We’re all familiar with the image of a cop and his trusty .38 special service revolver. It’s old school, it’s awesome, and it’s going the way of the dodo in the NYPD, as the department is disallowing service revolvers in 2018.
The news started to spread when a blog called Gun Free Zone posted a photo of an NYPD interdepartmental memo from the commissioner dated Nov. 20 that says service revolvers and the equipment used with them—speed loaders, regulation holsters and pouches—will be “discontinued for service use.” The document does go on to state that wheelguns are approved for off-duty use, provided that the officer in question doesn’t already have an off-duty revolver or semi-automatic pistol.
Uniformed officers who carry a service revolver will be required to undergo a three-day “transition course” to the semi-automatic handgun. Once they complete the course, he or she will be given three semi-autos to pick from: the Glock 17 Gen4, the Glock 19 Gen4 or the Sig Sauer P226 DAO. The transition period to the semi-auto will begin on Jan. 1, 2018 and wrap up Aug. 31 that same year.
We’re not sure how many NYPD officers still carry service revolvers. A New York Times article published in Dec. 2004 says barely 2,000 officers carried them at that time. The New York Daily News says there’s now only around 150 cops left with a .38 special revolver in his or her holster.
For most of the twentieth century, NYPD officers carried .38s like the Smith & Wesson Model 10, Smith & Wesson Model 64 DAO, Colt Official Police and Colt Detective Special. In 1994, the department made the jump to the 9mm semi-automatic handgun, giving new recruits a choice of Glock, Sig Sauer and Smith & Wesson pistols. NYPD officers who joined the force before 1994 were still allowed to carry service revolvers. Until now, that is.