I want to enlighten you on the life cycle of law enforcement trade-in guns before they are sold to the public, on Guns.com or elsewhere. I’ll cover different entities involved and the testing and standards used to evaluate various law enforcement (LE) guns. 

We’ll look at how a firearm may have been chosen by the department that owned it, the possible number of rounds fired prior to its retirement, an overview of possible concerns, considerations for a department needing to replace its firearms, and the retirement and final disposition process.

Table of Contents

Testing and Standards for Firearms and Training
NIJ Compliance Testing for Autoloading Pistols
Other Participants
The Decision to Replace Existing Firearms
How Many Rounds Are Fired In A Typical LE Gun Each Year?
What Do Departments Do With Their Old Guns?
What Makes a Guns.com LE Trade-In Gun Special?


Testing and Standards for Firearms and Training


Coast Guard member training at shooting range
In the U.S., several agencies and entities are involved with developing firearms testing requirements for law enforcement officers. (Photo: U.S. Coast Guard) 

In the United States, the development of testing and standards for law enforcement agencies and departments is a collective effort between several entities from the federal level all the way down to the state (troopers), county (sheriffs), or municipality (police) agency receiving the new firearms. 

The National Institute of Justice (NIJ), a research, development, and evaluation agency within the U.S. Department of Justice, is responsible for developing and evaluating standards and technologies for law enforcement agencies along with the equipment, and in particular, firearms that they seek to procure and use for duty.

NIJ Compliance Testing for Autoloading Pistols

NIJ administers the NIJ Compliance Testing Program (NIJ CTP) to determine a specific pistol model’s compliance with NIJ standards. The NIJ CTP helps ensure the pistols purchased and used by the various level law enforcement agencies will perform as expected.

Other Participants

State and local agencies also develop their own testing and standards, which may be based on federal standards or developed independently. Professional LE organizations such as the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Sheriffs' Association, and the Fraternal Order of Police may also have input.

Once developed, testing and standards are typically disseminated through publications, training programs, and other means to ensure the various agencies can implement them. Agencies may also be required to demonstrate compliance with these standards through accreditation or other forms of evaluation.    

The development of testing and standards typically involves a thorough review of best practices, research, and input from subject matter experts. In my own state of Texas, though not necessarily involved in the firearms selection and procurement process, the Texas Tactical Police Officers Association was formed in the 1980s to create standards of training and resources for tactical officers and teams.

The decision to replace existing firearms


Guns.com acquired several Smith & Wesson Model 64s and 65s via LE trade-in last year. (Photo: Samantha Mursan/Guns.com)

The decision to replace existing firearms within a police department can be influenced by several factors, including technological advancements, changes in firearms regulations, budget constraints, and feedback from officers in the field. Here are just two of the factors that a department may consider:

Performance: If the department receives feedback from officers that the existing firearms are not performing well, or if there is evidence that the firearms are not effective in dealing with new and emerging threats, the department may consider replacing them.

Changes in technology or regulations: Advances in firearm technology, such as improvements in accuracy, reduced recoil, or increased magazine capacity may prompt police departments to consider replacing their existing firearms.

Ultimately, the decision to replace existing firearms is typically made by police department leadership, taking into account input from officers in the field and other stakeholders.

How many rounds are fired in a typical LE gun each year?


This Rock River Arms LAR-15 was a law enforcement trade-in purchased through Guns.com. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)

The number of rounds fired in a typical LE gun each year can vary widely, depending on the size of the department, departmental and individual officer training requirements – i.e., the nature of the duties – the policies and practices of the department, and, ultimately, the training budget. That being said, here are some general estimates of the number of rounds fired in a typical LE gun each year.

Handgun: Depending on the department's policies and training requirements, an officer may fire 50-300 rounds per year for practice and qualification purposes. However, this number can vary based on the department's policies and the officer's role. For example, officers in specialized units such as SWAT or tactical teams may fire significantly more rounds for training and operational purposes.

Rifle: Again, this can vary widely depending on the department's policies and the officer's role. Officers who carry rifles may fire 100-500 rounds per year for practice and qualification purposes. Specialized units that rely heavily on rifles, such as tactical teams or specialized response units, may fire significantly more rounds for training because of the nature of their duties.

Shotgun: Like other firearms, the number of rounds fired in a shotgun can vary significantly based on the department's policies and the officer's role. Typically, officers who carry shotguns may fire between 25 to 100 rounds per year for practice and qualification purposes. However, officers in specialized units may fire more rounds for training and operational purposes.

Again, there are numerous variables that dictate the number of rounds an officer will fire through their respective duty firearm for training and it can also be set in policy that the training be scheduled monthly, quarterly, and semiannually or, in some cases, once a year.

Departmental policies generally dictate that a police officer will be issued the firearms that their duties may require them to train with and use. Policies will stipulate things like cleaning, maintenance, and level of maintenance the individual officer or the department armorer will conduct on the firearms. 

For example, the policy may state that officers clean their firearm after every live fire training and as needed. The department armorer will perform an inspection monthly, quarterly or annually for serviceability checks.

Related: Underrated ARs: I’m Loving My LEO Trade-In LAR-15

What do departments do with their old guns?


These Smith & Wesson M&P45 M2.0 handguns were stamped for the Massachusetts State Police but never issued. (Photos: Samantha Mursan/Guns.com)

When police departments acquire new firearms, they typically have several options for disposing of the firearms no longer needed. The specific method may vary depending on the policies of the department and applicable laws and regulations within the city and state where the department is located. Some common options for disposing of firearms include:

Selling or trading: Police departments may sell or trade old firearms to a reputable licensed firearms dealer, like Guns.com, or other law enforcement agencies. The proceeds from the sale may be used to offset the purchase of the new firearms.

Donating: Police departments may also choose to donate old firearms to non-profit organizations, such as shooting clubs, for training or educational purposes.

Destroying: Police departments may choose to destroy old firearms to ensure that they cannot be used by unauthorized individuals.

In many cases, LE firearms are marked or labeled as such to prevent confusion with civilian firearms. 

What Makes a Guns.com LE Trade-In Gun Special?

The folks at GDC strive to make available new and gently used firearms of all calibers and platform types. The company is proud to offer an extensive line of LE trade-in handguns, rifles, and shotguns from various agencies across the nation.

Though all are marked down to a fraction of the cost of their brand-new counterparts, because they are considered used, GDC sometimes comes across what I call “unicorns.” These are in virtually new condition, because they were never issued and just sat in a box.

Now, it might be a stretch to find a “never issued” model LE trade-in at the fraction of the cost of the same brand-new firearm you want. It’s highly likely that the model and caliber you want in an LE trade-in was issued and used. Of course, there may be concerns for the uninitiated to officer-issued firearms that are for sale as LE trade-ins, but those are easily alleviated.

GDC’s Certified Used collection is curated to include only guns rated “very good” to “excellent” condition. To earn a Certified Used designation from GDC, a firearm must pass a rigorous 10-point inspection tailored to the type of gun: semi-auto handgun, revolver, rifle, or shotgun. 

Each firearm is hand-inspected to ensure all mechanical parts function correctly, there’s no internal or external damage, and that it will be in tip-top working order when it reaches you. Certified Used buyers even get a three-day inspection period to return the gun, no questions asked, and get a full refund (minus a 15 percent restocking fee). 


As you scroll through the selection of LE trade-in firearms that GDC has to offer, now you have a general overview of the “soup to nuts” vetting process the particular firearm went through. Additionally, you have an appreciation for the life cycle of a law enforcement duty firearm before it came to GDC.

revolver barrel loading graphic