Gun Deals: The Police Trade-In

Budgets are tight, but self defense is an insurance you shouldn’t skip on. So I am borrowing a quick video from Aim Surplus to highlight a place you can look, in a category you can look within, for very good firearms often for less money up front. This category isn’t always stocked and the stock changes with time, but there is usually something good at any given time. It also won’t be filled with the latest and greatest in tech, but it will be solid. It might not be the caliber you want, but it will be a caliber that will work.

Police Trade-Ins

Departments cycle through handguns, they usually have policies in place for maintenance and retirement of handguns on a schedule. This is influenced by a variety of factors, but no more so than budget.

Budget is probably a factor for you too, if you’re looking at trade-ins vs. new especially looking to save. You also might just be looking for a project gun or a decent deal on a spare, but I’m addressing people looking for primaries at the moment.

Police departments will retire an armory and cycle it at some point, they will refresh their pistols, rifles, and shotguns, and common practice when they do so is to trade in the old models to discount the new ones. The old guns then get a once over and enter the used market at very competitive prices. Why? They’ve already been paid for and traded, twice, you are the second user transfer in the custody chain and the others were manufacturers/retailer/maintainers.

Also remember, “old” is relative on these. Police trade in cans happen quickly, sometimes firearms are less than two or three years old, sometimes they were only fired for qualifications and have very low round counts, sometimes they were unissued at all as department staffing or policy changed.

Don’t fear the trade in. Especially if it saves you $200 and gets you a better base firearm.


Here’s the item that really got my wheels turning on this topic, and if they’re still in stock as you’re reading AIM have fresh 6920Rs, what happened to make a purchased firearm go unissued?

Was it overflow purchased in case a gun needed to be swapped out? That is a highly sensible policy as it allows for a quick return to functionally armed for an officer, while the armorer takes care of a repair or sends a firearm to be repaired, as policy and staff may dictate. Instead of paying a salary for an armorer on a small department, the department may just buy a pair of extra rifles incase one an officer has breaks, they’ll swap it out for a working one and send the down one in for repair. This is the military logistics model too, have spares for rapid replacement and fix broken items away from the critical location whenever feasible.

It also vexes me in other ways, “unissued” is often an optics issue. Not optics on the rifles (although I’ve run into that one too), but the political and public perception optics of having a scary rifle. Department political animals will underarm and under prepare their officers, risking their safety further, rather than have a department look too militant. Similar problems were in the military, although for different motives. Armories would not issue optics or ancillaries out of fear of soldiers losing them so instead they would cripple the soldier’s training and capabilities so their spreadsheets would look good.

Optics superior in every way to iron sights? Nope, leave them in the armory, don’t want to lose it in the field training for war where those optics are crucial life saving equipment.

I know a department that cannot use optics because they “look too militant”, officers are forced to use an inferior and slower method of sighting for a critical and life saving situation because the superior system makes the rifle too scary to a casual observer. This may have been what forced these Colt rifles into an unissued retirement.

Yes, greater risk to life and injury of officers and citizens for the uninformed comfort of the public and/or political animal’s perceptions. If that isn’t a summary of gun control accomplishes, I don’t know what is.

Keith Finch
Keith is the Editor-in-Chief of GAT Marketing Agency, Inc. A USMC Infantry Veteran and Small Arms and Artillery Technician, Keith covers the evolving training and technology from across the shooting industry. A Certified Instructor since 2009, he has taught concealed weapons courses in the West Michigan area in the years since and continues to pursue training and teaching opportunities as they arise.