So what is on the top of my priority list for checking out at this year's SHOT Show? Simple. I want to know one thing more than anything else: Where the hell is all the ammo? Everywhere I go, everyone I talk to, in departments large and small all over the country, there is the same problem. Cops can't get ammo! They can't get what they need for training and some can't even get what they need for their duty guns. I regularly get calls at our store from police officers and agencies that are desperate for ammo, and our shop isn't even a law enforcement ammunition supplier. Those that are have been telling departments that they cannot supply ammo with less than a three month wait and many are being told three times that figure. When I have had the opportunity to ask ammunition company representatives about this in the past, they have all said that they are making it as fast as they can. Really? Then where is it all going?
The consumption of ammunition by police agencies should be very easy to calculate, both for training and street use. Most agencies only buy what they need for a year, as their budgets are already stretched to the breaking point and they just don't have the money to stockpile a warehouse full of ammo for use several years down the line. You all know that I fully support the right of law abiding citizens to keep and bear arms, which includes owning a reasonable amount of ammo for training and self defense. But I also feel that the cops on the street should have first dibs and there certainly should be enough being produced to satisfy that predictable need. I'm not sure I'll get any sensible answers, but I plan on visiting every ammunition maker and asking that question. Look for a report and further comments down the road.
Other than ammo, what else am I curious about? Glock has announced a new Generation 4 frame that promises adjustability of the grip size. They are still the major supplier of police handguns, so this is welcome news to agencies that like Glocks but have trouble fitting out all the different hand sizes in their department. It should also be good news for individual officers. I'm told that the full size G17 and G22 models will be available first, soon after the Show, with the G19 and G23 models to follow later in the year. The SHOT Show will be my first hands-on opportunity with the new frames.
I'm also anxious to see if Smith & Wesson has anything new. Their M&P pistols are excellent guns and the more I work with them, the more I like them. Many of my colleagues also have been using them for competition and everyday carry, and we continue to be impressed with their versatility and quality.
Another gun that has a great deal of potential in the police market is the SIG Sauer polymer framed P250. Its modular design is innovative and flexible enough to satisfy even large department requirements. The main problem, so far, has been that the modular components have been slow to reach the user level. Maybe the folks at the SIG booth can tell me if that is expected to improve.
It will also be interesting to see how Beretta is making out with their polymer framed PX4 pistols. Both Beretta and SIG have a long and distinguished history with their all metal guns, but polymer frames seem to be winning out, for economic reasons if nothing else. In the long gun department, patrol rifles are a hot item, so I expect a lot of activity at those booths, as well as with the old reliable shotgun manufacturers.
When its all said and done, however, I believe that despite all the excitement about the newest and coolest gear, what the law enforcement world really needs right now is reasonably priced, effective and readily available guns, ammunition and gear that helps the men and women on the street right now. With all the glitter and hype of an event like the SHOT Show it is easy to get mesmerized with all the gee-whiz tools and toys. But the real world is where we make our living every day and the real world is getting tougher by the minute. What's hot at SHOT is only relevant if it translates into effective, useful tools for the thin blue line.