The announcement was all over the airwaves. A convict had escaped from a small town jail about 25 miles north of our rural community, and the local police were warning everyone in the area to lock their doors and exercise more caution until he was apprehended.
Bloodhounds from the local prison had been brought in, and local and state police were stopping all vehicles at roadblocks.
I told my wife to make sure the Blue Heeler slept in the den that night, instead of his usual place on the floor beside the bed. I went out and locked the vehicle doors and battened down the proverbial hatches.
Our rural area sees markedly less crime than urban areas — but I never forgot the escape from the juvenile facility about 10 miles to our east that occurred years ago.
The teenager who escaped the facility made his way through mostly woods and fields, happened to come out of the woods right at the end of our driveway, and found my dad’s big, fancy Buick sitting there like a plump hen, ready to be plucked from the roost, the keys sitting in the ignition.
The state police found the car two days later, 95 miles to the west. It was undamaged. He had driven it until it ran out of gas, parked it, and walked away from it. He had even left the keys in it.
So I’ve learned to take precautions, even when the danger seems safely some distance away.
I reviewed my collection of handguns to determine which one would lay on the nightstand beside my head for easy reach in the night, and of the large selection, there really wasn’t much of a decision to be made.
I pulled the Smith & Wesson Military & Police “Pro Series” out of the gun safe and slipped a loaded magazine into its butt.
Since the sunset of the hated Clinton 10-round magazine limits in 2004, many semi-auto pistols offer some sort of large capacity magazines, particularly in 9MM where excess is the norm. In this case, Smith & Wesson has managed to nicely fit 17 rounds of 9MM ammunition into one of the most ergonomically pleasing handgun grips you will ever wrap your paw around.
More is better in a self-defense pistol.
S&W pioneered the interchangeable grip inserts in the then-new M&P pistols introduced several years ago.
I wrote about them then, and commented how everyone who picked up one of the pistols up seemed to fall in love with the fit and feel of their grips.
Nothing has changed, other than an expansion of a fine pistol line to address more needs in defensive carry pistols.
The new “Pro Series” is still a full-size pistol, designed originally for competition shooting such as IDPA (International Defense Pistol Association.)
Like all in this exceptional design, it has the heavily scalloped serrations on the rear of the slide, the almost obligatory polymer frame, and an embedded “Stainless Steel Rigid Chassis System” that guarantees a rigid, solid grip and frame.
The rear sight is the fine M&P tactical design — this “Pro Series” carries tritium night sights that work very, very well in the dark (another reason to choose this one as a bedside gun).
S&W threw away the book in their design of the M&P, asking opinions of law enforcement professionals across the country as to what they would like to see in their carry pistols. The result was a thoroughly well-designed, ergonomically near-perfect, and utterly dependable semi-auto now available in numerous calibers, barrel lengths, and frame sizes, including compact models with barrel lengths as short as 3 1/2 inches.
I asked Smith & Wesson to send me a new “Pro Series” to test because two handgunners, both of whom I respect greatly, carry S&W Military & Police 9MM pistols in their daily professional lives.
One is the former sheriff (and police chief) of our city, and the other his former head of Narcotics and the Special Response Team.
Both of these guys still work in law enforcement, and the retired SRT head has a “Pro Series.” And both are highly respected tactical shooting instructors.
When I admired his choice, he invited me to try it out. I was immediately impressed with the size of the gun, the fit and feel of it, and most immediately, the trigger pull.
“This is the newest of the Pro Series,” he told me, “with a 4.25-inch barrel and a lighter trigger. The gun comes out of the Smith pro shop. Feel the trigger.”
I felt. I liked the lighter trigger. I liked the shorter size. And instead of a standard green Hi-Vis front sight, the gun had tritium night sights. It included an under-barrel rail for attachments, such as flashlights. All around, it was an excellent choice for competition, self-defense or duty carry.
S&W sent me one for testing, and I started carrying it, shooting it, and letting students in my classes shoot it. Everyone who picked it up, to a person, raved about the fit and feel. If they were small-handed, I put in the smaller grip inserts.
I see it as an exceptional carry/competition gun. I don’t care for 5-inch barrels, and find this barrel length to be an excellent compromise that carries well, even concealed.
The trigger breaks at a crisp 4.5 pounds or so. I can shoot ragged holes with an entire magazine at 15 yards off sandbags. It points better than any handgun I own, and it carries 18 rounds of ammo.
What more could you want?
Read more about guns, shooting and concealed carry at www.gordonhutchinson.com.
Hutchinson’s book The Great New Orleans Gun Grab (written with Todd Masson), is a searing expose’ of the scandal of gun confiscations in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. It is available at www.neworleansgungrab.com.
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