Seems like it was a really long time ago.
I was sworn in as a Reserve Officer in a very small town in the PNW on July 8th. This was the day after an active shooter in Dallas, Texas shot fourteen Dallas PD officers, killing five, before being BTFO’d by a resourceful Dallas PD Bomb Tech and half an M112 brick. This doesn’t have much to do with the rest of the article, but I feel that it is an important detail in how I perceived the very start of my career.
Jumping back a bit, I had been working at a local FFL/indoor gun range for a couple years, with a friend, Doc, who was already a reserve officer at this same agency. I was in school for a Criminal Justice degree (lol) and the FFL job left me decent amount of time to study, but also work in a field I had already long considered a hobby since I had been a teenager.
This led to me being exposed to just about every type of commercially available firearm out there. Prior to being employed there, the only handguns in my possession were a Rock Island Armory 1911 and a Bulgarian Makarov. Both of these were gifts, as I was only about 20 years old. A week or two before landing the FFL gig, Doc sold me a S&W M&P9 privately for a really good deal. I asked him why he was getting rid of it and he told me he had just bought a Glock 17.
I started carrying the M&P at work, and shot it whenever I got the chance. I liked that Doc had already installed an Apex flat-faced trigger, as I was already a big 1911 fan. I was never very confident in my M&P as time went on, and I felt like I had a higher-than-acceptable rate of light primer strikes. This ended up unfairly coloring how I viewed striker guns for a longer-than-acceptable period of time. A single sample: a well used, modified M&P.
Not too long after, on my 21st birthday, I bought myself an Israeli police surplus Jericho 941F. I had just watched all of Cowboy Bebop for the first time, and I was ecstatic to have a blaster close to the one Spike carried.
As time went on, I carried and shot the M&P less and less. I also ended up buying a Springfield Milspec 1911 to replace my RIA, and sold off my M&P not too long after, as I viewed it as untrustworthy. My main rotation was my new 1911 and my Jericho. These I viewed as “good” and “based”, unlike the M&P which I thought was “lame” and “cringe”. Thus began my true fudd arc.
At some point, Doc introduced me to the Chief of his agency, who I’ll simply refer to as “Chief”. I was encouraged to apply, so I did. After a testing and interview process, not terribly long later I was offered the position of Reserve Police Officer. I would say I was “hired” but in most places, Reserve Officers are entirely volunteer.
Chief sat me down and told me how the start of the process would go, when I would attend a regional reserve academy, provided me with policy material, and so-on. Eventually the conversation turned to equipment. It was up to me to provide my own firearm. Chief saw I was a “gun guy”, and informed me the choice was mine as long as the gun was from a reputable manufacturer, and retention holsters were readily available for it…
Which was just enough rope for me to strangle myself with.
I knew that I liked the single-action trigger that the 1911 provided, and I didn’t mind the cock-and-lock carry method. I did not like the idea of having 8-round magazines in a duty gun. The choice was obvious.
Hi-Power, Hi-Class, Hi-Drag
Yeah, this isn’t a joke. In the year 2016 of our Lord, my first service pistol was a fucking Browning Hi-Power. I had clearly taken the 90’s FBI HRT and SAS videos to heart. I even asked Larry Vickers in a livestream he did if it was a good idea and he said “It doesn’t do anything a Glock can’t do.”
Let’s go over the BHP a bit.
Pretty simply, you can think of the BHP essentially as an “improved” 1911 design. It’s a single-action-only setup with a frame mounted safety, just like any 1911. The BHP does not use a 1911 trigger, however, and this is an important distinction. Rather than the flat-moving trigger iconic to the 1911 with a roughly 5lb. pull, it has a more traditional hinge-type trigger, with about an 8lb. pull. The trigger has a gritty feel to it due to the presence of a magazine safety. The BHP also has a much more modern and painless takedown process, doing away with the fiddling about with bushings and barrel links. The slide and barrel fitment feels smooth and glassy.
The standard magazine capacity is 13 rounds, but Mec-Gar makes 15-round magazines for it that don’t really drop free, since they omit the springy bit on the genuine magazines which throws them out so hard its like they never wanted to be there in the first place – then again, maybe they didn’t. A full-size steel gun with 13-round mags is basically like polishing the brass on the Titanic. Looks real nice, but how much use is it?
Issues arose immediately that I willfully ignored. Right out the gate, this gun cost me $1100. Yeah. That was before adding Trijicon HD tritium sights since there’s no way to mount a weapon light. At this time, for some reason, I was super fucked-up about the concept of a weapon light and using said light in a manner that may be unsafe due to it being attached to a firearm. Naturally, since I was so smart and all, instead of actually seeking out knowledge and training, I made the decision to deprive myself of the option altogether.
The Mec-Gar 15-round magazines had a tendency to not lock the slide open on the last round, so much so that the Range Officer at my initial quals asked me if my gun “was okay”.
The MkIII version of the Hi-Power has a painted-on black finish on the slide and frame, and a stainless steel barrel. On one of my first nights on patrol, I remember looking for a fleeing suspect in a heavy rain. I had forgotten my Gore-Tex at home (rookie mistake) and was thoroughly soaked. When I got home, I stripped my gear and didn’t think much of it. The next morning, my BHP’s barrel was absolutely dusted in rust. To this day I can point out imperfections from this one lax maintenance moment.
Browning Hi-Power Mk III
1. It’s a 9-mil
3. Very well manufactured
3. Magazine Disconnect safety (also affects trigger)
4. No way to mount accessories such as WML
5. Stainless is not a good option for certain climates
I moved on from the BHP maybe six months later. I saw the value in being able to mount a light, and realized the trigger was not good enough to excuse any of its other shortcomings. Let’s see what’s behind Door #2.
Guns Of The Patriots
You ever play Metal Gear Solid 4?
I fully regressed and went back to the 1911, but realized I needed one with modern features and the Springfield MC Operator fit that bill for me. The Operator ships with Trijicon HD sights, and distinctly was the first 1911 design I came across that featured a railed dust cover back in the day: Now THIS was a gun. I also got myself a Surefire X300 and a grip of Wilson Combat 87D magazines for it. I remember I had a triple mag pouch on my duty belt and a double mag pouch on my vest, for a total of six magazines with the one riding in the gun. This totals to a whopping 49 total rounds carried. But hey, the 230-grain Winchester Ranger T .45ACP expanded to 1″ in ballistic gel! What choice did I have, really? I don’t wanna mention how many guns I traded in just to afford this one.
At this point, I was the only person in my academy class not carrying a Glock or M&P; I also ended up winning the Top Shooter award for that year, which further cemented me in this ego buy. I did shoot this gun very well, but so does anyone who shoots a 1911. What this gun did is hide my lack in practical shooting skill by way of throwing money at the problem. I carried this for most of my remaining time at that agency. Guys from other agencies would see me on calls, and I can remember them pointing out and saying stuff like “Dude, he’s carrying a 1911” and that made me feel like a cool guy. Sheeeeeesh.
Springfield is my go-to for anything 1911, as I’m not in the realm of buying “custom-shop” pistols. The Operators have hand-fit slides to barrels and frames, which is a good value add considering these guns hover around the $1000 mark. The triggers are as good as you’d expect, and the guns are very accurate. I had some initial reliability hiccups in the first 200 or so rounds, but after that it was mostly smooth sailing, even with a regular diet of Federal or Winchester JHPs.
I never fired this gun “in harms way”, but it instilled a confidence in me. It was nice at the time, but moving on I realized that’s not how the weapon/wielder relationship is supposed to work.
This gun also made me VERY familiar with its inner workings, as maintenance with any regularly-run duty or competition 1911 is a constant. This doesn’t just mean keeping it clean and lubed, this means checking and replacing several different springs, extractors, etc. I simply cannot recommend a 1911 as a patrol officer/deputy’s sidearm due to this reason alone.
The much more egregious reason is the limited capacity. 8 rounds is not enough, and it cannot be argued against in good faith. I’ve heard the 1911 described as a “Two bad-guy gun in a three bad-guy world.”
Running a 1911 will get you pretty good at mandatory reloads, though.
Springfield MC Operator 1911
- 1911 Trigger/”Buying Accuracy”
- 1913 Rail
- .45 ACP
- High-demand maintenance cycle
- Stainless, again
- .45 ACP
I’d be remiss if I didn’t say this is still one of my favorite guns, and even moreso if I didn’t mention this is still in my off-duty rotation. It’s a very nice-shooting gun, and the slim profile means I can carry it IWB very comfortably. Still, I eventually realized I needed to make a change. Carrying five spare mags and field stripping my gun after every shift got super fucking old. I’m not gonna get into another decades-old internet argument but .45 ACP and 9×19 are about as good as getting dudes to buy the 6×3 farm as any other service pistol caliber (Yeah, even .40 S&W) so it makes sense to run the one that holds more ammo and shoots softer.
Third gun just might be the charm.
James Reeves Moment
I remember the day I got this gun in my hands. I felt like I had committed some great sin. This was one of the “FS” models that came with metal iron sights and slide serrations on the front end of the slide. I distinctly remember shooting this gun low-left for a good bit, and I could not figure out why. I had been carrying a gun for a few years at this point, and I was shooting low and left with a Glock 19 at fifteen yards.
What was my excuse? I didn’t have one. I let my 1911 carry me through my bad habits with its super short traveling trigger. The G19 made me take a step back and really re-assess where I thought I was in development of my handgun skills. No gimmicks, no steel frames, no slick trigger to carry me.
I started forcing myself to carry this off-duty before it became my duty gun, but it was easily scalable for both uses. I sorted mine with a set of Haley Strategic TH1RTE3N sights, a MagPul magwell, and the X300 I bought with my Operator.
Managing this gun was a breeze. 15 rounds of 9×19 in a standard capacity mag, with 19-round mags in reserve was a game-changer compared to what I had been doing. In three magazines I carried 54 rounds, more than I carried in twice as many 1911 magazines. 147gr. JHP was very pleasantly recoiling and easy to manage, and ball ammo was cheaper to buy to make sure I could keep practicing. This was essential to my growth with this gun. I ended up taking refresher private instruction, and re-committing to range time. The Glock, practically, is no less accurate than your 1911, it just doesn’t let you cheat.
All of these benefits over my past guns and you’d think there’d be a trade-off; some kind of “equalizer” that brought the sum of its parts in line with the other guns. This simply isn’t the case. This gun can do all of this, all while running for literally thousands of rounds without a cleaning or re-application of lubricant. As Todoki Hawado likes to put it, “It just works, desu ne.” Even when it does need a cleaning or a parts swap, it’s unlikely it will be more than a five minute affair. This is what you should expect out of any gun you select for a duty role.
Oh yeah, and this gun cost me $550.
It is literally insane to me to think that instead of buying a Glock 19 in 2016, I went through about $2500 in suboptimal guns due to my ego and willful ignorance rather than just give the “boring, soulless” Glock a fair shake. I let a bad experience with one gun color my view for years. I shittalked Glock dudes for ages from behind the FFL counter. Would you believe I even shoot Glocks for fun now? Holy shit.
What else is there to be said? As of now, Glocks (particularly in 9×19) still absolutely dominate the handgun market in the civilian and LE spheres. I can’t think of any other family of pistols that has even half of the aftermarket support, and economy of scale benefits as the 9mm Glock does. You will never go to a gun store and not see Glock magazines, holsters, and other gear. There are entire companies who purely make their living by selling aftermarket Glock mods.
1. Capacity (15 rounds being the lowest)
3. Absolute reliability
4. Market share / components and accessory availability
5. User-level customization
1. MuH gRiP aNgLe shut the fuck up
Touch Grass, Go Shoot
This was a bit of a mess, as it’s literally the first time I’ve ever written anything with the intention of it to actually be read by others. The root point of this article is to dump your ego and emotional attachment when it comes to running your guns. I’m not saying you HAVE to run a 9-mil Glock for duty/defense, but if you haven’t at least taken a hard look at it, you are only limiting yourself. There are great duty gun options from other companies like H&K, Sig-Sauer, and Smith & Wesson. I guess you could even carry a CZ or a Walther, but I’d keep that to yourself.
I found myself caught up in the over-analyzing of everything from behind the counter without much in the way of actual experience. I find many internet folk tend to have a similar issue depending on their tenure as a shooter. I imagine where I’d be today if in 2016 I would’ve just bought a fucking G19.
It’s cool to have fun and cool guns. I love my 1911, my Makarov, and even my S&W Model 64 revolver. Just try not to get caught up in your own meme. At the end of the day, irrefutably, fun things are fun.
It’s worth mentioning that a few years ago when I got hired on at a new agency as a full-time LEO, I was issued a stock G17 Gen 4 with TLR-1, and this simple setup has been my main workhorse ever since. My off-duty Glock is a G45 with slidework from Jagerwerks to mount a Trijicon RMR. In the future, I hope to be able to implement pistol optics for my guys at an agency level, but that’s a topic for another day.
Thanks for your time guys, stay dangerous.
(Misato is best girl.)