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American Rifleman's Top 10 Handguns

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by Brian Williams, Aug 17, 2009.

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  1. Brian Williams

    Brian Williams Moderator Emeritus

    Dec 22, 2002
    Kampong Cham, Cambodia
    Do you agree or not and where.

    1. 1911
    2. S&W Hand Ejectors
    3. Glock 17 and varients
    4. S&W Model one
    5. Volcanic Volitional Repeater
    6. Colt's SAA
    7. Walther PP, PPK, PPK/S
    8. C96 Mauser Broomhandle
    9. Browning Hi Power
    10 S&W Reg Magnum.

    Not sure about the Volcanic and the P-08 Luger would also be high on my list.
  2. CoRoMo

    CoRoMo Member

    Sep 21, 2007
    Californicated Colorado
    What?!!? The P3AT isn't on there?!!?:neener:

    But seriously, I would have liked to see one of Ruger's revolvers on there.
  3. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    Sep 17, 2007
    Eastern KS
    I just got the mag in the mail today and haven't even cracked it open.
    So, without knowing the criteria they used, I can't say.

    Some of the choices appear to be based on collector value more then any lasting impact on firearms design. Volcanic & Broomhandle Mauser?

    Others, like the 1911, SAA, and Glock have been earth shattering designs that shook the industry to this day.
    Model #1 = First succsessful cartridge revolver, but not the first cartridge handgun?

    The Hand Ejector & Regestered Magnum?
    Kind of an overlap seems like.
    The Regestered Magnum is basically a Hand Ejector.
    The .357 was the first Magnum Revolver cartridge, not an earth shattering gun design.
    PPK = Early double action semi-auto, but maybe not the first or the best.
    BHP = First high-cap 9mm.

    Just hard to get my head around what they were thinking, or what were they picking.
    Guess I better read the story!

  4. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    Nov 20, 2006
    1. 1911
    2. S&W Hand Ejectors
    3. Browning Hi Power
    4. S&W Reg Magnum
    5. Colt's SAA
    6. C96 Mauser Broomhandle
    7. Walther PP, PPK, PPK/S
    8. S&W Model one
    9. Glock 17 and varients
    10 Volcanic Volitional Repeater ??
  5. LightningJoe

    LightningJoe Member

    Jul 7, 2005
    The good part of Dallas (i.e. not Dallas)
    I'd have to know more about their criteria for "top" status. Given that the impractical Volcanic repeater's on there along with the S&W Model 1, I guess they were picking guns that were mile-markers on the road to modern design and the modern handgun industry. That being the case, I'm not sure what the 1911's doing on there at #1, but whatever.
  6. Oro

    Oro Member

    Sep 22, 2007
    WA state
    +1. I don't see them as worth being on the list at the expense of a few other more important and influential designs. I suppose the Reg. Magnum is there not because of the design but because of the cartridge and it's role in introducing magnum cartridges. But that's ammo design, not handgun design. It doesn't belong on the list in addition to other hand ejectors. I would remove those three at least.

    Things I think have unique roles in modern handgun development that might be list-worthy are:

    1) S&W Model 3's. Technically much more advanced than an SAA, outsold it by a wide margin, and influenced later gun design in a much larger way. I don't think the SAA doesn't belong, but having it and not this model is a logical fault Perhaps they felt they couldn't have both the Model 1 and Model 3 on the list - but the Model 3 is too important to ignore.

    2) S&W 59 - the first true "Wondernine" and very influential. Without it's success, I don't think you'd have seen Glocks and others come along when they did.

    3) Walther P-38 - it just influenced too many later designs to not get some mention. If it had only been high-capacity, it would have been the first "Wondernine."

    I will have to read the article tonight to see what their criteria were; I'm guessing it's in the box.
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2009
  7. searcher451

    searcher451 Member

    Jun 15, 2007
    +1 on the P.38 -- a highly influential design. Among a number of other excellent guns, it spawned the Walther P5, which is as good a handgun as has ever been produced, IMO.
  8. doc2rn

    doc2rn Member

    Aug 6, 2006
    SW Florida
    New B

    Well being an ardent shooter but not a collector I would make a lot of changes.
    1. 1911
    2. Colt Snake Named Revolvers
    3. Glock 19 and varients
    4. Ruger GP100s
    5. Luger 9mm
    6. Sig .380s
    7. Browning Hi Powers
    8. Ruger MKII
    9. Browning Buckmark
    10. AK-47s
  9. earlthegoat2

    earlthegoat2 Member

    Aug 28, 2008
    SE GA
    I do think the 1911 was somewhat rightfully on the top but it scored 39 points higher than the next best one which I think is total horse hockey. Not that 1911s arent overrated by all the gun magazines anyway. Given the critera though it may have been loaded towards the 1911.

    BUT, it was just a top ten list and it isnt meant to be the end all be all and that is stated in the article even. The points criteria was pretty SOP for any of the top ten lists which is to be expected. Nonetheless it is the only article I have read in the magazine so far.

    These are my FAVORITE handguns

    For my list of how they rated them I would probably put the Hi Power as number one because it was used by more militaries for a heck of a long time as opposed to the 1911 used by a few militaries for a briefly longer time. I would probably nix the Volcanic from the list since it contributed more to rifles than handguns. It is true that it is how Smith and Wesson got its start though. I dont know what I would replace it with though maybe the HK P7. That one really shouldnt make the list by their criteria. Maybe the P38 or Beretta 92.
  10. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    The Volcanic strikes me as out of place. It had no effect on handgun development but was the basis for the Henry and three Winchester RIFLES, and gave other makers the idea that a repeating rifle should be lever operated. But no lever action pistols, unless you count movie props.
  11. huntsman

    huntsman Member

    Apr 11, 2003
    ohio's northcoast
    I watched the shows were they did the count down and it really was about ground breaking design or innovation.

    I would have added the Colt Woodsman and Ruger’s .22cal auto and single actions. But it wasn’t best sellers or most popular.
  12. stoveboltgunnut

    stoveboltgunnut Member

    Jun 28, 2009
    As soon as I read that article I knew I would see discussion about it on the gun boards!
  13. HexHead

    HexHead Member

    Dec 15, 2008
    Right. The Volcanic was included because it was the first repeater using self contained ammo. The Mauser Broomhandle because it was the first combat proven semi-auto.

    I don't have any issues with their choices. Then again I own the top 3. ;)

    Okay, my Glock's a 19. :D
  14. kludge

    kludge Member

    Jun 15, 2006
    I think the list is a pretty good one from a historical perspective being "the most important handguns of all time".

    I think the Ruger Blackhawk should have been on the list, I bet it was #11 in the voting. In fact I would put the Blackhawk ahead of the Registered Magnum in importance.
  15. tipoc

    tipoc Member

    Mar 9, 2006
    The PP, PPK, and PPK/S make sense, they were the first widely used and distributed da/sa semi. Used by civilians, law enforcement and the military their success laid the ground work for the P38. It's success laid the ground work for every da/sa pistol that followed. Not many handguns introduced in the late 1920s are still widely used and in production today. Walther's design is one. Timeless.

    I woulda laid off the volcanic and the reg. Magnum. I'll have to read their thinking on those. The Reg. Magnum was influential in terms of marketing though and as the first Magnum.

    A nod should go to Ruger but for the development of casting in the manufacture of handguns and long guns.

  16. GRIZ22

    GRIZ22 Member

    Nov 4, 2006
    +1 on the P.38 -- a highly influential design. Among a number of other excellent guns, it spawned the Walther P5, which is as good a handgun as has ever been produced, IMO.

    Keep in mind that the P38 uses the DA/SA trigger design of the PP/PPK as did S&W and others.
  17. Ghost Walker

    Ghost Walker Member

    Jul 1, 2005
    Not any of the Walther PP's. The Walther P-38 is the one that should have been on that list. Volcanic frigg 'in what? And, scratch the anemic and seldom used S&W Model #1; it was a toy. Add the S&W Models 52 and 41. Whatever happened to S&W's Model 29? Colt's SAA AND the 1851/61 Navy Models should have come before Glock, too.
  18. Ala Dan

    Ala Dan Member in memoriam

    Dec 24, 2002
    Home Of The First Capitol Of The Confederate State
    My TOP 10~!

    01. 1911
    02. SIG P210
    03. S&W "Registered Magnum"
    04. Colt SAA
    05. Browning Hi-Power
    06. Walther PP-PPK, and PPK/S
    07. Broomhandle Mauser
    08. Seecamp LWS-32 and LS-380
    09. S&W model 19
    10. (TIE) West German SIG-SAUER P220 and P228

    And, there you have it my friends~! ;) :)
  19. earlthegoat2

    earlthegoat2 Member

    Aug 28, 2008
    SE GA
    The Seecamp was definitely a breakthrough, especially if sales of pistols today are concerned.
  20. Dr.Rob

    Dr.Rob Moderator Staff Member

    Dec 23, 2002
    Centennial, CO
    1. Colt 1911. JMB gets my top nod for people (well Americans at any rate) still arguing between a bone stock pistol and one with all the doo-dads, whether it be lasers, rails, lights, flared magazine wells or bayonets, the GUTS are still Browning, whose tilting barrel design is still being copied.
    2. Glock. I have Glock the nod for the first commercially successful plastic wondergun, add polygonal rifling and a great marketing team and you have a pretty solid argument for Glock being on the list.
    3. Walther P-series. This is more abouth the nod to DA/SA pistols so common now, But rather than talk about the small guns, I mean the full sized P-38. many pistols borrow heavily from this design. Served from 1938 well into the 80's.
    4. Browning Hi-Power. The first 'wondernine' still being used all over the world, still being produced. Like the 1911, key features are still being copied.
    5. FN Five-Seven. While I DON'T own one, this pistol may well represent 'the next leap forward' in design and engineering of handguns. This was a tough one to put on the list.
    6. Luger P-08, while it's an evolutionary dead end (how many toggle action hand fitted forged part pistols are still being made?) its innovation and mystique kept this pistol in front line duty for 2 world wars, though it's time has long past.
    7. Mauser C96, first viable/reliable automatic made in large numbers. Sure there were Borcharts and Dreyses and such, but this design lasted well into the 30's.
    8. Smith and Wesson Hand Ejector. Most prolific action? Still made as the model 10 M&P and arguably one of the most influential handguns on the planet, quietly so. Even with 'bigger magnum' calibers this basic design is still used today.
    9. Colt SAA, While ether were earlier cartridge handguns this was by the far the most successful until...
    10. Colt Patterson, without this innovation we might still be shooting pepperboxes.

    I almost added the Colt Navy between 9-10 but even with mass numbers produced, Army and Navy Colts are still muzzle loaders. SW changed the game with cartidges, but did not outsell Colt revolvers until the 50's.
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2009
  21. Dr_2_B

    Dr_2_B Member

    Jan 4, 2006
    Yeah, I always wonder what the criteria is
  22. memphisjim

    memphisjim Member

    Jul 15, 2008
    thats tough like trying to pick the top ten greatest heavyweight fighters of all time
    i keep flip flopping
    only thing for sure is move the peacemaker up
  23. Quentin

    Quentin Member

    Jul 30, 2005
    NorthWest USA
    Impossible to narrow down to a Top Ten but here goes:

    1. 1911A1 (I own 2)
    2. Browning Hi-Power (own 1)
    3. S&W Model 19/66 (own 2)
    4. Glock varients (own 0)
    5. Ruger MKII (own 3)
    6. P08 Luger (own 2)
    7. Colt SAA (own 0)
    8. Walther P38 (own 0)
    9. Colt Woodsman (own 0)
    10. S&W Model 29 (own 0)
  24. farscott

    farscott Member

    Dec 29, 2002
    Athens, AL, USA
    I read the article last night, and the criteria was less than clear. While it clearly stated that only handguns firing metallic cartridges were eligible for inclusion (eliminating the Colt Patterson and other worthies), some of the other criteria seemed at odds with the outcome.

    For example, the Mauser C96 makes the list but the Luger does not. Okay, the Mauser C96 was the first semi-auto to acquit itself in combat, but the Luger gave us the 9x19 cartridge as well as serving in two world wars. It was also included in some of the original testing that led to the 1911 being adopted.

    The inclusion of the S&W Registered Magnum makes no sense as it is addressed in the S&W Hand Ejectors choice and itself provided no advance in handgun design. It was a Hand Ejector with more options, a lengthened cartridge, and a better finish. An important gun, yes, but not a top 10 in design of all time.

    The Browning Hi-Power's inclusion on the list versus the P-08 or P-38 makes no sense to me. Other than the double-column box magazine and the simplification of the Browning recoil design, the Hi-Power's historic significance is the sheer number of people and governments that have used it. Well, that is what is also significant about the P-08 and P-38.

    The H&K P7 should also be on the list as it was one of the first successful attempts to make a pistol that has an intrinsic safety that is deactivated without conscious effort by getting ready to fire and reactivated without any effort by the user. The P7 redefined what a safety could be. The combination of the squeeze cocker and the gas-retarded blowback were a milestone in design and ergonomics.

    The SAA, Glock, and 1911 inclusions on the list were expected. I did expect to see the Ruger Standard/MK I/MK II/MK III pistol and/or the Colt Woodsman on the list. Those pistols filled a huge demand for the .22 LR in autoloading pistols, and the former led to the success of Sturm, Ruger and Company. Without the Ruger Standard, there is no Single-Six, Blackhawk, etc.

    Good topic as it surely will drive discussion.
  25. messerist

    messerist Member

    Jan 17, 2009
    Faribault Minnesota
    I concur with Dr. Rob. They included the Colt SAA but none of the revolvers that led to it's development. The Patterson or Walker should have made the list.
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