The setting is modern and very Earth like in many ways (technology level being one of them).

In one of the largest nations--first world, high GDP, respectable per capita income--there exists this odd (and very unstable) political system where the elected political parties are allowed law enforcement representation proportionate to their congressional representation. Each officer by-the-book reports up the chain of command, but in practice each officer is loyal to his or her party first and foremost.

The uniform of these officers has varied over the years, but typically is a long coat (double breasted buttoned, but may be left unbuttoned) made of thick wool with thin and small ceramic ballistic plates* under the clothing, reinforced with Kevlar (cosmetically hidden). The uniforms are thus somewhat stiff, but cans till bend and move as the officer walks. A knee shoved up would still show as a lump protruding up.

Due to a now twisted, heavily modified, and generally warped law once meant to encourage peace, officers aren't allowed to openly carry firearms (or other weapons), but they are allowed to conceal carry firearms. Thus a strange political dance has developed.

The standard (set by the courts) is that if another officer can tell that an accused officer is carrying, that is sufficient evidence that the accused was open carrying, and did not properly conceal his firearm.

Thus one officer accuses another officer of carrying and is right, the accused is stripped of badge. If the accuser is wrong, he is stripped of badge. The removed officer leaves a hole that cannot be filled until the next election cycle, so it's important not to have another enemy officer catch you with a firearm, and it's important not to falsely accuse another.

Despite these risks, accusing of carry a weapon is the fastest, easiest, and cleanest way of reducing the opposing party's law enforcement, and thus guns on the street. (Citizens are not allowed to possess firearms)

Efforts to trick another into thinking that one is carrying but not actually carrying (hiding a large lump under one's clothes, walking in a suspicious manner) to gain a false accusation will normally be appealed in the courts, where typically the judge rules against the trickster. This ruling isn't perfectly consistent, but historic cases have shown that the tactic of pretend-carry is generally riskier than it is worth.

There has begun to be an arms race of trying to hide increasingly militarized weaponry under their uniform as secretly as possible. They have no fear of being stopped to be searched (with their legal authority they can just deny the request), so they just need to make it as impossible-as-possible to determine if they're carrying.

Only very rarely is their actual open conflict between law enforcement (rare enough that one or two dead offices makes national headlines), but every side agrees that it's only a matter of time before it will devolve into open war.

Further, since everyone expect the first rash of violence to start and be over very quickly (well under an hour, country wide, as the news of open conflict spreads over the country's news and computer networks), every party wishes to keep as many officers armed, and those officers as armed as possible.

Naturally a certain percentage of unarmed officers need to be kept unarmed to discourage (and punish) false accusations of carrying.

As the arms race evolves the parties will gravitate to equipping more and more militarized weapons. This escalation period is short enough that weapons can't be specifically designed and manufactured for this purpose. The firearm variety and nature of arms is very comparable to Earth's own, and can be considered identical for purposes of this question.

What sort of weapons would make the most sense for the parties to equip their officers with, and how large is the reasonable maximum physical weapon size for these officers to conceal and carry?

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    $\begingroup$ This is .. way too convoluted to answer. I can think of many scenarios where an opposing party might somehow make an "enemy" officer take their coat off, or force them to take it off etc. Similarly, some officers might accidentally get run over, etc. Seems like these "officers" would become high-value targets, and would be quite easy to take out. Also, why the ridiculous coats if presumably no one is armed? Makes no sense. $\endgroup$ – AndreiROM Feb 7 '17 at 20:37
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    $\begingroup$ So why can't officers carry weapons if criminals have them? Seems silly. Also, why is accusing officers of having a weapon such a big deal? (aka you get fired for accusing). Scenario: Officer A: Officer B has a gun! Officer B: MUAHAHA! It's just a gun shaped toy! Your career is toast! Judge: Officer B is an immature idiot and he's fired. Officer A was right to bring this potential violation of our laws to my attention. $\endgroup$ – AndreiROM Feb 7 '17 at 20:45
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    $\begingroup$ I find the whole system silly. Officers are armed because seeing them toting guns is a deterrent to crime. Hiding the gun under a big coat, is still a deterrent, because criminals know that officers may pretend to be unarmed, but still are. Making it so that officers are punished for revealing their weapons is silly because what happens when they actually have to use said weapons? Wouldn't it be worse for an officer to need a gun and not have one, than for a civilian to get a passing glimpse of a handgun inside their coat? The whole argument of firing an officer for being armed is ridiculous. $\endgroup$ – AndreiROM Feb 7 '17 at 20:52
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    $\begingroup$ Just speaking anecdotally here: With a decent holster, nearly any handgun will just disappear under a long, stiff coat, but you're going to have trouble with any rifle (I tried a short-barreled AR-15 with a military-style raincoat once, didn't work). I'm guessing SMGs with folding stocks are going to be very popular.... $\endgroup$ – Deolater Feb 7 '17 at 21:23
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    $\begingroup$ As a fun example, consider what could be hidden under the audacious fuzzy helmet of a Beefeater. $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Feb 7 '17 at 21:34

12 Answers 12


I thought that martial arts developed because of governments which restricted the ownership of weapons, but it is hard for me to find links backing that up. I am pretty sure that the substitution of sticks for swords in kendo was a result of such a prohibition.

So: these long coat cops can do kung fu. Maybe each political party has its own style of martial arts. Long coats and kung fu are a natural match, as we learned from the Matrix.

All in all a lot cooler than a bunch of dudes eyeing lumps in each others trousers and wondering if they should say something about it.

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    $\begingroup$ I dunno, I think a bunch of shifty-looking dudes with long coats standing in the street eyeballing each other sounds like a really excellent noir short. $\endgroup$ – MissMonicaE Feb 7 '17 at 21:13
  • $\begingroup$ You got me thinking there, MissM... $\endgroup$ – Willk Feb 8 '17 at 2:32
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    $\begingroup$ lumps in each others trousers made me giggle $\endgroup$ – Paul TIKI Feb 8 '17 at 16:08

You will have guys using fake arms like the modern Secret Service.

For example, this bald agent has a fake right arm. His real arm is under the jacket, probably holding a compact submachine gun like a P90.

fake armed agent

So in your world this type of subterfuge will be common. As is keeping a firearm in an attaché case or some other handy personal item. This way the agent is ARMED, but not actually carrying the weapon. So he is both effective at his job but resistant to the "gotcha" tactic of dismissal. I suspect making firearms that look like ordinary items will be big business as well.

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    $\begingroup$ That's not a fake arm. thesun.co.uk/news/2699859/… $\endgroup$ – ceejayoz Feb 7 '17 at 22:54
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    $\begingroup$ @ceejayoz Do you have another source for "that's not a fake arm" that's not a populist tabloid? $\endgroup$ – Nzall Feb 8 '17 at 8:07
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    $\begingroup$ I REALLY WANT IT TO BE A FAKE ARM. THAT WOULD BE SO COOL. $\endgroup$ – MissMonicaE Feb 8 '17 at 13:30
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    $\begingroup$ @Nzall I would rather that you have a source that "it is a fake arm". Now we just have a blurry picture. $\endgroup$ – Pieter B Feb 8 '17 at 13:41
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    $\begingroup$ @Nzall There's a video of the "fake" arm moving right there in the linked article. I'll take a tabloid with video evidence over an entirely unsourced claim. More at ijr.com/2017/01/… including a law enforcement denial of the claim. $\endgroup$ – ceejayoz Feb 8 '17 at 14:35

These answers are getting too convoluted I think.

This question boils down to "what is the best weapon someone can carry concealed at risk of losing his/her job?"

Based on the experience of thousands of people, the answer to this question is the handgun.

With an appropriate holster, and especially with a cover garment like the coats mentioned, a concealed handgun is nearly invisible, easy to carry, and quick to use.

  • $\begingroup$ +1 for the simplistic, snappy answer. It doesn't need to be any more complicated than this. $\endgroup$ – user19838 Feb 8 '17 at 19:27

Not really an answer but it won't fit as a comment:

I find the whole standoff to be out of the question because the concealment isn't going to work. The problem is that you are only looking at visual concealment but given the nature of the conflict you are describing it won't just be visual inspection.

Look at airport security to see what would happen.

First we have the walk through metal detector. While those are normally obvious there is nothing about the technology that means it couldn't be concealed in a door frame. That tells you which enemy agents are carrying substantial chunks of metal.

Next comes the millimeter wave detectors which anyone who has flown in the US in recent years is familiar with. The airport version is totally obvious but that is because they are hunting for stuff (bombs, drugs) concealed against the body. If you're only looking for firearms you don't need to be able to detect such small things, you're only interested in the shape of the piece of metal they are carrying. Thus you set up a pair of crossed beams behind that doorway, relying on their motion rather than moving the detector like the airports do.

This won't catch bombs or drugs (although the airport systems won't, either, if you carefully feather the edges) but it will find the guns. Note that the x-ray system they used first wouldn't work--the original scanners were completely incapable of seeing a gun that did not occlude the body.

You can also send out unarmed officers wearing coats with metal detectors built in. They pass enemy officers in crowded conditions, getting close enough to get a good read on what's under their clothes. (Many detectors in their clothing, not just one.)

Sure, all of these systems can be tricked but you have said the trickster is treated as if he was armed.


You can carry ANY weapon concealed. - I will just let all my cops carry large rolling suitcases with them, in which they can transport anything, from a common banana, submachine-gun, bazooka or a small tank...

Since the innocent ones will be filled with other heavy stuff to have the same weight as the ones with weapons, there is no chance you can guess the contents. You can even line the suitcases with metal to make scanning their contents with X-Rays harder...

We could even let all cops in our group shuffle the suitcases at random, so they don't even know themselves if there is a weapon inside - but if they are always traveling in groups of three, one will have enough weapons in his suitcase for all three of them.

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    $\begingroup$ Was about to suggest this. Have the cops carry some sort of hard shell bag/case as part of the uniform. Have the cops go around in groups of three, where only one has a weapon. Accusations then become a pure guess with only a 1 in 3 chance of success. $\endgroup$ – Qwerky Feb 8 '17 at 14:38
  • $\begingroup$ @Qwerky exactly and the one can have enough weapons for all three of them, so when poo hits the fan, they will have enough guns between the three of them :-) $\endgroup$ – Falco Feb 17 '17 at 9:19

This is pretty irrational. If you can lose your position for someone knowing you have a weapon, under what circumstance would you ever use the weapon? Any time you use the weapon it would become clear that you had one and you would lose everything. If you can never actually use it then why would you carry it? This situation is all risk and no benefit.

You said:

officers aren't allowed to openly carry firearms (or other weapons), but they are allowed to conceal carry firearms

However, the situation sounds exactly the same as if you just said they aren't allowed to have firearms. If you are only allowed to have one as long as you don't get caught with it, that is functionally no different than not being allowed to have it at all.

So the weapon that makes the most sense is none at all. You'd probably learn to use martial arts or common everyday items offensively, if you bother at all. The easiest way to eliminate rivals would be to plant weapons on them and then accuse them.

  • $\begingroup$ Well, the system described is a ticking bomb into a civil war, that can spark at any moment and the police forces are bound to become the frontline armies of each side. Any unarmed officer will be gunned down without defense. Actually the only reasonable action is getting the fuck out of the country. $\endgroup$ – Faerindel Feb 8 '17 at 14:12

I would just like to point out that you completely omitted detection technology.

Your war of wits wouldn't be just about weapons, but also about detectors.

Thermal camera certainly isn't a weapon, but perhaps it might spot asymmetric heating if there's something hidden under one armpit but not the other.

Advanced telemetry might be able to measure posture from distance, compare it to previous recordings, and determine that something IS iffy today.

Attempts at somehow miniaturising Full body scanner into handheld, or better yet, concealed device would be very high priority.

Face recognition (with help of thermal cameras) is getting better at reading emotions. It would take tremendous training to behave, feel and express the same, no matter if armed or not.

The most obvious, would still be metal detector, as at our-level tech, it's still impossible to make durable and efficient weapon without metal. Feasibility of trying to wave around opposing officer with metal detector would depend on how interaction rules are set, but it's always a possibility.

Both parties would do their best to convince any sympathetic institutions or establishments to install scanners or detectors, and vigorously report anything suspicious on any passing by opposing agents.

Every shred of data would be devoured and analysed to spot the weapon, including internet facecompendium, telescope+, chirper etc. profiles to determine psych profile and associated chances that this specific officer is ever armed.

There are counters to each of the methods, and sooner or later they would be employed, perhaps it's allowed to use metal detector, and so coats are routinely laced with wires, perhaps undergarments are designed to transfer heat in unusual way. Detection and countermeasures would race every bit as vigorously, if not more, than actual weapon design.

In any proper war, civil or otherwise, intel is every bit as important as weapons.


Smaller is generally easier to hide.

So maybe what we call "nonlethal" weapons take on a life of their own. I suspect packing cellphone-style batteries under the armor would be relatively easy to conceal, given the bulk of the coat. String enough of those together, and your stun-gun is now a kill-gun. And since the projectile is small, it doesn't require a bulky metal tube to fire from.

The firing end could be concealed easily in the sleeves and triggered via coat buttons or other concealed means. But with batteries distributed in the clothing, the leads would pack a lethal charge. And for the most part, they work through clothing, so the armor plating is less than effective.

  • $\begingroup$ Why not compact lethal weapons, like derringers? $\endgroup$ – MissMonicaE Feb 8 '17 at 14:57

So from what understand they want the most militarized weapons, but also the easiest to hide --which is contradictory.

I think what you are looking for is some sort of collapsible semi automatic long gun, It would probably have a stock which is folding, extendable or detachable, the barrel would have to screwed on (or assembled in some other means) perhaps be in two or three parts when carried, and the clip would kept in a separate place on the body (probably the boot and one clip in each). Maybe even a detachable grip. Thus the largest part of the gun is the the trigger apparatus So the gun would take some time to assemble, at least 30 seconds. That's not so much a problem though (could even provide some great story suspense that actually meakes sense). If you make it a 22 caliber rifle say (which would be all you need), you could get the individual parts down to size of about an adults man's hand and have say a trigger and chamber, folding flat stock, grip (that maybe expands from the width of finger to two or three inches long (still the height of a finger, a barrel that probably collapses into two three pieces like a blind man's cane, and the magazine(s). Hide the trigger/chamber in the small of the back, magazines in one boot, barrel in the other, grip probably in the sleeve and the leaves the very thin collapsible folding stock probably under an armored Kevlar breastplate

  • $\begingroup$ My initial thoughts also went toward weapons that could be stored in parts, but then quickly assembled. Detachable stocks, extended magazines, lock-in barrels, and quick-attach optics. What I might add to this answer is that the pieces could be disguised. A cane that hides a gun barrel, a necklace that becomes a sight, or even a knee brace that becomes a stock or something. That way you could possibly even get off when other officers accuse you. "What do you mean assault rifle? The most dangerous thing I have is a brace for my injured knee!" $\endgroup$ – Logan Kitchen Feb 7 '17 at 23:08
  • $\begingroup$ The disguise aspect I feel wouldn't stand up to a thorough search, because a close look at cane, and the could find the rifled barrel inside. However, it'd be an excellent way to conceal the weapon in plain sight, and $\endgroup$ – S Tolve Feb 7 '17 at 23:16

What is a Weapon? What is a firearm? Where I live, airguns are considered firearms even though gunpowder doesn't factor, and cops here really don't care unless you are being stupid. I bring this up because it might give you some non-silly options.

It would seem to me that the best way around this law would be to carry a weapon other than a firearm, but equally effective. If you define an airgun as not a firearm, you could create pneumatically driven weapons that carry tranquilizers or flechettes. Not as effective as a 9mm, but eventually lethal. They would also be a good setup as they look like a normal firearm, and could potentially trick the opposing party cop into a false accusation that the judge would not consider to be entrapment.

If you insist on firearms that use powder as a propellant, they would have to be small and be made to fit the body as well as possible. Here is an example of what it might look like http://www.taurususa.com/product-details.cfm?id=901&category=Pistol This is a real pistol, it is very small and is designed with concealed carry in mind.

Another option for smaller pistols for female officers would be this: http://www.flashbangholster.com/ Yet another product that is out there. a bulky, buttoned up coat and this thing will not show up at all, and accusations could be written off as sexual harassment due to the placement of the holster.

You could make a generic rigid holster that would hold a number of non lethal, non firearm options as well as a firearm itself. An accuser might be able to see the shape of the holster, but it would only take 1 or 2 to get burned by false accusations to have a chilling effect.

Finally you have some old fashioned friends like the blackjack and brass knuckles. Not likely to be bound up in the long coat and effective at taking out thugs at close range but easily hidden in a pocket. Pepper spray that shoots 20 feet is available on the market, and so is wasp killer(If you have used wasp spray you know how far it can reach. DO NOT USE FOR SELF DEFENSE because you can open up a whole list of legal woes. see the link in the comments from @Snowman). Why not an aerosol chloroform foam? Fast acting and potentially lethal. These are options for your cops that genuinely want to be effective, but don't want to waste a lot of time in the court system.

As a whole, the cops of one party or the other would be most effective but least exposed if only a few actively carried firearms on a rotational basis so potential accusers would be less likely to pick on the guy that's carrying, because he may not be when they accuse him. The other non firearm stuff would be there so they could actually do things like a cop. Criminals would see and identify cops easily enough, but the deterrent factor may come with the certain knowledge that they may or may not have a pistol, but they will absolutely be armed with something unpleasant.

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    $\begingroup$ Wasp spray is a bad idea to use as a weapon. $\endgroup$ – user1975 Feb 7 '17 at 22:21
  • $\begingroup$ True, I listed it as an example so that people might have an idea about what aerosols can do in a pinch. Will edit to reflect this. Thanks $\endgroup$ – Paul TIKI Feb 8 '17 at 14:40

The answer really depends on what you are arming against. (I am going to ignore the rather strange setup and the issue of detection machinery in this answer).

If you are arming against civilians and armed criminals who are generally not armoured with bulletproof vests, then any ordinary handgun will do. Police in the United States used .38 cal revolvers for the longest time, only switching to 9mm semi automatic pistols starting in the 1980's as the "Drug Wars" heated up and armed criminals became far more prevalent on the streets. For the most part this has remained the standard, with the occasional foray into more powerful ammunition (.40 and 10mm being two well known examples). Police generally didn't raise the stakes by using .45 ACP both because this round is generally too powerful for police use (missing a target or having the round pass through the target and take out a civilian is bad news for the officer and department), and generally M-1911 based pistols have small magazine capacities compared to 9mm weapons.

You are suggesting that the primary target isn't a civilian or criminal at all, but a person who is both armed and protected by an armoured vest (coat). Depending on the level of training, a 9mm pistol may still be sufficient, provided you have loaded the weapon with armour piercing rounds. Since you are suggesting everyone is on a war footing, then a long coat may still be an asset, since there will be room for plenty of spare magazines.

If there is an element of urban combat, then a sawed off 12 gauge shotgun with slugs or 00 magnum shot might substitute, since you can knock down targets and slugs also allow you to shoot through some types of cover, breach doors and so on. Extra rounds carried in pouches inside the coat also allow you to switch out non lethal rounds like "beanbags" or teargas shells, or if you are of a particular frame of mind, explosive rounds like the Frag-12 might be useful.

Fully automatic weapons which are small enough to be concealable suffer from limited range, poor terminal ballistics and a generally poorer accuracy due to the short barrels and light weight. The HK MP5-K is probably the epitome of classic submachinegun technology adapted to concealed use.

enter image description here


The other issue is that to truly carry a formidable amount of firepower, the magazine still has to be large enough to hold 30+ rounds. A concealed MP5-K with a 10 round magazine is larger and heavier than a pistol, but only has the same firepower....

Finally, exotica like the FN-P90 PDW (Personal defense weapon) are in the same size range as a submachinegun, but in the case of the P90, have a 50 round magazine. Various arguments pro and con have been raised about the non standard ammunition, but it certainly has been adopted by various military forces over the years, so at least some people believe it is worthwhile. The Russian "Bison" submachine gun and the Calico M-950 use "helical" magazines to carry large amounts of ammunition as well.

enter image description here


enter image description here

Bison submachine gun

enter image description here

Calico M-950

Once again, the real key is training. Issuing out submachine guns and PDWs to untrained or minimally trained people will result in loud gun battles with rounds going everywhere, lots of collateral damage and very few actual deaths (at least of the intended targets). Think of watching a Hollywood movie, but without extras and redshirts dropping like flies. In that situation, a calm, well trained individual with a pistol might actually be far more deadly than any number of mooks blazing away with automatic weapons.


It's a lottery, 100% lottery

It is easy to create an item that won't shoot because one of the metal elements is misplaced, bent, not fitting just right. It will look just like a gun. It will weight just the same. It's chemical and EM signatures will be exactly the same. And formally it will not be a gun. Equip every agent that is not carrying with this replica and enemy can't tell. Ever.


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