.357 SIG (courtesy wikipedia.org)

“The North Carolina Highway Patrol purchased [some two 2000] Smith and Wesson’s M&P .357 Sig pistols in September 2009,” wsoctv.com reports. “But two years later, some troopers started having mechanical issues with the extractor port.” The problem bedeviled early full-size M&Ps, but I thought it had been sorted. NCHP spokesman First Sgt. Jeff Gordon said “1,649 uniformed members carry the pistols, but the agency did not feel the need to do a mass withdrawal since not all of the guns have the issue, and all troopers are trained on how to handle jams.” How reassuring is that? Meanwhile, Smith & Wesson [supposedly] can’t figure out a fix for the Tar Heel State’s pistol problems. They’ve offered to swap out the SIGs for an unspecified model for no money (yeah right). If the NCHP jumps ship they’ll pay for their new guns by continuing to trample of the fourth amendment (a.k.a., “asset forfeitures”). FWIW this whole thing sounds fishy to me, though the Internet’s abuzz with the ballistic boner.

85 Responses to North Carolina Highway Patrol Ditches 2k S&W M&P .357 SIGs

  1. RF,
    Why is your site so poorly formatted for iPhones. It’s been since you went to the red border and I figured it would be sorted out by now. Please fix it and get rid of the half moons on the margins that obscure the text.

    Thanks.

  2. Does SIG stand for Standard Issue Gun? Or have S&W and Sig Sauer
    collaborated to produce a gun? The spellings of Sig and SIG’s are used
    in the same article. Which is it? Is it a S&W problem, or a Sig problem?
    Sig is the international version everyone uses to describe a Sig Sauer.
    If I were with Sig Sauer, I would be calling for a clarification on this one.

  3. Everyone knows 10mm is the only acceptable cartridge for police departments, glad they are ditching the weak SIG……….jk jk

  4. The .357 Sig was a solution in search of a problem sort of like the .40 and even the 10mm. Think about the evolution: There is the .45, which worked just fine if you trained with it, but alas, it was just too much for some people to handle don’tcha know? So there is the 9mm, lots more capacity, less recoil and still effective so there. . . except when you don’t make critical hits with shot placement, then it’s just not a ‘fight stopper’ (what would be?). So, the 10mm, what the heck it does eludes me but anyway, too much velocity for 2 legged varmint, though still effective, oh but it’s just too much gun for some people (who probably shouldn’t be in law enforcement in the first place). So same as the .45, it works but not for everyone. Thus the .40 S&W. Surely this is the one ring to rule them all (and it very nearly is). It’s comfortable to shoot even in a concealment pistol, accurate, effective and can allow for good capacity. It really might have been the answer, capacity like a 9, more power but without the recoil of a .45 or a 10mm, we’ve arrived, right? Oh no, lets take the 9mm and mount it on a .40 case, because a bastardized 10mm case that has already been down-powered just begs for a lighter and smaller bullet without increasing capacity because. . . well because someone one will buy it and Sig just gets a kick out of doing things their own way.

    The thing is that the 10mm the .40 and the .357 Sig are all just attempts at an engineering solution to a training problem. If you can hit fast and accurately a slew of 9mm will drop anyone. If you manage recoil appropriately actually hit what you aim at a .45 is effective and it’s limited capacity isn’t really an issue (imagine shooting anyone more than 8 times center of mass and they keep coming!)

    The solution is pretty simple really, train people to shoot. My granny can handle the recoil of the .45 without issue. If you go the other way and want faster follow ups and more capacity hat’s off to you, that will work to, it’s not a bad plan, but surely the 9mm fits the bill just fine. If you can’t hit anything at all no amount of power or capacity is going to help. So how about really teaching people to shoot, then stress inoculating them so that they can shoot when someone is shooting back. Would actual training be too much to ask?

    It turns out it is too much to ask. The thing is that rather than swear people who are suited for fighting we have to let anyone and everyone join or it just wouldn’t be fair, so we have to heavily adapt technique and equipment so that everyone from sickly wimps to overweight old women can serve a role best left to healthy men of at least average size. It’s a mindset of enforced equality in a situation that will never allow it to be so. I suspect that it drives some types (progressives) crazy that some people are just naturally better suited to some tasks than others.

    Fighting is by definition unfair. It is a situation in which those who are more capable win. Such a thing is so hateful to the minds of some that they cannot bear it even when it is self evident. That the more gifted, more determined and better prepared should prevail is anathema to a certain type of person, be the success on the battlefield or in business.

    If the .357 Sig is what works for you, great, I don’t really have anything against it, but as ever, training and determination win fights, gear is just what you use to do it. The best equipment is whatever you have that works.

    • I’m not sure which irritates me more these days….

      Lying, cheating, stealing, backstabbing, disingenuous, hypocritical, SOB politicians…..

      or

      People who still insist that 45 Auto is the gold standard messiah of ammunition.

      Too close to call, me thinks….

      • RKBA: If that’s what you took away from what I wrote I need to work on my delivery. I offered the .45ACP because for American LE it was the first viable automatic pistol cartridge. Did you miss the whole part where I endorsed the .40S&W as being likely the best compromise of power an capacity available or what I said about the 9mm being a good choice for it’s controllability and capacity?

        It seems to me you must have read my post with the intent of being offended if the part that got you was that I mentioned (god forbid) the .45ACP as an acceptable caliber of duty pistol.

        Heck, I figured I’d catch flak for what I actually asserted, the whole attack on the left thing, which was the only part of my post that was remotely controversial, rather than a caliber war I didn’t even start.

        • Ardent:
          You are wrong on so many levels. The 1st commercially available semi-auto was the 1908 Colt in 38ACP
          PS the 10mm is a semi-auto 41 mag; perhaps if you lived where a 41 mag was considered a Minimum powered handgun you would adopt a more enlightened view of the practicality of such arms, but you won’t

        • Ensitue. The first commercially available semi auto was not the Colt 1908 in .380. The first commercially successful semi auto was the Broomhandle Mauser from 1896, in .30 mauser. Luger put their first semi auto on the block in 1900. It was an offering to the militaries of the world but was also available for private sales. Colt had their 1903 model in .32 also.

          Just a few of the semi autos that were already in production prior to 1908. And the 1908 Colt was in .380.

    • I suspect that you meant inculcate [the necessary stuff]; if only a shot in the arm would instill the correct reflexes and demeanor…

      Just ribbing you, sir.

      Good argument and well stated. We are become Harrison Burgeron.

      BTW, ol’ Kurt was a leftie…

    • It indeed was a solution in search of a problem.

      I remember the breathless wonder and awe of the gun-rag scribblers when it first came out: “.357 Mag ballistics in a semi-auto!”

      OK, well, if you wanted .357 ballistics, why not, you know, get a .357?

      Oh, that’s right, they wanted to spray and pray, rather than hit something. Check. Got it now. L-frames and Pythons are so jejune’, so yesterday.

      Then they started talking about the “reliability of feeding with a bottle-necked case.” Yea, right. A little attention from a gunsmith will make straight walled cases like the 9×19, .45ACP, or most anything in between feed reliably. But this cartridge was a solution in search of a problem, so they kept searching for problems to justify the expense, and the feeding trope was pulled out. Often. Funny, I’ve had umpteen 9’s and .45’s over the years, both metal and plastic, a .380, all manner of semi-auto .22’s, a 9×21 race gun, all of which have consumed umpteen thousands of rounds, each. If there was a feeding issue, they got fixed. Took at most a couple hours. Never had an extraction or ejection issue with any of them.

      While the advocates of this miscegenation were bloviating about the supposed virtues of this cartridge, IPSC/USPSA shootists were making “major” power factors with .38 Supers, 9×21’s and 9×23’s. These people had long since sorted out the feeding/ejection reliability issues, because as anyone who has shot IPSC knows, there’s no one who gets as pissed off as an IPSC competitor who has had a FTF or FTE. They fix these problems or they move on to something else. Oh, and the IPSC folks like guns that shoot with as little flip as possible. Seems like the IPSC boys and girls had this entire situation handled. Cops could have just asked them to share some ideas.

      OK, but let’s give the .357 Sig the benefit of the doubt. Let’s say it feeds slicker than a greased weasel down a squirrel hole.

      It’s just getting the spent case out of the gun they’re complaining about now. The cartridge designers were true to their word: It feeds wonderfully. Extraction and ejection was someone else’s problem.

      Any one of a number of cartridges could have given .357 Mag ballistics, or have been a significant improvement over the 9×19’s that were extant. But noooooo…. the taxpayers needed to be bilked. Our fearless public servants needed some new hotness to be able to say to the rest of the gun-owning public “We’re so much better than you are. We’re shooting a .357 Sig… and you’re not… because you’re not funded by the tax payers, and you get all butthurt at having to pay the absurd prices for these pistols and their ammo.”

      The thing that’s hilarious from my perspective is that they can’t even agree what the headspacing datum is for the cartridge. Talk about amateur hour in cartridge design. “We’re going to create this hot new cartridge, and we’re going to make it look real sexy so we can sell it to government gun-bunnies, but we’re going to decide later how we’re going to measure the case and the chambers.”

      Pffft.

      Now, here’s my question: Why hasn’t anyone examined putting a .40 S&W barrel into these frames?

    • There is both an ancient and modern reason why many people consider the recoil from 45 ACP to be excessive. The ancient reason is that until the mid 1970s shooters were taught to fire a 1911 one handed. A one handed 1911 shot was indeed recoil heavy yet a mediocre marksman (me) still got himself qualified.

      The modern reason is the plastic pistol. Polymer pistols have less mass to absorb the recoil and are snappier because of the higher center of gravity. You get more push with a 1911 and more snap with Glock, Springfield or similar plastic pistol. My experience is that when using a modern two handed stance the recoil from a 1911 is noticeably less than a 40 cal or even some polymer 9mms.

      I asked my wife what she thought about the recoil of 45 vs 9 and she told me that she is so concentrated on hitting the target that she doesn’t notice the recoil. I suspect that most people who shoot with extreme precision would say the same thing.

      A couple of weeks ago I tried to go through the military qualification routine circa 1970 one handed with my 1911. 38 out of 50… That’s a passing score..

      • “I asked my wife what she thought about the recoil of 45 vs 9 and she told me that she is so concentrated on hitting the target that she doesn’t notice the recoil. I suspect that most people who shoot with extreme precision would say the same thing.”

        Your wife agrees with my wife, and (NB the time and date, ‘cuz this doesn’t happen often), my wife even agrees with me.

        When one is really, truly working on shooting well, recoil is not an impediment to accuracy. I don’t care if I’m shooting a .22 or a .45ACP or a .44 Mag. Everything that affects accuracy happened before the primer went off.

        I’ve seen (and trained) several petite women to shoot 1911’s in .45ACP with very competent accuracy. I’m talking about gals who are 5’0″ (plus or minus an inch) and maybe 105+ pounds. They’re not exactly built like John Wayne, and yet there they are on the range, eating out the middle of a target at 7, 10 or 25 yards.

        • My wife is one of those 5 foot tall women. She can shoot the 1911 quite well, but she has to really work to get her hands to fit it right. Recoil is not a factor for her. She shoots a 12 ga. short barreled pump gun quite well too. But, again, her physical stature works against her. I got her a youth model 20 ga. and she selected a 4 inch barreled small frame revolver as her primary self defense handgun.

          For my wife the recoil is not anywhere near as important as the noise. She must have good ear pro or she’s not going near the range.

      • My Glock 21 is a nice soft shooting pistol, much more comfortable than a 1911. My Glock 30 is my wife’s favorite pistol, though she carries a 4″ Ruger 357 at the ranch. My now 11 year old got a lot of practice shooting pistols with a 22LR Kimber kit on my SA Inc. 1911. He stepped up to a BHP at age 9. Last summer at age 10 he shot a 96/100 at 7 yards with my Glock 21 on a POST qual target. I agree with you that training is paramount, but that applies to plastic vs steel as much as it does to caliber.

        I’ve carried a Glock 33 for ~8 years in certain situations, I like 357 SIG a LOT. I have a factory G27 barrel, and I find 40 S&W to be slower to recover from recoil and downright unpleasant with torque in the 180 gr weights. I have a 9mm conversion barrel, and it sold me on 9mm as a carry round (with help from the BHP). Of course that meant a pocket pistol LC9, but anyway.

        I know a narc cop that put 4 rds through a windshield of a crook trying to run him over in an alley. It was actually a great group on the abdomen. A 45/40/9mm likely wouldn’t have penetrated, especially all four rounds. Of course, that PD switched to 40 S&W to get in on free DHS guns/ammo…..

        At the end of the day, ANY pistol caliber stinks compared to dang near any rifle caliber.

    • Ardent, you are correct about the 40 being (closest) to the ‘one ring to rule them all’. After the various teething problems (beefing up the guns rather than sticking a 40 barrel on a 9,not using ‘short and weak’ ammo at the beginning), it is no accident that the 40 is the most popular round of law enforcement. It aint for everyone, but if you don’t mind the ‘snap’ of some rounds, it really is the ‘compromise’ between 9 and 45.

    • Or as my relatives in Myrtle Beach, SC would say while looking like they tasted poop, “up yonder”.
      They still don’t like using the word ‘north’.

      • … They still don’t like using the word ‘north’. …

        Yeah, I got three years of that shit when I lived in Mountain Park, GA. I had my fill of it approximately three minutes after I’d arrived.

        One of the three happiest days in my life? Seeing the “Welcome To Georgia” sign in my rear-view mirror while heading north on I75 with everything I owned packed in a 24′ Ryder truck.

      • I can handle the .357 Sig just fine, but the biggest advantage I can give it is that I’m still able to walk into a Wal-Mart or Academy and walk out with four or five boxes of it. A hard-kicking round I can buy easily at MSRP beats the finest rounds sitting on an auction site for $70/box.

      • Swap barrels and make it a 40 S&W. There is also a 9mm conversion that is available. I have all 3 for my M&P depending on what I am doing gun wise (range, training or class I am taking)

        • @Pascal, I have the 9mm conversion for my M&P 40c. I bought the barrel and mags when 9mm was cheaper than .40. It may still be so, but during the Great Ammunition Extinction I’ve found enough .40 to keep shooting while 9mm is still very scarce.

  5. Replace them with 4 inch 357 magnum revolvers. Maybe they would aim a little more carefully, and not blast 15 rounds off into space.

  6. The real BE-ALL-END-ALL cartridge is the 9×23… Too bad that no one makes it in mass production. It truly is a beast of a round. A 9×23 truly is like a hi-capacity semi-auto .357 Magnum.

    • Yep, it certainly is. And it’s only been around since, what, the early 60’s?

      There were slightly less hot 9/.38 semi-auto rounds for decades more than that. The 9mm Largo and .38 Super both gave near-enough performance to the .357 that they could have been selected for use.

      The single problem all of these rounds suffered from was that they weren’t new enough. Government agencies have to have the new hotness. Always. Spare no expense, the taxpayers are keeping too much of their money! Can’t have that, now can we?

    • As if you have to ask.

      Something new, something hot, something that will cure all the problems with their officers’ marksmanship.

      Or so they’ll claim, at least.

      • FNH five-seven with 30 round mag? That would run the taxpayer about 1200 a pop for 3 mags, pistol, and ammo even if they received discounts…

  7. Real I know of some Sheriff and Police Dpts who both with high pressure rounds like .357 SIG and .40 S&W retired there official sidearms early because they where worn out so much faster than 9mm and .45 cal pistols. Washington Co Sheriffs used .40 Cal Glocks for years but retired them in 2011 for 9mm and .45 cal pistol they worn out too fast. Thats a down side with these calibers they work well but beat the gun up in recoil. I say some of this too is sticker women complain too much over recoil and thats another factor we see there high pressure cals go away quickly.

    Overall I like 9mm and .45 cal any way so no need to threat here.

  8. Despite 80% of the responses being about the ammo, it isn’t an ammo problem.

    What bugs me the most is the smarmy article in the first place: ‘Meanwhile, Smith & Wesson [supposedly] can’t figure out a fix for the Tar Heel State’s pistol problems. They’ve offered to swap out the SIGs for an unspecified model for no money (yeah right). If the NCHP jumps ship they’ll pay for their new guns by continuing to trample of the fourth amendment (a.k.a., “asset forfeitures”). FWIW this whole thing sounds fishy to me”

    1. “Supposedly?” What the heck does that refer to?
    2. “yeah right.” Another jab (at S&W or SIG is unclear, thanks to the crappy writing) that means nothing but betrays the writer’s general weinieness.
    3. “continuing to trample of (sic) the fourth amendment”. A complete side issue that isn’t grounded in law.
    4. “sounds fishy to me.” You don’t say why, but by this time I don’t trust your judgement anyway.

    Just tell us what you know next time, not what you don’t know.

    • I am somewhat surprised there wasn’t a line to the effect of “but don’t worry folks, FNH will swoop in to save the day.”

      • Hopefully not there FNX pistols suck and since most of its plastic would really increase recoil more than the M&P. Glock would be the better beat in a bidding war they have cheaper pistol.

  9. Given the trend toward militarization of PD’s, it is difficult to understand why the NC LEO’s don’t simply demand one of the supremely hot pistol cartridges most in favor among the true fast movers, spec ops, the absolute elite, the guys running and gunning in the sandbox, the bros on the pointy end of the spear, the CQB guys before CQB was cool,: 9mm or .45ACP.

    • I guess the sarcasm floated by. Yet when the LEO’s demand ever-new cartridge types, they are exceeding even the perceived needs of serious warriors. When I read failure reports, they never seem to involve inadequate pistol power. Even in the infamous FBI Miami Shootout the tragedy had nothing to do with inadequate pistols but rather with initiating a rolling stop against perps known to carry long guns …without getting their own long guns out, or having inadequate long guns or cartridge types. There were a pair of MP5’s, but they were with guys sitting in a nearby dinner, one of them allegedly in the backroom with a waitress. The preparation, plan, and execution of the plan seem the usual failure points.

    • I think there is a difference between police and military soldier needs (not being able to use hollowpoints). I think special forces use 45,40,9 choice.

  10. I think the rationale of the SHP upper echelon in Raleigh was that the .357 SIG would give the line officers the punch to penetrate car doors. The pistols are also standard issue to Wildlife officers. In the past they were issued “other” calibers, after the Patrol abandoned .357 Mag wheelguns.

    • I know of no more suitable caliber for dual use (car doors and wildlife) than 10mm. Downloaded, it’s simply a .40S&W. Uploaded to standard 10mm loads, it has the ‘punch’ sufficient for the most serious police work. Loaded with cartridges holding a WMFPGC hard-cast lead bullet, it is suitable for bears-gone-bad. It’s available in SF for smaller hands, and in a ported model for the recoil-sensitive. I often use a .40 cal barrel for target-practice economy. It would be a benefit if LEO’s could concentrate on practical skills and enforcement knowledge, and skip the weapons obsessions for a decade.

    • Proving that history repeats itself, the rational for the .38 Super in the 1930’s was exactly the same: The ability to punch through auto bodies or car doors.

  11. The state has more than “1,649 uniformed members carry the pistols”? Per capita that is a heck of a lot of popo operating and not accountable to any local official. OR at least compared to what we allow in Iowa.

    • If the police had an 8 shot S&W that was cut for moon clips then, like they offer today, it probably would have delayed the wondernine revolution for 5 to 10 more years.

  12. Wow, anytime you have to end a sentence with the phrase”…and all troopers are trained on how to handle jams,” you’ve got a problem. Actually two, one is with your guns and the other is with how you’re denying the problem with your guns.

  13. The New Mexico State Police also just recently over the last year changed our their M&Ps in .357 to 9mm due to increased wear and tear on the gun. I guess some guns are not meant for certain calibers.

    • No its the case the local Washington Co Sheriff ditched the Glock .40 for 9mms because it weared the pistol out they say.

  14. NC LE depts are notorious for this, saying they are having problems with like new guns, then letting the personnel buy them in house for a token sum. Google “NC ALE Kimbers.” Its kind of an in house “gun buyback” that the various NC depts. do on the back of the taxpayer every couple years. After all, who would feel well protected with a lightly used 2009 S&W M&P 357 SiG? Or a barely used customized Kimber 1911? They deserve the best y’know.

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