Ammo Short Cops Moving to 9mm and Airsoft
With the great ammo shortage of 2013 rolling into its 9th month, everyone has experienced problems keeping their stocks of bullets at pre-freak out levels. One of the classes of shooters that are feeling the crunch especially hard is the law enforcement community. Several are looking for alternative options to keep their officers current.
Why the problem?
When the grumbles and rumbles of possible increased regulations on firearms and ammunition sales started in December 2012, there was a mass scramble to grab anything in any caliber, 'just in case'. This led to runs on gun stores, big box chains, and online outlets, with customers buying until the shelves were empty. With 'just in time' point of sale ordering common in your large retailers, shelves remained shallow as most remaining stocks of ammo was in transit, increasing the anxiety of the consumer.
Even now, three quarters through the year, supplies are just barely reaching demand. While normal recreational shooters can just put off going to the range and sit on their stocks for when the zombies come, law enforcement must continually train. The last thing an agency wants to say in a shooting incident was that they have suspended or cut back on the number of training days. You can win that lawsuit with a lawyer from the mall.
The Downsize alternative
In Sioux Falls, South Dakota (pop 153,000), a city on the fringe of the huge shale oil boom, police have their hands full. For the past 15 years, the 230-officer Sioux Falls Police Department had been well equipped with Gen II Glock Model 22 safe action handguns. These guns, in 40S&W have for years been seen as the cutting edge of law enforcement handguns. In fact, the G22 is often billed (by Glock) as the most popular handgun with peace agencies in the US.
The thing is, have you tried to buy 40S&W ammo in quantity lately? Looking around on gunbot, Federal Law Enforcement 180-grain HSTs run $599 a case of a 1000. For comparison, Federal LE 9x19mm Luger in 147-grain Hi-Shoks is $450/1000.
(9mm vs 40cal)
While this doesn't seem like a huge difference, when you do the math its staggering. For Sioux Falls, a 230-officer department, each officer typically would qualify quarterly in a fifty round course of fire. This is 46,000 rounds of ammo in a year. Most departments qualify with the same ammunition that they carry on duty for liability reasons, so this would mean 46 cases of hollow points just for their thin blue line of the SFPD to stay current. For that much 40S&W, the price would be $27,600, plus shipping. For the same amount of 9-milly, $20,700. That's a good bit of scratch when every penny is counted. It's the taxpayers' dollars after all. That extra $6900 could buy 14 new ballistic vests, five breathalyzers, or duty gear and weapons for a half dozen reserve officers.
This could be one of the reasons that Sioux Falls just switched to the 9mm Glock 17. They are not the only ones. A few states over in Colorado Springs, the locals have switched from 40-caliber S&W Model M&P pistols to the same gun in 9mm. Columbia, SC moved from .45ACP to 9mm as well in recent months.
There is always airsoft
(Airsoft still gives to user a good opportunity to practise weapons manipulation and nomenclanture on the cheap.)
Police departments are looking for other, more cost effective alternatives. In California, at least two departments, Richmond PD and Albany PD, have increased training with laser pointer devices and realistic airsoft guns.
According to CBS San Francisco, "Everybody is fighting for what is seems like a shrinking amount of ammunition out there," said Lt. Louie Tirona, firearms, and tactics instructor for the Richmond Police Department. There is also another advantage, according to Tirona. "With Airsoft, its pennies compared to dollars with live ammunition," he said.
Ahh, if only we could go back to the good old days. Remember them, 2012?