The North Carolina Highway Patrol adopted the popular Smith & Wesson M&P pistol in 2009, shooting the hot little .357 Sig cartridge.
Now they’re looking to possibly replace the pistol due to reliability issues:
The North Carolina Highway Patrol purchased the Smith and Wesson’s M&P .357 Sig pistols in September 2009.
But two years later, some troopers started having mechanical issues with the extractor port.
“Any semiautomatic pistol, like this M&P, when you fire the gun the bullet comes out the barrel, but it has to pull the empty casing and throw it out the way so it can grab another round and put it in the chamber. If that doesn’t happen, the gun jams,” Hyatt said.
Eyewitness News spoke to NCHP spokesman First Sgt. Jeff Gordon via Facetime. He said 1,649 uniformed members carry the pistols, but the agency did not feel the need to do a mass withdrawal since not all of the guns have the issue, and all troopers are trained on how to handle jams.
“It has not posted a safety risk for the troopers,” Gordon said. “One of the things we teach our troopers to do when we go through annual firearms training is that we use the ‘Tap, Rack, Ready’ method. This allows troopers to safely and quickly clear their weapons so another bullet can be fed into the chamber.”
Gordon said the Highway Patrol has been working closely with Smith and Wesson, but they have not come up with a solution. The agency is now testing models from other companies as well.
The Highway Patrol hopes to have a replacement picked soon. Once it is selected, it will still take several months for the guns to be distributed and for troopers to train and certify on the new weapons.
The .357 Sig has an excellent reputation for feeding (as as bottleneck cartridges do), and for “stopping power” when compared against the more common 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP cartridges available at the time it was adopted.
Unfortunately, that enhanced performance comes at a cost. The .40 S&W and the .357 SIG are developing a reputation for battering the gun, regardless of manufacturer. The higher slide velocity experienced when cycling the .40 S&W and .357 Sig cartridges is accused of shortening the service life of many pistols that fire them, battering the slide and frame rails, and tearing up the smaller slide-mounted parts like the extractors on the NCHP’s M&Ps. The Smith & Wesson M&P a pistol has an otherwise excellent reputation in 9mm and .45 ACP.
The shortened service life of pistols firing these higher-velocity cartridges, combined with significant performance developments in 9mm ammunition in recent years, is causing some police agencies to shift back to the 9mm with the promise of increasing reliability, longevity, and ammo capacity with little trade-off in terminal performance.
Is a shift from .357 Sig back to 9mm next?