Special Report

The Standard Issue Police Sidearm in Each of America's 10 Largest Cities

Police officers have one of the most dangerous jobs in the United States. Tasked with conducting traffic stops, patrolling high-crime areas, and arresting suspects, police face a high level of risk every time they go to work. And those risks appear to be on the rise. FBI estimates show that incidents of officers being assaulted while on duty climbed 11.2% from 2020 to 2021.

Recent high-profile cases of wrongful deaths at the hands of police – either due to an accidental discharge or abuse of power – have caused many to call for radical police reform in the United States. Still, the potential for violence is a daily reality for police in the United States – and as a result, by definition, law enforcement officers not only have full arrest powers, but also carry a gun. (Here is a look at the most dangerous states to be a police officer.)

In the event an officer needs to use their weapon in the line of duty, as defense or to save a life, it is imperative that the firearm functions reliably and effectively. Among the tools of the trade used by men and women in uniform, firearms are arguably the most important – and as a result, cities across the country have strict guidelines dictating what their officers carry. 

24/7 Wall St. reviewed police department policy handbooks and local media reports to identify the handguns used by police departments in America’s 10 largest cities by population. It is important to note that the firearms listed are not necessarily all those used by police in that city, but rather represent standard issue firearms based on the latest available data at the time of this publication. 

Policies around standard issue handguns vary by department. In some major U.S. cities, such as Chicago and Philadelphia, police can choose between a range of firearms that fall within department-approved parameters to carry while on duty. In other major cities, police departments rely on a single, standardized service weapon. (Here is a look at every firearm currently used by the U.S. military.) 

In much of the country, police departments have moved away from revolvers, opting instead for semi-automatic handguns, which are typically faster and have larger magazine capacities. Still, in some cities on this list, revolvers remain an option for police officers. 

Despite the dangers they face on a daily basis, the practice of arming police officers with a sidearm is not without some controversy. High-profile deaths of civilians, both as a result of accidental firearm discharges and from officers who misused their power, have caused some to call for a radical rethinking of

Click here to see the standard issue police sidearm in each of America’s 10 largest cities.

Click here to read our detailed methodology.

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