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I love to challenge rules and conventional notions — all cops should. Sometimes, I find that the rules in question are there for a reason, and under closer scrutiny are proven to exist for our benefit. Other times, I find that the rules have no grounding in practical purpose, and are actually there to our detriment.
All of us have been told at one time or another in our respective agencies when we dared to challenge or examine a particular rule such brilliant reasons for their existence like “because we’ve always done it that way” or even a more paternal/maternal “because”. Don’t you love a response like that, especially when the rule doesn’t make sense?
Well, I’m here to challenge some of the rules when it comes to the choice of a police precision marksman (hereafter referred to as “sniper”) rifle, and hopefully change the paradigm for at least some of you when it comes to them. So here goes:
Rule #1-A police sniper rifle needs to be a bolt gun. Who said that? Up until a few years ago, the bolt gun was the only choice. Today, with the advent of the modern accurized AR15 platform, that is no longer true.
Rule #2-The sniper rifle caliber must be the .308 Winchester. What advantages does the .308 bring? The round brings excellent accuracy, and a great deal of power. How much power? Probably more than we need in most civilian law enforcement situations.
Think about this; the average U.S. urban police sniper shooting distance is about 64 yards or less. How much of that power is wasted exiting the suspect’s head? Can we still take care of business with a milder recoiling caliber out of a standard AR platform gun? Yes, I think we can.
Rule #3- The police sniper rifle needs to weigh 12 or more pounds for best accuracy and to fit the conventional standards. Look again at the standard engagement distance: 64 yards. This is a distance that we can select and control because we select our hide and shooting point. Why not start with a rifle like the 6.8 Recon that weighs 7.5 pounds sans scope, and just maybe maxes out around 10 pounds including a 21-round magazine?
Rule #4-A scope with 15- to 20-power magnification is required. In the real-world sniper mission do you use all that magnification power, or do you want to be able to see some things out of the periphery, such as other suspects?
Ok, consider the rules challenged. Now let’s look at the alternate possibility for what the standard police urban sniper rifle-the 6.8 SPC Wilson Combat Recon. Recon is an excellent name for the gun in my way of thinking. The word “recon” is defined by Webster’s Online Dictionary as a “military activity in which soldiers, airplanes, etc., are sent to find out information about an enemy”
My 6.8 Recon is set up with an 18-inch stainless steel, medium contour match-grade barrel with M4 chamber, what I consider to be the best quad rail on the market from Wilson Combat, an unloaded weight of only 7.7 pounds, a mid-length direct impingement low-profile gas block, full length upper rail, NP3 Coated LMT enhanced bolt and carrier, Wilson Combat’s Accu-Tac flash hider, and Wilson’s single-stage TTU (Tactical Trigger Unit) adjusted to a crisp 4-pound pull, Magpuls excellent CTR buttstock and MOE pistol grip with Tactical Trigger Guard.
The whole thing is finished out with Wilson Combat’s excellent Armor-Tuff polymer finish, which I selected in OD. This color allows the weapon to be used in my rural terrain without much worry of additional camouflage being added. The receiver and full length of the barrel are coated, but not the forend (which would be a nice additional touch).
There are short rail segments on the side of the forend setup that may be moved to different locations along the sides or bottoms of the rail based upon your needs. I like the fact that the forend isn’t covered with rail. How much of the stuff do we need, really? I bet most of the rail on your M4’s sit unused. One 15-round magazine (about perfect for a recon weapon-good capacity, yet not likely to dig into the dirt when fired from the prone position) from C-Products is included.
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About the Author: Scott Wagner is a 32-year law enforcement veteran. Currently a police sergeant in Baltimore, Ohio, he spent 20 years with the Union County Ohio Sheriff's Office as a Reserve Deputy where he worked patrol, training and SWAT, and was the assistant SWAT team leader and a team sniper. Wagner has been a state-certified police firearms, fitness and defensive tactics instructor for 26 years, and has been a criminal justice professor and police academy commander for 20 years at a community college in the Midwest.He is the author of the Gun Digest books, "Tactical Shotguns,", "Own the Night—A Guide to Tactical Lights and Laser Sights," and Survival Guns.
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