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U.S. Border Patrol Buys 33 Million Bullets for New Glock Handgun

The parent agency of the U.S. Border Patrol has purchased 33 million rounds of ammunition for its new handgun and may buy more than 300 million additional rounds over the next five years.

Customs and Border Protection agreed to pay $9.89 million for Winchester Ammunition Inc.’s special 9mm hollow point Luger rounds through a near-term contract made public Oct. 24. The bullets are needed by the CBP as it transitions to Glock Inc.’s new 9mm handgun.

Another five-year contract for ammunition is expected to be awarded late next year, with its value estimated at between $80 million and $100 million.

The initial Winchester contract, for 32.9 million rounds, prices them at 30 cents each. At that price, the bigger deal -- open to bidding by various manufacturers -- could mean the agency may buy more than 330 million rounds.

CBP doesn’t comment on details of future contracts. Other federal agencies may be able to make purchases against the five-year future contract.

Olin Corp. owns the Winchester brand and makes ammunition at facilities in Illinois and Mississippi. Clayton, Missouri-based Olin is a global manufacturer and distributor of chemicals, including chlorine, caustic soda and epoxies.

Representatives for Winchester and Olin weren’t contactable for comment. The National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry trade association, declined to comment.

Last April, CBP ordered a supply of the newly designed Glock handgun in a deal valued as much as $85 million. Designated the G47, the weapon isn’t currently commercially available. Two smaller Glock variants were also included in the deal.

CBP is among the nation’s largest law enforcement agencies, and more than 50,000 CBP employees are authorized to carry sidearms. The last handgun deal expired in 2009 and since then it has charted an exponential increase in wear and tear of the older Heckler & Koch P2000 weapons. It’s now experiencing an attrition rate of almost 1,000 handguns each quarter.

 “Our transition to Glock 9mm handguns is expected to ensure the safety of our officers and agents as we replace all existing in-service, reserve, and training handguns as well as ensure the supply of additional weapons,” a CBP spokesman said by email. “Additionally, the transition is expected to increase the reliability of firearms, reduce maintenance expenses, reduce ammunition costs by nearly 5%, and nearly double the projected service life for new handguns from a previous 11 years to a more robust 20-year life cycle.”

It received the first Glock delivery in June and tested the handguns against adverse elements including saltwater, sand and dust. Although the quantities of ammunition being ordered may seem staggering, the supply is partially drained as armed employees must perform regular live-fire training sessions.

According to the agency, on a typical day it apprehends more than 1,000 people and seizes around 4,600 pounds of narcotics, along with $290,000 of undeclared or illicit currency.

However, staff behavior has come under increased scrutiny in recent years amid President Donald Trump’s determination to build a wall on the country’s southern border to thwart illegal aliens and drugs. Criminal misconduct by border officers recently reached a five-year high, an internal government report obtained by Quartz revealed.