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American Handgunner Nov/Dec 2010 - Page 36
COPTALK Massad Ayoob OPINION AND FACTS FROM THE MEAN STREETS This Border Patrolman carries four spare magazines for his issue HK P2000, two opentop in front of left hip, two-flapped horizontal in front of Safariland security holster. Things are heating up on the US/Mexican Border. Our police are arming and training themselves accordingly. f you’ve read the history of the United States Border Patrol — some of it written in blood by such famed police gun experts of yesteryear as Col. Charles Askins, Jr. and Bill Jordan — you remember that when the Patrol was organized, its standard issue weapons were WWI vintage military surplus S&W 1917 .45 ACP revolvers, 12-gauge Winchester trench guns and bolt-action Enfield .30-06 rifles. Askins soon got them into the big Colt New Service I .38 Special for a service revolver, and later when their own Jordan inspired Smith & Wesson’s .357 Combat Magnum, the USBP adopted it in turn. Both men were partial to rifles for border work, with Askins favoring the Winchester 1907 .351 autoloader and Jordan occasionally bringing a Winchester .270 to work. Jordan also designed the famous River holster that was long standard USBP issue, its simple safety strap often snapped out of the way to allow a fast open-top draw. policeman and the chief of HCPD. This area’s collective experience has validated the patrol rifle concept. In April 2009, a Pinal County deputy was ambushed by a group of illegal-alien drug smugglers, armed with long guns and handguns. I’m told he took a bullet through the kidney, which came near to killing him. The severely wounded deputy bravely returned fire — reportedly going through three magazines from his AR-15, area officers tell me — and apparently managed to shoot at least one of the would-be cop-killers, driving them off. At this writing, word is that the deputy will recover, and no bodies of his attackers have yet been found, alive or dead. The scattergun also has a long history in border area police work, and the patrol rifle supplements rather than replaces it. A 12-gauge pump can be found in almost every police vehicle on the northern edge of the border, usually with both buckshot and rifled slugs. I saw mostly Remington 870s, but Mossberg and Winchester were also in evidence. MagPul 30-round magazines and ACOG sights. Changing Times T oday’s issue USBP sidearm is the Heckler & Koch P2000; its doublestack magazine loaded with a 155grain .40 S&W HP, loaded to 1,200 fps. Though this load has worked out very well as a man-stopper, the agency is in the process of changing over to a 180grain subsonic. The rationale is lighter recoil, and reduced wear on the guns. In Bill’s time, the Border Patrol’s “clientele” knew it was death to try to snatch a Border Patrolman’s weapon, and such attempts were unheard of. Law violators along the border are bolder today, and security holsters have long been standard issue. The agency currently has a mix of Safariland 6004 holsters and level III BLACKHAWK! SERPA scabbards. Also the Patrol is in the process of switching over to gun-mounted flashlights in all duty holsters. Large-bore pistols are pretty much standard along Arizona’s border with Mexico. The Arizona Department of Public Safety issues the SIG in .40, and the same caliber Glock is standard issue for municipal police from Tombstone to Tucson. Cochise County Sheriff’s Office issues the Colt Government Model .45 to its 80-plus sworn personnel, loaded with 230-grain Gold Dot. Lawmen in America’s Southwest have a long, rich history of using rifles for police work, and were well ahead of most of the rest of the country, in terms of the patrol rifle concept. “We issue the M4, some semiauto and some selective fire,” says Matthew Boyd, a USBP firearms instructor at the Nogales station. Issue load is a 62-grain Winchester softpoint. Cochise County deputy Jeremy Peuschole showed me his department’s issued Colt AR-15s, mounting ACOG reflex sights along with MagPul magazines filled with Federal .223 hollow point. Even small towns have armed-up. Huachuca City, with only four full-time officers and one part-time, has Ruger .223 carbines for all. The department’s armory includes both semiauto Mini-14 and select-fire AC556, explains Dennis Gray, a 32-year Colt’s Government .45 auto is standard issue for Cochise County deputies. outh-of-the-Border drug cartels are seen as the big danger, particularly the Zeta and Sinaloa groups. Both Stoner and Kalashnikov pattern weapons, often full-autos, have been seized from them, and one source reports an increasing number of HK G3 rifles in 7.62mm NATO. The cartels have used their drug money to lure Mexican soldiers and even Mexican police into their group, often bringing stolen Government-owned guns with them. Even the “coyotes” who smuggle illegal aliens instead of drugs are heavily armed these days. Says Chief Gray, “The coyotes are carrying AK-47s and handguns more, to keep their own people in line.” Nonetheless, those weapons are at hand when they encounter police. Suffice to say, American law enforcement, at all levels in that region, is up to the task of facing a profoundly increasing potential for deadly violence. 36 The OTher Side S * Standard issue on Cochise County’s AR-15 A3s. WWW.AMERICANHANDGUNNER.COM • NOVEMBER/DECEMBER2010