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Police Weapons

Used to be, the police had a bunch of 38s. Then, they wanted semi-autos so they had more firepower, measured in number of rounds apparently. Glocks in 9mm seemed to be the flavor. Then, people didn’t care too much for the stopping power of the 9mm. Most folks couldn’t quite handle the 10mm that was made just for them and then police started getting fo-tays. Now, some police are complaining the fo-tay isn’t enough:

“Police departments around the country are finding that the .40 calibers aren’t as effective if an unfortunate incident occurs and they’re forced to have to use their weapons,” Rutherford said. “[The larger caliber] is safer for the deputies and for the public if the unthinkable happens and we have to do what no one wants to have to do.”

Personally, I’m no fan of the fo-tay. A lot more recoil and cost than a 9mm with only a slight increase in performance. YMMV.

48 Responses to “Police Weapons”

  1. Paul Says:

    Personally I can accurately shoot guns in 38, 357, 9mm and 45. 380 amd 40 not so much.

    Since I carry a 380 and can’t hit with it, I will probably change something soon.

    I’ve had a 40 and did not like it so much. the guy that has it now loves it. Seems like the old tag line would apply.

  2. Jake Says:

    And the money quote:

    The .45 ACP automatic pistol cartridge has been considered one of the best defensive handgun rounds for the past 100 years.

    100 years, and still top of the list. Why choose anything else for a duty pistol?

  3. Weer'd Beard Says:

    .45 is my caliber of choice, but I’ll be the first to admit that the difference between a .380 and a 10mm…or even a .44 magnum is accademic.

    I dont think they’ll find any magic in the 0.05″ (IIRC that’s 1.4mm) of the .45 that wasn’t in the .40.

    I will say the felt recoil is a good deal more pleasant IMHO. YMMV

  4. Sendarius Says:

    I had a Para Ordnance Series 1 in .40 (pre-dated the P16-40). The frame had been breathed on by a very talented machinist, who rounded all the corners and edges off that 4×2 shaped grip, and added checkering where needed.

    I put upwards of 50,000 rounds through it in IPSC competition, and it always did it’s part in hitting targets fast and accurately.

    That gun was sweet to shoot, and I loved it – curse you John Howard!

  5. Tam Says:

    News Flash: Pistols make lousy fight-stoppers. The only reason they exist is because they’re easier to carry around than rifles and shotguns.

    If it can be easily fired one-handed, it’s going to be miserable at putting down bad guys, and I don’t care what magic caliber it is: 9mm, .45, .40, 10mm, whatever.

  6. Bryan S. Says:

    @ Jake – Ammo capacity?

  7. ZK Says:

    Like Weer’d, this Masshole likes to carry 1911s in .45. But looking at performance in gel, most loads in .40 seem about as effective (in terms of penetration and cavity) as .45, if not better.

    I’m not sure if there’s a statistical difference in police shootings, but I doubt they’ll see much difference between the two rounds.

  8. hsoi Says:

    Came here to say what Tam said, and since she already said it, there’s no more to say.

  9. nk Says:

    What Tam said.

  10. Ron W Says:

    Some say the 9mm isn’t adequate, but others say it is if you carry really good self-defense rounds. Checking out some info on that, here are some recommended ones for 9 mm carry by Chuck Hawks (search best 9mm self-defense ammo):

    “I will now tell you the best 9mm Luger load for self-defense: it is the Cor-Bon 9mm 115 grain +P Jacketed Hollowpoint. This is the most powerful and street-proven manstopper available in this caliber. It is a high velocity (1340 fps) and high pressure round, and more effective than any load restricted to law enforcement use (such as the Federal 9BPLE).

    The best standard pressure 9mm load is the Federal 115 grain JHP (9BP). Its effectiveness and accuracy make it the world standard. Buy several boxes. Other excellent standard pressure 9mm loads are the Winchester Silvertip 115 grain (X9MMSHP), and Federal 124 grain Hydra-shok (P9HS1).”

  11. hellferbreakfast Says:

    First thing is, you have to be able to hit accurately what you aim at !!!

  12. TennGoodBoy Says:

    Lotsa good comments. My opinion is the 40 was invented to cover the effbeei losing several (under-armed) agents in a gunfight which was finally ended with a shotgun. Another opinion is anyone presenting themselves as a target for the bad side needs to keep a 308 automatic rifle somewhere nearby.

  13. John Smith. Says:

    The pistol is a last ditch weapon. It always has been. A rifle now that is a first rate weapon. A fal is a very good start. When the fal jams or runs out of ammo then it would be a good time to use the pistol…

  14. Ron W Says:

    Good idea, TennGoodBoy….except I guess you mean SEMI-auto .308 rifle….what with the ILLEGAL gun laws with which LEO’s would use to go after a full RIGHT exercising citizen.

    But yes, a .308 rifle in your vehicle is what “Boston’s Gun Bible” strongly recommends for all self-defense situations…excellent reading for all gunners.

    As Col. Jeff Cooper put it, “the pistol is for fighting your way back to your rifle.”

  15. TomcatsHanger Says:

    There are very few reliable one shot stop rounds out there. Two that I can think of would be .50 BMG and 40mm HE.

  16. Hypnagogue Says:

    Well, since the 380 is the same as the 44 magnum…. I think I’ll go with the P3AT for bear defense…

  17. aeronathan Says:

    On a day to day basis I carry 9mm. May not be as effective but I like the extra rounds when I have no rifle to retreat to.

    A .45 sleeps in the nightstand though. If I need more rounds than it can hold, its time to retreat to my rifle.

    As far as .40 goes, if you need to step up to a .40, you may as well move on up to a .45. More grunt without any real loss in capacity…

  18. Bubblehead Les Says:

    Huh. I thought part of the excuse that cops weren’t using .45 was the recoil was too much for the ladies, and the grip size was too big for their hands (or was that the Pentagon back in the 80’s?). Now they say they need a better fight stopper? So how are they planning to address the size/recoil issue, because the feeble excuse they used 30 years ago still applies, unless magically LEO’s women’s hands grew? Betcha the next trend will be “the .45 is a good round, but we need more capacity, so we have to find a double stack .45 for the LEOs”. Or they want to go Euro-Style and all the street cops are to carry M4’s, perhaps?

    Not picking on the ladies, just reminding people of some of what was said a generation ago when the 9mm semi-auto hit the scene. Many cops were told “Yes, we’re going to Semi-Auto pistols, and No, you can’t carry a 1911, so get with the program”.

  19. Shootin' Buddy Says:

    What happened to the quaint notion (perhaps it is quaint now) of allowing the individual LEO to purchase his/her own pistol?

  20. Jake Says:

    @ Bryan S. – With modern polymer-framed designs, capacity isn’t much of an issue anymore, even with .45ACP. Just as an example, my Taurus PT-145 – a smaller pistol designed for concealed carry – will hold 10+1 and still fit my (small for a man) hands quite comfortably. The XD45 they’re planning to switch to carries 13 in the magazine.

    Since we’re talking about a duty pistol, the officer is going to be carrying at least 2 additional magazines on his belt, if not more. If he needs more than 40 rounds of .45ACP (assuming 1 in the chamber), he’s far too deep in the excrement to continue with a pistol, and really should have begun fighting his way back to the rifle in his car about 20 rounds ago.

    Also worth noting in this specific case is the fact that the XD40 uses 16 round magazines. Assuming the Glocks and Sigs they currently use have a similar capacity (which I’m not sure of), they’re not really losing much.

  21. Kim du Toit Says:

    Strange: I’ve tried the .40 in several different types of gun (Beretta, Sig, HK and S&W) and have real difficulty in getting decent accuracy. The recoil seems to be a “snap” rather than a “push”, and the follow-up shots are always worse than for the .45 and 9mm. Other people I know have no trouble with it, so I guess it’s just a personal thing. My favorite carry handgun calibers are still .45 ACP (semi-auto) and .38 Spec +P (revolver).

  22. Bobby Hunter Says:

    Several here have mentioned my favorite caliber, the 10mm.

    It was the Miami Shootout in 1986 that led the FBI to adopt the 10mm. But the S&W Clunker designed for it was too big and heavy and no fun to carry under a Brooks Brothers suit. It also had a high bore axis and huge grips. Since the FBI was actively recruiting women at the time, these factors combined to doom the 10mm. So they switched to the 40. The 10mm was just a victim of bad timing.

    These days, poly-framed guns have smaller grips, better recoil absorbsion, and lower bore axis. With the right gun, the 10mm is easily tamed.

    To compare, shoot an old S&W Clunker, a Glock 20, and an EAA Witness poly-frame 10mm and feel the difference in felt recoil. The S&W feels like a cannon but the Glock is very nice to shoot. The EAA is somewhere in between.

  23. randy Says:

    “As far as .40 goes, if you need to step up to a .40, you may as well move on up to a .45”

    But they don’t make Browning Hi Powers in .45. 🙂

    I don’t feel under gunned when carrying one of my 9mm BHPs, but the .40 I picked up a few years ago has better sights and safety levers, and a trigger job by Wayne Novak, so I usually carry it.

    Kim is right that it is a sharper recoil than the 9mm variant, but it doesn’t bother me personally.

  24. Rivrdog Says:

    @ everyone: it’s all about what you have with you when you get into that gunfight, not what you’d LIKE to have. If what you have with you is a .380, and you practice a LOT with it, including draws, presentation drills, and follow-up shots, you will win that gunfight with that .380

    You might win the lottery, get that GeeWhiz 10mm StreetFighter Tactical Comp with light and laser, but if you don’t put many 100s of rounds through it (and you won’t), it’s a loser in a gunfight with ANYONE shooting ANYTHING they’ve practiced a lot with.

    It’s ALWAYS what you know, not what/who/how you blow.

  25. Huck Says:

    I dos’nt matter what cops are packing if they cant hit what they’re shooting at.

  26. Paul Says:

    If you can’t shoot, and alot of cops can’t, then it don’t matter. And if you can shoot, and shoot well, then it, uh.., don’t matter either.

    It’s those inbetween ones that want something more than the 9mm but less than the .45. They can shoot fairly well but shot placement might not be so perfect under stress.

    I’m good with them having 9mms, .357 Sigs, .40 S&Ws, .45 ACPs… they will all do the job, some just need better shot placement to get the same results.

  27. aeronathan Says:

    @randy

    Good point. If your weapon of choice isn’t offered in a particular caliber, what can you do? It is what it is..

    And it is unfortunate that the Hi-power has never been scaled up to .45. I love mine in 9mm and thinks it would be a fine weapon in .45.

  28. DanBob Says:

    FNP-45. 14+1 and comes with 3 mags. Capacity and big holes = done deal.

  29. Justthisguy Says:

    Up until about 1900, cops tended to carry .32s. Then there was a big scare about Negroes with cocaine in them, so they went to .38s. A few years ago, there was another big scare about Negroes with cocaine in them, and Caucasoids with meth in them, and they went to .40s. I wonder what the next scare will be?

  30. Sigivald Says:

    Good 9mm hollowpoints should be just fine for police work (and indeed for non-police self defense). Remember that the “europellet” problem is with military FMJ loads.

    9mm with a proper hollowpoint load shoots people plenty dead enough. (As Tomcats said, there ain’t no guaranteed one-shot stops in a pistol.)

    For those cases where you need “more power” than your pistol, you want a carbine, not a bigger pistol.

    Aeronathan: The Hi-Power has been scaled up to .45; the FEG GKK-45.

  31. JKB Says:

    In shooting as in real estate, it is location, location, location. It’s not how big the bullets are but how you use them. But then intensive stress firing training, not to mention practice, practice, practice, is a lot more expensive than upping the caliber of the service revolver. But sure bigger bullets and more of them can help over come failed skills. Just as people who don’t know how to tie the correct knot use the lot-a-knot which often works but makes a big mess.

  32. Bram Says:

    Tam and others beat me to it.

    If I’m shooting at a bad guy with a pistol, something has gone horribly wrong. My rifle, shotgun, and carbine are all empty, broken or otherwise separated from me. I’m probably firing the pistol in your general direction in an effort to break contact or get back to my rifle – because I can’t hit anything with a pistol past 10 yards.

  33. MrSatyre Says:

    Tam, Bram and the rest: There are plenty of dead people who would claim otherwise.

    Look, it’s all a matter of practicality. If you are in close quarters with someone who suddenly wants to cause you problems, taking them down with a handgun is much easier and much quicker than fumbling for your rifle or shotgun and taking the time to line up your shot, especially seeing how it’s simply not practical to carry a rifle over your shoulder or across your chest everywhere you go. Dead is dead, regardless of the method used.

    “Im probably firing the pistol in your general direction in an effort to break contact or get back to my rifle because I cant hit anything with a pistol past 10 yards.”

    Maybe you should practice more.

  34. Mad Saint Jack Says:

    .45 is great, but I can’t afford to practice with it.

    I’ll just make do with my stockpile of 9mm Gold Dots.

  35. Some Guy Says:

    Before I engage with my 40, I like to pour a little out for my dead homies.

  36. Some Guy Says:

    Seriously, though, it really doesn’t matter what the police carry, since the vast majority of them will never be able to hit the broadside of a barn, in the first place. Hell, give em .50BMG Uzis, and they’ll still miss.

    (Now that I think about it, I want a .50BMG Uzi. Some smart guy make it happen.)

  37. Less Says:

    But “foh-tay” sounds so cool and I do shoot strong/weak hand with a quarter-hommie rotation…

    Anyway, getting serious for one second, I think Police are always going to look for the “best sword”: .32, .38, 9MM, 10MM, .40, etc…

    They all sorta suck – but something is better than nothing, right?

    Pistols are so subjective on “feel”, but sadly most recruits don’t shoot any calibers enough to differentiate…

    The trick, it seems, keeps coming back to the fact that police chiefs should be looking at ways to make “better swordsmen”.

  38. Sendarius Says:

    Lots of talk (not just here) about the recoil impulse profile of the .40 being “sharper” than the 9mm and .45.

    I shot predominantly re-loads using AP-100, an ADI/Mulwex powder available here in Oz, and never noticed the “sharpness” until I happened to shoot some factory 180-grain HP.

    While I am NOT advocating using re-loads in a self-defense situation (for many reasons), it seems that the ammunition mfrs have CHOSEN to make the .40 “snappy”.

  39. Andrew Says:

    “Good evening Mr. Texas Ranger. I see you are wearing your 45! Are you expecting trouble?

    Ma’am, if I was expecting trouble, I would have brought my rifle.” End joke.

    Nothing quite like a good winchester lever action rifle!!!

    But like Tam said, too troublesome to carry around. What with the cops asking all kinds of questions. Even though it is not illegal.

  40. Skip Says:

    At my range we let the cops use it for quals.
    They can’t even keep them all in the berm,[15’high].
    They shoot up the target stands, muzzle each other, trash the place, etc.
    Then the screws from the prison come out and under perform that.
    My DA investigator bud said in most cop involved shootings the first three rounds fired are into the ground three feet in front of themselves.
    Most don’t like to shoot and only shoot quals every six months.

  41. dave Says:

    [The larger caliber] is safer for the deputies and for the public if the unthinkable happens and we have to do what no one wants to have to do.

    And given law enforcement’s reputation regarding accuracy, it may be LESS safe for the public 🙂

  42. Will Says:

    Had an instructor make the statement that nothing portable was a guaranteed one-shot stopper. One of his examples was the VC sapper that lost an arm at the shoulder(!) from a .50BMG hit, and still was capable of running up to the wire with his demolition backpack. Survived for hours until the sun came up. Granted, not a COM hit, but it tore off his whole arm!

  43. Ian Argent Says:

    You know, here’s a niche where SBS/AOW restrictions really hurt. The problem they’re trying to solve for is making dead goblins. The suggested answer is to increase the effective target area by using a “more effective” round. What if they could increase shot accuracy with a smallish (barely holsterable) carbine with a forward grip and deployable stock? No-one is going to develop a LEO-only platform; but if SBR/AOW were more viable to the civilian market (car/home def weapon) it would be another story. I desparately want a compact carbine with those features and integral supression as a bedside gun. I don’t want a rifle-caliber weapon because I have a small house and close neighbors; politeness demands that I keep my bullets inside my walls. The same argues against a shotgun.

  44. Rivrdog Says:

    @ Ian: you have described the Marlin Camp 45, except for the stock and suppressor. You could probably find/fit a tactical telescoping stock, and the can is merely a matter of the Federal form and some money to fit it. A foregrip can always be fitted to a track inletted into the fore-end.

    Camp 45s sell now in the $350/$500 range, when you can find one. BTW, it uses 1911 magazines. You get 150-200 more fps out of the 16″ barrel, which transforms the slow .45ACP into quite the killa cartridge, so much so that you might want to reload and tone them down a bit to keep them inside your four walls.

    BTW, interior defense was what Marlin originally had in mind when they designed the Camps, both the Camp 9 & 45. It is also rumored that they wanted to take advantage of the Sullivan Laws in NYC, which allowed residents long guns, but denied them handguns.

  45. Ian Argent Says:

    Well, *I* can’t put a telescoping stock on it without committing a Class 2 felony if I bring it into NJ before pinning it in place.

    My current thought is to get a SUB2000 that takes G17 mags, for commonality with my handgun more than any other reason. I don’t own anything in .45 and am not (currently) considering changing that. When NJ is forced “shall-issue” by the SAF suit I’ll be looking for a carry gun (A G17L is IMHO not suitable for concealed carry) and will be in the market at that point.

    9mm JHP should be both an adequate manstopper and unlikely to overpenentrate from a SUB2K. They are, so far as I can tell, acceptable under the NJAG’s “opinion letter” that converted a named list “and substantially similar” to a 2+ features ban.

    Suppression will have to wait, probably for federal legislative action.

  46. Phelps Says:

    A cop saying that they would win more gunfights with a bigger bullet is like a teenager telling you that he would have less wrecks with a faster car because he could avoid the other drivers better.

  47. ATL Says:

    “Well, *I* cant put a telescoping stock on it without committing a Class 2 felony if I bring it into NJ before pinning it in place.”

    The answer to that is to not enter NJ. Just kidding, anyway the real issue here is not firepower, bullet size, machismo, but the whole absurd notion of stopping power. Handguns, alot of rifles, and some shotguns lack enough power to stop anyone. The notion that someone believes one round from anything is gonna stop someone is absurd. Sure you can shoot him with a shotgun, and it may knock’em down, but they can get back up. The point here is to train, shoot, and embed yourself with the notion that it is gonna take as many rounds as it’s gonna take from any gun to stop someone. That maybe 1,2, 5, 20 rounds. The less the better, but in all fairness someone should prepare for the worst. Remember rule number two in Zombieland: Double Tap. 🙂

  48. Ian Argent Says:

    I live in NJ – that’s where I keep my stuff; so not entering the state is a bad option, and not keeping it the state is a little silly.

    Stopping power has some relevance to certain situations. I am reminded of a story told to me by My Buddy The Marine which involved some idiot in Iraq approaching his Humvee off-angle to the turret necessitating MBtM to shoot the idiot multiple times with his sidearm before the idiot stopped making trouble for MBtM via the idiot’s AK. Since I don’t intend to take a humvee into a built-up area, that is an amusing but irrelevant anecdote *to me*.

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