I hear people talking about what’s the best firearms for close protection details all the time and 90% of what I hear is complete bullshit.
I recently had some gun store commando in Europe trying to push the benefits of the 12 gauge Saiga shotguns on me over say a regular AK-47… Something to do with the kinetic energy of a 12 gauge slug at 100 meters… Saiga shotguns are very nice guns but I take it they were all this guy had used or could sell due to the restrictions on semi-auto rifles in his country. Some unwitting buyer could easily take this gun shop owner and firearms experts advice and end up buying firearms for use in hostile environments that were not suitable, overpriced and the ability of being able to buy effective ammunition, spare magazines and parts locally would be extremely difficult if not impossible.
If you are undertaking an armed close protection or security details there are a few questions you need to ask yourself before you start spending money of firearms.
- Legality: You need to first find out if can you legally work armed and what permits are required for you to possess and carry firearms. If you need to import firearms then you will need a lot more paperwork to purchase, export and import the firearms and ammunition. Also, in many locations there are restrictions on what security personnel and private citizens can possess and carry.
- Firearms Availability: In many states in the United States firearms are available to non-felons and those with the required permits. But in many other locations in the world firearms are very restricted and the types of firearms available can be very limited. No point having a sexy FN Five-seven pistol or a .300 Blackout AR-15 if you can’t get the ammo or spare parts for them… So, consider; What firearms do you have access to? How can you buy the required firearms and from whom? Do you have the required licenses and permits to buy the firearms and ammunition?
- Budget: Guns and ammo costs money, so you need to realistically workout what firearms, magazines, ammo, licenses and permits you will require and price it accurately. In many cases you might want to have an FN-SCAR and a dozen magazines but due to legal restrictions and budget you end up with a Chinese shotgun and a half a dozen shells.
If you are lucky enough to have access to the firearms and ammo and have the funds to buy what you need there are a few other things you need to consider before spending your money. You will need to consider what you are going to be using the firearms for, close protection, residential security, valuable asset escorts, maritime security, hostile environment details or workplace violence prevention. All of these situations are different and will influence the types of firearms you require. You also want to think about what threats you are likely to encounter, for example street criminals, burglars, stalkers, organized criminals and terrorists.
If you are providing close protection services in a nice area a compact 9mm pistol and a spare magazine might be more than adequate but if you are escorting valuables in a hostile environment then an AKS-74U and few spares mags might be more suitable. The main things to consider when buying firearms for close protection and security details are familiarity, simplicity, reliability, accuracy, caliber and capacity.
- Familiarity: Are the people that are going to be using the firearms familiar with them, have they been trained on them and used them before? Well, everyone these days seems to think they are an expert, but I have seen plenty of experts not knowing how to use or shoot a wide variety of firearms. This usually applies to people not being familiar with various firearms safety mechanisms and having never shot such firearms are shotguns or revolvers.
- Simplicity: A defensive firearm should be a simple firearm. The design needs to be as simple as possible, because the more working parts there are, the more there is to go wrong. Also, make sure you and your team members can easily work the slides if they are using semi-automatic pistols, pull the trigger smoothly if they are using revolvers and are able to disassemble their guns; these basic things that are important for shooting and cleaning purposes.
- Reliability: You need firearms that is going to work when you need them to work. The best way to find out about a firearms reliability is to look at reviews in magazines and ask reputable professional firearms instructors and dealers for their opinions. Additionally, look to see what firearms law enforcement and military forces use. These days, law enforcement units and the military put their firearms through strenuous tests for reliability, accuracy and stopping power before issuing them to their personnel. I generally do not buy or recommend guns that have not been on the market for at least two years, this is usually enough time for all faults in the guns to be discovered and hopefully rectified.
- Accuracy: You need a firearm which will hit what you are aiming at. If you are buying secondhand guns, make sure you check the barrels to be sure they are clean and there are no dents or imperfections. One of the primary reason’s guns do not shoot straight is because the barrels have not been cleaned or maintained properly, especially if the shooters has been using cheap ammunition. If you think the sights on your weapon are off then get a second opinion, it may just be the way you’re shooting. The sights on new guns will be set at the factories; I tend to go for fixed sights for defensive purposes, at close quarters we do not use the sights anyway.
- Caliber: There are many opinions on what is the best caliber for tactical applications and a lot depends of the ranges you might need to shoot at and if you’re going to need the rounds to penetrate cover or not. Remember, others’ opinions are nothing more than hot air! You want to choose calibers that you and your team can shoot accurately and comfortably. For example, in a handgun .357 magnums have excellent stopping power but also have a lot of recoil, especially when fired from a snub-nosed revolver. If someone is not used to shooting this type of firearm, they could easily miss their target, even at close quarters, and a powerful .357 bullet can travel a long distance. .22s are considered too small for defensive purposes by many but they are light on recoil, accurate, and a favored assassin’s weapon. A .22 in the brain will kill a person immediately.
- Capacity: You will need to consider how many rounds you want to carry in your firearms. Revolvers have capacities of 5 to 8 rounds and semi-automatic pistols have capacities or anywhere from 5 to 32 rounds before they need re-loading. Pump action shotguns 5 to 8 shells and with assault rifles the magazines can go from 5 to 100 rounds. Where you’re working and what your doing will influence how many rounds you will need in your firearms and what spare ammo and magazines you need to carry.
This is just a short article with some very basic information but hopefully it will give you some ideas on what you have to consider when planning armed security and close protection details.
Selecting Firearms for Close Protection Details
By: Orlando Wilson
Orlando Wilson has worked in the security industry internationally for over 25 years. He has become accustomed to the types of complications that can occur when dealing with international law enforcement agencies, organized crime, and Mafia groups. He is the chief consultant for Risks Inc. and based in Miami but spends much of his time traveling and providing a wide range of kidnapping prevention and tactical training services to private and government clients.