This isn’t staged for a photo op! Here St. Louis…

This isn’t staged for a photo op! Here St. Louis SWAT is in full swing with a ram followed by a flashbang to gain entry. Together, the flashbang and speed of the assault resulted in no resistance or injuries.

As the St. Louis Metropolitan Police SWAT team rolled along in an armored BearCat in route to the target house, verified to contain a wanted felon, I wondered how the operation would go down. The team brief included reliable intel that the persons inside were known to be armed and had a history of resistance, so although not anticipated, there could be trouble. As I sat with the team as the BearCat bumped and turned down St. Louis’ streets, their relaxed comments showed that they were confident in their training, equipment and each other. One of the officers got a laugh when he told me that, as the new guy, it was tradition to hold my wallet until after the operation.

They knew the stack order and clearing plans. They just snapped their chinstraps and made sure their Magpul magazines were fully seated as we neared the target. Quietly and quickly, the team moved from the armored vehicle and stacked by the front door as designated operators covered overlooking windows and doors with their Specialized Tactical Systems (STS) carbines. The shouted warrant announcement, the crash of the ram and the pop of the flashbang were quick, as was the practiced, orchestrated entry of the team that flowed through the front door of the suspected crack house. Contrary to the prior briefing, but common with successful dynamic entries, no shots were fired as the occupants were quickly controlled without harm.

St. Charles County Regional SWAT Sniper
Remington 700 STS Tactical

The practiced dynamic entry of the well-trained SLMPD SWAT team actually reduced the chance of violence as it quickly surged through the house. The paralyzing show of force ensured no chance of bad guys collecting their thoughts, organizing any resistance, or offering anything but enhanced confusion. The team, who serves hundreds of warrants every year, uses a combination of professionalism, continuous training, and excellent equipment to maintain an almost-perfect record of serving warrants with no injury to themselves or the perps. Soon, the still-dazed ex-occupants were safely restrained as other officers took over and the SWAT team took off to serve another warrant, another entry.

St. Louis City SWAT
During the author’s visit to St. Louis, he shot video during his ride-along.

Meet The STS Titan

One of the key elements of their gear—and the foundation for the confidence of the SLMPD SWAT team—is their new 5.56mm NATO carbine made by Specialized Tac­tical Systems and topped with a rugged Aimpoint red dot sight. The STS Titan is an enhancement of the Eugene Stoner-designed AR, now the longest-serving battle rifle ever fielded by the U.S. military. Features of the STS Titan include a two-stage match trigger, KNS anti-rotation pins and a rounded triggerguard made for gloved use. STS understands that what they make could go right into a tactical situation, so every firearm is built, individually tuned and tested before leaving the factory. Each gun is ready to go right out of the box, with no “break in” required.

Why another AR? STS considers their firearms the Ferrari of the AR market. The company feels that there are “two types of people who purchase Ferraris, guys who appreciate craftsmanship, quality and want the best, and professional drivers who ‘outdrive’ their current vehicle and need a car that keeps up with their skill set. As Ferrari is to the automotive industry, so is STS to the weapons industry.” As a result, STS weapons are used by many special operations personnel and operators in the United States and worldwide.

The STS Titan that the SLMPD SWAT uses has the long-stroke piston system similar to the AK for higher reliability and heat reduction. Based on independent thermography studies I conducted, I have found that the gas piston system, compared to the traditional gas impingement system on an AR, will reduce the felt heat on the forward handguard by at least 10 degrees and not let it get too hot to handle. This is better than even the AK, which I have seen smoke and char the forward handguard during sustained fire. In addition, the gas piston system keeps the bolt carrier much cooler, so it virtually eliminates the possibility of a round cooking off and allows the rifle to be broken down for maintenance or cleaning without a long cooling-off period.

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