In this latest and greatest age of super tricked-out AR 15 rifles, the simple things tend to get lost in the hype. Certainly not immune, I currently field both a piston-driven 6.8 SPC with all the bells and whistles for patrol, and a suppressed piston-driven 10-inch 5.56mm on entry. How far removed that is from the typical police officer became evident rather quickly at the department firearms training just a few weeks ago.
The simple act of having separate entry and field rifles is just the start. That is about unheard of in most departments, especially the smaller ones and in this cash strapped time. The rest of our team gets an entry rifle and patrol officers get a 16-inch carbine—both pretty plain Jane. Although an occasional rifle with an EOTech or Aimpoint was there, none had the optics of my patrol rifle, none were piston-driven, and most were simple rifles with simple sights issued by the department. It was good to see because as a writer, and before that an avid enthusiast, my “reality” is anything but “real.” It prompted the completion of the course the first time through with my AK-47, and it was good practice. I may not be able to field it, but it was good practice to use a simple iron sighted rifle, and good fun for the rest of the crew.
Reality for most police officers is entry-level equipment, and any additions are typically acquired at their expense. Considering what most cops get paid, and the ever-skyrocketing prices of those extras, most live with iron sights and a tactical light. It is not to say the additions do not make me a better shooter, I am pretty certain they do. As the aging process continues to take its toll red dot sights are a pleasant addition and becoming more of a necessity each year. Nature not withstanding, these sighting systems make any shooter better at doing their job, especially in real world training. As agencies start to provide training that is realistic and practical, it is becoming even truer. Gunfights are fluid and many of the sighting systems out there make this easier and should be used when they can, but they certainly are not a necessity. A well-trained officer can and should still get the job done on a simple rifle with simple sights.