Colt, Glock, Smith & Wesson… Any time you’re debating what are the very best handguns ever, these iconic names—and a number of other others—need to be included. From traditional cavalry sidearms of the 1800s to as we speak’s correct semi-automatic pistols, handguns have been a continuing supply for innovation and ingenuity. And that’s what impressed us to return in time and spotlight 25 of the very best pistols, handguns, and revolvers in historical past—beginning all the way in which again in 1850 when Colt launched a game-changer that might go on to catch the eyes of troopers and gunslingers alike. Lots of the weapons on this checklist are not accessible, however the impression and affect that they had on handgun design will reside on eternally. Now, onto the checklist.

1. Colt 1851 Navy Revolver

The Colt Revolver Wiki Commons

In manufacturing from 1850 till 1873, the Colt Navy Revolver modified warfare and the world. A lot lighter than the Colt Dragoon of 1847 and initially designated the “Ranger,” the Colt Navy was adored by cavalry troopers, partisan ruffians, and gunslingers like Jesse James and Wild Invoice Hickock. This finest revolver of its time remained common lengthy after the introduction of the fashionable self-contained cartridge. The Colt Navy is a legendary sidearm and might be thought of the primary true preventing handgun.

Learn Subsequent: The Finest Handguns of 2023

1873: The Colt Single Action Army
The Colt Single Motion Military Colt

Possible probably the most iconic handgun in existence, the Colt Single Motion Military gained fame within the holsters of Roosevelt’s Tough Riders and received the West within the palms of males like Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson. Common George Patton additionally carried an 1873 Colt Single Motion Military, which must be all of the endorsement the most effective handguns ever wants to realize fabled standing. Referred to as the Peacemaker, the gun would’ve value you about $17 within the 1870s. Right this moment, you’ll pay 100 occasions that for a present manufacturing 1873 and as a lot as 500 occasions the unique value for a first-generation specimen in good situation.

The Smith & Wesson Model 10 is one of the best revolvers ever
Even a contemporary S&W Mannequin 10 (1899) has a timeless look. Smith & Wesson

Also referred to as the Army & Police or Victory Mannequin, this fixed-sight, double-action revolver has been provided with barrel lengths starting from 2 to six inches, and it’s estimated that greater than six million Mannequin 10s have been manufactured. The revolver noticed service in each World Wars and was chambered in .38 Lengthy Colt, .38 S&W, and .38 Particular. Hundreds of policemen have walked their beats with a Mannequin 10 at their sides. In 1974, S&W launched a heavy-barrel model chambered for the .357 Magnum generally known as the Mannequin 13.

4. The Luger Pistol

The Luger Pistol is one the best pistols ever
The Luger Pistol Luger

The Pistole Parabellum—often known as the Luger—was provided in quite a lot of configurations from 1898 till 1948. It’s the pistol that made the 9mm Parabellum/Luger/9x19mm cartridge well-known (while you consider pistol names, many assume Luger), and now the most well-liked pistol cartridge on this planet. The Luger was utilized by the German Military in World Warfare I and II and has, in a manner, turn into a logo of Nazi Germany. Due to this, it was a longtime favourite handgun for Hollywood villains. The Luger and its distinctive working system primarily died on the finish of WWII, however by then, it had already made historical past.

The colt 1911 is one of the best handguns ever
The long-lasting Colt Colt

Created by John Browning—arguably the best firearm designer of all time—this pistol served the American navy from 1911 till 1990 and remains to be within the holsters of some troopers as we speak. The Colt 1911 helped win two World Wars and stands out as the most copied handgun ever. Lt. Col. Jeff Cooper referred to it because the “Yankee Fist,” and as we speak, the 1911 is extra common than ever earlier than. It dominates the customized handgun market and is obtainable in a number of configurations by many producers.

1915: The Colt Woodsman is a best pistol
The Colt Woodsman Bardbom/Wiki Commons

One other nice John Browning design, the Colt Woodsman was manufactured in varied kinds from 1915 till 1977. It was the primary profitable semi-automatic, rimfire pistol and is taken into account by many to be the very best .22 LR handgun ever. The Woodsman grew to become extremely popular with small sport hunters, trappers, hikers, and outdoorsmen, and it stays extremely popular with collectors, with some variations promoting for as a lot as $4,000.

1927: The Colt Detective Special is a best pistol
The Colt Detective Particular Wiki Commons

This six-shot, steel-framed, two-inch-barreled, double-action revolver was immediately interesting to these searching for the very best pistol that might be simply hid. It was one of many first of what would quickly be known as “snub-nose” revolvers and provided in .32 New Police, .38 New Police, and .38 Particular. The latter chambering did certainly turn into common with plain-clothes detectives and different lawmen who labored the desk and undercover jobs.

1931: The S&W K22
The S&W K22 Smith & Wesson

You’d by no means assume {that a} high-quality, double-action revolver (with a six-inch barrel and Circassian walnut grips) chambered for the .22 Lengthy Rifle, may have been a hit—particularly contemplating that it was launched through the despair. However between 1931 and 1939, Smith & Wesson offered greater than 17,000 K22s. It’s probably the most badass pistols ever. With a crisp, single-action set off pull and a assure to shoot inside 1.5 inches at 50 yards, this gun grew to become an instantaneous traditional and was the forerunner to a protracted line of .22 rimfire revolvers from Smith & Wesson.

1931: The Walther PPK
The Walther PPK Walther

The Walther PPK (Polizeipistole Kriminalmodell or Police Pistol Detective Mannequin) is a blow-back, semi-auto with an uncovered hammer and a standard double-action set off. It has been provided in all kinds of configurations and has been chambered for a number of cartridges; most notably the .380 ACP or 9mm Kurtz. This finest pistol reached meteoric fame because the sidearm of the fictional particular agent, James Bond, and can eternally be generally known as 007′s pistol. Compact however heavy, the steel-framed PPK is a good private sidearm, and they’re now manufactured in Fort Smith, Arkansas.

1935: The Browning Hi-Power
The Browning Hello-Energy Wiki Commons

In its prototype type—as designed by John Browning—the Browning Hello-Energy was a striker-fired 9mm pistol with a double-stack journal, link-less barrel, and a pivoting, revolver-like set off. Appears like a Glock, proper? In its ultimate type, the handgun grew to become a single-action, hammer-fired pistol, and would finally be utilized by extra navy models than every other handgun. The Browning Hello-Energy was the primary wonder-nine, and it laid the inspiration for contemporary defensive handgun design as we all know it as we speak. It’s actually the most effective handguns ever.

1949: The Ruger Standard Model
The Ruger Normal Mannequin Ruger

The Ruger Normal Mannequin was the start of an organization generally known as Sturm, Ruger & Co.—which, by the way in which, was based with a $50,000 funding. The design is exclusive in that the pistol’s slide is inner, and the present mannequin stays similar to the unique. The gun is now in its fourth iteration, and there have been greater than two dozen variations of this handgun. An impressive pistol for the brand new shooter, small-game hunter, or handgun for outdoorsmen, as we speak the Normal MK IV, which is way simpler to field-strip than the unique, retails for greater than ten occasions the unique value.

1950: The S&W Model 36
The S&W Mannequin 36 Smith & Wesson

Launched on the 1950 Worldwide Affiliation of Chiefs of Police conference, the S&W Mannequin 36 would finally be identified by one of many coolest pistol names ever: the “Chief’s Particular.” This identify identify happened, reasonably uniquely, by way of a vote held on the conference. The traditional handgun was an instantaneous success and was initially accessible with both a blued or nickel end. This five-round, double-action revolver has served law-enforcement officers effectively as an obligation gun for detectives and directors, and as an ankle or back-up gun for patrol officers.

1953: The Ruger Single Six
The Ruger Single Six Stephen Z / Flickr

The Fifties have been the heyday of the tv western. Reveals like Gunsmoke pulled the little little bit of cowboy that was in all of us to the floor, and the world was ripe for a .22 LR single-action revolver that hearkened to the Previous West. Throughout its 66-year historical past, the Ruger Single Six has been chambered for the .22 LR, .22 Magnum, .17 HMR, and even the .32 H&R Magnum. With barrel lengths starting from 4 ⅝ to 9 ½ inches, the Single Six grew to become one of many best-selling firearms Ruger ever produced. Nice for brand spanking new shooters and hunters, this traditional handgun remains to be in manufacturing with the choice of 6-, 7-, 9-, and 10-shot cylinders.

The 2020 Colt Python.
The (newly relaunched) Colt Python Colt’s Manufacturing Firm LLC

The Colt Python has a popularity for a easy set off pull, tight lock-up, and accuracy. It’s described by many because the best manufacturing double-action revolver ever made. Immortalized in a two-tone format by Robert Blake within the film, Electra Glide in Blue, the Python was adopted by a number of state freeway patrol departments and could be the Rolls Royce of revolvers. Discontinued in 2005, used examples in good situation command outlandish costs, generally fetching greater than $10,000.

1955: The S&W Model 39
The S&W Mannequin 39 Wiki Commons

This finest pistol has the excellence of being the primary U.S. designed/manufactured double-action, semi-automatic pistol marketed in america. The Mannequin 39 was chambered for 9mm Luger and was designed by S&W on the request of the Military to be an American equal to the Walther P38. The de-cocker and 8-round, single-stack journal have been like these on the P38, however it had a locking mechanism much like the Browning Hello-Energy. The Mannequin 39′s true contribution was that after adoption by the Illinois State Police in 1967, it set the stage for a swap to semi-automatic handguns by American regulation enforcement. It additionally served because the forerunner to the higher-capacity Mannequin 59—and plenty of aluminum- and steel-framed S&W pistols—that so many police companies would fall in love with.

1955: The Ruger Blackhawk
The Ruger Blackhawk Ruger

Following on the heels of the Single Six, Ruger’s subsequent logical step was to design a extra highly effective single-action revolver. They selected the Blackhawk and initially produced the revolver in .38 Particular/.357 Magnum. It has since been chambered in a large assortment of cartridges. In a number of circumstances, Blackhawks have been known as “convertibles” and offered with two cylinders, equivalent to .45 ACP and .45 LC. The fixed-sight Vaquero model, provided in 1993, took gross sales to the stratosphere due to the recognition of cowboy-action taking pictures on the time. It has been produced in a shocking array of variations and remains to be accessible as we speak for lower than $700. The Ruger Blackhawk has turn into one in all finest hand handguns ever and probably the most profitable American made firearms.

17. Remington XP 100

1961: Remington XP 100
The Remington XP 100 Wiki Commons

An oddity for certain, the Remington XP 100 is a bolt motion pistol supposed for looking and silhouette taking pictures. It additionally has the distinctive distinction of being the forerunner to a rifle—Remington’s Mannequin 600. The XP 100′s centrally-located grip allowed the long-barreled handgun to steadiness effectively, and till the introduction of the Thompson/Middle Contender, it was the most well-liked handgun for goal shooters and handgun hunters. The XP 100 was chambered for quite a lot of cartridges together with the .308 Winchester and .35 Remington. The gun was discontinued in 1998, however it might need been forward of its time contemplating that in 2019, Remington launched an identical handgun known as the 700 CP.

1967: The T/C Contender
The T/C Contender Thompson/Middle

This single-shot, break-open handgun grew to become extremely popular as a result of homeowners may purchase extra barrels chambered for a big selection of cartridges–from .22 LR as much as .45-70. The Contender has an awesome popularity as probably the most correct handguns, and it primarily introduced concerning the finish of Remington’s XP 100. Like with the XP 100, the Contender developed right into a rifle, and with the addition of longer barrels and buttstocks, shooters had quite a lot of versatility. The Contender and the newer Encore are nonetheless offered as a form of build-your-own system.

1975: The Beretta 92
The Beretta 92 Beretta

The Beretta 92 has a particular look as a result of the slide doesn’t fully enclose the barrel. The traditional pistol has a slide-mounted security/de-cocker and a protracted, usually described as “tedious,” set off pull. None the much less, in 1985, the U.S. Military adopted the Beretta M9 as the usual sidearm, after which the complaining started. This was partly as a result of it was chambered for 9mm Luger as a substitute of .45 ACP, and likewise as a result of it was not American made. Nonetheless, the Beretta M9 proved dependable, and as a consequence of U.S. navy use, its recognition skyrocketed.

1975: CZ 75
CZ 75 CZ USA

Although broadly distributed, this Czechoslovakian-made pistol was not offered in that nation till it was a decade previous. Now it’s the usual sidearm of the Czech Police. Much like the Browning Hello-Energy in that it makes use of a link-less, locked-breach barrel, the CZ 75 differs in that it’s a double-action. In contrast to most semi-automatic pistols, the slide rails on the CZ 75 journey on the within of the grip body. CZ 75s have an awesome popularity for reliability and accuracy, and there’s a wide selection of variants now provided with retail costs beginning at about $600.

1980: The S&W Model 686
The S&W Mannequin 686 Smith & Wesson

Smith & Wesson’s Mannequin 686 is without doubt one of the finest revolvers ever created—and probably the most profitable. There are greater than a dozen variants with barrel lengths starting from 2.5 to six inches, and at one time, the 4-inch model was probably the most prolific sidearms for regulation enforcement. At 48 ounces, it’s heavy sufficient to dampen .357 Magnum recoil, and these revolvers have an uncanny report of reliability and accuracy.

1982: The Glock 17
The Glock 17 Glock

The Glock 17 was the primary of an in depth line of polymer handguns to be provided by the Austrian producer. Now in its fifth technology, the Glock 17 has turn into probably the most acknowledged weapons and pistol names on this planet, and as we speak a Glock, in some type or one other, probably fills the holsters of extra policemen than every other handgun. Primarily the design is nothing greater than a modification of the 1935 Browning Hello-Energy, and the 17, like all Glocks, has a high-quality popularity for reliability and sturdiness. Due to their efficiency for the worth, Glocks are one of many widest distributed handguns on this planet.

2014: The Ruger Single Seven
The Ruger Single Seven Ruger

In 2014, Ruger took their iconic Single Six revolver and chambered it for the .327 Federal Magnum. Additionally they drilled seven holes as a substitute of six into the cylinder. Provided in three barrel lengths—4 ⅝, 5 ½, and seven inches—this finest revolver grew to become an instantaneous hit as a result of it lastly housed the potent .327 in a handgun becoming of its service. With the power to additionally chamber and fireplace .32 ACP, .32 Quick, .32 Lengthy, and .32 H&R Magnum ammunition, Ruger primarily created the final word path/camp gun.

2014: Sig Sauer P320
Sig Sauer P320 SIG SAUER

Aside from its very nice set off, there’s nothing actually ground-breaking concerning the design of the Sig Sauer P320. You could possibly say it’s simply one other polymer-framed, striker-fired, double-stack, 9mm handgun. Nonetheless, in 2018, the P320 was chosen as the usual problem sidearm of america Military and named the M17. That alone qualifies it as one of many biggest handguns of all time. Sig Sauer provides a big selection of P320 variants to incorporate a civilian model of the M17.

2017: The Wilson Combat EDC X9
The Wilson Fight EDC X9 Wilson Fight

It might be argued that the three finest fashionable preventing pistols are the 1911, Browning Hello-Energy, and Glock 17. What in the event you may mix the very best options of all three of these pistols? Effectively, that’s precisely what Wilson Fight did. The EDC X9 operates like a 1911, has the ultra-comfortable grip of a Hello-Energy, and the capability and measurement of a Glock 17. Out there with or with out an adjunct rail, the EDC X9 is kind of probably the very best preventing pistol ever made—and at round $2,895, it’s priced accordingly.

Honorable Mentions: 5 of the Finest Handguns Ever

The Remington Mannequin 1875

When of us consider cowboy weapons, it’s most frequently the Colt Peacemaker that involves thoughts. Nonetheless, there was one other single-action revolver that, whereas not as well-known, was simply as dependable. Remington’s 1875 grew to become a cherished sidearm of many western lawmen and villains. It was additionally the handgun of alternative for Frederick Russel Burnham, an American who served because the Chief of Scouts for the British Military in South Africa through the Boer Warfare, and who was additionally the inspiration for the worldwide Boy Scout motion based by Robert Baden Powell.

The Walther P38

This was the service pistol of the Wehrmacht—the unified armed forces of Nazi German—originally of World Warfare II. Although not as well-known in popular culture because the German Luger (1902), the P38 was a cherished battlefield prize for American troopers. It was the primary locked-breach pistol to make use of a double/single-action set off. A testomony to its design is that it’s been utilized in a variety of navy conflicts whilst current as 2017.

The Ruger LCR

In 1982, Glock revolutionized the semi-automatic handgun with the polymer body. Some appreciated it, some liked it, and a few nonetheless hate it. The identical may in all probability be stated for Ruger’s LCR. As the primary profitable revolver with a polymer body—grip and set off housing—it weighs 50 % lower than the Ruger SP 101, which is Ruger’s different compact revolver. The LCR can be inexpensive and accessible in .22 LR, .22 WMR, .327 Federal Magnum, .38 Particular, 9mm, and .357 Magnum, with or and not using a hammer.

S&W Defend

The Defend is a compact, semi-automatic pistol in Smith & Wesson’s M&P Line. It has the excellence of being probably the most comfortable-to-hold and -shoot sub-compact semi-auto handguns ever—even as we speak eight years after its introduction. It’s accessible in 9mm and 40 S&W, and a forty five ACP model—that’s barely bigger—can be accessible.

SIG P365

Launched to nice fanfare, the Sig Sauer P365 lived as much as expectations. It is a micro-compact, polymer framed, striker fired semi-automatic, particularly designed from the bottom up for day-after-day—12 months a 12 months—carry. In contrast to many 9mm semi-automatics this small, the P365 makes use of a double-stacked journal giving it a 10-round capability. Twelve- and 15-round magazines are additionally accessible, and this pistol will deal with +P ammunition.

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