How the Glock 22 Was Born From an FBI Shootout

 In GDI, Defense, Energy

Key point: In the ebb and flow of car­tridge pop­u­lar­i­ty, the .40 Smith & Wesson round is now losing ground against new nine-mil­lime­ter ammu­ni­tions that fea­ture com­pet­i­tive levels of energy and veloc­i­ty.

One of Glock’s more con­tro­ver­sial pis­tols, the Glock 22, was the direct result of lessons learned during an infa­mous gun battle.

The 1986 FBI Miami shootout, which saw a pair of crim­i­nals outgun a supe­ri­or force of FBI agents, result­ed in a revamp­ing of firearms inven­to­ries and train­ing across American law enforce­ment. One of the results was the new .40 Smith & Wesson round, which Glock quick­ly incor­po­rat­ed into a new semi-auto­mat­ic pistol — the Glock 22.

In 1986, a gun battle erupt­ed between fed­er­al agents and crim­i­nals Michael Platt and William Matix. The two were respon­si­ble for a spree of bank and armored car rob­beries in the south Florida region. Eight FBI agents, on the look­out for a car stolen by the pair, attempt­ed to pull them over and a gun­fight between the two sides ensued.

Although out­num­ber­ing the crim­i­nals four to one, the FBI agents found them­selves facing supe­ri­or fire­pow­er with infe­ri­or weapons. The FBI agents were armed with a single Remington 870 shot­gun, and .38 Special, nine mil­lime­ter, and .357 magnum hand­guns. Platt and Matix were armed with a Ruger Mini-14 semi-auto­mat­ic rifle and shot­gun.

Over the course of four min­utes, the two sides exchanged over 125 shots. Of the eight FBI agents, two were killed and anoth­er five wound­ed. Platt was shot twelve times and Matix six times before both were put down. As a result, the Federal Bureau of Investigation set­tled on a new round, .40 Smith & Wesson, which it believed would inca­pac­i­tate tar­gets more quick­ly than the small­er cal­iber .38 Special and nine-mil­lime­ter rounds.

The Glock 22 was the first .40 pistol to market, beat­ing out Smith & Wesson. The Glock 22 was actu­al­ly a Glock 17 adapt­ed to shoot the new cal­iber ammu­ni­tion. Although the Glock 17 was cham­bered in 9×17 mil­lime­ter, the .40 S&W round was tech­ni­cal­ly 10×22 mil­lime­ter and was thus very sim­i­lar in dimen­sions. The basic Glock pistol design could be easily adapt­ed to handle the new round, allow­ing the Austrian gun­mak­er to get a leg up on the com­pe­ti­tion and sell tens of thou­sands of the new Glocks to local law enforce­ment agen­cies across America fol­low­ing the FBI’s lead to a heav­ier cal­iber.

The new pistol, named Glock 22, was very sim­i­lar to the orig­i­nal Glock 17 hand­gun, a high capac­i­ty, strik­er-fired semi-auto­mat­ic hand­gun. The Glock 22 had an over­all length of 8.03 inches, a height of 5.47 inches, and a width of just 1.26 inches — dimen­sions iden­ti­cal to the Glock 17. Barrel length, 4.49 inches, was also iden­ti­cal.

The major dif­fer­ence sprung from the dif­fer­ent cal­ibers and was large­ly inter­nal. The Glock 22, with its larger .40 S&W rounds, could carry just fif­teen of the heav­ier, fatter rounds — two less than the nine-mil­lime­ter Glock 17. Although the rounds were larger there were fewer of them, result­ing in a fully loaded net weight dif­fer­ence of only about an ounce. Within a few short years, the Glock 22 was the most pop­u­lar police hand­gun in America.

Crimes with long guns, such as with a .223 Remington Mini-14 rifle in the case of the 1986 Miami shootout, are rel­a­tive­ly rare. Long guns are dif­fi­cult to con­ceal and, as a result, crim­i­nals gen­er­al­ly prefer hand­guns. In 2016, out of 11,004 gun homi­cides, rifles and shot­guns account­ed for only 374 homi­cides.

In the ebb and flow of car­tridge pop­u­lar­i­ty, the .40 Smith & Wesson round is now losing ground against new nine-mil­lime­ter ammu­ni­tions that fea­ture com­pet­i­tive levels of energy and veloc­i­ty. Although the .40 S&W round’s future is now uncer­tain, the Glock 22 is still avail­able for those that desire the larger pistol round’s per­for­mance. And if worst comes to worst, a Glock 22 can be con­vert­ed to fire nine-mil­lime­ter ammu­ni­tion. Furthermore, Glock’s .40 S&W hand­gun allows gun owners to shoot a vari­ety of hand­gun ammu­ni­tion with­out sac­ri­fic­ing per­for­mance.

Kyle Mizokami is a writer based in San Francisco who has appeared in The Diplomat, Foreign Policy, War is Boring and The Daily Beast. In 2009 he co-found­ed the defense and secu­ri­ty blog Japan Security Watch. You can follow him on Twitter: @KyleMizokami. This arti­cle first appeared sev­er­al years ago.

Image: Creative Commons.

Source: National Interest

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