Commissioner Charles Ramsey announced yesterday that he was eliminating the Police Department's "one size fits all" weapons practice, a change in firearm policy that will allow police to choose a more powerful gun that may also improve officers' accuracy.

Effective Jan. 12, Philly cops will have the option to buy their own .40-caliber and .45-caliber Glock handguns to carry on the job. The Glock 9 mm pistol will remain the standard-issue weapon for the department.

"It's good for the department," Ramsey said during a news conference at police headquarters. "It gives them a variety of weapons to choose from that will be more effective on the street."

The major differences between the new options and the Glock 9 mms are the size of the bullets and their velocity. The new options still fall under a certain threshold of power allowed under police regulations - that a bullet will not pass through a victim.

Ramsey said that the accuracy of models can vary among indivuduals and that one officer might be a better shot with certain models than with a standard-issue gun.

Ramsey said the goal was to allow officers to choose the weapon they feel most comfortable using.

"Officers who make life or death decisions ought to have some ability to choose which weapon suits them," Ramsey said. "My job is to provide officers with what they need to protect themselves."

The new firearm options are Glock 22 .40-caliber, Glock 35 .40-caliber tactical, standard-size Glock 21 .45-caliber and slim-frame Glock 21 .45-caliber handguns.

Ramsey said they were optional because the department can't afford to reissue new handguns and because turning in the old guns would create a glut of firearms, making it more likely that the old guns would make it back into circulation on the street.

The weapons, which Firearms Training Unit Commanding Officer Capt. Mark Fisher estimated will cost $400 to $450, will be available for police to test-fire free of charge at the Police Academy. The handguns will be available in time for the department's yearly firearm qualification, so those who choose to switch will not need to requalify. *