The USBP is the single most dangerous job in U.S. federal law enforcement anywhere in the world.
Certainly, each Border Patrol Agent in the field must have the ability to protect himself and others. Most Agents are on duty alone and often in remote and dark border country far from any backup or support. They must be armed. The USBP Agent is usually armed only with a pistol.
By the way, it has been found that the best marksmen are not necessarily the best Agents in the field. It has also been found that those with a solid early association with guns often make the best field Agents.
There is nothing mysterious or powerful about a pistol. Those four pounds of steel, powder, copper, brass, and lead are simply a tool. The Border Patrol Agent is issued that tool. The tool is used to
stop someone from causing harm to others.
At present the USBP Agents are issued the Beretta 96D
Brigadier pistol. It can contain as many as 12 rounds of ammunition (11 in the magazine and one in the chamber). The
96 is essentially an older Beretta model (the 92) with some modifications.
The Beretta 96D is what is called a double-action pistol. This means that as you squeeze the trigger the hammer is also moved rearward and at some point the hammer will finally fall and the weapon will fire. A single-action pistol would require that you manually pull the hammer rearward to the point at which it engages a stop and then use pressure on the trigger to release it.
Pistols are not very good at doing even what they have been designed to do. They do not have the stopping power to halt someone quickly. A pistol is really something to use for fighting your way to a rifle. Unfortunately, Border Patrol Agents do not carry rifles and usually have no access to a rifle or even a shotgun. They have only that small, underpowered Beretta and they risk their lives in any confrontation where it must be put to use.
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