When you’re on the market for adding a used handgun to your collection, there is a litany of different routes to take. One of those options that not many people explore is the market for used police handguns, or police trade-in guns. All throughout the United States, police departments sell their department-issued firearms back to the manufacturer or wholesaler they originally bought from.
Police Trade-In Guns
This is usually prompted by a department changing from 40 to a different caliber or just updating their armory. From there, these used guns are made available to the public through a variety of online retailers, gun shops, and law enforcement specific shops. For a number of reasons, likely the high volume of trade-ins, these handguns are a very cost-effective option for adding a full size 40 to your collection. We will share some of the most relevant features and shortcomings that were discovered by research and owner interviews. Specifically, the police trade in that we have hands on time with was a Sig Sauer P229, a trade in from the St. Paul police department purchased at Streichers, a LEO specialty shop.
A low priced handgun is usually suspicious, especially with budget handguns like HiPoint, Taurus, and others. Most discerning gun owners have already realized that quality does not come cheap, and why successful manufactures have generated such a strong following. The biggest draw that these police trade in guns have is their low price. Starting at $150+ off MSRP, these Sig Sauers, Smith & Wessons, and Glocks are selling well below their value. The low price is likely due to a variety of factors, especially the high volume of these handguns flooding the market and the low overall demand because most gun buyers aren’t aware that they have access to these trade ins.
If there is one thing that I’ve noticed in the transition from the military/ contracting world to the civilian world is how firearms maintenance is conducted. Simply due to the wide variety of gun owners, there is no way to guarantee that a used gun was properly maintained. Most professionals including law enforcement religiously clean their issued firearms. Doing so on a regular basis ensures the operability and longevity of these guns. Besides the maintenance, these firearms were likely to have only been shot for practice and range qualification. With a significantly lower round count than an average used civilian handgun, the police trade-in is likely to have less overall use as well. Some cosmetic imperfections like holster wear and a unique notch on the bottom of the magazine well on this particular P229 are expected but really have no effect on the gun’s overall operability and usability.
The gun was purchased with this notch in the magazine well.
As most gun owners know, it is a good practice to rotate magazines to reduce wear on the magazine spring. For any number of reasons, this particular Sig Sauer magazine has a soft feel to the follower. This being pure conjecture, it is likely that the previous owner kept the same magazine loaded for an extended period of time, resulting in the lower follower pressure. As mentioned in a previous article, it is generally a best practice to purchase at least one new magazine when buying any firearm, new or used. Especially in this case, this is a low-cost way to ensure one of the more vulnerable parts of a firearms platform is in top working condition.
Checking the spring tension by pushing on the follower can be a good test for wear.
In both double action and single action, the P229 trigger is remarkably smooth. The heavy 10 lb pull in double action ensures that purposeful direct pressure is required to activate the trigger. Without a safety, this initial long and heavy pull in double action is one of the passive safety features on the Sig. Once in single action, it only takes 4.4 lbs of pressure to activate the trigger. Single action also reels the mechanical void (slack) in the trigger, allowing for quicker trigger reset. After several years of shooting the P229, it appears that the trigger feel is largely responsible for the incredibly tight groups that an average shooter can deliver with this handgun.
Deciding on whether a double stack 40 is a good conceal carry gun for you should be a well thought out decision. Shooting it quickly reveals how comfortable a 1.5” wide handgun can actually be. The combination of the ergonomic grip angle and smooth trigger pull work in tandem to give lower muzzle rise for more accurate follow-on shots. Despite its wide frame, there are a wide variety of well made holsters like the Crossbreed Super Tuck that are increasingly more efficient at concealing and securing the P229. For most medium to large framed people, this is a relatively easy to conceal firearm. With the right inside the waistband holster like the aforementioned Crossbreed, even smaller framed individuals can comfortably carry the P229. If you don’t intend to carry the P229, it is still a great addition to your home defense collection.
Most stock handguns come with the standard 3 dot sights, not very often with the night sights. Even if you did decide to pick up a set of aftermarket sights, that can be an investment ranging from $70 to $110+. Despite that investment, installing your own aftermarket sights doesn’t always justify a higher resale price. However, the P229 and most other police trade ins come with upgraded tritium night sights. In the contexts of both conceal carry and home defense, night sights are one thing that can give you the tactical edge when you need it most.
In conclusion, police departments initially bought these firearms because of their reliability and proven performance. Similarly that is why Glock, Sig Sauer, and Smith & Wesson are just as popular in the private sector. Next time you are on the market for a used full size handgun, be sure to check your local retailers and online stores for these police trade ins. You are likely to pick up a quality handgun with plenty of years left in it.
Do you have your own police trade in? Share your experience in the comments!