About 25 years ago when the British SAS stormed the Iranian embassy amid explosions and gunfire, they made headline news around the world. And one thing in particular caught everyone's eye-the H&K MP5 carbines the soldiers were carrying. Exotic-looking and evoking a serious ability, those black carbines soon became the darling of the tactical community. When LAPD SWAT deployed them for the Olympics in 1984, the trend was firmly set-in order to be "cool" as a police unit, you needed MP5s.
Fast-forward 20 years to today. While I'd like to think the "cool" factor isn't as important in purchasing police weapons, I fear it may still be so, especially when it comes to patrol rifles.
Since the North Hollywood bank shoot-out, the move to rifles for patrol has resembled a tidal wave of purchasing power. Some agencies have acquired true long guns in .223 and .308 calibers. Others have elected to use pistol-caliber rifles and carbines.
I need to confess I think if you're going to go to a rifle, you should go to a rifle and bypass the stop-gap of a pistol-caliber carbine. But if your city fathers have deemed it politically correct or economically expedient to give you pistol-caliber carbines, you now have to make the best decision regarding equipment.
And even though pistol-caliber carbines are perhaps not the perfect solution, they are a move in the right direction.
Any tool that allows an officer to deliver accurate, aimed fire quickly and reliably is a good tool, and that's what most of the pistol-caliber rifles manage to do. If you think of them simply as a "better way to deliver your pistol's bullet" then you can keep things in perspective.
It's important to remember, however, that while most loads will deliver a slightly higher velocity out of these short-rifle barrels, many actually won't. And those that do may suffer from some design shortcomings when the rounds disintegrate on impact at the higher velocities. If you're shooting pistol calibers in your rifles, make sure the ammo is designed to function at the higher velocities of the rifle.
A patrol rifle and/or a close-quarter SWAT rifle, needs to be short, handy, and highly functional. There are many types that may fit the profile, depending upon your specific needs. And now, Beretta has jumped onto the train with the introduction of the Cx4 Storm Semiautomatic Carbine.
Form and Function
The Storm is marketed as a competitor to a number of other short, stylish patrol rifles.
Looking like something you saw in the hands of those nasty gorillas in the "Planet of the Apes" movies, the Storm is a lightweight (5.75-pound) pistol-caliber carbine only 29.7 inches in length. That's a tidy package and handy to both tote and stash in the trunk.
The Storm's unique design gives a shooter an enhanced-sighting radius (12.9 inches) and a shoulder stock, which means an officer can deliver his or her pistol ammo where it's needed most. The Polymer construction (blue-a novel idea-or black plastic) means the basic stock of the rifle is tough and the finish won't rub off like it would on a painted or coated stock. The 16.6-inch chrome-lined barrel coaxes the most velocity out of any load. A Picatinny rail on the top and sides lets you mount all sorts of lights, lasers, and other widgets (should that be your inclination) and you can even put a vertical grip on the front to make it look even more like a space gun.
At a street price of about $600, the Storm is right in the ballpark with many of the other patrol carbine candidates and cheaper than most. So, it looks cool-with its neat, molded stock and sexy curves-can be swapped around to be completely ambidextrous, and can be changed from one caliber to the other easily. Nifty. But, does it work? And if it does, how well?
All Sorts of Goodies
Beretta put some thought into this one and tried very hard to make the Storm an "everyman's" rifle. Sort of an "all things to all cops" way of thinking. They came very close, too. The take-down is push-button easy (call that cop-proof), and the gun comes apart into three assemblies that don't seem to lose any bits easily. More cop-proof design.
A fixed-barrel design, a cross-bolt safety, a firing pin safety, a hammer block, and a handy widget that keeps the bolt closed if you drop it, are some of the features of the Storm. The simple blow-back action means no gas tubes or delicate parts to get clogged up with powder or lead residue to tie things up. A loaded chamber indicator on the ejector is handy, and the rear recoil pad can be lengthened with inserts to increase the length of pull. It can be adjusted from as little as 12.35 inches to 15 inches. That's a really nice feature for officers of all sizes.
The Storm is available in a blue or black polymer stock and, frankly, I'd opt for blue just to be different. ("Why does everything have to be black?" he asks in exasperation.)
Its Picatinny rails offer versatility, and the front sight is fully adjustable for windage and elevation. The rear has a 50-meter and 100-meter flip aperture. Both sights can be folded down in case you're using optics.
Magazines are standard pistol mags from the Beretta pistol series and, depending upon the caliber, can be either from the 92/96 series or the Cougar. Which brings us to an interesting feature of the Storm. It can be converted from caliber to caliber. Some conversions require a different bolt face, but the bottom line is if you go through that cycle all agencies seem to suffer through, of changing calibers depending upon what you read in the popular press, at least the Storm can stay with you with a barrel, magazine, and magazine adapter kit.