Back when autopistols were emerging on the law enforcement scene, there were two calibers to contend with… the 9mm or .45 ACP. As autopistols plodded and then stampeded into the police market, the 9mm quickly became the caliber in the holsters of cops from coast to coast — largely because of its easy-to-handle recoil for officers of all sizes and shapes, its relatively compact dimensions in a typical pistol platform, and the fact that ammunition could frequently be purchased cheaper in bulk than that of the .45 ACP.
Through most of the 1980s, 9mm ammunition was upgraded in terms of bullet construction to meet the demands of law enforcement needs. Even though later developments in the .40 S&W caliber have overshadowed the 9mm in popularity over the past 20 years and the trend has gone toward lighter polymer-framed pistols, the fact remains that today we have some very effective 9mm loads that get the job done in uniform. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with going old school and using the caliber in a steel-framed pistol, for either regular uniform wear or more specialized units.
Slide lock, thumb safety and mag release are all well placed and configured. Note the extended beavertail.
ArmaLite’s AR24-15C Tactical Custom is one pistol that’s worth a look when the 9mm is under consideration. An all-steel (except for the very ergonomic checkered rubber grips) full-sized pistol, this variation of the classic CZ-75 pattern incorporates elements of earlier pistol designs dating back to the 1930s, but is built on thoroughly modern CNC machinery in an equally modern Turkish plant using forged frames, slides, and barrels. Fundamentally a version of that country’s national service pistol, when ArmaLite was initially setting up the parameters for the AR24 pistol project, certain features and dimensions more adaptable to the American market were laid out—with the end result being nicely done.
Ergonomics on the Tactical Custom model, a step above the regular AR24 pistols, are excellent, and fit my hand better than any other pistol I’ve ever worked with. The non-slip grips are hand-filling, the raised checkering panels front and rear on the frame (an unusual feature in any pistol) add to retention in wet or slippery conditions, and the 34.9-ounce heft of the pistol and its 4.67-inch barrel holds the Tactical Custom rock solid in hand during firing strings. With practice this pistol can be fired accurately at speed, without the greater muzzle flip and longer recovery times inherent in heavier calibers such as the .45 ACP or snappier ones like the .40 S&W.