Photo: Vince Taroc.

Photo: Vince Taroc.

OK, so you're not satisfied with your department-issued weapon. The caliber isn't what you would have selected. The brand is not your favorite manufacturer. Even if you play the hand you've been dealt, you may feel tempted to give yourself an advantage by picking up some nuclear-tipped ammo for when the zombies come. What could go wrong?

Somewhere in the fine print of your departmental directives or policies regarding firearms and use of force you'll read the line, "No unauthorized ammo will be used in departmental weapons for duty."

Believe me, it's there. I don't care what a gun writer, gun magazine or big game hunter from the Serengeti plains suggests for defense. In your legal defense, stick with the departmental issue, OK?

Your department will cover you in a shooting if all the rules are followed to the letter. If you cap some perp with a hazardous-material-tipped, exploding warhead you've just stepped out from under the umbrella of departmental coverage. Using unauthorized items can show you were acting outside of the color of law.

Defense attorneys and their experts will crucify you on the stand.

Officer Barnabus Blastalot, what is your training in terminal ballistics? How does your vast knowledge in firearms as a mere recruit of less than two years exceed the training of your departmental range master and chief policy makers? Were you testing a new projectile for the department, and if so where are the orders allowing this?

Officer Blastalot, were you issued a copy of your departmental policy and procedures? Did you or did you not test with a field training officer, range master and academy staff on firearms?

The majority of us want to carry our favorite handgun and proper fodder for it to digest. But standards for training must be considered. Budgetary reasons come into play—yes, your life is often in the hands of the lowest bidder. Some states may have guidelines for law enforcement use. There are many recommendations made by those who never have and never will consider your input. Matter of fact, you may never meet them in your career.

Here's a dose of reality—your survival depends on your knowledge, skills and abilities. Master your issued equipment. Fully understand your weapon and ammo system. Know its capabilities.

Hone and refine your skills. Practice and train frequently and not just on the department's time and dime. There's a difference between practice and training. Practice to me is working with the fundamental skills of foundation, grip, stance, sight alignment and trigger control. Training is taking those skills and stressing them along with your body in varying situations.

You'll perform at higher levels, if you do this. I was once told by an old pistolero about bullet selection. You can kill an elephant with a croquet mallet, if you hit 'em in the right place. That hazmat-exploding hollow point is useless if it misses, and the departmental issue works far better when well placed.

Let's grab a few boxes of ammo and go to the range.

Author

William Harvey
William Harvey

William Harvey

William "Bill" Harvey is currently serving as chief of police in south central Pennsylvania. He retired from the Savannah (Ga.) Police Department where he worked assignments in training, patrol, and CID. Harvey has more than 25 years of experience working with recruits, rookies, and FTOs.

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William "Bill" Harvey is currently serving as chief of police in south central Pennsylvania. He retired from the Savannah (Ga.) Police Department where he worked assignments in training, patrol, and CID. Harvey has more than 25 years of experience working with recruits, rookies, and FTOs.

View Bio
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