Every now and then in the law enforcement community a new product is introduced that has the potential to change our level of preparedness, to make us more comfortable during operations, to increase our level of protection or to simply make our lives a little easier. As I looked back at the reviews I've written in 2006, it occurred to me that this has been a pretty good year for innovation. Each year I write 52 evaluations, and in 2006 I found several items that still seem impressive to me. At least two of them were submitted for awards from the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP). Having spent the majority of the past few weeks looking at SHOT Show "new" equipment items, I wanted to revisit those from 2006 that I feel can really have a positive impact in public safety (and some in military ops as well).
I first became aware of the difference between gas-operated rifle systems and piston-operated rifle systems just a few months ago. As a result of a discussion on our forum, I began to do some research and actually was contacted by a representative of Leitner-Wise Rifles (LW Rifles) offering to help educate me. After a great day at the range with the guys from LW Rifles and some instruction from them about the differences in operating systems, I was a believer in the piston-operated rifles. I watched one gentleman burn through 230 rounds of 5.56mm ammo as fast as he could reload and all fired full-automatic. As soon as he was done he opened up the weapon and pulled out the bolt and held it in his hand. It obviously was not as hot as the bolt from a gas-operated rifle would be and it was far cleaner than I expected as well. As I said, I've become a believer in piston-operated systems and look forward to acquiring one for my own gunsafe.
Rapid Deployment Inc. Body Armor Gun Bag
Every cop needs a way to carry his rifle. Some agencies, who aren't quite as worried about "appearing too aggressive" have gun locks in the passenger compartments of their patrol vehicles to secure patrol rifles. Officers working for more politically correct agencies need to find a way to secure their weapon in the trunk or other storage space and have to protect the weapon in a bag or case. Of course, the circumstances when they'll need that rifle will also likely mandate that they have appropriate body armor, extra magazines and obvious identification panels available/on as well. To me,the Rapid Deployment Inc. Body Armor Gun Bag is an excellent innovation in this regard. The padded ballistic nylon gun bag serves double duty as wearable body armor. Once it's opened to get the rifle out, you can pull it on over your head, cinch the waist straps and be ready to go. On the front of it are pouches for extra rifle magazines as well as extra pistol magazines, and blatant ID panels are velcroed on front and rear. This is one of the products that I know was nominated for an award. I think it's a fantastic idea for patrol cops and hope that it sees wide usage moving forward.
BlackHawk Level III SERPA Duty Holster
The BlackHawk CQC SERPA off-duty holster was a huge hit when it was released. BlackHawk beefed it up to create a Level II duty holster as well as a Level II Tactical holster. Still, given liability issues and industry / market demand, a Level III holster was in the making. At SHOT '06 BlackHawk released their Level III holster and I fell in love. While I demand a holster that has a secure passive retention feature--such as the SERPA trigger guard hook--so that I can "jam and go" when hands-on becomes necessary, I appreciate additional security features that make it more difficult for bad guys to get my weapon out of the holster. Of course, I'm not going to stand around and wait to see if they can, but everything that slows them down, without slowing me down, is a good thing. BlackHawk did this one right.