The other day the blogmeister here at GunsandAmmo.com, Ben O’Brien, dropped me an email, opining it might be fun for me to come up with my thoughts on the world’s ten most influential handguns. Well, it would be fun, except for the fact I would much rather have a limit of 50 or– even better—100 to work with. Space being valuable, I reluctantly trimmed down the list to what you see below. Please bear in mind that the guns selected are not necessarily the first of their breed, or even possibly the best, but they had a tremendous bearing on what was to come. Sorry if I left out your favorite, but there’s a good chance it’s probably somewhere to be found in the top 100. Here we go, in chronological order. By the way, I fudged a little bit, and slipped in one more. Maybe Ben won’t notice.
Scroll through the photo gallery below to read my list, and be sure to leave your valued opinions in the comment section.
<h2>No. 1: WHEELLOCK</h2><b>This</b> is where it all really began. Up until the introduction of the first wheellocks, around 1500, cavalrymen pretty much had to rely on swords, maces, war hammers and lances to carry out their missions. Of course firearms had been around for some time, but hand cannons and matchlocks required the use of two hands for proper operation, and a trooper had plenty to do managing his steed without having to drop the reins to go through some sort of involved manual of arms. The wheellock changed all that. Though it was complicated the mechanism, involving a spring-loaded serrated wheel spinning against an iron pyrite to produce a spark for ignition, for the first time allowed a gun to be carried loaded, primed and ready for action—the very essence of a practical pistol. Though expensive and generally limited to the nobility, the wheellock also found its way into the civilian market. It also led the way for the later flintlock and percussion pistols, and I guess, just about every other kind of handgun.