Wheelgun Wednesday: Police Revolvers In South Korea

    Welcome to TFB’s 136th edition of Wheelgun Wednesday, where we explore all things related to revolvers. Last year, I began to explore which pistols police are currently issued around the world, a series I need to get back to. However, during that research for the first article in that series, I learned of the Carabineros of Chile who are issued Taurus Model 82 revolvers in .38 Special, and if there’s one country, perhaps there’s more. The South Korean National Police Agency (KNPA or KNP) is probably one of the most well-known countries to currently issue revolvers, albeit in smaller numbers than some would expect. Let’s take a look at police-issued revolvers in South Korea, and potential changes for the future.

    Wheelguns @ TFB:


    Even before the wildly popular series Squid Game from South Korea aired on Netflix, South Korean Police were already known in the firearms community for carrying revolvers, however, it’s possible that the policies that govern how their revolvers are carried are what made the usage more well known, rather than the revolvers themselves. It’s all true, well, not the Squid Game part, but numerous sources have confirmed that the Korean National Police require that police give three chances for an armed perpetrator to give up their weapon before the Police may use their firearm. The first resultant trigger pull by the police officer will be a warning shot with a blank, which can then be followed by up to three or four .38 caliber projectiles. Some information claims that officers carry two blanks, while most sources state that the hammer rests on an empty chamber.

    Wheelgun Wednesday Police Revolvers In South Korea

    S&W Model 60 Image credit: Smith & Wesson

    The most current model carried by the South Korean National Police is the Smith & Wesson Model 60, which is a five-shot revolver chambered in .357 Magnum and .38 Special. S&W Model 10’s and some Colt’s were previously issued, which were both six-shooters. Due to the lack of general firearms ownership in Korea, finding an open-source look at the KNP’s revolvers took some time, but I found one video from the KNP’s YouTube channel that grants us a quick peek, one that actually begs more questions than it provides answers for. I don’t speak Korean, so perhaps the answers are hidden in the audio, so if you speak the language, feel free to translate the context in the section that shows the wheelgun and share it in the comment section.

    For those that didn’t watch the video, the following images are screen captures from it.

    Current Police Issued Revolvers in South Korea

    Current Police Issued Revolvers in South Korea

    Current Police Issued Revolvers in South Korea

    Current Police Issued Revolvers in South Korea

    There are a couple things to unpack there. It appears that the trigger either has a plug that must be pushed out before the trigger can be pulled, or that the plug is attached to the trigger to require more force to pull the trigger. Secondly, what the heck is attached to the right side of the frame? It almost looks like there are some diagonal wear marks above and below the circular… thing. I actually asked Smith & Wesson about whatever this feature was, and they didn’t respond to that particular question, which means it could be a contractual facet that they’re not able to disclose, or it’s a modification made in Korea. If you have answers or speculations, please share them in the comments section! One wild speculation I have is that it could be a secondary cylinder release.

    FUTURE REVOLVERS FOR THE police of South Korea?

    In 2017, TFB’s Miles V. broke the news that S&T Motiv of South Korea and a division of Daewoo, now known as SNT Motiv, had developed a 9x19mm six-shot revolver that features “smart gun” technology that tracks the firearm and documents each shot, and when it’s reloaded. The brains of the STRV9 revolver are housed in the bottom of the grip. SNT Motiv’s promotional photos of the new revolver are shown with standard live rounds, less lethal, and blank ammunition.

    Thus far, it appears that despite its production five years ago, the STRV9 has not been formally adopted by the KNP, and there’s been little news about it since 2019. It should be noted that the image of the 9mm revolver is most likely reversed as the cylinder below would swing out to the right side, however on the production models seen in Miles’ article and THIS VIDEO, the cylinder swings to the left side.

    Current Police Issued Revolvers in South Korea

    Image credit: SNT Motiv

    Current Police Issued Revolvers In South Korea

    Image credit: SNT Motiv

    You can view SNT Motiv’s website, SNTMotiv.com, to view the STRV9 slides, and other small arms they produce. If you missed my other articles about the Current Police Issued Pistols of South America, you can check out PART 1 and PART 2. I’ll be tackling Europe next when we return to that series.

    What do you think contributes to the use of the Korean National Police using revolvers, blanks, warning shots, and trigger blocks? Any speculation about the button on the right side of the KNP’s S&W 60s? What do you think about the SNT Motiv STRV9 9mm revolver, either regarding its smart tech, or the caliber?

    Doug E

    Doug has been a firearms enthusiast since age 16 after getting to shoot with a friend. Since then he’s taken many others out to the range for their first time. He is a husband, father, grandfather, police officer, outdoorsman, artist and a student of history. Doug has been a TFB reader from the start and is happy to be a contributor of content. Doug can be reached at battleshipgrey61 AT gmail.com, or battleshipgrey61 on Instagram.