After More Than 120 Years, The NYPD is Retiring the Last of its Service Revolvers

courtesy nytimes.com

New York’s finest first began toting revolvers back in 1895. And while the department began transitioning their officers over to SIGs and GLOCKs decades ago, a few long-timers were determined to #resist, holding onto their wheel guns as long as possible.

But with the number of those revolver-packing, aging officers down to about four dozen, the NYPD made the announcement last fall that carrying something like the old Ruger Service-Six pictured above on duty would no longer be an option.

nypd replaces revolvers duty gun sig glock

courtesy nytimes.com

Never mind the slow reloads and lower capacity, the department probably didn’t want to have to keep parts and armorers around who could service the things.

But the change has been met with resistance from officers reluctant to set aside the revolvers that they regard as old friends for unfamiliar pistols that have twice the capacity but are susceptible to jamming. Officer Mary Lawrence, a crime prevention officer in the 103rd precinct in Queens, said that was never a concern with the Smith & Wesson revolver that she has used over her 26 years with the department.

“I’m proud of this uniform that I’m wearing and I’m proud of my gun that I carry because it’s been reliable to me,” she said. “I didn’t think that I needed extra firepower at all.”

Read the rest here.

comments

  1. avatar GS650G says:

    The revolvers probably have better triggers.

    1. avatar TruthTellers says:

      Yeah, can’t really put a NY trigger in those that easily, nor cheaply. The triggers more than likely have been smoothed over decades of use, so they are probably better guns for NYPD cops.

      1. avatar anonymoose says:

        The NYPD (and LAPD and other PDs’) armorers just cut off the hammer spur and/or the little ledge on the hammer that lets you cock it. Double-action revolvers generally have better triggers than DAO automatics, but SIG DA triggers aren’t all that bad. Since the 1990s they haven’t actually issued any revolvers, although officers could buy a DAO .38 J-frame for backup/off-duty use.

        1. avatar Hannibal says:

          no one cut the ones where I worked… though if they caught you thumbing it back you’d probably get smacked…

  2. avatar Eric in Oregon says:

    “the Smith & Wesson revolver that she has used over her 26 years with the department”

    They were issuing revolvers in the _90s_? Was that for desk personnel or something?

    1. avatar Leighton Cavendish says:

      The first issued firearm for US Customs was a S&W 686 (CS-1)revolver. I got mine in 1988. We went to a S&W 6946 9mm semi somewhere after 1993. Then a Glock 17…then an H&K P2000in .40. Maybe a Sig 320 9mm in the near future.

      1. avatar Eric in Oregon says:

        Now that you mention it, I had forgotten how controversial the wonder 9s were at the time… 1988 would’ve been just a couple years after the army went to the M9 and the gun mags were still pretty frothy with back and forth about the wisdom of that. I shouldn’t have been surprised about issuing a revolver in ’92.

        As for the 686, it’s a great gun in any era.

      2. avatar Dave says:

        I retired from the National Park Service in 2011. When I started my Ranger career in the early 1980’s we were mostly carrying S&W Mod 19s or 66s loaded with the old +P+ .38 Treasury rounds. Toward the late 1980s we moved to S&W 686s and I was also issued a 2” model 66 to use plain clothes and as supervisory wear when not on active patrol. The NPS was late to transition. I believe it was late 1994, maybe 1995 before we transitioned to the Sig family of DA/SA semi-autos. I selected the P-220 because I liked the way it shot. Also all of the Rangers on my staff had all selected it and I didn’t want to have to carry several different calibers of extra ammo in the patrol rigs. I carried the P-220 for the rest of my Ranger career. HOWEVER, we did have several rangers that refused to transition. One was my old Chief Ranger and he carried his 686 until he retired in 2006. He told me he was the last of the Rangers with a wheel gun.

        1. avatar Jay in Florida says:

          I still have about a dozen of the old Federal +P+ loads. I guess Im saving them for the last time I fire my Model 66 my 1st gun. They will have to pry that gun out of my cold dead hand……Just a thought. I hope that isn’t a reality.

  3. avatar Shane says:

    That is a damn shame.

    Ed McGivern, Bill Jordan, J H. Fitzgerald

    Jerry Miculek, Willie Clapp….all revolver guys.

    They would disagree with the NYPD.

    Let them carry their revolvers.

    1. avatar Ed Schrade says:

      How many accidental discharges with revolvers do you hear of ?

  4. avatar Sich says:

    I don’t recall that the NYC Police ever actually issued a Firearm to its Police Officers! I know the First specified was a .32 S&W Long Cartridge, but not which specific required Revolver to use it.

  5. avatar Jim B says:

    1895? What did they use before that, single shots? I think they have been using revolvers longer than you say. Maybe you meant double action revolvers.

    1. avatar Sich says:

      I suspect what was issued during and after the Civil War to the Army or other Marshals and Sheriffs.

    2. avatar Gun Free School Zones are a crime against humanity says:

      NYPD did not standardize or require a sidearm til TR’s term as commish. A lot of officers bought and carried their own sidearms. A mixed bag they were.

  6. avatar Charlie Foxtrot says:

    It’s probably safer for all that they carry those orange dummy rounds. After all, it’s the NYPD that can’t shoot straight.

    In the article, the figure caption reads: “Officer Timothy Broadus, left, loading the magazine for his newly issued Glock, and Lieutenant Darcy, right, his beloved revolver.”

    1. avatar Paul McMichael says:

      Charlie Foxtrot, ever heard of Jim Cirillo, NYPD? Young patrol officer who’s partner talked him into joining the newly established armed robbery stake out squad. “Easy duty.” he said. “Coffee and doughnuts all night.” he said. First night three ‘ner do wells decided to relieve the drug store they were watching of the day’s receipts. Jim and his partner took umbridge at this. The said bad guys were annoyed at being interrupted at their chosen vocation. A disagreement ensued. At the end of it Jim had a empty S&W mod. 10 and three bad guys were sporting two sucking chest wounds a piece. His partner never fired a shot and quit the stake out squad the next day. Jim went on to survive and win more gunfights than any other law enforcement officer in the history of the United States. A persons skill has nothing to do with the agency they work for. Indeed, it has nothing to with how they earn their living. What matters most is: First, good training. Second, dedication and practice. Build upon your training. Last a little God given eye, hand coordination helps. Also, in the immortal words of The Duke (a light just shone down from the heavens and the angels began to sing), “It’s not being the fastest, or even the most accurate that counts. It’s being willing.”

      1. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

        Jimmy was not only a great shot, he was a character and a half. The stories he (and his wife) told during my class with him were both hilarious, and instructive.

        1. avatar Paul McMichael says:

          Never met the man, but I understand he was humble and personable. A shame, after
          a career like his, he died in a car crash. The world, and especially the shooting community, is a lesser place.

        2. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

          He was both, and also a natural comic. He had the class in stitches continuously during our breaks and lunches.

          What was best about Jimmy is that you could ask him a question sincere in its ignorance (because the vast, vast, vast majority of us have never been in a firefight at close range the way Jimmy had) and he wouldn’t belittle you for asking the question. He understood that reams of nonsense had been written about the subject, and there were tons of misassumptions about how these encounters unfolded, and he was only too happy to try to tell his students how things had worked for him and his partners – but he would say “Remember kids, we were usually waiting and planning these encounters – this wasn’t a random meeting in an alley in the middle of the night…”

          The #1 thing Jimmy emphasized was that nearly all the men on the Stakeout Squad were competitive target shooters, and they knew how to handle their weapons and put rounds on target, reliably, long before they started their time with the Stakeout Squad.

          In those days, this meant revolvers. For the advocates of cheez-whiz semi-autos with 15+ rounds in a magazine, I should NB that many of Jimmy’s encounters were done with a S&W Model 10. That’s six rounds of .38 Special, folks. His idea of a reload was an identical Model 10, loaded with the same loads as the first one. He called this a “New York Reload.” Their semi-auto weapon was a M1 Carbine, modified to shoot hollow point loads.

          Jimmy was one of a kind. His passing was a loss to the shooting community if for nothing else than his ability to teach people “what works.”

      2. avatar Charlie Foxtrot says:

        All nine bystanders wounded in Empire State shooting hit by police
        https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-shooting-empirestate-police/all-nine-bystanders-wounded-in-empire-state-shooting-hit-by-police-idUSBRE87Q04X20120827

        Police Bullets Hit Bystanders, and Questions Rise Yet Again
        https://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/16/nyregion/firing-at-man-in-times-square-police-wound-two-bystanders.html

        BREAKING: New York City Cops Shoot 84 Bullets, Hit Perp Once
        http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2015/09/robert-farago/breaking-new-york-cops-shoot-84-bullets-hit-perp-once/

        NYPD Officer Accidentally Shoots U.S. Marshal
        https://www.officer.com/tactical/swat/news/12364686/nypd-officer-accidentally-shoots-us-marshal

        NYPD officer accidentally shoots self in leg while chasing suspect in the Bronx
        http://abc7ny.com/news/nypd-officer-accidentally-shoots-self-in-leg-while-chasing-suspect/2193692/

        Ready, Fire, Aim: The Science Behind Police Shooting Bystanders
        http://nation.time.com/2013/09/16/ready-fire-aim-the-science-behind-police-shooting-bystanders/

        “According to a 2008 RAND Corporation study evaluating the New York Police Department’s firearm training, between 1998 and 2006, the average hit rate during gunfights was just 18 percent. When suspects did not return fire, police officers hit their targets 30 percent of the time.”

        Lack of proper training is a department issue, hence my comment.

        1. avatar Jay in Florida says:

          You try to have any accuracy with an almost 15lb trigger. I know Im exaggerating just a bit. But not much. All of the the NYPDs guns have ridiculously hard triggers. All are DAO regardless of Glock S&W or Sig used back then.

        2. avatar Charlie Foxtrot says:

          Yes, as far as I know, the NY trigger is 11 pounds. However, what is the reason for that?

          1. All guns are always loaded.
          2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.
          3. Keep your finger off the trigger till your sights are on the target.
          4. Identify your target, and what is behind it.

          It seems, rule #3 violations are the reason for the NY trigger. Rule #4 violations are the reason why NYPD can’t shoot straight. This is more of a training issue and a department covering their ass, than anything else.

          Realize that this is the same department that tells me that I am not allowed to carry in their jurisdiction.

        3. avatar Fled says:

          My BIL was issued a model 10 and although it was pretty neglected during his career (the cylinder even rusted shut once) he managed to qualify with it regularly. It took him three years to finally qualify with the NYPD Glock. I remember all the instances of cops shooting themselves with Glocks during takedown because they couldn’t remember to drop the magazine BEFORE clearing the chamber then pulling the trigger to drop the striker before they could remove the slide. The BIL sold the Glock to another cop after he retired. Wish he’d have offered it to me first, I’d have swapped out for a lighter trigger.

          I am sure Jim Cirillo is rolling in his grave though..

  7. avatar troutbum5 says:

    My wife was a NYC Transit Cop in the 80s and 90s, before they merged with NYPD. She was issued a Ruger Security Six. They didn’t start issuing semi-autos until 95 or 96, after she had left.

  8. avatar James A. "Jim" Farmer says:

    I’ll be the first to comment. Until 1993 (officially) the standard issue sidearm of the NYPD was a .38 caliber revolver: .38 Special chambered in either a K-Frame Smith and Wesson Model 10 Military and Police or Ruger Police Service Six, usually with a 4″ barrel. Aftermarket grips such as Uncle Mike’s or Pachmayr hard rubber combat grips improved the practical handling, shooting, grip, and feel of these classic service revolvers. I have no opinion on the mass conversion from revolvers to semi-automatic pistols commencing in the late 1980’s/early 1990’s. Perhaps law enforcement did need to upgrade, modernize, and standardize their equipment. However, I just hope these old service revolvers don’t end up getting scrapped, destroyed, or melted down; this policy
    would be odious damnable and abominable! Just like these “turn in guns for cash/and
    or gift card scams!” These are not only odious, damnable, and abominable, but likewise
    deceitful anti-gun class warfare!

    Getting back to revolvers: I naturally I am myself a revolver person. I have posted so many online comments on classic K-Frame Smith and Wesson .38’s and .357’s anything
    I post here will be repetitive. These include Models 10, 13, 15, and 19, and their stainless
    versions: Models 64, 65, 67, and 66, respectively. Too, the Ruger Police Service Six. So
    what more is to be said? With a double-action police type service revolver it’s still “six
    shots for sure.” Meanwhile if these so called “obsolete” NYPD .38 caliber service revolvers are sold or auctioned off, and I certainly hope they are vs. being destroyed,
    then maybe they can find a second career for the triple purpose of “self defense/house
    protection/concealed carry” for the honest law abiding American citizen. For the home,
    cabin, apartment, condo, duplex, tent while camping, or even for the outdoorsman:
    hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, or even for armed security while traveling the road
    or highway, the .38 Special still has it’s place. This despite the newer generations of
    semi-automatic pistols, semi-automatic versions of military assault rifles, tactical
    weapons, etc.” Use what you already have” quipped a gun scribe. Finally the 38 Special
    148 grain lead target wad-cutter, next to a .22 or .32, remains ideal for hunting small
    game: rabbit, squirrel, and grouse, including dispatching vermin such as raccoon, skunk,
    possum, etc. or even for butchering livestock. And CCI’s classic .38 Special shot or “snake load”: No. 9 shot up close can shred the head of a rattlesnake. Long live the
    .38 caliber revolver.

    James A. “Jim” Farmer
    Merrill, Oregon (Klamath County)

    1. avatar FREEDOM FIGHTER says:

      I loved my department-issued 4″ HB M10 .38 SPL. Slicker-than-snot SA, plus a nice DA which I could easily stage. A LOT better round than the nines. Put in some +P+, now you’re talking.

  9. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

    I’m convinced that if all PDs went back to .38/.357 revolvers the number of officers that would come to harm because they couldn’t get the job done with 6 rounds would be roughly one per decade.

    1. avatar Hannibal says:

      Hard to find evidence for or against such a guess.

      I will say that smaller statue female officers had trouble with .38s but less with 9s

  10. avatar CZJay says:

    This is outrageous.

    We shouldn’t be getting rid of revolvers, we should be banning full semi auto assault weapons. To make New York a safer place we need all the police to carry revolvers so there won’t be 30 round clip dumps endangering less fortunate minorities. Less rounds in a cop’s gun will save many black lives. Also, those striker automatic pistols go off on their own while in the holster; putting everyone at risk.

    1. avatar El Duderino says:

      Poe’s Law…

  11. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    I went through the Oregon police academy in 1987.
    I was the second person to take the high shooter award using a semi auto pistol. (Sig 220), (#1 became one of my mentors, using a Colt 1911 Commander.
    So yeah, revolvers are not that uncommon.

    Hat tip Chief Ernie Hanson. Lincoln City P.D.

    1. avatar Paul McMichael says:

      Tom, you’re a kindred soul. When I went through the the academy I had to shoot a S&W stainless 9mm single stack of some description. First double action auto I ever fired. They were a mystery to me then. I always thought that D.A.s were an answer looking for a question. Mike Taylor was the lead F.I. for my class. Mike and I had known each other for years. He took me aside the first day class and said, “Paul, I know you want to shoot one of your 1911s, but my adjunct instructors will have a heart attack if they see a cocked handgun in your holster.” I was accustomed to uniformity. Military and all. I mastered the weapon, won the Top Gun trophy, graduated and stuck a 1911in my holster. I do own a couple of D.A. autos. A Beretta 92 and a Sig P 220. Demonstration purposes in CCW classes. Although, I admit to liking the 220.

  12. avatar Paul McMichael says:

    I like revolvers. Own several S&Ws.Two N frames, three K frames and three J frames. As well as a python. (And a couple of SAAs, but those are a horse of a different color.) Carry them into battle any day. What NYCPD needs to do is upgrade their DUTY GEAR! I’ve been there a couple of times. Every uniform officer I saw had gear that was well, pathetic. As far as NYC selling these revolvers? Forget it. I have a 3″ round butt #65 stamped N.Y.S.P., but you’ll never see that again.

  13. avatar Samr says:

    These cops are trusting their lives to their pistols. If even one officer on the force wants to carry a wheel gun, why not let him/her? Hell if they feel they’re better at protecting themselves and the public with a blow gun, I say more power to ya! Courage and confidence under duress is gonna mean a lot more to the cops than anything else they have on them, and if they don’t have that confidence in their sidearm that gives them the needed courage, then what’s the point?

    1. avatar Hannibal says:

      The cost of maintaining a tiny group of different sidearms is not worth the “if one person wants it!” routine.

      It’s a uniform organization. If you can’t adapt to the equipment, then eventually you need to retire.

      Coming from a guy that carried and likes revolvers plenty.

  14. avatar New Continental Army says:

    The true crime here is all these classic revolvers being melted down into some artsy monument against gun violence or some shit.

  15. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    If I were carrying in a PD job, I’d be packing a revolver, S&W in a N-frame. The larger instances of the Model [6]29 (6 and 8+” barrels) have excellent accuracy, tame recoil for a full-powered round, and the double-action revolver gives me the option of “fast squeeze-through” trigger pulls or a “cock to 2.75# trigger” for accuracy work.

    There are lots of reasons for revolvers, and lack of stovepipes, double-feeds, magazine issues, etc are some of those reasons.

    1. avatar CarlosT says:

      How light can the double action trigger go without running into reliability problems. The problem with revolvers for me is my trigger finger was injured in childhood, so I have reduced strength and endurance. A stock double action revolver trigger can take several seconds for me to pull once, and then I won’t be able to pull it again. Single action or striker fired I can go all day.

  16. avatar Ralph says:

    New York City cops must have semiautomatic handguns. Otherwise, how could they miss 17 shots without reloading?

    1. avatar Paul McMichael says:

      Ralph, scroll back up and read my reply to Charlie Foxtrot. Let me know what you think.

      1. avatar No one of consequence says:

        You have outliers on either side of the average. And just because some officers are outstanding shots, doesn’t mean it’s okay for there to be lousy shots because the average of the two is acceptable.

        Like it or not, Ralph has a point, and things like that are reported not infrequently. I will also point out that Mr. Cirillo left the stakeout squad in 1973, which if I recall is well before NYPD officers were saddled with extremely heavy Glock trigger pull weights. (Or Glocks, for that matter.)

  17. avatar Anonymous says:

    My Glock has never jammed. Neither have any other reliable brand of my duty type guns (lest someone accuse me of saying Glocks are the only gun that work). Just saying…

    1. avatar Hannibal says:

      yeah, it’s the sort of argument people make when they are looking for reasons to back up a conclusion they already have.

      A poorly-maintained revolver WILL fail, as will a poorly-maintained auto. I’ve seen it happen and watched an armorer’s head explode when he opened it up and found what neglect had done.

  18. avatar anarchyst says:

    Police may well go through an entire magazine. Why is that? It’s because they have immunity and aren’t going to be held accountable for what they hit. So fire away. It’s because they have only a smattering of training, which means they must resort to a high volume of shots if they’re to have any chance of a hit. These factors drive down their hit-to-shot statistics. Unlike non-police concealed carriers.
    Are these factors applicable to non-police concealed carriers? No. Concealed carriers tend to practice more with their firearms than do police. Many participate in shooting sports, more so than police. Concealed carriers are responsible for every round that leaves their firearm. In any setting, that’s important.

  19. avatar 22winmag says:

    From idiot proof to accident prone in just over a century.

  20. avatar Paul McMichael says:

    Charlie Foxtrot, I’ll say it again. You think you can do it better? Go ahead! Yeah, you quoted a few famous headlines. Didn’t need to read them, because I already had. What you don’t see splashed across the law enforcement hating media are the thousands of times it goes right, but maybe you hate L.E.O.s too.

  21. avatar Gunr says:

    The only disadvantage to a wheel gun is the lower capacity, and a tad longer to reload, if you are good with speed loaders. I can see it might be comforting to have a weapon that would fire 15 or 17 shots, but your gonna have to live with the fact that there is a greater chance of something happening with an auto loader. Who ever heard of a failure to chamber, a stovepipe, or other “jamming” situation with a wheel gun? Of course there’s always a possibility a revolver can malfunction.
    If you have a mis fire, simply pull the trigger again to bring the next cylinder on line.
    I think the ideal situation is to have either a wheel gun or an auto loader as your main piece, and a backup with the opposite configuration.

    1. avatar Hannibal says:

      I have owned two separate revolvers that had cylinders jamming that would prevent double-action fire.

      So yes, it can very much happen. (one was out of spec spacing and the other I never found out because it got trashed and a new one sent in replacement)

  22. avatar jim says:

    As I read the comments I can hardly beleive the bundle of miss information being put out there about the NYPD. I doubt anyone commenting here was ever on the job (NYPD). I Carried my S&W model 10 my whole career, loaded with federal .38 special LSWC + P. I retired before semi auto was dept. firearm of choice. I now carry S&W model 36, 3 inch with bull barrel with same type of ammo. I also own several semi auto’s.You should carry what you feel comfortable with. However if you belong to a uniformed dept. I feel all members should carry same firearm.

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