Obscure Object of Desire: FBI-Issued Smith & Wesson Model 1076 in 10mm Auto

S&W 1076 with the original FBI issued Safariland 5181 paddle holster (courtesy AR15.com member Mjohn3006)

On April 11, 1986, eight FBI agents engaged in a rolling gunfight with two armed bank robbers. The bad guys shot and killed FBI Special Agents Jerry L. Dove and Benjamin P. Grogan. In the incident’s aftermath, the FBI concluded that a failure of equipment caused the debacle . . .

Special Agent John Hall, chief of the Firearms Training Unit at the FBI Academy, presented then FBI Director William Sessions the results of a series of ammo tests. Agent Hall’s report concluded that the FBI needed a more effective caliber: 10mm. Director Sessions told Agent Hall, “If you find the right gun, we’ll find the money.”

Smith & Wesson stepped up to the plate with their brand new tough-as-nails 100 percent stainless steel Third Generation Series semi-automatic. In coordination with Agent Hall, the S&W Model 1076 was born. The FBI signed a contract for 9000 pistols over a three year period.

S&W 1076 with the original FBI issued Safariland 5181 paddle holster (courtesy AR15.com member Mjohn3006)

We’re talking about a nine-plus-one capacity, single stack, double/single action semi-automatic pistol chambered in 10mm Auto with a frame mounted decocker and no magazine disconnect. The 4.25″ barrel was stainless steel. It was topped off with a single piece wrap around Xenoy polymer stocks and Novak Combat three dot sights.

This 10mm Model 1076 was intended to be the be-all-end-all of police pistols. A dead nuts reliable handgun that was impervious to the weather, heavy enough that you could kill a man with it, unloaded.

The pistol’s take down was similar to the 1911 that somewhat inspired it. Pull the slide back until the take down notch aligns with the slide stop catch, push the pin out, move the slide forward until it is off the rails, remove the guide rod and recoil spring, and drop out the barrel.

Smith & Wesson Model 1076 (courtesy AR15.com member Mjohn3006)

Recoil? We don’t need no stinking recoil. The Model 1076’s weight soaks up the energy that the 10mm Auto dispenses. The trigger is like every other Third Gen Smith: a smooth 12 lbs. trigger pull in double action with a deliciously short, sweet, and crisp single action pull of less than 3 lbs.

When the decocker is engaged, it resets the hammer to the half cock position. So the trigger pull isn’t as long as a traditional Third Gen Smith like a S&W 4566 TSW.

Traditional Third Gen Smith with the slide mounted safety (LV for thetruthaboutguns.com)

Part of the FBI Contract stipulated that the 1076 lacked a magazine disconnect so it could be fired without a magazine inserted — another shift away from the standard Third Gen layout.

The contract also called for a 15 round magazine.Yes, you read that right: a fifteen round, single stack 10mm Auto magazine for a full size stainless steel pistol. Think about that for a second . . .

Smith & Wesson Model 1076 (courtesy AR15.com member Mjohn3006)

You’re a FBI Special Agent working a dope case in the dark gritty streets of Liberty City in Miami. It is 2am and you’re sitting in your unmarked car doing surveillance. You have your 1076 in your hip, two nine round mags on your belt, and a fifteen round mag in the map well on your driver’s side door.

Sounds exciting right? Where exactly do you stick that thing when you get out of your car? Back pocket? Ahhhh the mindset of the late 80s and early 90s. What a time it was. Anyways, back to the main topic on hand . . .

The S&W Model 1076 had a very short life span at the FBI: less than five years. The birth of the .40 S&W in January 17, 1990 sounded the death knell for the 1076. The FBI load for the 10mm: a Federal Federal Cartridge Company load of a 180 grain Sierra JHP bullet, delivering a muzzle velocity of 980 fps. The .40 S&W duplicated that “stopping power” on a 9mm framed pistol with greater capacity to boot.

Smith made precisely 13,805 Model 1076s. Only a handful of non-federal police agencies issued the gun (e.g., the Kentucky State Police). As the FBI doesn’t surplus their guns, actual FBI 1076s are a treasured item.

That said, legit FBI guns got into the wild via Smith & Wesson. The company purchased them from the FBI and sold them to distributors like Lew Horton Distributing Co.

Model 1076 with documentation and 15 round mag (courtesy AR15.com member Mjohn3006)

Used model 1076s aren’t cheap. The fifteen round magazines sell for over $100 a piece. Collectors will pay well over a grand for a Roy Jinks (S&W Company Historian) lettered 1076 with FBI provenance. Parts are hard to find, as are the original FBI Safariland Holsters. Worth it? For someone who knows the history and appreciates quality, yes. Of course.

[All photos of the Model 1076 belong to AR15.com member Mjohn3006 and are used with his permission.]

comments

  1. avatar Joel IV says:

    I have always loved the 3rd Gen Smiths. To this day I still carry a 6946 (compact, DAO, 13 shot, stainless 9mm) as my primary concealed carry piece. We carried 4006 boat anchors on duty when I was a reserve in Indiana, but they were accurate and reliable. I bought mint 3913 and 6906 sisters a couple of years ago that are safe queens. I had a chance to buy a 1006 from my buddy last year, but foolishly passed on it.

    1. avatar BLoving says:

      Yeah, the 1006… that was my dream gun back when I first got into this biz in the mid-90s.
      Was checking GunBroker a while back to see what a dream-come-true would set me back these days…
      I’ll just keep dreaming
      🤠

    2. avatar Madcapp says:

      All those ridiculous special order oddball guns they wasted their time on (and my tax money) over decades…and today, they’re right back to 9MM. Because in the end, 9MM is the only caliber you need in a semi auto, duty sized handgun. Everything else, as the FBI learned the hard way, is a waste.

      1. avatar John says:

        I think you are forgetting that ammunition has improved greatly in the last 30 years. So much so that the lethality of modern 9mm rounds commonly issued to law enforcement is very similar to other larger calibers. ( I understand ballistically, there are differences. But my point is 9mm ammo today is much more effective than it was. I also realize that there are other calibers that offer more of whatever you’re looking for) When you factor in the lower recoil, less gun wear, and higher capacity it makes sense that law enforcement is going back to 9mm.

        Also keep in mind that a firearm wears out just like anything. So, at some point the FBI would have had to replace the guns anyway.

        Ultimately, the amount of money the FBI spent on these guns is insignificant compared to the mountains of cash the government wastes on a daily basis. Sadly, most of the waste doesn’t go into anything as useful as firearms.

  2. avatar Mmmtacos says:

    Not even a mention of Special Agent Dale Cooper’s use of the 1076?

    Or was it a 4506? I forget.

  3. avatar Defens says:

    I carried a 6906 (compact, double-stack 9mm) concealed for quite awhile. For some unknown reason (probably the DA/SA action) I sold it and started carrying something else. Sort of wish I had it back – they were a very fine little gun. The 1076 would be another great one to own.

    1. avatar Don from CT says:

      I had the same gun. I carried it with a very reliable 15 round Ramline mag with the helical spring.

      I sold it to buy a G19. Slimmer, without the huge winged safeties on the slide and easier to shoot.

      Butnowhere near as pretty. I should have kept them both.

      Don

  4. avatar rc says:

    I wonder if S&W would consider bring these back to life? 10mm is coming back strong now and I bet this thing would sell well at the right price point.

    1. avatar Joel IV says:

      If memory serves, and my information was correct, the equipment to make the guns was too costly to repair. I never verified that.

      1. avatar Evan says:

        I’m not sure about that, Joel but it would make sense. The mid 90s were rough, S&W was on the ropes and were losing money and frankly, in bad shape. The Federal AWB, and a defense against a myriad of lawsuits from state and local governments attempting to cash in on tort law precedent set by the Tobacco Master Settlement suit, had all but bankrupted the company, and is what facilitated Saf-T-Hammer taking over the company in 2001-2002.

    2. avatar Evan says:

      Unfortunately, no. Smith and Wesson is dedicated to it’s baby, .40 S&W now. Which is a shame because the Smith 10-series were among the best 10mms available at the time. IIRC the last 10mm Smith made was the early 2000s, and it was the 610 10mm revolver. And again IIRC it didn’t sell that well and was gone from their website by 2010.

      I too have found a couple for sale, but they were still asking north of $1k for a gun with significant finish wear and scratches in the slide.

  5. avatar Mark says:

    Blaming the agents’ deaths on their handguns was a cop out. The FBI knew that the perps had at least one .223 and were wanton killers. They went out that morning to stake out a stretch of strip malls fully expecting–based on intel analysis–to meet up with the perps, but because the agents were spread out along the stretch of road they responded piecemeal during the chase. ANY handgun was no match but, although some of the agents had shoulder weapons, most had them locked in their trunks or otherwise not easily accessible. This was a tragic failure of planning.

    Further, although Miami LE was awash in aircraft at that time, for use against dope smugglers, no attempt was made to use aircraft in this case to track the perps–even though the dangers of an auto chase should of these violent criminals should have been apparent.

    The 1076 was a helluva gun, but for most agents whose daily attire as investigators was a suit and tie, it was too bulky and heavy for daily carry. I was happy to trade mine in for a Glock 22 after a few years.

  6. avatar Don from CT says:

    There’s one on Gunbroker now for $899. Closes in few hours.

    Buy it before I do. Ha.

    https://www.gunbroker.com/item/742008508

  7. avatar FlamencoD says:

    Cool gun, but 180 grains at only 980 ft/sec? That’s only 384 ft lbs.of energy. That’s less than a 9mm +p round.

  8. avatar Jay in Florida says:

    Get a box of a Doubletap 135gr HPs at 1600fps.
    They should be a nice handful in My 10mm RIA 1911 MS. (Commander sized).
    I will find out this weekend.
    Im getting to like both the 40S&W and 10mm all over again.

  9. avatar Michael S. says:

    The H&K MP10s are another 10mm firearm the Bureau used. Just an MP5 in 10mm. They still hang around in some offices, but you usually only see M4 rifles make it out of the gunroom.

  10. avatar skoon says:

    I know a retired fbi agent who is slightly senile now and swears up and down he has a 10mm hipower… i can only imagine he means 1076 or possibly a brenten. Either way i want it bad

  11. avatar b72512ga says:

    Three of the agents had 9mm’s and if I remember correctly, one was disabled by a round from the bad guys. Other agents had .38’s/357’s and shotgun. I was in LE at the time, and was briefed on the incident during training by the Det for Dade County who handled the parallel investigation for the state. The one agent who had a full auto MP5 and was supposed to be in the area was in a gas station bathroom when it went down.

    I have no problems with those who carry 9mm’s but, I believe they are way over rated. I carried .38 and .357 9mm and .40. The 9mm’s advantage was capacity over the .38 and .357. Seen lots of 9mm holes in bad guys, who were conscious an survived their wounds.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1986_FBI_Miami_shootout

  12. avatar Scooter says:

    Just got a 4026 KCPD to go with my CHP 4006TSW and beater 410. In 9mm: 5906TSW, 5906, 6906, 3913, 5904, and another 5904. Also, a 457. I WANT a 4506 and a 1006, and I have my eye on a local 5926. I’m not sure what is wrong with me… 🙂

  13. avatar Rob Geiger says:

    These guns were inaccurate, bulky and heavy. The 1006 I HAD TO HAVE back in the late Eighties, was one of my most disappointing gun purchases. The trigger was heavy, with a loooong first pull. My 4″ 686 revolver, or Colt Python (both sadly gone) were much better options for that era. I owned a few second and third generation Smith autos, and rarely if ever, wax nostalgically for them. They were attractive, and would be expensive to manufacture today, but reliability was not always 100%, particularly in the “compact” versions, at least from my experience.

  14. avatar =BCE56= says:

    I’m no fan of plastic firearms but I can see why they are popular.
    I prefer a 1911 in .45ACP.
    9mm offers some advantages, especially with currently available modern loads.
    I considered the Ruger P-series, 3d Gen Smiths, and even 9mm 1911s.
    Eventually, I chose a BHP.

    More recently I acquired a lightly used 3913 for about the price of an RIA 1911.
    It is thoughtfully designed, well made, sturdy, dependable and accurate. An aluminum-framed, compact singlestack of moderate weight, it carries well and is easy to shoot.
    In short, it is a Winner.

    Smith made dozens of metal frame semiautos in many configurations. Various sizes and calibers and multiple safety/trigger mechanisms were offered in single and doublestack. The 6XXX models are noticeably heavier due to their stainless steel frames.
    They became Modern Classics when discontinued in favor of newer pistols. They are often overlooked but remain a viable choice for service and defense.

    Somewhat scarce on the used market, and prices are on the rise, especially for the less common limited production models such as the Shorty Forty, TSW and NL etc. This may be due to market saturation of the many glockish plastiguns these days.

    Do not overlook the 2d Gen (3-digit) models. These may be slightly less refined than 3d Gen pistols, but could be a bargain.
    If you find a nice one, don’t pass it up.

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