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File photo. Leah Farrell/
out to tender

Gardaí to spend up to €2.5 million for the supply of over 3 million bullets

The matter has been put out to tender for the quantity of ammunition to be supplied over a three year period.

AN GARDA SÍOCHÁNA has issued a tender for the supply of ammunition to the tune of €2.5 million.

On the purpose of putting the matter out to tender, the gardaí said: “The objective… in undertaking this procurement process is to ensure the most economical and best quality ammunition to the firearms stores section of An Garda Síochána.”

The tender sets out initial requirements for the number of bullets required, but adds that further quantities might be needed over the term of the contract.

The specification is for three specific kinds of bullets.

The first is for 9mm parabellum 115 grain, full metal jacket, round nose ammunition. These must be certified to Nato specification.

shutterstock_1076213915 The 9mm parabellum rounds Shutterstock / Frank Middendorf Shutterstock / Frank Middendorf / Frank Middendorf

The tender requires 1 million bullets each year over the three-year tender, which are set to be used in three guns – the Uzi SMG (a submachine gun), the Sig Pistol P226 and the Walther P99 compact (semi-automatic pistol).


The second is for .38 Spl158 grain, semi-jacked, soft point ammunition. These must be certified to CIP standard – an international accreditation for ammunition.

These would be used in the Smith and Wesson revolver, and the requirement is for 50,000 of bullets in the second year of the tender only.

The third is for 4.6 x 30mm, copper plated steel bullets to be used in the Heckler and Koch MP7 submachine gun.

shutterstock_207806338 The Heckler & Koch MP7 Shutterstock / jointstar Shutterstock / jointstar / jointstar

In the first year, 50,000 bullets for that gun are needed, with 100,000 required in years two and three.

There is a dedicated elite unit within the gardaí, equipped with firearms and other weapons where members are trained as emergency first responders.

The Armed Support Unit (ASU), for example, is a dedicated armed unit of over 50 officers which focuses on high-visibility patrolling of areas which have been vulnerable to violent crime.

Other units that carry guns include the Emergency Response Unit, while detectives also carry firearms.

Security expert Tom Clonan told that the purchase of such a large quantity of ammunition wouldn’t be “unusual”.

“Basically, to qualify to operate a weapon under the law, there are four legal principles involved in the use of firearms,” he said. “Defence Forces and the gardaí operate under the same principles.”

These principles involve training in the justification for the use of force and training in the use of minimum force to avoid inflicting an unnecessary injury depending on the situation.

It also involves issues around prevention, where a situation that necessitates the use of force suddenly no longer requires it.

Clonan cited a fictitious example where an attacker may have opened fire on a busy street but then dropped the gun and attempted to flee. In such a situation, it would no longer be correct to fire a weapon at the attacker if they no longer posed a threat.

In order to pass the necessary tests to be able to carry and use a firearm, extensive training is required.

“One individual could fire in excess of 100 rounds at a range practice,” Clonan said. “By the time someone is qualified to use it, they’ll have used thousands of rounds. Even after they’ve qualified, you need to do annual or twice annual training to keep this up.

There are thousands of gardaí licensed to carry firearms. If you do the maths, and factor in the training they have to do, that’s when you come up with these very large numbers [of ammunition]… It’s just that that is the requirement for training and operational reasons.

‘Acceptance tests’

The successful tenderer would need to able to prove its competence and provide samples of its certification in areas such as operation, quality control, maintenance and repair.

The tender goes on: “Tenderers must demonstrate that they previous experience in providing the goods required… Tenderers must demonstrate that they have successfully delivered ammunition on a comparable scale and complexity relevant to the goods being tendered for.”

The successful tender winner must also provide details of two contracts within the previous three years in which they have successfully delivered ammunition on the scale required.

If companies who satisfy the conditions of the tender, they are required to send samples of the bullets required before a final decision is made.

At no cost to An Garda Síochána, facilities will also be provided by the successful tenderer for a person nominated by the gardaí to carry out “acceptance” tests prior to the shipping of the annual requirement of bullets as part of the tender contract.

At the factory lab, this person will test the ammunition for bullet velocity, bullet extraction, propellant weight, primer sensitivity, function, accuracy and action time, before final approval.

The deadline to make a submission to this tender is Thursday 6 September.

With reporting from Garreth MacNamee

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