The relationship between American police officer and handgun is unlike that of any other profession to any other tool. For an officer, a duty weapon is almost as much a symbol of his or her authority as a badge. Officers carry handguns because the people of the United States via the government have given them the authority to use deadly force to protect innocent lives or protect themselves.

All sworn law enforcement officers carry at least one handgun. Smart ones carry more than one, if they're allowed to. That's why so much of the handgun market is focused on providing cops with handguns.

The following is a quick look at some of the service weapons and backup guns now being offered by the firearms industry's top manufacturers.

Beretta PX4 Storm Subcompact

Introduced two years ago but still very current, the PX4 Storm Subcompact is still one of the most innovative handguns on the market. The PX4 Storm Subcompact is available with three different trigger systems, three different operating mechanisms, three different sizes of magazine release buttons, two different safety levers, three different backstraps, and a wide variety of sights. Writing in a September 2008 Arsenal review Nick Jacobellis praised the PX4 Storm Subcompact as "accurate, flawlessly reliable, and comfortable to shoot."

DoubleStar 1911

As any gun enthusiast can tell you, the Model 1911 pistol passes the century mark this year. That means you're going to see a lot of them, even more than usual, at this year's Shooting Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show (SHOT). And many shooters will be tempted to purchase a 1911 for their collections. If you find yourself feeling some 1911 lust, then check out DoubleStar's model. This no-nonsense 1911 is simple to use, rugged, and accurate. Best of all, it's affordable. In the January 2010 Arsenal Dave Bahde wrote: "So long as I did my job, this pistol put my shots where the front sight was placed. The sights are easy to pick up, even with my 50-year-old eyes."

FNH USA FNX Pistols

Last year FN Herstal refined its FNP line of polymer framed handguns and relaunched them as the FNX 9 and the FNX 40. The FNX models offer better ergonomics than the FNPs, a low-bore axis for flat shooting, and less recoil for improved control. Lefties will like the fact that the FNX models offer fully ambidextrous operation. Like the FNPs, they are also customizable to a wide variety of hand sizes using included interchangeable backstraps.

Glock Gen 4 Pistols

The talk of last year's SHOT Show-other than the horrible layout of the convention facility-was Glock's Gen 4 models. This year the company is expected to expand the Gen 4 line. The Gen 4 models have improved ergonomics, including a better grip angle. They are also customizable to a shooter's hand size via a set of included interchangeable backstraps. But the real selling point on the Gen 4 models is reduced kick. Glock's captive recoil spring system makes the Gen 4 shoot a lot softer than previous Glock designs.[PAGEBREAK]

Guncrafter Industries H.50 Caliber Glock Conversion

When you first see Guncrafter Industries' products at a trade show, you do kind of a double take. Then you ask yourself: Why would anyone want a .50 caliber Glock? Writer Abner Miranda answered that question in our November 2009 Arsenal review by arguing that the .50 GI conversion would make an excellent SWAT pistol. The GI conversion kit turns any ordinary Glock 21 into a fire-spitting monster. Miranda says the rounds are the size of "cocktail olives" but recoil wasn't "as bad as he expected...The receiver absorbs a great deal of the recoil generated by the massive .50 GI round and saves the shooter from the abuse," he wrote.

Kahr Arms Laser Sights for P380 and PM45

Kahr announced right before SHOT that it is adding Crimson Trace LG-437 Laserguards to its popular P380 and PM45 models. Kahr says the Laserguard is "the most compact, instinctively activated, user-adjustable laser sighting system available. The Crimson Trace LG-437 Laserguard is powered by two #357 silver oxide batteries or a single 1/3N 3-volt lithium battery. Its 3.3mm laser diode is so small that it reduces the size of the laser housing. The sight features adjustments for windage and elevation.

Remington Model R1 1911

It's been nearly a century since Remington was known as a maker of handguns. So it's fitting that the company's new handgun offering would be quite literally a blast from the past. During World War I, Remington produced nearly 22,000 Model 1911 pistols for the Allied war effort. Today, Remington's factories are once again turning out 1911s. The Model R1 1911 pistol is a no-frills 1911 with some excellent design features. Nick Jacobellis touted the gun's value and design in a review of a preproduction model in the November 2010 Arsenal. He wrote: "The truth is the preproduction R1 really didn't need much fine-tuning. It's incredibly easy and comfortable to shoot... The preproduction pistol proved to be flawlessly reliable when it was fired with three different types of
ammunition."

SIG Sauer P290 Subcompact

The buzz in the gun world is strong for this new 9mm concealed carry pistol. With a polymer frame and a stainless steel slide, the P290 is the smallest 9mm in the SIG line. Features of the P290 include a Nitron coated slide, drift adjustable contrast or self-illuminating SIGlite night sights, single stack magazine for a slim profile, a double-action-only trigger system, interchangeable grip panels, and an optional integrated laser. Capacity is six plus one with standard magazines and seven plus one with the extended mags. Trigger pull averages nine pounds. And unlike many small pistols, the P290 is built for safety. It has an automatic firing pin safety block and a hammer safety intercept notch and trigger bar disconnect.[PAGEBREAK]

Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 380 Pistol

Smith & Wesson's Bodyguard 380 is an extremely small semi-auto pistol designed as a personal self-defense gun for civilians or as a last-ditch weapon for officers. Built on a polymer frame, the Bodyguard 380 weighs a mere 11.85 ounces empty and has a 2.75-inch-long barrel. Aiming such a pistol can be difficult, which is why the Bodyguard 380 is available with an integrated laser sight.

Springfield Armory XD(M) Duty Pistol

Springfield's XD has been one of the most popular polymer-framed pistols on the markets for years. But it has never really caught on with police agencies, at least not to the extent that Springfield would like it to. The latest model, the XD(M) takes the basic XD striker-fired duty pistol and refines it with professional quality touches such as an interchangeable backstraps and a match grade barrel. Nick Jacobellis praised the XD(M) for its ergonomics in a March 2009 Arsenal: "One of the first things I noticed about the XD(M) is the grip angle. By designing the XD(M) with a slight angle to the front portion of the grip and a choice of three backstraps of different sizes, the Springfield Armory engineers force the operator's hand to lean forward a bit when the pistol is gripped." Jacobellis also lauded the XD(M) for being more comfortable to shoot with less kick than the standard XD. For 2011, the XD(M) is being released in .45 ACP.

Sturm, Ruger & Co. SR40 Duty Pistol

Ruger announced in October that it was taking the next step in its SR line of striker-fired duty pistols. The SR40 is the .40 S&W counterpart to the popular SR9 9mm duty pistol. Like the SR9, the SR40 is built on a glass-filled nylon frame. A narrow frame and a short trigger reach plus a reversible backstrap give the SR40 excellent ergonomics. The SR40's slide is .060 inches wider than the slide of the SR9. This added mass reduces slide velocity during cycling, cutting recoil, and improving the SR40's service life. The SR40 weighs 27.25 ounces empty and ships with two 15-round magazines. Duty pistol features include a 4.1-inch barrel length, fully adjustable three-dot sights, and an accessory rail. Safety features include a loaded chamber indicator, a striker blocker, a trigger safety, a magazine disconnect, and a frame-mounted ambidextrous manual safety.

FN Debuts Less-Lethal Pistol

FNH USA has announced that it will debut a new less-lethal weapon at this year's SHOT Show. The FN 303P is the handgun version of the company's popular FN 303 less-lethal projectile launcher.

With a range of 25 meters, the FN 303P is designed for use by law enforcement, corrections, and military personnel for crowd control and non-compliant subject control. The pistol fires the same .68 caliber fin-stabilized rounds used by the full size FN 303.

The FN 303P is magazine fed like a duty pistol. Each mag contains a CO2 cartridge and six rounds of fin-stabilized projectiles. To prevent gas leakage, the CO2 cartridge is held in the magazine in reserve until the magazine is inserted into the pistol and the seal on the CO2 is punctured.

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