The British conservatism has surrendered to technology. British forces are to be given a new standard issue handgun for the first time in more than 40 years. According to the BBC the Ministry of Defense has signed a £9m contract to provide the Armed Forces with more than 25,000 new side-arms and holsters from Austria’s Glock. It will replace the Browning 9 mm pistol which has been in service since 1967.The Glock 17 9 mm pistol is lighter than the Browning and can be fired faster, within a second or so.
Colonel Peter Warden, from the MoD team introducing the new weapon, says that after well over four decades in service, the pistol from US manufacturer Browning was no longer the ideal weapon and had become increasingly expensive to maintain.
“We began to lose a little bit of confidence in its reliability. So we trialed seven different weapons, and got down to the Glock as the best of the bunch,” he says.
After a tendering process which lasted just two years from start to finish, the MoD is buying the side-arms to issue to all three services.
Among the first people to get the new Glock over the coming weeks will be troops serving in Afghanistan, where the enemy can sometimes attack at very close range.
The pistols are most effective at a range of between 10 and 25 metres, and the Glock 17 is lighter, more accurate and its magazines can carry more bullets than the Browning it replaces, according to the trials team.
The new weapon has a magazine capacity of 17 rounds, compared to 13 rounds for the Browning, though the 9mm ammunition remains the same.
The old Browning’s external safety catch could also mean a longer delay before pulling the trigger, says Warrant Officer Class 1 Mark Anderson, from the Royal Marines, who was part of the team testing it. He has served in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo, Northern Ireland and Sierra Leone.
“In the event of your main weapon failing, with the new Glock you can draw and shoot the enemy within two seconds,” he explains.
“That inspires confidence, and with the short-barrel pistol, it’s easier to acquire your target, and makes it a lot safer to conduct your job.”