Trade shows are something of a tease. Each year, manufacturers haul out their latest and greatest innovations, and show them to the press and to industry VIPs, dealers, reps, and other privileged people, and then that's the last we see of that product for at least six months.
The firearms industry's largest trade show is the Shooting Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show held each winter in either Las Vegas or Orlando. Last year's show featured more than 1,600 booths, showing the latest guns, knives, law enforcement equipment, and hunting gear. This year's show, scheduled for Feb. 9-12 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, will likely feature even more exhibits. Note: The show is open to credentialed law enforcement officers. It is not open to the public.
And yes, the SHOT Show can also be something of a tease. That doesn't mean that you will see "concept" guns that will never make it to the market at the show. But it does mean that stuff shown at SHOT can take a long time to reach your local gun store.
This is a roundabout way of explaining something about the gun market. Guns don't change every year. They're not like cars or clothing. When, for example, Beretta launches a new pistol design, it's going to be part of the Beretta line for years to come.
So each year about this time when we compile a roundup of the latest law enforcement handguns, we always run into a number of familiar models that debuted a year or more ago. This year's list is no exception. But the list also includes some exciting new guns such as Smith & Wesson's M&P, which POLICE will review in an upcoming issue.
A good law enforcement handgun does not have to be new and exciting to remain viable in the market. A good duty or off-duty sidearm is not a fashion statement; it's a tool. And like any good tool, a quality handgun only has to live up to two requirements: It has to do the job, and it has to stand up to the wear and tear of the job.
The following is a quick roundup of law enforcement handguns that are proven performers.