Top 8 Pistols of SPECIAL WEAPONS FOR MILITARY & POLICE in 2014
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When it comes to close-range combat, it is hard to beat the modern tactical handgun. Offering impressive power in a package small enough to maneuver around obstacles and in tight spaces, the handgun brings a unique set of capabilities to any fight.

From cutting-edge designs with ultra-modern chamberings to reimagined versions of classic military warhorses like the M1911 .45 ACP or the M9 9mm, there is a tactical handgun that is right for you out there. Whether it be a design from the technology of tomorrow or one from the era of our grandfathers, these weapons are hard to beat.

Take a look at some of the best available today that have been covered in the pages of SPECIAL WEAPONS FOR MILITARY & POLICE magazine.

 

FN FIVE-SEVEN 5.7x28mm

By Dave Spaulding

Between my time on SWAT and Narcotics, I have been on more than a few crisis entries. Whether they are a race against time to save hostages, stop further violence or secure evidence, this type of aggressive “direct action” is filled with pitfalls and peril due mostly to the extreme speed such action requires. The faster one moves, less time is available to process incoming information and make informed decisions. What makes dynamic action a success or failure is the time spent training and practicing beforehand so crisis decisions can be made “on autopilot.” The neural pathways required to perform at this level require time and experience to develop—there is no shortcut.

The right gear will not replace required training, but it sure can enhance performance once your skills are developed. In regards to entry weapons, no particular firearm will work for all potential situations. While most everyone feels better armed with some type of long gun, close confines or intricate floorplans might make the handgun a better choice. While the handgun does not have the stopping potential or penetration power of a long gun, FN has worked hard to bridge the gap.

FN’s Five-seveN is a tactical-grade, semi-auto pistol originally designed for use by NATO forces. Years ago, NATO had plans for replacing the 9mm for something with greater penetration potential, and the 5.7x28mm round was FN’s answer. The company also introduced the P90, a revolutionary submachine gun, and the Five-seveN was intended to be the P90’s companion sidearm. Introduced in 1998, the Five-seveN features a lightweight, polymer-based frame and slide covering along with a large magazine capacity, ambidextrous controls, low recoil and the ability to penetrate body armor when using certain styles of ammunition.

The FN Five-seveN is a no-nonsense, well-thought-out weapon that is reliable, functional and easy to control. The 5.7x28mm round is effective at both close and long range, with exceptional penetration potential. While the pistol is a bit large, it weighs almost nothing, making it very easy to carry. While I doubt the 5.7x28mm will ever replace the 9mm or .45, it does have a place in tactical operations that other pistol cartridges simply can’t meet.

For more information, visit fnhusa.com or call 800-635-1321.

Specifications

  • Caliber: 5.7x28mm
  • Barrel: 4.8 inches
  • OA Length: 8.2 inches
  • Weight: 20.8 ounces (empty)
  • Grips: Polymer
  • Sights: Adjustable three-dot
  • Action: Striker-fired
  • Finish: Matte black
  • Capacity: 20+1
  • MSRP: $1,180

WILSON COMBAT’S CUSTOM BERETTA 92/96

By Robert A. Sadowski

Wilson Combat is usually associated with exceptional 1911s and ARs customized and modified to perform in competition or self-defense situations. With four Custom Beretta packages, Wilson Combat has expanded its custom work and accessories to include Beretta 92 and 96 pistols. Send the company a standard mil-spec M9A1 or civilian version of the 92 or 96 and it will trick it out in a way only Wilson Combat can.

For this new venture, Wilson Combat partnered with Ernest Langdon, who has been shooting Berettas for over 30 years and is the original innovator of high-performance 92 pistols and parts. Langdon has used his modified 92s to win the 1998 IDPA National Championships and numerous state and regional titles. Langdon, serving as a technical advisor, and Wilson Combat have enhanced the legendary reliability and user-friendly Beretta 92/96 design with parts and services intended for defensive, competition and tactical shooters.

“Since the Beretta M9A1 has been in U.S. military service for close to three decades, modifying it seemed natural,” said Bill Wilson, the president of Wilson Combat. Bill knows 1911s and has an extensive collection, but he also likes Berettas and has many in his personal collection. “Returning soldiers want a handgun for protection or competition, and since they were trained on the M9 or M9A1 platform, it is a pistol they are comfortable with.”
I have had been able to fire numerous examples of Beretta 92s, from standard factory versions to those with tuned actions and other enhancements. Simply put, Wilson Combat’s customizations take the Beretta platform to a higher level of performance.

I recently visited Bill Wilson’s Circle WC Ranch in Texas, where I was fortunate to get in some trigger time with Bill and his son Ryan. I got to shoot the new custom Beretta, and the DA trigger pull was super smooth—what I expected from Wilson Combat. The pistol’s ergonomics were also enhanced, which resulted in enhanced accuracy. In the end, Wilson Combat’s modifications to the Beretta platform made me appreciate the pistol even more.

For more information, visit wilsoncombat.com or call 800-955-4856.

HK45 TACTICAL

By Andy Massimilian

My first experience with the HK45 was in 2007, at the Blackwater training facility in Myodoc, N.C. This was the first time the new pistol (as well as the HK45 Compact) had been shot by someone outside of Heckler & Koch. The HK45 impressed me. For those who wanted a duty-size .45 ACP sidearm, it was superb. Now, the company has introduced the HK45 Tactical, which is identical to the HK45 but comes equipped with a threaded barrel for a suppressor. And while the HK45’s polymer frame is only offered in black, the HK45 Tactical comes in black, tan or OD green.

Heckler & Koch developed the HK45 as an entry into the U.S. military’s Joint Service Pistol (JSP) competition, a contest for a .45 ACP sidearm to replace the military’s 9mm Beretta M9. Almost every major handgun manufacturer had designed a pistol for the JSP, but the program was eventually shelved.

The HK45 distinguishes itself from the company’s USP and MK23 offerings with its superior ergonomics and ambidextrous slide-release levers, qualities borrowed from the HK P2000. The HK45 also has a much better grip, which features interchangeable backstraps.

The HK45 Tactical is a full-sized pistol that uses the familiar, modified Browning, recoil-operated, tilting-block, locked-breech design. It has a polymer frame made in Heckler & Koch’s New Hampshire factory and German-made steel parts for the slide rails and action. The slide, hammer-forged barrel and magazine are made by Heckler & Koch in Germany. The HK45 Tactical has a minimum service life of 20,000 rounds and a lifetime guarantee against material or workmanship defects.

The HK45 Tactical has an exceptional design that may not be recognized or fully appreciated by every shooter, but it does significantly enhance this pistol’s combat functionality. The ergonomics are very good, and the 10 different fire-control variants make this pistol more versatile than most. Accurate, reliable and well made, the HK45 Tactical is an ideal selection for those who desire a full-size .45 ACP sidearm with more magazine capacity than a 1911’s and a size-adaptable grip.

For more information, visit hk-usa.com or call 706-568-1906.

Specifications

  • Caliber: .45 ACP
  • Barrell: 5.11 inches
  • OA Length: 7.87 inches
  • Weight: 27.68 ounces (empty)
  • Grips: Polymer (interchangeable backstraps)
  • Sights: Fixed, three-dot tritium
  • Action: DA/SA
  • Finish: Nitride
  • Capacity: 10+1
  • MSRP: $1,392

SIG SAUER M11-A1 9mm

By Andy Massimilian

Sig Sauer is now making an improved version of the M11 9mm. The M11 is the official designation for the P228, which was adopted by the U.S. military in the early 1990s and is most often seen in the holsters of military criminal investigation agencies (NCIS, DCIA, USACIDC), though it is also standard issue for Navy aviators. The M11 was designed for concealed carry by shortening the barrel and slide of a P226 by about 0.62 inches and trimming the gun’s height slightly at the grip. This resulted in a 13-round (versus the P226’s 15-round) capacity. The M11’s triggerguard was also elongated and rounded in the front, dispensing with the angular guard of the P226.

The new M11-A1 differs from the military model, which continues to be sold exclusively to the U.S. government. (The civilian P228 is no longer imported.) The M11-A1 is made in Sig Sauer’s New Hampshire factory, while the M11 is imported and shares many of the German-made P-Series’ characteristics. The German-made M11 has a slide made of carbon-steel pieces welded together, an internal extractor, a 13-round magazine and a standard trigger. The M11-A1 has a stainless steel slide made from a single billet, a third-generation external extractor, phosphate-coated internal parts, a 15-round magazine and Sig Sauer’s Short Reset Trigger (SRT), which, when compared with the thicker, longer trigger of the standard P226, reduces trigger reach. The M11-A1’s markings are also different. It has a military-standard UID label on the frame and is the first pistol to feature Sig Sauer’s new laser-engraved logo on the top of the slide. “M11-A1” is also engraved on the slide.

The M11-A1 is a significant upgrade to the M11, featuring increased strength and function. It is a high-quality, accurate, durable and reliable handgun with an overbuilt locking mechanism that appeals to those who regularly use +P loads and want a pistol that will last. The M11-A1 delivers the performance and design features that armed professionals demand. The SRT works exactly as intended, the pistol is easy to control one-handed, and the ergonomics are excellent.

For more information, visit sigsauer.com or call 603-772-2302.

Specifications

  • Caliber: 9mm
  • Barrel: 3.9 inches
  • OA Length: 7.1 inches
  • Weight: 32 ounces (empty)
  • Grips: Polymer
  • Sights: SIGLITE
  • Action: DA/SA
  • Finish: Nitron
  • Capacity: 15+1
  • MSRP: $1,125

SPECIAL FORCES GLOCKS

By Leroy Thompson

Since its introduction in 1982, the Glock pistol has achieved worldwide acceptance among police and military operators—it arguably may be the most widely used pistol worldwide. The Glock is in considerable use among military special operations units and police tactical units as well. The first special operations users were Austria’s Jagdkommandos and EKO Cobra counterterrorist unit of the Austrian Federal Ministry of the Interior. Known as the GEK Cobra at the time of the Glock’s introduction, the unit replaced its Manurhin MR73 revolvers with Glock 17s.

These Austrian elite units were followed by many others. I know from contacts that, in connection with training for the Athens 2004 Summer Olympics, various Greek special units including the DYK (Greek combat swimmers), Raiders and EKAM counterterrorist unit were—and are—using Glocks. In Finland, the standard military pistol is the Glock 17, and that too goes for the Special Jaeger Battalion and the Border Jaegers. France’s RAID counterterrorist/hostage-rescue unit of the national police uses an array of Glocks, including the G17, G18, G19 and G26. French presidential and diplomatic protection personnel of the SBHP and GSPR use Glocks as well. Although not considered a standard-issue pistol, the Glock has been used by U.S. special operators, especially in Iraq, where it has been issued to locals with whom they work. In Bangladesh, the Para Commando Battalion and the Presidential Guard Regiment are armed with Glocks. Another highly trained unit that uses Glocks is the Czech Republic’s 601st Special Forces Group. As with Finland, the Glock 17 is the standard sidearm of the Norwegian armed forces and is thus used by the Haerens Jegerkommando, Norway’s special forces. Portugal’s marine corps uses the Glock 17, as does the DAE, the elite naval commando unit of the marine corps. Switzerland’s elite ground units, though normally armed with Swiss weapons, have adopted the Glock 17. These units include the AAD Special Recon Regiment and the FSK17 paratroop recon company. Last but not least, the British armed forces recently adopted the Glock 17—famous units such as the Royal Marine Commandos will now be using the Glock.

Other than in situations where one hand may be used to do things such as climb over a ship’s rail, rappel or operate in constricted places, the Glock will rarely be the special operator’s primary weapon. However, as his or her secondary weapon, the Glock is the go-to for an emergency, and in the world of special operations, emergencies are often deadly circumstances. These are the places where the Glock’s legendary durability and reliability make the firearm an excellent companion.

For more information, visit us.glock.com or call 770-432-1202.

Specifications

  • Caliber: 9mm
  • Barrel: 4.48 inches
  • OA Length: 8.03 inches
  • Weight: 25.06 ounces (empty)
  • Grips: Polymer
  • Sights: Fixed
  • Action: Safe Action
  • Finish: Black
  • Capacity: 17+1

ROBERTS DEFENSE RECON PRO .45 ACP

By Mike Detty

It’s often said that if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. And this couldn’t be more true of Rob Unger, owner of Roberts Defense. In 2011, Unger had just one goal, and that was to build a quality 1911 using only premium, American-made parts. After receiving a test sample Recon Pro from Unger, I’d have to say that he is well on his way to fulfilling that goal. The Roberts Defense Recon Pro is a full-size 1911 built on a lightweight alloy frame and boasting a host of custom features. When I removed the gun from its custom case, it immediately became clear that this is not just another production gun. This is a pistol that exudes quality! Its fit and finish is second to none, and each of the gun’s attributes makes perfect sense for serious 1911 aficionados.

Unger said, “I’ve always had a real strong appreciation for a well-built 1911. I’ve been building custom firearms for a number of years, and word has spread about my work. With my background in production and machining, I knew that I could build a 1911 that would be extremely accurate and reliable and I’d find a spot in a crowded marketplace. We think we build a product that exceeds our customer’s expectations. At least that’s the feedback we’ve gotten. We make sure they get a lot of bang for their buck.”

Roberts Defense machines its frames from forgings. In the Recon Pro’s case, that’s a forging of 7076-T6 aluminum. After the final machining, the frame receives a proprietary anodized coating and then two coats of Teflon. Unger said, “It is a rock-hard coating with excellent anti-friction qualities.” The one thing that impressed me immediately about the Recon Pro is its precise frame-to-slide fit. With the slide in battery, there is not an iota of play between the two parts. Even after I disassembled the gun and put the bare slide back on the stripped frame, I couldn’t find any play, yet the slide moved effortlessly on the rails. Unger told me that they machine the two parts to very close tolerances: “We machine the parts close enough that the slide will just start on the frame rails. Then we hand-lap each frame and slide.” The result is a flawless fit.

With guns like the Recon Pro (as well as 12 other variants) Roberts Defense is poised to make a huge impact on the overcrowded 1911 market. Boasting all of the described custom features and hand fitting, I don’t think it would be correct to call the Recon Pro a production gun. Maybe “custom production” would be a better term. Priced at just $1,499, the Recon Pro will indeed make its mark.

For more information, visit robertsdefense.com or call 920-312-2951.

Specifications

  • Caliber: .45 ACP
  • Barrel: 5 inches
  • OA Length: 8.7 inches
  • Weight: 31 ounces (empty)
  • Grips: Checkered VZ Grips
  • Sights: Fiber-optic front, Warren Tactical combat rear
  • Action: SA
  • Finish: Black Cerakote
  • Capacity: 8+1
  • MSRP: $1,499

REMINGTON R1 ENHANCED .45 ACP

By Jorge Amselle

Remington has been in the gun-making business for a long time—almost 200 years, in fact. It is the oldest firearms manufacturer in the U.S., and in all that time it has earned a reputation among American shooters for remarkable quality and reliability and grown to be the largest domestic manufacturer of rifles and shotguns (not to mention a major ammunition producer as well). Remington, however, is not traditionally known as a handgun manufacturer, with two major exceptions: the Remington Model 1858 revolver, which was used during the Civil War, and the 1911 pistol, which was manufactured by Remington UMC and Remington Rand in World War I and II, respectively.

During WWI, Remington UMC, which was formed through the merger of Remington Arms and the Union Metallic Cartridge Company, produced over 20,000 Model 1911 pistols for the U.S. military. These 1911s are rare and collectable today. In WWII, Remington Rand, a typewriter manufacturer that was a spinoff of Remington Arms, was the largest producer of 1911 pistols, with nearly 900,000 delivered by the war’s end.

It was uniquely satisfying that Remington announced the introduction of a new 1911 pistol on the cusp of the 100th anniversary of its adoption by the U.S. military. The Remington R1 is a classic, full-sized, semi-automatic, 1911 pistol chambered for the classic and hard-hitting .45 ACP. Within a very short time, Remington also introduced stainless steel versions and an Enhanced tactical model. The latest example of this is the Remington Model 1911 R1 Enhanced Threaded Barrel.

In testing the R1 Enhanced Threaded Barrel, I used a mix of ball and hollow-point ammunition with zero malfunctions over several days of shooting. For accuracy testing I fired from a benchrest at 25 yards, with my best group measuring 1.25 inches using Winchester ammo.

In producing the R1 series of 1911 pistols, Remington has done a great service to American gun-owners. The R1 Enhanced and R1 Enhanced Threaded Barrel models are standout pistols that offer excellent, reliable service with many desirable and well-thought-out features.

For more information, visit remington.com or call 800-243-9700.

Specifications

  • Caliber: .45 ACP
  • Barrel: 5 inches
  • OA Length: 9 inches
  • Weight: 42 ounces (empty)
  • Grips: Enhanced wood laminate
  • Sights: Fixed, tall, dovetailed, two-dot
  • Action: Semi-auto
  • Finish: Satin black oxide
  • Capacity: 8+1
  • MSRP: $1,140

BERETTA M9

By William Bell

In September 2012, Beretta USA announced that the U.S. Army had awarded it a contract for up to 100,000 9mm M9 pistols. An initial order for some 4,600 pistols has already been released to the company, and these new guns will join the 600,000-plus M9 pistols that are already in service throughout the world. According to Beretta President Ugo Gussalli Beretta, “This order reaffirms the U.S. armed forces’ interest and support of the M9 pistol. The M9 remains the standard sidearm of the U.S. Army…these pistols will support American troops in the field for years to come.” All the pistols will be made at the Beretta U.S.A. manufacturing facility in Maryland, where a workforce of nearly 300 employees has been making M9 pistols since 1987.

So what’s behind this move to retain the M9 as the Army’s official handgun? I personally believe it has much to do with the military establishment’s conservative nature as well as the fact that the M9 is generally popular with the troops. At my “day job” I’ve had the opportunity to talk with soldiers returning from the far-flung battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. When I see soldiers with holsters on their hips I’ve often solicited their thoughts on the M9. While a certain number would rather have a .45—they say the 9mm is short on “knockdown power”—the majority like the M9’s 15+1 capacity, modest recoil, good ergonomics and practical accuracy. Contrary to popular belief, most soldiers, law enforcement officers and others who use a handgun as a tool don’t want to be battered with a hard-recoiling pistol, a typical complaint of the .45 ACP 1911. On the standard 25-yard military qualification course, the M9 has proven to be a real factor in qualifying scores being achieved by soldiers who had never previously fired a handgun.

I decided to take another look at the M9 myself and ordered one from Beretta. The pistol I received came in a cardboard box just like GI versions and was basically the same handgun that has been carried by our soldiers for over a quarter-century. I guess what impressed me most was the Beretta M9’s reliability and rapid-fire controllability. The size, balance and ergonomics of this big pistol made it a pleasure to shoot, even with +P loads. I was also shooting a .357 Mag revolver that day and can tell you that the Beretta was a pussycat compared to the heavy wheelgun. Another performance aspect that impressed me was the M9’s reliability. I did not have a single malfunction during several hours of shooting.

For more information, visit berettausa.com or call 800-929-2901.

Specifications

  • Caliber: 9mm
  • Barrel: 4.9 inches
  • OA Length: 8.5 inches
  • Weight: 33.3 ounces (empty)
  • Grips: Black checkered plastic
  • Sights: Fixed white three-dot
  • Action: DA/SA
  • Finish: Bruniton, matte black
  • Capacity: 15+1
  • MSRP: $700

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