The 26th Annual Roundup Covering New Firearms of Most Interest to Law Enforcement
The SHOT Show might be best described as the world’s largest gun fair where new offerings from manufacturers, large and small, are displayed. This year’s event was held on January 17 – 20, 2017, at the Sands Convention Center in Las Vegas and it drew over 60,000 attendees.
With over 1600 vendors, it is impossible to see it all. As always, there were surprises and variations on proven themes, as well as a few disappointments. Many of us had hoped to see the FBI inspired GLOCK® 17M or the Beretta APX striker-fired pistol, but they apparently were not ready for prime time – maybe next year.
What follows is a quick rundown on some new firearms which might appeal to law enforcement and security professionals. It includes models appropriate for duty, tactical and plainclothes applications and there just might be something out there for you.
Beretta Defense Technologies
One of the more interesting new offerings from Beretta is the Tikka TAC A1 tactical bolt-action rifle. Featuring the highly regarded Tikka action, operation of the Tikka TAC A1 is super smooth and its two stage trigger can be adjusted between two and four pounds.
The TAC A1 features a folding AR compatible stock made of aluminum with a steel hinge. Stock spacers for the end user to get an optimum length of pull are included in the package. The butt plate and cheek piece are adjustable to further ensure proper fit.
A hammer forged Sako barrel with a removable muzzle compensator is utilized on the TAC A1. Available chamberings include a .260 Remington, a 6.5mm Creedmoor and a .308 Winchester. A proprietary ten round magazine completes the package.
CZ (Ceska Zbrojovka) is one of the world’s premier firearm manufacturers and enjoys a solid reputation for turning out quality firearms. I’ve owned a CZ-85 for over 25 years and it has cycled thousands of rounds without a single stoppage. Despite their reputation for excellence, CZ pistols have never attracted a great deal of attention from US law enforcement. The new CZ P-10C may, in fact, be a game changer.
Like many contemporary self-loaders, the CZ P-10C is a striker-fired design. It does, however, have one of the best triggers of the breed. The trigger was designed to minimize creep and stacking and boasts a short, positive reset. Trigger break is achieved with the application of four to 4.5 pounds of rearward pressure which is a bit lighter than most of the competition.
The grip of the CZ P-10C should please most potential users and the pistol is a natural pointer. Three different backstraps are included to optimize hand fit. The fiber reinforced polymer frame keeps weight down to a trim 26 ounces.
The barrel length is 4.02″ with a total length of 7.3″, making the P-10C ideal for uniform or plainclothes carry. Metal three dot sights are standard. Both 9mm and .40S&W pistols will be offered.
Colt® Defense, LLC
Most of us equate Colt with1911 pistols and AR-15 rifles and that wouldn’t be too far off the mark.
The big news at Colt is the reintroduction of a high quality snub revolver. The new Colt Cobra® resurrects a name from the past and applies it to an entirely new package. Crafted entirely of stainless steel, this design represents a new sheet of music and differs significantly from the Cobra of old. For starters, the trigger geometry and stroke are different from my old Detective Special. I also suspect the grip frame is longer as well. A fiber-optic front sight and set of rubber grips complete the package.
One advantage which Colt snubs held over their primary competitor was the fact that they held six, rather than five, cartridges in a package which was only nominally larger. In a hideout gun, I feel a bit more confident with six rounds of .38 Special +P than any .380ACP. I’m sure plenty of others feel the same way.
FN America, LLC
The newest addition to the highly regarded line of FN pistols is the FNS-9 Compact FDE. Designed for concealed carry, qualities mirror those of the earlier matte black copy. The difference, of course, is that the latest version wears a durable FDE (Flat Dark Earth) finish. Even though differences between the latest offering and the original are purely cosmetic, this FN self-loader may very well be the best striker-fired compact.
FN describes the trigger action of the FNS family as double-action, although shooting qualities are more akin to a user-friendly single-action. Two additional backstraps are included to achieve the best possible connection to the gun. Two 12 round magazines, plus a 17 round magazine with a grip extension, are included. Grip is a very subjective area, but, in my hand, the FNS-9 Compact FDE feels better than the competition. An accessory rail for the mounting of lights and lasers is molded into the frame and the slide features fore and aft cocking serrations.
The total length of the FNS-9 FDE is 6.7″. At 23.4 ounces empty, the size and weight of this package should not give you away when dressed in casual clothing.
FN also debuted a number of modern sporting rifles bearing the FN 15™ name and featuring the newly designed FN handguard with M-LOK® technology (which is a unique accessory mounting system). The FN 15 Series feature updated models like the FN 15 DMR II and the Tactical Carbine II in both 5.56x45mm and .300AAC Blackout.
In recent years, Remington has attempted to move beyond the 870 shotguns and bolt-action rifles they have traditionally marketed to law enforcement. For 2017, Big Green has jumped into the deep end of the pool with the introduction of a brand-new service size pistol.
The RP9 is a polymer frame, striker-fired service pistol with an 18+1 capacity. Although this is a round or two more than similar competitive designs, Remington claims the RP9 has a smaller grip circumference and that it will fit 95% of all potential users. An optimized grip angle and undercut trigger guard help get you on target and minimize felt recoil and muzzle flip.
Trigger pull on the RP9 is designed to fall between 5.5 and seven pounds, with a short, tactile reset. The slide and barrel are given a black PVD finish for maximum durability. The sights are of the familiar three dot pattern and are draft adjustable for windage.
Ruger has had a very busy year, introducing multiple firearms to the market. New entries of interest to law enforcement include the LCP® II in .380ACP and the American Compacts.
The LCP II is a tad larger than the original LCP and holds an extra round. The most notable difference between the LCP II and the original is a user-friendly trigger. A short, crisp, single-action pull is utilized in the LCP II which will, no doubt, make the hits come a little easier. The sights also have been improved on the upgraded version. A larger gripping surface and aggressive texturing represent other significant improvements.
Ruger is also turning out chopped and channeled versions of their American service size pistol. The polymer frame, striker-fired American Compact is available in 9mm and .45ACP. Both length and height have been reduced from the original American. These pistols feature the same trigger action as their larger cousins, with a short take-up and a positive reset. The slides are crafted from stainless steel, while the frames are rendered from high performance, glass filled nylon. The magazine capacity of the 9mm copy is ten rounds and two units are provided in the package. The .45ACP copy comes with a flush fit seven round magazine, plus a ten round unit with a grip extension.
In a few short years, SIG SAUER has grown from the manufacturer of a few quality pistols to a complete systems provider. In addition to pistols, SIG is now turning out air guns, rifles, SMGs, ammunition, and optics.
During the SHOT Show, word came out that SIG had secured the contract from the United States Army to provide the new service pistol. After an extensive process, the Army felt that the SIG P320’s modular platform best suited their needs in the 21st century. It’s difficult to take issue with their choice.
The P320 line continues to grow by leaps and bounds and there seems to be something available for most every need. The units caught my attention were the P320 RX full-size and compact models. These pistols combine striker-fired modularity with a slide mounted reflex sight. In essence, one gets a state-of-the-art pistol with a factory mounted ROMEO1 optic. This combination can go a long way to improving anybody’s game.
The ROMEO1 has a molded glass aspheric lens with high performance coatings. Its three MOA red dot has multiple intensity settings and helps get you on target in every conceivable light condition. This innovative sight can be instantly put into play on the draw using Motion Activated Illumination (MOTAC™).
Is this fantasy or future shock? Back in the day, we wondered if autopistols would ever replace our revolvers. That, of course, came to pass a generation ago. Weapon mounted lights on duty pistols are yet another technological advancement we have witnessed. Safariland®, the largest manufacturer of police holsters, is currently working out some duty designs for pistols with red dot optics. Stay tuned for the next big thing!
Smith & Wesson®
The big news at Smith & Wesson was an upgrade to the popular M&P® Series of pistols. These enhanced pistols do indeed have a leg up over the original version and the new M&P is sure to please.
Most notable is an improved trigger. The new M2.0™ variant features a crisp, light trigger with a tactile, audible reset. In the past, this was one area where S&W took a backseat to their primary competitor. Four interchangeable backstraps are now provided to achieve the best possible fit. The grip frame is aggressively textured for a positive hold and additional cuts have been made in the forward part of the slide for manual manipulation. Chamberings include 9mm, .40S&W, and .45ACP, either with, or without, an ambidextrous thumb safety. End users can choose between a matte black or a Flat Dark Earth (FDE) finish.
Despite the overwhelming domination of autopistols, snub revolvers are still very popular with law enforcement officers. Nobody makes more variations of small frame snubs than Smith & Wesson and their Performance Center® Model 642 Enhanced Action is top-shelf. This Centennial variant from the Performance Center combines a snag-resistant, enclosed hammer DAO action which is considerably smoother than other snubs. The cylinder is cut for five shot full moon clips to speed up loading. At a mere 15 ounces, this is a gun you can carry all the time without weighing you down.
In late 2016, Springfield Armory introduced the SAINT™, an AR-15 pattern 5.56mm carbine, loaded with desirable features. I would be hard-pressed to find another carbine in its price range which includes so many features.
The SAINT package includes Springfield Armory’s Accu-Tite receiver mating system, along with a 16 inch chrome moly vanadium barrel. The barrel itself has a 1:8 twist to stabilize a wide range of bullet weights. The SAINT utilizes a mid length gas system and a heavy tungsten buffer. Its trigger sports micro polished and nickel boron treated components for smooth operation and optimum pull weight.
The butt stock, pistol grip and Key Mod handguard are supplied by Bravo Company. A flat top receiver for the mounting of optics is utilized and a flip-up rear aperture sight is included. The fixed front sight is classic A2 style.
Another notable new entry from Springfield Armory is the 9mm EMP® Lightweight Champion with Concealed Carry Contour. The EMP Series of pistols might be best described as a slightly reduced size 1911 built around the 9mm cartridge. The distance from the front to the rear of the grip frame is less than a standard 1911.
The new Carry Contour model has a four inch barrel, aluminum alloy frame and a bevel at the bottom of the mainspring housing to aid concealment. Sighting equipment consists of a low profile combat rear mated to a fiber-optic front. Three, nine round magazines are included with the pistol.
Late last year, Walther Arms announced the availability of their “value priced” 9mm pistol, named the Creed. This new offering features a reinforced polymer frame, nonslip grip texturing, and a precocked double-action trigger system with a bobbed hammer for a no snag draw. With an ambidextrous magazine release, low profile steel three dot sights, and front and rear cocking serrations on the slide, the Creed comes with two 16 round, 9mm magazines. The overall length is 7.3″ and an empty magazine weight of 26.6 ounces.
It is certainly tough for any upstart company to establish itself in this industry, particularly when you’re competing against established players who turn out a good product. The key, of course, is to have something unique which fills a need. I don’t know if any of the following products have that kind of appeal, but they were interesting, to say the least.
The Hudson H9 (hudsonmfg.com) might be best described as some sort of cross-pollination between a 1911 and a GLOCK. The trigger is very 1911-like, but the H9 is a striker-fired gun. The shooting qualities are indeed nice, but it has a steep hill to climb to compete with the established players.
Another innovation is the Maxim 9 from SilencerCo, LLC (silencerco.com). The Maxim® 9 is billed as the world’s first integrally suppressed 9mm pistol which can be placed in a holster. I doubt if we’ll be seeing too many in duty rigs, but the concept has merit for special teams.
I’m a longtime proponent of backup guns for police and, should things get ugly, I want to access a hideout chambered for a service cartridge. How about a .45ACP? Heizer Defense (heizerdefense.com) is now turning out the PKO45 which they claim to be the “thinnest pocket .45 semi-auto pistol.” I bet it’s a handful, but, in time of need, I doubt if you’ll notice.
(This article is devoted to the memory of Walt Rauch, friend and mentor, who covered the SHOT Show many times for Police and Security News.)
Captain Mike Boyle served with the New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife, Bureau of Law Enforcement, and has been an active firearms instructor for more than 30 years. He has been an assistant police academy director and remains active as an academy rangemaster and instructor. Mike has served on the Board of Directors of the International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors (IALEFI) since 1996. He is the architect and coordinator of IALEFI’s Master Instructor Development Program.