Kiwis ditch SIGs, go Glock

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The New Zealand Defense Force has decided to replace the Sig Sauer 9mm pistols they have issued for almost a quarter century with Glock 17s within the next calendar year.

What is the NZDF?

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The combined military service for New Zealand, the 9,000 members of the Defense Force make up the New Zealand Army, Royal New Zealand Air Force, and Royal New Zealand Navy. With a history that dates back to 1845 with the formation of the Wellington Battalion of the Militia and before that to the Maori martial traditions, the Kiwis have fought far and above the comparative size of their country.

During World War I, over 100,000 soldiers from the Dominion fought the Turks, Austrians, and Germans, suffering a staggering 58 percent casualty rate in slaughterhouses such as Gallipoli, the Somme, and Passchendaele.

In the Second World War, the country mobilized even deeper, sending 150,000 men to Europe and the Middle East while another 150,000 remained at home to prepare for a possible Japanese invasion. As in the Great War that preceded it, the small country's butcher's bill was enormous, with over 11,000 killed in action-- the highest loss rate per capita in the Commonwealth.

Since 1945, the Kiwis were on the ground in Korea, the Malayan Emergency, and countless UN peacekeeping operations as well as sending 4,000 men and women to help the U.S. in the Vietnam conflict. Earlier this month a 105-soldier contingent returned home from Iraq, proving that the NZDF has and continues to remain at the sharp end of the stick.

Moving to Glock

The current handgun of the NZDF, adopted in 1992, is the Sig Sauer P226 in 9mm, designated as the P226AL. The Sig is a great 15-shot DA/SA handgun with an aluminum frame and a steel slide. It was so good that back in the 1980s, the U.S. Army wanted them instead of the Beretta 92 for the new M9 pistol program, but the Italian stallion won out due to cost issues with the Swiss/German design. Still, the SEALs have long used them, as have the militaries of many other NATO and allied countries.

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However the Sigs are getting long in the tooth and New Zealand is taking a page from the UK's armed forces and has chosen the Gen 4 Glock 17 as a replacement. The order, to be filled by the second half of 2016 is for 1,900 new handguns.

"Ensuring we remain a force equipped to succeed means supplying our people with fit-for-purpose personal protection weapons. This is part of our 2020 strategy for enhanced combat capability and we are pleased to be rolling out the new pistols next year,'' said Lt.Col. Dean Paul of the NZDF Land Capability Delivery Branch.

The contract is supposed to be worth $1.8 million NZD, which is about $1.18 million U.S. Amortized out, that would put each Glock at somewhere around $621 U.S. a pop which, when you include, "pistols, ancillaries, and through-life support," isn't a bad deal no matter which way your water spins as it goes down the drain.

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With the Glock adoption, it is the first time in nearly three decades both the UK and New Zealand have issued the same handgun to their service members. For much of the last half of the 20th Century both countries issued the Browning Hi Power, which the armed forces of Canada and Australia still use.

Prior to that, all of the Commonwealth countries issued a series of Enfield and Webley top-break revolvers.

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