John Montenegro is a deputy sheriff for the largest sheriff’s department in the world. He's currently is assigned to the full-time Special Weapons Team as a scout.

Based on his extensive experience, here are his thoughts (with receipts to back them up) about building the ultimate modern tactical pistol using an Apex Grade 9mm Gunsmith Fit Barrels for M&P and Curved Forward Set Sear & Trigger Kit:

In the late 1990’s, The Federal Bureau of Investigations spec’d out a pistol for the Hostage Rescue Team that required a 1.5” 10 shot group at 25 yards. The winning pistol was a 1911 platform from one of the major firearms manufacturer’s custom shop. During that time a custom or near custom pistol was needed for that level of accuracy but also came with the price of significant maintenance to operate reliably. Fast forward a quarter century and the mad geniuses at Apex Tactical can turn a $679 MSRP striker fired pistol into a 1” capable gun at 25 yards with lawnmower reliability.

For the past 14 years I have been assigned to a full-time tactical team out of Los Angeles and currently the scout of a team. My other duties include: lead firearm instructor for the all the unit’s weapon programs, unit armorer and lead instructor for a tactical associations POST certified “Tactical Firearms Instructor School.” I’ve spent many hours on the range as a student, instructor and observer for nearly 29 years now and tested new platforms that hit the market. From operational, teaching and armorer experiences, I have formulated my opinion on what I advocate on a Modern Tactical Pistol.

My version of the modern tactical pistol is as follows:

I would put the performance of that platform against any service pistol to include factory 2011’s that are extremely popular today. I find the above combination has capability that makes it an incredibly hard use tactical pistol.  

What I find appealing: 

  • Ability to change palm swells to make grip fit my hand with gloves on 
  • Extreme reliability  
  • X-ring accuracy at 25 yards 
  • Definitive wall on the trigger with clean break and short reset 
  • Factory magazines that work 100% without feeding or slide lock back issues
  • Low maintenance  
  • Points naturally  
  • No issues in a maritime environment (stainless steel slide and polymer frame) 

There are plenty of great platforms out there and this is not to disregard them at all, I’ve just found the above setup can do anything I ask it to in a high-risk environment. Tac-driver accurate, simple to operate, simple to maintain, great trigger that I can get into and out of at will and will run reliably all day. I do not need to lube in the morning and the afternoon for a long shooting session. I do not need to change springs every 3,000 rounds. I do not need to mark magazines that will or will not lock back. All my magazines fall free and rounds don’t sound like they are rattling around inside.  

One of my teammates had two exact setups, carried one operationally and trained with the second one. He did not clean nor lube the training pistol for a year to see how long it would run and it just kept performing. Attached is a picture of the frame when he decided to finally clean it. We do not advocate ignoring maintenance on your pistol, however, having that kind of reliability coupled with x-ring accuracy is why I favor the platform so much.  

The overlooked factor is that for the price of one of the current new hotness pistols, I can have my complete setup with an optic, light, DG switch and holster for about the same price. That is a significant advantage, the ability to outfit a team with a complete setup with the same amount of funds that you would use on some pistols out there with no gain in performance.  

I don’t know how many hours Randy Lee spent on cracking the code to design a barrel that provided that level of accuracy with zero reduction in reliability, but my unit is glad he did. The platform without the Apex Gunsmith fit barrel and curved forward set trigger is a solid duty pistol and my agency has thousands in-service. However, add those two components and a solid duty pistol becomes an exceptional tactical platform.