Glock has dominated the law enforcement pistol market for decades. Unfortunately, their domination has made them complacent, and while they roll out new variations on the same old theme every so often, it’s clear that “innovation” is a four-letter word at the Austrian-owned company.
That lack of spark has made it possible for other companies to start slicing into the law enforcement handgun market, and Sig Sauer now appears to be poised to start making significant inroads with their modular P320 series.
There’s an arms race taking place in law enforcement as weapons manufacturers battle each other for the lucrative right to arm officers.
The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office is the latest beneficiary of that duel.
Last year the agency said goodbye to its old .40-caliber Glock 23 handguns and recently finished equipping its deputies with .40-caliber SIG Sauer P320s. That’s because sheriff’s officials said SIG Sauer offered to replace their entire arsenal at no cost, sealing the deal.
That’s a victory for the New Hampshire gun manufacturer over its Austrian rival Glock. Both are among the world’s top producers of handguns, but Glock has been a major player in the law enforcement market, especially here in the Tampa Bay area.
Sheriff’s officials said that on top of being free, the SIG Sauer pistols are safer. SIG Sauer gave the agency about 770 new handguns, which have a retail price of about $600 apiece.
The SIG Sauer pistols offer a safety feature that the Glocks don’t, but sheriff’s officials said it played no role in their decision. They don’t require pulling the trigger to disassemble for cleaning.
Both the subcompact Glock 23s that patrol deputies carried and the full-size Glock 35s that SWAT deputies used require pulling the trigger. If a round were accidentally left in the chamber, the result could be catastrophic.
Sheriff’s officials said they didn’t know how many times one of their deputies accidentally discharged an agency Glock while taking it apart.
Glock once dominated the police handgun market because they had an innovative design and aggressively went after opportunities to push their guns into the law enforcement market. Now there are several companies who offer more innovative polymer-framed firearms, and who are willing to be far more aggressive in putting their guns into the hands of officers.
I don’t think there is any risk of Glock rapidly falling out of the market any time soon, but history shows us that companies either innovate, or they die. Offering a new caliber or barrel length every few years—or finally making a single stack gun a decade after the market demanded it—isn’t innovating. It’s treading water.
I fully expect Sig Sauer, Smith & Wesson, and perhaps other companies to keep innovating and making inroads into the law enforcement market until one day, agencies decide en masse that Glocks are simply obsolete.
Thirty years ago, Glock offered disruptive technology. Today, they’re coasting. If they don’t get their act together, and soon, they’re going to wake up one day as the Compuserve of the handgun world, and not just in the law enforcement market.