Modern Is Better
The 9mm’s long-standing reputation for sub-optimal power came mostly from older loads. Los Angeles County Sheriffs and LAPD are reportedly both using Winchester 147-gr. Ranger for their issue 9mms and are happy with its street performance. The confidence is not 100 percent across the board, however. Many LASD deputies have bought optional .45s, and many LAPD officers have likewise voted with their wallets so they can carry their own .40 or .45. Portland (OR) Police Bureau reports high satisfaction with their standard issue Federal HST 147-gr. subsonic 9mm rounds.
This topic came up at the Panel Of Experts session I chaired at the 2012 conference of the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers. The panel all but unanimously agreed they were comfortable with modern 9mm ammo. The favorite loads most often cited were the Speer Gold Dot 124-gr. +P, which has been used with great success by NYPD, Chicago PD and Las Vegas Metro. They also cited the Winchester Ranger-T 127-gr. +P+, which has performed spectacularly in dozens of shootings for the Orlando, Fla. Police Department. I couldn’t help but notice, for what it’s worth, many of the experts endorsing the 9mm were carrying .40s or .45s themselves.
Going in the opposite direction, we now have five state police agencies which have adopted the .45 GAP (Glock Auto Pistol): Florida, Georgia, New York, Pennsylvania and South Carolina. None are reporting any dissatisfaction with street results of this round, which is functionally identical to standard pressure .45 ACP in ballistics, but with shorter overall length to allow pistols narrower in girth which will fit a wider range of hand sizes. NYSP traded up from 9mm, while the other four agencies swapped .40s for their .45 GAPs.
No Pat Answer
There is no one sidearm perfect for the locally-identified needs of all of our myriad law enforcement agencies, let alone one sidearm that will be absolutely ideal for the perceived needs of each and every one of America’s 800,000 or so serving police officers. Working alone or in small unit strength, police don’t need the ammo and magazine interchangeability that comes with a single standard gun so much as they need the absolute confidence and competence that comes with carrying what the individual officer can shoot the best under pressure.
So, is it 9mm to .45, .45 to 9mm, or something in between? It’s simply not an issue on departments like Chicago, Las Vegas or Los Angeles where working cops have a broad choice of makes, models, and calibers. The one thing certain in the matter is the debate as to what’s the best police gun or cartridge is probably never going to end.
By Massad Ayoob
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