Miami Glock Barrels

I came across the concept of the Miami Glock Barrels in an online conversation with an LEO from Miami. He had mentioned “Miami Glock Barrel” in his conversation and I had no idea what he was talking about. Miami Police Department partnered with Glock to intentionally have a groove in the rifling of the barrel so that bullets fired by their police officers can later be identified.


n the early 1990s several shootings involving Miami, Florida, Police Department officers using Glock firearms received widespread media attention. It also revealed the Glock weapons’ identification problem.

Glock is one of a few manufacturers that use a polygonal rifled barrel. Due to this particular manufacturing process, in most cases the weapon failed to leave an identifiable signature.

Originially, Glock responded to this concern by developing a technique known as the Electronic Spark Reduction Method (ESRM).1 However, an in-depth study by the Miami-Dade, Florida, Police Department (MDPD) Crime Laboratory Bureau (CLB) found that Glock’s ESRM failed to make the firearm easier to identify.

Not until 2001, after a suspect was killed during a shooting involving three officers and the examiners were unable to positively identify which officer had fired the fatal shot, did Glock develop a barrel that left a unique signature on the bullet.

In 2003, Glock introduced the Enhanced Bullet Identification System (EBIS) that has become known as the “Miami Barrel.” Now an extensive study, spearheaded by the MDPD CLB, is being conducted in more than 120 crime labs across 41 states to determine the effectiveness and identifiability of the Miami Barrel. Several smaller research studies have been conducted since the barrel was first introduced, but this new study aims to provide the in-depth data required by police agencies nationwide regarding Glock weapons’ use and identification.


Down at Big 3 East, in Daytona Beach, FL, I met a retired Dade Miami police officer and asked him about these Miami Barrels. He laughed. He said it was useless and many cops don’t have the special Miami barrel anyway. Sounds as useful as COBIS in NY. COBIS spend millions of dollars trying to create a catalog of barrel marks and bullet striations. However they were never able to solve a crime with their information.

Nicholas C

Co-Founder of KRISSTALK forums, an owner’s support group and all things KRISS Vector related. Nick found his passion through competitive shooting while living in NY. He participates in USPSA and 3Gun. He loves all things that shoots and flashlights. Really really bright flashlights.

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  • janklow

    “Sounds as useful as COBIS in NY. COBIS spend millions of dollars trying to create a catalog of barrel marks and bullet striations. However they were never able to solve a crime with their information.”

    or MD’s ballistic registry.

    • Well all the guns in crime were found to come from out of state. Only guns sold in the state were put in the state’s registry.

      • janklow

        rest assured i am by no means calling such registries effective. we finally scrapped ours.

    • Paul Joly

      If the barrels were registered yes, but in that case its near useless. In Europe, it makes more sense but you still got the fact that barrels wear out so the marks they leave change over time.

      • janklow

        no, it’s really not an effective crime-fighting tool at all.

  • Dave Curtis

    Well, it doesn’t cost the department any extra to buy the guns with marking barrels.

  • James

    I was always under the impression that ballistics could at best help narrow down a found bullet to a particular type of barrel… like a 1:10 rh 9mm barrel or something. The possibility of matching a round to an exact firearm seems very dubious due to the face that they are mass produced by the millions and suffer uneven wear patterns over time.

    • James

      *fact not face haha

    • Bill

      It can It’s “easy” to identify a bullet fired from a GLOCK, or some HKs. by their lack of conventional rifling. GLOCKs also leave distinctive firing pin impressions on fired primers. Those “uneven wear patterns” are essentially what make fired bullets or expended cases individually identifiable. Other manufacturers vary in the dimensions of the lands and grooves of their barrels, extractors, ejectors and firing pins.

      • James

        Yeah but that’s kinda what I’m saying is that I was pretty sure they could narrow it down to a particular model but if they recover a round or brass and 2 years later find a gun… Wouldn’t the gun no longer match due to wear from firing? And wouldn’t a quick swipe of sandpaper totally change the marks?

        • Bill

          The steel in barrels, ejectors, extractors and firing pins is a lot harder than the copper/brass/lead or other materials in cartridges, so any wear is extremely slow and dependent on the number of rounds fired. The guns subject to this type of testing normally don’t have the tens of thousands of rounds fired through them that competition guns might – even military weapons have been ballistically matched. Though there have been notable exceptions, the average bandit doesn’t do a whole lot of range training or practice, and frequently doesn’t even have a hobbyist’s idea of how his gun works.

          Theoretically you could try to alter the marks, but assuming that this is a crime gun, you’d just be adding more, and more distinctive marks, which might be harder to explain than just working harder at disposing of the gun. Additionally, many marks result in the metal being “compressed,” so you’d really have to grind away a lot of metal or the original mark could be raised by crime lab magic involving acids and a nerd. EVERY gun I’ve recovered with a ground-away serial number could have at least a portion of the serial number recovered, with the exception of one that was ground so deeply it could be measured with a ruler. Of course, attempting to obliterate a serial number is a whole separate crime, so it’s really not too bright to do.


    Hotline Miami Glock Barrel 2: Wrong Bullet

    • owl

      Do you like hurting other people?

      • pithy

        Do you like asking confusing non-sequiter questions to strangers?

  • BillC

    Ballistics (matching) is junk science at best and complete hokum at worst.

    • Harrison Jones

      Don’t you watch NCIS!!! haha

      • BillC

        I know right? Where everything is 100% proof positive and anything can be solved in 1 hour with commercials. Even 10 minutes of research into CSI by the layman can show just how even the herald DNA evidence isn’t concrete. Hognose over at Weaponsman(dot)com wrote a fun article about it (CSI) a month or so ago.

        • Bill

          The “CSI Effect” is a recognized issue in LE and prosecution circles; it’s been written about a lot and plays into jury selections.

      • john huscio

        NCIS makes me wanna gibbs-slap the producers……awful show these days

    • Bill

      Huh, I did not know that. You may want to let a bunch of ballisticians and forensic firearms examiners in n that little tidbit. If it’s junk science so are fingerprints, tool marks and any other kind of pattern-transfer evidence.

      • raz-0

        Ballistic fingerprinting is tool mark pattern matching. Anyone who does it seriously will tell you how limited it is relative to how useful it is portrayed as being. Can it tell you make and model? yeah, fairly well. Can it tell you more if you have a bunch of shooting going on at a crime scene with the weapons obtained very soon after with little to no additional use? yup. What’s the horizon on use making the thing appear as different form what it was then as any other sample of the same gun? Not a lot of stats published on that.

        As for fingerprinting, as used, it pretty much IS junk science. There’s tons of stuff being admitted as damning evidence that if you look at the math behind the claims boils down to a uniqueness of 1 in 40 or worse.

        • gunsandrockets

          It seems that many types of forensic sciences as used in the criminal justice system demonstrate of the triumph of scientism in our society.

          • Audie Bakerson

            I think they’ve actually studied it and found that DNA is pretty much the only one that’s all that valid.

  • Trev Derpberg

    Could the pentagon with dot marking on the barrel signify it’s a Miami barrel?

    • Gregory


  • Glenn Bellamy

    Given the ubiquity of Glock handguns and situations where both police and non-police may have been used at a single scene, at least this could help separate bullets fired from police weapons vs. non-police weapons, even if it doesn’t tell which police weapon.

    • slimsummers

      I remember reading about this many moons ago. The first thought I had was anyone in Miami with a Glock and an inclination to use it illegally would be filing a groove into their bbl to implicate the cops as soon as they read the article..

  • DIR911911 .

    “wait , what?” . . . every criminal that just read this

  • Raoul O’Shaugnessy

    NYPD had the same issue back in he early days of Glock adoption. Glock was willing to accommodate them with a special barrel but the versions that were sent for testing didnt perform as well as the Glocks with the original barrels; in the end they scrapped the idea and went with the regular polygonal barrels.

  • Bob

    The Miami Barrel is for the City of Miami Police Department. These came along waaaaay back in the early 1990s. Miami-Dade Police Department is a separate agency. Back then they were known as Metro Dade Police.

    MPD was one of the first agencies in the country to adopt Glock. MDPD didn’t allow Glock to be carried until very recently. They were always a DAO guns like a DAO Sig P226, S&W 5946, or a DAO Beretta 92.

    So you’re half wrong due to your information. MDPD doesn’t issue Glocks with the Miami Barrel since the Miami Barrel is for the City of Miami (MPD) issued Glock Pistols.

    • Paul Joly

      DAO pistols, wow. I think the second selection criteria was “having an external hammer”…

  • Suppressed

    Thanks for the commercial, we’ll tell them Bob sent us…


  • BigFED

    I question the ROI (return on investment) for this. It cost a whole lot of money to do this and how many times it would be make a difference in the investigation? How many times is there a question about “who shot John” to make this worth the cost of having this “technology”?

  • Steve_7

    From what I remember, back in the early 1990s there was a shootout between a Miami PD cop and a drug dealer, both had Glocks loaded with Silvertips and they couldn’t identify who fired which shots. The problem was compounded by the jackets folding back and hiding part of the rifling marks.

    I remember talking to them about it at the time, the idea at that point was to use conventionally rifled barrels in the Miami PD Glocks, but as a stopgap they changed ammo from Silvertips to the Winchester Ranger 115gr JHP which is less common in private hands.

    They gave up on the idea of conventionally rifled barrels when they went to .40, iirc.

  • ErSwnn

    Firing pin and extractor marks should have some ability to identify a particular firearm. Or so I’ve heard…am I incorrect?