The United States Secret Service is a unique law enforcement agency that not only is responsible for protecting the most important politicians in the country but also maintains investigative responsibilities concerning certain financial crimes, such as counterfeiting and fraud.
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Fulfilling these roles is dangerous by its very nature and requires the agents to carry the best firearms, both for the agent’s own protection and for the protection of those under their care. Each firearm has been rigorously tested and coupled with the finest ammunition to produce the most effective defensive combination possible.
Sig Sauer P229 DAK
Since 1999, the standard sidearm issued to Secret Service agents has been the Sig Sauer P229 DAK chambered in the venerable .357 Sig round. This round was developed to mimic the firepower of .357 Magnum loadings in a semiautomatic pistol by essentially necking down a .40 S&W case to accept a projectile like what is seen in most 9mm ammo loadings. This results in the .357 Sig round achieving consistent barrier penetration, reliable expansion, and devastating permanent wound cavities.
Another factor that the Secret Service needs to consider is the fact that they will need to be prepared to take down suspects at larger ranges than most normal police officers would encounter. The .357 Sig shines in this area with its very flat trajectory, which results in increased accuracy and a longer effective range compared to that of most defensive handgun calibres.
When these terminal ballistic are coupled with the P229 DAK’s twelve-round capacity and compact dimensions, it becomes the ultimate covert-duty pistol. The pistol practically disappears in their usual attire and allows the agents to have more space for other necessary gear.
The specific DAK (Double Action Kellerman) model used by the Secret Service does away with the traditional DA/SA trigger seen on the original model and instead replaces it with a consistent double-action trigger pull after every shot. Having the same 6.5-pound trigger pull takes away some of the guesswork and allows the agents to know exactly how much force is required to discharge their weapon. In any adrenaline-fueled encounter, muscle memory will always be more reliable than fine motor skills will be.
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The FN Five-SeveN is one of the most unique, compact, and powerful handguns on the market today. The Five-SeveN is the only handgun in this list to possess a manual safety, but because of its unique position directly above the trigger guard, it is quickly and easily disengaged. This handgun chambered in FN 5.8x28mm not only uses the same ammunition as the P90 submachine gun also used by the Secret Service but has several distinct tactical advantages that are not seen in any other handgun calibre.
Should the agents find themselves in a situation where the amount of ammunition on hand begins to dwindle, they will be able to exchange the same round between their submachine guns and handguns. The 5.7x28mm chambering also excels at sending a lightweight 30-grain bullet at speeds approaching 2,500 feet per second. This impressive speed helps the bullet to maintain a flat trajectory while keeping its lethality at extreme distances.
The Secret Service agents must also be prepared for all types of threats, including suspects wearing body armour. The extreme velocity of the bullet allows it to effortlessly pass through almost all types of small-arms body armour and deliver a lethal hit to the opponent. While the specific ammunition the Secret Service uses is classified, FN manufactures 5.7x28mm rounds that are specifically designed to penetrate armour and have even been tested to pierce through two car doors. This will essentially turn an assailant’s cover into concealment and allow the agents to neutralize a threat hiding behind almost any object in an urban environment.
The casing of the cartridge itself also has a relatively small diameter, allowing the standard FN Five-SeveN magazines to achieve an impressive capacity of twenty rounds. Another benefit of this pistol that often goes unnoticed is the low amount of felt recoil. Once a shooter has become proficient with the handgun, they can rapidly achieve very small centre-mass groups not possible with most 9mm ammo loadings.
Sig Sauer P226
While the Sig Sauer P229 DAK and FN Five-SeveN are the only two handguns authorized for on-duty Secret Service agents, the Sig Sauer P226 is one of the few handguns authorized for off-duty carry. This full-sized service pistol has seen numerous duty roles with both military and law enforcement agencies since its release in 1983.
The P226 has earned its reputation as a battle-proven handgun capable of withstanding extreme conditions while simultaneously maintaining its impressive reliability and accuracy. As an off-duty weapon, Secret Service agents are permitted to choose between the 9mm Luger, .40 S&W, and .357 Sig variants of the firearm. This allows agents much more time to train as the .357 Sig round is notoriously costly and difficult to locate at times.
The full-size P226 also gives agents more firepower in an off-duty situation where they may not have the support of additionally armed allies.
Sig Sauer P232
The Sig Sauer P232 is only available as a backup weapon to Secret Service agents. Because of its arguably anaemic .380 ACP chambering, it is no longer actively issued and is only available when grandfathered in. Despite this, those Secret Service agents who do carry it enjoy this lightweight, small-framed pistol.
Its diminutive size and weight mean little extra effort must be done to conceal the weapon. This is an extremely important factor for all Secret Service agents involved in high-profile security assignments because of the reality that they must additionally carry a large number of communications and defensive gear.
The P232 also shares the same manual of arms as the larger P229 and P226, resulting in very little additional training needed to master the pistol. While I would certainly not rely on a single stack .380 ACP as my primary pistol in this situation, those extra seven rounds could save your life in a worst-case scenario should your primary firearm malfunction.