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With the things going on in the world and society today, shotguns have become an antiquated weapon for us. Shotguns don’t have distance.” So sayeth Leechburg PA police Chief Mike Diebold [above left]. According to, the borough Council bought into Diebold’s argument—literally. By a vote of six to nil they rubber stamped the plan to put [two] rifles in the hands of the local po-po. As tens of thousands of local and state governments have done before them. So, what’s the deal with distance, then? “The rifles allowed will be .223 caliber, which is the standard used by police and is “extremely accurate,” Diebold said . . .

At council’s meeting Monday, Joe Gray, a Vandergrift officer and certified firearms instructor, said while handguns are accurate at a range of 25 yards, patrol rifles are accurate to 150 yards.

Gray said officers have been outgunned by criminals. Diebold said “bad guys” have replaced shotguns with high-powered rifles to defeat bullet-proof vests.

Officers at times rely on their handguns just to fight to get to their rifles, said Ron Baustert, a part-time officer in Leechburg and Gilpin and Armstrong County’s 911 coordinator.

Diebold said his department has taken high-powered rifles off of people. In a rural area where suspects can see officers coming from a distance, those with high-powered weapons have an advantage of range Leechburg officers didn’t.

“We need to be able to fight back on the same level if need be,” Diebold.

Yes, well, as you might imagine, the town of somewhere around 2000 souls is hardly a hotbed of criminal activity. And it’s a shame to see America’s cops turn their backs on the most versatile of weapons system. Oh well. More used Remington 870s for us, I guess.

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  1. Headlines from the future;

    “Los Angeles County Sherrif Lee Baca III cited ‘officer safety’ concerns when asked why they used city funds to buy an operational Nuclear Missile Silo.

    ‘Criminals have the ability to buy weapons of mass destruction , so we need to send a message to the gangs and scumbags that we mean business .Plus, this logo’ed launch key looks cool.’ “

    • Awww, you’re just starstruck!

      Honestly, though, given what must be more than 20 stars per side on that car, I have to wonder how many stars the chief wears on his collar/uniform. I’m sure there must be an inverse relationship between the number of uniform stars and ….?

      • found this article and wanted to comment since I am from leechburg. the car was not chosen by chief diebold. he was blessed with it from the previous chief. the police cars are now black and white lol

  2. Honestly, I’m a lot more concerned about a weakening 4th amendment than the advent of the patrol rifle.
    If I were being asked to do the job, id ask for an AR15 to keep in my trunk too- especially in a rural area where my nearest back up is the closest state
    trooper that isn’t already busy.
    I’m as concerned about LE militarizing as anyone….but a patrol rifle, in many instances, just makes sense.

    • +1

      Some of you guys amaze me with your hypocrisy. First you advocate freedom to own a .223, then whine that Law Enforcement shouldn’t have one as well. What?

  3. Slugs or Hornady TAP 00 buck would work. I get about a five inch pattern with TAP at 50 yards.

    Whatever, though. The real issue is this guy is either lying to get what he wants or didn’t do any research.

    • What kind of shotgun are you using to get those patterns? I’ve heard that you basically need to tune every aspect of the gun to get solid patterns at that distance.

      • The length of the barrel and the type of ammo used are what really determine those distances. Low velocity 00 buck are pretty accurate at those ranges.

      • Now that you mentioned that, it was my 870 with a modified choke. Cylinder bore produces far less tighter patterns but still not too bad at that range.

        • I see. I had heard that you had to do things like vang-comp your barrel and play with a bunch of different ammo types. I’ll have to experiment.

    • Too many decisions, too much training. You have to have flowcharts, procedures, force levels…Having more that 2 weapons would make the use of lethal force much more difficult to decide what to use.

      • If I can figure out which is an appropriate weapon given the circumstances, why should the police not be able to?

    • Sort of my opinion for both as well, but cops in a small conservative rural town saying they are outgunned gets comical.

  4. “Gray said officers have been outgunned by criminals. Diebold said “bad guys” have replaced shotguns with high-powered rifles to defeat bullet-proof vests.”

    Methinks a sabot slug of any make and quality down a rifled slug barrel would defeat any armor you throw at it. Smooth-bore with rifled slugs would sure do it too methinks.

    I disagree with his logic. It would be far cheaper to outfit a car with rifled shotguns and shells than ARs with the distances they are talking of. I mean really… do you think they are going to be engaging folks out those ranges? Or do you think SWAT and sharpshooters would be called in first?

  5. So, let me get this straight:
    The cops want a weapon so that they can shoot an alleged perpetrator from so far away that they really can’t be sure they’re targeting the right guy? I’m assuming they want scopes on these things, too, right? I thought the idea of a shotgun was two-fold: 1) you have to be close enough to identify your target in order for the damn thing to work, 2) if you miss, it’s not real likely that you’l much collateral damage. Finally, the last time I looked at a shotgun locked in its rack in the patrol car, it had a pistol grip, not a stock, hence the name “riot gun.”

    WTF, over?

  6. Patrol rifles should be more common. Someday police shotguns will be a memory. Virtual patrol rifles used to be seen in depts in the 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s until the late 70s, via lever action 30-30s, BARs, Thompsons, m-1 carbines, then mini-14s. Increasing liability influences were largely responsible for the demise of the patrol rifle in the 80s-2000-ish. When using buckshot, shotguns are the equivalent to “super-handguns,” being effective only to about 25-30 yds before shot dispersal becomes too great as nine .33-caliber projectiles sail downrange. Inside 5 yds, buckshot dispersal is so tight that you almost need practical rifle accuracy anyway. Rifles eliminate short-stroking pump guns, which is too common under high-stress operation. Shotguns’ advantage is their versatility to shoot beanbags and other less-lethal projectiles.

    • Meanwhile, in the military, shotguns are becoming more common because they offer better versatility (slugs–lead, frangible, powder–buckshot, and less-lethal options) in urban combat. Go figure …

  7. Let’s make em go back to Model 10’s too. Why would a cop need all that magazine capacity?

  8. Get the right tool for the job …if the only thing you’ve got in your toolbox is a hammer, you’ll treat everything like a nail.

    Handguns, rifles, and shotguns each have their strong points. Certainly trunks on cruisers haven’t gotten so small that both a rifle and shotgun with ammo wouldn’t fit with room to spare. Moving exclusively to one firearm seems a bit short-sighted.

    Also, if one wishes to make the argument that they need to outgun the bad guys …where are the 308’s and cruiser-mounted mini guns?!?! 😉

  9. Ah, more red meat for the anti-LEO nutters who lurk in the underbrush along Comments Ridge.

  10. Remington made a pump-action rifle chambered in .223 which accepted AR magazines. Perfect compromise. Cops can’t pretend to be Rambo with a pump. However, they can still fight back from a distance.

  11. Sounds good. If I was a cop I’d want a rifle too. Shotguns are nice. But rifles are nicer.

  12. This may be an unconventional thought, but instead of an AR15 perhaps we should equip our lawmen with a 30-30 lever action or scoped Ruger Scout Rifle?

    A .223 rifle makes sense for the home clearing & building search situations citizens and cops may face. For a determined jackwagon with body armor and enough firepower to overcome trained backup with pistols, perhaps something larger is in order. The outcomes of the North Hollywood shooting and the Miami incident would have been much different if the good guys had a Marlin in the trunk.

    I doubt such an idea will take. Not only are such weapons considered “non-tactical”, but expert use will require training. The T word means higher expenses and a higher training budget, and officers willing to become good enough shots to make it work.

    Before anyone accuses me of being a Col. Jeff Cooper fanboy, my main carry is a 9mm and one of my arms is an Ar15 chambered in 5.56mm.

  13. I still don’t understand why it has to be an either or scenario. Many of us on this very thread maintain a stable of handgun, shotgun and rifle to best serve us in a myriad of potential situations. Why can’t patrol cars be equipped likewise? It’s not as if they need to carry both long arms on their person at all times.

  14. “Patrol rifles”.

    Curious to know if they are true select-fire, or only semiauto versions. In the latter case, it still magically becomes an “assault weapon” when in your or my hands; average Joes not being permitted to own full auto rifles.

    Some animals truly are more equal than others.

  15. Yet most police shootings are within 15 feet. Um…”one 870 please with a variety load out of rounds”. 00 for up close and personal and slugs when you just have to reach out and touch some one. As far as training goes this money could have gone to training for better marksmanship skills with the tools they had.

    A little dated but you get the gist.

  16. Here in Caddo Mills Texas, they have an AR and a Shotgun in the car.
    Personally, I have a fondness for shotgun slugs. Nothing like 300+ grain bullets to make an impression

  17. Leechburg has three full-time cops. Three. I unleashed my Google-fu and couldn’t find records of any of them being shot at, much less shot. I’m thinking that Chief Krupke is FOS.

  18. “Officers at times rely on their handguns just to fight to get to their rifles, said Ron Baustert”.

    So let me get this straight. The officers are saying they are in such violent gun battles that they are using their handguns to get to their rifles, but up until now, the policy has been that they didn’t have any rifles. Anybody think the officers are sensationalizing things just a bit in order to get the new policy?

  19. That is one fancy painted police car. Isn’t Leechburg known for a mixed lemonade or hard liqueur or maybe both? Maybe it is Leechburg Tennessee?

  20. I guess I’ll take the position that the cops should be allowed to have any weapon the rest of us are allowed to have, and no more. I realize this is not a new concept, but it is a sound one. So fine, these Fifes can have their AR-15s (and I’m sure they’ll buy the finest, with some sweet optics, maybe night vision – I bet it will be at least $3-4K per rifle package), as long as everyone else can buy the same thing.

    That said, I thought we liked shotguns because they’re incredibly effective short to medium range weapons. Makes a lot of sense to me.

  21. i wouldnt jump on the chief just yet. im from the area, and hes got a point. no, there isnt very much crime there, relatively. but the area can be very open and rural, and i would believe the possibility that perpetrators will be engaged from a distance(beyond the effectiveness of a shotshell) is greater than that of being engaged near. so…….. yeah.

    • Citation? Anecdotal evidence? Or have we taken an excursion into the gun grabbers realm of “common sense”?

    • And by that logic, they should be able to get a tank for every officer and a full-time wiretap on all phones in their jurisdiction. Welcome back to the slippery slope, rural America edition. Now that they have AR’s, they’ll need thousands of dollars in training just to spray the hillside with lead at the first inclination of disobedience.

  22. There are just so many things wrong with this article I don’t know where to begin. I just LOVE the fact that when us mere mundanes have these rifles, we are told we are over compensating for something, nobody needs the fire power of the evil “assault” rifles. Once you don a funny looking costume and pin on a tin badge, all of a sudden, it is an obvious problem that the “officers” are “out gunned” and NEED “patrol” rifles. What a complete CROCK!

    I also take exception to Joe Gray, a Vandergrift officer and so – called certified firearms instructor. Handguns only accurate to 25 yards? WTF? I guess I made a huge mistake by shooting deer at 50 – 100 yards with my revolver. The AR platform is only accurate to 150 yards? WTF? Maybe old Joe hasn’t heard about long range shooting and what some people and their equipment are capable of. Must be living under a rock. Or with one, in his head, where his brain should be.

    • I don’t believe it’s unreasonable to say that pistols are only accurate to 25 yards. It’d be more accurate to say the vast majority of people who shoot pistols are only accurate to 25 yards, but the end effect is the same.

      I would not try to engage a target in a combat situation beyond 125 yards with an AR unless there was a lot of nothing between me and them, or I had the drop on them, both unlikely for police officers. 500 meters is for situations they’ll never encounter in America in day to day life.

      • I agree with you Mark. However, for this supposed firearms instructor to make the blanket claim is absurd.

  23. antiquated? no remotely. anybody who says this is full of shit. can you reliably cycle less than lethal through the AR15? or a handgun? no you cant…

    Implying that shotguns are antiquated is a perfect example of the militarist philosophy of many law enforcement agencies.

    • Can you mow down a horde of meth’d up, still makin’ hillbillys at 200 yards without reloading ye olde shotgun? No. But then again, who needs to? Certainly not the guys in that jurisdiction or they would have made a show called Leechburg Vice. Maybe they should call the Sheriff’s department if they’re too scared of their citizenry to perform their duties without weaponing up. That would save the town some money AND some aggravation.

      That said and by way of a seeming contradiction, I’m all for the police having what regular citizens have access to so long as their local tax base can support it or they can buy it on their own dime. NO FEDERAL MONEY TO LOCAL POLICE

  24. Many of you guys are like clucking hens as you pick at statements of the agency firearms instructor. IT’S A STATEMENT TO THE GENERAL PRESS, undoubtedly under the direction of his bosses. It’s not an interview to American Rifleman magazine or NTOA, or any other gun-geek rag, where such distinctions matter. As mark pointed out, the FI likely meant what is true — generally speaking, people using pistols aren’t practically accurate hitters in gunfight situations past 25 yrds. Actually, he probably could have dropped that figure to 15 yds. So what if he said that “pistols” aren’t accurate past 25 yds. So what if he should have said “it’s difficult for shooters using pistols to accurately hit past 25 yds.” Almost all such statements that this forum’s hens pick at are made in the general media, not a gun-tech media. When wringing your hands over statements made about guns in the general press, many of you guys tend to have two reactions — either you see some conspiratorial gungrabbing force at work, or you argue about the technical nuances like star wars fan boys argue about star trek.

  25. Wouldn’t they be better served by a couple of copies of Magpul’s Shotgun fighting DVD?

  26. My dad was a Louisiana State Trooper for 10 years before becoming a Florida Sheriff’s Deputy. What was his carry gun for all those years with LSP? A four inch .357 of his choosing, as long as it was a Smith or Colt. I don’t think he ever felt “outgunned” with his nickel plated Python and the Ithaca 10 gauge. He did end up on the SWAT team for LSP, so he was issued an AR-15.

    Once he transferred to Florida, his carry gun was a Smith 5906. The Python was better.

  27. This article is hilarious! I live in leechburg. It is a small town of 2000 people. There is nothing rural in this jurisdiction. A shotgun would obviously be the best weapon in an urban setting so bullets wouldn’t go through houses. I’m glad our cops think this is a rural area. I can’t wait to see how much our taxes will go up this year. If you have seen this guy you would think the police department would want to invest in gym equipment instead of unneaded assault weapons. Ask Diebold when the last time he exchanged fire in the line of duty.

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