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Weapons

Follow Your Agency's Ammo Rules

The policies are there for a reason, stay with them.

May 04, 2011  |  by William Harvey - Also by this author


Photo: Vince Taroc.

Photo: Vince Taroc.
Photo: Vince Taroc.
OK, so you're not satisfied with your department-issued weapon. The caliber isn't what you would have selected. The brand is not your favorite manufacturer. Even if you play the hand you've been dealt, you may feel tempted to give yourself an advantage by picking up some nuclear-tipped ammo for when the zombies come. What could go wrong?

Somewhere in the fine print of your departmental directives or policies regarding firearms and use of force you'll read the line, "No unauthorized ammo will be used in departmental weapons for duty."

Believe me, it's there. I don't care what a gun writer, gun magazine or big game hunter from the Serengeti plains suggests for defense. In your legal defense, stick with the departmental issue, OK?

Your department will cover you in a shooting if all the rules are followed to the letter. If you cap some perp with a hazardous-material-tipped, exploding warhead you've just stepped out from under the umbrella of departmental coverage. Using unauthorized items can show you were acting outside of the color of law.

Defense attorneys and their experts will crucify you on the stand.

Officer Barnabus Blastalot, what is your training in terminal ballistics? How does your vast knowledge in firearms as a mere recruit of less than two years exceed the training of your departmental range master and chief policy makers? Were you testing a new projectile for the department, and if so where are the orders allowing this?

Officer Blastalot, were you issued a copy of your departmental policy and procedures? Did you or did you not test with a field training officer, range master and academy staff on firearms?

The majority of us want to carry our favorite handgun and proper fodder for it to digest. But standards for training must be considered. Budgetary reasons come into play—yes, your life is often in the hands of the lowest bidder. Some states may have guidelines for law enforcement use. There are many recommendations made by those who never have and never will consider your input. Matter of fact, you may never meet them in your career.

Here's a dose of reality—your survival depends on your knowledge, skills and abilities. Master your issued equipment. Fully understand your weapon and ammo system. Know its capabilities.

Hone and refine your skills. Practice and train frequently and not just on the department's time and dime. There's a difference between practice and training. Practice to me is working with the fundamental skills of foundation, grip, stance, sight alignment and trigger control. Training is taking those skills and stressing them along with your body in varying situations.

You'll perform at higher levels, if you do this. I was once told by an old pistolero about bullet selection. You can kill an elephant with a croquet mallet, if you hit 'em in the right place. That hazmat-exploding hollow point is useless if it misses, and the departmental issue works far better when well placed.

Let's grab a few boxes of ammo and go to the range.

Tags: Ammunition, Use-of-Force Policies


Comments (3)

Displaying 1 - 3 of 3

Guillermo @ 5/5/2011 6:40 PM

"Hone and refine your skills. Practice and train frequently and not just on the department's time and dime." I agree Bill Harvey's advise in this article, but come October 1st this will no longer be possible in my agency. As of the beginning of FY12, officers will no longer be able to obtain agency-issued practice ammunition. In conjunction with this, you can ONLY fire agency-issued ammunition in the agency-issued handgun; so if you want to practice on your own time, with your own dime, you can no longer do so. The only practice you will get will be during quarterly qualifications. Therefore the only way you can really stay on top of your game or enter combat competitions with your service handgun is if you purchase a pistol just like the issue model and use it! Does anybody else out there work for an agency with such an assinine policy?

Patriot73 @ 5/6/2011 5:26 AM

Guillermo,

While my agency does not have a policy like yours, I do understand where they are coming from. For years I was the trainer for my agency. I was responsible for the maint. on our guns, as well as purchasing the ammo. Ammo has become increasingly harder to come by, about a 6 month wait mininmum for us on state contract ammo.

Also, even if officer buy their own ammo, the wear and tear on the weapons has become crazy, they go out and shoot, but have no idea how to care for there weapon, even though they have had the training. They bring them to me, as the armorer, and they look like they have not been cleaned in 10 years.

I believe officers have to train, they need practice. But I also see the agencies standpoint. It's just a classic case of a few bad apples screwing things up for everyone else.

I realize that we don't make great salaries, but when you weigh the cost of going out and buying your own weapon and a box or two of ammo a month against your personal safety. It really doesn't seem that expensive. Check with local distributors. Not just everyday gun shops, but you can call the gun manufacturer of your choice and they will give you a list of distributors in your state, those distributors will usually sell LEO's those weaopns at a reduced price. Here in VA, LEO's can buy a Glock with 3 mags for $396. I more than fair price in my book. It's not the perfect answer, but better than not training at all.

Jim @ 5/6/2011 8:24 AM

While you make a few decent points Patriot, I don't think they really address the issues with Guillermo's agency or their policy. As I read his post, his agency is saying that beginning next fiscal year there will be no agency issued training ammo. A decision that is almost certainly driven by budget issues not supply issues, i.e. there's no money to buy bullets not no bullets to be bought. While this may or may not be true, we'll let that stand. Then the flip side is, there is a policy in place (I'm guessing it pre-dates the fiscal problem) that prohibits the use of personally purchased ammo in agency weapons. Nevermind what I think about that policy on it's own, that coupled with no agency issued ammo equals NO PRACTICE! We're talking quals only. I'd like to give the agency the benefit of the doubt and say this was just an oversite, they didn't recognize the conflict that resulted when the old policy met the new fiscal problem. However, if that's the case, it should be an easy fix once it's pointed out to them. In any case, there is no way you can justify prohibiting ANY firearms training/practice in the interest of saving wear and tear on the guns.

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