In order to be effective in search and clear operations, police officers or tactical operators must know how to cover their partners, manipulate their carbines and cover danger areas. Man and weapon should move as one.

The progression of the tactics and arms of the modern S.W.A.T. operator has gone something like this: A revolver-armed entry team member gave way to the semi-auto pistol, the pistol then begat the shotgun-toting operator, the shotgun begat sawed-off, the sawed-off begat MP5, and the MP5 evolved to the M4, which brings us to the present. The reason S.W.A.T. operators, like their military counterparts, have drifted toward long guns is the ballistic and accuracy advantages of the longer arm. Long guns are more accurate and have more of a ballistic impact than pistols of the same caliber, let alone pistols versus rifle calibers. That’s not to say that a long gun is the preferred arm for every house- or business-clearing mission. Part of the thing that makes the submachine gun and carbine more accurate (a two-handed weapon) can detract from its usefulness in some searching conditions (attics and crawlspaces for instance).

U.S. Army soldiers practice urban combat techniques in Afghanistan. Learning to move through doorways takes lots of practice to overcome an enemy in his home.

That said, some trainers have intimated that the long gun—carbine, submachine gun and shotgun—is not suitable for close-confines searching duties. Having rolled with all of these firearms hundreds of times in search conditions on the street, I would disagree. When assigned to a standard felony search warrant at a location, I choose a long gun—but you have to know how to make it work.

Entry Detail
Depending on the long gun’s barrel length, when compared to a two-handed Isosceles or Weaver stance punched out on target, there’s not much difference. One can argue that a pistol can be held at the hip or half-hip position when searching, but you only need some force-on-force training to demonstrate the inefficiencies of hip shooting (and missing) at CQB range. We shoot at lower than eye level with a pistol because we have to out of necessity—not because it’s more effective. Carbines and shotguns can be positioned tucked into the arm for retention or while closing with an adversary as well. We’d rather not shoot from these positions, but they’ll do in a pinch, and they may be necessary when closing with a suspect at arm’s reach.

The tuck position retracts the gun and places the buttstock under the arm, freeing the support hand for obstacles.

Up Next

Thumb a Ride to Accuracy

In order to be effective in search and clear operations, police officers or tactical…