By Jim Pope, Captain, Columbus Police Department, Columbus, GA
Officer Jim Pope makes the case why a compact personal defense weapon should be come standard issue and everyday carry for police officers in the USA.
The new and shiniest toy became obsolete, etc. When we get these new and shiny toys people (typically people that know absolutely nothing about tactics or police work in general) always chime in and it’s usually negative. When we switched from a revolver to a semi auto handgun, there was a huge outcry.
They claim we were going to spray down entire neighborhoods with rounds and kill countless citizens. It never happened and as with all of these things it never does.
It’s a training issue and no more complicated than that. When we began going to a carbine rifle and away from the trusty Remington 870 shotgun, the same cry could be heard. We would now routinely kill citizens from a half mile away, shoot through three walls and kill citizens, the brass would pile up to the point of it being a health hazard, etc. It never happened, another simple training issue.
Now we step forward into what I believe needs to be and should be the next shiny tool in our tool box, the personal defense weapon (PDW). We need a one gun does it all. We should not have to retreat to the trunk of a patrol car to get a tool to address a lethal threat. That tool should be on our person at all times. We cannot go into a domestic disturbance and when the husband comes out of the back room with a shotgun; ask for a time out to go back to our vehicle and obtain the correct tool. We can’t approach a vehicle on a traffic stop and when the driver suddenly comes out with an AR15, and ask in the interest of fairness for the suspect to allow us to go and retrieve a long gun to at least make it an even match.
In light of the five slain officers in Dallas, every officer on the scene should have had a weapon on their person capable of penetrating at least level III A soft armor (we’ll get more into that later) and that weapon should have a minimum effective range of 100 yards. Very few of them did.
So for the layman, what is a PDW (Personal Defense Weapon). The PDW bridges the gap between the pistol and the long rifle. It falls much closer on the scale to the long rifle but doesn’t have quite the effective range. Think of a rifle with a shortened barrel, shortened stock and in many cases a different, smaller caliber from the typical 5.56 or 7.62 weapon but not always.
“A personal defense weapon (PDW) is a class of compact magazine-fed, self-loading, select-fire firearm – essentially a hybrid between a submachine gun and a carbine, retaining the compact size and ammunition capacity of the former while adding the stopping power, accuracy and penetration of the latter.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_defense_weapon)
That’s an oversimplification and in my opinion it doesn’t have to be select fire.
According to tacticallife.com “… it can be generally agreed that the modern personal-defense weapon will be a short-barreled rifle (SBR) chambered in a caliber more powerful than a typical handgun cartridge. Often, the PDW will have select-fire capabilities.”
MFG’s Description : The Israel Weapon Industries X95 Bullpup CQB Rifle is the Special Forces firearm for the 21st century. Like all IWI firearms, it was developed in close cooperation with elite units of the Israel Defense Force, tailored to their specific requirements and needs. Taking cues from the Tavor TAR-21 issued to the IDF, the X95 continues the evolution of the modern bullpup CQB rifle. Slim and compact with a 13” barrel and an OAL of 22.8”, it is offered in 5.56 NATO, easily converted to 9mm Luger Parabellum and soon to .300 AAC. The X95 features STANAG magazine compatibility, forefinger ambidextrous magazine release, interchangeable pistol grip assemblies and a tri-rail forearm with removable rail covers for easily customizable accessory placement (flashlight, laser, vertical fore grip, bipod, etc.). Like its predecessor the TAR-21, the X95 is 100% ambidextrous to right or left hand operation with the optional opposite hand bolt.
- 13” barrel, 22.8” OAL, 5.56 NATO
Lewis Machine & Tool CQB MRP Defender Model Piston 12 Carbine
Lewis Machine and Tool CQBPS12 (http://www.lmtstore.com/complete-weapon-systems-firearms-guns/complete-piston-weapons/cqbps12.html)
- 12” barrel, 29” OAL, 5.56 NATO (Some would argue that this one doesn’t belong in the category of a PDW)
The Tactical version incorporates most features of the Standard version plus an enlarged top rail for add-on sighting systems. Both the Standard and the Tactical versions can be fitted with an integrated visible or infrared laser.
- Barrel 10.4”, 19.9” OAL, 5.7 x 28 (50 round non protruding magazine)
Desert Tech DT Micro Dynamic Rifle
MFG’s Description : The MDR was designed for military, law enforcement, and civilian users to be the most adaptable and portable autoloading rifle in the world. This is accomplished with a bullpup design, multi-caliber capabilities, and modularity. The MDR is fully ambidextrous with no modifications necessary. It sets a new standard for speed and precision. (https://deserttech.com/html/product_overview.php?product_id=4&load=product_overview)
- 10.5” barrel, 20” OAL, 5.56 and 7.62 NATO
Heckler and Koch MP7 Submachine Gun
MFG’s Description : The MP7 represents a new generation of enhanced-performance submachine guns that bridge the gap between assault rifles and conventional submachine guns. Developed as a genuine personal defense weapon, it far exceeds the NATO requirements profile.
The MP7 is extremely compact, lightweight, can be used in very confined spaces, and is practically recoil-free. It can be carried continuously, making it the ideal personal weapon for the soldier of today. Those who carry it will be suitably armed for the broadest range of operations.
Comparing the calibres, the penetration and terminal effects of the 4.6 mm x 30 cartridge are several times those of the standardised 9 mm x 19 cartridge. By way of illustration: The new high-performance calibre penetrates the NATO CRISAT TARGET (1.6 mm titanium and 20 layers of kevlar) even at 200 m. One fundamental requirement: At the same time, the risk of overpenetration is reduced to a minimum.
- 7.1” barrel, 16.3” OAL, 4.6MM x 30
LWRC IC-PDW Rifle
MFG’s Description : The LWRC IC-PDW is the smallest and most unique rifle of the IC family. This gun is designed to be an ultra compact personal defense weapon. Directly descended from the rifles developed by LWRCI to meet the requirements for the U.S. Army Individual Carbine program, the IC-PDW is built for high performance in an ultra compact configuration. It’s compact size and light weight means it can be carried and deployed in a variety of roles. (https://www.lwrci.com/p-427-ic-pdw.aspx)
- 8.5” barrel, 20” OAl and up, 5.56 NATO
As you can see Personal Defense Weapons come in all shapes, configurations and calibers. Bullpup designs have a length advantage over others but the triggers tend to be not as good. The P90 by not having a protruding magazine has an obvious advantage in terms of carry and convenience. The H & K MP7 is so small it can be worn in a thigh rig. 5.56 ammo is a whole lot cheaper and more readily available than the other calibers mentioned. The other calibers generally lack the same stopping ability as the 5.56 and much less than 7.62.
PDW Everyday Carry
The nest issue to address is how would the officers carry these weapons. I have spent many hours contemplating this and think there is only one practical solution. A hard plastic containment system or BFH (big freakin holster) would need to be designed and incorporated into an external body armor rig. The containment system should be at a 45-degree angle across the torso. The rig/holster would be in a fixed secure position and the gun would basically snap down into a mold the shape and size of the weapon. We should all be wearing external body armor in a MOLLE type rig at this point anyway. Concealed body armor is too hot, too cumbersome and does not allow the use of rifle plates in addition to or as a substitute for the soft armor. Also, when you get to a secure air-conditioned area to do your paperwork, you can’t just slip your personal defense weapon rig over your head temporarily to try to cool down. The containment system should have a slight degree of adjustability in terms of the angle, height, etc. If it were me I would design a concept similar to the Safariland SS III in terms of how the weapon would release. But that’s just me, I don’t like Level II security holsters for a primary weapon and would never rely on a level I.
PD Weapons and the Public
The next issue to be addressed is public perception. There is the way the liberal media portrays police equipment/tools for public consumption and then there is the truth. They are two completely different concepts. Take armored cars for example. This is a purely defensive tool. It is designed to prevent officers from getting shot, period. We, to my knowledge, have never killed anyone with an MRAP or a BearCat. The liberal media drums up notions of a military take over every time we roll out an armored vehicle. You hear about the militarization of the police. The nature of our jobs would dictate that we would use some of the same equipment. We also breath the same air the last time I checked but that doesn’t make the US a police state nor does it give us the ability to call in an airstrike.
Although, I’ve had a few times where I wished I could. If you can’t take a joke, please don’t read any further as the contents of this article are way beyond your comprehension.
It will no doubt be a shock for citizens to see police walking around, coming into their homes, businesses, etc. with what is essentially a short barreled rifle across their chest. Even more so if the police do not educate the public in advance of the change and seek their support which they should. Perception was an issue when we switched to semi-auto pistols, carbine rifles and when we started using tasers. It lasted a little while and the public and the media moved on to the next item of interest. This won’t last either. It will pass. Millions will not be slaughtered. There will be no police take-over. Gradually personal defense weapons will become the norm just like all other additional tools in our tool box.
If this change takes place, I submit to you that the percentage of officers surviving armed encounters will increase substantially. I submit to you that in active shooter scenarios such as schools and theaters, many lives will be inevitably be saved because the first officer on the scene will actually have the right tool for the job. (Although the only real solution to this is an armed civilian population with the right mindset and training) I submit to you that shooters such as in the Dallas incident or Baton Rouge and other similar incidents sure to come, will be eliminated much sooner and thus lessen the overall body count.
There is another side issues that I won’t spend a lot of time on. That is the issue of what will happen in a car accident. The seat belts and airbags are not designed to function optimally when you have a long steel object running across your chest at a 45-degree angle. You might even see car manufacturers claim that we void the warranty and/or safety assurances by doing this and God forbid if the trial lawyers get involved. That being said, I would gladly take my chances in the accident. I consider it a tradeoff.
This is not a cure all and there is no such thing in police work. We carry guns and we go up against people carrying guns. People are going to die. Sometimes it’s the good guys and sometimes not. But officers need to stand up for an issue like this. We have a right (Yes, I said a right. Believe it or not, police officers have rights to) to carry tools that give us the best reasonable chance of surviving armed encounters. I said reasonable. I’m not talking about flame throwers and RPG’s. The public should support this. Police administrators should support this. City, State and Federal officials should support this.