AR Pistols and Short Barreled Rifles

It'll take you at least 30 seconds to bring the rifle into battery (in your hands, shooting stance, round in the chamber, sights on the perp). A simple solution is to equip the front compartment with a compact short-barreled rifle or AR-style pistol.

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The interior of today's patrol cruiser is a far cry from the what it was only a few decades ago. The forward compartment is filled with laptops, body armor, notepads, cutting tools, cell phones, quick-access legal references, as well as your gym bag. Free space is at a premium.

If your department or agency has issued you an AR- or FAL-style carbine chambered in the .223 Remington/5.56 NATO, consider yourself fortunate. This should bring you a greater sense of security, knowing that you can project firepower on par with almost any highly motivated and organized assailant armed with an AK-47 or similar assault rifle. You're only half right.

When you least expect it, you'll get that nightmare call over the radio. I call this the "North Hollywood-style AK call." A motivated suspect is outside a liquor store parking lot wielding an AK-47. You see several bodies down and muzzle flash from the AK-47.

Those of you reading this who think this is a "freak" scenario and a one-in-a-million situation. Those who have this mindset are encouraged to contact the Phoenix, San Diego, Tucson, or El Paso police departments. Cases of Ciudad Juarez, cartel-style urban gang warfare with automatic weapons fire are now "regular" calls. You must be SWAT, because waiting for SWAT to arrive will cost lives.

You need to neutralize the assailant but realize that he is out of handgun and shotgun range. The only choice is the Colt AR-15 in your trunk. It's in your trunk, because of lack of space in the front compartment. It's in a locked case. It'll take you at least 30 seconds to bring the rifle into battery (in your hands, shooting stance, round in the chamber, sights on the perp).

You will need to bring the cruiser to a quick park, expose yourself without the cover and concealment provided by the  cruiser's steel block engine or reinforced steel doors. You'll need to open the rifle case in the trunk, which means exposing yourself to the shooter. Your body armor is butter against a 7.62x39mm Russian 124-grain bullet traveling at 2,400 feet per second.

These steps can take up to a minute, while you are exposed without cover and fumbling for the rifle in the trunk. A simple solution is to equip the front compartment with a compact short-barreled rifle or AR-style pistol such as a Bushmaster Carbon 15 or Kel-Tec PLR-16 chambered in .223 Remington/5.56 NATO.

These hybrid weapons can be pistols if the barrel is less than 9 inches long, and there's no stock (swivel studs can enable a sling). These can be excellent tools for projecting firepower beyond a 50-yard radius, and they're exceptional space savers.

Loaded weight for the Bushmaster Carbon 15 and the Kel Tec PLR is under 6 pounds, dimensions range from 1.6 to 2 feet in length. These dimensions allow easy storage in a large glove box or gun case in the front compartment.

These weapons are compatible with all AR-15, 30-round magazines and aftermarket components. Both fixed sights and Picatinny rails are available for mounting the latest optics and lasers or red dots. Semi-auto and fully automatic modes are available on the law enforcement version of the Bushmaster Carbon 15.

Best of all, their short length allows for a full arc of movement in a tight space such as the forward compartment of a vehicle. With a tool like this, an officer need not expose himself out of the vehicle without essential firearms. He or she can exit the vehicle with the firearm in full battery and engage the suspect.

Prices for these AR-style pistols are typically 20-30 percent lower than for a full-size rifle or law enforcement carbine. You can swap the existing magazines from your rifle and carbine. You can swap the optics and lights. Best of all, you can also utilize .22 Long Rifle (LR) conversion kits and practice with these great tools at a lower cost.

Some agencies may offer resistance due to political correctness. The weapons do resemble Uzi and MAC-10 submachine guns. They have a military aesthetic. I believe that public and officer safety override any unfounded concerns.

Both the public and the agency can be educated by specialized police units who already utilize these tools with great results. I believe that urban agencies that are encountering more militarized threats from cartels or others can't afford to be without the tools.

Editor's Notes: We've corrected and clarified several factual inaccuracies in this article and apologize for any confusion this caused for readers. First, the article incorrectly characterized the pictured Bushmaster Carbon 15 as an "AR-type pistol." The weapon would be characterized as a "short-barreled rifle" because it has a buttstock and an overall length of less than 26 inches (18 USC 921). Secondly, this article initially listed a 7.62x39mm Russian 124-grain bullet as traveling at 3,000 feet per second, which can be achieved via a hotter reload. Out of the box, the round is rated at 2,400 fps. Also, Bushmaster supplied M4s carbines to the U.S. Army during Operation Desert Shield that were reportedly used by Gen. Schwarzkopf's bodyguards.

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NRA Firearms Instructor
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