Special Report

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

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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. 

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

Click here to read our detailed methodology.

10. San Jose
> Standard issue service-weapon(s): Sig Sauer P225, Sig Sauer P226,Glock 17, and Glock 19 (officers can also elect to carry a variety of approved firearms while on duty at their own expense, including Beretta and Smith & Wesson semi-automatics and Colt and Smith & Wesson revolvers)
> Police officer count: 1,161 (1.1 per 1,000 people)
> City population: 1,019,772

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9. Dallas
> Standard issue service-weapon(s): Glock 17 and Glock 19, other options also available
> Police officer count: 3,118 (2.3 per 1,000 people)
> City population: 1,349,185

8. San Diego
> Standard issue service-weapon(s): Officer choice between a range of weapons
> Police officer count: 1,877 (1.3 per 1,000 people)
> City population: 1,434,673

7. Philadelphia
> Standard issue service-weapon(s): Revolvers: Smith & Wesson .38 Special, or Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum; Semi-automatic pistols: Glock 17, Glock 26, Glock 22, Glock 27, Glock 35, Glock 21-SF, Glock 21, Glock 30, or Glock 30-SF
> Police officer count: 6,300 (4.0 per 1,000 people)
> City population: 1,576,251

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6. San Antonio
> Standard issue service-weapon(s): Smith & Wesson M&P 40
> Police officer count: 2,381 (1.5 per 1,000 people)
> City population: 1,592,693

5. Phoenix
> Standard issue service-weapon(s): Glock 22, Glock 21, and Glock 17
> Police officer count: 2,795 (1.7 per 1,000 people)
> City population: 1,638,290

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4. Houston
> Standard issue service-weapon(s): Glock 17 for rookies, other options available depending on tenure
> Police officer count: 5,250 (2.2 per 1,000 people)
> City population: 2,339,252

3. Chicago
> Standard issue service-weapon(s): Glock 17 or Glock 19. May also use Springfield Armory XD Service Model 4 inch, Springfield Armory XD Tactical Model 5 inch, Springfield Armory XDM SFS, Smith & Wesson Model M&P9C, or Smith & Wesson Model M&P9 Shield, depending on training and tenure. Auxiliary pistol: Glock 26, Glock 43, and Springfield Armory XD Subcompact 3 inch SFS.
> Police officer count: 13,108 (4.9 per 1,000 people)
> City population: 2,696,561

2. Los Angeles
> Standard issue service-weapon(s): FN 509 MRD-LE
> Police officer count: 9,474 (2.4 per 1,000 people)
> City population: 3,988,183

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1. New York
> Standard issue service-weapon(s): Glock 17, Glock 19, Smith & Wesson 5946, or the SIG Sauer P226
> Police officer count: 35,047 (4.1 per 1,000 people)
> City population: 8,475,387

Methodology

To identify the handguns used by police departments in America’s largest cities, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed official police department documents and local media reports. 

All data in this story was the latest available at the time of publication and is subject to change. Specific data on the firearms available to officers with the San Diego Police Department was not available at the time of publishing, but a department spokesperson confirmed there is no single standard issue firearm and that officers have a choice between a range of firearms. 

Police officer personnel and city population figures are as of 2021 and came from the FBI. Due to a lack of FBI reporting for Chicago and Philadelphia, population data is from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2021 American Community Survey and police officer counts are from official department websites.

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