SIG MCXs among British Counter Terror Cops

The Daily Mail has an excellent group of photographs concerning an elite Scotland Yard unit that was set up before the Paris attacks, but has increased its tempo of training to counter such attacks as in Paris. Britain has this thing known as SFOs, or Specialist Firearms Officer, and these guys have “CT-SFO” on their vests, which means “Counter Terrorist Specialist Firearms Officer”. Essentially SFOs are the only members of British Law Enforcement that can carry firearms on the job.

Regardless, what we see here is probably the first operational use of the Sig Saur 5.56x45mm MCX that has reached the mainstream media. The unit also has SIG 516 rifles, which can be differentiated from the MCX with the telescoping wire buttstock without the traditional buffer tube. In these pictures you can see the 516s with Magpul buttstocks installed. I’m curious as to why a unit would have both types of carbines instead of just one. I would think the logistical nightmare would be compounded even more so with two different logistics trains. In addition, I also don’t really see why the Brits would want the MCX if they already have the 516. Traditionally wire telescoping butt stocks are great for Paratroopers who need that weapon as short as possible, but cops aren’t exactly jumping out of airplanes so the 516 would be just fine for them.

I thought American news outlets made gross firearms errors, but it seems British news outlets might just be worse. Apart from labeling every MCX as a 516, they list the Glock 17s with a range of 150 meters, goggles withstanding rounds and an encrypted firearms radio channel?

The marksmen were also toting their new lightweight, semi-automatic SIG 516 rifle.

The 130-strong unit has been developing new tactics with UK special forces, including abseiling from helicopters and tackling rampaging gunmen.

They have been trained to shoot for the head instead of the usual target, the chest.

They came out of the shadows in the wake of the massacre of 129 people in Paris on Friday.

The heightened terror threat was confirmed last night when another friendly – between Germany and the Netherlands – was called off very late because of a ‘concrete’ bomb threat.

No risks were taken because three of the seven Paris suicide bombers had targeted a fixture at the Stade de France between France and Germany.

Last night’s match began with English and French fans uniting to sing France’s national anthem, La Marseillaise.

One expert described the counter-terrorism officers at Wembley as ‘effectively SAS officers in police uniform’.

Amid some of the tightest security ever seen at a sporting fixture, they took up key positions around the ground.

Many of the officers chose to cover their faces because they sometimes work undercover.

Their new weapon was selected to boost the power of police to respond to armed threats with increased accuracy while allowing them to move in confined spaces.



Because you aren’t tactical until you have tactical ducktape. This is a Glock 17 in an Italian Radar 1957 Holster.

2E8B9DE500000578-0-image-m-40_1447804994695 2E8A3C7500000578-0-image-a-32_1447804980440 2E8AF13D00000578-0-The_marksmen_were_also_toting_their_new_lightweight_semi_automat-a-35_1447804980488 2E8A2BC200000578-0-image-a-36_1447804980584


Infantry Marine, based in the Midwest. Specifically interested in small arms history, development, and usage within the MENA region and Central Asia. To that end, I run Silah Report, a website dedicated to analyzing small arms history and news out of MENA and Central Asia.

Please feel free to get in touch with me about something I can add to a post, an error I’ve made, or if you just want to talk guns. I can be reached at


  • BattleshipGrey

    Dang it! Why does the “firearms channel” have to be encrypted? Is it TFB TV?

    In reference to the Glock’s stated range, the pic says 150 FEET. Which is close enough for what people practically train up to. The rifle however, says the effective range is 350 FEET, which is quite a bit shorter than it’s actual effective range. Another great hack job by the media.

    “And now for something completely different” Elite tactical unit “comes out of the shadows” only to be found holding their gear together with duct tape.

    • Phil Ward

      You say “the media”, but it’s really the Daily Mail, they probably just got the ranges out of a Call of Duty wiki page….

      • Camilo Emiliano Rosas Echeverr

        It’s popular nickname is “The Daily Fail”

    • Bill

      I mark a lot of my gear with duct tape. There are usually also strips of duct tape stuck on my ninja jammies for, well, taping stuff: breeching charges, door latches or to hold them open, pressure dressings, covering marijuana grow surveillance camera lenses, etc. It’s the handyman’s secret weapon.

      • itsmefool

        And if the women don’t find you handsome, they can at least find you handy!

  • Azril @ Alex Vostox

    And they kept saying that Britain’s Police is not armed enough…

    • Dave C

      There is the HK MP5SF with red-dot sight and weapon mounted light. Fairly typical over there.

    • 6.5x55Swedish

      When I’ve been in London if feels like a war zone; people with big rifles and loads of kevlar at every street corner. It is like they let their “SWAT” does all the street patrolling.

      • phuzz

        They do tend to stick to the touristy areas, and railway stations etc. So if you visit you’re more likely to see them than a resident.

    • The Forty ‘Twa

      You’d be hard pressed to see a firearms officer outside of London unfortunately.

      • Randomer

        Irony? That picture is taken in West Yorkshire not London. Was during a hard stop on an armed robbery gang last year near Bradford.

        (The PCSO vest is a dead giveaway if you know what your are looking for, they are only issued in Yorkshire and the Humber in that configuration)

        Regarding the MCX versus 516. The CTSFO are issued MCX as a replacement for MP5 SF and G36C which they were previously issued. The ARVs are getting 516 as a MP5 SF and G36K replacement so it is actually reducing the number of issued systems (stand fast DPG!).

        The MCX stocks are for working from vehicles and in plain cloths with weapons concealed which the CT-SFO and TST units do, unlike ARVs.

        • The Forty ‘Twa

          No irony, the point still stands. Seeing armed officers is not that common outside of London.

          I used to see armed officers deployed on routine patrols or static points all the time in London (I’ve not been for a number of years but I don’t imagine anything will have changed) but elsewhere in the country you tend to only see them when something has happened.

    • Sgt. Stedenko

      If this oper8tor really wanted to impress people, he’d get one of those skull masks like our alphabet agencies in the USSA wear.
      And moar tattoos.

    • Mike

      Which butt are we looking at here

    • Cynic

      Image 2 is a piglet or baby copper, PCSO’s have no arrest power beyond citizens arrest, can’t use force at all can’t use handcuffs without a cop supervising and a whole host of other restrictions.
      They are/were a political stunt to make it appear more police were patrolling the streets than isnacually the case.

      If I need a copper I want a full fat one not this semi skimmed report take who can’t write a ticket alone.

      As a kid we used to just laugh at PCSO’s telling us to move on from hanging around somewhere.

    • First Last

      The guy in the mask in the first picture looks like Daniel Craig. Are you sure they haven’t been replacing cops with super spys?

  • Retslav

    Does he have an inverted magazine under his left arm?

    • mig1nc

      Yes, a lot of people do that with ITW FastMag pouch. It makes sense, it’s easier to get out that way.

      • Retslav

        Nice, didn’t know they also worked upside down!

        • Mike

          Its for the Australians!!!!

    • FarmerB

      We think it’s a “she” with Lady Di eyes.

      • HenryV

        She is a she yes.

  • mig1nc

    Can anybody tell what magnifier the “marksmen” have behind their red dots?

    • Mike

      Aimpoint 3X

      • mig1nc

        Thanks, bud

  • Dave C

    Um, dude, the posted British media diagram of all the equipment, erm, “kit” says the Glock 17 has an effective range of “150 feet” not meters…

    MoD armed police have MP7s and Glocks. Armed response units frequently used Glocks and HKMP5s that were semi-auto-only. Increasingly, G36s have made appearances.

    • Randomer

      The G36 are because when the Home Office offered funding to transition to 5.56mm carbines to replace 9mm post 2001 and Mumbai this is what was funded (forces had to pay for there own weapons if they went with another choice.)

      Most looked at the infrastructure costs they had to pay to upgrade ranges etc and went with the “free” weapons. Others already had 5.56mm carbines and stayed with them or didnt want to introduce a training burden vs MP5 (hence forces still using HK53 which has the same manual of arms)

      MOD Plod went with MP7 to replace several weapon systems with 1 (ie L85, 9mm Pistol and some MP5) reducing training, ammunition and maintenance burdens. Unfortunately they then discovered that the national standards required a sidearm and that in certain roles (SEG & SNM convoys) the MP7 was insufficient. So now they have G17 (when MOD transitioned to it), MP7 and C8 carbines and are back in a similar position to what they started in apart from MP7 ammo costs far more than 9mm.

  • 6.5x55Swedish

    150ft is just under 46 meters. It is a long shot for most people when it comes to target shooting but pistols will still be “effective” out to 50 meters, depending on how you define effective. Effective range is not a fixed number. Some nations say the M16 have an effective range of 900 meters while other say it have an effective range of 250 meters.

    But yeah, it fealth like they put in words there just because they could. “low-visability grey”, “gunsight” as if they couldn’t just have written sight, “extra ammunition magazines” because not pointing out that extra magazines comes with ammo would be dumb or something, “firearms channel” so that the glocks can have a chat while they are waiting to be used. Also, did you know the police fires 50000 volts 21ft away…

    • iksnilol

      Sight and magazine could possibly refer to multiple things. So specifying by adding gun and ammunition in front of them respectively makes it clearer.

    • Bill

      50 yards was an old standard for qualifications in the United States. Many if not most places have dumbed it down to 25 yards, or as little as 50 feet. Pistol cartridges are “effective” based on perspective – they’ve punched through siding from a mile away or longer.

  • The Forty ‘Twa

    Where is the error in the radios being encrypted? UK Police forces use a service called Airwave (based on the TETRA specification) which can be encrypted. Specialist units such as firearms units often have their own channels which are used in addition to the standard local channels.

    It is quite funny that Miles is slating media outlets for glaring errors in the published material yet his posts are often quite poorly researched and full of mistakes. Pot, kettle, black.

  • TheNotoriousIUD

    I feel like its a little counterproductive at this point to harp on minor inaccuracies in the media (And the Daily Mail barely qualifies) especially when TFB is relying on these outlets for pictures.
    Send Miles to London with a camera.

  • Tom

    SFOs are not the only UK Police who can carry firearms, there are also AFOs (Authorised Firearm Officers). Basically SFO is a SWAT equivalent where as AFOs have a level of training more like that of a regular officer in every other country where police carry guns.

    Up until the late 80s/early 90s all male UK police officers were “trained” (i.e. they got to fire a cylinder off from a S&W model 10 during their basic training and called it a day) in the use of firearms and all police stations/police houses had armories. A senior officer could take the decision to issue firearms when needed which were mostly carried in a concealed fashion (under the tunic or in a pocket!) so the general public would have no idea that PC Plod was packing heat. A series of accidentally shootings lead to a review and the decision was made to only issue firearms to officers who received on going training in the use of firearms.

    Recent events have seen more and more officers carrying firearms often in a very overt manner. All officers of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (formerly the Royal Ulster Constabulary, GC) carry handguns as do all officers of Civil Nuclear Constabulary whilst all officers of the MOD police are trained in the use of firearms but do not necessarily carry them.

    • The Forty ‘Twa

      I used to be an AFO in a Scottish force and I had far more training in various specialist tactics than a lot of regular officers in some of the countries I was fortunate enough to visit through the IPA (Germany, Australia and a couple of parts of the US). AFOs are better trained than a lot of regular officers elsewhere. My force at the time made very little use of SFOs and AFOs were used for what most Americans would recognise as SWAT work.

      Most of the regular beat officers I came across in Germany and Australia were not proficient with carbines or had never used them and those that had typically served in the military (a lot of the Germans had obviously) or more specialised police units. Things were a bit different in the US due to the culture but I was struck by the lack of consistency amongst forces, some gave their officers a lot of range time and others got the bare minimum and certainly far less than I was getting.

      • Blue Centurion

        The other advantage we US LEO’s have is that we can train almost anytime we wish off duty. Now that you are no longer in Law Enforcement, can you shoot at a club? It’s hard for me to fathom the firearms restrictions in the UK and the like. I’ve had firearms around me since I was six (6) years old and was proficient before service in the Military.

        • The Forty ‘Twa

          I’m still serving, I’m just no longer in that role.

          With the changes to policing in Scotland I had to choose between the two extra roles I performed on top of my normal duties (as an AFO was in my force, being a fairly small rural one, some larger forces had a FT armed contingent). My other ticket was more interesting so I stuck with that and handed in my firearms ticket. I still shoot though, I’ve been shooting for the last 40 years and like yourself was an experienced shooter before I joined the army.

          The thing that got me with the small departments with little range time was officers were having to pay for ammunition out of their own pocket if they wanted to do more training. That wasn’t feasible for some of them in a tight financial position and it just shouldn’t be the case regardless.

          • BattleshipGrey

            If you don’t mind my asking, if Scotland had succeeded from the UK, was there any talk of expanding rights or loosening restrictions on guns (or any other issues)? Or was it purely financially driven?

          • The Forty ‘Twa

            I don’t think that really figured at all in the debate. The current Scottish Government is not gun friendly though, it looks like air rifles are going to be licensed in the near future…

            I wouldn’t say it was purely financial either, for a lot of people that was the least of their concerns.

          • myndbender

            I’d guess not, as the huge reason for Britain’s present draconian Firearms restrictions are the kneejerk reaction to the Dunblane School shooting, which took place in Scotland.

          • BattleshipGrey

            I knew that was the deal breaker, but I never realized that Scotland was more abhorrent to guns compared to the rest of the UK. Thanks for filling me in guys.

          • kyphe

            Scotland is less gun friendly than the rest of the UK, the talk was of demilitarization and tightening of restrictions.

    • Bill

      If I understand it correctly, British cops even have to qualify at different levels in driving: there are training courses and testing for emergency driving and then more for pursuit driving,, and a lot of their training is in the field, on actual roadways, surrounded by humans, which would never happen in the States. The Brits are lightyears ahead of us in that regard, plus they have nicer cars. Or so it seems, I bet they still smell like barf unless they do all their prisoner transports in vans.

      • phuzz

        Sometimes they have nicer cars, a lot of the time they’re stuck with a diesel Astra, or a Fiesta, it depends on the role. Motorway patrol will get fast, robust vehicles capable of participating in high speed pursuits (Eg modified BMW 5 series), but the village bobby will get something just big enough to get him from A to B (eg a Ford Fiesta with a new paint scheme and maybe some flashing lights).

  • Dangermouse

    “Traditionally wire telescoping butt stocks are great for Paratroopers who need that weapon as short as possible, but cops aren’t exactly jumping out of airplanes”

    No but they do need to secure these in a vehicle safe when not being used, so the retractable stock helps keep the safe a bit smaller.
    They can also be more easily concealed, under coat for example.

  • John

    I have come to the conclusion that profiles like these are meant to make people feel safe, not to inform readers.

    Does an officer really need that balaclava? Wouldn’t a gas mask be more practical? No, it’s for intimidation and hiding identity. And it tells me that the officer is afraid while trying to project strength.

    Practically, the MCX is supposed to have AR-style grips and controls, so anyone trained on an AR will be instantly familiar. In truth, I think they were afraid and demanded the latest version of the same gun now, without thinking about effectiveness or cost or anything else. They are afraid, and simply reacting.

    • The Forty ‘Twa

      A gas mask more practical? I’ve heard it all now!

  • Kivaari

    The 350 foot effective range of the SIG 516 is scary.

    • Sgt. Stedenko

      So is the Hello Kitty underwear the operator is wearing.
      The Daily Fail forgot to tag that.

  • Blaine

    Is that Glock with the blue slide a simunition gun? That could be dangerously confusing.

    • The Forty ‘Twa

      The photo was taken during a training exercise earlier this year.

  • Rick5555

    The newspaper or whomever did the brit reporting. Said the G-17 affective range was 150 feet and not meters. A 150′ is only 45.45 meters. In which the G17 is quite capable of achieving. However, it said the Sig rifle was capable out to 350 feet. And it should’ve been 350 meters which is 1155 feet.

  • Tony Quintus

    “Brits are either afraid of guns or simply will not spend the money and time it takes to train people”
    Or we have a miniscule level of gun crime due and don’t feel the need to turn our police force into a paramilitary organisationa and start offering them surplus MRAPs. The laws in the UK surrounding civvy gun ownership may be stupid (Though some states in the US are just as bad) but what you are suggesting would be a massive over-reaction, Britain is not America.
    Oh, and I’d like a source on that 37mm story, cause I can’t find one

    • Kivaari

      I had quite a few books on “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland. I have seen both the live action video and the stills showing the shooting. Almost as soon as the suspect with the club was down, the aid crews went to treat the injured rioter. Within a minute of the shot hitting him, a bruise looking to be 6-8″ in diameter was visible. The 37mm (1.5 inch) “Rubber bullet” was a steel slug surrounded by black rubber. The British version is nothing like the “Sponge rounds” used in the USA. Even “bean bag rounds” from both 12 gauge and 37mm guns can cause death.

    • Kivaari

      Tony, Brits and Irish have a very high rate of crimes against persons than other European and North American English speaking populations (excluding inner-city dwellers). Americans outside of urban blight areas have very low crime rates. British Isle dwellers have some of the highest excessive alcohol use, and that leads to more violence in the
      “normal population”. If you think American police are “militarized” you should look at Paris and Brussels these last two weeks. We have very few cops walking around packing machineguns unless there are riots or SWAT actions going on. British police have a long history of using excessive military force upon civilians, especially in the colonies. Europeans have armored weapons truck mounted with water cannon. I’ve never seen a dedicated water cannon truck in the USA. The use of fire trucks 50 years ago was an anomaly. Firemen do not like risking $500,000 pumper trucks giving people a shower. When Brit cops do use guns, they often use them improperly. We don’t send in the SAS to retake Iranian Embassy grounds with high explosives, and shooting surrendering terrorist there or Spain (Gibralter). Now Philly PD did use explosives once and it cost them dearly.
      Using surplus armored vehicles is a proper use. Like yesterdays shooting in Colorado Springs. Armored vehicles are used to get to and protect downed victims and insert a team.
      A typical cop in America will never fire his weapon at a person in an entire career. I served on and off from 1968 to 2002. I never shot anyone. I fired one round to distract a shooter. And killed several injured animals. We even carried a .22 rifle for animal dispatching. I used a gun to stop a knife attack and kidnapping and an assault with a pipe. No need to shoot, but it gives you an edge against armed subjects that know you can reach out and touch them.
      Brits need to restore order. Liverpool had (in a 1992 study) the highest rate of crimes against persons than any other industrialized nation. UK has or had the highest rate of home invasion robberies in civilized nations. I wont count Mexico, even though they have high rates of all violence, it is technically a disarmed populace, since good people can’t own guns. Crime would go down there and Chicago if good people were armed.

  • itsmefool

    So will the Brits get the .300 Blackout kits before us, too? And by us, I mean those who didn’t get one of the very limited kits from Cabela’s earlier this year!