The Guns that Criminals Carry – One Police Officer’s Data

For those who interested in the art of self-defense, you should be checking out Active Self Protection, who goes by ASP. Their daily videos go through various real-life scenarios often from captured surveillance video. The crew over there go through the details on how good guys deal with bad guys “when the balloon goes up.”

ASP also runs an excellent Facebook page, looking at the various articles often by trainers. One of their latest referrals looks at one officer’s experience of the weapons that “bad guys” carry and the results are surprising. (Note – the officer is from an affuent suburb, not a major metropolitan area.) bFor example, by types of weapon:

–          67 were handguns

  • 13 revolvers
  • 52 semi –automatic pistols
  • 1 Derringer
  • 1 illegally-converted fully automatic machine pistol

–          11 were rifles

  • 4 Bolt Actions
  • 7 semi –automatic rifles

–          7 were shotguns

  • 4 Pump Actions

  • 3 single shots or double barrels

The most popular manufacturer? Ruger. Then again, there were quite a few cheap weapons in there from companies like Hi point, Lorcin, Norinco, and IntraTec.

–          Ruger-9

–          Smith and Wesson- 6

–          Glock-5

–          Hi Point- 5

–          Beretta- 4

–          Lorcin- 4

–          Remington- 4

–          Raven- 3

–          Jennings- 3

–          IntraTec- 3

–          Norinco- 3

Then looking at the the capabilities of the weapons to function?

Nine of the 85 weapons were completely broken and unable to function.  17 more of the guns had limited functionality because of frequent (at least 1 in the first 3 rounds I fired) malfunctions, lack of magazines (5 guns), and other problems like incorrect magazines, and internal parts breakage that lead to inconsistent firing ability.

The officer then goes into detail by caliber, type of ammo, and other items. For the full run-down, check out Active Response Training. 


TFB’s FNG. Completely irreverent of all things marketing but a passionate lover of new ideas and old ones well executed. Enjoys musing on all things firearms, shooting 3-gun, and attempting to be both tacticool AND tactical.


  • JumpIf NotZero

    Old list is OLD

    • derpmaster

      yep this list was out over 15 years ago

      • PersonCommenting

        Dang, I was about to say it makes sense that Ruger would be number 1 as they sell the most so more opportunity to steal them. Also they would be in more places to buy. Although a lot of my locals have stopped carrying ruger as much as their requirements have gotten pretty high.

        • Some Rabbit

          That and older Ruger’s like the P95 can be found at very reasonable prices. I got a stainless one a few years ago for $275.

          • PersonCommenting

            Yeah, I suggest this to people who are thinking of buying cheap guns from so so brands. The P95s are an excellent value.

          • Stephen Paraski

            I saw 1 yesterday for $175.

          • PersonCommenting

            That is a crazy good deal, lowest ive seen recently and this was about 5 months ago was 250.

  • RogUinta

    “You failed to maintain your WEAPON, sir!”

    — Harry Brown

  • El Duderino

    Criminals are only very rarely “gun nuts”.

    FTFA: the reason there aren’t many “Saturday Night Specials” is because there are laws against them. Can you imagine what a mediocre-yet-relatively-reliable .25 or .32 would cost if made in China and imported here? $50 or less I imagine.

    • wicapiwakan

      I’ve always thought the Chinese would dominate the firearms market, were they legally allowed to.

      It wouldn’t just be bottom shelf handguns, either. The Chinese could (and probably would) make knockoffs of everything they could and flood the market with guns 90% as good as the major brands, but 50% of the price.

      I know in Canada their M14 clones are generally well liked. You’re getting a gun within spitting distance of a Springfield for a fraction of the price.

      They also worked on further development of the SKS, and were offering nice commercial models fitted with bona fide military optics, new stocks and modified to work reliably with AK mags. That would be one hell of a little hunting rifle, or even a nice self-defense carbine.

      It would be tough sledding at first in the American market, but once people realize that the same country who manufactures all their bleeding edge tech gizmos can, in fact, produce a fairly simple machine that was designed decades ago, I think they would sell very well.

      • noob

        “Every civilisation was built off the back of a disposable workforce” – “Wallace” Blade Runner 2049

      • Edeco

        I could dig it. Wish I’d scored one of their forged 1911’s. They could probably do a Webley Mk VI clone for under $1K, which after 90 years would probably be better than the originals. We could have new Lugers.

      • Ark

        My Chinese SKS shoots every time and never jams. For all the talk of “chinesium” and cheap crap, the Chinese seem to take their guns seriously. I mean, compare that old SKS to a new production American RAS47 and tell me which one you’d want to carry into battle.

        • wicapiwakan

          the issue with the chinese is they build what they’re contracted to build. you want cheap junk? they can do that. you want a quality product? they can do that, as well. you just have to specify exactly what you want, and be willing to pay for it. don’t believe me? ask apple. they seem to be doing just fine with their chinese made products, sold at premium prices.

          the biggest issue is that often, the western client doesn’t actually care about quality and is willing to either just sell the cheapest product and dance in that ballroom, or coast off their name.

          at the end of the day, as well, i think a lot of gun enthusiasts tend to over estimate just how complex guns are. china has a space program. even the most complex firearm ever designed (and i’d imagine it’s a HK) is nothing compared to that. they’re simple machines, and we figured out how to build them well a long time ago.

    • Jim_Macklin

      There NEVER were any Saturday Night Specials. I won’t mention the part of town the whole phrase SNS used. It was a racist derogatory phrase used to describe any gun “they” thought “they” could outlaw.
      A COLT Cobra or S&W Chief’s Special was a SNS unless carried by a police chief.

      • ostiariusalpha

        Sorry, racist implications or not, there isn’t a single Excam or Röhm revolver that I would call anything but a Saturday Night Special; and every single Lorcin and Raven Arms pistol also.

        • Norm Glitz

          I have a Rohm revolver that I overpaid $10 for, just because. I’ve had cap guns as a kid that were better made.

    • Mystick

      “Saturday Night Special” was a buzzword used by the gun-banners to encompass any firearm that was, usually, stolen and circulating in the underground marketplace. Put it in the same category as “Assault Weapon”.

    • DangerousClown

      At a local gun show, one dealer offered a Jimenez pistol for something like $25, with the purchase of any real gun.

      • Mr Evilwrench: Deplore this!

        Many years back, we had one handing out Ravens free with the purchase of anything else, garish TV commercials and all.

      • billdeserthills

        I used to sell Jimenez and they cost me more than $25

        • DangerousClown

          I’m sorry you had to admit to that. And I think maybe you paid too much for them.

          • billdeserthills

            Why, I got the same $50 profit on all the under $450 handguns

    • DangerousClown

      At a local gun show, one dealer offered a Jimenez pistol for something like $25, with the purchase of any real gun.

    • Bradley

      I wouldn’t count on it. I don’t know of any minimum price levels except at a few local levels. If someone is engaged in crime and they think they need a gun they are likely going to want something reliable and well made. Even though they might be doing bad things they carry for self defense just like anyone else. I also wonder how many of these “criminals” were only guilty of the “crime” of carrying the weapon they were caught with. I’m sure people who have kept a pistol in their glove box for twenty years and never thought twice about it end up in jail for it sometimes.

    • Ark

      “dis my glawk 40. dis my problem solva right here.”

      It’s really odd how many people, military or criminal or police, who use guns regularly actually don’t bother to know that much about them. Like, how often do you meet a career musician who knows nothing about instruments?

      • Risky

        Because the firearm is only a small component of the work in those three areas. A more fair comparison to a musician is a competition shooter, one who spends a lot of time honing their ability to interface with an object.

      • DangerousClown

        There are apparently pro bicycle racers that can’t change their own flats.

  • Ark

    Old content, but still interesting. I wonder if pocket guns are less popular because A. Criminals plan on using their guns more than us, or B. Getting caught illegally possessing one is just as bad as getting caught with a full-size. Otherwise it seems to mirror general American firearms ownership.

    I wouldn’t read too much into the unloaded guns thing, though. That just means the guns were unloaded at the time of recovery by police.

    • Swarf

      When this list was made, pocket guns were less popular, period.

      Hardly anyone was making mouse guns 15 years ago, now they all are.

      • PersonCommenting

        Exactly I can think of 2 decent ones and both were pretty expensive. Was the keltec around then?

        The cheap ones were the Jiminez models.

    • FulMetlJakit

      One more (historical) score for Mossberg.

  • RantGirlRants

    Unless it’s Remington. It’s a sad day when Kel-Tec and Hi-Point make better quality firearms than Big R.

  • FelixD

    In the world of research this list is called anecdotal and needs to be addressed as such. It also does not state when or where these seizures took place which may affect analysis.

  • John

    I work in a jail. Youd be suprised how many get stuff from Straw purchases. But stealing has gone up. Glock, ruger , hi points and springfields for handguns. Ironically they like springfields for the grip safety. They heart revolvers in 22lrs especially the younger ones. Draco pistol AK and AR15 rifle wise. Tend to keep the AR for their cribs and home defense.Shotguns tend to be pump but anything they can get there hands on. They seem highly interested in Tavors. My area is rural to pretty populated and about an hour from a major city.

    • LGonDISQUS

      Draco season will be in effect for the next 9-12 months.

      Every rap video has like two of them how.

    • Mr.SATism

      I am really surprised that they are interested in tavors (although shouldn’t the price of one deter them from purchasing it? Or am I missing something here?)

      • LGonDISQUS

        They fit in cars well. Homeboys are learning the value of CQB firearms that fit well in their SIX-FOUR (or clapped out geo metro…).

        • Mr.SATism

          Now I don’t know if I should be happy that there are tavor sales being made, or upset that its going to criminals…

  • nonobaddog

    The average gun quality in a list like this is artificially low because all the good guns get taken home and not listed.

    • noob

      Also there is the old ambiguity – are all criminals poor or is it just the poor criminals who get caught?

    • Mr.SATism

      You’re right, if I was to personally pay 3k$ on the black market for a full auto rifle, no way would I turn that over to the police
      Update: I misenterpreted that, you were talking about police taking them home, in which case, yeah I can see that, especially if it has a fun switch

  • Stuki Moi

    So why don’t we ban Rugers? Since they make people criminals and all?

  • Jim_Macklin

    Criminals use the best gun they can steal or trade for drugs or their GF. If the gun is poorly maintained it isn’t known until after you shoot them justifiably.

    You have to assume that the criminal has a nearly new Wilson or a Kimber or GLOCK and they are an expert level NAVY SEAL trained IDPA competitor.

    Fifty years ago many small town cops fired their guns once a year and the ammo was sometime corroded in the chambers of their Colt or S&W. Since the feds passed law enforcement assistance, most departments require some regular practice, training and weapons inspection.

    Most “civilian” shooters with a legal gun go to a range and practice as often as they can afford. Criminals not allowed to legally possess any gun don’t get good training, they don’t get gunsmith services. They don’t know the difference between 38 ACP and 38 Super or 38 Special. 9mm short [kurtz] or 9x19mm.

    If a “bad guy” tries to rob or kill you, you don’t have any problem that requires you to identify whether their weapon is a plastic toy, a rusty Luger with a broken mainspring. or is loaded with the correct, fresh ammo.

  • PersonCommenting

    I wonder if the Auto was a possession crime only, they are rarely ever used.

  • glasspix

    When you hold da pistol sideways, it fires without a magazine. Every gangsta know dat.

  • Sunshine_Shooter

    Well put.

  • Edeco

    Yep. Last I recall, before I hung up my spurs, the US manufacturer felt hamstrung by regulations thus kind of entitled to tariffs. Vicious cycle, unfortunate.

    • ostiariusalpha

      Kind of hypocritical to call out the U.S. market for protectionism when the Chinese are far worse.

      • wicapiwakan

        the main difference is the chinese aren’t operating under the delusion of being diehard advocates of the almighty free market.

        • ostiariusalpha

          You’ve apparently never heard Chicom party leaders ramble on about market access then. And that would hardly be very good advocacy for the free market if you’re allowing your trading partner to have a buttload of tariffs and limitations on your stuff, while letting them export whatever and however much they please to you.

      • Edeco

        *draws hydrogen atom on post-it, sticks on forehead*

        Without condoning or condemning I understand.

        • LGonDISQUS

          Icwydt 🕛🕧🕐🕜🕑🕝🕒🕞🕓🕟🕔🌚🤖

  • B-Sabre

    I remember reading an article about the phenomenon of “community guns” – where a firearm was held “jointly” by the “community” – it was kept in some central location, and whoever needed it got it, used it, and put it back. The NYPD were trying to figure out how one gun could be responsible for murders all across the map of NYC when they found out about this.

    • Rick O’Shay

      That was actually something he’d talked about at length… how the gangs really had community guns, and that they would have an “armorer,” which was really just whoever seemed to have that voodoo magic at keeping guns functional or working. Gang members know the ins and outs of guns about as well as cops, which is to say, a lot less than the public assumes.

      • Ark

        Well, knowing that the cops could kick their doors at any time with a search warrant, the “community guns” thing with the guns stashed off-site in various hiding holes makes sense. Retrieve your gun from the stash, burn down whatever dude was on your list that week, and hopefully re-stash the gun before you get caught. When you’ve all got felony convictions, turning up a gun in your sock drawer means a one-way ticket back to prison.

  • Nicks87

    I think there are some similarities here with the optics market? “Ahem, cough, cough primary arms, cough.” Sorry just clearing my throat.

  • ostiariusalpha

    “中国特色社会主义: socialism with Chinese characteristics” you see? As I remember it, the last bunch that used Nationalist Corporatism as their economic model were the Fascists and Nazis.

  • Will

    No one EVER states the number of recovered seized/firearms that are stolen. Seemingly, in my state, prosecutors are not willing to tack on the charge of “Posession of A Stolen Firearm”
    It’s a simple prosecutorial ply to heap on all the legal charges that apply then plea bargain them as/if needed.

  • Ark

    Oh, it’s an open secret that the Bush Sr import ban was entirely for the purpose of protecting domestic manufacturers from foreign competition.

  • jonp

    Unlike the Jennings or the Lorcin the Hi Point actually works.

  • LilWolfy

    Lorcins come stolen from the factory in the wrapper – old police joke.

  • Awory

    Here is the count from the Kentucky State Police. This is their most recent sale of confiscated firearms. Sorry for the bad cut and paste, but it is coming from excel.

  • Awory