The US Air Force Office of Special Investigations announced yesterday that they’d completed the selection process for a new handgun to replace their Sig M11 pistols. Air Force OSI agents will carry Gen 5 Glock 19 pistols, with the option to carry a Gen 5 Glock 26 as well.
The Rest of the USAF Gets the M18
The rest of the US Air Force is still slated to receive the Sig Sauer M18 pistol. However, at the time the M18 was selected, part of the justification for choosing the “compact” option instead of the long slide M17 was to provide OSI Special Agents with a more compact pistol for concealed carry.
Interestingly, Air Force OSI leadership also objected to the color of the M18. They said that the coyote tan wouldn’t blend in as well with plainclothes assignments. While some might question why the color of a concealed gun matters, the coyote tan of the M18 is quite distinctive. The Glock pistols also have a tremendous service record in law enforcement. They’ve been proven time and again as a duty pistol.
Quotes from Air Force OSI Leadership
“This is a momentous occasion for our command as we will soon have the flexibility to field two firearms to better support our unique mission requirements and our members. The initial shipment of weapons to the Department of the Air Force is expected late this year and we are working diligently to formulate a smooth rollout to the field.”Brig. Gen. Terry Bullard, OSI commander
“We’ve arrived at the next step in what has been a long but rewarding process for OSI. Getting to this milestone is one step closer to enhancing both our modernization and global readiness for decades to come.”Brian Garon, OSI’s Command Weapons program manager
Taking off my firearms industry hat for a second and putting on my Air Force Combat Arms Instructor hat. Understand of course that these opinions don’t represent the Air Force, but I want to frame my thoughts through the lens of that experience.
I think this is an interesting development. One of the drivers for selecting the M18 over the M17 was OSI’s desire for a compact pistol. However, Air Force OSI at the time had a personally owned weapons policy. This allowed agents to carry their own guns as long as those guns met certain criteria. To my knowledge, OSI had received their allotment of M18s as well. That being said, I don’t disagree with OSI’s choices, and in fact I’m a bit jealous. I prefer the Glock 19 to the Sig M18. I wish that the entire force had selected it as a duty weapon.
The training piece is interesting as well. We’re in the process of revamping our entire small arms qualification, so I’ll be very interested to see what comes out of the Security Forces Center in terms of a new pistol qualification that covers all our handguns. Due to Air Force regs work, Combat Arms shops will for the near future have to keep M18s, M9s, and now Glock pistols in stock. Instructors will also need to maintain qualifications across platforms.
Regardless of the logistics, the Glock 19 is an excellent choice for the Special Agents in OSI. I look forward to seeing the rollout of this weapons system.