Monday, December 28, 2009

Highly...er...Targeted Job Stimulus?

The Department of Homeland Security has placed an order for 200 million rounds of pistol ammunition (.40 caliber, hollow-point) over the next five years for use by its Immigration, Customs and Enforcement division.

Let's see now, ICE has approximately 15,000 employees. Not all of them are licensed to carry firearms, but just to keep the math simple, we'll divide the whole shebang into 200 million. That works out to a little over 13,000 rounds per employee over five years, or approximately 2,600 per employee per year.

Now, in case the entire population of Mexico tries to cross the border over the next five years, this would be enough to shoot everybody twice; however, this event seems unlikely, and would represent a pretty harsh response, anyway.

So, what's it all about, Janet?

Update: Winchester confirms. This news has been out there for a while, incidentally, but I'm just finding out about it.

Update II: Thanks to Instapundit and Dan Riehl for the links. Also, thanks to the commenters for their insightful feedback; ya'll really seem to know your stuff.

34 comments:

Cris said...

It's obviously not for target practice, otherwise they'd be ordering FMJ.

Paco said...

Very true. These are 200 million man-stoppers.

SwampWoman said...

I think it is for us.

SwampWoman said...

Better get more shotgun ammo.

smitty1e said...

It could well be that they needed to blow some budget money.

Heaven forbid things go fully "Red Dawn". Absolutely no one wants that.

Nashville Beat said...

Before we get too worked up, I have done a little quick research that makes this news a little less ominous. First, the linked article says that the contract calls for a "maximum" of 200 million rounds over the next five years, so that doesn't necessarily mean that all 200M will be ordered up and delivered. Second, according to a friend who recently retired from ICE, the agency uses the Ranger hollow point for practice and range quals.

The quantity of ammunition required for practice and qualification may surprise you, as well. ICE has been adding some people, and their web site now says they have somewhere between 17,000 and 20,000 employees. Not all these are "1811s" authorized to carry firearms, so let's use the figure 10,000 to get an order of magnitude estimate. According to my source, who used to be a firearms trainer, each agent must qualify quarterly with his or her Sig P229R .40 caliber pistol. Each qualification requires 120 rounds. 4 x 120 x 10,000 x 5 = 24 million rounds. In addition, each agent is issued a least one 50 round box quarterly for practice. Most use considerably more. So if we conservatively estimate 100 rounds per quarter, we have 4 x 100 x 10,000 x 5 = 20 million rounds. It is not uncommon for conscientious agents to expend 250 to 1000 rounds a quarter in practice. Accordingly, it would be reasonable to expect that ICE would easily use 50 to 100 million rounds (or more) of the Ranger ammunition over five years.

I could see a contract that permitted my agency to obtain twice what I would estimate needing in order to have a cushion.

Sorry for the uber detail, but I thought it would be helpful to evaluate the context of the bare facts in the story.

JeffS said...

You make good points, Nashville.

I'll add to that the (possibly) little known fact that small arms training and practice for the law enforcement community has been ramped up in last 5 years or so; if I was told correctly, they are using at least as much ammo as the military is, on an annual basis.

The recent ammo shortage (oddly coinciding with Obama's election, and which seems to be lessening) was the result of a manufacturing system stretched to the limit being hit for an even higher demand.

So this is probably not the alarming situation one might think.

Chris: if you check out the ballistics for .40 S&W, you'll find that 135 grain jacketed hollow point has a much higher velocity than, say, 180 grain full metal jacket.

For someone constantly training to go up against bad guys, they need to fire the same ammo in practice as in real life. It'll give them an edge in a tight spot. I'm not at all trusting of J-No and her boss, but I wouldn't short a police office because of them. So it makes sense for ICE to buy nothing but JHP. That simplifies logistics AND training.

This is not as bizarre as, say, arming EPA employees (a disturbing article that you post about earlier, Paco). This move actually makes sense.

But with the Obama Administration, it's wise to take nothing at face value. I wouldn't be surprised to hear that everyone gets to fly naked in the near future.

JeffS said...

And I should add.....many major law enforcement organizations (federal, state, and local) these days are more paramilitary than law enforcement. I find that truly disturbing.

Minicapt said...

It's probably intended for the Michigan area, in case Canada tries to take Detroit back.

Cheers

Paco said...

Thanks for all the good comments.

Just to clarify my own position: I wasn't suggesting that Obama was setting up his own SS - hence the title, which links this to the use of stimulus money. For example, my agency - after more than a decade of yakking about it - has finally decided to use stimulus money to rehab its building.

Mr. Bingley said...

It's probably intended for the Michigan area, in case Canada tries to take Detroit back.

Why would we possibly attempt to stop them?

David R said...

I have been a state certified law enforcement firearms instructor for 22 years and I can tell that the days when a law enforcement agency could practice and qualify with one type of ammo and carry another on duty is long gone. Because of potential liability you have to practice and qualify with the same stuff you carry on duty - my agency has for years now. Based on the number of agents and practice and qualification times and courses, 200 million is not nearly as ominous as it sounds.

MarkJ said...

"It's probably intended for the Michigan area, in case Canada tries to take Detroit back."

Given that the Motor City currently looks like a History Channel ad for "Life After People," the Canucks can have the place.

On the other hand....

We do a "Ransom of Red Chief" routine: let the Canadians kidnap Detroit and then sit back. Within months, our Northern friends will eagerly pay us "one treeel-yon dollars" to take the place back.

Anonymous said...

13000 rounds per person over 5 years? That seems like a reasonable number to stay in practice. When I saw this headline on Instapundit, my first thought was "Okay, that's probably more than enough ammo for them to practice with." My second thought was "Has the ammo shortage ended? I could use some more myself."

Anonymous said...

I agree with Nashville and suggest that this order also creates/prolongs civilian ammunition scarcity.

TNbourbon said...

Two things: first, this isn't 'new' news, as it was first reported several months ago (see this discussion of it back around Labor Day -- http://bersatalk.com/forums/thread/222377.aspx); and, second, if you read the actual contract, it is for "up to" 200 million rounds -- which is to say, no way in Hell they're ever going to buy that much, but they have first dibs on Winchester's production facilities until they do.
In fact, for Winchester, this deal is a guarantee that they survive -- which isn't a bad thing at all for the rest of us ammo buyers.

Anonymous said...

Want to know why the prices of ammo have shot up over the last 3 years with availability decreased?

Its not *just* ICE stocking up on ammo, but an analogous phenomenon with hundreds of federal, state, and municipal law enforcement agencies ramping up the gunplay.

Dandapani said...

40 S/W in 135 grain bullet is very light for that round. The standard is 180 grain. Sometimes, 165 grain is preferred, but never 135 grain. Penetration is considered insufficient at this weight. Guess they are planning for "just a flesh wound" and not "stopped right there".

Anonymous said...

I know that the FBI guys I took a training course with used their regular hollow point service ammo for the class, that was FBI policy. I took a course with a Denver cop a year or two ago who had to buy his own ammo for the class, so it varies by organization.

Anonymous said...

Godspeed if they're looking at the prospect of confronting the Mexican Mafia on U.S. streets.

Paco said...

You got that right. Check out the improving armory of the drug cartels

JeffS said...

The standard is 180 grain.

Yeah, I wondered about that, Dandapani. That's what I usually see on the shelves, FMJ or JHP. Were I an ICE agent, I'd prefer "stopped right there", myself.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the lighter 135 grain is preferred by the AirMarshalls.

My son, a cop, has a friend who is an AirMarshall. They are apparently required to practice so much that he wears out his service pistol in 2 years or less.

Dandapani said...

AirMarshalls have always used 357SIG ammo which 99% of the time comes in 125 grain JHP.

Anonymous said...

The SIG web site says Home Land Security only ordered 1,000 guns that shoot 40 cal. It's called the P226HSP, a variation of the Army gun. Run the math on 1k to 2m and the ratio gets even more absurd.

Anonymous said...

It seems the feds just keep bogging down the civilian ammo supply. That's a popular round, and Winchester is a major supplier of ammo.

Peter said...

Well back when dinosaurs walked the earth and I shot competition and carried a gun to work everyday I shot five hundred rounds a week.

This was when few LEOs could hit a bull in the butt with a bass fiddle but some of us could shoot. It takes a lot of rounds to stay good.

As to the 135 grain load, it's only the most effective load. It closely matches the 125 grain JHP in .357 which was, and still is, the most effective handgun round out there. The heavier bullets zip right through the bad guy and then go searching for the nearest station wagon full of Nuns or a handy Girl Scout Troop.

Anonymous said...

As of a couple of years ago, Sky Marshalls were using SIG 229 in .357 SIG with CCI 125 GDJHP. This was chosen for rapid stop without over penetration, a bit of a problem in aircraft due to many passengers and control lines. I shot with one on occasion. He indicated he had a very high demand of weekly practice. At that time, there was a possible additional purchase of Glocks in .40 S&W (better bid) but I don't know if that happened.

ICE has lots of H&K USP-C LEM etc. in .40 S&W so the number of SIG's in 229 or 226 sold to ICE is not really completely relevant in calculating amount of rounds used.

Concur with the 135g JHP being a good load in .40 S&W, rapid expansion, easy to shoot, acceptable penetration in general. Ranger is good ammo as is the CCI GD (widely used in Texas PD's).

Contracts with Feds are usually written with high Max purchase numbers to reflect ability to buy as required, e.g. the contracts with SIG and H&K on pistols. Ditto for ammo, M16 magazines, etc. Actual numbers purchased can be lower.

It certainly does cut into availability of ammo, etc. but is good over the long run as it makes for a healthy firearms manufacturing sector.

SwampWoman said...

Too bad there aren't any ammo manufacturing plants near me; I'd be looking for a job with them for sure.

Anonymous said...

The 357 mag in 125 grain hollow point is the best one round stop of all police shootings. The 135 grain 40 SW has a muzzle velocity of 919 feet per second to 1320 fps,
while the 357 Mag 125 grain has a muzzle velocity of 1320 fps to
1840 fps. Think I would rather be shot with the 40 how about you?

Chuck Pelto said...

TO: All
RE: Heh

This looks like an excellent way to keep ammo out of the hands of the people....

....government buys it all up.

I wonder if they're selling it to third world countries, in order to keep up the ability to buy it here.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
P.S. A couple of days before this news broke a friend of mine and I were wondering why there was STILL not much ammo around to purchase. Despite reports that the manufacturers were going full-bore on production.

This would go far to explain the shortage....

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