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New Handguns for British Troops


After almost 50 years, the Glock handgun has been chosen by the Ministry of Defence to replace the Browning pistol. As a result, over 25,000 Glocks are being purchased for the British armed forces.

In 2010 the Ministry of Defence began looking for a replacement sidearm to the Browning, as it became more and more expensive to maintain the gun. It is believed that pistols have become increasingly useful when counter-insurgency operations are taking place, such as those that occur in Helmand. These involve soldiers mingling with the population and therefore accuracy and the ability to shoot quickly is paramount to safety.

Warfare is now more about compound clearance and getting close to the enemy, making rifles less useful. Lab tests and field trials were carried out in Arctic and desert landscapes, and 40,000 rounds were fired before the Glock was chosen as the sidearm to replace the Browning, as the most powerful handgun.

First new sidearm since 1967

The Glock pistol is the first sidearm to be issued since 1967.

Weighing only 650g (a third less than the Browning), it is made of plastic and can carry more bullets and fire quickly and accurately. It is thought to be safer than the Browning for troops to handle and whilst it has not been issued due to a military threat, commanders have said the Glock will make responding to attacks in Afghanistan easier for troops.

The Glock takes under a second to draw and fire. The Browning would take between four and five seconds for an expert to remove from the holster, load the gun’s chamber and fire.

The gun is a semi-automatic which means a large number of rounds is able to be fired quickly. Each magazine in the Glock can contain up to 33 x 9mm bullets, compared to 13 bullets in the Browning.

The Glock features safety mechanisms, including a mini trigger to stop the gun being fired accidentally. If the gun is dropped onto the floor, the safety mechanisms prevent it from going off by mistake, a Colonel in the forces explained.

The gun is used by two thirds of the U.S. police force. The Glock 17s are due to be delivered shortly for troops being deployed to Afghanistan, and these troops will be the first to carry the new guns.

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