Going Back: 45 to 9 to... 45?


Tim Gramins’ Wilson Combat CQB Elite .45.

A cop who became famous for switching to a 9mm with 145 rounds on his person after a gunfight returns to a .45.

In 2008, Tim Gramins of the Skokie, Illinois Police Department engaged in a one-on-one gunfight with a heavily armed robber. It lasted for almost a full minute, during which 54 shots were fired: 21 by the would-be cop-killer from an S&W 5906 9mm and a Bersa .380 and 33 by Gramins from his GLOCK 21. He put fourteen 230-grain .45 caliber Speer Gold Dots into his opponent, and the man was still trying to murder him when Gramins steadied down and carefully aimed three shots into the man’s head. Two of them smashed the thug’s maxilla-facial structure before Gramins’ final bullet reached the brain, ending the fight. Prior hits had struck heart, lungs and kidney, but the opponent had remained up and running — a mortally wounded opponent who “didn’t know he was dead yet.”

Having ended the fight with only a few rounds left, Tim changed hardware and became famous as “the cop who carries 146 rounds on duty.” He went to a GLOCK 17 with 17+1 rounds of 124-grain Gold Dot 9mm +P, three more 17-round magazines in a Safariland triple pouch, a couple of 33-round mags attached to his body armor, and another 10+1 in his backup G26.

Gramins carries his .45 with two spare magazines alongside his radio.

Back To The .45

Gramins is now Commander of SPD’s Professional Standards unit, encompassing training as well as internal affairs and related functions. Preparing for his retirement and working on re-introducing the single-stack 1911 as an option for his agency, Tim Gramins now trains with and carries a Wilson Combat CQB pistol with 8+1 rounds of .45 ACP.

“When I raise a 1911, it’s simply always there, right where I need it to be,” he says. “It feels like an extension of me. It’s the most accurate platform I’ve ever shot.”

Why Lower Capacity?

Going into his 29th year on the job and seeing retirement on the horizon, he realizes he’s going to have to deal with magazine capacity limits. The anti-gunners Illinois legislature temporarily compromised on a 15-round limit and he knows they’ll be pushing for a 10-round limit in the future and, under the current governor, are likely to get it. Once retired, he’ll be carrying either under an Illinois permit or the Law Enforcement Officer Safety Act, but both are subject to state law restrictions.

Says Gramins, “Capacity is obviously a huge issue for me, but if restricted, obviously a .45 makes sense. I love to shoot 9mm and .45 ACP, but .40, not so much. And I know what a .45 can do in a self-defense shooting.”

As for the Wilson Combat CQB Elite, Tim replies, “I think it’s simply the best 1911 .45 out there … When I ordered the new Wilson CQB Elite, I specified a light rail. I have a Streamlight TLR-8A on it, white light and a laser. The white light for obvious reasons, and the laser because it’s so helpful when you’re working with one hand holding a ballistic shield.” Moreover, SPD has authorized pistols like the Staccato for duty, with a special training program, and as an instructor, Commander Gramins needs a 1911-style pistol to stay proficient on the platform.

Tim Gramins with his WC .45 and gear. One can never
have too many good magazines.

Uniformed Carry

When Tim is in uniform, he still wears a 9mm GLOCK, a G45, with plenty of ammo. The Wilson .45 will be his retirement gun, and he also trains with it regularly to assist his officers who choose to transition to that platform. It currently rides in a Kydex scabbard by Gunfighters Inc. A Phlster belt mounted floodlight when he utilizes a SureFire X300 weapon light and a Phlster Enigma when he needs deeper concealment. He notes, “The flat 1911 profile is more comfortable when I carry appendix, and the manual safety is reassuring when you stick it down the front of your pants.” An 8-round Wilson magazine lives in the pistol with one more 230-grain Gold Dot in the chamber and two spare 10-round mags on the belt.

As we’ve seen in the past with others, it was magazine restriction laws that drove Tim Gramins back to the .45. If you must have fewer cartridges, bigger bullets make sense. Tim’s nearly three decades in law enforcement in violent Chicagoland made him realize lawbreakers who disregard felonies will certainly blow off misdemeanors and prosecutors will plea bargain away things like “illegal magazines” from the get-go, leaving retired cops — and law-abiding armed citizens — the only ones with reduced ammo capacity.

What changes opinions and practices in self-defense firearms is changing threat situations. As we see more multiple-assailant attacks and things of this nature, higher capacity becomes more relevant to the Good Guys and Gals, the only ones who actually obey the capacity restrictions born in empty political symbolism.

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