RALEIGH, N.C., Feb. 6 (UPI) -- North Carolina's Alcohol Law Enforcement agency says 150 new pistols bought for their agents at $1,055 each were so unreliable they got rid of them.
Agency officials say the Kimber .45-caliber pistols repeatedly malfunctioned during training exercises, with rounds jamming, sights breaking and the weapons' safety buttons sometimes falling off, The (Raleigh) News & Observer reported Sunday.
Agency Director John Ledford said a deal was arranged with a local firearms dealer to swap the pricey handguns for less expensive models.
"Failure of a weapon during training is problematic enough, but if any of these types of failures occurred during a life-and-death situation the result could be loss of life to a sworn member of the division or an innocent civilian," Ledford wrote in a November memo announcing the change. "During violent encounters with armed suspects, reliability and speed are paramount."
Since the Kimbers were issued to agents in the fall of 2009, Ledford wrote, agents reported 289 malfunctions during training exercises, and many agents had chosen to carry personal weapons instead of the Kimbers.
Ledford said a deal was arranged to trade in the department's troublesome pistols to a Raleigh firearms dealer in exchange for 150 new Sig Sauer 220 handguns valued at $718 each.
"We are hopeful these will be quality products, and we believe they are," Ledford said. "The Sig handgun is the same model carried by the Secret Service."