5 Best Guns for Police Departments: Sixty-two police officers died from gunfire while on duty in 2021. That averages out to one death every six days. 60,105 law enforcement personnel were assaulted while serving the force in 2020.
Clearly, police officers know they are signing up for a dangerous job and they realize the type of weapon they use is a significant factor that determines their confidence level when they hit the streets. 1945 has compiled a list of top guns police are armed with. This is by no means definitive and is open to debate. Here are four handguns and a shotgun that law enforcement favors.
5 Best Guns for Police Departments: The Glock 19
The Glock 19 is the all-around go-to model.
Departments prefer its affordable price as sometimes Glock offers discounts to police. Officers like the feel and lightness – fully loaded it weighs 30 ounces. The polymer-framed handgun is easy to use, sturdy, concealable, and dependable. The standard magazine holds fifteen 9mm rounds. The Glock-19 has three internal safeties which make it resist accidental discharges.
The Glock-19 is also easy to assemble and disassemble, which is a plus when it is time for a cleaning.
5 Best Guns for Police Departments: The Glock 22
Some departments and officers prefer the additional stopping power of the .40 Smith & Wesson round. This is where the Glock 22 comes in. It has the light-weight polymer-frame with familiar ergonomics that Glock is known for. The Glock 22 has the same size and dimensions as the gun it was based on – the Glock 17. It’s the choice for federal law enforcement such as the U.S. Marshals, the Drug Enforcement Agency, and the FBI.
In fact, firearms that used the .40 Smith & Wesson bullet came about chiefly because of a Miami gun battle in 1986 between FBI agents and two bank robbers armed with long guns. Two special agents died in the shootout. This encouraged the development of the .40 S&W.
The Glock 22 has a standard 15-round magazine with an optional 17-round magazine.
5 Best Guns for Police Departments: Sig Sauer P226
The Sig Sauer P226 is known for its accuracy due to its X-Ray Day/Night front sight. The easy-to-see green front sight allows the user to acquire targets in daylight. Night shooting is aided by a tritium insert in the fiber optic ring. Ergonomics are improved by the evenly distributed weight of the pistoI. It’s tough enough to have a history of use by Navy SEALs. It’s also in use by the U.S. Secret Service. Police can choose different calibers such as the 9x19mm Parabellum, .40 Smith & Wesson, or .357 SIG.
5 Best Guns for Police Departments: Heckler and Koch HK45
This may be something of a surprise to make the list but the HK45 does not disappoint. Heckler and Koch models are in use by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Probably the most customizable pistol on the list, it can be outfitted with lights, suppressor, and laser sights with its rail system. It fires a .45ACP round. Various special ops personnel were in on the HK45’s design. The pistol’s 4.5-inch barrel clocks in at 31 ounces unloaded and uses a ten-round magazine. It also has an ambidextrous mag release. Multiple back straps improve the feel and ergonomics.
5 Best Guns for Police Departments: Remington 870 Shotgun
If you own a shotgun in your collection, chances are it is the 12-gauge pump-action Remington 870. It’s been available to civilians since 1950 with an estimated ten million sold. A reliable workhorse, police keep this as a backup weapon for potential shootouts. It can fire a lead slug or a shell with shot pellets. Slugs are usually accurate out to 75 to 100 yards while regular shotgun shells are mainly for close-in use. SWAT teams can use it when it is time to breach a door.
Time to Debate?
Police needs are always evolving. Departments often test and put out contract bids for different pistols. Budget priorities also look at the price of bulk purchases. Large departments in big metro areas such as New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago must make tough choices since they are outfitting thousands of officers. Interestingly, these large departments often allow their officers to choose their pistols from different makes and models.
I hope this list begins the debate on popular guns with the police. The comments section will probably light up with other handgun models.
The Colt M4 carbine was not covered on the list but it is a standard weapon now. Other popular police handgun choices are the Beretta 92F, Glock 21, Springfield Armory XD-40, and the Smith & Wesson M&P40.
Now serving as 1945’s Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. Eastwood, PhD, is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood.