LONDON, Jan. 11 (UPI) -- British forces stationed in Afghanistan and elsewhere will be issued Glock pistols for their protection, the Defense Ministry said.
The Austrian-made weapons will replace Browning sidearms the ministry said are too slow to fire in a close-quarter attack, The Guardian reported Thursday.
"Pistols are vital in close combat and are a key part of a soldier's armory," Royal Marines Warrant Officer Mark Anderson said.
British troops in Afghanistan and on deployments elsewhere will be better able to defend themselves with the first new standard pistol issued in more than 40 years, the ministry said.
The new pistol, a variation of the Glock 17, will make it easier for British soldiers "to shoot back," said Col. Peter Warden, who oversees the ministry's light-weapons team.
The 9mm Glock is lighter and sturdier than the Browning, is easier to fire and has a 17-round magazine instead of a 13-round, The Guardian said. It also can be withdrawn from its holster and fired within a second, compared with the 4 seconds it takes to withdraw and fire a Browning.
"If I'm getting it out in under a second, I'm going to win it," said Marine Sgt. Steve Long, who has been deployed twice to Afghanistan and has been stationed in Iraq and Sierra Leone.
The ministry awarded a $13.7 million contract to Glock for 25,000 sidearms after two years of bid-letting and trials, the Guardian said. No British company competed.