Monday, November 02, 2015

FBI returning to 9 mm handguns

The FBI moved to 10 mm handguns and then to .40 cal S&W.  It is now going back to  9 mm luger jacketed hollowpoint.

"The FBI is returning to the ammunition caliber it labeled ineffective and blamed for the deaths of two of its agents during a 1986 shootout in Miami – the 9mm jacketed hollow-point luger.
In addition to the new bullet, the FBI has decided to purchase a new pistol to fire it, something that could be in the hands of the bureau’s 13,000 agents by 2016. The decision could also have far-ranging implications for local law enforcement agencies because they often model their procurement decisions on those made by the FBI.
The bureau dumped the 9mm bullet after the Miami incident because it failed to penetrate far enough into the gunman’s torso.
The shooter, former Army Ranger Michael Platt, then went on to kill two agents and wound a third. Though Platt was shot multiple times, an autopsy revealed that he died from the wound suffered from that first shot – one that penetrated his chest cavity but stopped just short of his heart."

As is often case with law enforcement, the agency ignored the real problem and looked for a technological solution.  Although there was some flukey bad luck, the real problem in the shootout was haste, poor preparation. and poor tactical decision-making by the officers involved.

"The initial collision that forced the suspects off the road caused some unforeseen problems for the agents, as the FBI vehicles sustained damage from the heavier, older car driven by Matix.[8] Just prior to ramming the Monte Carlo, Manauzzi had pulled out his service revolver and placed it on the seat in anticipation of a shootout,[8] but the force of the collision flung open his door and sent his weapon flying. Hanlon lost his .357 Magnum service revolver during the initial collision, though he was still able to fight with his Smith & Wesson Model 36 backup gun. The collision knocked off Grogan's glasses, and there is speculation his vision was so bad that he was unable to see clearly enough to be effective (a claim disputed by the FBI's Medical Director, who stated that Grogan's vision was "not that bad"). Grogan is credited with landing the first hit of the gunfight, wounding Matix in the forearm as he leaned out of the Monte Carlo to fire the shotgun at Grogan and Dove.[9]Despite being on the lookout for two violent felons who were known to use firearms during their crimes, only two of the FBI vehicles contained shotguns (in addition to Mireles, McNeill had a shotgun in his car, but was unable to reach it before or during the shootout), and none of the agents was armed with a rifle. Only two of the agents were wearing ballistic vests, and the armor they were wearing was standard light body armor, which is designed to protect against handgun rounds, not the .223 Remington rounds fired by Platt's Mini-14 rifle. While heavier armor providing protection against rifle rounds would normally have been hot and uncomfortable to wear on patrol in Miami's April climate, the agents, spending the day sitting in air conditioned vehicles on the lookout for a single target, were facing good conditions for its use.
The other six agents involved in the stakeout in five vehicles, who did not reach the shootout in time to participate, did have additional weaponry including Remington shotguns, Heckler & Koch MP5 submachine guns, and M16 rifles."


  1. Bullet makers' R&D have notably improved bullet effectiveness. E.g., the .223 is now reasonably viable for deer, rather than varmints.

    Same for the 9mm Para projectiles. Plus, the lesser recoil makes shooting accurately to be less difficult.

    The average LEO does little shooting as practice, so anything to assist him/her in hitting a target is to be desired.


  2. Was the cost of sidearm replacement and ammo a factor in the FBI's decision? Or as Art wrote, is it due to improvements in 9mm Luger performance? An internet blogger noted big differences in the makes, styles and caliber of handguns among the various federal enforcement agencies. One thing the FBI shootout shows is that one size tool is not enough to stop every possible threat, which was reaffirmed 11 years later in the "Battle of North Hollywood".