Specialist Firearms for Law Enforcement

What specialist firearms do the police use?

Last updated July 6th 2024

This post contains affiliate links. If you buy through our links then we earn a small commission, and you get the best price we can find from our suppliers.

Law enforcement agencies around the world employ a range of specialist firearms on a day to day basis. These firearms are chosen for their reliability, accuracy, and adaptability to various situations, from routine patrols to high-risk tactical operations.

The police and other departments also do some of the most extensive reliability, accuracy and durability tests known to man, too. So if it’s good enough for them, it’s probably good enough for you.

Here are just a few of the guns that keep getting selected by police and tactical units around the country, and why you should probably get them in your gun safe.

Glock 19M, one of the grea


Glock Pistols

Glock Series: Glocks are among the most popular handguns for law enforcement due to their simplicity, reliability, and modular design. The Glock 22 and 17, chambered in .40 S&W and 9mm respectively, are particularly favored for their high magazine capacity and low recoil.

The G17 is perfect for an OWB holster on the hip, but for agents and detectives in plain clothes, the Glock 19 is often the default choice. This gun is easier to conceal and doesn’t give up too much in terms of long range performance.

Many officers also choose to carry the Glock 43x as a back up in a sock holster or tucked inside their belt.

Get the best Glock pistol here.

Sig Sauer P320

The Sig P320 Compact won the US military contract and looked set to grab the lion’s share of the market. Police forces ordered boxes of them and all was well, until this gun started to get a reputation for accidental discharges.

It is still selling in big numbers, but there’s no doubt that those early issues with the drop test have cast a long lasting shadow over the compact 9mm handgun.

Would the US military procuremt guys make the same choice today? Probably not, and a number of police units have ditched this gun due to problems with what Sig says are negligent discharges.

Benelli M4 in action


Benelli M4

A semi-automatic shotgun favored by tactical units, the Benelli M4 is known for its durability and auto-regulating gas-operated system, which allows for rapid follow-up shots and reduced recoil. There’s a shorter barrel Benelli that’s a specialist breaching tool for blowing out door locks etc too.

The Auto Regulating Gas Operated Benelli M4 serves in every branch of the military. If they can afford the best, this is the one they buy.

Have a look at the top Benelli shotguns here.

Remington 870

Even Police Departments and law enforcement units have to save money sometimes. And some older hands also like a pump action shotgun for its basic, simple operation. The Remington 870 is America’s best-selling shotgun and have been with us more than 50 years, so it is one of those mainstays you’ll find in just about every police armory.

If you’ve seen the green or orange shotguns that police sometimes carry, they are modified to shoot less lethal ammo. These guns are often loaded with bean bag rounds, that can disable a threat without killing them.

The actual military-grade M4 Carbine, different to the AR-15 you can buy


AR-15/M4 Variants

The AR-15 platform, particularly in its M4 configuration, is widely used by law enforcement tactical units. Its accuracy, range, and customization options make it suitable for a variety of roles, from precision shooting to urban combat. The 5.56mm cartridge offers a balance between stopping power and control.

So the next time people ask why you need an AR-15, maybe tell them that it’s the first choice for basically any tactical situation.

Get the top AR-15s here:

HK 416

Developed by Heckler & Koch, the HK416 is an enhanced AR-15 variant with a gas piston system, improving reliability in adverse conditions. Its use in the operation to kill Osama bin Laden has only added to its reputation and adoption by elite law enforcement units.

Remington 700 SPS 6.5 Creedmoor rifle

Precision Rifles

Remington 700

Often customized for law enforcement sniper roles, the Remington 700 bolt-action rifle is prized for its accuracy and reliability. Chambered in calibers like .308 Winchester, it provides the precision needed for long-range engagements.

You can get a Remington 700 in just about every flavor, from a budget hunting rifle with a synthetic stock right through to precision engineered sniper rifles for military use.

Chris Kyle, the legendary American Sniper, used a Remington 700. So if it’s good enough for him, maybe it could work for you.

Barrett M82

While known as a military anti-material rifle, the Barrett M82 .50 BMG has also been adopted by law enforcement for its long-range precision and ability to penetrate barriers during hostage rescue or counter-sniper operations.

The 50 cal sniper rifle is one of the most powerful production rifles in the world, and it definitely gives the police another string to their proverbial bow.

Submachine Guns and Personal Defense Weapons (PDWs)

The small submachine guns are generally reserved for SWAT teams or crack legal and military units that have to operate in confined spaces or sweep buildings. A pistol caliber carbine chambered in 9mm has much less chance of overpenetration, which can mean a bullet going through a wall or a person and inflicting collateral damage.

9mm PCCs are popular home defense weapons for the same reason, although the ambiguity surrounding pistol braces has hurt sales in recent times.


The Heckler & Koch MP5 submachine gun has been a staple in law enforcement and counter-terrorism units for decades. Its compact size, accuracy, and 9mm cartridge make it ideal for close-quarters combat and VIP protection.

You can find the HK SP5 semi automatic 9mm pistol here.

Sig Sauer MPX

A modern PDW, the SIG MPX offers similar advantages to the MP5 but with updated features like a closed bolt gas piston system and AR-style ergonomics, making it a versatile tool for law enforcement operations.

The short barrel Sig MPX Copperhead is basically a concealed carry pistol. The MPX platform is exceptionally modular, though, and can be turned into a number of different weapons if you’ve got the parts & accessories.

Tactical Considerations and Training

The effectiveness of these firearms depends not only on their design but also on the training and tactics of the officers wielding them. Law enforcement agencies invest significant resources in training officers to use these weapons effectively, emphasizing marksmanship, decision-making under stress, and adherence to use-of-force policies.

You should do the same with extensive training.


Specialist firearms play a critical role in law enforcement, enabling officers to respond effectively to a wide range of threats. From handguns and shotguns for general duty use to rifles and precision weapons for tactical teams, the selection of firearms reflects the diverse requirements of policing and public safety. The fact so many of them stay the same speaks volumes. A great gun can stand the test of time.

As technology and tactics evolve, law enforcement agencies continue to adapt, seeking out new and improved firearms that offer better performance, reliability, and safety for officers and the communities they serve.

This overview captures the essence of specialized firearms in law enforcement, highlighting how these tools are integral to maintaining law and order in various operational contexts. The ongoing development and refinement of law enforcement weaponry underscore the importance of balancing firepower with precision, control, and accountability.


  • Nick Hall

    Nick is a lifelong gun enthusiast who has a simple mission. He wants to find the best deals for guns online and help you make the best choices with weapons your life may depend on one day.Nick won a minor league shooting competition at the age of 11 and it all went from there. Now he runs one of the biggest firearms websites on the net and his work has featured in Playboy US, Tatler Asia, Forbes and a whole host of national magazines and websites.

    View all posts

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top