Soldiers in Afghanistan will be among the first to use a new type of pistol that is being provided to the armed forces, it has been announced.
Personnel from all three services are to start using new Glock pistols after a contract was awarded to replace the currently used Browning model.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has signed a £9m contract to provide the armed forces with more than 25,000 of the new Glock 17 Gen 4 pistols. They replace the Browning pistol which has been used for more than 40 years but is said to have become increasingly expensive to maintain.
The new sidearm is lighter than its predecessor, as well as more accurate and capable of carrying more bullets - with a magazine capacity of 17 9mm rounds, compared to 13 for the Browning.
People across all three services will start receiving the new Glock 17s in the coming weeks and troops deployed to Afghanistan will be among the first to use them.
The £9m contract with Viking Arms Ltd of Harrogate, Yorkshire, also includes more than 25,000 holsters. The MoD said the contract for a replacement pistol was put out to tender two years ago and is not in response to any specific or increased threat.
Warrant Officer 1 Mark Anderson, Royal Marines, from Exeter in Devon, trialled the new weapon before the contract was awarded. "Pistols are vital in close combat and are a key part of a soldier's armoury," he said. "Reliable, light and easy to carry, the Glock inspires confidence and performs exceptionally well."
Minister for defence equipment, support and technology Philip Dunne said: "We are determined to provide our troops with the best possible personal kit available and these new Glock 17s will give them greater firepower and accuracy on operations.
"Now that we have balanced the budget we can invest with confidence in the equipment our armed forces need for the future. I have seen this pistol demonstrated in target ranges and am impressed that this new lighter, safer generation of pistol provides both better value for money for the MoD and will complement the wide range of weapons already available to front line troops."
The Glock pistol, manufactured in Austria, will be used alongside the range of weapons available to the military, including SA80A2 assault rifles, light machine guns, sharpshooter rifles, general purpose machine guns, combat shotguns, and sniper systems.