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AZ DPS Joins Baltimore Co. Maryland In Replacing All Issued FNS Pistols After Discovering ‘Critical Flaw’

April 24, 2019

Two officers shot by accidental – not negligent – discharges of their FNS pistols, one an Arizona Department of Public Safety veteran firearms instructor and another in Baltimore County, Maryland led the Arizona DPS to investigate a potential problem with their standard-issue FNS pistols. Now, following Baltimore County Maryland’s lead, the AZ DPS has begun replacing their FNS pistols with GLOCKs.  And both agencies found serious causes for concern in the FNS product line.

The problems in Arizona began in 2015 when Officer Richard Vankeuren’s newly issued FNS pistol discharged – while in his holster – wounding him in the leg. Vankeuren, a firearms expert and experienced instructor, worked in the AZ DPS Firearms Training Unit. An investigation found a key had inadvertently pressed the trigger rearward, causing the discharge.

Another officer in Baltimore County, Maryland inadvertently shot himself during a training. He told his supervisors that his newly-issued FNS pistol discharged unintentionally as he started to break it down as part of training in a classroom at the county’s range.

Now, in 2019, the Arizona Mirror discovered that the Arizona DPS has found issues that might cause the pistol not to fire when needed, or worse, discharge unintentionally. The newspaper sought out and finally received a copy of the the AZ DPS safety bulletin video.

In it, the AZ DPS details two very troubling scenarios when the FNS pistols “routinely” discharge unintentionally.

Condition #1:   If the gun is held against an object such as an attacker during a struggle and the slide goes slightly out of battery and the trigger is depressed, the firearm will not discharge – as designed. However, if the trigger remains depressed and the firearm is retracted from the object, the gun may discharge after the slide returns to battery.


Courtesy AZ Mirror and Arizona DPS

Condition #2:  The same set up, only the trigger is depressed then released before pulling the gun away from the object.  When the slide returns into battery, the trigger may fail to reset fully.  At this point, according to the AZ DPS people, any sudden movement or jarring impact may cause the FNS pistol to discharge.

In condition #2, a “tap, rack” impact on the magazine, side-to-side movement, or a sudden impact from the top may cause the gun to fire.  In the video, the didn’t show a single instance of the gun not discharging.

The video says this scenario is unlikely to happen to an officer in the course of his or her duties.

Here is the video:

Hello?!?  Discharging a firearm in self-defense is an “unlikely to happen” scenario, yet we still equip our police officers with firearms! 

As for the civilian world, this should be of concern as well.  A majority of deadly force encounters happen at well under 9 feet.  How long does it take a bad guy to cover nine feet?  About the time it takes to react to their attack.  In other words, as a civilian concealed carry license-holder, a contact gunshot against an aggressor is a very real possibility.

From the Arizona Mirror‘s story:

…In a safety bulletin video released internally in August 2018 and obtained by the Arizona Mirror through a public records request, footage is shown of the weapons firing after being bumped or hit.

“A tap, rack, any side-to-side or up-and-down movement, a sharp jarring blow and even holstering and unholstering will cause the weapon to fire with no further contact with the trigger,” a narrator in the undated video says after explaining the conditions in which this malfunction can occur.

The malfunction happens when the slide of the gun is slightly pushed back and the trigger and action does not fully reset. This is called being “out of battery.”

Seeing that internal safety bulletin, another department on the opposite side of the nation acted in October 2018 to replace their FNS pistols. Baltimore County Maryland willingly spent almost $1.5M on a no-bid contract to replace their FNS sidearms with GLOCKs.

From the Baltimore Sun:

Baltimore County is spending more than $1.4 million to replace pistols used by county police that may have a tendency to accidentally misfire — or not fire at all.

The county awarded a no-bid contract to replace more than 2,000 FNS-40 pistols used by its police officers, sheriff’s deputies and correctional officers with weapons made by Glock.

The move came after mounting concerns about the pistols’ safety.

“The department understands that officers lost confidence in carrying this service weapon, so there was an immediate need to explore a new service weapon that our officers will have confidence carrying,” said Cpl. Shawn Vinson, a spokesman for the police department.

Baltimore County’s firing range instructors learned in August from the Arizona Department of Public Safety that the FNS-40 could fire accidentally.

Baltimore County initially worked with the gun’s manufacturer, FN America, a subsidiary of the Belgian company Fabrique Nationale Herstal, to replace a faulty striker pin in the guns in September.

But county officers had another problem with some of the FNS-40 pistols: a roll pin inside the trigger could fall out, causing the trigger to separate from the gun and rendering it unable to fire. The department has logged at least three guns with this problem in the past two years.

That’s right: Baltimore County worked with FN to replace the strikers, only to find a worse problem. A roll pin might work its way out “rendering [the gun] unable to fire.”

That certainly has to be a heart-warming feeling for police officers and anyone else carrying “the world’s most battle-proven firearms” to defend their lives.

No wonder both agencies are dumping their FNS pistols for GLOCKs.

One Response to AZ DPS Joins Baltimore Co. Maryland In Replacing All Issued FNS Pistols After Discovering ‘Critical Flaw’

  1. Hop on April 25, 2019 at 1:37 am

    These types of things are just incredible to read about. Reissue the 5906 and 4006 Smith & Wesson pistols to ’em all LOL

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