As primaries? Not many, nowadays. There was that recent New York Times article about the few atavistic officers still using their DAO Ruger/Smith/Colt .38s . . . the tone of the article demonstrated how a revolver-user is sort of an anachronism in today's police world.
K-frame S&W .357s used to be big in the mid-80s: Model 19s and 66s. There was a brief movement to the L-frames (686s), but then the W
True enough there are not many departments who issue revolvers today.
In it's heyday I would say the S&W K & L frames were by far the most common with a smattering of Colts and even a few Rugers.
There were Oddities: Lousiville PD at one time issued the S&W Model 29 (duty ammo was .44 spl) to those officers who wanted one (I think they had about 150 to 180) and the Memphis PD did the same but with model 25-5s and .45 Colt ammo. Several TX departments issued the S&W 58 in .41 Magnum.
NY State Police at one time issued the Colt New Service in .45 Colt but that was a long time ago.
Pueblo, Colorado and Amarillo, as well as many other cities, issued the venerable 38/44 Heavy Duty.
The New York State Police stuck to the Colt New Service until the 1950s, perhaps a dozen years after manufacture stopped. Well into the 1980s they kept up the tradition of issuing big, powerful double action revolvers, including having the Model 520 S&W designed for them on the N frame, and then deciding not to issue it in favor of the L frame 681.
Personally I'm glad they didn't go with the 520. I got my hands on a 681 marked "NYSP," but I sold it when a new in the box 520 came my way. Shooting that big 4" is like traveling back in time.
I remember cops around here carrying things like K38 Combat Masterpiece 4" .38s, but a good friend of mine flew in the face of tradition by packing a 4" Colt Python. The first gun the Hattiesburg, Mississippi PD issued to all its officers was the S&W Model 66, back in 1980 or so.
San Francisco PD issued the Model 58 for a short while back in the early- to mid-1970s, and LAPD issued the Model 14 in the 6" barrel length. The NYPD for many years issued the 4" Military & Police (Model 10). (For my money the heavy barrelled 4" Model 10 is one of the best "gunfighting" weapons around--Bill Jordan was instrumental in its design.)
Lots of state troopers carried the Model 27 and Model 28 S&Ws. In Mississippi the usual issue was the M27 in five inch. As a testament to how popular S&W revolvers were with the highway police, the company called its 1955 heavy framed offering the "Highway Patrolman" and stamped the name right on the barrel.
While I firmly believe that autos are probably better choices for law enforcement, there was a time not too long ago when most every cop in the country was packing a double action revolver. When you saw autos on police hips, they were invariably marked Colt 1911A1. (The Illinois State Police went to 9mm with the S&W Model 39 back in the early 60s if memory serves me.)
I believe a few San Diego Sheriff's deputies may still carry SW Model 25s.
I read a post on another board where a guy claiming to be a Winchester rep said their sales to PDs ranked something like this: .40, 9 mm, .45 acp, .38 special, .357 Sig followed by a miniscule amount of .357 magnum. .38 may even have been ahead of .45, but it's almost entirely for BUGs.
My department carried 4" HB S&W 64s until '94 when they switched to the S&W 4006. We still have a few J frames for plain clothes stuff. I think we had some SP101s back int he day as well.
When I attended the academy in '99, several of the sheriff departments in the area either issued or required deputies to use a 4" .357 with .38 ammo. Once a deputy went on the road they were allowed to carry bottom feeders. I know one of those departments now issues the Glock 22.
The county police here issued the 681 before switching to bottom feeders for issue. Wheelguns are still allowed though.
Hello. In the early '70's when I got into police work, my first duty revolver was a Model 10 HB. I eventually tried several ranging from the Model 19, 13, 65, and 66 to the Model 27 and 28. This went on for about 10 years until we were allowed to go to semiautos.
Let's see... I started at the SO in 1981. We had to furnish our own firearms and I was the only person who carried a Ruger .357 (Security Six, stainless steel, 4 inch bbl). My Captain carried a 6 inch barrelled Colt Python in Nickel, and everyone else carried some form of S&W .38 or .357.
I was the first patrol fellow to transition to a semi-automatic (Colt .45 ACP; 1911 Government Model), and one undercover narc carried a Colt Combat Commander. Then my Sergeant went to a Colt 1911, but quickly transitioned back to his revolver after forgetting to drop the thumb safety during a high pucker factor event (did I mention that I encouraged him to train with the semi, but he declined as he was the resident "gun expert?").
I carried my Colt for years, but had sporadic problems with feeding and ejection that several gunsmith's could not resolve to my satisfaction; therefore, I moved to the BHP in 9mm. Never a bobble, misfeed, misfire, etc. in four pistols, thousands of rounds, and years of carry. That was my evolution.
Nowadays, all of my old compadres carry some form of plastic-platform semi-automatic (Glocks, etc.). Poor fellows....