I don’t know if it’s the result of a perfect storm or if it’s that all the planets have aligned, but this is a great time to acquire AR-15 rifles for law enforcement duty.
Three factors have come together to make numerous agencies rewrite their weapons policies to allow AR-15s on patrol. Many of us and, more importantly, many of our administrators have vivid memories of Los Angeles Police officers going into a gun shop to commandeer or borrow AR-15 rifles at the notorious North Hollywood bank robbery.
The pointless Federal Assault Weapons Ban has expired and will not be renewed, making it easier for law enforcement officers to acquire military-style weapons. And the United States is at war with terrorists that hate our way of life and would like to kill every man, woman, and child in America.
All of these factors add up to a compelling argument for equipping patrol officers with AR-15s. They’re no longer tools just for tactical teams. They’re an essential item of safety equipment. When each and every one of us straps on our gun belt, cinches up our ballistic vest, pulls on our boots, and walks out to our patrol car we should be carrying a ballistic nylon case stuffed with an AR-15 and loaded magazines.
The San Diego Model
For some time, the men and women of my agency, the San Diego Police Department, have been trying to gain permission to carry patrol rifles—all to no avail. But that changed recently when we got a new chief with a more progressive and realistic outlook on firearms.
Unfortunately, even though the chief authorized us to carry patrol rifles, the department didn’t have the funds to issue them. Our officers are allowed to buy their own and take them on patrol.
As department rangemaster, I was tasked with looking at a number of guns from different manufacturers to see which ones we should authorize our officers to carry. The goal was to provide a reasonable cross-section of guns that run the gamut from luxury models to econo weapons. Regardless of price, they all had to reach the level of quality and reliability the rigors of law enforcement work demands.
Sometimes my job is a lot of fun. Such was the case when a brand new Les Baer Thunder Ranch Special AR-15 was delivered to me for testing. I expected flawless operation, extreme accuracy, and steadfast reliability from this high-end weapon, and I was not the least bit disappointed. No surprise there.
What was surprising, however, was the performance of a low-price rifle, the DPMS Panther Arms Panther 16-inch AP4 Post Ban configuration rifle with Miculek compensator.
I had called around to a couple of friends who had a great deal of experience with AR-15 instruction to ask them which guns we should evaluate. The DPMS Panther Arms Panther AP4 rifle was recommended by Col. Bob Young (U.S. Army, Retired), operations chief at the famous Gunsite Academy in Arizona. He told me that I should take a look at the inexpensive rifles because he had noticed that DPMS guns were holding up and performing very well in Gunsite’s classes.
After a call to DPMS and a talk with their law enforcement representatives, I decided on a test and evaluation of the Panther 16-inch AP4 Post Ban with Miculek compensator. A few weeks later at the range, I received a nice new and shiny DPMS gun from the delivery guy.
From Consulting to Production
DPMS is not a household word, even for gun enthusiasts. So allow me to give you a little background.
Defense Procurement Manufacturing Services (DPMS) has been around the firearms business for more than 18 years. The company started as a consulting firm that helped small manufacturers intent on selling to the Department of Defense. But it also had a firearms production division called Panther Arms.
Today, DPMS Panther Arms builds a number of upper and lower receivers, small parts, and accessories for AR-platform rifles. It also builds and markets its own Panther Arms AR rifles in a myriad of configurations for military, law enforcement, and civilian applications. The company even makes a .308 Winchester version of an AR that is a sight to behold and even more fun to shoot.