Remember the Rifle: Don’t leave your best weapon behind when facing a gunfight
By Dave Spaulding
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It’s simple: Only a fool will knowingly take a handgun to a gunfight. In the event you haven’t figured it out, we in law enforcement carry handguns not because they’re effective, but because they are portable. While the police handgun can bring about rapid incapacitation, this type of effectiveness is a direct result of shot placement, which is difficult to achieve during the fluid, rapidly changing activity commonly known as a gunfight. I have spent my entire adult life studying the art of gun fighting, and I’m convinced long guns are far superior to handguns.
Compared to handguns, the long gun offers higher velocities, a greater sight radius and more points of contact (i.e., shooting hand, forward-support hand, shoulder weld and cheek weld), which enables better stabilization and accuracy. Yep, it’s a better weapon. So why do so few police officers take it along on hot calls? Officers give many reasons: “Once the call settles down, it gets in the way,” “It’s heavy,” “I don’t feel comfortable with it,” “I don’t want to shoot it because there’s too much recoil,” etc. I’ve heard all the excuses, but I can’t forget many law enforcement officers actually put themselves in jeopardy because they don’t want to bother with the best weapon available to them.
Whether it’s the classic pumpaction riot gun, the AR-15 family of weapons or the new pump-action police carbines introduced by Remington, the long gun ends the fight more quickly. The longer any fight goes on, the greater the chance you, the law officer, will lose. Long ago I quit worrying about handgun stopping power. The fact remains all handguns suck, regardless of caliber. Yes, a bigger bullet is a better bullet, but it’s also harder to control during rapid, multiple-shot strings of fire. History shows multiple handgun hits oftentimes bring about incapacitation. My solution: Carry a pistol that fits my hand and keep a long gun close by. The handgun is for situations in which trouble develops unexpectedly while the long gun is carried when any hint of trouble is present.
The AR-15 family of weapons is surprisingly similar in function to the semi-automatic pistol currently used by 99 percent of American law enforcement. These magazine-fed carbines are easy to operate and shoot; the only downside is you must keep them clean to ensure total reliability. While this can prove problematic in the sandy environment of Iraq, it should not pose a problem for most police officers.
For a chief or sheriff interested in arming his officers with a rifle caliber but wary of the added maintenance, training and military appearance of the AR, Remington offers the model 7615P law enforcement carbine. This pumpaction carbine functions exactly like the 870 shotgun with the exception of the box magazine used in lieu of the shotgun’s tubular magazine. Any AR-style magazine will work in the 7615, so the capacity of the gun can vary from 5–30 rounds. If officers can use an 870 shotgun, you can train ’em to use the 7615 in about 10 minutes.
The 60-grain .223 TAP is one of the most destructive bullets I’ve ever seen. This polymer-tipped round is designed to expand, tumble, rip and tear its way through the body and does so with great effect. After witnessing autopsy results of five shootings with this bullet, as well as an extensive test conducted on pigs, I am convinced this may very well be the ultimate police carbine ammunition.
The 60-grain TAP won’t penetrate hard objects very well. For this, I switch to the 62-grain Barrier TAP bullet—same trajectory but more hard penetration. Have a long-distance shot while on rural patrol? The 75-grain TAP is the answer. A favorite of the professionals at the Gunsite Academy ( www.gunsite.com) in Arizona, one of the world’s premier small-arms training facilities, the 75-grain TAP bores an impressive wound channel in ballistic gelatin.
The sling is the long-gun holster; any long gun intended for police service needs one. While some prefer the threepoint SWAT-style slings, I like the simplicity of the traditional two-point nylon strap. I let it out long enough so my gun hangs comfortably yet allows for quick shoulder mount. To remove the gun, I merely lift it over my head and away from my body.
Target identification prior to shooting remains essential, making a whitelight source a good idea on any gun intended for police use. The majority of law enforcement armed confrontations occur during hours of reduced or inconsistent light. White-light units are easy to find, quite cost effective and attach to the weapon. At the same time, a police carbine also needs a good flash suppressor. Many misunderstand the utility of this device: It does not hide the flash from your opponents, but helps keep the flash from affecting your eyes. While the classic birdcage-style suppressor does this well, I have never seen a flash suppressor work as well as the Vortex available from Brownells. After I saw this unit all but eliminate flash on a 10.5", full-auto M-4 at night, I immediately contacted Brownells and ordered one. It’s that good.
Dave Spaulding is a 28-year law-enforcement veteran, retiring at the rank of lieutenant. He currently works for a federal security contractor. Having worked in all facets of law enforcement-corrections, communications, patrol, evidence collection, investigations, undercover operations, training and SWAT-he has authored more than 600 articles for various firearm and law enforcement periodicals. He is also the author of the best selling books Defensive Living and Handgun Combatives.
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