess what the FBI is most likely going to purchase?

    • JD says:

      +1 Was just about to say the same…

    • SSD says:

      DoD, on the other hand?

      • Angry Misha says:

        SSD, that is the question, isn’t it? Maybe you should educate your readers on the process of “qualifying” a round for ground combat by conventional forces engaging “Lawful Belligerents” (ICRC reviews etc.)?

        Do certain units use .40 S&W and other “exotic” 9mm ammo? Sure, that’s common “open source” knowledge. However, they are primarily dealing with “Unlawful Belligerents” (Terrorists) who are not covered under legal stipulations.

        Because the .45 ACP Ball (DODIC A475) is an existing and approved round for “conventional ground combat” to engage “Lawful Belligerents”, coupled with existing stock and performance requirements, one would surmise that the new smoke wagon will be of the .45 flavor.

        Now, the pragmatic approach, and in accordance with FAR part 8 would be for the Army to consider “Agency inventories” i.e. systems fielded by other services or entities that meet the requirement. On the DoD side, this would identify the M45A1 CQBP (USMC) and HK45 (SOCOM) as possible candidates. Yes, I know there is a plethora of .45’s from various manufactures floating around in color coded / alphabet organizations, but they are not all “provisioned” (Mil Tech Manuals, Spares, NSNs etc.) which is a big deal for any procurement. That said, I’m not advocating slapping a M45A1 in the hands of Joe Snuffy (Although it was perfectly acceptable from 1911-1985), because let’s face it, Joe’s weapon handling G2 has diminished. However, one would think that it would be a pragmatic approach to at least consider .45 systems that are currently fielded and fully provisioned within the DoD PRIOR to firing off a solicitation, or at least incorporating said systems into your down select. Unfortunately, while the FAR would allow you to do this, you can bet your Fourth Point of Contact that the powers that be would have that office in a ringer when their constituents started raising holy heck.

        What do I think will come out of the Army’s effort? ZERO. Mark my words, there will be some CALL study, citing the miniscule events when a pistol was employed in combat by “conventional forces” coupled with a cost analysis weighed against the budget cuts which will result in the program being shelved. Remember, it’s easier to spend a few million to give the appearance that one is actually seeking a material solution and support the canceling of it than spending BILLIONS to buy something better.

        • balais says:

          Why the fuck would 45 be anything remotely resembling a solution?

          I just dont get that frame of thinking. Its idiocy.

          The cost effective solution would be to leave the fucking M9 alone and tell the good idea fairy to fuck off, money needs to be spent on marksmanship and combat training, not a new pistol.

          As for the FBI, they see the writing on the wall; there is no measurable difference between the big 5, so they are going to go with the least expensive handgun with the lightest recoil, the longest service life, and the highest capacity, all considerations checklisted off. That narrows it down to 9mm in a hurry.

  6. Eric says:

    What a crock. They sold us the story 9mm was ineffective after the Miami Shootout and then led us through the 10mm/attenuated 10mm/.40 S&W. Now, when .40 is rising in cost, suddenly 9mm has made huge advancements in technology and effectiveness? I think both stories are spurious and based more on opinion than factual comparative analysis. This is a money move, at its basic level. I’ll take what they give and just do my best to put the bullets where they do their job, but they need to stop blowing smoke up my ass. As a further note, after 15 years I have been issued no less then 6 different types of duty .40 ammo. Varying in weights, design, and charges…but always the cheapest. Money, money, money
    Just admit it damnit! Now, give me my Glock 19 and let’s get back to work.

    • Angry Misha says:

      Actually, you are only partially correct. The issue was twofold, the primary being capacity and reloading time attributed to the .38 revolver which was standard issue at the time and then stopping power. As I said earlier, this is what led to the initial fielding of the 10mm which spiraled into the .40 S&W.

      Before you go spouting off that it is a “money issue” you need to see the performance of the round they selected. Like I said, I am not going to step on toes and identify it, but it is the superior cartridge in accordance with the Bureau’s performance requirement.

      Take it or leave it, but that is the truth.

      • Eric says:

        “Spouting off” am I? Well, thats good to know. Here I thought my opinion based on years of service and experience were relevant. Good to know you’ve got the scoop and I look forward to shooting that “superior” round for the rest of my career and not some budgetary substitute 2 years from now.

      • Chris K. says:

        After talking with FBI swat in my state, the reasoning behind switch is after decades of advances in ammo and looking and terminal ballistics during shootings across the country, 9mm luger has shown as effective if not better than .40 SW. It also come down to training as its easier to train some end to shoot a 9 (especially new shooter) than .40. And yes, it should be cheaper, too, overall. Special units can still higher calibers.

        • Angry Misha says:

          I thought I was pretty clear on the performance criteria, but it’s obvious that I should’ve broken out the sock puppets. Yeah, you two are right and the Bureau’s ballistic professionals are completely wrong and are using some whiz bang slight of hand to switch to a 9mm to save money while putting agents at risk.

          Thanks for helping me see through their facade. Without you I would’ve never known the truth as I am only relying on first hand information.

          • Chris K. says:

            Hey dumbass, I agree with you, stop being so “angry”.

          • Eric says:

            Keep the socks in your pants where they actually do you some good. And exactly where did I say the rounds we are (or will be) issued are sub-standard and placing agents at risk? Hmm…I didn’t. That is your determination if FBI strays away from your “superior” round, which I predict will happen. But never did I say it puts us at risk. I did err in griping that the selection wasn’t based on comparative analysis. Hyperbole and bitching got me there. Our institutions have poor short term memory and after a period of time the good idea fairy creeps in and you start buying different (read cheaper) stuff. I know, because it has happened many times before.

            BTW, I don’t feel at risk with a cheaper round, as long as it is effective (as much as a pistol can be effective). As I initially noted, I get tired of the BS that we get the best money can buy. No, we get the best for the money we want to spend. Be it radios, guns, ammo, vests, or cars, performance criteria will never trump the budget.

      • balais says:

        “but it is the superior cartridge in accordance”

        In what way? I would LOVE to hear this

  7. Terry says:

    I see a simple solution to this problem… Issue the Army’s old 9mm pistols to the FBI and the FBI’s old .40 S&Ws to the Army! 😛

    Cheers,
    Terry

    • Angry Misha says:

      ^winning

    • Rob D. says:

      No the FBI is looking for a 9mm pistol that is reliable with a long service life…so they need to stick with blocks 😀

      • Rob D. says:

        Ahh I actually meant to type *glocks….stupid auto-correct. It does have quite the sense of humor though.

    • balais says:

      Why?

      so the TOCroaches and MPs, who already are terrible pistol shooters, can become even more terrible with the increased recoil of the 40?

      Why should the FBI use a SA/DA handgun with a euro-style manual safety when the Glock 19, 17 or M&P9 are available?