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Wide Variety of SWAT Weapons

NCJ Number
Law and Order Volume: 50 Issue: 3 Dated: March 2002 Pages: 90-92
Art Sharp
Date Published
3 pages
This article focuses on the different weapons and personnel assignments selected by SWAT teams.
A survey was conducted of 39 randomly selected law enforcement agencies in July 2001 regarding weapons and ammunition of SWAT teams. The number of different types of weapons assigned to an entry element varied from non-penetrating beanbags to armor-penetrating rifles. The differences varied from coast to coast. There were differences in types and makes of weapons among entry teams, but there were some similarities, as well. One hundred percent of the respondents reported their teams had precision rifle capability. As with most aspects of SWAT work, their numbers and functions vary somewhat. Makes and calibers differ in precision rifle utilization. The predominant caliber of choice was the 308 Win. There were significant differences regarding the type of ammo the precision riflemen used. Some departments restricted themselves to one type of ammo for their precision rifles, while others used a variety. The handgun ammo also varied. In most cases, the handgun ammo carried by the team members was the same as that used by uniformed officers. There were significant differences in numbers of annual call-outs among the responding agencies. The number of calls had little or no bearing on weaponry and ammo. Only 8 percent of the responding agencies did not utilize shotguns somewhere on their tactical teams. The types of ammo the shotgun carriers used was widespread among agencies. Seventy-seven percent of the tactical teams reported that they employed submachine guns. Again, there were wide disparities in the position, type, and ammo style. Two more aspects of SWAT firearms that are of importance include 37mm and 40mm munitions and 223 caliber entry rifles. Only 8 percent did not have the capability of launching either 37mm or 40mm munitions. Of those agencies that did, 58 percent launched one or the other and they were evenly split between the two. The other 42 percent launched both 37mm and 40mm.