The four most influential pistols of the 20th century


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sturmgewehr
June 1, 2012, 04:01 PM
By influential I mean their features inspired other designs. These are the pistols I believe helped to shape the popular design of handguns throughout the 20th century.

http://www.intempusphotography.com/photos/i-W6SnNGq/0/L/i-W6SnNGq-L.jpg

1911: The grand-daddy of modern handguns, most every modern pistol borrows from the 1911's method of lock-up.

Browning Hi-Power: The next evolution of the 1911 that brought a high capacity double stacked magazine to the table, and a simplified 1911 method of lock-up.

Walther P38: The P38 gave us a 9mm service pistol with a double action / single action trigger and a manual safety / decocker. Until the Glock craze of the late 1980's, double action "wonder 9's" were all the rage and the Walter set the stage for that era of handgun development.

Glock 17: While it wasn't the first polymer framed pistol and it wasn't the first pistol to use a striker, it did bring these features and others together into a package that hadn't been seen before. The Glock gave us a polymer framed pistol with a 17 round magazine and a unique passive safety incorporated into the trigger itself that made the pistol stand out in the market place. Ultimately the Glock has inspired countless other companies to copy it's features and it helped to bring the modern polymer pistol to the forefront of handgunning.

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rcmodel
June 1, 2012, 04:08 PM
You would have to put a SIG in there somewhere.

Thats where Gaston got the idea for the chamber area locking surface instead of barrel lugs.
He copied it for the Glock, and everyone else is using it now.

But SIG invented it first.

And maybe the Walther PP instead of the P-38.
The PP was the first successful DA design from Walther in 1929.

rc

sturmgewehr
June 1, 2012, 04:27 PM
The method of lock-up employed by Sig was an evolution of the system used in the 1911 and Hi-Power. All Sig and others did was reduce the number of locking lugs to one. The tilting barrel was retained, and this is the key feature of the 1911 and Hi-Power.

drsfmd
June 1, 2012, 04:50 PM
There's a lot of Glocks out there, but they aren't particularly influential.

sturmgewehr
June 1, 2012, 04:58 PM
There's a lot of Glocks out there, but they aren't particularly influential.
I disagree.

Glocks started the polymer framed, striker fired pistol craze we still find ourselves in the middle of.

S&W Sigma
Walther P99
Walther PPQ
Springfield XD
S&W M&P
Caracal
Taurus 24/7
SR9
Steyr M9A1

All of those and more were inspired by the Glock pistol.

ny32182
June 1, 2012, 05:10 PM
Glock is #1 most revolutionary of all time, in my personal opinion, due to the fact that it almost instantly and forever redefined, worldwide, what a "combat handgun" is. No other pistol ever built can claim that. The Glock-specific formula/feature set has been copied by just about every serious pistol built since the Glock came out.

But overall I think you can just drop everything but the Glock and 1911 in terms of influential pistols. Everything else is "infinitesimal minutia" by comparison.

sturmgewehr
June 1, 2012, 06:44 PM
But overall I think you can just drop everything but the Glock and 1911 in terms of influential pistols. Everything else is "infinitesimal minutia" by comparison.
Your post brought a smile to my face. So far a handful of folks have been giving me a hard time for including it saying the Glock really gave modern handgunning nothing. You're the first to take it to the other extreme. :D

Lothar
June 1, 2012, 07:26 PM
Your post brought a smile to my face. So far a handful of folks have been giving me a hard time for including it saying the Glock really gave modern handgunning nothing. You're the first to take it to the other extreme.

I've been following this thread with interest on both forums. ;)

I've shot Glocks before, and never been much of a fan of them. The ergonomics just don't work for me. I can't deny though that they are strongly influential pistols though, and among the best design ever made. I have huge respect for them, despite not wanting to own one. If the civilized world were to end tonight and I had to pick a pistol to carry with me through the Mad Max days that follow, I might choose a Glock. The Glock is a go-to-war gun that won't fail. It doesn't make me feel that the designer was sheer genius though as when I pick up a Browning Hi-Power and fondle it.

Skribs
June 1, 2012, 07:27 PM
I have to agree with ny32182, the Glock and the 1911 are the two that I think of when I hear "revolutionary" pistols.

I'm not big on history, was the Hi Power the first to feature double-stacked magazines?

Also, who was the first company to include a light rail on a pistol? That has pretty much become the standard for handguns, and might be something to include.

Lothar
June 1, 2012, 07:33 PM
Also, who was the first company to include a light rail on a pistol? That has pretty much become the standard for handguns, and might be something to include.

That's a really good point. I don't know which handgun was the first to have a rail, by that innovation opened up a whole lot of versatile options. Two of my personal favorites, the Walther PPS and the Beretta 92A1, have one, and I make good use of that feature.

MCgunner
June 1, 2012, 07:42 PM
Well, you did say "pistols". As for "handguns", I'd replace the Glock with the Smith and Wesson M&P K frame revolver...AKA M10 in later years. It did appear just before the turn of the 20th century, but I think of it as a 20th century firearm. It rode in the duty holster, in one model or another and including the various N frame 357s (M28), of nearly every law officer in this country for most of the 20th century, 80 years worth of it.

The Glock has no real attraction to me, but I do realize it was among the first of the polymer grip framed guns and set that tone for the last 20 years of the 20th century. In that respect, it was an innovative design. Everyone has copied that theme, polymer, like it or not. Polymer has advantages, especially in weight savings for a carry gun.

MCgunner
June 1, 2012, 07:43 PM
I'm not big on history, was the Hi Power the first to feature double-stacked magazines?

Yes

Onmilo
June 1, 2012, 08:31 PM
I agree.
These four semi automatic pistols should be in every serious collection

rswartsell
June 1, 2012, 08:37 PM
I have thought about this a bit and whether you happen to like these 4 or not sturmgewehr is right on. I think if I were given this question and reflected upon it I would have chosen the same 4, rcmodel may be right as he usually is but the Sig and PP would not have come to mind. These icons would.

P.S. and I really don't like Glocks, they don't work well for me.

nachogrande
June 1, 2012, 08:53 PM
1911 by far stands way ahead of the others. at end of days I'll take a sig thank you. only advantage to glocks would be wt and if carrying more than 1 gun of the same caliber the mag of the larger gun will fit the smaller, + the highest 9mm mag capacity. honorable mention to mauser broomhandle and the luger.

Urban_Redneck
June 1, 2012, 08:54 PM
1911
Hi Power
HK VP70
Ruger MK1

meanmrmustard
June 1, 2012, 09:00 PM
Browning M1900
M1911
Cz75
Hi Point 9mm

zoom6zoom
June 1, 2012, 09:58 PM
Also, who was the first company to include a light rail on a pistol? That has pretty much become the standard for handguns, and might be something to include.

I'd like to know, too... so I can kick them in the ass. It's become hard to find a pistol without this feature, and many of us find it useless and ugly.

kcshooter
June 1, 2012, 10:21 PM
Meh. I'd have stopped at the 1911.




And by your standards, wouldn't the Luger deserve high billing?

David E
June 1, 2012, 10:47 PM
I'm not big on history, was the Hi Power the first to feature double-stacked magazines?

NO.

The 1896 Broomhandle Mauser featured a double stack magazine, albeit non-detachable.

The first detachable double stack was the 1907 Savage.

TennJed
June 2, 2012, 03:45 AM
I disagree.

Glocks started the polymer framed, striker fired pistol craze we still find ourselves in the middle of.

S&W Sigma
Walther P99
Walther PPQ
Springfield XD
S&W M&P
Caracal
Taurus 24/7
SR9
Steyr M9A1

All of those and more were inspired by the Glock pistol.
Right now we are in a CCW and pocket pistol craze. Did you give any consideration to something other than a full size gun?

I am not knowledgeable enough on the history, and I know people have carried pocket pistol long befor the 20th century, but what (if any) gun would be considered the most influential "pocket pistol" of the 20th century? Would it deserve a place on your MT. Rushmore?

Bobson
June 2, 2012, 04:10 AM
But overall I think you can just drop everything but the Glock and 1911 in terms of influential pistols. Everything else is "infinitesimal minutia" by comparison.
I agree. I know almost nothing about the Browning High Power, except that it was essentially nothing more than a "perfected" 1911 in a different caliber. I can't call the BHP revolutionary. The 1911, on the other hand, most definitely. I don't know about the Glock - but I like em. :P

tarosean
June 2, 2012, 05:07 AM
I'd like to know, too... so I can kick them in the ass. It's become had to find a pistol without this feature, and many of us find it useless and ugly.

Agree completely...

Kiln
June 2, 2012, 06:24 AM
Awww man. I was going to list the Rohm RG14 revolver as one of the most influential guns of the 20th century until you said you were speaking strictly about design.

I am not kidding at all.

1911Tuner
June 2, 2012, 06:38 AM
Browning saw to the double stack 9 and striker fire with the Grande Rendement. Dieudonne Saive took some features of that...along with the redesigned lower lug and cross member method of camming the barrel up...with the High Power. He had to wait until Colt's patents expired before he could incorporate Browning's other ideas into the pistol. That was the limit of Browning's involvement in the High Power. He never even saw one. He died in 1926 while working on a stack barrel shotgun.

Like the 1911, the High Power was designed for a military entity on request. It had the features that were requested. If they had specified a grip safety, it would have had one. If they'd specified that the rear sight look like bunny rabbit ears, it would have had that, too...and the pistol would probably be known as the Browning Bunny Rabbit.

Moving to a squared slide and one locking/recoil lug was a simple...read cheap...way to maintain the surface area and have the strength without the hassles of equalizing horizontal engagement on three lugs. No more and no less. The downside is that the round, svelte lines of the slide were lost, and took on the appearance of a brick...but such is the world that we live in.

Pilot
June 2, 2012, 07:12 AM
I'd like to know, too... so I can kick them in the ass. It's become had to find a pistol without this feature, and many of us find it useless and ugly.

It is the single most useless modern development in handguns, along with front slide serrations.

Kiln
June 2, 2012, 07:19 AM
But...I like front slide serrations.
:uhoh:

Smith357
June 2, 2012, 08:47 AM
S&W Handejector - the grandaddy of revolving pistols. All 20th century DA Revolvers follow it's lead.

1911 - The first and longest lived big bore semiautomatic pistol

Hi-Power - JMB called it his refinement of the 1911 and designed the worlds first wunder9 in 1935.

Glock - Proved that plastic pistols could be made reliable and inexpensive, now every major firearms manufacture has a plastic wunder9.

tarosean
June 2, 2012, 08:53 AM
I am not knowledgeable enough on the history, and I know people have carried pocket pistol long befor the 20th century, but what (if any) gun would be considered the most influential "pocket pistol" of the 20th century?

1908

tarosean
June 2, 2012, 08:54 AM
But...I like front slide serrations.

you mentioned the RG your opinion doesnt count... :)

tarosean
June 2, 2012, 09:02 AM
By influential I mean their features inspired other designs.............

While it wasn't the first polymer framed pistol and it wasn't the first pistol to use a striker, it did bring these features and others together into a package that hadn't been seen before.

Then dont you have to give credit to the true inspiration of poly and striker fired?

VP70

While certainly no where near a mainstream success story it did beat Glock to the punch by a decade.

Kiln
June 2, 2012, 09:32 AM
you mentioned the RG your opinion doesnt count... :)
I mentioned it because the failed assassination of Ronald Reagan using an RG14 caused some pretty strict gun control laws and formed the Brady Campaign against gun violence. In its own way the use of this gun directly influenced history near the end of the 20th century.

Interesting read:
http://eightiesclub.tripod.com/id307.htm

tarosean
June 2, 2012, 10:43 AM
I mentioned it because the failed assassination of Ronald Reagan using an RG14 caused some pretty strict gun control laws and formed the Brady Campaign against gun violence. In its own way the use of this gun directly influenced history near the end of the 20th century.


Yeah but the gun didn't do it the lunatic did. It's like blaming the assault weapons ban on Patrick Purdy and his ak.

That is the one thing I will attribute to Glock. They almost singlehandedly got courts to toss out Lawsuits aimed at gun manufactures with regard to violence. (they were able to prove that a number of guns used in violent crimes were x police issue back on the streets through their trade in programs)

mavracer
June 2, 2012, 11:10 AM
Not sure how you put Glock on the list and leave off the Smith 39/59. without Smith combining the double stack mag of the Hi-Power and Walther's DA/SA trigger to start the LEO wonder 9mm craze Gaston looses his inspiration.

DammitBoy
June 2, 2012, 11:20 AM
1) Colt 1911 - best hands down

2) Broomhandle Mauser - first doublestack

3) HKvp70z - glock was not the first polymer design

4) Ruger MarkII - doesn't everybody have one?

I have at least one of each...

Loosedhorse
June 2, 2012, 12:08 PM
You would have to put a SIG in there somewhere.

Thats where Gaston got the idea for the chamber area locking surface instead of barrel lugs.Agreed. SIG 210. Influential for the Petter modification to the linkless Browning (P-35) lock-up, and also for the slide-inside-frame rail system that we now see in CZ pistols.

Glock definitely belongs. Not just for polymer, but reducing the number of parts, simplicity of complete detail stripping, magazine-cartridge-feedramp presentation geometry, and bringing striker-fired pistols to equal footing with hammer-fired.

BTW the first DA striker-fired pistol (as opposed to the numerous SA striker pistols JMB designed) was the French 1914 Le Francais pistol. It was also like the Glock in being a very simple pistol with a minimum part count.

Given the number of pistols with a decocking mechanism these days (Taurus, HK, SIG Sauer, etc.) perhaps we should give the Sauer 38H an honorable mention.

The Walther PP preceded the P-38, and so is more influential as a DA. The 1918 Tomiška Little Tom DA pistol preceded both.

Aside: a list for most interesting but least influential pistols:

1. HK P7
2. HK P9
3. Semmerling LM4; and last but not least...
4. The Gyrojet

:evil:

1911Tuner
June 2, 2012, 01:05 PM
Hi-Power - JMB called it his refinement of the 1911 and designed the worlds first wunder9 in 1935.

Nope. John Browning never even saw a High Power. He died in 1926.

Skribs
June 2, 2012, 03:05 PM
re: rail: It is the single most useless modern development in handguns, along with front slide serrations.

I actually like both of these features. Front slide serrations make it easier to drop a cleared round into your hand. However, I don't think front slide serrations are revolutionary. I think the light rail is, because it has become the standard for many people who want an easy light mounting system. All you ol' duffers who hate it can beat me with your canes if you want (kidding).

TenJed brings up a good point with pocket pistols, but I'm wondering (again, I only got into actually buying guns about 3-4 years ago, before that it was only what I saw in movies) was a .380 locked breech put out in 20th or 21st century? I think that was the big revolution for pocket pistols.

I don't think Glock was revolutionary for anything he put in, but the fact that several other brands are basically copying his overall design with minor tweaks is what makes it revolutionary.

DammitBoy
June 2, 2012, 08:23 PM
Glock definitely belongs. Not just for polymer, but reducing the number of parts...



Have you ever field-stripped an HKvp70z? Very few parts and polymer ten years before glock.

wlewisiii
June 2, 2012, 08:40 PM
I'd replace the Hi-Power with the Walther PP. The later Browning based design is, realistically, simply a product-improved version of the 1911. OTOH, the PP was the first successful double action pistol that proved the concept in the real world. The P38 still stays because of it's locking mechanism and use of double action in a service pistol.

Skribs
June 2, 2012, 09:18 PM
I did some digging around, and saw posted on another forum that the HK USP was the first to use an accessory rail, and that is why the USP rail doesn't accept many of the standard accessories. I'm not sure if that's true because I didn't see it even on a semi-reliable source.

fatcat4620
June 2, 2012, 10:44 PM
I think you alsop have to look at glocks metal treatment. It had also been copied by as many manufactures a it's design elements. By the combat handgun standards of it's day they did not rust, ever.

Confederate
June 2, 2012, 11:46 PM
The four most influential pistols of the 20th Century are, in my view:

1) Colt 1911
2) Browning Hi-Power
3) Beretta 92
4) Glock 9mm

The word "influential" means that they had more influence on the development of other automatic pistols. No one can dispute the significance of the Ruger .22LR autos or the Walther P-38 or Sig Saurs; however, I'm only limited to four and I don't think the Ruger, Walther or Sig Saur had the influence of the others.

The Colt 1911 clearly deserves a place due to its reliability and durability. It swept away virtually every other auto of its day. And who can doubt Mr. Browning's outstanding hi-capacity and reliable design? When the Government began looking for a rugged, hi-capacity design, the Beretta cleaned the clocks of virtually all comers. It malfunctioned on an average of once every 2,000 rounds while the S&W 459 malfunctioned an average of once every 952 rounds (which is still fantastic). The Model 59s and 39s would have earned a place in my list because some were stainless steel and they would have been very influential, but many just didn't work. Anyway, it was the Beretta that led the way into the generation of the ultra-reliable autos. Finally, who can doubt the influence of the Glock on both autos and revolvers? I don't like Glocks a bit because they're ugly and because they're striker fired. But I can't deny their influence on 20th Century auto pistols.

The Ruger .22s probably deserve a place on my list because they were influential in regards to driving the competition out of business. But they didn't influence the designs of other .22 pistols. Still, they were clearly one of the significant pistols of the 20th Century.

Oh, wait a minute. I completely forgot the Type II Phaser by Gene Coon. It encompassed significantly higher power outputs than the earlier Type I Phasers, which failed to stop the Horta on Janus VI. Although it wasn't released until Stardate 3196.1, it was designed in 1967.

Loosedhorse
June 3, 2012, 12:23 AM
Have you ever field-stripped an HKvp70z?I didn't say "field-stripping"--I said detail stripping. Have you taken an VP70Z down to pins and springs (removing the extractor, the trigger levers, the driver drag lever, the drop safety, etc.)? Not as simple as the Glock, IMHO.

I've handled (not fired) one VP70Z; even took the slide off. It makes the Glock feel well balanced and svelte. Blow-back operation, so heavy pistol (29 oz unloaded; Glock 17 is 22), heavy slide, terribly heavy trigger (15+ lbs?), stiff recoil spring. No slide lock, either.

Not sure any of those features were influential. There's a reason it died (and spawned no copies--as in "not influential"), and the Glock 17 thrived, and spawned many.

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