Seven guns of the FBI

FBI Guns Issued By The Bureau: The Gats Of The G-Men

How does one know which guns are good to buy for one's protection? One buys the ones carried by and issued to the people that use them to do the same, such as law enforcement and the military. What, though, about FBI guns? We all know what the standard handgun of the army is at this point.

FBI guns over the course of the Bureau's existence are fairly orthodox as they have and still carry many of the most popular LEO preferred carry pistols.

That said, here are 7 examples of FBI service pistols, which either are or were issued to FBI personnel over the years. Some are still being made, others can be had on the used market in case one is interested.

S&W Registered Magnum


The Smith and Wesson Registered Magnum was never the official FBI service pistol, but there wasn't an official service pistol until the Model 10 was dubbed official issue in the 1960s. Batches of different revolvers were issued prior to that, with some groups of agents being issued Colt New Service revolvers, some being issued the the Model 10 (formerly the M&P) and others drawing Police Positives, Chief Specials and Detective Specials from the armory as needed and available.

Agents could also opt to carry an approved handgun of their own procurement, and one of the most popular models that early agents opted for was the Registered Magnum. The Registered Magnum was the first .357 Magnum revolver, introduced in 1934. In the early days of the Bureau, the extra power was plumb necessary as .38 Special and .45 Auto didn't fare well against car bodies or body armor of the day, which was during the Prohibition era. The .357 Magnum round cut through both like a hot knife through butter. That made the gun a hot item...for those that could afford the purchase price, which cost more than $1,000 when adjusted for inflation.

The Registered Magnum is/was built on Smith and Wesson's N-frame, so while it was sturdy it's also a real hoss of a gun at more than 40 ounces unloaded. A few were also known to tote Hand Ejector or Triple Lock N-frames in .44 Special. The 3-inch and 4-inch barrel models were most popular as they were just concealable enough for plainclothes work.

However, the Bureau and many an American policeman bemoaned the enormity of the Registered Magnum, leading the development of the Model 19 later on.

Smith and Wesson Model 13

S&W's Model 13

The Smith and Wesson Model 13 was the last revolver issued by the Bureau, and really wasn't a bad one to go out on. The Model 13 replaced the Model 10 as the standard service pistol though agents were often issued whatever the FBI could get their hands or whatever they wanted to carry.

Prior to the Model 13, a number of agents had opted for Colt Trooper and S&W Model 19 .357 Magnum revolvers, though the 4-inch barrel models were uncomfortable for plainclothes details. The Model 13 is a compromise, being small enough to carry but big enough to be shootable. The Model 13 is basically a Model 10 with a bull barrel and a slightly longer cylinder to accommodate the .357 Magnum cartridge. The front sight is a ramp, the rear sight is a notch cut into the top strap of the frame. In essence, a plain-Jane Model 19. The Bureau issued the 3-inch barrel model with a rounded butt for easier concealment in plainclothes.

Glock 22, 23 and 27

Glock 22, Glock 23, and Glock 27 used by the FBI

In the 1990s, a new breed of FBI guns became standard issue as the Bureau started issuing .40 caliber Glock pistols. That means the Glock 22, Glock 23 and Glock 27, as those are the .40 S&W guns of their lineup. The Glock 22, of course, is the full-size Glock pistol in this caliber, the 23 is the compact and the 27 is the subcompact; the 9mm counterparts are the 17, the 19 and the 26.

From the late 1990s until very recently, these were the standard guns issued by the FBI to agents. It also happens to be quite popular among other police departments and federal agencies, as well as with civilian carriers.

Smith and Wesson Model 459

FBI used to use the S&W Model 459

While it wasn't necessarily standard issue, a common FBI sidearm from the 1970s into the 1990s was the Smith and Wesson Model 459. The 459 was an updated Model 59, S&W's double-stack 9mm semi-auto. The 459, like the Model 39, is/was a double/single action semi-auto, with a 4-inch barrel, a slide-mounted decocking safety and a 14-round magazine in the grip.

The 459, however, was one of the pistols that failed to stop the perpetrators in the 1986 Miami shootout. In fairness, ammunition was not what it is today, so it wasn't really the fault of the 459 or the 9x19mm round. The 459 also saw service with the US Navy and various police departments; its successor, the Model 5906, did as well.

Sig Sauer P226 and P228

The FBI also uses the Sig P226 and P228

The Sig Sauer P226 is also one of the most common guns of the FBI, in 9mm and .40 S&W. Agents have carried their own as a supplemental pistol, and the bureau has issued this pistol to special units and as a general sidearm since the 1990s. The P228 was also fairly common as it's a variant of the P226 that's somewhat easier to conceal and carry.

Granted, these are the big DA/SA Sigs. You'll need a stout gun belt.

The P228, for those unaware, was a P226 with a 3.9-inch barrel and slide shortened to match, or in other words a P229 just with a forged slide rather than milled. Both of these pistols pretty much speak for themselves; both remain proven performers with other law enforcement agencies and militaries around the world.

Smith and Wesson Model 1076

Smith & Wesson's Model 1076

The Model 1076 was the model of pistol adopted when the FBI briefly issued 10mm pistols in the wake of the aforementioned Miami shootout.

S&W adapted their larger semi-auto frame for the 10mm cartridge and created the 1006, a large-frame single-stack DA/SA pistol with a 5-inch barrel. However, it was far too large for most plainclothes officers to carry, so S&W trimmed the barrel to 4.25 inches, much like a Commander-frame 1911, and dubbed it the 1076. All models carried 9+1, but the 1076 omitted the slide-mounted controls for a frame-mounted decocker and an internal hammer.

The FBI started taking delivery in 1990, but unfortunately the 1076 was plagued with problems from the beginning. Female and smaller-framed agents found concealment and carrying problematic. Few agents could shoot the 1076 very well one-handed due to the size of the frame, which also makes the DA pull a real chore. By 1995, they dumped the 1076 for the Sig P226 and P228 in 9mm until adopting .40 S&W Glocks a few years later.

Springfield Armory Professional 1911-A1 Custom

The FBI also issues 1911s to SWAT

The Bureau issues a 1911 - among other pistols - to their SWAT team officers as well as those on the Hostage and Rescue Team, which (for those unaware) is basically a Special Forces unit run by the FBI. It's not like a SWAT team where you do your normal job most of the time but show up when they need you to do SWAT stuff; the HRT is either deployed or training. One of their issued sidearms is the Springfield Armory Professional Custom 1911, made by SA's custom shop.

The Professional Custom is a hand-tuned 1911 in .45 ACP (as the Deity and JM Browning intended) with ambi safeties and Novak sights. You can get all the same kit on a 1911 at half (or less) the price, but not one with this attention to detail. It's a full-on custom shop gun, like Wilson Combat, Nighthawk or Ed Brown pistols.

You can definitely buy one, but expect a two-year wait and to shell out $3,000.

Glock 17M, 19M and 26

The Glock 17M, Glock 19M, and Glock 26 for the FBI

It was announced in 2016 that the FBI was switching from the .40 S&W to the 9x19mm round, and at that, was switching to the Glock 17, Glock 19 and Glock 26 as its primary issued pistols. However, they did get special models, namely the Glock 17M and Glock 19M.

The 17M and 19M are similar to the Gen 5 models, with the front strap being devoid of finger grooves, the magazine wells being flared for easier loading and an extended beavertail being added along with additional refinements.

Sam Hoober  

About The Author

Born in southeastern Washington State, Sam Hoober graduated in 2011 from Eastern Washington University. He resides in the great Inland Northwest, with his wife and child. His varied interests and hobbies include camping, fishing, hunting, and spending time at the gun range as often as possible.

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