As I sit and type, the last day of SHOT is wrapping up and Donald Trump is 15 minutes away from being sworn in as the 45th President of The United States. 2017 is turning out to be one hell of a year. In short, 2017 is the year both Hillary Clinton and Glock are losers.
Now for some crow. Many of our regular readers know while I was pulling for Trump, I didn’t think he was going to win. Principally because the math was counting on places like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. BTW…Pennsylvania is where Republican candidates have historically gone to die. Even more so Michigan and Wisconsin.
And much like Pennsylvania, 1000 Defense Pentagon Washington, DC 20301-1000 is where US Military acquisition logic goes to die. Because let us not forget, this entire process of looking for a new service pistol actually started around 2005 with SOCOM. And it kept getting derailed because no-one could even agree on caliber. Yes, really.
It usually went something like this, “Everyone raise your hand and vote for your preferred pistol based off merit and or preference”. Tally the votes, ”We don’t like the results so let’s void the entire program”.
And its been happening again. Every time you see a politician, flag or retired general make a public statement about selecting a new service pistol, that’s someone attempting to derail the process. Why? The US Army in particular hasn’t even remotely gotten over the cluster-fuck that was the M-16 program in Vietnam. People can do everything right, only to have someone down the line change one little thing that leads to disaster. And who get’s blamed? The folks who said they got it right initially, or the unknown bureaucrat who mucked it all up 3 years later?
It is for this reason alone that Glock was the leading contender. Glock is a world standard with military, law enforcement and even civilian shooters. The fan boys can argue all they want, but who sells more pistols world wide? Glock. It’s not even close. And non-gun people in the Beltway are aware of this fact. So politically Glock is the safe bet.
Glock’s Fatal Flaw
Why did Glock lose? In short, ergonomics. It doesn’t fit most people “well”. Sure, it fits gorilla sized guys like myself vey well. And the middle 1/3 of people it fits OK. But the final 3rd it simply doesn’t fit at all. All one has to do is look at the Glock aftermarket to see literally hundreds of companies offering grip reduction, and trigger upgrades and trigger reach mods. And in most cases these services are akin to major surgery with significant material or mass modifications. You don’t need to be Einstein to know something is up here.
And the 500 million dollar question was: Is Glock going to throw away 40 years of magazine compatibility to fix that? And for the fan boys; no, a grip insert or few degree change in grip angle doesn’t get the job done. You know it. I know it. Gaston Glock knows it. And the US Army knows it. The only way to fix Glock’s ergonomic problem is design an entirely new custom magazine that won’t be backward compatible.
They choose not to do it and it cost them this contract. But I am not entirely sure from a business standpoint, that was the wrong move. For 40 years, Glock mags are Glock mags are Glock mags are Glock compatible mags are Glock mags. And 60 years from now that will still be the case. Look at all the 9mm carbines that have come out just at this year’s SHOT show that take…wait for it…Glock magazines.
That’s an ecosystem I’m not sure is wise to give up. The closest thing I can compare to it product wise is Apple’s iOS – Phone – Computer – iTunes eco-system. Apple doesn’t need their competitors and frankly, Glock doesn’t need the US Army. Don’t get me wrong, it would be nice to have. But at what cost? In this case the Army’s needs and Glock’s aren’t aligned.
The good news for Glock’s competitors is everyone else is standing on Gaston’s shoulders. How many iterations of guns have been introduced, commercially failed, only to be replaced by a new idea? Countless.
I have gone on record that Glock would get the contract. But I also have gone on record that on paper that the SIG P320 or the HK VP9 are the logical choices as specified by the RFP. Why? They are user configurable for different hand sizes. Significantly. Everyone discounts this since it’s not sexy.
Sure, the M&P kinda does it. As does the FNS and others, But the P320 and the VP are SIGNIFICANTLY configurable. And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, consider this. A Glock 17, Glock 19, Glock 34 and Glock 26 all…have…the…same…girth. Which shouldn’t be hard to understand since they all use the same magazines.
But the people who walk around saying, “If a Glock 17 doesn’t fit your hands, switch to a Glock 19”; are emperors walking around without any clothes on. It solves nothing. It’s. The. Same. Damn. Sized. Gun!
The Army Way
Nobody seems to have picked up on this yet as a major development, but have you noticed the US Army didn’t choose the common SIG P320? They choose a SIG P320 with external thumb safeties. That goes against just about everything all my peer “pew professionals” stand for. Some would say it’s just wrong! But I’m not so sure.
Reality check. What is the little symbol within the EIB/CIB? A rifle. Is, “Every Marine a Rifleman” or a “pistolero”? Not picking up what I’m putting down? When was the last time in history a general told 10,000 men to pickup pistols and head over the hill?
The answer is never.
Military service in it’s purest form is rifle service. Sidearms aren’t even actually secondary. I can think of many, many items every solder carries that isn’t a pistol.
And here is another reality-check that the civilian gun-community seems to always forget. Military service is dominated by young men and women. Dominated. It’s a young culture. And with youth comes inexperience. It’s a fact. Indisputable.
Every Marine is a Rifleman, but he or she isn’t a 15 year grizzled SOCOM veteran. The point I am trying to make is there is a wide range of skill sets, abilities, personalties, jobs and levels of accomplishment on the conventional side of military service. I am recalling the accidental shooting of a Marine at the Gate of Camp Lejeune just a few years ago as one example.
There isn’t a General or SGM who hasn’t seen or heard of numerous similar incidents and close calls over a 30+ year career. Hence, they got their thumb safety.
If I was wrong about the Glock, I was REALLY wrong about the safety.
What Happens Now?
In no particular order:
Glock will sue.
S&W / General Dynamics will join the suit.
Glock will lose the suit.
Fan Boys will make up reasons why X,Y or Z happened.
The HK folks will swear their pistol should have magically won even though it wasn’t entered.
Everyone will have to figure out if removing the TS on the 320 is armorer level.
SOCOM won’t change from Glock until they wear out.
FBI Won’t change from Glock until they wear out.
Civilians won’t widely accept the external safety.
Eventually the LE market will look hard at the SIG 320.
Any major LE agency that adopts the SIG 320 will likely choose the external safety.
At least one model of pistol submitted will be quietly discontinued.
The 320’s caliber conversion feature will be ignored.
In closing. Trump just walked out on to the dais and is minutes away from taking the oath of office. It’s all smiles. The Army got the pistol it wanted. I got the President I wanted. Michelle Obama gets back the life she wanted. And Hillary Clinton and Glock get what they deserve.
God Bless America.
“Shooting Guns & Having Fun”
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