A New Weapon
The Utah Highway Patrol had issued the .357 magnum revolver since 1938. Originally these weapons had a six inch barrel. The barrels were shortened in 1947 and 1948, to four inches. Beginning in 1953, the Patrol purchased model 27 Smith and Wessons with three and a half inch barrels. During the 1970s and 1980s, much debate centered around the fire-power of revolvers and the safety issue of semi-automatics. The Salt Lake City Police Department had converted to semi-automatics during the 1970s. Following an accidental shooting of an officer, the department returned to the revolver.
Within a week following the shooting of Trooper Bringhurst, the Patrol announced that the administration had made the decision to change to semi-automatic pistols. Colonel Dennis Nordfelt was convinced that both issues of firepower and safety were solved with the German manufactured Heckler & Koch, P7-M13, 9mm semi-automatic pistol. During the fall and winter of 1986/1987 every trooper received three days of training, which included firing of over 500 rounds of ammunition.