The world of the SWAT officer is an interesting one filled with paradoxes. Tactical marksmen, by comparison, are seldom necessary, but their duties are critical when called upon. Just like a concealed carry firearm, the need for a precision rifle is rare, but when it arises, it needs to work—and you need to know how to use it. Both require constant training and attention to detail without regard to how often they are used. Law enforcement is a profession where practicality should reign supreme, but too often it is missing, replaced with wants and desires—not needs. Teams pick up the “latest, greatest,” “most improved” or “most expensive” piece of gear without regard to actual need.
Clearly, the men and women of these units are no different than anyone else, and marketing and hype populate the decision-making process. The task of the police marksman, however, is very clear; it is simple and has remained unchanged for years. It has never required the most expensive, most popular or even the best rifle out there. You need a rifle that works all the time, holds 1 MOA at 100 yards, and does so in adverse conditions. There simply is no “need” for a $4,000 rifle to do your job, and those without them are not underequipped.
As enjoyable as it is for me to shoot the best rifles you can get, they are simply not necessary for a police department. This is good because few departments can afford them. In my experience, the least altered and less expensive rifles perform without a hitch at the range or during qualifications. It is not the price of the equipment you have as a SWAT officer—it’s what you can do with the equipment you have.