New Guns for 2020
The 29th Annual Roundup Covering New Firearms of Most Interest to Law Enforcement
The SHOT Show might be best described as the world’s largest firearms exposition, and manufacturers large and small use this event to introduce their newest products and services. As in recent years, the SHOT Show was held in the Sands Convention Center located in Las Vegas, Nevada, and this year it drew over 55,000 attendees. With over 2,000 manufacturers on hand, it is impossible to see it all.
My focus remains on firearms and related products of interest to the law enforcement professional and taking all that in remains a daunting task. In addition to the extensive display of merchandise, the SHOT Show also offers a number of valuable seminars which address trends in law enforcement. I had the good fortune of being a presenter at one of the seminars and it was encouraging to see a roomful of officers taking the time to learn something new and network with their peers.
Many of the new firearms I was able to check out this year might be best categorized as evolutionary, rather than revolutionary. Most of the major players were offering next level versions of their already proven designs. The red dot revolution is in full swing and just about every popular service pistol is now available with a provision for mounting a red dot optic. This trend includes smaller pistols used for concealed carry. Let’s take a look and check out some of the new offerings.
Beretta USA Corp.
Although striker fired, polymer frame pistols dominate the law enforcement scene, some departments and officers still prefer a traditional double-action design. This year Beretta has launched the 92X series, the latest evolution of this modern classic.
There is simply no getting around the fact that the Beretta 92, in its original configuration, is a big gun. Trigger reach and grip circumference can be problematic for anything less than a large, male hand. The new 92X effectively resolves that issue by utilizing the thinner Vertec grip which is better suited to smaller hands. The gripping surface itself is more aggressive and grip angle definitely enhances “pointability.”
Combat sights are standard and the front sight is dovetailed at the slide to simplify fitting of an aftermarket unit. The universal slide can be configured for FS mode (decocker/manual safety) or G mode (decocker only) operation. Models with a three slot Picatinny rail for the fitting of tactical lights or lasers are available within the 92X line.
To my thinking, the pick of the litter is the 92X Centurion. This pistol splits the difference between the full-size 92X and the 92X Compact, and it sports a slightly shorter barrel and slide mated to a full-size frame.
Beretta’s highly successful line of APX striker fired pistols continues to grow and now includes full-size, mid-size and compact variants. APX pistols are available in 9mm and .40 S&W and there is something in the mix to please just about everyone. This line of pistols features a serialized, removable chassis which can be switched off to other replaceable grip frame housings.
Colt’s Manufacturing Co., LLC
A few years back, Colt took us by surprise and began introducing revolvers bearing the name of their old “snake” series. No, these guns aren’t the same as what came before which riles many purists. But, the bottom line is that there is still a niche for snub revolvers in the law enforcement universe and Colt is turning out some very nice examples.
Last year, Colt introduced the six shot King Cobra, chambered for the .357 Magnum. The King Cobra Target sports a 4¼ inch barrel, adjusting rear sight, fiber-optic front, and custom wood medallion grips. Colt did, in fact, market a .357 Magnum revolver called the King Cobra back in the 1980s, but, rest assured, this is an entirely different gun. There is no question in my mind that this is the better gun.
The big buzz at Colt, however, is the reintroduction of the Colt Python .357 Magnum revolver. Back in the day, the Python was widely regarded as the Cadillac of revolvers and was universally held in high regard. The new copy is rendered in stainless steel and is every bit as good as the original. Copies with both four and six inch barrels will be available. I harbor no illusion that Pythons will again be appearing in police duty holsters, but it’s great to see that it’s back.
FN® America, LLC
Some of the world’s most battle proven firearms are turned out by FN Herstal, S.A. Their American subsidiary, FN America, LLC, manufactures a wide range of handguns and rifles well-suited for law enforcement.
A few years back, the FN 509® line of striker fired pistols was introduced and it quickly distinguished itself in a crowded field. New this year is the FN 509 Compact MRD which features a 3.7 inch barrel and a slightly abbreviated grip frame to make it better suited for concealed carry. This 9mm pistol ships with a 12 round magazine and a 15 round magazine (where legal) and a pair of ten round magazines in more restrictive jurisdictions. What sets it apart from other compact pistols is the patented FN Low Profile Mounting System which accepts nearly all commercially available miniature red dot optics. Blackout sights to cowitness the optic are standard.
Also for 2020, FN is offering a pair of carbines, dubbed the FN 15® SRP G2, which are ideally tailored to the law enforcement mission, including a variant with an 11.5 inch barrel and another with a 16 inch barrel. These lightweight carbines feature an extended handguard with top rail space and multiple M-LOK and quick detach points. Low profile sights and a chrome lined button-broached barrel with a 1:7 inch twist are standard in these 5.56 mm caliber carbines.
GLOCK remains the big dog in the law enforcement handgun market and they continue to burn the midnight oil to keep up with demand. The big news from GLOCK wasn’t a new service or concealed carry pistol, but another product many of us have longed for.
The new GLOCK 44 in .22 LR is the firm’s rimfire pistol and may not be something you would ordinarily associate with law enforcement. But, I beg to differ! Externally, the GLOCK 44 is the same size as the ever popular GLOCK 19. It’s put together a little bit differently, but it features the same safe action trigger and fits in the same holsters as the GLOCK 19. Two huge advantages I see are low cost practice and its use as a training aid for recoil sensitive shooters. There is no doubt in my mind that GLOCK has hit a home run.
The first thing you notice when picking up the GLOCK 44 is its ultralight weight. With an empty magazine in place, it tips the scales at a scant 14.64 ounces. This weight savings is realized by using a polymer slide which rides on a steel chassis. The careful eye will note the breech face hole is offset to accommodate the rimfire .22 LR cartridge. The standard capacity magazine holds ten rounds.
The day before the SHOT Show, I traveled to the Las Vegas Metro Police Range and took a turn with the G44. It is, indeed, most impressive. Throughout the day, two sample G44s digested 5,000 rounds of .22 CR without incident. That speaks very well for this design.
Heckler & Koch
Heckler & Koch is synonymous with innovation. Over the last 60 years, this firm has brought a number of groundbreaking designs to the market, including the MP5 SMG; the P7 family; and the world’s first polymer frame pistol, the VP70.
A few years ago, HK introduced the VP9 9mm pistol. The VP9 was a late entrant to the polymer frame, striker fired sweepstakes, but, unlike some of their competitors, HK got it right the first time around. Since its launch, the line has grown to include a variant in .40 S&W, as well as subcompact copies better suited for discreet carry. For 2020, the VP9 has been given a number of upgrades to make it even better.
For starters, all VP9 pistols will now be shipped with 17 round magazines. The new magazines are no longer than the original 15 round models, yet provide two additional rounds. A new sight configuration includes a high visibility front sight along with a clean back serrated rear. The big news is that all VP9 pistols will be manufactured with an optics ready slide cut with a cap.
Kimber Mfg., Inc.
The Kimber EVO was introduced last year and has played to rave reviews. No larger than an old school .380 ACP, the EVO is chambered for the 9mm and packs a much more powerful punch. It also deviates from the pack of polymer pistols in that it is comprised of an aluminum alloy frame and stainless steel slide. The trigger action is relatively short and features a clean break. Three dot white sights are standard.
This year, two new variants are offered. I took a fancy to the EVO SP Select finished in business-like FNC matte black. Users who prefer a brighter gun should check out the EVO SP Select finished in KimPro Silver II. Both of these EVO pistols represent a significant savings over other offerings in the EVO line, but incorporate the same key features as their more refined cousins.
They say you can’t reinvent the wheel, but Kimber did that just a few years ago with their line of K6s™ revolvers. Kimber was able to design a small frame, six shot .357 Magnum revolver unlike anything that came before. The original K6s revolvers were double-action only, but, recently, the next evolution with both double- and single-action capability was introduced. The K6s DASA revolvers have external hammers and the line includes a two inch snub, a three inch variant, a four inch Combat model, and a four inch Target model with adjustable sights. The four inch copies will not draw much attention from law enforcement, but the snub variant would be an excellent choice for backup or off duty carry. This stainless steel hideout is indeed different, but it is head and shoulders above anything else in its class.
O.F. Mossberg & Sons
Last year, Mossberg shocked the world with the introduction of the MC1sc, the firm’s first handgun in 100 years. This little micro-nine exceeded all expectations and remains in heavy demand. So, what do you do for a follow-up act? How about making it bigger!
The new Mossberg MC2sc is a compact handgun which embodies many of the features of the MC1sc, but with twice the ballistic payload. At just a tad over seven inches in length with an unloaded weight of 21 ounces, the MC2sc is designed with concealed carry in mind. It ships with a 13 round flush mounted magazine, plus a 15 round extended magazine. Five different models with different safety, finish and sight options are currently being offered. Sometime prior to the SHOT Show, the all-new 940 JM PRO Competition Autoloading shotgun was introduced. The 940 incorporates any number of upgrades over the tried-and-true 930 autoloader, including an improved gas system and an adjustable length of pull stock. I was wondering if a tactical version of the 940 was in the cards and I’ve been led to believe that it is. I know I’ll be saving my lunch money!
You can pretty much count on something new from Ruger on a regular basis, but I was quite surprised with the latest entry into the market.
The new Ruger-57™ is a service-size pistol chambered for the 5.7 x 28mm cartridge. Performance of this cartridge round splits the difference between handgun and rifle rounds and it was originally designed for use in the FN P90 PDW. In the shorter barrel of a pistol, the muzzle velocity is dialed back quite a bit and will probably be in the 1600-1700 fps range. The bullet weights range from 28-40 grains and energy is roughly on par with a .22 Magnum rimfire rifle. Certain rounds, specifically FN’s black tip, will defeat soft body armor.
Now that we understand the rounds’ capabilities, let’s take a look at the gun. The Ruger-57 is built on top of a high performance glass-filled nylon frame which is mated to an alloy steel slide given a black oxide finish. The barrel length is 4.94 inches with an overall length of 8.65 inches. Although it’s a good size pistol, it tips the scales at a mere 24.5 ounces and the magazine capacity is 20 rounds.
I don’t see the Ruger-57 as a duty gun, but rather a niche handgun for special teams. As indicated earlier, rounds which can defeat body armor a subject might be wearing are available. Sure, you can do it with a rifle, but the Ruger-57 might just be the ticket when operating in confined space. Recoil of the 5.7 x 28mm cartridge is nonexistent and makes for quick follow-up shots.
SIG SAUER has enjoyed great success over the last few years and their products are in wide use by a number of law enforcement agencies. Leading the charge is the firm’s P320 striker fired pistol and a number of new variants introduced for 2020.
Make no mistake about it: Red dot optics on pistols are the next big thing in law enforcement weapons and SIG is off to a running start. New this year are the RXP XFull-Size and RXP XCompact complete with a ROMEO 1 PRO reflex sight mounted on the slide. The XSeries pistols might be best described as an upgraded version of the P320 complete with an undercut trigger guard and an extended beavertail for better fit and comfort. The ambidextrous slide catch has also been extended and these XSeries pistols also feature a flat trigger for a clean 90 degree break. The new RXP copies also feature suppressor height XRAY3-dot Day/Night sights to cowitness the optic. A cover for the optic plate is also included if the end user chooses to run the gun without the ROMEO sight.
In a few short years, the SIG SAUER P365 has become one of the most popular pistols on the market. With its unique magazine, SIG engineers were able to design a trim, subcompact pistol which can hold 11 rounds without the blocky feel of some of the competition. Based on its runaway success, it should hardly surprise that a number of variants are now available.
First up for consideration is the P325XL with a slightly larger grip frame, barrel and slide. The magazine capacity is bumped to 12 rounds, but this downsized blaster is still very easy to conceal. Best of all, it has a big gun feel and its great trigger action and XRAY3 sights make hitting a snap. Taking it one step further, SIG is also offering the P365XL ROMEO ZERO with a 3MOA optic installed and ready to go.
Yet another new entry is the P365SAS. This new variant sports the SIG Anti-Snag (SAS) treatment to assist a smooth, fumble-free draw and faster target engagement. Its most unique feature is the flush mounted FT Bullseye Fiber Tritium night sight. Highly visible in bright light or dark conditions, this low profile, rear mounted unit is less likely to hang up on clothing during the draw stroke, especially since there is no front sight. The takedown lever and slide catch are flattened to reduce snag potential. A ported barrel and slide to reduce muzzle flip complete the SAS package.
Smith & Wesson®
The big news from Smith & Wesson is the introduction of the M&P®9 SHIELD™ EZ®. The highly successful SHIELD has yielded all sorts of variants and this latest version is destined to be a crowd pleaser. The new M&P9 SHIELD is the next evolution of the earlier .380 ACP version. External dimensions mirror the .380 copy, but the 9mm pistol is a few ounces heavier to help tame the more powerful cartridge. The EZ label implies that it’s easier to rack the slide. That is indeed true and racking the slide requires about 30% less effort than the standard SHIELD. Loading the magazine is also considerably easier than other single stack pistols. The M&P SHIELD EZ also features a grip safety, ambidextrous thumb safety, three dot sights, and a light crisp trigger. Options include no thumb safety and a Crimson Trace® Red Laserguard® aiming device.
Also new to the line are the 9mm and .40 S&W M&P M2.0™ subcompacts with 3.6 inch barrels. These pistols are ideal for plainclothes or off-duty carry and the S&W 2.0 series boast any number of upgrades over the original M&P series, especially when it comes to trigger action. An advantage of the subcompact pistols is the fact that they will also take the higher capacity magazines of the service-size pistols.
The Springfield Armory XD® pistol was introduced 20 years ago and the original platform continues to be refined. Over the years, a number of spinoffs within the Springfield Armory line can trace their genesis to the XD and the new XD-M® Elite Series is the best to come down the pike.
On examining the XD-M Elite, one will note larger slide serrations for more positive manipulation, an ambidextrous slide stop and an ambidextrous magazine release. A removable magazine well to expedite fast, positive reloads is also part of the package. Depending on the model selected, the end user can select from a fiber-optic front with a U-notch rear, adjustable sights, or suppressor height sights to use in conjunction with an optic. When chambered for the worldwide standard 9mm, the XD-M Elite pistol boasts larger than normal magazine capacities and contains up to 22 rounds.
The big advantage I see with this line of new pistols is the META (Match Enhanced Trigger Assembly) trigger. Many polymer frame pistols have a subpar trigger action, but the META is indeed special. A flat face and integral overtravel stop further enhance its appeal.
The XD-M Elite line offers service-size pistols, pistols suited for concealed carry and also models optimized for tactical ops. All of the popular law enforcement chamberings are available – including 9mm, .40 S&W, .45 ACP, and 10mm.
A few months ago, Springfield Armory introduced the Hellcat™, a polymer frame microcompact optimized for concealed carry. This striker fired microcompact comes with both an 11 and a 13 shot magazine, offering the highest capacity for pistols in this class. Some nice frills include top slide serrations for a positive grip during manipulation, adaptive grip texture, accessory rail for the mounting of a laser or white light, and a great set of sights.
An optics ready version of the Hellcat is also available. A small micro red dot such as JP Enterprises’ JPoint™ or the Shield RMSc can be mounted to bring out the last bit of potential from this slick little hideout pistol.
Walther pistols have begun to capture the interest of agencies and individual officers for a lot of good reasons. They are indeed the anomaly in a crowded field of polymer frame pistols, in that their flagship PPQ line offers a great trigger action right out of the box. I also find the PPQ to be a little more accommodating for shooters with smaller hands.
While examining the various Walther pistols at the SHOT Show, I came across the Q4 Steel Frame. Externally, it looks exactly like the PPQ and boosts the same great trigger action, but it weighs more than a pound more! Quite frankly, the polymer pistols have us all spoiled and I don’t see much of a future for the Q4 Steel Frame as an everyday duty pistol. It may just be the ticket for special ops where that extra heft will tame even the stoutest 9mm load and diminish muzzle flip.
Walther also displayed a .380 ACP variant of their CCP (Concealed Carry Pistol). The CCP M2 in .380 ACP uses Softcoil gas technology for operation to yield a very low recoil impulse. Racking the slide takes very little effort. An external thumb safety, aggressive slide serrations and a reversible magazine release complete the package. The CCP M2 is also available in 9mm.
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.