Make in India: In a first, citizens will buy Glock pistols armed forces use
Currently serving with the military, police and special forces in more than 70 nations, including India, America, England and France, the famous polymer-frame Glock pistols from Austria may soon be available to Indian citizens in non-service calibres.
In 2019, the Tamil Nadu-based Counter measures technologies pvt. ltd. (CMT) and Glock Ges.m.b.H, Austria, entered into a partnership to produce the pistols at the CMT plant in Tiruvallur district, which is part of the state’s defence industrial corridor planned by the Centre.
The joint venture was initially signed for supplying Glocks only to the government. With permission from the Centre, CMT has now set a target to sell the pistols to civilians by the end of March 2021, one of the Indian company’s directors and major shareholder, Jayakumar Jayarajan, told HT.
For India’s civilian arms market, the arrival of the Glock will be a game changer, stakeholders feel. The pistol is sold to citizens in many countries, including the USA.
“The Covid-19 lockdown delayed our project by more than six months. We are trying to pick up speed. Our first priority is to supply the 9 mm pistols to the armed forces. Civilians will get the .22 LR, .380, .357 Sig, .40 and .45 calibre pistols. We have permission to set up our own proof testing facility,” said Jayarajan.
“A team from Glock landed in Chennai in January 2019 and flew to Delhi to meet Union defence ministry officials after visiting our site. In the delegation was a man who was part of the team that helped the designer, Gaston Glock, make the first pistol in 1981,” said Jayarajan.
Today, Glock produces fifth generation pistols with competitors following its polymer technology.
In India, the majority of licensed firearms owners are saddled with old or antiquated foreign handguns imported before 1984 or the ones being made by government ordnance factories. The erstwhile Congress government at the Centre banned import of all types of firearms in 1984, giving exemptions only to national and international shooters and state agencies.
Though out of reach of India’s gun owners till now, the world’s first military service pistol to sport a light polymer frame and trigger safety feature, is a familiar name to the nation.
A 9 mm Glock 26 compact pistol was the only weapon wing commander Abhinandan Varthaman was armed with when he was captured in Pakistan in February 2019 after the Balakot air strikes.
Glocks also went into action with National Security Guard (NSG) commandos during the terror attack on Pathankot air force base in 2016 and in other operations.
“We support any initiative that promotes the ‘Make in India’ programme and moves us closer to an ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ (self-sufficient India),” said Delhi-based Abhijeet Singh, spokesperson for National association for gun rights India (NAGRI), the only pan-nation organisation fighting for liberal gun laws for citizens.
Prakash Simson, owner of Simson gun house in Mangalore, Karnataka, said, “Indians still pay a premium price for 50 or 70-year-old handguns because of their reliability. The India-made Glocks have to meet people’s expectations. But before that, the government must ensure that law-abiding citizens get gun licence without being caught in red tape for years. If licences are not issued there will no market. The companies will wind up their business.”
A gun owner and sports enthusiast, Yuvraj Yograjsinh of Mansa, Gujarat, said, “Glocks are not made in .32 ACP which is the most popular pistol calibre in India because the ammunition is made by our ordnance factory, the other one being .22 LR. Ammunition for the rest of the calibres being offered to civilians by CMT is not made here. Imported ammunitions are frightfully expensive. This needs to be addressed first.”
Jayarajan said CMT has been given permission to manufacture ammunition of all calibres, ranging from the small .22 LR to the 12.7 x 108 mm heavy machine-gun cartridge used by the army. “We plan to make the ammunition factory operational by the end of 2021,” he said.