I fired a .40 Caliber Smith & Wesson M&P last night. Alex, an EMT from Russia, carries one. He like very much the gun because is incredibly light, bullets aren’t cheap, they rip terrific holes in people and grip swaps in seconds (Alex has small hands). The Zytel and Melonite weapon’s too light for my tastes (check my review of the AR 24-15C on the morrow); and firing it stings a bit. (A circulatory system full of adrenalin would reduce that issue considerably, methinks.) The M&P’s been around for donkey’s years; the firearm first entered service some five years ago, way late to the Glock party but there it is. Like Alex, cops love the .40 caliber bullet long time. Back in February ’08, Smith & Wesson announced that 276 U.S. police departments had approved the M&P for on-duty and off-duty use. That’s the same year the Victoria Police Department began contemplating a changeover from .38 revolvers to .40 M&Ps. What’s the hurry? S&W offered its first semi, the Model 59, in 1971. Anyway, the process really began some three years earlier . . .
In 2005, secret tests conducted following the murder of Senior Constable Tony Clarke, who was shot dead with his own gun on the Warburton Highway, exposed dangerous flaws in police firearms equipment.
The tests showed that the dead policeman’s gear almost certainly failed in operation.
Constable Clarke was shot dead at Launching Place on April 24, 2005, when he pulled over Mark Bailey, a man with a history of mental illness. Bailey then drove off in an unmarked police car before using the revolver to commit suicide.
The majority of the old pistols, which have been used by Victoria Police since 1976, will be sent to Smith & Wesson in the US in an exchange deal while others will be destroyed.
A revolver failed? Uh, no. It was a holster problem, apparently. Which is why most of this story concerns the contract for new holsters, which now “must have at least one primary and one secondary retention application.” As Mel Torme might have said, how about you don’t let the bastards get too close for comfort? Meanwhile, more bullets is better. For some.