NYPD Retires Last of its Revolvers

    Revolvers on NYPD range

    NYPD Officers with their .38 revolvers before a familiarisation course with there new 9mm pistols (Craig Ruttle)

    Back in November 2017, we reported that New York Police Department was set to retire its remaining revolvers. The news of the retirement of the last .38 revolvers came in a departmental memo that informed officers that they would have to switch to a semi-automatic before September 2018.

    NYPD reports that 29 officers are still armed with revolvers and will be required to complete a three-day familiarisation course with their new semi-automatic pistols. One of the officers still armed with a revolver, Lt. James Darcy, of the NYPD’s Housing Bureau, spoke fondly of his revolver: “Whenever they see the gun, they realize that I got a lot of time on patrol and that I’ve done a lot of things and they give me great respect because of it.” Another officer, Paul Sulzbach, explained the sentimental attachment he feels: “you become attached to it. It’s been by my side for 26 years.”

    .38 NYPD on patrol

    Officer Paul Sulzbach On patrol with his soon-to-be-retired .38 revolver in Brooklyn (Craig Ruttle)

    Officers were first authorised to carry 9x19mm semi-automatic pistols in 1994 with the introduction of Glock and SIG Sauers. The commanding officer of the NYPD’s Firearms and Tactics Section, Inspector Richard DiBlasio, told NY1 that: “a 9 millimeter has a capacity to access of 15 rounds in the magazine. A revolver has six. If you get into a situation where you’re exchanging gunfire, you exchange six rounds you now have to reload and it takes that time.”

    DiBlasio explained to AMNY that during the three-day course officers will be taught “the fundamentals of shooting. It’s a difficult transition when you’re used to many, many years, in some cases decades, of using a revolver, and some of the instructors we have here are the best instructors in the world.”

    NYPD with Sig

    Officer Paul Sulzbach learns to use his new SIG Sauer sidearm during a 3-day familiarsation course (Craig Ruttle)

    The NYPD’s earlier internal memo notes that by 31 August all officers must be equipped with one of three duty pistols: the Glock 17 (gen 4), Glock 19 (gen 4) or the SIG Sauer P226 – all with the NYPD’s infamous 12lb triggers. Revolver-armed officers, however, will be allowed to retain their service revolvers “for use as an off-duty firearm providing the UMOs [uniformed officers] does not already have an authorised off-duty revolver or semi-automatic pistol.” The retirement of the department’s revolvers marks the end of an era.

    Sources: 1 2

    Matthew Moss

    Matthew Moss – Assistant Editor.

    Matt is a British historian specialising in small arms development and military history. He has written for a variety of publications in both the US and UK he also runs www.historicalfirearms.info, a blog that explores the history, development and use of firearms. Matt is also co-founder of www.armourersbench.com, a new video series on historically significant small arms.

    Reach Matt at: [email protected]


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