Back in December local news in Baltimore reported that Baltimore County Police had problems with their FNS-40 pistols and were looking to replace them with Glocks. Baltimore County Police Department began reviewed their FN pistols in October 2018, and have made the decision to replace them.
Baltimore County PD initially selected the FNS-40 Long Slide back in 2013, ordering 1,920 .40 S&W pistols in 2015. Apparently, problems began in 2014 during the weapon’s initial roll out, and again in 2016 when it was reported that officers had experienced an accidental discharge with the new pistols. According to documents obtained by Fox News in 2016, nine pistols were identified as having issued. Baltimore’s local ABC News affiliate reported in 2017 that an officer was injured when his weapon misfired.
One officer from Baltimore County Police, Cpl. Shawn Vinson, said:
Well this is an important tool that we carry every day as a police officer and you have to have confidence in that weapon to know when you are going to use it, when you need to use it that is is going to work and it is going to work properly.
Fox New’s Baltimore affiliate, Fox 45, recently reported that the Arizona Department of Public Safety had shared testing results with the Baltimore County Police. The study by the Arizona DPS found that the pistols can experience out of battery detonations and accidental discharges from knocks to the weapon, including holstering as had previously been reported.
As a result at the end of 2018, Baltimore County Police announced that the department would be transitioning to from their FN pistols to 9x19mm Glock 17s, at a cost of $1.4 million, through an Emergency Justification for a Replacement Service Weapon. At the beginning of January FN America responded to the problems and the department’s decision in a press release.
Here’s FN’s statement in full:
FN America, LLC has supported Baltimore County Police Department, above and beyond the call of duty, in their transition to the FNS™-40 pistol. The company made every effort possible to work with the department to alleviate officer concerns and to instruct the department on standard maintenance procedures.
FN America, LLC acknowledges the company was aware of occurrences of officer-induced accidental discharges with the FNS-40 pistols used by Baltimore County Police Department over the past five years.
FN America, LLC is also aware that a report, generated by an independent testing lab following the first incident, certified that there was no manufacturing defect present that could cause the pistol to misfire. This report attributed the incident to an officer-induced accidental discharge.
According to Baltimore County Police Department’s statements to the media following an incident in 2017, department spokesman, Cpl. Shawn Vinson, acknowledged that none of the officer-induced accidental discharges, focused on by your media outlet, could be attributed to a malfunction of the pistol. Please reference the WMAR ABC Baltimore article published Dec. 11, 2018 by Brian Kuebler. [https://www.wmar2news.com/news/region/baltimore-county/baltimore-county-police-set-to-spend-14-m-on-new-guns]
Baltimore County Police Chief Terrence Sheridan provided two reasons in his Emergency Justification for a Replacement Service Weapon dated Oct. 30, 2018. The first being a reported condition that could cause the FNS-40 pistol to delay fire under a very specific set of unlikely circumstances, originally reported by an Arizona police department. Under manipulation in a closed lab setting, the slide of the FNS-40 was moved out of battery at a very small and specific distance and the trigger was pulled. The pistol functioned as designed and did not fire. However, it was discovered that if the trigger was held to the rear, the pistol could delay firing until the slide moved back into battery, or if force is removed from the trigger and the slide moves back into battery. FN has no knowledge of the condition ever occurring outside of a lab environment. Nevertheless, FN immediately addressed this potential condition with both the AZ department and BCPD by replacing the striker in each FNS-40, at no cost to either agency. FN subsequently posted a Service Bulletin to the public with an offer of a free striker upgrade for those who wished to send their pistol in.
Second, Chief Sheridan describes the potential of a catastrophic failure, attributed to three firearms out of 1,920 FNS-40 pistols in service with BCPD. Three pistols experienced a trigger pin either backing out or moving slightly out of position. This trigger pin is a component that requires routine maintenance and should have been replaced according to the armorer’s manual provided to Baltimore County Police Department range staff.
It is unclear whether BCPD range staff previously serviced any of the FNS-40 pistols in their possession according to the armorer’s manual provided. However, BCPD Police Chief Terrence Sheridan noted in his Emergency Justification for a Replacement Service Weapon dated Oct. 30, 2018, that BCPD range staff were able to quickly replace this trigger pin, returning the three FNS-40s to service.
Through both internal and independent testing of the FNS-40 pistol, FN America, LLC can emphatically refute the presence of any manufacturing defect that could potentially have caused Baltimore County’s officers to experience accidental discharges. FN America also asserts that if the FNS-40 pistols had been properly maintained, the occurrence of “catastrophic failures” described by BCPD would have been extremely unlikely.
The FNS pistol has been tested thoroughly and certified for law enforcement duty use. We stand firmly behind our product, our testing and quality practices.
FN had previously attempted to address concerns and issues with the pistols by replacing the striker in each FNS-40, at no cost. They also noted that “catastrophic failure, attributed to three firearms out of 1,920 FNS-40 pistols in service with BCPD. Three pistols experienced a trigger pin either backing out or moving slightly out of position. This trigger pin is a component that requires routine maintenance and should have been replaced according to the armorer’s manual provided to Baltimore County Police Department range staff.” You can read the press release in full here but FN concludes that “the FNS pistol has been tested thoroughly and certified for law enforcement duty use. We stand firmly behind our product, our testing and quality practices.”