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Best Duty Weapons: Pistols, Rifles, & Shotguns [Video]

We take a look at some of the best duty weapons among law enforcement. From pistols to rifles and even a shotgun, come see what cops prefer.

Officer or civilian, a reliable firearm is a crucial part of anyone’s kit. And often times the law enforcement world influences the civilian market.

So that begs the question…what do police carry and why?

We’re here to answer that question and more! So keep reading as go over some of the best duty weapons with proven performance and reliability.

Who knows you might just find something you like…

Summary of Our Top Picks

  1. Modst Popular

    Glock G17

    Full-size, 9mm, reliable

  2. Best Ergonomics

    Walther PDP

    9mm, 18+1, feels great

  3. Best 1911-style

    Staccato P

    20+1 capacity, 9mm, durable

  4. Best Shogtun

    Remington Model 870

    Pump action, classic design

  5. Best Rifle

    AR-15 Rifles

    Easy to shoulder, multiple calibers

Best Duty Weapons

1. Glock 17/Glock 19

I may be dating myself a bit, but the first off-duty weapon I purchased was a Gen 1 Glock 17. I didn’t know much about guns at the time and bought this one from a police chief I trusted.

Glock 19

What I learned over the next few years was how incredibly reliable the Glock was. That’s a reputation I still hold in mind even though we’re now five generations deep.

Over the years several more models sprang up to fill needs and I used several of them. However, most agencies running the Austrian wonder gravitate toward the G17 or G19, which is roughly a half-inch shorter.

Modst Popular
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

Glock truly epitomizes the saying “form follows function.”

It may not be the most beautiful or ergonomic, but over countless training and qualifications, I knew I could always count on mine to deliver accurate fire if I did my part.

That’s one of the main reasons police here in America, and in much of the rest of the world, trust Glock.

at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

2. Walther PDP

A relative newcomer to the law enforcement market, the Walther PDP (or Performance Duty Pistol) was the result of a collaborative effort that blended a lot of feedback from experts into a refined package.

Walther PDP

Outstanding ergonomics combined with superior grip texture into a fighting pistol that offered everything law enforcement officers need: good capacity at 18+1, optics ready, and one of the best stock triggers in a striker-fired gun.

I trained extensively with the PDP and really put the gun through its paces. I found it to be highly reliable and accurate too.

Best Ergonomics
at EuroOptic

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

With a good grip, I was able to ride the dot through recoil and increase my speed without losing much accuracy. I carried this gun through the end of my career and only wished Walther had invented it sooner.

Read our review of the PDP here or watch the full video review below.

What do you think of the Walther PDP? Rate it below!

Readers' Ratings

5.00/5 (161)

Your Rating?

3. Staccato P

I carried a 1911 on duty for a while, you may note its conspicuous absence from this list. But when Staccato started making the 2011, I was very curious because I knew the protentional the gun held.

Staccato P

In time, Staccato came out with the P and marketed it for law enforcement use. With a 20+1 capacity, wonderful ergonomics, good reliability, and supreme accuracy, the P looked to be a serious contender as a duty weapon.

Best 1911-style
at Staccato

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

I recently spent three days in the hot Texas sun, attending a Handgun Mastery Course with the Tactical Performance Center. The knowledge passed on was amazing and the P surpassed my expectations.

While I had already retired by the time I got to try the P, I can unreservedly recommend it for duty use. Interestingly, 667 law enforcement agencies currently agree.

Get more details in our video review below.

4. Remington 870

During the early days of my career, patrol cars came with cigarette lighters and Remington 870s.

This gun has been standard issue equipment for almost as long as police had cars. The reliability of the pump-action shotgun is almost legendary, but the utility is perhaps not so well known.

There have been a lot of various shells created over the years that have made the 12-gauge pump-action a jack of all trades.

Anything from ceramic breachers, flares, noise makers, and a whole slew of less lethal munitions evolved over the years and helped officers out with challenging situations.

Best Shogtun
at Kygunco

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

My last boomstick was an 18-inch Scattergun Technologies special that saved my bacon during a close encounter with a home-invading bear. The Remington 870 is a police staple.

5. AR-15

When I first started, we were issued full auto ARs from the 1033 program. That might sound exciting but these old dogs were A1s from the 1960s.

My agency began with Colts but eventually moved on to other AR-15 brands that performed just as well.

These weapons were kept locked up in our vehicles and were deployed in the most serious situations. While some urban agencies were moving to the MP5, the longer engagement distances in our rural jurisdiction made this rifle the better choice.

Best Rifle
at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

The advent of the AR in policing was the result of a paradigm shift, due in part to the civil unrest of the times, but also to escalating scenarios cops just didn’t have the capabilities to deal with.

Situations like the Texas clock tower shooter demanded new tools and tactics. So, like the shotgun, the AR-15 became commonly issued equipment, though some agencies took their time in learning this lesson.

Check out our recommendations for the Best AR-15s.

6. Smith & Wesson M&P 2.0

Another weapon that I know many agencies use but I had never tried was the M&P from Smith & Wesson.

After testing it out, I was a believer!

The grip angle is really good and the swell on the backstrap fits the palm nicely. Considering the backstraps are adjustable, you can use the right one to fit your hand and make sure you’re able to reach all the controls.

I really did not like the trigger when I first tried it, but after I shot it a few times, I thought it was genius. When I first tried it, I pulled back for what felt like a lot of soft travel before hitting a wall. Then, there was a clean break.

M&P 9 M2.0 side

I really didn’t like all that distance and the soft feel. It felt squishy.

But then I shot the gun testing accuracy, and I had an epiphany. The trigger is similar in many respects to a 2-stage rifle trigger.

My groups were outstandingly accurate, the ergonomics were great, and the gun was wholly reliable.

Runner Up
at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

I recently reviewed the M&P 2.0 and that was quite an experiences, check out the article for more details!

Final Thoughts

Selecting a great duty weapon is not easy. One of the main challenges is finding something that fits an ever-diversifying police force.

Cops of all sizes and abilities need accurate and reliable weapons for those moments when their lives or the lives of others are on the line.

I realize this isn’t an all-inclusive list, but these are guns I either used on the job or knew of other agencies deploying.

There are a lot of good duty weapons out there from different manufacturers. If you have a favorite, let us know in the comments below.

Which ones did I miss? File a complaint in the comments below and let me know! While you’re at it, be sure to check out The Blue Brief, our column providing a peek behind the badge.

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21 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar

    Although I haven't shot a plethora of handguns for comparison I will say that my Walther PDP 5" full size is the best handgun I have ever fired. I will agree with everything you said about it. Out of the box perfection. Maybe the only drawback would be the lack of accessories that seem to be coming with most other pistols these days.

    June 25, 2022 3:01 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Sean Curtis

      Yes, the PDP is outstanding! My only complaint is occasionally not getting lockback on the last round because of my hand size, but otherwise it is wonderful.

      June 27, 2022 6:47 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    John J

    Police duty weapons here are Glock 22s in 40 S&W and Glock 27s so the mags and ammo are at least interchangeable. Rifles are Colt 6920s but not one has ever been used beyond training. It's a huge waste of millions in taxpayers money.

    June 24, 2022 5:40 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Sean Curtis

      John, the G22 and G27 are great. I'm curious how large the agency is if the Colts cost millions, but more importantly, I hope they never have to be used. However, in that respect they are like a parachute--you'll definitely want one should the need arise!

      June 25, 2022 9:55 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Mark Rubin

    Bro, no Sig? I am truly hurt

    June 24, 2022 1:53 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Sean Curtis

      Mark, I sincerely love my P226 Legion, but never saw any agencies fielding them. I've seen more 320s out there but have heard about some issues.

      June 25, 2022 9:57 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    If the shotgun has to be a pump, then it is going to be a Mossberg 590. Pistol CZ 75 SP-01, 19rd mag, NOT striker fired and can be carried cocked and locked. AR 15 platform rifle, might go 6.8SPC just to differentiate from the crowd.

    June 23, 2022 8:10 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Sean Curtis

      Well said Ron,

      I don't disagree, Mossberg makes a fine weapon, I just didn't see them that often in the agencies I worked for or with.

      June 23, 2022 8:42 pm
      • Commenter Avatar

        Had 870's on ship, not bad, 590 wins though. Lefties like the safety better and even though I am not a lefty I do too. Loading gate better on the Mossberg. Bedsides who can resist not seeing what a bayonet looks like at the end of a shotgun, lol.

        June 24, 2022 5:46 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Bemused Berserker

    I really wouldn't call Walther a New Comer to the LE market, they've been providing guns to Police Departments for far longer than Glock, SIG and HK, introducing their PP (Police Pistol) in the early 1930's. Walther developed the first commercially successful DA/SA Semi-Automatic.
    They're a newcomer to "American" Law Enforcement market. The Walther PDP, is a close cousin to the Walther PPQ (they share most of the same internals), and quite frankly, the PPQ, hands down has the best out of the box trigger on the market (I've not had the opportunity to fire the PDP). It is simply a joy to shoot. The PPQ (Police Pistol Quick) was designed for Law Enforcement first, commercial market second, and it shows. It's the first Striker fired Pistol I've owned that I can consistently TRIPLE TAP with. The PDP is really a refinement of the PPQ. One thing I prefer about the PPQ, is it comes in 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP (I own a 9mm and a .40 S&W).
    So check a Walther out, you'll throw rocks at your Glocks after you do.

    June 23, 2022 7:32 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Sean Curtis

      Thanks Berserker, I said the Walther PDP was a relative newcomer, I'm aware of Walther's distinguished service. And right again on the evolution of the PDP. You seem well informed my friend, thought about writing?

      June 23, 2022 8:45 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    No complaints, I’m a huge Glock fan, staring at a new G29 soon. CZ is also a very big player in law enforcement outside the US. Pick up any 75 and you will swear the grip was made just for you. CZ makes many models but the P-07 was marketed and sold as a Duty pistol, very sweet shooter. I still like the feel of a hammer in my trigger. Nice job.

    June 23, 2022 7:24 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Sean Curtis

      Thanks Paul, we're very fond of CZs around here too!

      June 23, 2022 8:46 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Really confused why the Benelli m4 did not make the list? Cost prohibitive? But you include Staccato 2011… according to the USMC the Benelli M4 is the single most reliable weapons platform in their arsenal. That says everything to me. If marines can’t break it my light use won’t break it either.

    June 23, 2022 5:48 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Sean Curtis

      Great observation Wes. Most agencies have to buy in bulk to make sure they have enough to go around. The cost of the Benelli made that a daunting proposition.

      June 23, 2022 8:51 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Patrick Alt

    H&K Mark 23…’nuff said.

    June 23, 2022 4:17 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      T. Racine

      Just too damn big though very accurate. Even the USP EXP45 was a big gun but supremely reliable and accurate as well.

      June 23, 2022 7:09 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Sean Curtis

      Patrick, my SO actually issued a .45 HK for a while and it was a fine weapon for me. Later, we had more diversity in size and I had deputies who struggled to hold and accurately shoot such a large gun.

      June 23, 2022 8:47 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Herman Meister

    Eric, we really like the S&W EZ 380's and 9 mm pistols. I have arthritis and my wife and I like to shoot here on our ranch just for sport. We both have CC permits here in Texas

    June 23, 2022 4:03 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Bemused Berserker

      If you get the chance, try Walther's CCP (concealed Carry Pistol), it was designed for folks with hand/strength issues. My wife suffers from RA, and has no problem shooting or rocking the gun.

      June 23, 2022 7:35 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Sean Curtis

      Herman, sorry about the arthritis, but glad you two found something you can shoot. We are enjoying this Texas weather right now!

      June 23, 2022 8:49 pm
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