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Singapore police switching to Glock pistols after two decades of using Taurus revolver - here's why

Singapore police switching to Glock pistols after two decades of using Taurus revolver - here's why

The Glock 19 Gen 5 pistol (left) and Taurus M85 revolver. (Photos: Facebook/2AShootingCenter.com Indoor Gunrange/Taurus Armas)

SINGAPORE: The Singapore Police Force (SPF) officially confirmed on Tuesday (Jun 22) that frontline officers will now use the new Glock 19 Gen 5 pistol, replacing the standard issue Taurus M85 revolver.

Since as early as 2017, officers have been progressively trained to use service pistols due to the "heightened security climate", SPF said on its website.

Here's how the force's use of firearms has evolved in recent decades:

WHICH SIDEARM HAS SPF BEEN USING?

In 2002, the SPF replaced its Smith & Wesson revolver with the Brazilian-made Taurus M85 revolver to "keep up to date with modern policing needs".

The revolver features a five-chambered cylinder, meaning it can hold five rounds, and a speed loader to reduce the time and effort needed to reload the weapon.

Firearm news site The Firearm Blog reported in 2019 that SPF officers were generally issued with 10 rounds.

Another website, GUNSweek, said the Taurus M85 revolver is an "easy-to-handle personal defence gun". The revolver is also intended for short-distance use, at usually "well below" 5m, it added.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A PISTOL AND A REVOLVER?

A revolver contains a revolving cylinder in which rounds are loaded, while most pistols have a removable magazine into which rounds are loaded.

Defence website The National Interest reported in 2017 that one advantage of the revolver is that it is "easier to operate and learn to shoot".

"There isn’t much to shooting a revolver: Simply open the cylinder, insert bullets, close the cylinder and pull the trigger," it said.

"This simplicity is reassuring in a high-stress situation, where the user does not have to worry about whether or not the first round was chambered by racking the slide, like in semi-automatic pistols."

READ: Suspect shot by police during Balestier raid after attacking officer and attempting to snatch revolver

Despite that, the website said a revolver's disadvantages include the fact that they are limited to typically six bullets. This is usually less than half compared to in semi-automatic pistols, it said.

"In many modern gun engagements, the handgun owner often expends the entire magazine of 15 or so rounds in the first two seconds," it added.

WHY IS SPF REPLACING REVOLVERS WITH PISTOLS?

SPF said on Tuesday that the Glock 19 Gen 5 pistol can carry up to three times more rounds compared to the Taurus M85 revolver.

"This reduces reloading time, improves firepower and further augments the SPF's ability to engage armed attackers in dealing with security threats," SPF said.

The Glock 19 Gen 5 9mm pistol's magazine has a standard capacity of 15 rounds, with an option for up to 33 rounds, the gunmaker's website said.

The 9mm measurement refers to the internal diameter of the pistol's barrel, corresponding to the size or calibre of the rounds it can hold.

SPF also said on its website that the pistol can be used with different grip methods and features a safety mechanism that prevents accidental triggering.

Glock will supply 6,000 new duty pistols to the SPF, The Firearm Blog reported, with the company's president Gaston Glock quoted as saying that the SPF's trials of the pistols were "extremely professional".

"It’s also been one of the very few tenders that’s not only evaluating technical performance and purchase price, but actual through life cost," he added. "We’re honoured to supply such a reputable customer."

WHAT OTHER LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES USE THE GLOCK PISTOL?

ABC News reported in 2019 that the US Secret Service is moving forward with plans to outfit its agents with the Glock 9mm pistols.

This is part of a larger move among US law enforcement agencies towards the lighter, more efficient guns, the report said.

Other US security agencies making the same switch include the Federal Bureau of Investigation, US Customs and Border Protection and numerous big city police departments, including the New York Police Department and the Los Angeles Police Department.

READ: AETOS auxiliary police officer charged with robbing Jurong moneylender while armed with gun

US military website Sofrep said in 2018 that US law enforcement agencies seem to be making the move back to 9mm pistols from larger calibre weapons to take advantage of "new technologies" being applied to 9mm rounds.

"These organisations are providing their armed personnel the best chance of surviving a deadly force encounter since they can expect faster and more accurate shot strings, higher magazine capacities (similar sized weapons) and all of the terminal performance which can be expected from any law enforcement-calibre projectile," it said.

WHEN WILL SPF OFFICERS BE TRAINED TO USE THE GLOCK PISTOL?

All frontline regulars will be trained to operate the Glock 19 Gen 5 pistol by the end of 2023, said SPF.

SPF has not offered details on how different its pistol training is, but in October last year, it showcased an improved firearm training system for its officers.

READ: Police using sensors during firearm training to correct and improve shooting technique

The Enhanced Live Firing Range System (ELFRAS) uses sensors, cameras and data analytics to automatically detect, assess and correct a trainee’s weapon handling, breathing, gaze and posture.

The system also shows where the round hits the target board and automates the scoring.

The SPF has been trialling ELFRAS since June last year with about 200 first-time shooters undergoing pistol and revolver training at the Home Team Academy live firing range.

Source: CNA/hz(hs)

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