In our series Ask a Warden, we interview officers from across the country to learn about their role in protecting our game, fish, public lands, and other resources. In this edition, we asked officers from South Dakota, Texas, and Colorado what guns they carry.
Conservation officers have a unique job that’s unlike most other law enforcement. From staking out serial poachers to running down stolen vehicles, routine patrols just aren’t all that routine. For that reason, wardens require a diverse set of tools to make it through a day. Here are their guns of choice.
Conservation Officer Supervisor Mike Apland | South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks
“In South Dakota, each officer has a 12-gauge shotgun and Sig Sauer AR-15, but our everyday carry is a Glock Model 22 .40-caliber pistol. Our guns are primarily for law enforcement use, although they’re commonly needed to put down injured or problem wildlife. In my district, the usual suspects are deer, elk, and mountain lions.
“I started 30 years ago, and at that time most everyone had a Smith & Wesson .357 revolver. Our duty weapons and training have changed drastically over the decades.”
Warden Kevin Davis | Texas Parks & Wildlife
“Currently, all Texas wardens carry a Glock .40-caliber semi-automatic pistol and a Daniel Defense .223 semi-automatic M4 rifle. As state commissioned peace officers, the pistol is used to protect the public and the officer. The rifle is an officer’s primary weapon and has clear advantages, including greater accuracy at longer ranges.
“We are in the process of transitioning our wardens to the Glock 9 mm pistol. This decision was made by considering current ballistics, friendly recoil, and handling for a wide array of shooters. Historically, Texas wardens carried a revolver until we transitioned to semi-auto pistols.
“In the past, the rifles allocated to wardens were the Ruger Mini 14 .223 semi-auto carbines and fully automatic .223 M4s (neither are used today). We also previously issued Remington 870 12-gauge shotguns and currently allow our officers to carry them, but they are no longer standard issue. Additionally, we have other specialty firearms that are used in tactical and investigative situations by specially trained game wardens.”
Retired Warden Bill Andree | Colorado Parks & Wildlife
“Our duty sidearm is a state-issued Smith & Wesson M&P45 (formerly everyone had .40-caliber Glocks). It’s used as self-defense and for putting down wildlife in areas where other weapons may not be safe. Before semi-auto pistols were common, most officers carried a .357 revolver that they had to supply themselves.
“We also have Remington 870 12-gauge shotguns, which can be for self-defense, hazing wildlife with rubber pellets, and putting down big game. Most carry a .308 rifle of some kind. Although there are many models that wardens have, the majority are Remington 700s. Some officers also carry a .223 AR-15 for self-defense.”
Feature image via Texas Game Wardens.