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Departments : The Winning Edge

The Rural Officer's Arsenal

When the nearest backup is across the county, you need guns, lots of ammo, and options.

July 10, 2012  |  by Gerard Zlotkowski

To give ourselves maximum firepower, we joined two of the magazines together and they are loaded into the rifles this way. This gives us the ability to immediately bring 60 rounds to the fight when the rifle leaves the car. And it allows for rapid magazine changes without taking our eyes off the target, which can be very important in a fight.

Shotgun Options

My agency also permits Remington 870 shotguns in each vehicle and two others in our trunk-stored arsenal. One of the trunk guns is dedicated for less-lethal work, and the other is a short-barreled version for breaching.

We selected the Remington 870 PMAX shotgun for our patrol vehicles. It has a pistol grip with full shoulder stock and an extended magazine tube giving it six-plus-one capacity.

The best feature on our patrol shotguns is the flashlight dedicated forend. I also equipped mine with sidesaddles to carry six extra rounds on the left side of the receiver. All have three-point slings that also hold six extra rounds on the right side of the stock. So when that shotgun leaves the vehicle, there are 18 rounds coming to the fight, 12 buckshot and 6 slugs.

Our patrol shotguns are loaded with Federal buckshot in the vehicle weapons lock, and they are fitted with ghost ring rear sights and white dot front sights.

One of my 870s is designated for use with less-lethal munitions only. If you are going to introduce less-lethal impact round capability into your agency, develop a very specific policy that addresses how to mark the weapon and when it is to be used.

Shotguns designated for less-lethal applications in my agency are stored in a brightly colored case separate from all the other weapons. The ammunition is also stored separately from the lethal ammo. The guns themselves are fitted with a bright orange stock and forend. My less-lethal 870 also has a Burris Speed Bead sight. I recommend it for less-lethal shotguns or launchers. Accurate shots on target are every bit as important, if not more, for less-lethal shots on a person, since missing the intended target may result in severe injury where none can be justified.

17 Plus 1

My agency's standard sidearm is the Glock 22 in .40 S&W. We just transitioned to the Generation 4 model. We were carrying the Gen 3 model.

As far as accessories, we have weapon-mounted lights as standard issue. We also have laser sights, which are an excellent psychological intimidation tool. The laser dot can prevent a shooting if the bad guy sees where the round is going to hit.

When our sidearms are carried in their duty holsters, we add extended floorplates to our magazines. This bumps the capacity to 17 plus 1. We also carry two spare magazines on our duty belts.

Lots of Ammo

In our vehicles, there are bailout bags for active shooter scenarios. These bags have six loaded magazines for our rifles and six magazines for our sidearms. For the shotguns, there are 12 rounds of buckshot and 12 rounds of slugs.

In the driver's side door of each of our patrol vehicles, there are also multiple extra magazines for our sidearms. This is one reason why all of my agency's officers carry the same sidearm.

When your agency is considering switching sidearms, talk with your neighboring agencies and see what they carry. Ask questions and try out their guns. If every officer in the neighboring area carries the same make and caliber of pistol and can use each other's magazines, it might give the good guys the advantage in a prolonged fight.

It Can Happen Here

There are probably some of you reading who are wondering why my rural agency has invested in so much firepower. After all, we are not Chicago or Atlanta or Los Angeles, and our violent crime rate is actually pretty low.

There are a couple of reasons that this is a wise investment. One, active shooter incidents can happen anywhere, and they have. Two, people who live in rural areas tend to be better armed than most urban residents. So when we answer a domestic disturbance or some other seemingly routine call for service, we may be facing an angry, deranged, or intoxicated individual with a rifle. We need to be armed better than they are or at least equally so.

The officer who tells you, "mass shooting incidents can't happen out here in the country," is a fool and is dangerous. That officer's lack of tactical mindset could get him or her killed and probably a few other people too. This is especially true for those chiefs and other supervising officers who subscribe to this line of thinking.

After a mass shooting a chief or sheriff that didn't provide the necessary tools for his or her agency will face a lot of questions. Officers will want to know why. And the public will demand answers, too. If someone was killed, the lawsuits will fly.

I also think not providing your officers with the proper arsenal sends a terrible message to your subordinates that they are not trusted. They are already armed and trained to use firearms, right? A rifle or shotgun will deliver a round more accurately downrange. This, if anything, will swing the odds in favor of fewer rounds being fired, therefore ending the fight sooner and avoiding a drawn-out, protracted gunfight. And that's a good outcome.

It is our job to win the fight with the bad guys, whether we serve in the nation's most populated cities, smallest towns, or most isolated counties. To win that fight, we need the right firearms and the right ammo.

Gerard Zlotkowski is the chief deputy sheriff of McIntosh County, N.D. He has served in law enforcement, firefighting, and EMS since 1988 and can be reached at [email protected]


How the North Hollywood Shootout Changed Patrol Arsenals

PHOTOS: Glock Gen4 Duty Pistols

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Comments (4)

Displaying 1 - 4 of 4

Rick @ 7/19/2012 3:55 PM

The AR 15 in 6.8 SPC give a good mix of having plenty of ammo on hand, but the round gives better terminal ballistics and packs a better punch to stop a threat. Add a Redi-Mag on the magazine well and a Magpul BAD device on the bolt release, and you can have a mag change in under 2 seconds. The Redi Mag gives you a place to put another magazine so you can have another 2 second magazine change; it beats mag couplers.

Martyb @ 7/19/2012 4:59 PM

I'm an advocate of the Springfield Socom platform in 308 cal. The 16 1/2" barrel with it's intergral muzzle brake is a joy to shoot and it's tack driver accurate out to 150 yards with the factory iron sights, which by the way are darn good.

The standard Socom I comes with a small Picatinny rail on the top handguard this works great with an EOTECH. If you have to have "ALL the bells and whistles" mounted on your weapon ... the Socom II comes with a three-sided Picatinny rail set up.

The 308 brings better penetration to the fight when dealing with vehicles and some structures.

Capt David-retired LA Cou @ 7/20/2012 8:56 AM

I liked the G3 / HK 97 models, .308 to be sure, however I feel the Ruger Mini-30 could be an ideal choice. Simple, easy to use, good ballistics, ammo inexpensive and an array of clips.

Greg @ 7/31/2012 6:05 AM

I'm a big believer in .308/7.62 vs. .223, especially in an area where distances are a bit longer. Not a big fan of full-auto in most hands..."spray and pray" is no excuse for sloppy shooting and what the military faces in combat has a lot less chances for collateral damage (which kills civilian cooperation).

The Socom is a good rifle, so is the Remington 25 and Armalite AR-10 platforms.

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