The United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense recently adopted the Glock 17 to replace its World War II-era service pistol.
The move is significant and shows the importance the MOD places on individual soldier weapons compared to the leadership in the U.S. Military.
This is not to say that American military personnel don’t have high-quality infantry small arms; they do. But despite several past efforts, the U.S. Army – the Pentagon’s executive agent for small arms – has been unable, and in some cases unwilling, to replace the M4 carbine and the M9 pistol with more-modern, better-performing weapons.
Now to be fair, the Pentagon did replace its WWI/WWII-era 1911 .45 automatic pistol with the Beretta M9 9mm pistol in the mid 1980s. But after nearly three decades, the M9 has developed a mediocre reputation at best among Army and Marine combat troops.
Army requirements officials at Fort Benning, Ga., have made it very clear in the past that pistol engagements are rare and that armies don’t win wars with side arms.
The MOD has a different view. "Pistols are vital in close-combat and are a key part of a soldier's armory,” Warrant Officer Class 1 Mark Anderson in the Royal Marines said recently in an MOD release.
The MOD tapped Glock to produce 25,000 of its Glock 17 Gen4 9mm pistols to replace the venerable Browning L9A1, also known as the Browning Hi-Power. The L9A1 has been in service since World War II and is still considered to be a highly-reliable and accurate 9mm pistol.
Glock handguns, which are extremely popular with American law enforcement officials and elite U.S. Army special operators, are often referred to as the AK47 of pistols for their outstanding reliability.
The Glock 17 features a 17-round magazine compared to the Browning’s 13-round mag. It also has a polymer frame making it slightly lighter than the Browning. Glocks have an excellent trigger, a feature that makes it easier for a shooter to maintain very tight shot groups.
“We are determined to provide our troops with the best possible personal kit available, and these new Glock 17s will give them greater firepower and accuracy on operations,” said Philip Dunne of the MOD Equipment, Support and Technology.