David Hines (hradzka) wrote,
David Hines
hradzka

range report: Concealed Off-Duty Police

So this weekend I went to the range with my friend Denise and Ash, and I finally got to try out the Concealed Off-Duty Police (aka COP). This is an interesting little gun: it was designed by Robert Hillberg, as part of his "weapons with many barrels" period. This period in Hillberg's artistry also gave us the Colt Defender -- not the handgun, but an eight-barreled monstrosity of a shotgun that was only made in very small sample numbers, alas. Hillberg also designed the Whitney Wolverine, an interesting little .22 pistol that looks like something out of Buck Rogers. Must get one of those someday.

The COP was intended, as its name hints, to be a back-up gun for police officers. It's a four-barrelled handgun that fires .357 Magnum (and, because the Magnum is basically a .38 Special with a longer case and more powder, .38 Special). It's a pretty small gun -- I'm not on my own computer now, so can't readily add photos, but it's about four by five and a half inches -- but it weighs a ton. Not really suitable for an ankle holster. It's so chunky that when you heft it, you suspect it's a solid piece of steel; there *can't* really be any moving parts in there! That would require a hollow space somewhere!

The mechanism is kind of interesting. As I understand it, the hammer rotates internally, striking the firing pins in sequence. It's kind of like an ass-backwards revolver: the ammunition stays in place, and the hammer moves. This is a pretty cool idea. It's also unfortunately delicate, which is another reason the COP isn't good for its intended purpose. The gun isn't suited for an active lifestyle, especially the kind of rough handling a police officer would likely wind up giving it. If a firing pin comes loose, you're screwed. Not a good choice for a carry gun, but an interesting piece, anyway.

I set up a target at seven yards and started out with .38 Special. The COP is a small piece with a very short barrel and a shorter grip. There's not a lot to hold onto. The grip angles are all rounded, though, so it's comfortable to hold. That changes when you go to fire it. I had heard the COP's trigger pull wasn't great. That understated the case. The COP has a trigger pull like a dump truck. It's long, slow, and not crisp in the slightest. It's also very strong. You squeeze and you squeeze, and then you squeeze some more, and then you start thinking about those exercise hand grippers, and how if you'd wanted one you'd have gone and bought one, dang it. You don't realize quite how bad it is until you see somebody else trying it. When Ash had his turn, I didn't have to concentrate on the sights and the grip and the trigger squeeze, so I could look at his hands and realize they were wobbling with the effort required to squeeze the trigger. Denise, who's got very slender hands, couldn't pull the trigger at all.

The horrible trigger cuts down on accuracy quite a bit, as you can imagine. But the COP isn't all that accurate, anyway. It has a very short barrel, and clumsy sights, and even when we were shooting our best we were holding it to something not quite minute-of-goblin at seven yards. In case you were wondering, it also kicks like a mule. That's actually the fun part: even shooting a .38 from it feels like a production, and when you go up to .357 -- man! You know you just fired something. This is partly because the grip is very short; there's not really much to have a good hold of.

The COP remains unreliable. I'm not sure why. On several occasions, the weapon failed to fire. This happened on different chambers and at different times. You might get a failure on chamber two one round, then have all four perform perfectly the next. Annoying, but not especially critical as I'm not planning on using it as a defense weapon. It'll likely be a safe queen and collectors' item, with occasional outings for public occasions. Maybe a trip to the gunsmith will clear its irregularities up, but I'm not in any hurry. It's an interesting curiosity, and it's nice to say I have one.
Tags: guns
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