The contract marks a milestone in the history of FBI weapons as the agency famously ditched 9mm in the mid-1980s for a larger .40-caliber handgun. The return comes after 30 years of ballistic improvements to 9mm ammunition.
The contract covers five items that include a compact pistol, a full-size pistol, an inert training pistol, a Simunition training pistol, and replacement parts, according to the solicitation.
Initial requests included a compact pistol with a barrel length between 3.75-4.25 inches, a minimum 14-round capacity, and night sights. And the full-size with a barrel 4.26-5.2 inches, minimum mag capacity of 16 rounds and night sights.
The FBI estimates spending between $20 million to $85 million in the next 10 years under the contact.
While the price may seem excessive, the contract may also equip 10 federal law enforcement agencies — ATF, DEA, U.S. Marshals, etc — and the Office of Inspector General for all federal agencies.
The caliber change comes 30 years after the agency’s high-profile response (dramatic among handgun aficionados) to a shootout that ended with the deaths of two agents who were essentially outgunned. The agency formally switched from revolvers to semi-auto pistols.
According to the American Rifleman, initially, the change was to a Smith & Wesson Model 1076 chambered in 10mm, which is on par with .40 caliber. But the results were poor and the agency replaced it with Sig 226 as a temporary fix. In 1997, the FBI officially adopted Glock .40 S&W pistols as the service pistol for agents.
Article updated 10:48 am EST on June 30, 2016