Marines Are Buying "M007" Glocks For Special Agents And Its Elite Helicopter Unit

The service is giving the guns to individuals who need to carry concealed, but there might be more orders on the way.

USMC

U.S. Marine Corps criminal investigative special agents and members of the service’s highly specialized Helicopter Squadron One, which provide support to the President of the United States and other top officials, are getting new Glock 19M 9mm pistols. The Corps says it is issuing the guns specifically to personnel who have the need to carry a concealed weapon and has named them, in an homage to a certain fictional secret agent, the M007 Concealed Carry Weapon. But beyond the concealed carry requirement, the type is becoming increasingly popular throughout the service.

The Marine Corps System Command first got the requirement for the pistols in April 2016 and began distributing them to the appropriate personnel in May 2017. In February 2015, the service had approved the Glock 19 as a sidearm option for individuals assigned to Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC). By that point, various other special operations forces, including, but not limited to U.S. Army Special Forces, Navy SEALs, and special operations Airmen, were already carrying the pistols.

Compared to the M9 Beretta, which is still the standard sidearm for Marines, “the M007 has a smaller frame and is easier to conceal, making it a natural selection to meet the … concealed carry weapon requirement,” U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant Brian Nelson, who is in charge of the pistol project, said in a statement.

“The evidence overwhelmingly suggests that of the two, for the concealed carry handgun mission, the Glock is a better tool for that,” U.S. Marine Corps Chief Warrant Officer 5 Christian Wade, a “gunner” or weapons expert with the 2nd Marine Division who advises senior leaders about such decisions, said separately, according to Marine Corps Times.

Glock

A Generation 4 Glock 19, similar to the Generation 5-based Glock 19M.

With an overall length of just under 7.4 inches and a width of less than 1.2 inches, a typical Glock 19 is more than an inch shorter overall than the M9 and more than three tenths of a inch narrower. Thanks to its lightweight polymer frame, the gun weighs less with a full 15-round magazine than the Beretta does when it’s empty.

These features make it an ideal alternative for an individual who has a requirement to carry a weapon concealed under their clothing but still needs substantial firepower. The 19M version has improved ergonomics, ambidextrous features, and a special magazine well with a flared opening to make it easier to reload under stress.

Picking up the Glocks makes good sense for U.S. Marine Corps Criminal Investigation Division, or USMC CID, which has approximately 300 personnel. In addition to traditional law enforcement roles, the agency provides special agents for personal protective details and other duties that might necessitate having a discreet weapon.

USMC

Marines train with the service's standard Beretta M9 pistol.

It’s less clear which members of Helicopter Squadron One, also known as HMX-1, would necessarily have a need of a concealed weapon. The unit does have a particularly specialized mission, being responsible for transporting the President of the United States, their family, and their top advisors around in its iconic white-topped VH-3D and VH-60N helicopters. It also shuttles around other VIPs and aides, secret service members, and members of the White House press pool around in a fleet of "green top" MV-22B Osprey tilt-rotors and performs test and evaluation functions, as well.

HMX-1 also has its own specialized, rapid response security component, which consists of personnel able to perform a variety of specialized law enforcement and counter-terrorism type roles in support of the unit's mission. These individuals receive training at U.S. military police schools, from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and other law enforcement entities.

But when the President climbs aboard one of the helicopters, which then takes on the callsign “Marine One,” the secret service is there to provide close protection. And there would be no apparent need for the uniformed Marine aviators, aircrews, and security team members to carry a concealed sidearm.

It is possible that HMX-1 had a need for a compact  weapon for their day-to-day duties or planned to evaluate it as a standard pistol for aircrews as part of their test and evaluation mission. The Marine Corps may have decided  this was a similar enough requirement to the USMC CID’s actual  concealed carry need and lumped the two together when it went out to buy an appropriate pistol.

USMC

A Marine Corps law enforcement agent, carrying an M1911-type pistol, watches a hallway during a joint training with members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Whatever the case, the purchases continue a trend of U.S. military units buying relatively small numbers of Glocks for elite and specialized elements. The Glock 19 had already quietly become a favorite among special operators over both the M9 and other so-called “non-standard” options, including modernized versions of the venerable .45 caliber M1911 pistol.

The Glock 19’s utility for concealed carry situations and other discreet operations is well established and it is also well established that the M9 is not well suited to such use. In the early 1990s, the U.S. Army began buying compact Sig P228 9mm pistols, which it designated the M11, as an alternative for law enforcement special agent and other services followed suit. It’s interesting to note that Glock lost out in both the M9 and M11 competitions.

USN

US Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal personnel train with M11 pistols.

Special operations forces in particular have long been fond of the Austrian design. The U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) has bought a significant number of Glock 19s over the years for various units as part of a program dubbed the Family of Low Visibility Concealable Pistols.

But it hasn’t always been easy to find available funds to buy the guns. In 2010, the Department of Homeland Security agreed to transfer 2,500 Glock 19s to SOCOM, which it ostensibly wrote off as a cost cutting measure.

In 2015, after MARSOC decided to begin issuing the pistol, the Marines made their own arrangement with the Army, which had been buying Glocks of various types on behalf of American allies overseas. To speed up this latest acquisition, the Marine Corps was able to team up with the Federal Bureau of Investigation on a joint purchase. Glock 19s were already a standard sidearm within the Bureau and is popular among American Federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies in general.

US Army

A US Army soldier assigned to the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center's Sniper School fires a Glock 19 during a competition.

This latest buy appears to be the first time a U.S. military service has given a Glock an official nomenclature, albeit a decidedly non-standard one – we at The War Zone are unaware of any other U.S. military designation, past or present, using an "M00X" format. It remains to be seen if calling them M007s will help expedite future purchases.

Chief Warrant Officer Wade stressed to Marine Corps Times that the pistols are only an interim solution until the service can decide on a new standard sidearm across the board. In January 2017, the U.S. Army chose a variant of the 9mm Sig P320, rejecting an offering from Glock, as its new standard handgun, which will be known as the M17. There will also be a compact M18 version for general officers and other select soldiers. The Marines have yet to make their own decision.

US Army

The US Army's new M17 pistol.

With the M007 entering even limited service and the guns already in the hands of MARSOC operators, the Glock 19 may have an edge in any future Marine pistol competition. In addition, the service has approved Wade’s request to arm Marines deploying to Afghanistan with the guns.

Once in country, those personnel will be conducting advisory missions, which may call for them to be situated within command centers or other smaller headquarters or offices. Insider attacks against foreign troops are unfortunately common and a more compact sidearm would easily be a worthwhile weapon to have close at hand.

If the guns develop enough of a following from this relatively limited use, it might push the Marines to adopt the guns more broadly. This is something we’ve already seen with regards to the Heckler and Koch 416 rifle, which the Marine Corps is now looking into adopting as a standard service weapon after issuing it initially only to certain members of infantry squads.

It may not be long before even more Marines start carrying “007s.” We've also reached out to HMX-1 to see if the unit can give us any more information about its particular requirement and we will be sure to update this story if we hear back.

Contact the author: jtrevithickpr@gmail.com