The 28th Annual Roundup Covering New Firearms of Most Interest to Law Enforcement
The SHOT Show is indeed the world’s largest gun carnival. Manufacturers, both large and small, come together to showcase their product lines and introduce new offerings. In recent years, there has been a greater emphasis on products geared to the tactical market and there is no better place to check out new firearms, ammunition lines and accessories than the SHOT Show.
This year’s event took place on January 22-25, 2019, and was held in the Sands Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. Exhibits were spread out over three floors, including two huge exhibit halls and a number of smaller ballrooms. I was also fortunate to get to Industry Day at the Range just prior to the show, where I was able to get hands-on experience with some of the new firearms.
The SHOT Show is so huge that I had to confine my hard touring to firearms and other products suitable for police applications. As in recent years, there really wasn’t much in the way of new service-size handguns, rifles and shotguns, but, rather, variations on proven platforms which can fill a useful niche. There are, however, a few exciting developments in small guns designed for concealed carry.
It has become very clear that the 9mm Parabellum and pistols chambered for this classic cartridge are once again king of the hill. Twenty years ago, many experts predicted the .40S&W would soon render the 9mm obsolete, but it didn’t play out that way. I can’t help but note that many new designs are 9mm only – with no .40S&W option available.
In recent years, I couldn’t even begin to count the number of companies turning out Stoner pattern AR rifles. (Eugene Stoner was the firearms designer who is most associated with the development of the AR-15.) Rifles of every possible configuration, along with different chamberings, are available from a number of sources. There seems to be renewed interest in law enforcement for 9mm AR pattern carbines with several companies offering a contender. Several designs were crafted to accept the very prolific GLOCK® 9mm magazine.
Let’s take a look at a few different products from a number of well-known manufacturers. There just might be something here for you.
Beretta USA Corp.
Beretta was the last of the major manufacturers to offer a polymer frame, striker fired pistol, but their APX is one of the best. The full-size APX was launched two years ago and it was inevitable that Beretta would be turning out a smaller variant better suited for plainclothes carry. As luck would have it, Beretta is now offering two slightly downsized pistols – the APX Compact and the APX Centurion.
Both pistols boast the same desirable features as the original APX, including low bore axis, serialized chassis, ambidextrous slide catch, reversible magazine release, and aggressive slide serrations. The trigger breaks when about six pounds of rearward pressure is applied and it features an audible reset.
The APX Compact features a slightly reduced length and height for better concealment qualities. A full-size grip frame is mated to a reduced length slide and barrel to create the APX Centurion. Both pistols are available in 9mm and .40S&W.
The Beretta 92 remains one of the most popular DA pistols of all time. This year, Beretta introduced a few new variants of the M92A3, a highly refined version of a classic pistol. The M92A3 pistol is equipped with the ergonomic Vertec grip, an oversized reversible magazine release, a three slot Picatinny rail, and a removable front sight. Unlike the original M92, the slide mounted lever is a decocker only. The M92A3 wears a hyper-resistant FDE finish and is available in black/grey, black/green, and flat earth/black.
Colt’s Manufacturing Co., LLC
Despite the fact that self-loading pistols dominate the law enforcement market, snub revolvers are still commonly encountered. A few years ago, Colt introduced the Cobra, an all stainless steel snub which has played very well to revolver fans. This year, Colt is back with the King Cobra.
While the Cobra is chambered for the .38 Special, the new King Cobra has upped the ante to .357 Magnum. Truth be told, I’m not especially keen for the .357 Magnum in a two inch barrel as the short tube diminishes velocity and energy and exacerbates muzzle blast. The King Cobra sports a heavy three inch, fully lugged barrel which helps tame muzzle flip and boost terminal performance.
The King Cobra comes with a set of soft rubber grips which helps diminish felt recoil. Sights consist of a fixed rear notch and a black blade front with a brass bead insert. The front sight is pinned in place and it would be an easy task to retrofit an aftermarket unit more to your liking. The DA trigger pull was very nice with a slight stacking at the rear of the stroke, typical of Colt revolvers.
The CZ P-10 C has been on the scene for two years now. I’ve had several P-10 C pistols in classes I’ve taught and performance of both shooters and gun has been top- shelf. Of late, CZ-USA has taken a more proactive approach to law enforcement sales and the new P-10 F is likely to develop a following all its own.
Where the P-10 C is a compact-size pistol, the P-10 F has been upsized to true service pistol dimensions. One of the attributes of the original pistol was its superb trigger action and the P-10 F follows this same blueprint. This polymer frame, striker fired pistol has one of the best triggers in its class and trips when 4.5 to five pounds of rearward pressure is applied. It also features a short, positive reset.
Capacity of the P-10 F is a very generous 19+1 rounds of 9mm ammunition. With little effort, one can swap the magazine release from the left side to the right side of the grip frame. Three dot sights are standard and the ergonomic grip is well suited to a wide range of hand sizes. Optics and suppressor ready versions of the P-10 F will also be available.
FN® America, LLC
The FN 509® Series is one of the better striker fired, polymer frame designs to hit the market and a few new variants have recently been introduced.
Compact pistols for either uniform or concealed carry continue to make a great deal of sense and the new FN 509 Midsize is one of the best. This 9mm pistol features a slightly abbreviated grip frame mated to a four inch barrel and comes with fully ambidextrous controls. Both fixed luminescent sights and tritium night sights are available. The 509 Midsize ships with 15 round magazines, although higher capacity units for the full-size 509 will work with a sleeve. Two interchangeable backstraps to optimize hand fit are included. The trigger weight runs between 5.5 pounds and 7.5 pounds.
Moving up the ladder, we have the FN 509 Tactical which is an extension of the FN pistol submitted for the US Army Modular Handgun Trials, but it includes some significant improvements. A Low Profile Optics Mounting System allows the fitting of more than ten different red dot systems which cowitness the suppressor height night sights. The cold forged 4.5 inch barrel is threaded to accept most 9mm suppressors. A thread cap with an integrated O-ring protects the muzzle when the suppressor is not utilized. Magazines with capacities of ten, 17 and 24 rounds are available.
Without question, the most talked about pistols at the 2019 SHOT Show were the G43X and G48. Both pistols accept a ten round, single stack magazine and are especially well-suited to a wide range of on and off duty law enforcement missions.
The original G43 9mm has been an overwhelming success and over a million copies have already been produced. It is indeed a first-rate, deep concealment pistol, but the qualities which make it so easy to hide often make it a challenge to shoot to a high standard. In a cruel and unforgiving operational environment, many cops have voiced concerns about the G43’s limited magazine capacity. With the new G43X, you can have your cake and eat it, too. By extending the grip a mere fraction of an inch, GLOCK has given us an 11 shot pistol which can still be easily concealed. The slight extension of the grip frame will enhance hit potential for most shooters.
The slide length and width of the G43X are the same as the original G43. The grip frame is just a hair wider and holsters intended for the G43 may, in fact, work with the G43X, depending on the cut.
I, for one, was particularly taken with the G48. For years, there has been a hue and cry for a single stack pistol which approximates the external dimensions of the G19, but in a slightly thinner package. The G48 is, in fact, that gun. The slide and frame width are thin and the same as the G43X. Reducing grip circumference will play huge dividends to shooters with smaller hands. The sight radius and barrel length mirror that of the G19 to make the hits come very easy.
The finish on the first production G43X and G48 is durable silver nPVD. I would expect basic black to follow sometime in the future. Other notable features include the GLOCK Marksman barrel, reversible magazine catch, built-in beavertail, and fore and aft slide serrations.
I had an opportunity to fire both the G43X and G48 and they did, in fact, live up to the hype. Sight options included the standard white outline rear and dot front, plus a set of night sights from AmeriGlo® which featured an easy to read red dot front which I came to prefer. Performance-wise, I feel that I would be giving up little or nothing with the G48 when compared to the G19 I’ve carried for years.
By all means, don’t overlook the G45 9mm pistol. This is yet another spin on the crossover concept which combines the service length grip from that of the G17 with the shorter slide of the G19X. Contrary to popular opinion, the G45 is not a G19X rendered in black. Gone are the lanyard ring and the extension to the front strap just forward of the magazine well. This reduces the likelihood of pinching the hand during a quick reload. The G45 enjoys all of the benefits of the GEN5 GLOCK family and has much to offer.
Kimber Mfg., Inc.
Three years ago, Kimber took a huge gamble and introduced the K6s™ line of .357 Magnum revolvers. New this year is a double-/single-action variant with an external hammer.
However, the big buzz over at Kimber was the introduction of the EVO line of subcompact 9mm pistols. The EVO represents Kimber’s latest effort at marketing a premium quality hideout pistol. Several different EVO models are available and one can select from different finishes, sight options and grip panels. My favorite was the EVO SP TLE (Tactical Law Enforcement) which includes features such as a beveled magazine well, a match-grade barrel and TRUGLO® Tritium PRO sights. G10 grip panels are standard and the backstrap has an aggressive slant checking for a positive purchase. The slide of the EVO pistol is made of stainless steel, while the frame is crafted from aluminum. The finish is a durable FNC black. With an unloaded weight of 19 ounces and total length of 6.01 inches, the EVO should be easy to hide and carry. The total capacity is 7+1 rounds. I had the opportunity to fire a couple of different versions of the EVO and it is a solid performer. If you’re in the market for a sharp-looking, premium quality hideout, check out the Kimber EVO.
O.F. Mossberg & Sons
Mossberg pulled off one of the bigger surprises this year with the introduction of an entirely new discreet carry pistol. The Mossberg MC1sc is a subcompact design ideally suited for low profile carry. With so many offerings from well-established manufacturers available, it was very clear that Mossberg would have to develop a first rate product to gain any meaningful traction. From the looks of it, it appears they have done just that. The MC1sc is a small striker fired pistol with a 3.4 inch barrel and a total length of 6.25 inches. Unloaded, it tips the scales at 19 ounces. Ergonomics are very good and the grip features a palm swell and aggressive texturing. Three dot sights are standard and TRUGLO Tritium PRO Sights and a Viridian laser will be available as options. Both a six shot and seven shot magazines are standard. At the Industry Day shoot, I had an opportunity to try out the MC1sc and it delivered the goods. The flat profile trigger with blade safety tripped a shot when about six pounds of rearward pressure was applied. This is on par with just about all striker fired, polymer frame pistols and holds no surprise. For a lightweight pistol, comfort levels were very good in rapid fire and the hits came easy. On the shotgun side, Mossberg is now offering three new 12-gauge 590® Shockwave variants for the 2019 model year, including the 590 Shock ‘n’ Saw. This is a six shot, (non-NFA) pump-action 12-gauge firearm with a 14 inch barrel featuring a breacher muzzle; a black anodized receiver; a matte black barrel and magazine tube; Shockwave Technologies’ Raptor® polymer bird’s head grip; an aluminum M-LOK® equipped forend; and a Mossberg chainsaw foregrip.
The Remington 870 pump shotgun has been in production for almost 70 years and remains the most popular gun of its type with law enforcement agencies. Just when you thought Remington had all of the bases covered, they have come out with a new variant of the 870 which fills a useful niche. The Remington 870 Tactical Side Folder features 6+1 capacity; an interchangeable Rem Choke tube; an 18½ inch barrel; and, as the name implies, a folding stock which can reduce total length by 11 inches. This is a very nice touch in today’s smaller patrol vehicles, where space is at a premium or when riding on ATVs or in boats. In the past, Remington offered an 870 with a top folding steel stock which proved very uncomfortable after firing just a few rounds. On the new Tactical Folders, the VERASA MAX® soft touch adjustable cheek piece and SuperCell + recoil pad promise to change all that. Both 12- and 20-gauge models are available. If Remington were to offer an LE only Tactical Side Folder with a 14 inch barrel, they would really be on to something. Recently, a class of short barrel weapons which fire shot shells through a traditional shotgun action has emerged. Oddly enough, they are not classified as shotguns by BATFE, but rather firearms and do not require a tax stamp for private ownership. To date, just about all of these guns have been based on an existing pump-action shotgun. Enter the Remington V3 Tac-13 which is an autoloading design. The V3 Tac-13 is equipped with a bird’s head grip and a 13 inch cylinder bore barrel and all metal surfaces are finished in a business-like black oxide. The Versaport gas system helps control recoil and a strap on the fore grip helps keep the muzzle in check. For me, the V3 Tac-13 makes more sense than the pump-action designs which are awkward to operate without a shoulder stock. I don’t see it as a general purpose weapon, but it can fill a useful role in special circumstances.
The hot ticket at the SIG SAUER exhibit was the introduction of the P320 XCompact. The XSeries 320 pistols offer a number of upgrades which are incorporated into the new XCompact. They include a redesigned polymer frame with a fastback carry cut and a high profile internal magwell for fumble-free reloads. The slide features prominent serrations for easier manipulation. A SIG X-Ray3 day/night front sight is mated to a SIGLITE night sight plate and the optics ready unit is compatible with Romeo1Pro, Romeo2, and Deltapoint red dots.
The micro-compact SIG SAUER P365 was the belle of the ball at last year’s show and continues to be a hot ticket. SIG has introduced a P365 with a manual safety to further broaden its appeal. Small guns, like the P365, are often carried in an Appendix Inside the WaistBand (AIWB) holster and including a manual safety option can mitigate concerns about unintentional discharge while drawing or reholstering.
Smith & Wesson®
New from Smith & Wesson are a couple of variants based on their hugely successful Shield® theme. This small single stack blends in easily with soft clothes and is easy to hide, and succeeds in striking the ideal balance between concealability and user-friendly shooting qualities.
The latest variation of the Shield includes ported models in 9mm, .40S&W and .45ACP. A series of ports run the length of the barrel and slide and vent hot gasses upward to reduce muzzle flip for faster follow-up shots. Sight options include tritium or an easy to read fiber-optic.
Springfield Armory continues to expand their line of concealable handguns and has expanded their line of single-action and traditional double-action offerings. On the extreme opposite end of the scale, they have also added a real heavy hitter with a 10mm copy of their XD(M)® striker fired pistol.
The Springfield Armory 911 in .380ACP made its debut last year and immediately attracted a great deal of attention. Controls, as well as the single-action trigger, will be familiar to shooters who are comfortable with the classic 1911 pistol. Brand-new is an upsized version chambered for the industry standard 9mm. External dimensions are slightly larger and there is a slightly bigger bump and muzzle rise compared to the .380ACP copy. However, I would consider this to be more than a fair tradeoff. The 9mm copy shouldn’t be any more difficult to hide and terminal performance of 9mm exceeds .380ACP by a wide margin.
Additional models of the traditional double-action XD-E have also come online. Not everybody is comfortable with single-actions and cocked and locked carry and, in fact, many departments forbid it. The hammer fired XD-E presents an alternative in a pistol ideally suited for covert carry. It is available in three barrel lengths, including 3.3, 3.8 and 4.5 inches.
Thirty years ago, the 10mm cartridge had its moment in the sun and was promoted as the ideal law enforcement cartridge. The FBI adopted the 10mm cartridge, albeit in a reduced power format, but its tenure was short lived. The development of the .40S&W cartridge which mirrored FBI-spec 10mm performance and could be fired from a 9mm-size pistol, sealed its fate.
Springfield Armory’s XD(M) 10mm pistol is available with a 4.5 inch and 5.25 inch barrel. The 4.5 inch specimen I checked out was equipped with a red fiber-optic front sight and felt very good in the hand. Even when harboring 15 round magazines, grip circumference is reasonable. Felt recoil was no more than .45ACP and the XD(M) handles both mid- and full-power 10mm loads.
Presently, the 10mm is enjoying a renaissance with outdoorsmen. Might such a pistol serve double duty for rural officers who may have to put down large animals? Pistols chambered for 10mm are often encountered in northern latitudes where officers may have to deal with large bears. The double duty XD(M) might be a great choice.
Another new addition to the extensive Springfield Armory line is the SAINT™ Edge 5.56mm pistol. The AR pattern Edge pistol includes many of the in-demand features initially offered with the SAINT line of rifles and it is a very formidable delivery system in a handy, compact package.
The Edge is built on a machined lower receiver from aircraft-grade billet aluminum and feature Springfield Armory’s proprietary adjustable tension Accu-Tite™ system to minimize play between the upper and lower receivers. The bolt group is coated with tough wearing Melonite and the bolt itself is crafted from premium steel superior to MIL-SPEC. To keep external dimensions at a minimum, the barrel measures a short 10.3 inches and has a 1:8 rate of twist.
Other nice touches include a crisp, short, reset trigger; flip-up sights; and a slim free-float aluminum handguard for the mounting of accessories. A Maxim Defense CQB adjustable pistol brace reduces size, aids accuracy and helps control recoil. With the brace collapsed, the Edge measures 24.6 inches, ideal for working tight spots.
Steyr Arms, Inc.
For almost 20 years, Steyr has manufactured some pretty slick striker fired pistols. Built on a polymer frame, these pistols have evolved into a system which can compete favorably with anything else out there. Unfortunately, they have been largely ignored by the law enforcement community and that is our loss.
My modest collection includes a Steyr L9-A1 service pistol which comes very close to being the ultimate 9mm bullet launcher. Although it remains a cut above, there are a few areas which could be improved upon. That has all been addressed with the latest evolution of the Steyr pistol.
My L9-A1 is a rare bird in that its well-designed grip accommodates a wide range of hand sizes. The new L9-A2 MF takes the concept one step further by offering interchangeable grip panels in addition to different size backstraps. Through a little trial and error, the end user can optimize fit to the hand. Another improvement over the L9-A1 is a flared magazine well. The L9-A2 MF has just enough angle to expedite quick insertion of a fresh magazine. My Steyr L9-A1 boasts one of the best trigger actions to be found in a striker fired pistol and the L9-A2 MF remains true to this code. Steyr’s unique trapezoidal sights are standard, but tritium sights will be available as a factory option.
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.