RUMOR MILL: Is ICE About to Adopt the SIG P320?

Is SIG about to win a major contract – likely worth more than ten million dollars – to supply pistols for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency? That is the scuttlebutt on the street, as part of a wider theory that the agency’s Office of Firearms and Tactical Programs is in the pocket of SIG’s sales department. Whether this is true or not is unknown, but according to WeaponsMan’s Hognose, that’s the perception among the agency’s rank-and-file:

Many ICE agents prefer the Glock platform, and retain a deep distrust of an agency firearms bureaucracy, the Office of Firearms and Tactical Programs (OFTP). OFTP is perceived — rightly or not — as so biased towards SIG as to practically be in the pocket of the firm. The current issue weapon is the SIG P229 DAK, but it is broadly disliked and many agents carry one of the approved personally owned models instead, most often Glocks. (That the G19 — Glock’s 9mm in the general form factor of the P229 — has never been approved for personal or off-duty carry by OFTP is seen by agents as more evidence of SIG boosterism).

Hognose’s original theory from back in March 2015 was that ICE’s solicitation for a new pistol was written with a conspicuous lean towards the feature set of the Smith & Wesson M&P, but his readers in the know quickly mailed to tell him he was wrong:

[I]nsiders say that we were totally wrong — not about whether they had written the contract with one particular gun in mind a cursory read of the specs makes it pretty clear they did just that. Nope, we were wrong about exactly what handgun they were trying to buy.

OFTP wrote they spec, so they thought, to explicitly exclude everything but the SIG P320 Compact.

I highly recommend clicking through and reading Hognose’s whole piece, as I have omitted quite a lot here.

Related: SIG P320 Selected as new US Army Handgun.

All this could be just speculation or feeling from within the agency, or without. Similar rumors flew with the FBI’s solicitation which had a conspicuous requirement for no finger grooves – something that didn’t prevent home team Glock from running off with the contract anyway.

Like the FBI, too, ICE wants a 9mm pistol. Judging by the wind as it is now, the sun may be setting on the .40 S&W, although it will surely maintain a core of dedicated followers for many years to come. Still, for right now, 9mm is king.





Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He is also the author of the original web serial Heartblood, which is being updated and edited regularly. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


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  • Billy Jack

    I hate those finger grooves too so I can’t say much about snubbing Glock. I hate the 19 so much I’ve stopped using full size Glocks too. The Camry-F150-ness of Glock doesn’t help.
    I would be surprised if Glock didn’t grease wheels when they can. Every contractor does it if they can or are asked to. Look at what is going on with the F35 and Boeing. Government purchasing is corrupt from county school districts to federal agencies.
    The P320C has advantages over the Glock 19 with grip customization and the only disadvantage is long-term reliability not existing with the 320, but even that can be a toss up when considering the failures with Glock’s new FBI spec pistols that had to be returned. The frame and mags have been around with the P250 for a few years and I haven’t heard or seen any issues. I did pickup a Carry frame that had a cosmetic flaw. 320/250 mags are MecGar.
    Glock losing a few contracts may help motivate them to add some variation beyond new subcompact pistols. I know the response is if it ain’t broke… and that’s valid and probably the strongest argument. Even Navy Seals ditched Sig. You can get a pair of 19s for the price of a Seal Sig. As far as deficits and govt spending are concerned that is pretty relevant too. 320’s run around the same as Glocks. I think Sig’s LEO pricing with 3 mags & night sights is cheaper than Glock’s last I checked. I don’t think you can go wrong with either unless purchasing agents were bribed in the procurement process. Drain the swamp.

    • Boeing is not a contractor for F-35.

      • SP mclaughlin

        I think he’s referring to Trump’s statements on Lockheed Martin and Boeing (new Air Force One) respectively.

      • Kivaari

        My sources say Boeing is quite involved with the F35. They are partners with several contractors each doing a part of the plane.

        • nova3930

          Nearly everyone involved in DoD aviation is involved. It’s too big a program, too politically well designed and there are too few defense contractors left for it to be otherwise.

      • Emfourty Gasmask

        All major aviation companies are involved with each other to some degree on every project, they just dont talk about it publicly.

        t. ex-Sys Admin for airframe engineering firm

      • Billy Jack

        Apologies for bastardizing that. Boeing has the contract for a new Air Force 1 that the incoming POTUS believes is over priced. Lockheed has the F35 contract and there are cost concerns. Mark Welsh was Air Force CoS when they awarded the new stealth bomber contract to Northrop Grumman last year and he was just placed on their board of directors.

        • No problem. Yes, this sort of job-hopping and horse trading is extremely common in procurement.

    • Hellbilly

      I love the finger grooves on the 3rd-Gen Glock 19, and I hate the bulge of the left grip panel under the slide stop on the Sig P299R. The Sig has to be the most ergonomically annoying pistol I’ve ever shot thanks to that left grip panel. Also with the Sig, I had to swap out the newer, skinny trigger with the older, fatter trigger because the side of my index finger would constantly get pinched by that sucker, no matter how carefully I positioned my finger.

      Of course, everyone is different, which is why it’s nice to have some variety in the firearms world.

      • Billy Jack

        I like older pre-groove gens on the smaller Glocks. I’m happy with full size but on smaller models they line up wrong for me due to hand size. I would send a gen 3 or 4 out for a pro groove removal but I don’t like it enough. I am getting a gen 4 22 sometime soon to Barbie doll up with different lone wolf barrels.
        I hate the E2 grips on my P229R because of that same decocker bulge. Makes that sandpaper grind my thumb knuckle. I put some $20 Hogue rubber grips (without finger grooves) and its awesome. Profile is much slimmer.
        I really wanted a VP9 but trigger finger bite was a deal breaker. That’s hard to live with. Did you try the short trigger? Seems like it would have less chance to bite. That or maybe the short trigger reset kit? Less movement and the trigger may not come forward enough to bite.
        Variety is the spice of life right?

    • G B

      I would wager that NSWC’s decisions to move from one piece of equipment to another rarely has anything to do with their procurement costs. Especially in this case when we realize that the costs of providing sidearms probably looks like peanuts compared to any of the other expenses they have (and we are talking about an organization that issues SpecterDR’s and GPNVG-18’s). I think the size and weight differences between the Sigs and the G19’s has a lot more to do with the decision than cost does.

      • CommonSense23

        Price is definitely a factor for the reason of the switch. But one of the things people aren’t realizing about the switch to Click 19s in NSW is it is replacing not just the 226s but the 239s for low vis use also.
        And the majority of NSW isn’t getting the quad nods unfortunately.

  • yulla

    Makes sense, girls have smaller hands.

  • john huscio

    Gen 4 glocks FTW

  • Vhyrus

    I thought border patrol carried hk pistols?

    • Bob

      Border Patrol does carry HK pistols. Border Patrol is also part of Customs and Border Protection and not Immugration and Customs Enforcement, two different agencies.

    • Robocop

      As bob said, two different things. DHS is the parent department, under that is Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Part of CBP is Border Patrol, Office of Field Operations (US Customs and Immigration were merged into OFO), Office of Air and Marine (air support and watercraft for CBP). Other components of DHS are the secret service, Air Marshals, and finally ICE. Keep in mind that since most get all these confused frequently the rumor may be specifically about ICE which includes ERO and DRO which are used to house/transport aliens in detention as well as provide enforcement (raids) and deportations. The other component is HSI (Homeland Security Investigations) which are the special agents that perform the investigations for ICE and some components of CBP. There are far fewer HSI special agents than there are ICE agents so if it’s one and not the other it could be a decent sized contract or a relatively small one.

      • Bill

        DHS could not possibly have a more convoluted table of organization. I feel for the guys who started working for agencies pre-2003 who then got swept up in all the shuffling.

        • Robocop

          As somebody that started 5 years ago it isn’t much better for the idiots that drank the OFO (customs) koolaid. I usually end up telling people I work for border patrol if they ask because nobody knows what the hell the office of field operations is, couldn’t possible be more vague. “Well, you see, I work at a port of entry on the mexican border and catch drugs and illegals and stuff”. “Oh, kind of like border patrol?”, “More like customs and immigration back in the day”, “But they’re not around anymore”, “right”, “So… CBP stands for customs and border patrol right?”, “You know what, ya, sure, I work for border patrol”.

  • Seth Hill

    I am willing to adopt all of the P229s that are replaced.

  • 22winmag

    Should help make catch and release easier and safer.

  • CapeMorgan

    DHS must have had a change in acquisition policy. When it was formed DHS decided that the department could save money if all the agencies under DHS pooled their purchasing requirements together to get the best value. This started with the contract for the same sidearm. For example the Coast Guard always used the same sidearm and caliber as DOD. When the SIG purchase was made, the CG was forced to change. It was always presumed that the other agencies were the ones in favor of SIG. I wonder what changed and why ICE is being allowed to go it alone.

    • Jeff S

      HUH? CBP/BP have been using the HK P2000 LEM .40 since FY06. FAMS and USSS have used different handguns too. DHS has never all been on the same page… Not once.

  • Dickie

    Yup 40 is dead. Stupid caliber anyhow. .357sig is king!!!!

    • Red

      Finally someone gets it right.

  • thedarkknightreturns

    The P 320 hasn’t really endeared itself to me personally, then again I never was much for the striker fired stuff. I cut my teeth on 1911s, but most agencies in my area won’t authorize them for duty, if the option was there, I still wouldn’t hesitate to carry one of my WIlsons for duty use. The HK P30L LEM is my favorite of the duty oriented pistols out there, I have one that has had a trip to Gray Guns and it is one of my best shooting pistols. Also the LEM setup is one of the better trigger mechanisms for law enforcement duty use in my opinion. The late great Todd Green did some serious testing of the P30, and it did not disappoint.

  • John

    I’d screw with the ICE requirements and put out an request for a single-stack, all metal handgun in a caliber of .45 or greater.

    THAT’D raise eyebrows.

  • Tom J

    It’s hard enough finding holsters for the 229, so now they’re going to force a switch to a totally obscure firearm? Great. Thanks to the morons in Washington that made this decision.

    Part of the issue is ICE has the OFTTP, or some other stupid acronym. They “test” firearms and armor, and only allow certain items to be approved. As an example, ICE Officers are allowed to carry Glock 26’s that are personally owned. The 27 is off limits because it didn’t pass the ICE testing, whatever that is. So, chances are someone, somewhere, felt that the Sig was the only firearm that met all the design requirements, and the ICE testing protocol. For an agency that has basically been mothballed for the last 8 years, it makes no sense to try to reinvent the wheel. Hell, most ICE officers sit at their desks, with their feet up, and complain that their GS12 pay, plus AUO isn’t enough money. For an agency of desk jockeys, and crybabies, ICE should just say you can carry a Glock 26, 19, or 17, and be done with it. There are hundreds of actual law enforcement agencies that have no problems with Glock, ICE is nothing special.

    • Jeff S

      ICE does more than immigration… Don’t forget that “C” in the acronym. Plenty of HSI agents are more than gainfully employed. 😉

      • Tom J

        True. I was directing my hate and discontent at ERO specifically. I should have been more specific. But, HSI has been distancing itself from immigration work, so when you talk about ICE officers, or immigration officers, you’re usually referring to ERO. HSI has made it pretty clear they want to be known as HSI Agents, instead of ICE Agents. Heck, they even spent millions of dollars to change their badges, and so on. Unfortunately this rumor doesn’t specify which part of ICE, but one could assume if true, it would be ERO and HSI both switching to the p320.

  • retfed

    Another case where concept and reality don’t meet.
    When DHS was formed and INS and USCS were merged into ICE and CBP, INS (including USBP)’s standard pistol was the HK USP40c with the LEM trigger, and USCS (including Investigations and Inspections)’s standard was the Glock 17 for uniformed inspectors and the 19 for plainclothes special agents.
    CBP subsequently went to the P2000, and ICE went to the P229R DAK in .40. Until that happened, “legacy Customs” people carried their Glocks, and “legacy INS” carried their HKs.
    USSS was carrying SIG P228s and 9mm P229s at the time of the merger if I remember right, and they stayed with them. USCG stayed with their old issue, too. FAMS carried P229s in .357 Sig from the get-go, and FPS also carried Sigs (I forget the caliber, maybe .357 Sig).
    I don’ think DHS ever standardized anything, and I doubt if it ever will. A FAM on an airliner has a different requirement than a USBP agent in the desert.

    • Jeff S

      You forgot the INS and Border Patrol Beretta 96s. The only INS and BP guys with USPs were new hires from about 2000 onward.
      Also, CBP (OFO, BP and OAM) have thousands upon thousand of unissued P2000s, so those will be with the agency for quite some time.

      • retfed

        Ah yes, the old Burritos. But as far as I know, they were mostly retired in 2000 when the HK was adopted. In the offices I know of, none were grandfathered in, and everyone had to trade them in for the HK. The new kids were issued the HKs at FLETC or Artetsia, and the old timers had to trade their Berettas for the HKs in the field.
        If the Berettas were still in service in some places, I stand corrected.
        I was only speaking of what I know was in service at the time of the 2003 merger.

      • Tom J

        Thousands upon thousands of unissued P2000’s? I believe the Government would do something stupid like that, but where did you hear that bit of info? That’s a huge waste of resources if true.

  • Dr. Longfellow Buchenrad

    You cant please everyone. The P320 is my preferred handgun and what I carry, but Im not going to say its the best for everyone; though the interchangeable grip system does make it pretty adaptable to a wide variety of people. In the end for logistical purposes, they do have to decide on a single gun to issue and there is nothing wrong with the P320. It is nice however that agents can carry certain personally owned guns. That being said there is no reason that G17s and G19s shouldnt be on that list.

    The purchasing dept potentially favoring Sig is another matter.