This morning’s story created quite a stir in ICE, both in the field offices and at headquarters. In the headquarters our little story apparently alarmed an organization called OFTP, the Office of Firearms and Tactical Programs. OFTP used to be called NFTTU, and some ICEmen still refer to it by the old acronym.
Anyway, it’s OFTP that wrote the specs for a new handgun. And insiders say that we were totally wrong — not about whether they had written the contract with one particular gun in mind; a cursory read of the specs makes it pretty clear they did just that. Nope, we were wrong about exactly what handgun they were trying to buy.
OFTP wrote they spec, so they thought, to explicitly exclude everything but the SIG P320 Compact.
Some in ICE are in deep denial about that. They remember the fiasco with the SIG 250, SIG’s previous modular polymer pistol. They have fought NFTTU, which also specifies which personal off-duty pistols ICE agents are able to use. Any agent may carry a pistol from an approved list, but he or she must qualify with the pistol, and can only be authorized to carry two firearms. The qualified pistol list is strange: for example, the Glock 26 and Glock 17, compact and full-size 9mm pistols, are authorized, but the intermediate Glock 19 isn’t; fullsized Glocks are OK in .40 but the compact G27 is verboten. Why? No one has gotten a credible answer out of OFTP or its forerunner. Agents who prefer Glock pistols have long suspected NFTTU/OFTP of bias against the Austrian sidearm. OFTP insiders deny this, and claim that the new solicitation doesn’t exclude Glock.
“But it requires an ambidextrous slide release, which no Glock has.”
“Glock could make one.”
Whether that is possible for a company that’s already introduced several new models in the last year is an open question, as is whether it would be economical. (Beretta could tell you how lucrative it isn’t, making a new version of lockwork when a single client holds its breath until it turns blue). Glock has modified its weapons for a single customer in the past, but NYPD was a large customer with some 40,000 armed officers at the time. All ICE is probably a max of 12,000 gun carriers, split roughly evenly between HSI (Homeland Security Investigations) and ERO (Enforcement and Removal Operations).
Another weird thing in the solicitation is this: when the competitors provide test guns, they also have to provide magazines. So far, nothing abnormal there, right? But they have to provide, we are not making this up, fifty-two (52!) magazines per pistol. We don’t think we could find 52 mags for any single make and model of pistol around here. We might have 30 or 40 M9 mags, but that would require us to shake out 30 years of rucksacks, ammo pouches, vests, and duffle bags. What earthly goal can one accomplish with as many pistol magazines as cards come in a deck?
UPDATE: Correction to the Correction
The only ICE employees authorized to carry the Glock .40 are members of the Federal Protective Service. FPS was consolidated into ICE after adopting the Glock 22, and so they’re grandfathered. However HSI and ERO agents can’t carry the G22, only 9mm Glocks. We regret not making this clear initially.
UPDATE 2: OFTP’s justification for not approving the G19 is that it supposedly failed an endurance test that the 17 and 26 did.
UPDATE 3: This issue is being discussed on the HSI SA’s forum on Delphi. Note that that is their sandbox and so we don’t usually go there to play. They are