British troops serving in Afghanistan will soon be issued a new sidearm, the Glock 17. The Glocks will replace the L9A1s—Browning Hi-Powers with an ambidextrous safety— that have been in service as the standard-issue British Army pistol for more than 50 years.
The decision follows more than two years of evaluating the Glock for service, and calls for 25,000 Glock 17s to fill the £9 million contract. Some specialist units have been using SIG P226 pistols for several years instead of the aging Hi-Powers, but it’s the Austrian-made pistol that eventually carried off the Army-wide contract.
Glock pistols are currently in service with military and police forces around the world and have a proven track record of safety and reliability. Interestingly, no British firearms manufacturers submitted handguns to the defense ministry for evaluation.
The MOD says they will make the pistols available to all soldiers in Afghanistan by the end of this year. What will happen to the stocks of Browning pistols has not been revealed – but its probably safe to assume that they will be destroyed.
The new Glock, manufactured in Austria, will complement the wide range of weapons already available to UK forces, which includes:
- SA80A2 assault rifles, which fire 5.56mm rounds
- light machine guns, which fire 5.56mm rounds
- Sharpshooter rifles, which fire 7.62mm rounds
- general purpose machine guns, which fire 7.62mm rounds
- combat shotguns, which fire 12-gauge cartridges; and
- sniper systems, which fire 8.59mm rounds.
The Glock pistols will replace the Browning which after being used by the Armed Forces for more than 40 years has become increasingly expensive to maintain. The contract for a replacement pistol was put out to tender 2 years ago and is not in response to any specific or increased threat.