With the severe economic downturn and its lingering effects to this day, an unfortunate reality for many LE departments around the country is severe budget cuts affecting their numbers of personnel. As a result, LE organizations are faced with increased responsibilities combined with fewer numbers of officers to handle them.
One of the most glaring side effects of this situation is a reduction of the number of officers on the beat with many jurisdictions unfortunately balancing their budgets on the backs of the street cops. Putting aside the debate over how this came to be and its causes/remedies, the reality is that in many areas significantly reduced numbers LE officers are being asked to do more with less.
Unfortunately, this undoubtedly will result in officers often being out on their own with potentially limited access to backup, or at least potentially longer wait times before any can arrive. As a result, it has become more important than ever that the officer be armed with a highly capable — and highly flexible — patrol long arm.
Over the past several years, the AR-pattern carbine has become one of the most popular firearm types here in the US. Undoubtedly, no small part of its popularity is tied to the fact that its military sibling, the M16, has earned the distinction of being the longest-serving US military service rifle.
The AR’s growth in popularity has not been limited to just the civilian market. While for decades the pump action shotgun has been a staple in law enforcement (LE) cruisers for decades, recent years have seen a strong move toward patrol carbines that provide both enhanced performance and range capabilities.
Within this category of firearms, the AR-style rifle is easily hands down the weapon of choice for most LE officers — particularly in an M4 carbine-style configuration. Offering the potent power of the 5.56x45mm cartridge and the ability to accept the wide range of aftermarket accessories, the AR makes for an ideal patrol carbine choice.
However capable the M4 carbine is in its intended role, its 5.56x45mm chambering ensures that it is strictly a lethal force-only option. And although lethal-force is an unfortunate but necessary tool for LE officer, there are many situations where a less-lethal response may be called for.
Options on this front include traditional responses ranging from Tasers, pepper spray and OC (Oleoresin Capsicum) to more intensive offerings such as tear gas or specialty shotgun rounds such as rubber buckshot and beanbag rounds. But all of these options require the officer to transition away from his primary arm such as an AR carbine, to a specialized less-lethal unit.
That is, unless you are acquainted with the outside-the-box thinking of Spike’s Tactical, an AR manufacturer with some uniquely innovative products. In addition to its line of high-quality ST-15 AR-pattern carbines, the company also manufactures a truly interesting 37mm less-lethal Havoc launcher unit.
In addition to being offered as a stand-alone unit with its own stock assembly, the reasonably priced Havoc can be attached directly to the bottom section of a Picatinny-rail forend reminiscent of the M203 40mm grenade launcher. The result is a fully capable 37mm less-lethal launcher unit that is an integral part of the patrol rifle upon which it is attached—and a system possessing a fearsome visual intimidation factor as well.
Note the unique selector markings of the ST-15’s lower receiver.
I recently had an opportunity to try out one of Spike’s Tactical’s Custom ST-15 rifles fitted out with a Havoc launcher. Having never dealt with any Spike’s Tactical products before, I was looking forward to examining both the rifle and the launcher very closely.
The ST-15 AR that was sent was immediately impressive as it came out of the box. Patterned in the general M4 carbine-style configuration so popular these days, the direct gas impingement (DGIS) ST-15 features a carbine configuration with an M4-style stepped down 16-inch barrel. The first thing that struck me about the carbine was that clearly no corners were cut on this AR. Only the finest components appeared to have been used, and everything had an air of quality.
The Picatinny rail handguard of the rifle is a quad-rail, free-floated Daniel Defense AR15 Lite Rail 9.0 forend. The forend is actually is a 9-inch mid-length unit, although the ST-15 has a carbine length gas system. However, the gas block is a low profile, slim unit that fits inside the forward portion of the forend. The top rail of the forend mates up evenly with the flat-topped rail of the upper receiver.
Topping off the upper rail strip of the ST-15 is a set of Spike’s Tactical-branded Troy Battle Sight back-up iron sights (BUIS). The push-button release rear sight unit features winged dual-peep apertures and is adjustable for windage. The front sight unit is also a push-button locked unit that features a winged post adjustable for elevation. Both sights fold to a height of 0.460 of an inch.
The 16-inch barrel of the ST-15 is of cold hammer-forged 4150 chromoly vanadium alloy with a chromed chamber and bore and phosphated gray finish on its exterior. Its rate of twist is 1-in-7 inches. It features an F-marked A2 front sight base and is topped off with an A2-style birdcage flash suppressor/brake.