HGR 007 - Modern Police Handguns
Ryan discusses the modern handguns used by our police forces. Part 2 of 2 in a series on Law Enforcement handguns. Brought to you by the Firearms Radio Network.
Week in Review & Discussion:
- Got to tour a few local gun shops around here. Got to see & handle some new handguns that have came out, including the Ruger 1911 Commander size, the new Double-Tap Derringer in 9mm & .45 ACP (a LOT larger than I expected. Thin, but large.) and a Ruger LCR in .22 Long Rifle (I really liked this gun, a light, accurate little .22 double action revolver.)
- Got to see someone fire a Ruger Blackhawk chambered in .30 Carbine. That is one cartridge that throws off quite the fireball and is pretty loud, but was VERY accurate. I was impressed; it was a very fun firearm to see shot.
- A friend of mine picked up a Smith & Wesson SD-40 which is S&W’s budget line of polymer pistols. The S&W M&P semi-automatic series is a step up from the SD series, but the SD series are a very solid, well built handgun that is very affordable. If you are looking for an economical self-defense handgun that will be reliable and accurate, you could do a whole lot worse than purchasing one of the SD series handguns from Smith & Wesson.
- Thank you all for your reviews & e-mails! It really helps me to make the show better each week by incorporating your feedback, and iTunes reviews help the show get more exposure. Thank you all!
Main Topic: Modern Police Handguns:
Again, this is part two of two in a series on Police handguns. Much of this information is drawn from reading the books Greatest Handguns of the World Vol. I & II by Massad Ayoob. These books are a great read and are books that you will pick up and read over and over again. It has great stories, detailed pictures and history of many of the great classic & modern handguns that you know and love. Highly recommended!!
- Originally designed by Gaston Glock in Austria. Glock was a fabricator of parts made of high-impact polymer. He was approached by some firearms manufacturers to try and make polymer frames for firearms, and Glock decided to try and make his own handgun.
- The result of his attempts was the Glock 17, first introduced in 1984. The Glock 17 was originally adopted by the Austrian army, and then by several other European armies, before being adopted by the Miami Police Department as a replacement for their double-action revolvers.
- The ATF classified the Glock as a “Double-Action Only”, which caused many police departments to transition to the Glock as a way of reducing accidents resulting from cocked double-action revolvers. There had been a few cases where officers had cocked their DA revolvers and accidentally shot suspects because of the light trigger pull. With the Glock pistol, it was a DAO, meaning it could not be cocked.
- Interestingly, Glock produces two models that are not available in the United States. The Glock 25 and the Glock 28. These are both .380 ACP models that are manufactured for countries where civilians cannot own “military” calibers such as 9mm and .45 ACP.
- Many anti-gun politicians decried the Glock pistols as being “plastic” and being able to be brought through metal detectors. This was simply untrue, as the Glock pistols are not completely polymer at all. Yes, the frame and some of the smaller parts are made out of a high-impact polymer, but the slide, barrel, springs and many parts in the trigger kit are made out of traditional steel.
- Glock has produced several “Generations” of handguns, currently on their Gen4 Models. The new Gen4 Models have a slightly redesigned recoil spring system and the ability to change the backstraps to fit the shooters hand.
- The H&K P7 was a semi-automatic pistol in 9mm (along with later versions and even one in .45 ACP) that used a unique “squeeze-cocking” lever on the frontstrap of the grip. In order to fire the pistol one would have to squeeze the lever back, which precocks the pistol and allows you to finish the trigger-stroke.
- The P7 was a single stack design, with a capacity of 8 rounds.
- The barrel of the P7 was affixed to the frame, much in the way of the blowback-operated Walther PPK. However, the P7 was not a blowback design, but used a small scale gas system to keep the slide locked for a sufficient amount of time during firing.
- That fixed barrel design allows for a high degree of accuracy, as the barrel is not tilting downward as it does in a Browning tilt-locking design.
- One criticism of the P7, especially when used by American consumers was the magazine catch. The P7 used the heel-type magazine catch system, except rather than pull the catch backwards, you pushed the catch forwards while stripping the magazine out.
- When the U.S. Army was looking for a replacement sidearm, H&K added a 13 round magazine to the P7 and called it the P7M13 and submitted it to the Army trials.
- Some Police Departments including the New Jersey State Police and the Utah State Police have adopted both the P7M8 and the P7M13.
- The Beretta Model 92 pistol is a 9mm pistol that has been the standard sidearm of the United States Armed Forces since 1985.
- The Beretta M92 has been adopted by many different police departments throughout the United States when they transitioned from revolvers in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Maine State Troopers carried the Beretta 92 at one time, although they now carry the H&K USP .45 ACP,
- The Beretta 92 was developed from the Beretta Model 1951. The Beretta Model 1951 was a single-stack 9mm pistol that looks a lot like the M92, but has a few differences, such as being a single-action design. The 1951 also used the old style Beretta magazine release button recessed in the grip panel, much like on the smaller .22 and .25 caliber Beretta pocket pistols.
- Engineers at Beretta redesigned the 1951 with a double-action trigger system, a double-stack magazine and a manual safety system located on the slide, that also functioned as a decocking lever allowing for safe hammer-down carry with a chambered round.
- The Beretta 92 was one of the first high-capacity 9mm pistols that would reliably feed hollow-point bullet designs that was introduced to the American market.
- Before the widespread issue of the Glock 17, most police departments wanted a pistol that was capable of being carried hammer down on a chambered round. They did not want cocked and locked carry that was seen often on semi-automatic pistols of the period. The Beretta 92 allowed for this method of carry.
- The Beretta 92 beat out entries from Colt, H&K, Ruger & Sig-Sauer to become the U.S. Military’s standard service pistol.
- The Sig-Sauer P226 9mm pistol is a DA/SA design that was born out of the Army Pistol Trials of the 1980’s. Sig-Sauer took their P220 & P225 models that were single-stack pistols, and redesigned them to accept a double-stack magazine. The P226 was born.
- While most of the double-stack semi-automatics of the time had a large, bulky grip as a result of the magazine, the Sig-Sauer P226 had the grip recontoured and allowed for a very manageable handgun that carried a large number of rounds.
- The P226 was said to have beaten or at least tied the Beretta M92 for the Army pistol contract, but Beretta put in a lower bid for the contract.
- After there were some complaints about parts breakage in the Beretta M92, the Navy SEALS stopped accepting the Beretta M92’s and procured Sig-Sauer P226 pistols instead.
- The Sig-Sauer is one of the most popular police issue handguns in the country, probably behind the S&W M&P Series and the Glock.
- The P226 is a reliable, accurate and durable 9mm semi-automatic pistol.
I understand that I haven’t covered nearly as many firearms in this episode as I did in the past episode, and that is for two reasons: 1.) There are several that I could have included, such as the CZ-75 or the Browning High-Power, but those guns have seen much more military than police use. Plus, I also want to cover those pistols and a few more in an upcoming episode of Handgun Radio that will cover Wartime Handguns. And 2.) Many of the handguns that you see used by police departments today are typically variations on a theme more than their own unique design. The H&K USP, for example has many different design quirks than a Glock or a Sig-Sauer, but ultimately, follows some of the same form & function as those pistols.
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