What Kind of Glock Do Police Officers Use

What Kind of Glock Do Police Officers Use?

“What kind of Glock do police officers use?” …is a common, but very broad question. 

There are almost eighteen thousand law enforcement departments in the United States today, with over eight hundred thousand individuals serving in those departments. 

There are a myriad of different makes and models of handguns serving those law enforcement officers, but the most common type of handgun that you’ll find in the holster of a law enforcement officer is a Glock. 

Why is that, and what kind of Glock pistol do police officers in America rely on the most?

In this article, we’ll dive into why the Glock has become the gold standard for law enforcement duty pistols today, a bit of the background of law enforcement handguns leading up to that, and  the most common Glock handguns used by police. 

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History of Duty Handguns in Law Enforcement – What Led Up To the Glock?

History of Duty Handguns in Law Enforcement - What Led Up To the Glock

American law enforcement, in general, has a long history of carrying duty handguns for self-defense. In fact, for as long as America has existed, law enforcement officers have been carrying pistols for self-protection. 

In 1789, the United States Marshals Service began to set the groundwork for law enforcement in America. Established by President George Washington under the Judiciary Act, the purpose of the US Marshals Service was to appoint officers (one per state) who would help establish a judiciary and law enforcement system in those states.

Both officers serving in the US Marshals Service and officers they in turn appointed were armed, and most were armed with single shot flintlock pistols that were either imported from Europe, manufactured in America, or left over from the Revolutionary War. 

The second oldest law enforcement agency in the United States were the Texas Rangers. Established in 1835, their standard sidearm a year later became the Colt Paterson .36 caliber revolver. This revolver was revolutionary because it was, well, a revolver. Up until then, standard issue handguns were just single shot flintlock and (later) percussion pistols that were loaded through the muzzle. The adoption of the Colt Paterson is what began the transition from these single shot handguns to revolvers. 

Revolver technology continued to innovate throughout the 1800s, and all sorts of make and models of revolvers found themselves in the hands of Sheriffs and Deputies throughout the days of the Old West. Examples included the Colt 1851 Navy, Colt 1860 Army, Colt Single Action Army, Remington 1858 Army, Remington 1875, and the Smith & Wesson Model 3 Schofield.

However, unlike today, back then virtually all revolvers carried by law enforcement officers were privately purchased. There were no standardized handguns issued by departments, and if there were it was very rare. Basically, you had to show up to work with your own gun. 

This started to shift in the 1890s thanks to Theodore Roosevelt, who was then serving as the President of the Board of Commissioners with the New York Police Department. Roosevelt made the decision to standardize all of the handguns for the department (the initial service handgun was the Colt New Police in .32 S&W Long).  

Roosevelt’s reasoning was so the department could standardize not only the handguns themselves but also the ammunition, holsters, spare parts, and the training for the lawmen. Every officer serving in the department would be issued the same handgun and be properly trained in how to use it. 

Soon, departments all over the country began standardizing their handguns as well. The most common issued handguns at the time were .38 (and later .357 Magnum) Colt and Smith & Wesson revolvers. Revolvers in .38 Special and .357 Magnum remained the mainstay in the hands and holsters of law enforcement officers really up until the late 1980s. 

The first semi-automatic pistol to be adopted in large numbers by law enforcement was the Smith & Wesson Model 39 by the Illinois State Police in the 1960s. For the next few decades, police gradually began to incorporate semi-automatic pistols into their arsenals. Examples included the 1911, Browning Hi-Power, Beretta 92, and later versions of Smith & Wesson semi-automatic pistols that followed the Model 39. 

However, each of these pistols were built on metal frames, and were hammer fired with manual safeties. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s definitely more complicated than modern handguns like are commonly released today. 

In 1983, a new pistol was introduced that completely changed the game for the handgun market and for law enforcement duty handguns in particular. 

Why Do Police Departments Tend To Favor The Glock Today?

Why Do Police Departments Tend To Favor The Glock Today

In essence, the Glock pistol represents the pinnacle of law enforcement handguns. The reason for this is simple: the Glock pistol was simply the most practical, reliable, and simple handgun on the market when it was released, and it largely remains so today. 

Built on a polymer frame, the Glock was very lightweight. It was also a striker fired pistol with no external hammer or safeties to mess around with, making it incredibly simple. The Glock is also incredibly reliable. 

With the Glock, a police officer is armed with lightweight, highly reliable, incredibly simple handguns. It’s easily the most revolutionary and advanced sidearm law enforcement departments have ever issued. 


Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, law enforcement departments gradually phased out their older-style semi-automatic pistols in favor of the Glock. Guns like the Beretta 92FS and Smith & Wesson 5906 began to disappear from the holsters of law enforcement officers to be replaced by Glocks. 

Today, the Glock is easily the most common handgun in service with law enforcement departments in the United States. A study from five years ago revealed that 65% of police departments in the United States issue their officers some type of Glock. 

And even police departments that don’t issue an actual Glock will most likely issue a gun heavily inspired by the Glock (as in a polymer frame striker fired pistol), such as the SIG Sauer P320 or Smith & Wesson M&P. 

Which Models of Glock Are Most Commonly Used?

Which Models of Glock Are Most Commonly Used

By far the most commonly issued model of Glock pistol issued to police officers in the United States is the Glock 22 in .40 S&W. 

Beginning in the 1990s, .40 S&W was becoming a highly popular round because it was believed to offer greater stopping power than the 9mm Parabellum while also offering a similar capacity. Many people saw it as an important compromise between the 9mm and the .45 ACP. 

As a result, police departments all over the country placed in large orders for the Glock 22 pistol, as well as its slightly smaller sibling the Glock 23. 

Ever since then, the Glock 22 has been the most commonly issued handgun by American law enforcement departments…but that might be about to change. 

Lately, there has been a general trend to move away from .40 S&W in favor of 9mm Parabellum pistols. 

This is for three primary reasons.

The first is because ammunition technology has evolved since the 1990s and the ballistics for 9mm self-defense ammunition has improved drastically since twenty to thirty years ago. 

Secondly, .40 S&W is a higher pressure round that inflicts more general wear and tear on the pistols that shoot them. As a general rule, the service life of a 9mm pistol can be expected to last longer than that of a .40 S&W before parts need to be replaced.

Thirdly, the recoil of the 9mm is much more manageable and less snappy than that of the .40 S&W. Shoot a Glock 17 in 9mm and a Glock 22 in .40 S&W side-by-side, for instance, and the Glock 17 will be far easier to shoot for most people. 

For these reasons many police departments have been shifting from the Glock 22 and 23 (or other .40 caliber handguns) to the Glock 17, 19, and 45 9mm pistols. The FBI has already made this change, and many other police departments such as the Baltimore Police Department and the Dallas Police Department have made the change as well. 

Conclusion: What Model Glock Do Police Officers Use?

Conclusion

The Glock is undeniably the most advanced pistol that has ever been issued to law enforcement officers, and there all the indications are that it will remain the most common duty pistol in America for many years to come. 

The Glock 22 may be the most widely issued police pistol in America at the moment, but that’s gradually changing as more departments switch to 9mm Glock pistols like the 17, 19, and 45. 

Theodore Roosevelt made the right maneuver to standardize a duty handgun for the New York Police Department, and other departments across the country were likewise wise to follow suit. Departments need to ensure that their officers are standardized with the most reliable and simple large capacity type of pistol that they can get their hands on. Today, that pistol is the Glock. 

FAQ

Is a Glock 19 a Duty Gun?

The Glock 19 is widely utilized as a duty gun by law enforcement agencies globally. Its compact size, reliability, and capacity make it a preferred choice for both uniformed officers and detectives seeking a balance between concealment and firepower.

What Glock does John Wick Use?

John Wick uses a Glock 34 in the movie series. Known for its accuracy and extended barrel length, the Glock 34 is a favored choice for competitive shooting and tactical applications, highlighted by its performance in the action-packed scenes of the film.

What Caliber is a Glock 17?

The Glock 17 is chambered in 9mm Parabellum. Known for its reliability and capacity, this semi-automatic pistol has become a standard issue for law enforcement and military personnel worldwide, thanks to its balance of firepower and manageable recoil.

What Glock do US Marshals Use?

US Marshals are often equipped with the Glock 22 as part of their standard issue. Chambered in .40 S&W, the Glock 22 offers a balance of stopping power and capacity, making it a reliable sidearm for law enforcement officers engaged in various operational environments and scenarios.

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