Historically, private citizens have, to a significant degree, modeled their sporting rifle choices after what their nation’s military carries, and their handgun choices after what their nation’s police carry.  Among the cops themselves, the FBI is a major trend-setter, and at the state level, state police agencies tend to be bellwether “adopters” whose choices are often followed by county and municipal agencies within the given state’s jurisdiction.

When I was a kid, troopers nationwide carried revolvers. There were two brand choices, Colt and Smith & Wesson.  In the state where I grew up, New Hampshire, the troopers carried big S&W Model 27 .357 Magnums with six-inch barrels in flapped swivel holsters.  In Florida, the primary state police issue was a special-order, nickel plated five-inch barrel Colt Trooper (appropriately named, huh?) in the same caliber, in a cross-draw holster.  And if you worked for the Illinois State Police or the California Highway Patrol, you had your choice of Colt or Smith & Wesson, in .38 Special or .357 Magnum chambering. Not until 1967 did the Illinois State Police become the first major law enforcement agency in the USA to adopt a semiautomatic pistol, the 9mm Smith & Wesson Model 39.

A whole lot of water has since gone under that bridge. Before the turn of the 21st Century, every state police agency in the country was issuing a semiautomatic pistol – like pretty much all the rest of the law dogs nationwide.  My friend Mike Wood has been keeping track of issue SP handguns, and was kind enough to send me his current list.  Here it is:

Alabama Glock 22/23 (.40 S&W)
Alaska Glock 22/23 (.40 S&W)
Arizona FNH FNS (.40 S&W)
Arkansas Glock 21SF (State Police), Glock 22 (S.P. Highway Patrol) (.45 ACP, .40 S&W)
California S&W M&P (.40 S&W)
Colorado S&W M&P (.40 S&W)
Connecticut Sig P220 (.45 ACP)
Delaware Sig P229 (.357Sig)
Florida Glock 37 (.45 GAP)
Georgia Glock 37 (.45 GAP)
Hawaii (DPS) Sig P320 (9mm)
Idaho Glock 21 (.45 ACP) or Glock 22 (.40 S&W)
Illinois Glock 22 (.40 S&W)
Indiana Sig P227 (.45 ACP)
Iowa S&W M&P (.40 S&W)
Kansas Glock 21 (.45 ACP)
Kentucky Glock 35 (.40 S&W)
Lousiana Glock 22 (.40 S&W)
Maine HK USP (.45 ACP)
Maryland Glock 22 (.40 S&W)
Massachusetts S&W M&P (.45 ACP)
Michigan Glock 17 (9mm)
Minnesota Glock 22 (.40 S&W)
Mississippi Glock 22 (.40 S&W)
Missouri Glock 22 (.40 S&W)
Montana Sig P229 (.357Sig)
Nebraska Glock 22 (.40 S&W)
Nevada Sig P229 (.40 S&W)
New Hampshire S&W M&P (.45 ACP)
New Jersey Glock 19 (9mm)
New Mexico S&W M&P (.357 Sig)
New York Glock 37 (.45 GAP)
North Carolina Sig P226(.357 Sig)
North Dakota Sig P320 (9mm)
Ohio Sig P229/P226 (.40 S&W)
Oklahoma Sig P320 (9mm)
Oregon S&W M&P (.40 S&W)
Pennsylvania Sig Sauer P227 (.45 ACP)
Rhode Island Sig P229 (.357Sig)
South Carolina Glock 37 (.45 GAP)
South Dakota Sig P229 (.357 Sig)
Tennessee Glock 31 (.357Sig)
Texas S&W M&P (9mm) (currently having problems–under review)
Utah Glock 22 (.40 S&W) (with approved options in 9mm, .40 S&W, .45 ACP)
Vermont S&W M&P (.40 S&W)
Virginia Sig P229RDAK (.357Sig)
Washington S&W M&P (.40 S&W)
West Virginia S&W 4566TSW (.45 ACP)
Wisconsin Glock 22 (.40 S&W)
Wyoming Glock 35 (.40 S&W)

To update the list, I believe Georgia has gone from the Glock 37 in .45 GAP to the Glock 17 in 9mm with Speer 124 grain +P 9mm ammo, and word is that South Carolina is also switching from the G37 to the G17.  Texas troopers I talked with told me they were less than thrilled with the idea of going down from their powerful .357 SIGs to 9mm (in the SIG P320 version, not the S&W after all apparently). 9mm is the least powerful handgun US police are generally allowed to wear in uniform , and Texas troopers I’ve talked with are clinging to their .357 SIG P226 pistols for so long as they’ll be allowed.


  1. Seems the “highway men” like the larger calibers maybe for distance and vehicle penetration whereas I’m thinking there are more 9mm among local agencies? What about the theory of shot placement more rapidly over slower with larger calibers? Doesn’t a +P 9mm come out very close to the .40? Interesting article.

  2. I was surprised that there weren’t more 45 ACP on the list. Seems I recall in one of your writings, ” the stopping power of the 45 ACP is legendary”. Looks like departments are relying on more ammo over more power?

    • or maybe better shot placement? Seems state patrol guys tend to be more dependent on their own, as most departments have their officers running solo. And out in the boonies, as so many states have, backup can sometimes take forever, just like for us peons. Years back I knew THEguy who trained all of the Washington State PPatrol drivers how to drive. No, I mean DRIVE. Persuit, escape, fastest time… he was a pro race car driver, and taught them well. He also knew how well those guys could shoot. It was a rare time when one of the WSP members was bested in either activity.

  3. Speaking of cross draw holsters; I have always thought that if I was a cop, I would be partial to a cross draw. Easier to draw when seated in a vehicle and if someone is going to try snatching your Gat, you can see them coming. I know this has been debated endlessly for years, but I haven’t been convinced to change my mind.

    • Lots to be said for cross-draw, or call it the cavalry-draw option. Harder for a car passenger or someone behind you to get to. Maybe bad for retention in a grab from the front. I knew several peace officers back in the day who used cross-draw. I haven’t seen any LEOs carry that way in quite a long time. I use it intermittently for in-the-car carry. Generally it is not so comfortable as behind-the-strong-hip in a hunter holster during my patrolling hikes, especially when trouser suspenders are strategic. More officers could benefit from suspenders if the straps weren’t so handy for goblins to grab.

  4. About Georgia going to Glock 17. I shoot matches regularly with a guy whose son is a Georgia Trooper. He told me Georgia switched about a year ago, and can use either a G26 or 43 as their backup gun.

  5. It is interesting how many Troopers carry the .357 SIG. It is a good caliber, for State Trooper use, for the same reason that the older .357 Magnum revolver was a good choice. Troopers may take longer shots then most LE Officers and they have to defeat car doors and windows more often. A high velocity round facilitates both functions.

    I think that the .357 SIG is less desirable for general LE use. Its large muzzle blast and flash would be a negative when engaging suspects indoors. Trooper spend a lot of their time outdoors so this is much less of a concern.

    I have a FNX-40 (.40 S&W Caliber) for which I bought a second .357 SIG barrel. Therefore, I can use this pistol for either round by just swapping barrels. To tell the truth, I rather like using the .357 SIG barrel. Although muzzle blast is loud, recoil seems slightly less then with the .40 S&W barrel installed. In addition, as I’ve proved by bench testing both barrels, the .357 SIG barrel shoots tighter groups. A 25 yards, the .40 S&W barrel will typically produce 4″ to 4 1/2″ groups. Acceptable combat accuracy. The .357 SIG barrel will produce 2 1/2″ groups if I do my part.

  6. S&W should never have discontinued their M&P .357 Sig. Best L.E.
    round out there for us, and VERY effective in shootings.

    • IN NH they carry Sig Sauer in .357 Sig caliber. they love it and say it drops deer so much better than the .45 acp.

  7. Interesting. Some 13 agencies were still using some form of double action pistol. Only 5 agencies issueed 9mm handguns.

    • Good question. Since they don’t have to worry about “combat tough” like the Army or bulk issues like CCWs, the police would be a good market for optics.

      I’d want to run any contenders through a full suite of rain, fog, and frost tests before deploying them, though.

  8. Mas, You mentioned the Colt Trooper as being appropriately named, as I recall the Mod. 27 S&W was named the “Highway Patrolman”. Seems I remember that was stamped on the barrel.

    I’m surprised to hear that Texas Dept. of Public Safety abandoned the .357 Sig for the 9mm. I personally believe the .357 Sig to be the solution for the long sought after “best” law enforcement round. Almost identical ballistics as the .357 magnum 125grain, long touted as the ideal law enforcement loading, but with much, much, lower felt recoil.

    Politics has much to do with governmental entities choice of calibers allowed to be used by their officers. Most politicians are gun illiterates. In their minds a 9mm is less brutal and, gasp, deadly, than a .40 or .45, and anything with “magnum” in it’s name is more powerful than any cartridge that does not have that designation. That helped our range personnel sell the .357 Sig to the city council. They (the council) balked at anything with a 4 preceding it, i.e., .40, .41, .44, .45. The new Sig offering started with a 3 (.357) and did not have the dreaded “magnum designation in it’s name.

    I was the first officer to qualify with the .357 Sig to be carried on duty on our department. I purchased it myself as the department had approved the cartridge, but only at the officers own expense. I purchased a Mod P229 Sig and range personnel expedited my qualification. When I retired some 10 years later, Sig bought that gun back by allowing me to trade it for a P239 in .357 Sig that was more conducive for concealed carry.

    As is obvious, I’m a fan of the .357 Sig, but it does have some drawbacks. Early on, there were problems with bullet setback if the cartridge was chambered more than a couple of times (normally from rotating magazines to allowing magazine springs to “rest” which was a common practice back in the day), due to the short bearing surface of the neck. Another drawback is that it is a labor intensive round to reload. Lee markets a “factory crimp” die that eliminates the bullet setback problem. Even though it shoots a 9mm projectile, most 9mm hollow point bullets available for reloaders are too cylindrical, making them too long for Sig specs and are not intended for the higher velocities, making jacket separation a concern.

    As an avid shooter who reloads for most of my shooting, I’ve also discovered just how reliable the Sig semi-autos are. Most factory 124grloads for the .357 Sig will chronograph at 1350fps or higher. I’ve loaded 125 grainers as low as 900 fps and have yet to experience any malfunctions with the pistol. My favorite projectile are .358 diameter 125 gr hard-cast lead semi-wadcutters run through a .356 sizing die and loaded to 1000fps. Accurate, negligible recoil, for all day fun with no fatigue.

    Got carried away. Sorry.

    • Dennis – You are correct about factory loads making 1350 fps or better from the .357 SIG. When I first got the .357 SIG barrel for my FNX-40, I went on-line to find ammo. I found a really good deal on Remington 125 Gr. Bonded Golden Saber ammo so I stocked up with a good supply.

      I set up my chronograph at 10′ from the muzzle and fired 10 rounds downrange to test this Remington ammo. The average velocity was 1352 fps. Muzzle energy calculated to be just over 500 ft-lbs. The rounds went into a 2 1/2 inch group (not counting a flyer that was my fault).

      My FNX-40 is an extremely reliable semi-auto pistol. I have never had a malfunction with the .357 SIG barrel installed. However, to be fair, I have never had a malfunction with the .40 S&W barrel and factory ammo either. I would have no problems carrying the FNX with either barrel installed and good factory ammo.

  9. Mas,
    Just a heads up about Texas’ issue weapons. The S&W M&P 9mm was junked after a disastrous showing during a 2014 recruit school, it’s not under review, it’s been ash canned for good. DPS replaced it with the Sig P320 in 9mm the next year or so, and now it’s the standard issued weapon for the Highway Patrol, using Hornady’s 135 grain + P FlexLock round. Still a lot of Sig P226’s in .357 Sig around that have not been transitioned yet, mainly in the Rangers, Aircraft and in CID.

  10. Cops should carry common and readily available ammo.
    In an emergency situation, (i.e. bigtime anarchy ) Citizens will replenish Cops who have run out of ammo in the field. If Cops are running weird ass rounds like .45 Gaptooth or .357 Sigmund Freud, they are S—Out of Luck.

    I say keep it simple: .9mm, .40 S&W or .45 ACP

    • Back when they still carried revolvers, the local PD could carry their issue gun or their own gun, but they had to stay with .38 Special. Their reasoning was that in a gunfight, you would be able to give ammunition to a fellow officer who had run out.

      My thinking was, “No way I’m giving any of my ammo to someone who already wasted his…”

      Of course, a full load then was six in the cylinder, maybe six in a dump pouch. Only hot rods carried speed loaders.

      Funny, they seemed to get the job done anyway.

    • You certainly have a point, but on the other hand, during the height of the most recent ammunition shortage, those weird calibers were some of the only ones to be found in my area. When the shelves were nearly empty, there was usually a box or two of .40 S&W or .357 Sig to be had.

  11. The New York State Police, of which I’m a retired member, will soon be transitioning to Glock 41’s in.45ACP. I asked a current member the reason for the switch and he told me it was for the more readily available and cheaper price for .45ACP as opposed to .45 GAP. I retired in 2003 and then we carried Glock 17’s. Our last revolver was S&W 681’s in .357.

  12. One LEO told me the following which was one advantage to the .357 Sig round. When an officer fired a 9MM, bystanders would stop and look around to see what was going on. When an LEO fired a .357 Sig, the blast and sound would make all bystanders hit the dirt instantly.

    • Thank you for this one, TW. I would like to try this out in several real-life venues to see how often it works, but I don’t actually plan to. I have been trying to decide on a more powerful semi-auto caliber, though, and clearing a field of fire in this way now seems pertinent to cartridge choice. Sure might beat hollering “Get down!” to a panicking crowd. Getting closer to a perp in order to avoid hitting a bystander can otherwise be essential, but it looks like firing a round into a ceiling with a .357 SIG could be a reasonable tactic in order to secure an open shot more quickly. How about this one, Mas?

    • Not sure sound volume is the main criteria. One day I was walking to chow in a Vietnam firebase when a mine cooked off out beyond the concertina. (Happened occasionally.) The guys new in country looked around. The guys who had been there a while ran for the bunker. Those, like me, who had been out in the jungle were on the ground.

  13. Interesting to note…almost all carry the heavy hitters.

    .357 Sig .40 SW .45 GAP .45 ACP

    While I don’t swim in any kind of dangerous waters, there is a reason this old Secessh stays with his Glock 30.

  14. I worked for IL State Police back when the Earth was still cooling. Our long winter coats covered the gun belt, so they had stitching in the slash pockets to accommodate the S&W Mod. 39 as if holstered. Hands in pockets provided a firing grip. Summer wear was the cross-draw holster with shoulder belt (typical Trooper gear for the period). The Mod. 39 was DA, and regs required carry with a chambered round. One Trooper was disarmed and the BG pulled the trigger multiple times on an empty chamber; click, click, click. He threw down the pistol and escaped. The Trooper was, quite properly, reprimanded for not only breaking regs, but also for allowing himself to be overpowered and disarmed. Largely due to folks such as Mas, retention training has advanced significantly since the late 60s.

  15. Thank you for the compendium of knowledge. I know it is suggested that Armed Citizens should consider what local LEO’s carry in terms of factory issued service pistols and ammunition. That said, unless someone GIVES me a Glock, it’s not likely I’ll ever own one. Secondly, I sold both of my Beretta .40 cals simply because the ammo was unreasonably higher in price than comparable calibers that have a history of being proven in the field. My state law enforcement uses: Maryland Glock 22 (.40 S&W).

  16. Nit-pick:
    [Historically, private citizens have, to a significant degree, modeled their sporting rifle choices after what their nation’s military carries, and their handgun choices after what their nation’s police carry.]

    Maybe “to a significant degree,” but many military and law enforcement arms were civilian first.
    There were a lot of private citizens with Kentucky rifles during the American Revolution, but the Brown Bess and other muskets were military arms almost to the Civil War.
    The Winchester 1903 and 1905 and the Browning Auto 5 were gaining civilian popularity as the Army was adopting the bolt-action Springfield ’03, long before the Garand came on the scene. And the U.S. military led the pack, as almost everyone else entered WWII with a bolt-action.
    I knew a lot of civilian shooters in the 1950s who preferred Colts and Brownings long before the first police semiautos in 1967.
    Civilian long-range shooters in the early 1980s were plinking with .50 BMG rifles before Barrett developed his in 1986, which he finally sold to Sweden in 1989 and the U.S. military in 1990.
    The Nylon 66 premiered the first popular polymer stock five years before the Army accepted the M-16.

    So while the herds follow military and LEO examples, the dedicated civilian shooters lead them.

    • LarryArnold,

      Thanks for the VERY interesting nit-pick. That is fascinating that civilians are responsible for lots of weapons improvements. John Stossel believes the private sector is superior to the public sector, so he would not be surprised to hear that.

      here may be a parallel in the car world. I think a lot of car improvements came from experiments with racing cars. I also read that women were responsible for certain modifications to cars. Not that they invented anything, but cars first got roofs so women wouldn’t get wet in the rain. I’m guessing that maybe starting the car from the inside might also be something that was done for women so they wouldn’t have to manually crank the engine with that handle in the front. I would guess windshields may have come about with women in mind as well.

      I heard a story about the Picatinny rail. Picatinny Arsenal is a federal arms research center in NJ. A civilian brought a rifle for testing, and needed ways to attach stuff, so the civilian developed the Picatinny rail. When engineers at Picatinny saw it, they liked it, and adopted it. With the name “Picatinny” you would think the government would have invented that, but if that story is true, I guess not.

      I have to hand it to the government for the Manhattan Project and NASA, however. Most impressive. I work with people who can’t even get to work on time. I bet those who worked on the Manhattan Project and NASA were fantastic employees. Screw-ups wouldn’t last long on those important projects.

      • Thanks for writing; I’ve sent a note to the gentleman who compiled the list so he can check back with Wyoming and confirm one way or the other.

  17. Mas,

    In addition to model/caliber of pistol, it would be interesting to know what brand / grain wt. of ammo that they use. After all, to paraphrase Jeff Cooper, the firearm is just the delivery system. It is the bullet that does the work!

    Do these agencies use “Law Enforcement Only” versions of ammo. Or do they use commercial ammo that anyone could buy?

    For example, I believe that my local police department uses the Glock 22 (.40 S&W) with 165 gr. Winchester brand ammo. However, I am not sure whether it is a commercial round or something that Winchester cooks up for LE use only.

    • Second that, Mas. Washington State Patrol, for instance was using HST last I heard, 165 gr version. Alaska? Rangerm weight unk. Anyone else have any info?

  18. Mas,
    Any thoughts on why the FBI is switching to 9mm when Troppers across the nation are largely carrying .40, .45, and .357?

    • Jim, when I talked to the folks at the FBI Firearms Training Unit in Quantico at length earlier this year, they were convinced that their new duty load for 9mm equals or exceeds .40 in their testing protocols, with less recoil, more rounds in the gun, and better accuracy at speed, particularly for the less dedicated shooters on the team. Less battering of the guns over long-term training was a factor, too.

  19. Having both watched and participated in LE sidearm choice/acquisition, I have to note that suitability of the firearm/caliber to the purpose frequently isn’t a top consideration. Ego, personal preference, group influence and cost all play a part, sometimes to a shocking degree. Along with some occasional little discreet(?) inducements by would be suppliers. Much depends upon the professionalism of the organization and their ability to avoid undue influences.

    Having been on the line with officers armed with .357 Sig firearms, they are indeed mulitpurpose. They act as flash/bang distraction devices, illumination (muzzle flash) providers and defensive tools all with one squeeze of the trigger. It’s not the only reason I quit flying, but the thought that Sky Marshalls are reportedly armed with that caliber figures in.

  20. I am less interested in what the police carry as the PLATFORM as if what they stuff in the gun works. I can decide what fits my hand and shoots best with my skill set, not the ‘guberment’.

    Now I know they now say there is no such thing as ‘stopping power’ (yet they then give criteria that defines a ‘good’ bullet!) But we all know some rounds do better than others at incapacitation (and isn’t that stopping power?)

    Would love to see ‘morgue monsters’ again that study the actual shootings and finds out what works on the street and what doesn’t. Formulas, jello, guesstimates, etc. don’t cut it. All the stats do (or should do) is confirm reality.

    And the way to find that out is in police reports and autopsies.

  21. Funny, I hear and read so many folks speak of the excessive muzzle flash and loud report of the .357 Sig. My personal experience with this cartridge has been that neither are any worse than the .357 magnum. Actually, my experience with night fire exercises is that .357 magnum revolvers affect night vision worse due to the side blast from the cylinder-forcing cone interface than the muzzle flash. As for the decibel level of the muzzle blast, I always wear hearing protection, but on the firing line with a mixture of 9mm and .357 Sig shooters, I’ve never noticed that great a difference. Maybe those complaining have experience shooting in confined spaces without hearing protection. If so, I will leave that testing to them.

    The only valid complaint that I’ve experienced is the tendency for pistols shooting the .357 Sig to eject the spent brass at a 90 degree angle and hitting the shooter to your right in the head/face. This tendency prompted our range master to require all .357 Sig shooters to use the lanes on the far right of the firing line and leave a vacant lane to the right of each so armed shooter.

    • Dennis – The .357 SIG was designed to basically duplicate the performance of the .357 magnum cartridge when fired in revolvers with barrel lengths of less than 4 inches. I suggest that the blast and muzzle-flash was duplicated along with the ballistic performance. 🙂

      However, the .357 SIG is bound to have more blast and flash than other common semi-auto rounds due to higher muzzle pressures and somewhat higher powder charges (typically).

      For example, I used Quickload Software to model some common auto-pistol rounds using Unique powder and typical bullet weights and muzzle velocities. I used 4 inch barrels for every round except .45 acp. I used a 5-inch barrel for it since that is the typical government 1911 length.

      The lowest SAMMI pressure round is the .45 acp and, of course, it produced the lowest muzzle pressure. Quickload estimated it at about 2800 psi.

      Both 9 mm Luger and .40 S&W produced similar muzzle pressures of about 5500 to 5600 psi. For the .357 SIG (4-inch barrel), Quickload estimated a pressure of about 7900 psi. The .357 SIG also required the heaviest charge of Unique powder to reach its target velocity of about 1350 fps.

      So, the greater blast and muzzle-flash of the .357 SIG is not just a fiction of people’s imagination. The physics of larger gas volume and higher muzzle pressure means that it must be greater.

      I can’t say that, shooting with ear protection on an outdoor range, I was ever bothered by it. However, if I was forced to shoot my FNX with full power .357 SIG ammo in a confined space (say when sitting inside my car or inside my bedroom) and without hearing protection, I think it would be a real concern that some hearing damage would occur. I know, it is better to be deaf than dead but, still, I would rather use a lower pressure round (like the .45 acp or even .38 Special) if shooting in a confined space.

      • TN_MAN,

        Not my intention to argue the point, just to point out the difference between my experience with the cartridge compared with the hype I’ve seen on various internet sites.

        I still maintain that the muzzle blast with side by side comparison with the .357 mag, performed by me personally, doesn’t show the Sig to be worse.

        I understand your scientific analysis, having two semesters of undergrad physics myself. If I were performing this as an experiment where, under normal conditions, I should get an expected result, yet observation showed a result different from the expected, I would search for an unknown variable I may have missed. One variable I would look at would be differing case volumes and and compaction of propellant. All full power loads I’ve ran across, and all my personal full power reloads with the .357 Sig involves compacted powder. My favorite load is using 800x powder that when measured by weight per recipe, completely fills the case up to the rim. Seating the bullet compresses the powder charge significantly. Could this alter the correlation of powder charge as to muzzle blast? I don’t know. I do know that I have, when experimenting with light powder charges in .38 spec for non-intimidating training rounds young folks and ladies, experienced a phenomena called detonation, when the brass shows all the signs of over pressure, and noticeable heavier recoil, yet the projectile being propelled at a much lower velocity. Thankfully, I’ve not destroyed a gun and no longer attempt loadings much lower the 10% below published minimums.

        As I said before, my observations are just that, my observations. I spoke on this issue only because over the years I’ve read so many folks trying to cast aspersion on the cartridge, citing this alleged shortcoming, one I’ve not observed to be true. At least one respected enthusiast (I haven’t really looked for more) shares my observations.


        I have no skin in the game one way or another. Everyone who shoots a
        lot, or have spent time in harms way on a regular basis, searches for the personal weapon that fits them and gives them confidence. The .357 Sig is that cartridge for me.

      • to TN-man
        My now old Speer reloading Manual Number 12 lists the SAMMI pressure of a 40 S&W at 35,000 pounds. Page 534.
        9 mm at 35,000 psi also on page 498.
        The pressure limit for the 45 acp is 21,000 page 556.
        Yes the lighter bullets can have more powder put behind them and give more kinetic energy by traveling faster. In the kinetic energy formula the velocity is squared. Heavy slower bullets probably exert more push by spending more time traveling through the body.
        Spinning hollow-point bullets throw tissue outwards often mistaken for hydrostatic shock (in my opinion).
        My hearing is almost gone. My ears ring all the time. I risk my life constantly driving on highways with drunk drivers and people on cell phones. I do not mind risking injury or my life but risking what is left of my hearing is not an option.
        I do not live in a high crime area. I have stopped to help people on the highways at night and have pondered what would I do if someone pulled a weapon on my wife seated where she the one rolling down the window. I am not going to fire a handgun in front of her face.
        Not all that long ago, in the middle of the night, I heard a bumping noise that woke me up. There was highway construction a half mile away but they do not work nights and I have never seen them use a pile driver. The noise sounded more like it was coming from my back door area. I sat calmly trying to wake up fully. I did not want to speak to my sleeping wife 5 feet away because I did not want to reveal that I was awake and our location in the dark. Finally I woke up fully and put my 38 special revolver in my lap sitting at the kitchen table. I am retired from a big states prison system and am trained to consider the odds and surroundings. If I walk toward the noise I will be leaving my wife asleep and vulnerable to someone coming from the other way (hallways form a loop). So I sat and waited. Finally when I spoke to wife the noise stopped. Checking the back area there was no sign of attempted entry.
        The next night I heard the noise again. It was my wife’s nose issues (perhaps her nasal polyps are growing back).

      • TN_MAN, maybe I need to point out, I’m not disputing that the Sig is louder, has more recoil, or greater muzzle blast than a 9mm. Just not at to such a degree to be a drawback.

        My comparison is to the .357 magnums (apples to apples) who everyone seems to agree is a great choice for a defensive cartridge, yet seldom point to it’s muzzle blast as a disqualifier.

      • “I know, it is better to be deaf than dead but, still, I would rather use a lower pressure round (like the .45 acp or even .38 Special) if shooting in a confined space.”

        Completely understand your sentiments. My nightstand has my pistol, a combat light, and a pair of Walker Amplified Ear Muffs by my bedside. My muffs go on first. At my age, with deteriorating hearing, the 10x stereo sound amplification enhances my hearing while giving instantaneous hearing protection should the worse happen, and I must fire my weapon. I personally think everyone should consider the addition to your home defense plan. Full retail is around $100, I caught mine for $69 on sale. Money well invested.

    • I can see that my comments about theoretical muzzle pressures have sparked a lot of comments. Frankly, it is difficult to “draw the line” as to how much muzzle pressure and muzzle blast is too much. Like everything with firearms, there are a lot of variables. Are you shooting outdoors or in a confined space? What is your actually caliber and load? What is your barrel length? What are the lighting conditions? (i.e. muzzle flash is less tolerable in very low light conditions).

      It is true that the .357 Magnum round has been used since the 1930’s and has seen its share of gunfights. Depending upon load and barrel length, it can produce muzzle pressures even higher than the typical .357 SIG round.

      The .223 / 5.56 NATO round is often recommended for home defense. In a carbine length barrel (16 inches), it can easily produce muzzle pressures in excess of 10,000 PSI with muzzle blast that puts the .357 SIG to shame!

      Personally, I am doubtful of using such a round for indoors home defense unless it is suppressed. Note that in the infamous 1986 Miami Shootout, some believe that the criminal Michael Platt partially disabled his own partner, William Matix, by firing a .223 round from a Ruger Mini-14 close to his head and, thereby, bursting his eardrums. Platt did a lot of damage before he was put down. What if Matix had been just as effective? The use of the Mini-14 may have been a “double-edged sword” on that day.

      My view is that, assuming an effective round, the lower the muzzle pressure – the better for home defense. My main home defense firearm is a Kel-Tec 9mm carbine with 16 inch barrel. When fired in such a long barrel, the 9mm Luger cartridge has a huge expansion ratio which drives muzzle pressures very low. Quickload calculations indicate muzzle pressures, for my Kel-Tec carbine, are only in the 500 to 600 psi range. As a backup to the carbine, I use a good, old-fashioned S&W Model 10 revolver in .38 Special which is another low pressure cartridge. I also keep some hearing protection near my bed and will use it – assuming that I have the time.

      In any event, I don’t like the idea of using rounds that generate very high muzzle pressures for defense in confined spaces such as inside a car or in my bedroom. Outdoors, as a trail gun for instance, it could be a completely different matter. That is just my 2 cents. YMMV.

      • TN_MAN, no argument with your posts, but somehow a discussion I thought began as what law enforcement carried for sidearms and cartridge preferences for their duties, morphed into a discussion of excessive muzzle blast/flash of the .357 Sig cartridge, and morphed again to it’s suitability as to use as a home defense weapon.

        I totally understand the argument and reservations about these concerns inside the home. Just seems that many folks, for whatever their reasons, seek to point out what they perceive as negatives whenever the .357 Sig is mentioned, even though these same drawbacks can be applied to the weapons/cartridges they sing the praises of (as you pointed out with the .223 cartridge).

        I’ll end with this. While I consider the .357 Sig a top pick for law enforcement, it’s not what I carry everyday, nor my go to weapon for things that go bump in the night. Since I retired from answering calls and fighting crime, the likelihood of me encountering a drug crazed maniac intent on killing me has diminished greatly. My experience tells me that the mere presence of a gun in the hands of the intended target ends a majority of attacks without a shot being fired. Of those incidents where a good guy is forced to fire, the bad guy usually does not hang around to see what happens next, even if not hit. There are exceptions of course, like I’m sure there are some folks who have fired a .38 revolver inside the confines of a car without suffering hearing damage (which I highly doubt).

      • Interesting approach. I searched for a U.S. web site on muzzle pressure.
        In about 1970 the prison I was working had a training gun tower at the pistol range. A moving silhouette target on a motorized wire. We were still using 30:06 rifles and no hearing protection. I fired first shot with the rifle muzzle an inch or two inside the window. With the almost 4 foot by 4 foot window wide open the shock wave inside the tower was very bad. Next time I put the barrel about a foot outside the window the blast was tolerable.
        Another counterintuitive situation was a very honest friend who was an MP in army. He was escorting a large prisoner on foot one day that took off running. He fired at his leg with 1911 .45 and he spun around and went down. On examination his only injury was his little finger had been pulled off at the base.
        We are not made of Gelatin. Bones connected by ligaments, muscles and tendons. Even small children can hang from one hand.
        We speculated that a faster bullet might snip off the finger and not effect his stride. Naturally no medical student would lone us his cadaver for testing.

      • Dennis – You are probably correct about people placing too much concern about muzzle blast/flash for the .357 SIG. I think that this probably happens because the .357 SIG likely has the highest blast for the common police semi-auto cartridges. Of the rounds listed by MAS above (9 mm, .357 SIG, .40 S&W, .45 GAP and .45 ACP), I would think that the .357 SIG has the highest blast/flash on average for most common loads.

        However, it is not a nuclear bomb! Most of the magnum revolver cartridges (.357, .41 and .44) can all generate more blast/flash with the right loads. Just about any centerfire rifle cartridge (from .223 on up) will easily exceed it as well. So, the blast is not prohibitive. Especially, if used with proper hearing protection and fired in an open space.

        As for general use as a law enforcement round, well, it will certainly do the job. As I noted in an earlier comment, for State Troopers, it is a rather good round due to its high velocity.

        However, given that the 9 mm Luger round is (a) available in a host of models, (b) is economical to buy for both service and training use, (c) offers excellent magazine capacity, (d) offer modest recoil and (e) with modern bullet designs, offers decent stopping power; I feel that it offers a whole lot for general LE use. Although, really, you can’t go too far wrong (with good ammo) with any of the rounds mentioned by Mas above in his blog.

        Once again, just my 2 cents.

      • TN_MAN,

        The weapons chosen by law enforcement agencies for issue to their officers has always been a compromise. They have to, by necessity, tend to weight their choice to the lowest common denominator of who will be issued those weapons, their physical abilities, and how much time and wealth can be dedicated to training. Most allow more powerful weapons to be carried by their officers, but at the personal expense of those officers who must meet the same levels of proficiency using such weapons.

        As a police officer, I tended to carry the more powerful handguns, including the .357 Sig the last ten years, my choice, not the department’s, although it was allowed. After retirement, I downsized drastically to carrying either .38 snub or .380 acp for EDC, but still enjoy shooting my Sig. Is there a scenario that I would go back to daily carry of the Sig? Yes, but I don’t look forward to that possible eventuality. Even so, I practice diligently with it as if I might have to strap it on tomorrow.

  22. The NC SHP had a disastrous experience with the S&W M&P in .357SIG (extractors). The agency ditched them in 2014, after less than four years for the SIG in .357SIG. Al is well now.

  23. I still wonder why the S&W 1076 isn’t the preferred sidearm everywhere. Yes, it’s heavy, but 10 rounds of 10mm should more than do the job, if the job is to be done by pistol. And the weight of the gun makes the 10mm round negligible, unlike the Glock. On the other hand, a lightweight like the Glock 23 or Springfield or M&P in 40 had my wrist screwed up for months after a week of 1200-rounds in training.

    • We had the 1006 for an issue firearm 1992-2006. The reach to the trigger is the same as for an N frame S&W revolver. This makes it at least somewhat problematical for those of more modest stature.

      We also issued full power 10mmm until we couldn’t get it anymore. Way more power than necessary or helpful. With the FBI version, you still had the trigger reach problem (and the extraction problem until that got sorted out).

      The frame mounted decocker caused more problems than it was worth from what we observed and LE sales reps reported.

  24. If it helps add to the list, as of 2 years ago Cuyahoga County Deputies in Ohio (think Cleveland area) were carrying SIG P220s. Served on a grand jury and I had just gotten one myself.

    With many others, I’ve come to really like the 357SIG round. Thankfully I reload it and it’s not that bad with the Dillon carbide dies. First bottle neck cartridge for me to reload and learned I had to set the sizing die a little differently! Sadly the only bullets I’ve found for loading full power loads are from Zero or Montana Gold. Berry’s 115 & 124gr FPs will work as well as eXtreme’s 124gr FPs but they seem to tumble when pushed to full power (8.0gr of BE-86 in my case). Wish someone would start making a cast bullet for 357SIG, especially if Eggleston would make it in their coated cast. Often use colors for a cause (have shot pink bullets in October matches for last 4 years for BCA) but have to give that up when shooting 357SIG.

    • Dale,- I also reload the .357 Sig. I use two steps to size the cases, first running them through a .40 carbide “bulge buster” die, then a standard .357 Sig sizing die, to avoid using case lube. There are at least a couple of .357 Sig specific hard cast bullets available.


      I’ve loaded thousands of the Hunter’s Hard Cast offering at around 1200 fps with very little leading. When the .357 Sig bullet is not available, I buy their .358 bullet with the same design, and run it through a .356 sizing die that works just as well. The crimping groove works great to prevent bullet setback. Hope this is helpful.

  25. Is there any interest in knowing what LEOs in other countries carry? Maybe we don’t need an exhaustive list, just some highlights. It would be interesting to know if there are LEOs in other countries who carry something we may consider bizarre.

      • In Spain: National Police: H&K USP compact 9 mm (Some Star model 28 PK 9 mm are still in use; plainclothes officer can carry on-duty the astra 250 .38 spl 2″ barrel revolver; off-duty: either the issued handgun or any personal handgun, without restrictions). National Police’s GEO group: Sig-Sauer p-226 9 mm (replacing the previous H&K p9s 9mm and Manurhin MR-73 .357 magnum). Guardia Civil (rural police): Beretta 92 FS 9 mm (H&K USP compact and SIG PRO issued on a limited basis; personal handguns are allowed on-duty for high-rank officers; off-duty: either the issued handgun or any personal handgun, without restrictions). Basque Police: H&K USP compact 9 mm (personal handguns authorized off-duty). Catalonian police: Walther p-99 9 mm (personal handguns authorized off-duty). Bilbao city PD: sig-sauer p-228 9 mm; S&W j-frame .38 spl revolvers or S&W MP compact 9 mm are issued for plainclothes carry). Madrid Police: Several handguns have been acquired in batches (H&K USP compact and S&W MP, both in 9 mm; a few years ago there were still some Astra 960 (4″ barrel) and Police (3″ barrel) .38 sple revolvers in use. In my own small city, many different models have been acquired in batches to replace the previously issued Astra 250 .38 spl revolvers: Glock 19 (9 mm), Walther p-99 (9 mm), Sig-PRO (9 mm) and S&W 915 (9 mm). I’ve read that one small city issues the FN Five-SeveN in 5.7 mm caliber, but I don’t remember the name of the city.

  26. Interesting list to throw into the debate about the 9MM vs. anything else. Seems like real men (and women) prefer just about anything other than the 9mm, with a few exceptions. And for those who say something like (the 9MM has come a long way and with modern ammunition is as good as anything else) I offer the idea that these LEO’s agency ammunition choices are probably the best of the current 9mm’s. Also interesting is that the .40 is still alive and kicking. I’ll also point out that a famous gun writer suggested someplace that you probably can’t go wrong using the same ammo your local LEA is using. And I think for local agencies, like much of the shooting public, the choice of gun and ammo combination has more to do with cost than effectiveness.

  27. There are rumors that the New York State Police are looking at a replacement for their .45 GAPs– either a Glock 17 or 19. One early version of the rumor had them switching to Glock 22s or 23s, but the FBI report on the .40 pretty much doomed that. A long, long time ago, the NYSP had Glock 17s.

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