It appears the days of the Canadian Army’s venerable Browning Hi-Power service pistols may finally be numbered after over 60 years of service. They hope to have trialled, selected and begun fielding the new pistols by the summer of 2022. A minimum of 9,000 pistols will be initially procured with follow on procurement contracts likely.
The program to replace the Hi-Power has been stalled for a number of years with complaints about parts breakages, limited supplies of spares and reliability concerns. While an excellent pistol the Canadian Army’s Hi-Powers are showing their age. When we approached the Canadian Army for a statement on the program they stated:
DND [Department of National Defence] is in the process of procuring a minimum of 9,000 full-frame, modular automatic pistols. These are mainly intended for the Canadian Army, and will be issued as required.
The request for proposals is expected in winter 2021, with the aim to have a contract in place by summer 2021. We expect to see initial delivery by summer 2022.
The 9000 pistols is the initial purchase to support Canadian Army requirements. The procurement will also include the provision to support future requirements of additional pistols, but the precise number has not yet been confirmed as it will depend on requirements. The total is expected to be in the range of 15000 to 20000.
Noting that as the program is a competitive process, budget information could not be discussed currently. A Canadian Army spokesperson confirmed that there will be further procurement tranches of pistols, but they have not yet confirmed how many will be needed yet as other service branches’ requirements will eventually need to be met too.
Back in 2011, the Canadian Department of National Defence has planned to order 10,000 new handguns but the project was cancelled due to reluctance of foreign firearms manufacturers to share technical data packages with Colt Canada for local production. The Canadian government is keen for the Canadian small arms manufacturer to produce the weapons locally in order to sustain the indigenous manufacturing capability. This, however, leads to challenges and expensive procurement costs. This was seen again recently when 3,600 new C6A1 FLEX GPMGs were ordered at considerable cost.
We don’t yet know what sort of pistol and what sort of characteristics the Canadian Army will be looking for yet, but the pistol is very likely going to be modular, ambidextrous and chambered in the ubiquitous 9x19mm round. The Canadian Army spokesperson also noted that further specifications of the Canadian Army’s requirements will be available once the Request for Proposals is out later this winter.
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