Saturday, September 13, 2003

We were never fans of the BERETTA 92 chambered for the 9 mm that's standard issue of the LAPD. So we have to applaud CHIEF BRATTON's decision to switch to the GLOCK chambered in .40 S&W. The S&W designation, by the way, stands for SMITH & WESSON, the legendary arms maker that developed the .40 caliber cartridge.

We want to give you some details and perspective you won't find in the mainstream papers. First of all, the 9 mm cartridge has a history of not doing the job. What we mean is that it's not a fight-stopper round. Stories of perpetrators being shot as many as 10, 15 and in one case 26 times with no visible effect are legendary. The next time you read a story where cops shoot an armed suspect 10 times, don't start jumping to conclusions. Cops are trained to shoot until a suspect either goes down or visibly gives up the fight in some way. The 9 mm round does not put people down right quick. So cops are "forced" to shoot perps multiple times because the round they've been issued is pathetically limp-wristed. Remember that next time you read about a shooting in the LA TIMES.

The nine was supposed to be the kinder, gentler round that turned out to be the less kind and less gentle round because a cop now has to shoot a suspect numerous times before the fight is taken out of him. Which is why some people call the 9 mm the POODLE SHOOTER. It's okay against a small dog, lousy against a full grown man. Especially if that man is big, mean and amped up on narcotics.

Okay, so, based on this spotty history, a lot of departments across the country, as well as the FBI and other FEDERAL agencies, dropped the nine and went looking for a stouter round - something that would get the immediate attention of an armed perp without having to fill the perp full of holes and lead.

The answer has always been there in the form of the .45 ACP (ACP stands for AUTOMATIC COLT PISTOL). This was the round developed for the legendary COLT AUTOMATIC PISTOL way back in 1911 by the famous gun designer JOHN BROWNING. And the reason the round and the gun were developed was that the US ARMY made an emergency request for a handgun that would stop a charging man in his tracks. You see, the ARMY was having this problem in the PHILIPINES with MUSLIM EXTREMISTS (sound familiar?). The MUSLIMS' favorite tactic was the human wave assault. And the .38 revolver which was the standard issue weapon of the grunts, was just not up to the job of stopping a charging man. Especially one amped up on CANNABIS and other stimulants as they often were. A US soldier would empty his revolver into an attacker and would still end up speared through the gut.

The .45 ACP proved to be an excellent manstopper -- in the PHILIPINES and everywhere else. And it remained in the US ARMY arsenal until the kindler, gentler 1980s when it was replaced by, you guessed it, the BERETTA 9 mm. The US ARMY designation for it is the M9, but it's almost identical to the LAPD BERETTA 92FS and the BERETTA 92S civilians can buy over the counter.

While ideal in many ways, the problem with the .45 ACP is that in the new world order of female cops and small-statured cops (the height requirement is so low these days, midgets can qualify) many police recruits just can't handle the recoil of a .45 ACP. Plus they have little tiny delicate hands and not a lot of upper body strength which is required to to a quick rack/tap/bang malfunction clearance. And if you have a double feed, or a stovepipe, and you've got an 18 or 20 lb. recoil spring to overcome, you really need that arm strength. (SEE, we told you you'd never get this kind of info from the local rags).

You're still wiith us, right?

Okay. So the situation was this: 9 mm too weak, .45 ACP too strong. But as GOLDILOCKS found out, "This one is JUST RIGHT." The just right in this case is the .40 S&W round. More powerful than a 9 mm. But not as mule-kicking as a .45 ACP. And the ballistics nearly the equal of the .45. What more could a department ask for? Good sectional density. Decent velocity so you'll get good expansion from a hollowpoint. Good penetration but not too much so you don't get the shoot-throughs that the old FBI hyper-fast 10 mm round had. And good kinetic energy transfer when coupled with a good petal design. This is the force, measured in foot/pounds that is delivered to the body of the target from the impact of the bullet.

The only problem left was to find a decent platform for the .40 S&W. You see, the other problem with the BERETTA is that it's a BIG gun. It's considered a large frame and that first double-action trigger pull is a bear for small-handed, short-fingered people. The trigger pull is roughly around 10 to 11 pounds of effort. We've seen some cops who need to put their left index finger on top of their trigger finger just to overcome the trigger effort. HOW EMBARASSING!

Enter the GLOCK. As even gun amateurs know, the GLOCK is a synthetic framed gun. And no, it's not invisible to X-rays. It has steel parts in the frame and a steel slide and barrell. It's light, EXTREMELY reliable, inexpensive to buy, cheap to maintain and it's small enough so that even little coppers can handle it without a booster trigger finger. And even though it has a double-action only trigger system, the trigger pull is only about half that of the BERETTA first trigger pull. So even the females and girlie men in the department can pull the trigger without asking for a spotter.

The GLOCK in .40 S&W is in many ways, the ideal gun/cartridge for the modern "diverse" police department. So to CHIEF BRATTON -- good call, homes. Cops are better protected, perps won't need to be shot as many times (we hope) and the public is better served. While we personally will never get used to the trigger feel of the GLOCK, we've seen good shooters do just amazing things with it. Personally, In The Hat has always been a huge fan of the 1911 pattern (popularly knowns as the .45 AUTO or the GOVERNMENT MODEL). It's what we would pick to have on our hip in a gun fight.

Oh, just in case you were wondering, LAPD SWAT will stick with their .45 ACP round, thank you. They're manly men and they can master the one, true and undisputed king of combat handgun cartridges -- the .45 ACP.

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