On May 13, CBS4 news reported that the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Department had experienced a number of misfires with their Glock semi-automatic handguns as well as some of their 9mm pistols. The incidents reported had occurred only during training sessions and not when the guns were fired in the field.
As part of the article, the news agency revealed a confidential sheriff’s department document that outlined a series of incidents in which problems with the Glock firing pin had caused the gun to malfunction and not fire. When the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office (PBSO) department armorer tore down the pistols that misfired, he found that the firing pins were cracked or chipped in every case where there was a misfire, according to the article.
This discovery has raised some questions about the reliability of the Glock semi-automatic handguns used by the agency’s deputies as well as law enforcement officers around the country. It is estimated that some 7,500 law enforcement agencies nationwide use Glock pistols as duty weapons. Glock has prided itself on producing a reliable rugged pistol, so when the misfire incidents occurred, Glock responded immediately to determine the problem and a solution.
The Cause of the Problem
While there was speculation that the firing pin metal was not of the quality it should be, the problem turned out to be with the ammunition. The department was using “non-toxic” ammunition as practice ammo. Since many police ranges are indoors, the fired ammunition residue could potentially affect a person’s health, therefore, the department (like many agencies) used non-toxic ammo, which is different than duty ammo.
Since the firing pin incident occurred when the non-toxic ammunition was used, it turns out that the misfirings had nothing to do with the quality of the metal of the firing pin, but rather caused by the non-toxic ammunition. This practice ammo has a harder primer than duty ammo.
I talked to a friend of mine at the PBSO and he told me that the problem was quickly resolved after a small modification to the Glocks. He also confirmed that none of the incidents had ever occurred outside of training.
According to the news report, LAPD had experienced a similar problem in 2005. According to my Glock source, it was also associated with the non-toxic ammunition and the fact that the primers were harder than the duty ammo. That issue was also resolved and the LAPD has once again authorized their members to carry Glocks on and off duty.
When I retire from my agency, I will be able to carry any pistol that I chose under HR 218. I plan on purchasing a Glock, but as a prudent precaution, I plan to have a Glock armorer or qualified Glock gunsmith check the firing pin from time to time.
Have you heard of similar incidents? Was there a different outcome or solution?