NYPD Finally Switches to Semi-Auto, Officially Retires Revolvers

NYPD Finally Switches to Semi-Auto, Officially Retires Revolvers
NYPD Finally Switches to Semi-Auto, Officially Retires Revolvers

U.S.A.-(Ammoland.com)-The NYPD has decided to say a final goodbye to the .38 Caliber Revolver.

In 1993 the New York Police Department switched from the trusty six-shooter to the semi-automatic 9mm. There was a fierce debate about the change between Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly and The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association.

Kelley wanted to keep the revolvers fearing the higher capacity handguns would be a danger to bystanders. Eventually, Mayor David Dinkins, who initially supported Kelley, overruled the Police Commissioner and he ordered the NYPD issue all new officers and 9mm semi-automatics such as a Glock 19, a Smith & Wesson semi-automatic 9mm, or a Sig Saur. Officers that were carrying the revolvers could trade them in or keep the six-shooter as their duty weapon.

Another concern among police in the early 90s was the misconception about semi-automatic pistols constantly jamming. Technology alleviated the matter of the semi-automatic gun’s performance, and they have been proven reliable over the years.

Also, the original concerns over the pistols being a danger to bystanders because of the higher capacity were also proven false by the data. Fewer rounds are fired by police using the semi-automatic handguns than the six shot revolvers according to NYPD internal records.

For their part, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, wanted the change from revolvers to the higher capacity 9mm because they believed criminals outgunned the patrol officers. The group offered up the example of 22-year-old Officer Scott Gadell.

In 1986 police rookie Scott Gadell was chasing a suspect in a shooting in the Queens neighborhood of Far Rockaway. The chase ended in a gun battle. Gadell had a six-shot revolver. Gadell fired all six bullets and didn’t have time to reload his gun. The 29-year-old suspect fired 13 shots in return with the 13th hitting the officer in the head. Officer Gadell was pronounced dead.

Currently, 27 to150 NYPD officers still carry revolvers depending on the source consulted, but they have now been ordered to turn them in by August 31st of this year. Talking to several officers, they believe it is time to for a full switch. They also think that the officers that do carry the revolvers do so out of tradition more than a fear of a malfunction.

Talking to former NYPD officer, Nick Dinatale, who retired from the NYPD in the 80s, agreed it is probably time to change guns, but also sees a reason why the officers that carry the revolvers might be resistant to exchanging them for a semi-automatic pistol.

“It is a tradition to the officers, I think,” Dinatale told me. “On all the classic police shows you see the cops carrying Smith & Wesson revolvers. At the same time, this is real life and officers are probably safer with the higher capacity guns.”

Dinatale, who now lives in Virginia, carried a six-shot revolver with a 4-inch barrel as his sidearm. He also opted to carry a second snub-nose revolver as a backup gun. While showing me the firearms, he told me that many officers used to carry a backup gun due to revolvers only holding six-shots and the time they took to reload.

The NYPD must retrain all officers who still carry the time-honored revolver to use a semi-automatic pistol.

About John CrumpJohn Crump

John is a NRA instructor and a constitutional activist. He is the former CEO of Veritas Firearms, LLC and is the co-host of The Patriot News Podcast which can be found at www.blogtalkradio.com/patriotnews. John has written extensively on the patriot movement including 3%’ers, Oath Keepers, and Militias. In addition to the Patriot movement, John has written about firearms, interviewed people of all walks of life, and on the Constitution. John lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and sons and is currently working on a book on the history of the patriot movement and can be followed on Twitter at @crumpyss or at www.crumpy.com.

Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
G. Minor

Too bad a gun manufacturer chose to do business with anti gun New York State. The gun manufacturers should refuse to do business with any government entity who refuses to uphold the constitution.

Andy Buckmichael

With their level of intelligence, the semi-auto will be too complicated for them.

H. Spires

I used the six shot s+w revolver on inmate carries outside of the prison for 14 years. I never did like the trigger pull on them. After I medically retired the DOC changed over to semiauto in .40 and then changed to the 9mm, probably because of the cheaper 9mm ammo. I would have loved to had one of the wheel guns for personal use. There were some of those revolvers that had a lot of rounds fired through them. We used the same ones for training and qualification shooting every year. It would be interesting to know if the… Read more »

Tactical IT

“Currently, 27 to150 NYPD officers still carry revolvers depending on the source consulted….” I find this really funny. The gun grabbers want the police to be able to know where over 300 million privately owned guns are, but they can’t even keep track of their own. DOH!!!


Those snub nose revolvers as you call coined the term NY Reload. Back in the day when all LEO carried S&W Model 10.
Officers were said to carry more than one J Frame. When your 6 shooter was empty you just pulled out a small revolver. when that was empty you took out another one. It was said that at some major fire fights it was not uncommon to see 12 or more revolvers on the ground. Hence the term NY Reload.

Michael Trainer

Sounds like more practice was need!!!

dan niemeyer

This was news as of 1993 why repost it?

Sam W.

I didn’t see a standard issue firearm. There were three brands mentioned for most of the force the only difference should be the serial number. Tactical considerations and economic considerations should make it work. After all a service firearm is a tool not a choice.


They should have to carry guns with the same capacity that civilians get too……


Glen then they will be unarmed as (unless you are rich) you can’t own/carry firearms in New York City! Then again Criminals due as they please.


If the police and citizens were all treated the same – and criminals do indeed “as they please” – THEN maybe the private citizens would “wise up” and finally elect officials who actually represent (rather than subjugate) the population.

Hey, if it works (and that certainly would!)… why not try it? The results could not possibly be any worse than the current clusterphuk.

Clark Kent

If you feel subjugated hit the road and move to Canada pronto. You won’t be missed. Buh-bye and good riddance!


You first, Clarkie…

Luckily, I live in a gun-friendly state, and personally feel no subjugation or angst.

Wild Bill

@Joe, Cluck Kent can not go to the next county much less Canada, it is too far away from his local liquor store.

Clark Kent

Joe: Hit the road! Would not want you to feel ‘subjugated’ in the USA any longer (were you fibbing the first post?). Wild Bill: Your fixation with liquor makes me believe YOU have a problem with Jack Daniels. Seek professional help.


No, clown, I was not fibbing. Normally, it is physically impossible for you (or any sane human being) to be THAT damnably stupid… yet you remain out in public without a keeper. You clearly don’t believe it, but that there are indeed AREAS of this country where Leftist, Socialist politicians abuse their local and state-level constituents. My original reference to replacing incompetent and corrupt politicians – who “subjugate” citizens – referred specifically to CALIFORNIA, where such politicians actually exist (and they constitute a serious problem). I was not referencing my home state (or 38 other states). Your assumption that politics… Read more »

Missouri Born

Will the police department have the guns destroyed or will they be sold? The mayor is such a liberal that it wouldn’t surprise me if they destroy the guns.


The cops own their guns. They buy them from the department. “Turn in” is not exactly accurate, although there may be a few that no longer want theirs (although I can’t imagine why.)

Ansel Hazen

As someone whose interest in firearms coincided with the dawn of tupperware I don’t share the fascination with wheelguns at all. My carry tradition started with a 17 round magazine.


Ansel – that’s cuz you ain’t an old far* er um fellow like some of us are! SOME of us DO have the ability to go either back and forth or round and round. Both styles have their place and admirers. RE NYPD – I used data from their range staff as part of my grad school project. At that time there were around 168 officers who still carried wheel guns – they were the ones who had the least ‘issues’ on the street as the bad guys knew that they had been around and had seen all of their… Read more »


Many (never mind how many) years ago, I carried a .38 revolver in the military. I became a very high-quality marksman with it… but I have not even held – much less fired – a wheelgun in a number of decades. Now, 9mm semi-auto pistols suit me just fine, thank you.

Clark Kent

Did you feel ‘subjugated’ in the military also?