Shooting Illustrated | 10 Most Iconic Handgun Designs of All Time

Volumes have been created about great handguns, and it is actually hard to whittle the…

Volumes have been created about great handguns, and it is actually hard to whittle the extensive record of pistol designs relationship again properly more than a century to just ten. One caveat for this unique roundup is that the listed guns have to remain accessible as a output firearm nowadays, so if you want a person you can go get it (furnished, of course, put up-COVID provide finally satisfies desire). However, it is hard to quality some gun patterns against every other and assign a worth to the excellent guns of the previous.

The guns that produced the slash all share a couple qualities in prevalent, however—longevity, recognition, support, and an impression on the firearm market. Here’s our list of the best handgun layouts currently accessible these days. 

Colt 1911

No surprise in this article. John Moses Browning developed a large amount of groundbreaking guns, but none have stood up as very well as the Colt 1911 one-motion semiauto. This pistol has served as the American sidearm in two World Wars and in plenty of other conflicts and it stays a beloved design and style of levels of competition shooters and some regulation enforcement and armed forces units, which is extraordinary for a pistol celebrating its 110th birthday subsequent yr. Numerous organizations supply their have 1911 pistols, such as Springfield, SIG Sauer, Kimber, Rock Island, and far more, and premium builders like Ed Brown, Nighthawk, and Invoice Wilson churn out high-conclusion 1911s that are worthy of very penny. 

CZ 75

The CZ 75 was unveiled in 1975, and credit history for the gun’s style and design goes to brothers Josef and Frantisek Kouky. Mainly because of export limits in what was then Czechoslovakia, CZ 75 clone pistols had been crafted in other nations and that authorized the guns to be transported all around the entire world. The Kouky-made pistol makes use of a brief-recoil, lock-breech layout similar to the venerable Browning Hello-Power (which fails to make the list only due to the fact big manufacturing was discontinued) and a slide that rides together inner rails.

With their double-stack, 15-spherical magazines the CZ 75 aided usher in the period of the “Wonder Nine” and the layout has been copied by a host of other makers such as Tanfoglio, IMI, Norinco, Springfield, and other people. The CZ 75 stays the company’s flagship, and thankfully these guns are now extensively accessible in the U.S. CZ-Usa at the moment delivers 15 unique CZ 75 variants for obligation, competitors and leisure shooting, and self-protection.

Beretta 92

Beretta is the oldest manufacturing company in the earth, and they’ve been creating guns for over 500 several years. It’s no surprise, then, that just one of the company’s guns earns a spot on this record: the Beretta 92. The Beretta 92 debuted in 1975 and borrowed components from earlier models like the M1923 and M1951. The first 92s highlighted a frame-mounted thumb protection, and the 92S provided a slide mounted decocker/safety.

In a transfer that some deemed heresy, the U.S. military services dropped the M1911 for the armed forces version of Beretta’s 92 (the M9) in the 1980s. But the M9/92 proved to be struggle-deserving and grew to become a beloved sidearm of the LE local community as nicely. Now Beretta however sells these robust, responsible pistols, as does Taurus. If you’re a serious Beretta 92 fan, then Wilson Combat’s scorching-rodded 92G Brigadier Tactical model is not to be skipped.&#13

Taurus Judge

At just 14 many years outdated the Taurus Decide is the youngest firearm on this listing, but there is no denying this .410/.45 Colt revolver has remaining an indelible mark on the firearm’s marketplace. The principle of a revolver that fired shotshells appeals to several shooters: with ½-ounce .410 hundreds the decide would make an ideal weapon for hunting compact match at shut range or dispatching snakes and other vermin, a fantastic trail gun. It was also lauded as the great particular protection weapon since it fired both of those .410 shotshells and strong .45 Colt defensive ammo.

Now, extra than a 10 years since its launch, it continues to be one particular of the most well-liked home protection/trail revolvers on the sector, and there do not seem to be any signs that the basic public is losing curiosity in the style (when I questioned a gun retailer operator which guns he sold 1st through 2020’s worry invest in, he informed me that all of his handguns had been gone in a 7 days but that all the Decide revolvers he experienced in inventory were being long gone in a working day). Even with its prodigious energy, the whole-sized Decide is really workable to shoot. 

Smith Wesson Model 29

We generally affiliate the .44 Magnum Model 29 Smith & Wesson with “Dirty” Harry Callahan, but the serious driving power guiding this gun was Elmer Keith. In the 1950s Keith, a gun writer and large bore enthusiast, was uploading the .44 Distinctive to higher pressures and he desired a gun that would deal with that form of electrical power. He acquired his desire when Smith & Wesson developed their N-Body revolver in 1955 in the potent new .44 Remington Magnum.

The 29 rose in recognition after Clint Eastwood uttered those people renowned lines about it staying the most strong handgun in the environment in 1971, but the Design 29’s enduring legacy is that it built huge bore, magnum revolvers readily available to the public. The M29 and its numerous N-Frame variants continue to be in Smith & Wesson’s lineup and will for the foreseeable potential.   

Glock 17

Austrian curtain rod manufacture Gaston Glock applied his encounter with polymers to produce a absolutely new pistol layout in 1982, the G17. Since then, Glock’s semiauto striker-fired handgun has appreciated a tidal wave of recognition and has established a entire new polymer frame/striker-fired pistol industry. No extended regarded as “plastic guns,” Glock pistols are the sidearm of decision for most American law enforcement organizations. Above the many years the Glock family has developed to contain a array of distinctive single- and double-stack designs in a variety of calibers, but the unique structure idea continues to be mainly unchanged. The use of polymers produced these guns lighter and significantly less pricey to manufacture than steel body guns, and Glock pistols are robust and exact.

Ruger Regular

Invoice Ruger’s .22 autoloading pistol is the gun that designed an empire. With very little cash and a confined workforce, Ruger and his lover Alexander Sturm commenced setting up semiautomatic .22 pistols in their smaller Southport, CT, manufacturing unit and promoting them for $37.50 each in 1949. By 1950, need for Ruger pistols was so higher that the adult men experienced to begin offering by means of a distributor network. Since then over 4 million Ruger semiauto .22 pistols have been acquired.

The Mark I was followed by the Mark II, Mark III, and today’s Mark IV, all of which share the exact same essential blowback procedure with a set barrel and receiver. The Ruger layout is exceedingly precise and very trustworthy, and the contemporary Mark IV provides a major improvement around past models—simple press-button takedown. Currently Ruger is a person of the world’s largest firearm suppliers, and all that achievement began with the minor semiauto .22. No gun collection is full without one particular.  

Colt 1873 Single-Action Military

Samuel Colt’s famed solitary-action revolver design and style was submitted to the U.S. armed forces for adoption in 1872, environment the stage for the Colt Single Action Army (SAA) to develop into the first hugely effective handgun style and design. It was chambered for the then-new .45 Colt blackpowder cartridge and it supplied a tough, robust design and style (for that era) that allowed it to stand up to daily life on the frontier.

The best strap structure additional power that was missing in earlier open-top revolver styles, and the usefulness of owning six rounds of .45 Colt close at hand made intrepid explorers truly feel far more safe when venturing into unfamiliar territories (whilst most all carried 5 rounds in the gun given that the SAA experienced a preset, uncovered hammer that wanted to rest on an vacant cylinder). The Colt SAA has been cloned a great number of times, and it has turn out to be a image of the cowboy spirit. And these revolvers are continue to as significantly enjoyable to shoot as they had been in 1873.   

Walther PPK

Carl Walther made the PPK (Polizeipistole Kiminalmodell, or “Police Pistol Detective Model”) for release in 1930, and that gun has paved the way for a variety of other pistol layouts that followed. The PPK was compact and trim, gentle sufficient to be carried hid by detectives doing the job undercover. It became a conventional-bearer for semiauto have guns for decades to follow. It was also the very first commercially effective SA/DA pistol on the sector, a mechanical style that has been applied by a multitude of services and self-defense weapons considering the fact that.

Light and compact, the PPK utilizes a preset-barrel blowback motion. For the reason that the barrel continues to be fixed the PPK is incredibly exact for these kinds of an effortless-to carry gun. The PPK was the inspiration for quite a few other guns like the Russian Makarov, and everyone’s preferred fictional MI6 agent James Bond carried a single as a sidearm. Ninety decades right after its inception the PPK continues to be a popular carry gun, and they’re now made in Walther’s Fort Smith, AR, facility. 

Smith & Wesson J-Frame

The J-Frame traces its lineage back again to Smith & Wesson’s Hand Ejector designs of the 1890s. In 1949 the crew at S&W, led by Carl Hellstrom, determined to modernize the current I-Body pistols by creating them lesser and updating some mechanical attributes. The initially gun in the J-Frame family, the Chief’s Distinctive, featured a 2-inch barrel and was created to be carried by detectives who necessary a light-weight, concealable weapon that supplied plenty of halting electrical power to neutralize a violent attacker.

The J-Body has ongoing to set the conventional for deep concealment/undercover weapons and they have also obtained a huge pursuing with hid carry permits holders due to the fact of their compact style and design and unfailing dependability. Smith & Wesson’s fashionable J-Body lineup contains 60 J-Body versions such as scandium alloy frames that weigh less than 3-quarters of a pound.