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Firearms Q&A: Jimmie McCoy of Meggitt Training Systems

Editor’s Note: This is the third installation in a special series of Q&A articles on police duty pistols and the training issues related to those firearms. Parts one and two were round-table type discussions, while this is a one-on-one conversation with an important vendor in the marketplace. If you’re in the business of providing either firearms products or training services to law enforcement, I’d gladly entertain adding your answers to this series of special columns, so just send me an email with your answers to the questions posed below. While I cannot guarantee your answers will be published, I do promise that every submission will be given equal consideration. 

Back in May, I connected with three of my top firearms writers — Dick Fairburn, Lindsey Bertomen, and Ken Hardesty — to get their thoughts on a handful of issues related to the firearms marketplace. In today’s edition of the PoliceOne Firearms Newsletter, I follow that up with part two of that two-part series, which you can read in full here

In the interest of providing as wide a variety of perspectives on these trends as possible, I also sent my six-question inquiry to a handful of important vendors in the police firearms and training industries.  In coming weeks and months, I’ll post the responses I got from folks at Sig Sauer, Beretta U.S.A., and others. 

Today, we begin this special series with the thoughts of my friend Jimmie McCoy of Meggitt Training Systems

PoliceOne: What’s your take on the current state of the firearms market — good and bad — as it relates to department-issued sidearm pistols?

Jimmie McCoy, Meggitt Training Systems: The firearms market in regards to department issued side arms has been proportionately one sided for a number of years since the adaptation of certain foreign made brands of polymer framed pistols. These particular sidearm manufacturers provide about seventy percent of Law Enforcement agencies in the United States with a highly reliable, accurate, light weight, durable, and moderately priced sidearm.

While this is good for the company that manufactures these pistols, other sidearm manufacturers especially in the United States have felt the sting over the years of their competitor’s success, not only from the polymer pistols but from alloy frame pistols as well. It has been a couple of decades of trail and error on the U.S. firearms companies to try and regain a foothold in the Law Enforcement market.

It is my opinion that, the time has come and the dominance of the foreign pistol manufacturers is slowly but surely diminishing with the introduction of a new breed of U.S. made polymer frame pistols that certainly match and in most cases surpass the foreign pistols in all areas. As a Law Enforcement firearms instructor I see a steady rise in the use of the new U.S. made pistols.

What are the key things agencies need to consider when buying sidearm pistols for their police officers?

McCoy: The main issues a department should be concerned with when looking for a   replacement sidearm for their officers should be, reliability, ease of operation, safety features, caliber selection, weight, effective stopping power, over penetrating, and of course affordability and availability of firearms and replacement parts. Customer service on behalf of the manufacturer is paramount when selecting a replacement side arm.

Another important factor to consider is that the grip of the firearm can be adjustable to accommodate both large and small hands. The firearms industry has been slow to recognize the need for this feature but currently several well know brands of pistol have started offering this feature.

While not considered a “must have” feature a utility rail is always an added bonus for Law enforcement side arms. This feature allows for external attachments of flashlights and laser sighting devices.

What are the common mistakes police armorers and procurement officers make with regard to the selection of duty firearms for their officers?  What advice would you offer to help them avoid such mistakes?

McCoy: While most armorers are experienced shooters and have a good working knowledge of firearms their recommendations for a new sidearm are usually overruled by the procurement officer(s) with lesser knowledge of fire arms and who are also bound by budgetary restraints. In most cases the police officers in the field usually end up with a sub standard firearm. In some cases small municipal departments will authorize officers to carry personal firearms as long as the caliber of the sidearm meets departmental regulations.

Most departments will conduct weapon trials to determine what pistol meets their department’s needs. While this process is a tried and trued method it usually is a costly one and in some cases doesn’t always produce the right sidearm for their particular needs.

Another effective method for selecting a new sidearm is to survey the tactical competitive shooting arena. These shooters are mainly former and active Law Enforcement Firearms instructors and Military personnel with years of firearms knowledge and shooting experience. This select group of shooters knows what firearms perform the best and what the tactical advantages are over other brands of firearms. In most cases these people have conducted their own weapons trails through years of competition shooting and know what pistols produce the best results and performance.

Given your position within the police firearms market, you get to see pretty much every duty firearm out there right now.  When you look at how officers are training in Meggitt Systems with their duty weapons, what performance trends are you seeing overall?  What is one performance trend you’ve seen which has surprised you?

McCoy: With an extensive competitive shooting and instructional background in both live fire and simulation, it’s relatively easy to pick up any type of firearm and within a few shots become familiar with that weapon’s characteristics. The trend that I have noticed over the years is that most officers rarely train with anything else other than their assigned weapons. Most of the general populous think that most Cops are “gun people” but this is not always the case. For example, Patrol officers in large metropolitan agencies rarely get the opportunity to shoot anything other than their duty weapons. Therefore, it is imperative that whenever an officer is training on a simulator the weapon they are using be as close to their duty weapon as possible.

Companies like Meggitt Training Systems provide the end user with simulator weapons that are correct in fit, form, and function. This is accomplished by starting with and actual weapon system and highly modifying it into a laser emitting training device yet retaining actual trigger pull and all functionality features of the real firearm. This technology provides the student with a weapon that they feel comfortable with.

A trend that surprises me is the fact that students that use an “unfamiliar” Meggitt simulator weapon for the first time seem to be more at ease with it as opposed to a live weapon for obvious reasons. Instructors teach students to handle the simulator weapon with the same respect of a live weapon. The end result is that with the multiple diagnostic tools on the simulator the instructor can pinpoint problematic areas associated with poor marksmanship and correct them on the spot. Instructors of old had no way of monitoring a student’s inability to execute the proper fundamentals of marksmanship other than standing to the side and visually watching for mistakes.

If a department decides to change their current duty weapon then the simulator can surely familiarize the officer with the new firearm and at the same time reduce the amount of range time and ammunition needed to re-qualify their department’s staff with newly issued weapons.

What do you see as some of the most serious police firearms training trends on the horizon?  No holds barred here — is it quality of training/trainers, or availability of ample practice rounds, or time allotted to range training (time away from patrol), or something else I haven’t even mentioned?

McCoy: Stress induction training is the latest and in my opinion the most needed type of training today for the patrol officer. No type of training can make someone immune to fear and confusion but repetitive situational training either by simulation or role playing can condition ones mind and increase their ability to handle the rigors associated with the decision of using deadly force in a given situation.

Without this type of training, officers are surely prone to make mistakes that may invariably cost them their career or even worse, their lives. While there are endless studies on this subject and the benefits associated with this type of training, the bottom line is, that without it the officer stands a good chance of making the wrong decision in the field and, how does that officer cope with his decision afterwards?

Stress training should be implemented into every department’s training curriculum and practiced frequently — the benefits far out weight the negative impact from an unfavorable shooting.

PoliceOne: What have we not yet covered here that you think should be included in this discussion?

Jimmie McCoy: It is my opinion that over time, technology may offer law enforcement officers weapons that may completely incapacitate an assailant where current weapon systems usually result in death when used to stop a violet person. It’s quite evident that weapons designers are moving in that direction with the introduction of weapons like The Taser and other less than lethal weapons currently used by our Law Enforcement officers. 

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