Special Report

The Most Popular Police Firearms

American law enforcement can be a dangerous job. 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. Firearms are one of the standard tools that allow police to enforce the law while keeping themselves and others safe. 

Police departments across the country have a set of basic minimum standards that the service weapons they issue to officers must meet. Though these standards vary, they typically include multiple metrics, including physical dimensions, stopping power, reliability, accuracy, ergonomics, and weight and distance of trigger pull. For many departments, cost is also a consideration. 

Meeting these requirements, which are often department specific, is not necessarily an easy task for gunmakers – but those who have managed to do so sell firearms to police departments and law enforcement agencies across the country. 

24/7 Wall St. reviewed firearms used by police departments and sheriff’s offices in cities across the country, as well as those used by federal law enforcement agencies, to identify some of the most popular police firearms. The list consists mostly of standard-issue pistols, but also includes auxiliary weapons, such as shotguns and backup handguns. 

The two gunmakers that appear most on this list are Glock and Sig Sauer. Austrian gunmaker Glock began selling firearms in the United States in 1988, and many police departments were drawn to the handgun for its magazine capacity, accuracy, light weight, and steady trigger pull. Handguns made by Sig Sauer, founded in Germany in 1976, are popular for similar reasons and also notable for added safety features and easy takedown. (Here is a look at America’s top pistol companies.) 

While some of the firearms on this list can come in multiple calibers, 9mm has proved a favorite in law enforcement. Many departments have moved away from .40 and .45 caliber ammunition as 9mm can offer similar performance at lower cost, greater magazine capacity, higher rates of fire, and reduced recoil. (Here is a look at the gun calibers used the most to commit crimes in the U.S.

Click here to see the most popular guns in law enforcement.

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