What types of guns are used in law enforcement?

There are many types of guns used in law enforcement, from handguns to shotguns to sniper rifles.  All unformed police officers in the U.S. carry handguns when they’re on duty and many are required to carry them when they’re off-duty as well, in case they run into a situation where they need to aid in preventing a crime or arresting a suspect. 

One of the most common guns used in law enforcement is the Glock semiautomatic pistol, which comprises 65% of all police weapons in the U.S. Glock handguns were developed in Austria for the military which was seeking to replace its outmoded weapons which dated back to World War II. Glocks are highly touted for their innovative qualities, which include single-handed firing, minimal firing malfunctions, easy maintenance, repair and cleaning and self-loading capability. The Glock is also made from synthetic materials instead of metal, which means that it’s lower in cost to produce than traditional weapons.  It’s also lighter in weight and thus easier for law enforcement officers to carry. 

The Glock semiautomatic pistol was adopted by many U.S. law enforcement agencies in the mid-1980s, when heavily armed drug dealers were increasingly outgunning police officers with more powerful weapons.  Since then, the Glock 22 caliber has become the most common of the guns used by law enforcement in the U.S.

The Smith & Wesson M&P (Military and Police) is also one of the most common guns used by law enforcement in the U.S.  It was introduced in 2005 and marketed to law enforcement agencies, many of which already used Smith & Wesson revolvers. The M&P has a polymer construction and a new design that improves its efficiency and effectiveness and makes it attractive for use in police work. 

When talking about common guns used by law enforcement, a consideration is pistol caliber. Which caliber is best for law enforcement personnel is something that officers frequently debate and many have hard and fast opinions about. Seasoned officers have favorite weapons and favorite calibers of guns. The most common calibers used in law enforcement are the 9mm, .40 and .45.

The larger caliber rounds reduce the ammunition carrying capacity of the gun, but they have greater stopping power. Generally speaking, the weapon manufacturer, gun model and caliber are decided by each law enforcement department and so officers have little say in which gun they carry.

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