Firearms Technology

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Gun Safety Technologies

Since the mid-1990s, numerous teams have developed firearms with advanced gun safety technology to varying degrees of maturity. These firearms are designed to contain authorization systems that generally combine an authentication mechanism that actuates a blocking mechanism in a seamless process that is designed to take less time than handling and firing a conventional gun.

NIJ has undertaken projects to look at the feasibility and practicality of such guns, including:

  • Market survey. In response to an executive action issued by the President, NIJ published A Review of Gun Safety Technologies, a technology assessment and market survey of existing and emerging gun safety technologies that are of interest to the law enforcement and criminal justice communities and others interested in gun safety. Download the report (pdf, 96 pages).
  • Gun Safety Technology Challenge. NIJ also launched the Gun Safety Technology Challenge to seek an objective demonstration through testing and evaluation of the reliability of firearms and firearms accessories available today that are typically known by various terms such as smart guns, user-authorized handguns, childproof guns, and personalized firearms. Learn more about the Challenge.
  • Baseline specifications for law enforcement service pistols. Before gun safety technology is ready for widespread adoption by law enforcement agencies, officers must be confident that the integration of the technology does not compromise the reliability, durability, and accuracy they expect from their se​rvice weapons. A first step in addressing this is defining the operational requirements for any firearms equipped with gun safety technology. The Departments of Justice and Homeland Security assembled a working group, led by NIJ, that developed baseline specifications for law enforcement service pistols with security technology. Learn more about the baseline specifications.

Visit NIJ’s Gun Safety Technology page.

Autoloading Pistols for Police Officers

NIJ develops and publishes equipment standards that specifically address the needs of law enforcement, corrections, and other criminal justice agencies. NIJ Standard-0112.03, Revision A, Autoloading Pistols for Police Officers establishes performance requirements and test methods for pistols to be used by law enforcement officers.

Read the current standard, Autoloading Pistols for Police Officers: NIJ Standard-0112.03, Revision A.

In addition to development and publication of the standard, we also sponsor a standards-based testing program, managed by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center. Under this program, manufacturers submit pistols to be in accordance with the voluntary national performance standards at independent laboratories.

Firearms and Examination and Ballistics

Firearms Examiner Training

NIJ offers free, self-paced online training for firearms examination designed for use in conjunction with traditional hands-on mentoring.

Register and take the course.

NIJ funds research and development to improve how law enforcement gathers and uses evidence. We support the enhancement and creation of tools and techniques to identify, collect, analyze, interpret, and preserve evidence; including firearms and ballistic evidence. View a list of funded research projects.

NIJ also funded an evaluation of law enforcement use of the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN). Learn more about the evaluation.

Date Created: April 7, 2017