RM Vivas
PO Box 900 • Philmont • New York • 12565
: robert@vivasandson.com


The Arms Of Law & Order:
New York City Police Department Small Arms
From 1896 onward

Issue Guns & Markings

    A common question is "What sort of handguns does the NYCPD issue its officers"?

    The answer is: none!

    The NYCPD does not 'issue' an officer his sidearm (with very, very few exceptions). Each individual officer purchases his gun, usually from the departments Equipment Bureau. An officer may purchase his gun elsewhere, but it must be inspected and approved by the department if he does so. Most officers will buy their gun at the Equipment Bureau because of the low prices offered through the department.

    Technically, the department is a re-seller. Guns are shipped directly from the manufacturer to the department. The department inspects each gun and then re-sells it to the individual officer. Since the gun is purchased by the officer, it is not department property and therefore bears no departmental markings.

    If you factory letter an NYCPD handgun it will usually show it as going directly to the department, leading one to mistakenly believe that the gun is/was department property.

    Since the gun is the officers personal property, he may lawfully dispose of it as he see's fit; this is why NYCPD guns are so plentiful on the market.

    If you're looking for a Model 10 or Official Police stamped PROPERTY OF NYPD, you're not going to find one. Not a real one, anyway.

    Recently the NYCPD dropped it's requirement that officers purchase their own guns and has instead started giving the guns to the officers for free. Since the guns are still the private property of the officer, the guns are not considered 'issue' in the traditional sense.


    Although an individual officers gun might not bear an NYCPD PROPERTY stamp, regulations did require that the officers shield number be stamped on his gun (and other equipment). On occassion, this regulation would be ignored, so it is not unusual to find a revolver from the 1950's without a shield number.

    On Colt's, the shield number was usually stamped on the butt. On S&W's it was usually on the backstrap (to prevent defacing the serial number).

    Since Patrolman and Sergeants used different shields, there was always the possibility that a shield number might overlap between the two ranks. For this reason a system of markings was devised:
    12345 - Patrolman #12345
    S.12345 - Sergeant #12345
    12345X or X12345X or 12345 - Formerly the property of Officer #12345 but no longer. Often found with a new number stamped nearby indicating that original purchasing officer sold the gun to another officer.

    While regulations required the officers gun be stamped with his shield number, it was not always done. Towards the late 1960's the practice was on the wane and is now no longer done.

    It is important to note that the stamping of the officers shield number was required for his on-duty gun but not his off-duty gun!

   More detailed information about markings on guns may be found on the Markings Page.


    Prior to World War Two the department did acquire some of it's guns from distributors rather than the manufacturer. These were usually NYC dealers like: Jon Jovino, Greenblatt, Sile and others in Lower Manhattan. these same distributors also handled special order guns for officers who wanted something special for their working gun. At least one manufacturer (S&W) offered a special non-cataloged revolver for the NYPD that could be special ordered by an officer through commercial channels.

    Non-typical handguns for special use are sometimes provided to officers, but are department property and must be returned to the department. These are usually handguns that are not typically thought of as 'police arms' and are used by undercover people. Also, handguns that are subject to NFA regulation are available and must be returned. A selection of 'training type' guns is maintained by the department and these are used as needed and remain as department property. Among these training guns are at least a dozen of the rather rare .22 caliber S&W M&P's.

    Until the mid-late 1960's, the department maintained a collection of handguns for use by officers whose primary handgun was out for repair. These loaners were kept at the Equipment Bureau and logged in and out as needed. Interestingly, they were not usually department guns in the sense that they had been purchased for use as loaners. Instead they were usually guns that came in from the Property Clerk (turned in, confiscated, found, etc.).

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Email: robert@vivasandson.com