While many of today’s pocket pistols are reliable and can…

While many of today’s pocket pistols are reliable and can get the job done when you’re off-duty, it makes sense to carry the full-size gun you’ve trained with the most on-duty. Steve Woods photo

A cop from an Illinois police department was out west teaching a class, and it was legal for him to carry a weapon under the Law Enforcement Officer Safety Act. After class, he found himself in a restaurant parking lot, where he saw a criminal stabbing a victim. The cop was carrying a full-sized service pistol, a Smith & Wesson M&P40. He drew his gun and identified himself. Without stopping, the knife-wielder raised his blade for another potentially fatal thrust. Swiftly and surely, the out-of-town, off-duty officer stopped the attack then and there with expertly directed gunfire. Consider this Case One.

Case Two took place in an Eastern metropolis. An off-duty cop was in a “Mom ’n Pop” corner store at closing time when two armed robbers entered. One had a knife, the other a gun, and they made it clear that they were going to use their weapons on the owners, purely for the evil joy of it. But the off-duty cop was carrying the same pistol he wore in uniform—a Glock 19. He swiftly drew it from concealment and dispatched both of them, saving two good people’s lives.

When the time comes and you have to draw from under “soft clothes,” whether you’re working plainclothes, undercover, or simply off-duty, it makes sense to have a gun powerful enough to stop the fight—a gun large enough and easy enough to manipulate, allowing you to shoot your best under extreme stress. For most officers, that gun is their uniform service pistol, the gun they have probably carried the most, trained with the most, and most frequently used for qualifications.

Learn from the Best

In Case Three, legendary Texas Ranger Frank Hamer, the man who took down Bonnie and Clyde, was out with his wife when a hired assassin opened fire, wounding Hamer. Hamer drew a big Smith & Wesson Triple Lock and put a .44 Special bullet through the heart of the man who shot him, decisively winning the fight. Throughout his career, Hamer carried big handguns all the time, 24/7, including Colt Government semi-autos in .38 Super and .45 ACP, and his favorite, a Single Action Army .45 he nicknamed “Old Lucky.” That gun, with a 4.75-inch barrel, was said to be his daily companion in his old age after retirement.

Many concealed carry holsters are available even for duty-sized guns, like the Smith & Wesson M&P45.

In Case Four, famed NYPD Stakeout Squad alumnus Jim Cirillo wrote gratefully of the day his partner, Bill Allard, saved his life with a single bullet to a gunman’s heart, delivered from a 5-inch-barreled National Match .45 that Allard had special permission to carry. In another incident, what we’ll call Case Five, Allard used the same .45 auto to finish a hellacious gunfight that had partially depleted one police shotgun, drained another and emptied a service revolver before both of the heavily armed robbers were dead on the floor. Yes, both of those cases happened while on-duty, but today, Bill Allard is long retired and still carries a full-sized .45. In fact, he was wearing a 5-inch-barreled Kimber pistol the last time he and I had dinner together in upstate New York. You don’t get much more off-duty than being retired, and all off-duty cops can learn from Bill’s example.

Load Comments