Tag Archives: 10mm

A Brief History of FBI Semiauto Pistols

After the Miami/Dade Shootout of April 11, 1986, the FBI was not completely satisfied with the commercially available pistols in 9x19mm and .45. Until a suitable semi-auto service pistol could be selected for general issue, individual agents were would still be issued S&W Model 13 revolvers.

In August 1987, the FBI formed its Weapons Evaluation and Selection Advisory Group, composed of 13 firearms instructors and a gunsmith from the FBI Academy and eight Field Division. Their task was to evaluate samples of nine different pistols in 9x19mm and .45 Auto. These included the S&W 645 and SIG-Sauer P220 in .45, as well the Beretta 92F, Glock 17 and 19, ITM AT84 (a Swiss CZ75 clone), Ruger P85, S&W 459, and SIG-Sauer P226. The ITM AT84 was quickly rejected as it lacked a decocker for its conventional DA/SA lockwork. On a scale of 750 points, the evaluators rated the S&W 645 as the best overall (730), followed by the SIG-Sauer P226 (710). The remainder of the field scored as follows: S&W 459 (705), Beretta 92F (690), SIG-Sauer P220 (665), Glock 17 (620), Glock 19 (620), and Ruger P85 (575).

This was followed up in September 1987 by the FBI Firearms Training Unit’s (FTU) Wound Ballistics Seminar, which included Dr. Martin Fackler and other outside experts on wound ballistics. The workshop’s report established the importance of adequate penetration and the size of the permanent “crush” cavity in determining handgun cartridge effectiveness. This would ultimately kick-start the development of the FTU’s famous series of gelatin tests using various barrier media (light/heavy clothing, auto glass, sheet metal, wallboard, and plywood.) The seminar’s general recommendation was that there would be no significant difference between 9mm subsonic JHP loads like the 147gr Olin Super Match (OSM) and commercial .45 Auto JHP. However, the .45 Auto would be preferred over any lightweight/high velocity 9mm JHP load. In .45 Auto, preference was given to the Remington 185gr JHP load.

In May 1988, another weapons forum was held by the FBI to establish the ideal characteristics for a general issue semiauto pistol. This forum was not limited to the FBI, but also included representatives from Federal, state, and local agencies, as well as the US military.  Around August 1988, agents were authorized to carry personally-owned semi-auto pistols in 9x19mm, which was expanded later that year to .45 Auto pistols. In both calibers, these choices were limited primarily to models from S&W and SIG-Sauer. Even with personally-owned pistols, only FTU-approved ammunition could be carried.

The FTU’s unit chief John C. Hall introduced the 10mm cartridge into the FTU’s gelatin testing trials using his own Colt Delta Elite. However, the full power 10mm loads like the Norma 170gr JHP were quickly dismissed from consideration for adoption. The FTU had reportedly developed its mid-velocity 10mm load by December 1988. On the basis of the early testing of the mid-velocity 10mm load, FBI Director William Sessions approved the 10mm’s adoption for use in the Bureau’s future issue pistol in February 1989. Basically, the FBI and FTU had advocates for both the 9x19mm and .45 ACP, and the choice of 10mm had the political advantage of splitting the difference. It could potentially satisfy agents who blamed the failure in Miami on the 9mm cartridge, and would never trust it even with different ammunition. The mid-velocity 10mm’s ballistics were close enough to the .45 ACP, yet it was not burdened with the negative connotations of the .45’s mythology. There was talk that the Director Sessions and other FBI leaders feared that Congress would balk on funding new .45 Auto pistols for the FBI when the US Army had just dumped the .45 for new 9mm pistols. Again, the FBI never adopted the full power 10mm as general issue. I’m not even certain it was ever authorized for individual agents with their SAC’s sign-off. (Previously, a SAC could authorize an individual agent’s use of a FTU-approved .357 Magnum load instead of their general issue .38 Special load.)

The FBI’s solicitation for 10mm pistols was issued in May 1989, with the Request for Proposals released in June 1989. While 21 manufacturers had indicated interest, only two of these manufacturers actually submitted test pistols: Colt and S&W. Glock filed a GAO protest in August 1989, claiming that S&W already had an inside track on the contract, given their close relationship with the FTU. Indeed, S&W had begun fabricating prototype 10mm pistols in late 1988 at the FTU’s request, delivering them in February 1989 for the FTU’s gelatin testing. Glock also pointed to the short time between the release of the RFP and the deadline for submissions, which was originally one month. While the FTU pushed back the deadline by roughly 3 weeks, it was done at S&W’s request. In addition, Glock claimed that the requirements for a steel-frame DA/SA pistol were arbitrary. However, the GAO dismissed Glock’s protest on December 26, 1989.

With the GAO protest out of the way, the S&W 1076 was formally selected in January 1990. Field testing of production 1076 began in May 1990. The FBI Academy began issuing the 1076 to new agents n July 1990. However, general issue to field agents did not occur until December 1990. Alas, the issue was short lived. Due to serious malfunctions in the field and during range training, the S&W 1076 were recalled from service on May 31, 1991. The incident in the field had happened in all places, Miami FL. After an arrest, an agent attempted to unload his 1076, and could not rack the slide. Further examination noted that the trigger could not be pulled, nor could the hammer be cocked. As a result, the pistol would not have been able to fire if needed.

The issue tracked back to the FTU’s previous request that S&W to reduce the 1076’s initial takeup to suit the FTU “trigger-prepping” technique. (Ironically, Glock had pointed out in their 1989 GAO protest that this technique was flawed and unsafe.) S&W had modified the trigger hooks where they engaged the drawbar; however, the modified hooks could reportedly lock up the drawbar in such a way that would disable the pistol.

The FBI’s 1076 pistols were not returned from S&W until October 1992, as they required significant rework by the custom gunsmiths of the S&W Performance Center. However, by this point all official interest was lost in the 10mm pistol. While individual agents could keep their refurbished 1076 if they so desired, no additional purchases of the 1076 were ever made. In the interim, the FTU had already begun issuing 9mm SIG-Sauer P226 (2,000 in total) as a replacement, and later standardized the P228.

It is a myth that the FBI dropped the 10mm for the .40 S&W. For years, the FTU resisted approving a .40 S&W load for privately owned weapons.  Until a .40 load was approved, there would be no pistols allowed in that caliber.  The FTU ultimately selected a mid-velocity load using a 165gr JHP, instead of a clone of their mid-velocity 180gr 10mm load.   The earliest known gelatin tests of these mid-velocity loads were completed in August 1993.  However, it is unclear when it was actually approved for use.    The FBI finally issued a solicitation for .40 caliber Double-Action Only pistols in February 1996.  It would take until May 1997 for the FBI to announce the adoption of the Glock 22 and 23. The first Glocks would not be issued to new agents until October 1997.

As covered here at LooseRounds before, the FBI started justifying a return to 9x19mm as early as May 2014.  In July 2014, the FBI followed up with a presolicitation notice for 9x19mm semi-auto pistols.   The FBI issued the actual solicitation on October 7, 2015.   Glock was announced as the winner on June 29, 2016.

Going back to the 1986 and the Miami/Dade Shootout, the FBI’s HRT and SWAT had already been issued 9mm semi-auto pistols for several years. HRT kept their Wayne Novak-customized 9mm Browning Hi-Powers until  they were replaced by the .45 Les Baer SRP.  Awarded the contract in September 1994, Baer’s gunsmiths custom built the pistols using high capacity Para-Ordnance P14.45 frames.

In 1988, FBI SWAT switched from the S&W Model 459 to the SIG-Sauer P226.  With the HRT’s switch to .45 in the mid-1990s, SWAT expressed  interest in procuring a similar pistol, yet not a double-stack like the SRP.  The FBI released a solicitation for a single-stack, single-action .45 semi-auto pistol in July 1996, with the RFP issued a few months later in October.   Early in 1998, SWAT selected the Springfield Armory Bureau Model, now commercially known as the Professional Model.  Sources indicate that the HRT ultimately transitioned to the Professional Model as well as their limited supply of the Baer SRP began to wear out. There is word that even the Professional Model is on the way out as the Bureau transitions back to 9mm.

Best, Worst And Meh Of 2016

Here we are again at the end of all things.  Nope, not Mordor, the end of HIGH PRICES!!!.or hillary  clinton, though it is the end for her as well.   It’s the end of 2106. No wait, that isn’t right. I jumped the gun a little.   It’s the end of 2016!  With the end of the year comes the “Best of” picks from things I was sent to review or purchased over the course of the year.  As before not everything on the list is necessarily new for 2016. It may be something that has been around for a while and this year was just now the time I got around to it.

List of products are in no particular order.

  1. The Colt Delta Elite 10mm

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No surprise there, you know I loved it.  It is a classic brought back from the past and updated.  It has the extra “custom production” features I like my serious carry 1911s to have and its something I had wanted for a long time.  it is accurate reliable and a real pleasure. No it does not have the supported barrel/chamber, but that has never been something I cared about. If I wanted a hotter round that this gun will handle, I will buy a revolver in .454 or something.

2.The Inland MFG M1911A1

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You know I’m a sucker for a 1911s, You also know its very hard to please me when it comes to production 1911s.   The Inland M1911 surprised me and exceeded my wildest expectation. Shown above is the NM model standing in for the USGI model.  The Inland model is just a GI  plain vanilla .45, but its a great value and a tough reliable gun.

3. The High Com Security PC & Plates

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Comfortable, flexible, well made, affordable and meant to be used and depended on. Highly recommended if you are looking for a carrier and armor.

4. The SCAR-H & Specter Optic

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I have already said a lot in the original review so I don’t think I can say much more. The H is a good battle carbine.  I still would not recommend it over a 762 patter AR  for every role, but it impressed me.  Further testing of it earlier in December further enhanced it’s status with me. The optic also got high marks from me though it is heavy and expensive to the point that I would just opt for a Leupold or Nightforce model if I was going to pay out that kind of cash.  Even though, it did everything expected of it and was very fast to get hits on target out to 850 yards and was clear as a winter sky.

5. Model 37 Ithaca/Inland Combat Shotgun

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An excellent re-issue.  Well made and as smooth and slick as a shotgun three times its price. The M37 is already a classic and it is nice to now get one done up like a military model.  This gun stood up to more abuse and ammo though it than is healthy for a grown man to fire in a 12 gauge.

Some products are still being tested even if I received them this year.  If something I have talked about earlier has not shown  on this list. it’s because I  have not spent enough time with it yet.   Not being on the list does also not make it bad. It just means it did not really stand out in my mind.  If I gave it a good review earlier in the year, that opinion still stands.    On the other hand, products listed below..

Worst of 2016

  1. “XM8”

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This is one makes it on the list but with a side note.   From what I understand it is still being tweaked by the shop that makes these.   This one worked about as well as the original.  Maybe worse.  I fired 1 round before things went south.  It just did not work.    Pathetic since the gunsmith and shop told the owner he test fired it before sending it to him.  No excuse for that.    I will update on this gun as the new year progresses. It may well get the bugs worked out of it and I hope it does just for the sake of the owner who is an awesome guy.  As it stands I am unimpressed by the shop turning these out after telling buyer it was test fired before it left.

Biggest “Meh..” of 2016

  1. KRISS Vector

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It worked fine.  Accuracy was not even close to my personal standards though.  A little over hyped in my opinion.  While the factory stock has a uncomfortable vibration that it translated to the cheek, I have no real complaints.   Though I fine no real reason to get excited either.     I would opt for an MP5 clone if I wanted something like this, or better yet, an AR15 carbine in 9mm.

2 H&K MK23 SOCOM  “Offensive Pistol “

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Of course it worked fine and it was as accurate as any glock.  In the final analysis, it’s HK’s attempt to make a M1911 more or less. Now its a bit of an oddity these days and has fallen out of the lime light in the world of “operator marketing .”   If you want one or you are a collector of this niche, you won’t be let down.     But, in the end it is  the “offensive pistol”    ’nuff said.   It is a .45 though so it has that going for it!