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By Dave Douglas
My grasp of the obvious is on display for all to see with the following statement. Good marksmanship is a characteristic that is very desirable for a law enforcement officer. There, I said it. And someone should write it down. Oops, never mind, I just did.
Good marksmanship, however, remains elusive for a number of folks wearing a badge. Accuracy with a firearm is achieved through a combination of a number of fine and gross motor skills, hand/eye coordination, ingrained muscle memory, attitude, and equipment. All of these factors have a symbiotic relationship. If one goes out of kilter, it affects the others to the point of having a negative impact on marksmanship.
Still, with enough time, bullets, and targets most of the problems of bad shooters can be cured. It usually just takes an instructor to recognize the issue and teach the student the proper stance, gun presentation, grip, sight alignment, and trigger manipulation. All these good habits are teachable. However, there is a fly in the ointment: the gun. I can hear the shrieking already. “There isn’t a gun out there that can''t out-shoot the shooter.” “Any quality gun can be shot effectively if the shooter uses good technique.” “Don’t blame the gun, blame the user.” I know, I know, I know. But just give me a second to explain. Cops come in all sizes these days and a natural conclusion from that statement is that shooters’ hands come in all different sizes as well. I’ve seen officers with hands that were so big they could almost reach around the grip of a single-stack pistol twice. On the other hand, and with more frequency, I see a lot of officers with small hands who can barely hold on to a double-stack gun. Since high capacity is thought to be better, double-stack guns are often the preference for department issue, but that presents a big problem. A good grip is impossible when the gun is too big for the shooter’s hand. When your grip is bad, trigger manipulation suffers and more forearm strength is needed to pull through the trigger’s travel. There is more of a tendency to jerk the trigger and more movement of the gun so the group on the target looks like 00 buckshot from 75 yards. For shooters, this is extremely frustrating. Their confidence plunges and their attitude toward improving their pistol skills suffers.
Filling the Bill
The solution is simple. Find a gun to issue that fits every officer’s hand. But make sure it can be used as a duty gun by patrol officers and is easily concealable for investigators as well. This is the Holy Grail for rangemasters, and it’s just about as hard to find. Which brings us to Heckler & Koch and its effort to put a smile on the faces of police rangemasters worldwide, the HK P2000. HK needs little if any introduction to law enforcement officers. After all, every time we open POLICE we see a picture of a tactical officer wearing black battle dress uniform, tactical vest, level III or level IV body armor, shin protectors, knee and elbow pads, ballistic helmet, balaclava, goggles or protective mask who is carrying, wait for it…a suppressed, fully automatic HK MP-5 sub-gun. To see a tactical officer without an MP-5 would be like seeing Paris Hilton without that ugly little dog in her purse. It just doesn’t happen. With the P2000 police pistol it’s obvious that HK really put forth a considerable effort to produce a gun that meets and exceeds the criteria for an all-around issue duty pistol. The HK P2000 is a recoil-operated, locked-breech pistol, with modified Browning-style barrel and slide-locking system similar in configuration to HK’s USP pistols. All of this adds up to a solid, reliable duty weapon.
German Cop Gun
Designed for the German polizei, the P2000 has been shaped and finished for cops. When you hold it by the slide and run your hands over it—after checking to make sure that it is unloaded, of course—the P2000 feels like a well-worn bar of soap. There are no sharp edges or points anywhere on the gun. Nothing to hang up on a duty jacket, tear up a uniform shirt, catch on a cover garment when concealed, or snag on a holster can be found in the gun’s design. Another smooth feature on the P2000 is the hammer. It’s bobbed and barely protrudes at all from the rear of the slide. In addition, the edges on the sights are smoothed out so the operator won’t tear off a chunk of hide when practicing malfunction clearing. The P2000’s finish is matte black, what HK calls the Hostile Environment Finish. No matter what you call it, this is an extremely hard nitro gas carburized black oxide coating. I ran four different types of gun cleaning solvents over it to see if any would rub it off. Not even a smudge was visible, which tells me it’s as close to being a cop-proof finish as you can get today.
The P2000 is one of the few truly ambidextrous pistols available for law enforcement duty use. Most left-handed officers are usually forced into using a right-handed gun. Lefties normally adapt well to guns designed for righties only because they have had to adapt to a right-handed world all of their lives. But using what is naturally their primary hand to manipulate gun controls is far superior, especially under stress. Some manufacturers make their weapons a little bit lefty friendly. For example, they make the magazine release reversible and that’s a good start. But HK has a magazine release on both sides of the gun and a slide release as well. Since the P2000 has no external safety to flip on or off, all of the controls are available to both lefties and righties. Another added benefit to a fully ambidextrous gun is ease of manipulation in non-primary hand-shooting drills.
Perhaps the number one feature of the P2000 that makes it a one-gun-fits-all solution is the grip. The P2000 has an interchangeable back strap system. This makes the gun easy to configure for just about any hand size. The P2000 comes with four back strap inserts. The largest rides up higher on the back strap and adds almost a quarter inch to the top of the grip. The smallest makes the back strap almost straight and removes about a half inch from the middle-sized insert’s grip heel. The center of all the inserts is textured with a non-slip surface for a secure grip. Installation of the back strap options is easy and doesn’t require an armorer or gunsmith. A pin at the bottom of the grip that doubles as a lanyard attachment is drifted out with a punch, the grip insert is pulled down and then off. The new insert goes back on just as easily. Just be careful that the hammer strut and spring remain in place.
The P2000''s modified Browning-type action is similar to HK’s highly successful and reliable USP and USP Compact. It uses a recoil-reduction system that is also similar to the USP family of guns. The heart of the recoil-reduction system is a specially designed flat-wound recoil spring contained in the captive recoil spring assembly by an absorber bushing made of high-strength polymer. The result is that recoil on the P2000 is very manageable. Even the powerful .40 S&W cartridge has very little perceived recoil impulse. HK’s new Law Enforcement Modified (LEM) trigger makes trigger manipulation on the P2000 smooth and positive. Trigger pull runs 7.5 pounds. It stacks slightly just prior to breaking, giving the operator notice that discharge is imminent, and sear reset is relatively short, allowing for quick followup shots. Best of all, trigger pull is exactly the same on all shots. The P2000 is available in 9mm and .40 S&W calibers. The 9mm holds 13 in the magazine and one in the chamber. The .40 S&W carries one less. For a sure grip, the P2000 has a molded base plate. An accessory rail is also molded into the polymer receiver that can handle just about any tactical illumination or laser-aiming device. To sum up, the HK P2000 is an all-around excellent gun that can be used by just about anyone. If you have huge meat hook hands or little tiny ones you can use this gun. It doesn’t matter if you are left handed or right handed. The Heckler and Koch P2000 is a gun designed for law enforcement and well worth a long, hard look if you are looking for a new duty pistol. It’s a realistic solution for uniformed assignments or as an easily concealable investigator''s gun.
Sgt. Dave Douglas is the rangemaster of the San Diego Police Department, a veteran law enforcement officer, and a POLICE contributing editor.
This article is reprinted with permission from Police Magazine, online at www.policemag.com/.
Not to be reprinted or published without the express consent of www.policemag.com.