On Friday, the U.K. Ministry of Defence (note the habitual British typo) announced a significant change in direction on how it equips its soldiers. The MoD is retiring the venerable Browning L9A1 semiautomatic pistol from its arsenal, and replacing it with the fourth generation, 9mm Glock 17.
After short-listing five pistols for its new sidearm, the Ministry has settled upon the Austrian-made Glock, and will purchase 25,000 units of the pistol, plus new holsters, for approximately $14.5 million , from local distributor Viking Arms Ltd .
The Ministry cited the Glock's lesser weight and greater magazine capacity (17 rounds, versus 13 for the Browning) as key factors in its decision. The Glock's greater accuracy was also a factor in deciding to outfit all three branches of the U.K. military with the new sidearm, beginning first with troops deployed to Afghanistan. Additionally, cost appears to have been a factor in the decision to switch. The Ministry noted in a press release that, while its armed forces have used Browning pistols for more than 40 years, it has "become increasingly expensive to maintain."
Glock is a privately held Austrian arms manufacturer. Browning Arms, while based in Utah, is now owned by Belgium's Groupe Herstal S.A.