Utah Department of Public Safety

Highway Patrol - New Weapons Issued

As was mentioned previously, the issued weapon for the Utah Highway Patrol in 1929 was a .44 caliber revolver. This weapon was not the .44 magnum that officers are familiar with today. During one incident in 1938, eleven rounds were fired at a pickup truck containing two escapees fleeing from Patrolman Jack Sullivan in Price Canyon. Five of the rounds struck the back of the truck; however, none of the rounds penetrated the stuffing of the back seat. The Utah Highway Patrol determined that more firepower was needed and the duty weapon was changed to a .357 magnum revolver with a six inch barrel in 1938. The Patrol ordered mostly Smith & Wesson revolvers; however, a few Colts were also issued. Patrolman second class Russ Cederlund, hired on December 1, 1938, was issued a Colt. In later years this weapon was replaced with a Smith & Wesson. The .357 was a new caliber introduced in 1935 and was only available to police agencies. Each weapon was registered as a way to keep them away from the criminal element.

Also issued were 12 gauge shotguns. Although early records call these weapons "sawed-off" shotguns, it is not known if these weapons were actual shortened by cutting off a portion of the barrel or if they were a shorter version issued specifically for police use. What is known is that the first issued shotgun of the Utah Highway Patrol was a Winchester Model 97. This model had an exposed hammer and was dubbed the "thumb buster" model. Officers not familiar with this weapon would often experience pinched thumbs and fingers due to improper placement of the officer’s hands, thumbs, and fingers during operation.

By 1940, the Utah Highway Patrol had also purchased three .45 caliber Thompson sub-machine guns. These weapons were carried throughout the state and instruction on their use was given by Captain L. L. Fryer.

[Last Update - Friday, 20-Dec-2013 11:00:40 MST]