S.W.A.T. Round-Up International (SRI), one of the most respected special operations competitions in the world, celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2007 during its annual gathering of international teams in Orlando, FL. The founders of SRI began the competition to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas among neighboring agencies. Today, a large part of the annual program is devoted to vital training and education. Typical areas of interest now include homeland security issues, crowd management, and LE response to terrorism. These are serious classes! Participants were required to attend at least one of the seminars or points would be deducted from their competition total.
Each of the five SRI competitive events is designed to simulate real-life scenarios that challenge the officers’ gear, their physical fitness, stress response and marksmanship as a unit. A unit endures exhausting physical exertion that includes running, rowing or rappelling before taking aimed and timed shots. Although nothing can reproduce the complex emotions and brain-numbing inputs S.W.A.T. officers deal with during call-outs, competitions such as this give an excellent approximation.
Geared Up To Win
Seeing what equipment each team brings gives an excellent barometer as to what the best are using. What shows up is the cutting edge for world-wide special operations. With normal training and call-outs, plus training for events such as SRI, the teams have distilled their equipment down to what really works. For the most part, the HK MP5 and UMP in both 9 mm and .40 S&W were well represented, although other teams favored one of many 5.56 NATO M4 variants. One team competed with the FN P90. Pistols were predominately Glocks while pistols from Sig Sauer and HK filled other holsters.
An interesting note is a decrease in the use of the 9 mm compared to the .40 S&W and .45 ACP in subguns and pistols. Holsters were divided between BlackHawk’s and Safariland’s tactical rigs.
Retain Your Weapon!
Retention lanyards were not seen, and a Glock was momentarily lost out of a level III holster during timed competition, forcing the embarrassed officer to be called back by his teammates to retrieve his weapon!
Lanyards are usually the last defense to help an operator against losing his sidearm during an awkward moment. After a firefight in Iraq, a friend in the U.S. Army had his troops pile into a Humvee only to hear a clatter of metal bouncing between the road and undercarriage as they departed the hot zone. The soldier proceeded to ask which one left his seat belt out when he closed the door before feeling a tug on his pistol lanyard. After stopping, the platoon sergeant retrieved his battered M9 Beretta from under the Hummer. He noted that the rear sight and safety were gone, but it still fired. An option better than losing a weapon.
As far as uniforms; S.W.A.T. black is out. Mirroring what the army has learned, black uniforms do not provide camouflage in any conditions, including night. As a result, green is the new black. Also seen were every type of camouflage pattern including tiger stripe, woodland, ACU, and (from Kuwait) blue urban camo. Boots came from Matterhorn, Bates, 5.11 and Original S.W.A.T. doing a brisk business. Red dot sighting systems included those from Aimpoint and EOTech.
Bolt Rifles Still Rule
The long rifles used by competitors showed steady evolution in ammunition, caliber and optics. Although the preponderance of weapons were bolt action Remington 700s in .30-caliber, an increasing number of scoped 5.56 or 7.62 NATO AR platforms were observed. Interest for long-range precision fire has increased, in large measure due to the performance experienced by our warfighters having to protect our troops by taking out threats at long range. This renewed interest has increased the gear, training and expectations of special operation snipers.
You wouldn’t find a low-end telescopic sight on any of the weapons that these S.W.A.T. snipers used. In fact, it might equal or surpass the cost of the weapon that it is mounted on. Leupold, Schmidt and Bender, Nightforce and Bushnell scopes were all used with great results. A common standard for all the long rifles were the Harris bipods that have been giving operators the ability to take steady shots. The camouflage paint schemes noted on the rifles of the snipers help them to perform without being seen while they place that first round on target. Borrowing from the Brits, a real cottage industry has evolved with some excellent artistic operators painting up high-end sniper rifles to match local terrain.
Training For a Dangerous World
When the participants were not competing, they were attending classes to advance their skills, including advanced combat pistol and helicopter operations. The hosting agency, Orange County Sherriff’s Office, supplied a Jet Ranger to provide operators experience in deplaning from a helicopter and then advancing to contact; firing their simunition equipped MP5’s at specified targets. Participants interviewed noted that the opportunity to engage in these kinds of specialized training activities was virtually impossible at home.
S.W.A.T. Round-Up International (SRI), one of the most respected special operations competitions in the world,…
by Michael Moser / Jul 1, 2008