In 2006 Smith & Wesson proudly announced the sales of over 1,200 M&P pistols to the Cincinnati, Ohio, Police Department. A major metropolitan area, with all that comes with it, the lawmen in Cincinnati fully understand that they must have a duty pistol they can depend on.
Why did Cincinnati’s police force make a change? There were a couple of reasons. First, they were previously carrying S&W’s model 5946 for 10-15 years. Weight was an important factor why they were looking to transition to another gun and they were also interested in newer technology. One major attraction of the M&P is that each officer will have a “custom-grip”, if you will. It’s safe to say that the M&P pistol offers options that weren’t necessarily available to agencies 15 years ago.
Sergeant Randy Rengering, Head Firearms Instructor for the Cincinnati PD commented, “The M&P9 is an excellent addition to the police department. From our administrative staff to the patrol officers, the response has been extremely positive. Throughout our rigorous testing and evaluation process, the pistol performed flawlessly. We are confident that the M&P9 will serve as a true asset for our officers.”
Interestingly enough, Cincinnati decided to go with the M&P9 instead of the better known M&P40. The 9×19 pistol holds a full 17 rounds of ammunition in its magazine. Each pistol is shipped with three magazines.
Naturally, when you have over 1,200 officers receiving new handguns, ergonomics is a concern. Not every officer’s hand is the same. Again, the fact that each M&P pistol includes three interchangeable palm-swell grips, (backstraps) small, medium and large, was a big selling point. Other pluses included a reversible magazine release to accommodate left-handed shooters and the slide-stop is ambidextrous. According to Dan Keuhn, one of Smith & Wesson’s Regional Law Enforcement Sales Managers, 20 percent of law enforcement officers are left-handed, all the more reason that the M&P is attractive to a police force. Since the transition began, qualification scores have increased significantly, and this may be no small part of the increase in accuracy and proficiency in shooting. Qualification scores have jumped by almost 15 percent, that’s nothing to blink at. Another interesting point Keuhn offered is that approximately 80 percent of the officers found that the medium-sized grip best fit their hand. This becomes even more significant considering that Cincinnati’s previous issue, the Model S&W 5946, had a standard grip that was on the large size, not medium. It’s no wonder that the new, versatile M&Ps and trained officers are upping their accuracy.
Today’s Duty Guns
The defensive pistol market has come a long way in the last 20 years. Police agencies once had little choice but to adopt the old “double-action first, single-action second” design. Today the trend is, quite logically, to have a trigger design that is consistent first shot to last. Modern handgun engineers have come up with numerous improvements over the old DA/SA.
Although not often discussed, maintenance is another factor for agencies choosing a sidearm—ease of maintenance that is. The M&P pistols require no tools for basic, end-user disassembly. That they break down in to only four main parts is a big plus. Ten to 15 minutes with a general purpose brush and a bore brush is all you really need to keep your M&P pistol up and running after a range session.
Obviously, corrosion is not a factor for the polymer frame. The black Melonite slide finish is extremely durable and should provide officers with years of service life. The internal parts of the pistol should be kept free of dirt and debris and very lightly lubricated, and I do mean lightly. Too much gun oil attracts dirt and gunk.
When it comes to training law enforcement officers, the simple fact is that many of them are simply not “gun people.” In Cincinnati, as well as most other jurisdictions, many police cadets receive their first exposure to firearms when they join the force. Training these men and women to safely and effectively use their sidearms is considerably less complicated with a single, consistent trigger pull.
The transition training from the previous sidearm to the new M&P9 was a smooth one because of the consistent trigger pull and the excellent ergonomics of the gun. In addition to transitioning over to a new gun, they were breaking in new Safariland 6280 holsters.
For the past few months, two and a half days a week, transition classes were implemented. By the time this article goes to press, transitioning of all 1,232 officers and their new pistols will be almost complete.
Adding Long Guns to the Deal
As a part of the Smith & Wesson purchase, Cincinnati PD has also acquired a number of the M&P15 5.56mm carbines. The acquisition of these rifles is for regular patrol units and Keuhn indicated that they would be purchasing more rifles.
The current state of affairs in the nation has prompted law enforcement agencies nationwide to include the centerfire rifle in their weapons inventories. When dealing with an armed felon, the 5.56mm cartridge is an infinitely better fight stopper than any handgun round. The simple axiom is that we carry handguns for convenience, but when a firearm is needed and there is time to secure one, we use the long gun.
The M&P15 was a logical choice for Cincinnati as the rifle/carbine will accept readily available magazines and accessories for the AR design. The operation of the rifle is one that is already familiar to the department’s special response operators and so, again, transition training is minimal at best.
Back In The Day
Back when I first pinned on a badge, American law enforcement was in a state of flux regarding sidearms. The transition from the revolver to the pistol was fully underway. Without a doubt the undisputed king of the police double-action revolver was Smith & Wesson. Not every agency in the United States issued the “Smith” wheelgun, but the simple fact is that the majority did.
The first S&W semi-automatic DA pistols to make it big were the three-digit series. The four-digit series incorporated improvements on the original designs, but the American police community was still left wanting. During the late 1990s and into the new millennium, numerous other semi-auto pistol makers supplanted the S&W in the holsters of lawmen.
But now, after a decade of playing catch up, S&W has a bonafide hit on its hands with its Military & Police models.
Pistols: A Closer Look
Firearms historians look back fondly on the original Model 10 Military & Police revolvers, which were introduced in 1899. In 2005, S&W reintroduced the M&P series to the shooting public. Smith & Wesson involved not only firearms engineers, but seasoned law enforcement trainers in the development of new semi-automatic pistols. Starting with the duty-sized M&P40, the stable of autopistols now includes both large and compact versions and caliber choices include 9×19, .357, .40 and .45 Auto.
All of the M&P pistols have a stainless steel interior framework embedded in a molded Zytel polymer exterior frame. The barrel and slide are stainless steel and the metal finish is black Melonite. Standard frame color is black, but “dark earth” models are also available.
Like most new duty pistols, the M&P has a rail frame to which lights and lasers can be affixed. With a plethora of white lights and laser sights available, no serious duty pistol can be without such a rail.
S&W calls the action in the M&P “striker fire action,” or SFA. The factory trigger pull is around 6.5 pounds. As far as disassembly for maintenance is concerned, there is a take-down lever located on the left side of the frame. When stripped down for cleaning, the M&P breaks down into only four parts, not including the magazines.
S&W Revolver Updates
Despite all the technological improvement in the autopistol world, there is still a large demand for the compact revolver. To satisfy the market for compact and concealable double-action revolvers, the M&P series includes three models of “snub-nosed” wheelguns: the M&P 340, 340CT and 360.
These lightweight, five-shot snubs are constructed of scandium alloy, have polymer grips, and are finished in a no-nonsense matte black. Chambered in .357 Magnum, they pack a punch. The “CT” versions come stock with Crimson Trace laser grips and XS Sight 24/7 Tritium® Big Dot front sights.
Long Guns: A Closer Look
Rounding out the product line is the M&P15 rifle series. Currently S&W has four different models listed in its catalog. The M&P15 is a high-end black rifle based upon the proven AR design.
Starting with the basic model, the M&P15 is actually a carbine length gun with a 16-inch barrel and six-position telescoping stock. The gas-operated firearm is chambered in a true 5.56mm and will naturally accept .223 Remington ammunition. The finish is a standard hard-coat black anodizing.
As for the sight configuration, the M&P15 has a fully adjustable rear sight mounted to a removable carrying handle. The front sight is standard A2 configuration. Other features include the M4 short fore end and M4-style barrel with NATO spec flash suppressor/compensator. Manual controls are the standard AR design with a manual safety lever, magazine release and bolt-lock. Being a “black rifle,” the gun will accept all 30-round AR/M-16 magazines.
The M&P15A model is essentially the same as the 15 but without a carrying handle. A fold-down rear sight is affixed to the flat-top rail. For agencies that use an optic as their primary and iron sights as secondary, this model would seem to be a good choice as you really won’t need the carrying handle.
The “Cadillac” of the M&P 5.56mm carbine line is the Model “15T.” Yes, “T” stands for “Tactical.” While sharing most of the same features as the basic model, the T version has fold-down/flip-up front and rear sights as a standard feature. The fore end has a free-float four-position rail system allowing the addition of white lights and laser aiming devices.
Finally, the M&P15PC is a departure from all the rest as it is truly a rifle. The PC model has a fixed, skeletonized stock and a 20-inch barrel. Rather than using the standard 1/9 twist of the carbines, the PC uses 1/8 rifling to maximize the performance of heavier projectiles in the 5.56/.223 line. The free-floating fore end is black-matte anodized, but the barrel is a matte stainless steel.
A flat-top rail is ready to accept a high-powered optical sight; no iron sights are included with this model. As precision shooting at distance is the main task of this rifle, a two-stage match trigger is included. As with the other models, the PC model functions like any AR-style rifle.
Smith & Wesson In The Buckeye
In addition to Cincinnati, S&W is in negotiations to provide M&P duty guns to numerous other agencies in Ohio. The capital city of Columbus has transitioned two-thirds of their force over to the M&P40s. Other new converts include Washington County in Marietta OH, Celina PD OH and Delhi Township Ohio.
The introduction of the M&P series has re-energized the historic Massachusetts gun maker and caused the industry to take notice. How many more agencies will adopt the new pistol? Only time will tell. If the success of the program in Cincinnati is any indication, the devoted relationship that S&W once enjoyed with American law enforcement may gain new life.
Trijicon ACOG 4x32mm Enhanced Combat Optical Sight
In late 2006, Trijicon introduced their ACOG 4×32 ECOS. This was designed for U.S. Military Special Operations Forces but will be available through civilian and law enforcement outlets. This is an optional sight for both Close Quarter Battle (CQB) situations and longer distance shooting where accuracy and pinpoint bullet placement are required.
This is the first combat optic available to the public with the new Dark Earth Brown color now required by SOFs — a factor in concealment — directly contributing to the safety of the operator.
This dual-sighting system gives the shooter a distinct tactical advantage with the option of either the Trijicon ACOG or the Docter Red Dot Sight. With the quick target acquisition of the Docter Red Dot sight or the precise aiming capabilities provided by the magnified 4X Trijicon ACOG — the shooter has the ability to select the proper aiming solution for the situation at hand.
Available with a Bullet Drop Compensated (BDC) reticle calibrated to the trajectory of the .223 cartridge and provides precision aiming for targets out to 1,000 meters. This reticle technology has proven to hold zero under the most demanding of combat situations. This ACOG is battery-free, featuring a selection of reticles in either red or amber.
Two models are available. First the TA31 ECOS uses Trijicon’s patented fiber optics and tritium-based technology with a reticle that glows red continually in bright light, low light or no light at all. The other is the TA01 ECOS, which features their advanced tritium technology only — and both models feature back-up iron sights as specified by the U.S. Special Operation Command.
Weight is obviously a large consideration no matter who the end-user is, but military and LE have this consideration on the top of their “must be” list. This sighting system weighs less than 16 ounces, including the mount, and was designed for the M-16 series. A forged, 7075-T6 aluminum alloy housing gives the ACOG durability, and multi-coated lenses provide max. optical performance in any light. The ACOG is also waterproof (Tested to 328 Ft / 100 Meters — 5X the military’s required depth) and nitrogen filled to eliminate fogging. Made in the USA.