The Ministry of Defence has recently signed a £9M contract to provide all three services of the Armed Forces with more than 25,000 new side-arms and holsters from Austria’s Glock, to replace the Browning 9mm pistol, which has been in service since 1967.
Having identified and shortlisted seven handgun manufacturers, the MoD approached QinetiQ to assist in testing and evaluating design safety and suitability of each of the seven candidate pistols. By combining a variety of expertise throughout the company, and exercising strong team work, we were able to meet the demands of this complicated programme of work to deliver a wide-ranging and comprehensive assessment, on time.
The areas involved in the testing included the Environmental Test Centre on Foulness, and the firing ranges at Pendine and Shoeburyness, with Fort Halstead providing the technical and project management support.
The trial comprised a series of tests designed to put the weapons through all possible aspects that they might face in service use. The environmental phase covered various climatic conditions, including temperature cycling, shock and vibration.
The pistols were also subjected to a variety of rough handling trials such as being dropped from a height of 1 metre onto meadow land and concrete, being dragged through mud and sand, and firing in freezing and driving rain.
On top of all this, we also put the handguns through endurance firings, where they were tested to the end of their effective life. At the end of the seven-month programme, approximately 78,000 rounds had been fired across all weapons.
The chosen pistol, the 9mm Glock 17, is most effective at a range of between 10 and 25 metres, and is lighter, more accurate and its magazines can carry more bullets than the Browning it replaces.