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Tactical Response

Thanks to TV even civilians know that SWAT stands for special weapons and tactics, but what makes SWAT weapons so special?

March 01, 2002  |  by Roy Huntington

Solid functionality. Sounds pretty boring when you say it right out loud like that, but in the real world, solid functionality is what gets the job done.

Emergency situations, from active-shooters to serving high-risk warrants, demand solid functionality. Mix in a heavy dose of innovative design and engineering based upon real-world needs, and you can end up with a piece of equipment that won't fail you when you need it most.

When the green light blinks on, the time for questions has passed and the next step is action. These high-performance additions to a tactical team's arsenal of options are a mix of tried and true designs and a few that-just maybe-are on the fringe of technology today. But all have a common denominator ...they perform in the real world.

Cut this article out and post it on the SWAT Commander's bulletin board as a "wish list" for 2002. These tools can handle the action.


The AR-15/M-16 rifle series is known around the world as the "Armalite" because it was originally manufactured and marketed by Armalite. The name lives on in today's company.

The Armalite M15A4 Carbine may typify the genre of AR rifle today. The forged, flattop receiver and Picatinny rail allow the mounting of a wide range of sighting systems, including night vision, lasers, lights, and iron sights (or just about any combination).

Armalite's wide range of rifles can deliver performance levels from short "entry" carbines to long range precision rifles, all based on the AR system and design.

Armalite M15A4 Carbine

Caliber: .223
Trigger: Standard Barrel: 16-inch chrome lined
Rifling: RH 1:9 inch
Front sight: Picatinny rail gas block
Muzzle Device: A2 Flash suppressor
Length: 35.6 inches
Weight Empty: 7.0 pounds
Magazine: 30 rounds


The M4 Super 90 and the M1 Entry are Cadillacs in the shotgun world and virtually synonymous with SWAT entry teams. All you have to do is watch the evening news, and you'll see them.

Their reliability and controllability are legendary and their fast, gas-operated action makes follow-up shots lightning quick. In 1998, the M4 was chosen as the new U.S. "Joint Service Combat Shotgun" after a grueling test by the Marines.

The M4 can quickly be reconfigured without tools with a choice of three modular buttstocks and two barrels. Operating controls and sling attachment points are optimized for left- and right-handed users. Underneath its exterior are familiar Benelli features like a chrome-lined bore and rotating bolt head.

Sights are ghost-ring style, adjustable for windage and elevation in the field using a cartridge rim. A Picatinny rail allows mounting of both conventional and night-vision sights, while retaining metallic-sight capability. Steel parts are black matte phosphated and aluminum matte hard-anodized for low visibility in night operations and corrosion resistance.

The M1 Entry is basically an M1 Tactical Model with a shortened barrel for handiness. Open rifle or ghost ring sights are available along with a pistol grip. Magazine capacity is 6+1.

Benelli M4 Super 90 Shotgun

Gauge: 12
Barrel: 18.5 inches
Overall Length: 39.8 inches
Average Weight: 8.4 pounds
Stock: Synthetic
Chokes: IC
Sights: Ghost-ring
Magazine: 6+1 rounds


Beretta's "Vertec" is virtually a custom-designed pistol geared to meet the demands of law enforcement. It's based on the proven 92/96 series, but Beretta has added new capabilities to the design to enhance its usability.

A newly designed more vertical grip angle; thinner, textured grip panels; and short-reach trigger system ensure that the Vertec fits even smaller hands.  The new grip ergonomics help to ensure a high level of controllability should the need arise for a handgun transition during an operation.

An integral accessory rail accommodates a wide range of lights and laser systems and the front sight is removable for easy installation of tritium or other special sights. The beveled magazine well helps to guide reloads during the stress of a reload under fire. All of these features are geared specifically to the chores inherent in special operations. The Vertec is available in 9mm and .40 S&W calibers.

Beretta Vertec Pistol

Caliber: 9mm, .40 S&W
Action: Double/Single
Overall Length: 8.5 inches
Overall Height: 5.5 inches
Overall Width: 1.5 inches
Grip Width: 1.3 inches
Barrel Length: 4.7 inches
Sight Radius: 6.3 inches
Weight Empty: 32.2 ounces
Magazine: 10 rounds


Where would we be without the AR/M-16 platform? Colt wrote the book on it and continues to be one of the leaders in the field.  From military contracts to police demands, the Colt AR is familiar to virtually everyone.

The Colt Commando RO933 carbine is an ultra-short AR featuring a four-position buttstock and an 11.4-inch barrel, yet it is a full-caliber .223 for serious close-in work.

The Colt submachine gun, Model RO635, is a lightweight, compact pistol caliber rifle.  With many agencies favoring the 9mm in both long guns and duty pistols, the RO635 is a sensible choice. Controllability and ease of transition training from any AR platform help to make this model popular with tactical teams.

Colt RO933 Carbine

Caliber: 5.56 (.223)
Finish: Black anodized
Action: Semi/Full Auto
Sights: Adjustable
Cyclic rate: 700-1,000 rpm
Weight Empty: 5.38 pounds
Magazine: 30 rounds

FN Manufacturing Inc.

Looking like something out of a Star Wars movie, the FN P90 sub-gun raised eyebrows when it was first introduced, but it has won over a cadre of believers.

The unique caliber, 5.7x28 (basically a short .223), offers penetration like the .223 but enhances magazine capacity and lowers recoil, muzzle flash, and muzzle blast. With a 50-round magazine, light 5.7-pound empty weight, and the option of single shot or full auto fire, the FN P90 is a unique weapon for a unique job. An entry-weapon extraordinaire, the compact size yet "full power" round deserves a hard look.

The 5.7x28 SS190 ammo, due to its unique design with two inserts, causes the bullet to tumble in soft body tissue after two inches of penetration. The SS190 virtually eliminates the risk of over- penetration.

The SS190 will penetrate 48 layers of Kevlar at up to 200 meters when fired from the P90 and can achieve the same results at up to 50 meters with the FsN handgun. Additionally, the 5.7mm ammunition has only 60 pecent of the recoil impulse of a 9mm. There are four types of ammunition available: the duty SS190, a tracer, a subsonic, and a training round.

Muzzle velocity of the SS190 is 2,346 fps when fired from the P90 and 2,133 fps when fired from the Five-sevN pistol. Really "stepping out" for a pistol round.

The Five-seveN Pistol is the companion weapon to the P90 submachine gun. The Five-seveN is a double action pistol with a 20-round magazine. Maximum use has been made of composite materials in the frame and slide resulting in a 1.7-pound design.  The high velocity of the SS190 ammo, even from the pistol, means it can defeat most soft body armor. Remarkable performance in a handgun.

FN Five-seveN Pistol

Caliber: 5.7x28mm
Trigger: Double-action
Length: 8.2 inches
Barrel Length: 4.82 inches
Height: 5.4 inches
Weight Empty: 1.4 pounds
Weight Loaded: 1.7 pounds
Magazine: 20 rounds

FN P90 Submachine Gun

Caliber: 5.7x28mm
Overall Length: 19.7 inches
Width: 2.2 inches
Height: 8.3 inches with sight
Weight Loaded: 6.6 pounds
Action: Single, Full Auto
Cyclic Rate: 900 rpm
Magazine: 50 rounds


The popularity of Glock pistols as sidearms for patrol officers and other first responders means that Glocks are often employed in tactical police actions. In particular, breaching team members who swing the rams or set the charges can be seen carrying Glocks as the fifth officer in a stack.

Of the many Glock models, the most prized among tactical officers are the Glock 34 and Glock 35. Virtually identical except the Glock 34 is 9mm and the 35 is a .40, these models feature 8.15-inch slides for improved accuracy, high-capacity magazines, extended magazine releases for quick reloads, and fully adjustable rear sights. Another advantage of the Glock 34 and Glock 35 is that for such large handguns, they are remarkably lightweight, 22.92 ounces for the Glock 34, and 24.52 ounces for the Glock 35.

Glock 35

Caliber: .40 S&W
Action: Double
Overall Length: 8.15 inches
Overall Height: 5.43 inches
Overall Width: 1.18 inches
Barrel Length: 5.32 inches
Sight Radius: 7.56 inches
Weight Empty: 24.52 ounces
Magazine: 10, 15, 17 rounds

Heckler & Koch

Since their deployment by L.A. tactical teams at the Olympics in the early '80s, the H&K weapons systems have remained at the forefront of innovation and acceptance. The MP5 series has built an almost legendary reputation for reliability and usability as H&K has extended the family of guns.

The UMP45 is a new offering. A cost-effective state-of-the-art sub-gun that offers light weight and a high level of accuracy with low felt recoil. It's available in .45 ACP and .40 S&W models, and it fires from a closed bolt, like all H&K systems.

At less than 18 inches with the buttstock folded and an unloaded weight of only 4.5 pounds, the UMP45 is perfect for smaller statured officers and operates well in the close confines of a vehicle or crowded doorway.

Perhaps a classic among SWAT guns, the MP5SD is a suppressed model that conforms to the normal size of a standard MP5 by the use of an integral suppressor (either aluminum or optional wet technology stainless steel model). The MP5SD does not require subsonic ammunition to be effective, unlike many conventional suppressed sub-guns.

On the horizon is the H&K Personal Defense Weapon (PDW). Still in the early stages of development, the lightweight (2.86 pounds with 20 rounds) weapon is small, yet easily defeats all known standard issue military body armor meeting CRISAT specifications (1.6 mm titanium, 20 layers of Kevlar). Designed as an alternative to handguns, submachine guns, and some rifles, the PDW uses a new brass-cased 4.6x30mm rifle cartridge designed for optimum efficiency with low weight and felt recoil.

Heckler & Koch UMP45

Caliber: .45 ACP
Action: Single, Double, Full Auto
Sight: Diopter/rotary
Stock: Folding
Width: 2.5 inches
Height: 12.83 inches
Overall Length: 17.72 inches
Barrel Length: 7.87 inches
Weight Empty: 4.93 pounds
Cyclic Rate: 600 rpm
Magazine: 25 rounds

CONTINUED: Tactical Response «   Page 1 of 2   »

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