Selecting a patrol rifle: A systems approach
Knowing that our patrol rifles would most likely be in service long after I was dead, I wanted our rifles to comply with current and future standards and to be as adaptable as possible
I was a founding officer when my current agency came into being in 2005. We had one car, one radio, one set of keys, and we worked 12-hour shifts (alone!). The day I started I was the department range master and Armorer as I had held these positions with my previous agency. My Chief was clear: She wanted rifles in the cars.
Looking at All Variables
As I surveyed the crop of viable rifles I settled on the following for consideration: AR-15/M4, SIG 551, H&K G36K, FN SCAR, FN F2000, and the Steyr AUG. I wanted to have magazine commonality with surrounding agencies so only rifles that used AR-15/M16 magazines remained. In 2005/2006 the FN SCAR was not available so it was eliminated. This left the AR-15/M4 and the FN F2000.
Security a Major Concern
The Twist-Rate Debate
Barrel length debates came next. My boss wanted 16 inch and I wanted 11 inch. We compromised and bought 14.5 inch Colt model 6921 semi only M4 carbines. In California, state law dictates that officers must be sent to a POST rifle class before being issued any short barreled rifle. By getting the 14.5 inch rifles and issuing one to every officer this ensures future administrations must send all new hires to rifle training.
We recognized the need for weapon mounted lights. I did not want anything with wires hanging off to get snagged or damaged. I found that Big Sky makes the ESL-270 specifically to work with the Surefire M500 light. This made the selection obvious. The M500 has shown to be a reliable clean light that is easy to use and fits my agencies needs.
Choosing Optics & Slings
Two of my officers are former SWAT members who made it very clear they wanted a single point sling. I attended the 2006 SHOT Show and checked out the various slings. I was most impressed with the Troy Ind. single point and after looking at all the available sling mounts I settled on the Yankee Hill sling plate. This combination has worked well.
We purchased Specter Gear M4 thigh pouches and Eagle M4 FB chest rigs to carry extra magazines. Our officers can chose which they prefer and equip them how they want. It’s about 60/40 in favor of the thigh pouches. In the up-coming years we will add individual med-kits for each chest rig and possibly switching to plate carriers with hard armor plates.
Looking at current products available I most likely would have purchased Daniel Defense 11.5 inch, hammer-forged, light-weight barreled carbines with Magpul MOE stocks, Magpul MOE trigger guards, Daniel Defense sling plates, Blue Force single point slings, Surefire flash hiders, and Gas Buster charging handles. This way we get the lightest, handiest carbine possible that accommodates cold and wet weather with the larger trigger guard for gloved hands and a rubber butt pad.
As our rifle program moves forward we are planning on adding suppressors to our rifles due to OSHA and other risk management concerns. Fortunately the current products on the market will fit with our systems approach. They will fit on the rifle, fit in the rack, and not interfere with our lights and optic. My choices were dictated by the needs of the department and not what I personally wanted. In the end my agency provides an outstanding tool to its officers that has met their needs and the agencies. If you are ever given the opportunity to develop any program such as this make sure you look at all aspects of the program, all the component pieces and how they will fit together. Take a systems approach. Far too often we are forced to make do with what we have. In those rare times when we get a clean slate to work with, take advantage of it.
|Back to previous page|