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American Handgunner Jan/Feb 2011 - Page 22
COPTALK Massad Ayoob OPINION AND FACTS FROM THE MEAN STREETS The most popular state police caliber is .40 S&W, and the most popular state police .40 is this Glock 22. trooPer trends s tate police agencies are often bellwethers in law enforcement. When they adopt new equipment, it’s exposed to all other cops in their state, county and municipal alike. That’s why a state patrol adoption is something gunmakers covet: it tends to sell a lot more guns. They’re so eager for that to happen they’ll sometimes make sweetheart deals, such as trading old guns for new straight across the board. There has been great change in this sector in the last 30 years. In 1980, virtually every trooper in the nation was carrying a .38 Special or .357 Magnum revolver. By 1990, the last of them were switching to autos, mostly 9mm, with a few holdouts such as South Carolina still wearing sixguns. By the year 2000, except for snubby backup guns, revolvers had been relegated to the Troopers’ museum, as it were, and the 9mm was being swapped for powerful pistols. Today, that trend continues. My old friend Chuck Hargis retired with honors from the Kentucky State Police, and one of his hobbies was keeping track of what guns troopers around the nation were wearing. I visited him for the last time a few days before his death in mid-2010, and that day he gave me his last, updated list. The most popular State Police pistol chamberings, in order from left: .40 S&W, .357 SIG, .45 ACP, .45 GAP and 9mm Luger. All the major ammo makers produce good quality, reliable ammo today so any agency using virtually any caliber can find ammo meeting their needs. Once the king of the road and the most popular trooper pistol nationwide, the 9mm now shows only a glimmer of its former presence among state troopers. It’s now a distant fifth place among troopers’ service pistol calibers. It is issued today by only two such agencies: Indiana State Police (Glock 17) and new Jersey State Police (SIG P228). 9mm Fades From the highways Texas, South Dakota and Virginia issue SIG-Sauers in .357, variously the P226 and the P229. It has developed an excellent reputation for both “stopping power” and tactical penetration in situations involving vehicles. .45 aCP the rise oF the gaP Introduced in 2003 in a joint effort between Glock and Speer, the .45 Glock Auto Pistol retains .45 ACP ballistics in a shorter overall cartridge that fits a 9mm platform. In less than a decade it has risen to fourth place in the collective arsenal of troopers, with five states issuing the Glock 37 in that caliber to their troopers. new York State Police led the way, and were followed by four agencies swapping .40s: Georgia State Patrol, Pennsylvania State Police, South Carolina highway Patrol, and most recently Florida highway Patrol, the latter being the first to get the Generation 4 Glock 37. new hampshire State Police have the S&W Military & Police in .45 ACP, and Maine State Police, the h&K USP45. The Glock 21 is standard issue for Arkansas, Idaho, and Kansas troopers. West Virginia issues the S&W Model 4566 TSW. The .45 ACP for cops is like basic black for fashion: whether or not it’s “in” or “stylish” at any given time, you never go wrong wearing it. Introduced jointly by S&W and Winchester in 1990 as a compromise between the cops who wanted 8-shot .45 autos and those who wanted 16-shot 9mms, the .40 S&W round rocketed to the top of the police popularity charts faster than any cartridge since the .38 Special. Today, it’s the choice of more LE agencies than any other. More than half of state police departments issue the .40. California highway Patrol issues the S&W 4006, and has for 20 years, while Colorado, Iowa and Washington troopers carry the same maker’s Military & Police. Beretta is the choice of Maryland (Px4), and SIG .40s (either P226 or P229) are carried by the troopers of Arizona, Connecticut, Massachusetts, nevada, Ohio, and Vermont. And, every other state not mentioned above issues the 16-shot Glock .40, America’s single most popularly chosen standard issue police handgun. note that Idaho troopers have the choice of a Glock 22 in .40, or a Glock 21 in .45 ACP. When crunching the numbers, remember there are only 49 states under discussion, since the island chain state of hawaii does not have state troopers per se. .40 s&w .357 sig In the early 1990s, when Ted Rowe was at SIG, he conceived the idea of an auto pistol cartridge duplicating the bullet weight and velocity of the most street proven .357 Magnum revolver load, the 125 gr. hollow point. Federal introduced the .357 SIG round circa 1994, and today it’s the second most popular among state police departments. Eleven agencies now issue that caliber, all with 125 gr. loads. Tennessee highway Patrol has it in the Glock 31, and new Mexico and north Carolina issue it in the S&W M&P. Delaware, Montana, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota, * This column is respectfully dedicated to the memory of Capt. Chuck Hargis of the Kentucky State Police. 22 WWW.AMERICAnhAnDGUnnER.COM • JAnUARY/FEBRUARY 2011