LAPD’s SIS K.I.S.S. Pistol Goes Public.
When it comes to choosing a fighting handgun, the only thing better than actual street experience is a lot of actual street experience. And within that elite realm of hard-won wisdom, few law enforcement units can equal the reputation of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Special Investigation Section (SIS).
SIS was established in 1965 with the express purpose of targeting Los Angeles’ most dangerous and elusive criminals. Specialists in surveillance and intelligence gathering, the handpicked members of SIS methodically build their cases to maximize the chances of successful prosecution. When their cases are built and the time is right, they are also responsible for apprehending their prey — often during the act of committing a crime, to decisively seal their fate. These “hot takedowns” are extremely dangerous and frequently result in armed resistance. As such, it’s no surprise SIS officers are also exceptionally skilled in the art of combat shooting.
As criminals get more sophisticated in their methods, SIS officers are constantly refining their tactics to stay ahead of the game. Similarly, as the bad guys get better armed and more ruthless, SIS continues to up the ante in their selection of high-performance duty guns. The latest development in that arena is a new Glock pistol developed specifically to meet the requirements of SIS — the Glock 30S.
Like the rest of the LAPD, members of SIS are no strangers to Glocks. Along with Smith & Wessons and Berettas, Glocks have long been authorized carry weapons for LAPD officers. They are also the weapons of choice for many members of SIS — particularly the .45-caliber Glock 21 loaded with their round of choice: Federal Tactical bonded 230-grain +P Hollow Point. However, despite its outstanding reputation for reliability and stopping power, the G21 — and the unit’s other .45-caliber pistol choices — were a challenge to carry concealed. Since all SIS operations are conducted in civilian clothes blending discreetly with the public, effective concealment is high on their priority list.
Also high on their list was a magazine capacity appropriate to their needs. They took a hard look at their own gunfight experiences, carefully analyzing the number of rounds required to stop each criminal and the number of assailants typically engaged by SIS officers at the time of apprehension. The objective was to determine a practical minimum statistically allowing them to complete most of their gunfights without requiring a reload.
Historically, most SIS confrontations involve two to three criminals — for example, two armed robbers and a getaway driver. Based on the realities of actual field hit rates, the number of suspects involved, the possibility of suspects wearing body armor and the prolific use of narcotics — all things affecting the duration of a gun battle and number of rounds necessary to achieve incapacitation — a lightweight, concealable pistol holding 10 rounds was considered ideal.
Based on the requirements they defined, SIS contacted Glock’s West Coast law enforcement sales specialist and arranged a meeting. In true SIS form, they methodically tested all of Glock’s off-the-shelf offerings, carefully evaluated the advantages and disadvantages of each, and communicated their needs to the Glock representative. He then took their wish list back to Glock headquarters and presented it to the engineers so they could develop a solution.
One of the defining characteristics of Glock pistols is their simplicity. Since the inception of their first groundbreaking design, simple efficiency has been a trademark of their approach to product design. It should come as no surprise, then, the solution Glock’s engineers offered to SIS was also brilliantly simple.
First, they took a hard look at the most compact and concealable .45s in the current Glock product line: the G30 and the Slimline G36. While the G30’s double-stack magazine holds an impressive 10 rounds of .45 ACP (plus one in the chamber), its slide is the same width as its full-sized brother, the G21 (1.27″). Conversely, the slide of the slim G36 is only 1.10″ wide — 13 percent narrower than the G30. The G36’s narrower slide is also lighter than that of the G30, which means it cycles a bit faster and therefore offers a slight increase in shot-to-shot recovery — a definite advantage for highly skilled shooters engaging multiple opponents.
Having defined the best of both separate worlds, the next logical step was to bring them together into one gun. Since the slide rail dimensions of both models are identical, swapping the G36 slide onto the G30 frame took less than a minute. A careful chalkboard review of the mechanical dynamics of both guns confirmed the combination was completely sound from an engineering standpoint, so validating the concept was pretty straightforward: the engineers loaded a few magazines and headed to the range.
Despite the deceptive simplicity of the R&D process, the results of the G30/G36 fusion were pretty profound. The absolute consistency of Glock’s engineering and manufacturing processes allowed the “FrankenGlock” to function just as flawlessly as both its parent pistols. Although the broad grip housed a 10-round magazine, the frame’s “SF” (Short Frame) configuration reduces its overall girth and trigger reach, making it smaller and more comfortable in the hand. The slimmer, lighter slide of the G36 streamlined the pistol and its faster cycle time made its shot-to-shot recovery extremely fast. In short, it shot like a dream and seemed to be the ideal solution for the needs of SIS.
SIS Says …
To confirm that, Glock engineers assembled several pistols and sent them to SIS for testing. A thorough evaluation confirmed the hybrid Glocks were indeed just what they wanted and SIS quickly asked Glock to make a batch of “off-catalog” pistols for them. Good news travels fast, however, and it wasn’t long before members of a federal law enforcement agency caught a glimpse of the unique gun and requested a run for their agency as well. Convinced they were definitely onto something, Glock’s plan for a small run of off-catalog guns soon evolved into a plan to make the gun available as a standard model — the G30S.
Although I first got the “inside scoop” on the G30S at the 2012 SHOT Show, it wasn’t until late 2012 that I actually got to see a sample of the elusive gun. Dubbed “the unicorn” by the guys at the local gun store who received it for me, at first glance it doesn’t look like anything special. Compared side by side with a standard G30, however, the narrower slide is immediately obvious. Tucked into a holster and worn inside the waistband for a full day, the subtle differences are even more apparent.
Conceptually, the G30S makes a lot of sense, but the proof is always in the shooting. To evaluate that aspect of the gun, I grabbed several boxes of .45 hardball and Gold Dot hollow points and headed to the range. The G30S shot to point of aim with everything I fed it and never hiccupped. Shot-to-shot recovery was indeed quick and consistent, making accurate double-taps, triple-taps and multiple shot strings a breeze.
In short, the G30S shoots well, carries well, and offers the magazine capacity to address the problems SIS officers are most likely to face. Best of all, they won’t be the only ones to have access to this great gun. Formally unveiled at SHOT 2013, it will soon be available to the rest of us as well.
For more info: www.americanhandgunner.com/glock, (770) 432-1202
By Michael Janich
Photos By: Dan Henderson
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