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From the History Books Handguns Revolvers

What’s the Most Beautiful Handgun Ever Made?

by Garry James   |  September 14th, 2011 270

What’s the most beautiful handgun ever made? That’s an interesting question on many levels. 

Of course looks are pretty personal, and what is attractive to one person, might not be all that wonderful to another. Still, there are some constants. The “golden mean” has withstood the test of time as have the works of many artists, architects and authors.

But, when you get into the realm of mechanical contrivances, especially firearms, another factor enters into the equation—form vs. function. Can something be truly beautiful, even it if doesn’t work all that well. Good point and one for the aesthetes and the utilitarians to argue about.

For this purpose, as it is my blog, I’m setting the parameters. We are going to look principally at lines. I seem to end up looking at my guns more than I shoot them, anyway. To me something truly beautiful should have certain timelessness about it—not something easily pegged to a particular period. Of course most gun people are going to have a vague idea about when a piece was made, but if a certain piece is presented to a non-firearms enthusiast, it should be able to hold its own on beauty alone—and we’re not necessarily talking gussying up something with all sorts  superfluous embellishments. No, it must stand on its own—bare, naked.

In the gallery below is my choice for the most beautiful handgun of all time, along with four runners up.

OK, now it’s your turn. UPDATE: See my picks for the top five ugliest guns ever made.

  • Art Wills

    Too bad you don't have a picture of an artillery Luger. This is a standard P08 with the short barrel.

    • http://n/a Rick Hamby

      Looks like they fied that !

    • Bart

      Are you wearing your glasses? This IS an Artillery Luger. The standard had a 4" barrel and no adjustable sights.

    • Charles Woznak

      You think that's a short barrel? How long is a "long" barrel?

      • Dave

        The earlier photo was a standard P08. They fixed the error that Mr. Wills commented upon.

    • dirtyharry

      I'd say Colt Python, which I've owned and passed down to my son. The most stunning blue ever made!

    • Robert Johnston

      Wrongo there, Art m'junge!
      The short-barreled PO8 was called the "Bolo" model, with a 100mm barrel. This weapon was also sold to Soviet Russia, hence the "Bolo" nickname.

      The "Langebusche" Luger was known as the "Artillery" or "Fortress" model. It had a 7.5 inch barrel, and was fed from a 32 round "snail" magazine.

      Hope this helps!

  • Vernon A Corea

    Certainly an outstanding selection.

    • ray metcalf

      no 1911 ?

      its not just a looker but time tested beuty

      • Bill

        I totally agree. My Colt Combat Commander is beautiful, accurate and performes flawlessly:D

      • james west

        Agreed i think the 1911 should definitely be in this group

      • Thomas E.

        I fell in love with the XP100 especially some of the custom stocked rear grip ones. OH MY!!!! Still one of a few that makes the heart go pitter patter!!!

  • Bruce Leonardo

    Definatly a nice peice of work. Unfortunatly I have a Ubreti reproduction of the 1860 Army. It is non fluted & I do like black powder besides regular modern weapons. Also built a Hawken .50 cal flint lock from a kit. That was fun & fires ok

    • Chuck McCord


      Please contact me as I have a LOT of questions concerning "building" a long rifle. I am more interested in the wood but, I do appreciate the gun too. I am retired so the time is my own….

      I would like to know, where to buy a kit, building one, the work involved etc etc etc I have never built ANYTHING, but very fascinated indeed.

      Chuck McCord

  • Ted Guis

    all nice guns but I think a 6 inch blued Colt Python should be included

    • Roy

      I absolutely agree. I have had a Colt Python, blued of course, sine 1964 and it is my prized possession among my gun collection

    • Motomo

      I definitely agree with you! How can they even think to compare a ugly luger and not the Python?!!!

    • Tracy Thorleifson

      Roger that!

    • Mike Hobbs

      Ted, you hit it right on the money! First thing I thought of was my best friend's Python. Fit, finish, and eye catching aethetics make the Python easily one of if not the most beautiful handgun in the world!!

      • Tom

        Like the first 2. Python should be in there though. Mine's a stainless with factory rubber grips. The blue model does look better with the Colt Wooden grips. If I had it to do over…. For the last 2 I would sub a Colt SAA and an early original M1911. (nothing gaudy)

    • Stan Cothern

      Couldn't agree more! Have owned a six incher and a two and a half. The six inch barrel is a true work of art.

    • Arrel Doane

      I owned one and agree!

    • Wayne Maxwell

      Yeah! A 6 inch Python ABSOLUTLY! Wish I still had mine. Oh well.

    • Denny

      That indeed would fit the bill

    • retire tpr

      A 4" Colt Python was what I carried, on duty, for over 20 years. The lines are timeless and the Colt Royal Blue Bluing was, by far, the most beautiful bluing that I have ever seen on any firearm. The Python was also a very accurate shooter!

    • Rick246

      Absolutely! The Python would be my choice.

  • David Schwimmert

    I would suggest the Walther PP or others in the series as more aesthetic than the Mauser (and still in production). The PP's don't have that strange chunk of metal in front of the trigger guard, but basically have the same lines. They also shoot better than the Mauser.

    • mikey

      WOW! I have one of these (#5) new unfired in the box….wonder what it's worth???

    • Jim Light

      How about the Colt 45 SAA? You can't beat an old engraved SAA with Ivory grips.

      • Gary E.

        Nothing better than than a Colt SAA.. …

    • adainv

      I have a PP but they have a real tendency to bite you if you have your hand to high on the backstrap. This is not a good feature!

      • http://btinternet r w black

        walther pp 380 check the right hand side of the frame below the transfer bar and ejector they have a tendancy to fracture at this juncture also the firing pin were it locks up with the safety catch this can lead to full auto discharge even with safe applied

    • Dave

      I Have the HSC and the lines flow better, the action is lighter, and the hammer won't snag on your pocket. Now my Walther P99, that's a Beuty!

    • retire tpr

      The Walther PP is a nice weapon, and I own one, but they have one BIG problem; they bite real bad if you have your hand a bit high on the grip!

  • Bernard Weiner

    They are all beautiful. All guns have their features but they are all beautiful in their own way.

    • Bill

      So true:D

  • Doug

    Glock trumps all five.

    • paul


    • Robert L. Mead

      Mr. Guis, You are soooo correct.

    • Robert L. Mead

      Glock is the ugliest POS ever concocted

      • Barry

        Glock will take a beating and all sorts of abuse and still work like a charm. I agree, it's not the most beautiful gun in the world, but it may well be the toughest! Sometimes, beauty lies in the function rather than the visual.

        • John

          True, but I sold my Glock 23 and bought a Kahr. Had to have a better looking gun.

          • adainv

            I have a Glock 23 with a LaserMax sight. If I need to use it, I doubt that the bad guy is going to be concerned about the looks of my handgun. He is going to be more concerned about the leakage from the hole in himself!

      • adainv

        The Glock may be ugly but if you need something that s guaranteed to go bang when your life depends on it, this is the handgun of choice.

    • Dale Bailey

      Beauty is as beauty does.I'll take a Colt 1911 over a tupperware 9 for looks or use.

    • Criss Morgan

      That's the first time I have heard the Glock referred to as anything but butt ugly. That is how I regard their looks…butt ugly. Stop a freight train ugly.

    • Steve666

      I'm sorry, but the plastic brick is at the top of the UGLIEST guns ever list!!!

      • Paul

        I have to believe Doug was being sarcastic. Love the choices but there are a few others that could easily make this list.

    • Deacon

      Glock is UGLY – But you buy a Colt 1911 or a Kimber to shoot when you want to — You buy the glock to shoot when you HAVE to. Function saves lives here

      • John

        Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. I love my Glock 22. It's the ultimate example of form and function. It was the first pistol I ever bought. I picked it because I knew that if sh!t ever went down, It wouldn't disappoint me. That in itself makes my Glock beautiful to me.

    • dancenbear

      glocks may be great guns but they are sooooo ugly

    • Rick246

      There has to be a comedian in every group, thanks for the laugh Doug.

  • Gary Vetter

    As a boy, I recall seeing a Browning Medalist and thought it just to handsome to shoot. I was surprised that it didn't make your list.

  • Mike steen

    1. Hummm OK

    2. Good pick

    3. Not at all, maybe HK45C

    4. eye of the beholder here, Luger is an ugly gun. do you think it is prettier than a Colt Woodsman

    5. OK

  • steve comus

    As one would expect, your choices are superb — especially your top pick. Well done. Steve Comus

  • MotoJB

    Choices are not superb…how can one omit the 1911?

  • George Sword

    I'll still take ole slab sides the faithful 1911 45 ACP!!

    • Rev. Muddy

      The 70 Series Colt Goverment Model with it's Deep Mirror like Blued finish and correct walnut grips takes my breath away every time. The 1911 is the most copied gun on the planet…Gets the job done too. Rev. Muddy

  • Kent Bosworth

    Pictured Luger is not an Artillery model, but a common 4" military variant. Gee, guys!

  • T.D.

    My vote is a '70 Series Colt Combat Commander in brushed nickel finish and original Colt walnut grips, uncheckered.

    • KDR

      I have a model 70 Combat Commander brushed nickel w/original Colt grips & I'm the original owner. I have many pistols but that one is my favorite.

  • Dick

    Of those shown, I'd have to go with the 1860 . . . but the Browning Hi-Power should certainly be among the finalists.

    • Sean

      That is what I was thinking. I may be biased, as there is a very pretty Hi-Power on my hip right now.

    • Ray

      The Hi-Power is the arabian stallion of handguns. Beautiful lines, fast and nimble. Also like a beautiful woman. She bulges in the right places and is slender in the right places. Your hands just naturally flow to the right places.

      • Dave

        Your right, I have a P35 (first Hipower) and the lines are elegant, plus the first ever double stack magazine, deserves mention!

  • Mark Younger

    No 1911???

    No Harpers Ferry 1805 Pistol – it's on the Marines Coat of Arms and Branch Plaque

    • Garry James

      Mark, I seem to remember it being on the Military Police insigina as well. As I was in the Army for five years, that does not necessarily provoke any wonderful memories.

    • Coffee

      Mark, Semper-Fi, carried a 1911-A1 made by Remington Rand, in Nam, (3 tours). When I needed to use it, it was a thing of beauty. Saved my butt a few times. Coffee 3rd recon, spec. ops. Gny. Sgt.

  • DBRx

    6" Coly Python blue……. a must have…..

  • Tex Robin

    I disagree with at least two of them and both are european..Add the the 1911 and Browning High Power…bootman

  • Tex Robin

    I disagree with at least two of them and both are european..Add the the 1911 and Browning High Power..

  • Mike Price

    I like the 1860, and Gary it is good to have you back. :)

    • Garry James

      Many thanks. It’s great to be back.

  • Tex Robin

    I disagree with at least two of them and both are european..Add the 1911 and Browning High Power..

  • don

    Blued Colt python is nice

    Colt Python Bright Stainlees is the babe of hand guns.

    • Lanny Montgomery


  • Capwhan

    Gary James really knows his guns! And his collection is way up there. Has to e worth in the millions. I always read his colume in any magazine!

  • Brian Troyer

    Can we please do this contest over again using judges that were born in THIS CENTURY!!! These guns were beautiful in their day yes, but I can't believe an Ed Brown or Les Baer 1911 didn't even make the list. A limited edition CZ 75b with brushed stainless steel is much more attractive than any of the guns on your list too! The people who made this list must have an imagination shorter than Wayne Van Zwoll's shorts!! (No offense Wayne)

    • Garry James

      Brian–any judge born in this century, at best, would be about 12 years old…and I just think you're jealous of Wayne's legs. The CZ is a nice looking pistol, though.

    • Dale Bailey

      How many twelve-year old gun writers do you know?

      • Mike steen

        a… let me think….OH I thought you said act like a 12 year old.

    • Jack B.

      You want 11 year old judges? What are you smoking?

    • Nickpan

      I agree with Brian – although I assume he meant the 20th century. The prettiest and ugliest articles would be more at home in an antique weapon collectors mag. I've never seen so many flintlocks! It's like Top Gear voting Model T Ford as ugliest car.

      May be a good starting point for further articles

      • Garry James

        Ahem, ahem. Basically this is an antique/vintage weapons blog. Modern guns included by sufferance only. It's my intention to try and give the readers a bit of perspective so they can see where all the the new stuff comes from…plus learning about and shooting the oldies can be very rewarding and a heck of a lot of fun.

  • Charles Davis III

    Model 1836 pistol?Most beautiful FLINTLOCK? Look close, Garry. . . . That's a CAPLOCK! ! ! ! ! !

    (And. even though I own one, Glocks are in the Top 5 Butt-Uglys!_

    • Charles Davis III

      Nice 'quick-change' editing there, G&A!

    • Barry

      If I could only have one handgun……….make it a Glock. A 9 mm for ease of obtaining ammo. No matter how beautiful a pistol is, if it don't work when needed, it's just plain butt ugly!

  • Matt

    I heartily agree with this choice, except that I prefer the 1861 police, which is very similar, but has slightly more elegant lines. The partial flutes are more attractive.

  • John

    A High Standard Citation , a Colt .45 ACP and a Colt Python are my favorites, but they are not on the list.

    Should I sell them?


      I agree, my High Standard HD Military is the only one of my pistols my wife will shoot because it is so nice looking.

      How about a Colt Diamondback.

  • Thumper47

    90% of firearms are beautiful and fulfill the function…go bang.

    Love 'em!

  • NN

    Gotta be a 1911

  • duane wood

    Model 29, Smith and Wesson .44 Magnum. Like NO other!!

    • PappyCrux

      The Model 29-2 with the 8 3/8 barrel! The deep blue finish with the firing pin on the hammer. That hand-cannon is beauty with a look of danger!

  • William Quick

    The colt cap and ball is pretty, but I much prefer the Remington.

    The luger is a 4" and as butt ugly as the Glocks.

  • PCnotPC

    While I will agree with you on the 1860 Army, the rest: meh.

  • MM

    Beretta 92F

  • sam

    You missed the boat not including the colt 1911

  • 2WarAbnVet

    True. The artillery is much more pleasing to behold, but the rear sight is a detractor. I rather favor the Navy version for pure beauty.

  • Charles Davis III

    This AIN"T an Artillery Luger! An Artillery had adjustable sights!(And my 1940 P-08 is a LOT prettier than this boilerplate!)

    • Charles Davis III

      Nice ‘quick-change’ editing there, Garry!

  • Garry James

    Charles III. You are absolutely correct–what's pictured is a Model 1842. As I didn't supply that photo, I have tried to make amends and send the proper pistol–which I hope they will be able swap out. Also have sent along an Artillery Luger. Some of the picks are wonderful, so far, but I have to admit, as great a gun as it is, to me, the 1911 will never win any beauty contests–runs somewhere between Quasimodo and Joseph Merrick. I too like the Woodsman (especially in the Bullseye Match Target guise, and the Python. Lovely

    • Tim McNamara

      Comparing the 1911 to the Elephant man and Quasimodo? Gary, I think old slab sides is the Lincoln Continental of handguns. Understated and dignified, there is strength and power in every angle and line. I've spent many an evening enjoying the uncompromising angularity on an old Remington Rand that I have had for many years. I wish the old girl could talk. I Enjoy your articles !

  • Clark W.

    Love the 1860 but to me any list of beautiful handguns that doesn't include a blued Colt Python is incomplete.

    • Ken

      Clark W.: I agree totally — yes in 6" — and it could have replaced that ugly Artillery Luger (ever made?): I admit, I am ugly too, but I could get some real stares in the living room, if I mounted that monster alongside my left arm prosthesis over the fireplace…

  • Ben O'Brien

    All the correct photos have been entered. Thanks for keeping us on our toes!

  • KAYR1

    No Colt Single Action Army????

    • mikebike

      1: Colt 1860 (non-fluted!)

      2: Colt 1873 SAA

      3. Walther PP

      4. S&W m29

      5. Luger P08

      6. 1911, or perhaps the 1903?

      Sorry, don't like the Colt D/A-models

  • Ken Bisbee

    should replace the Luger with a Python

  • Tom G.

    What is this DOUG saying? Compare a plastic molded weapon to a hand crafted revolver? Should be Doug the Blindman.

  • Pete

    The most beautiful cap and ball pistol Colt ever produced was the 1862 Pocket Police, not any form of the 1860 Army. For form following function, I agree that the 1911 belongs on the list, along with the second model Woodsman Match Target. This article underscores the truism that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

    • Bentley Fishburne

      I could not agree more with this. I have a 1911 Govt. MK IV Series 80, a 2nd model Woodsman Match Target – and also a Browning Hi-Power to boot (all Browning designs, guys). I wondered why I wanted at least one of all of them. I do like their function and enjoy their form.

  • Dave Eller

    Colt Combat Python. One of 500 made. I'm fortunate enough to own one.

  • Tim McNamara

    I have always thought that form should follow function and I see the beauty of a particular handgun in the excellence of it's design. I see great beauty in the large frame [N] S&W revolvers,especially the early triple locks in blue. I also consider the good old 1911 in royal blue with ivory grips a very handsome piece. Assessing beauty is a highly subjective process. I will concede that the vast majority of modern handguns lack any endearing refinement of form.

  • Garry James

    Pete, lots of people agree with you that the Pocket Police trumps the 1860–its a tough choice–but I just love that full-fluted cylinder and think that gives that version of Army the edge. I don't believe full-flutes were available on the on the '62. Now, if you compare the standard 1860 to the standard 1862, I'd probably have to go with the latter.

  • Luke Brennan

    The Colt Python is by far the most beautiful of all, as a lot of the other posters have already noted! My first was a 6" Blue, which I killed my first handgun deer with some 30 years ago, and many more since then. I also love my 4" blue, and my Custom Shop 6" electroless nickel

  • Pete L.

    Any list that does not include the CZ75, the browning Hi power or the Steyr GB is incomplete.

  • David Kraykovic

    If I were to select what I thought was the most beautiful handgun, I’d choose a 6-inch Smith & Wesson Model 29. I consider that handgun elegant.

  • Joe Six-pack

    In my eye, the most beautiful pistol is a 1960′s era S&W M27 with six-inch barrel, second is a 1960′s era S&W M19 with six-inch barrel.

    • Garry James

      Dave and Joe–you are right, S&W made (and makes) some truly elegant revolvers. A good friend of mine has a late 1920s vintage M&P that is absolutely spectacular.

  • Jon

    Beautiful is the one that shoot where u point time after time. The 1911's do. Don't for get the lowly glocks

    • Bob Owen

      Glocks are blocks. Not very pretty.

  • Black Campbell

    1) CZ-75

    2) Webley Mk I

    3) Adams Pepperbox c. 1830s

    4) Turkish jezails from the 1600s

    5) Walther PPK

  • Jim Wargula

    Top five? I do have to go with the P-08, and definitely would include the Browning High Power, and the 6" Colt Python. Rounding out the set for me would be a Colt Peacemaker and your 1860 Colt. I always thought the Mauser Hsc was sent out before the machining was completed. I don't have much appreciation for the single-shot flint locks; certainly not TWO of them! A much bigger contest would be for the ugliest sidearm; there are so many to choose from!

  • Garry James

    Jim. I like your "ugly" idea. I'll get one going in the next day or so. I'll keep it to my own personal five, and then you all can carry on from there.

  • Frank Mosna

    I like your choice for #1 Gary. I would have included a Colt SAA also. Too bad about all the negative comments. Always enjoy your contributions to the magazine.

  • Bill


    What are you sniffing these days? To exclude the Colt 1873 from the list is not only surprising, but insulting and wrong. The 1860 IS beautiful but doesn't compare with the 1873, the most beautiful handgun ever. then to compound the error by including the little Mauser, which doesn't compare to either the Walter PPK or the small Beretta in looks invalidates your entire list. Sorry buddy, you are usually pretty much right on, but this time you are guilty of 'Hamartia'; murderously, missing the mark.

    • Garry James

      I have nothing against the Colt, SAA–in fact it would definitely make my top 10…but I think Sam Colt is way beyond being insulted. Heck, he never even saw the '73 anyway. The PPK's not at all unpreposessing, I just happen to like the looks of the HSc better. As I said at the beginning, much is in the eye of the beholder. I'd certainly rather carry a PPK than an HSc. While we're at it, the little Remington 51 was a pretty good looker, too.

  • Steve

    The 1860 and the 1872 cartridge conversion are gorgeous but 90% of the beauty is in the feel of the gun it points beautifuly and naturally.

  • Jamie Wixon

    Beautiful guns! Although, I think I may have chosen the Walther PPK over the Mauser.

    I LOVE my Glocks, but I had no expectations of seeing them in this article! LOL

  • one-shot

    1-peacemaker 2model29 3python 4 1911 5blackhawk

    • one-shot

      lets go for the top 100????

    • rayzrface714

      Excellent and also correct choice man!

  • Steve

    I think that the S/W Scofield is right there on top with the 1860, maybe a close second

  • paul obrien

    The colt .45 single action army 4 3/4 inch barrel in bright nickel finish!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THE MOST BEAUTIFUL THING IN THE WORLD EXCEPT FOR BARBRA EDEN!!!!!!!!!!

  • Mike

    not anywhere near what i was expecting…

    i was expecting elaborate engraving, gold/silver inlay, etc.

  • Steve

    Everyone knows that the ugliest gun was the 45 liberator made as cheaply as possible to be given away in world war ll

  • Carl Crisp

    No Single Action Army, no 6" Python in Royal Blue, no 5" Smith Model 27 in Bright Blue, no pre-war 1911,but a semi-blocky, smurvy HSc! Gimme a break, James.

  • Tim

    I must agree with some of the others, the HSC?? What meds are we on today. The Python yes, a Model 19 C.M. a Mod. 29 yeh! But most of these guns modern shooters outside of museums cannot relate to. The Glock, maybe it is plain but like a fine Timex it will take a lickin and keep on tickin.

  • Steve C

    The only time I look at my guns is when I shoot them, dry fire them, change something on them or clean them. I do FEEL the two I carry every day. Just LOOKING at them doesn't make you any better WITH them.

  • KEN L


    I think the problem here, judging by all the input, is there are just too many "most beautiful handguns ever made". I definitely approve of YOUR choice, but I gotta tell ya, I'd be hard pressed to come up with JUST 1. I just have too many favorites!

  • Bob McCarthy

    Ok, #4 maybe, but the rest reflect Gary's vision of yesterday. Give me a gun magazine that is strictly up to date with modern firearms, leaving the antiques to collectors and their dreams of past glory.

    • Garry James

      Rather pedestrian view of things, don't you think? Every gun made today is a reflection and amalgam of past develpments. The original subject was "beauty," which should be timeless. I shoot all of my vintage guns. Many are of higher quality and work better than a lot of today's products. And just because I limited myself to five firearms doesn't mean I don't appreciate scads more. But we get off topic. Honestly, if you don't want to hear about old stuff, you're on the wrong blog.

    • Bob Owen

      You are missing 90% of the gun world. Our greatest stides in firearms are in the antique relm. Look at cowboy action shooting, North-South Skirmish Association, National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association, etc. ,etc., etc.

  • Terry N. Croup

    I think most wheel guns are purty! In answer to an earlier post, the Glock maybe uggers, but sure is beautiful in function.

  • Cyrano

    I'd add the 6 1/2 inch barrel S&W Model 29 to the list. It's the ideal balance between power and barrel length.

    I also think the HsC is not as elegant as the Walther PP and its variants like the PA-63. They belong there.

    There is also a severe simplicity of line to the Tokarev — but only the Yugo Model 57 and any TT-33 that has not had a kludge safety added to it.

  • H Stan Boring, PHC,

    (1)1861 Colt Navy.(2) SAA.(2) 1911.(4) Browning Hi power. (5)Walther P38. To each his own.

    Chief Boring

  • H Stan Boring, PHC,

    Oops! 1911 was number 3.

  • Joe Kidd

    COLT PYTHON with six inch barrel, blue finish.

    • jeffreyjg1

      Agreed! Then I have to go with the early super blued finis on the Super Blackhawk

  • T. Janega

    Who would prefer the 1836 to the 1805 Harper's Ferry? Jas. Manton duelers? Yes. The 1860 Colt? Absolutely! I also love the Colt Python (6"). Gorgeous. My personal favorite though is the Montenegrin Gasser. I wish I could import an image here, but its worth a Google search. Its got the cobby steam-punk esthetic all the way. Although my edc is an automatic, I don't think its beautiful, but "handsome is as handsome does". De gustibus non disputandum est.

    • Garry James

      Had to reply to this one. I love the Montegnegrin Gasser, for all the reasons you mention! Next to a cartridge LeMat it is the ultimate steampunk gun. The 1870 Austrian Gasser is another matter, but I'm assuming your'e talking about the beautifully clunky Belgian-made top breaks that were sold all over Europe before the Great War.

  • Bob Vinas

    Colt single action with Ivory grips and engraving…

  • John

    How can you leave the Beretta 92 off this list. It's very functional, proven and WAY SEXY! The only malfunctions you will have from the open slide is if you limp wrist it. I have a new 92A1 and just put Beretta's Grade 3 Walnut grips with the Gold Trident and Gold screws on it. Maybe it's not so functional anymore since I'd rather look at it and polish it than shoot it.

    Like Sophia Loren and Lana Turner mixed together!

  • dick

    what is the most used rifle for deer hunting????

    • John

      Gotta Be the .30-30 Lever action? No question. It's still being used today dick.

    • Bob Owen

      Wrong blog, but the answer is the Winchester mod. 94 in .30-30.

    • retire tpr

      More deer have been dropped by the Winchester Model 94 in .30-.30, without any doubt!

  • Jim Gibson

    How about a 3 1/2" S&W M27, an early one with the brilliant blue?

  • Ralph

    I think you are ALL wrong, The first rule is blued steel and walut, The Browning Medalist is at the TOP of the list, beautiful wood and deep polished blue

  • Bob Owen

    The Richard's conversion of the Colt 1860 Army is the top choice of mine.

  • Bob Owen

    Garry, when are you going to publish a special edition on civil war firearms for the 150th anniversary?

  • Bob Owen

    the G&A TV series needs to get back to a segment on antique and classic firearms in the theme that you used to present on what is this firearm worth. The series is going down hill on what it used to be.

  • Borehogg

    Merwin, Hulbert & Co. .44 long barrel revolver. Nickel-plated with MOP grips….gorgeous!

    • John

      Absolutely! M&H is my first choice as well with the S&W model 3 as second. I missed a nickel plated model 3 with original ivory grips a few years ago because I had to think about it. MISTAKE!

  • Michael Hedden

    Love the 1860 Army. Have a fluted replica which is as close as I will get to one! Definitly the blued Colt Python in a 6 inch which I have and the 4 inch which I wish that I still had. In fact I had to go look at my 6 inch in the pistol case and thought how much better it would look with the wood grips instead of the rubber. Took a bit of looking but found them and put them back on!

  • Steve

    I own a Richards conversion 1860 its not a shooter my father gave a guy 5.00 for it in 1953. if it was good for Bill… its got to be the best. they sold for 15.00 new

  • robert38-55

    Welcoome back Gary!!!! Really good article ya done here!!!!!! I don't know all the guns from the past,like some of the folks here, I likes all those old handguns from yesteryear!!!!!! I thinks some of those old wheel locks were pretty nice looking.

  • Gil Star

    Eleven year old judges? That's a thought. A list of plastic toy cap guns would be interesting. What about the Webley Fosberry. It reminds me of a young Shirley McClaine. Not conventionally beautiful, but strangely attractive.

  • John

    The Merwin and Hulbert early model revolver and the S&W model 3 and the Korth semi automatic. The Kahr T40 is a beauty as well. You guys are right about the Python , but I never liked the ribbed barrel. I like the S&W model 65 instead.

  • John

    Garry, perhaps you should revisit this with both modern revolvers and pistols as well as antique revolvers and pistols. And then have the ugliest of each. But make it a top ten. I enjoy the pics of all of these great guns. Keep up the good work.

  • http://Google Ronald Sisson

    I have a High Gloss Nickel Colt single action revolver called "The Scout" in 22 caliber that would fit the top ten. I'd also have to say the Colt Python in any finish should be in the top five.

  • bontai Joe

    Interesting list. I too would have picked the Colt Python, and definitely would have chosen the "broom handled" Mauser over the pocket pistol on your list. What makes this type of posting so interesting is that there is no "right" answer, we all have different guns we love and makes for a lively discussion, as well as brings back memories of guns we once had and wish we kept.

  • Nam Marine

    The Colt 1991A1, series 80 in stainless steel! Beautiful!

  • AD

    What's the most beautiful handgun ever made?

    The one that saves your life!

  • Los

    I agree the Mauser Broom handled magazine fed is light years ahead of this ugly little pocket Mauser — I cant say Ive seen an uglier gun after seeing this one NOW! otherwise nice choices

  • adainv

    The Colt Python 4" .357 mag. is by far the most beautiful handgun in the world. I bought one, brand new, in 1963 for $100.00. I carried it, on duty, for over 20 years. I never had a misfire or any problem of any kind during that time. The Royal Blue finish was superb and I have never seen a factory bluing that can even begin to compare to it. I wish that Colt would start manufacturing it again using the same craftsmen that manufactured the original. I would be 1st in line to purchase one no matter what the price!

    • 1911 gunnuts

      you & me both only a 6" vent barrel nickel i had to sell mine in order for family to eat back years ago

  • Tai Chen

    In 1996 we started receiving G&A magazines. Dad and I both thought the other subscribed it. A few months later Dad asked me to go to a gun shop with him. Not knowing much about guns, we picked the best looking guns in the display case. Dad got the Mitchell Arms Luger, and I the two-tone Browning Hi-Power Practical. Within the first 10 shots, the Mitchell Arms front sight fell off. Within the first 100 shots, the shiny barrel bulged. We exchanged that Michell Arms with a Beretta 92FS. We still enjoy the High-Power and 92FS, the later 6" blue Pythons, PPK, SAA and others, but we remember the beautiful Luger lines the most. We never figured out who sent us the G&A magzines,

  • Tai Chen

    My mistake: Dad's "Luger" was a Stoeger, not Mitchell Arms.

  • Brian

    Why is everyone arguing about function. I've never had a problem with my HK P30 and will put it up against the glock any day. Most Beautiful Handgun I would break down to 2 categories- revolver and auto loader. Revolver- Colt SAA

    Honorable Mention- 1861 Colt Navy

    Auto Loader- 44 AutoMag

    Honorable Mention- HK and 1911

  • Mike

    Desert Eagle. Don't believe me? Look at it's movie star credits. Maybe not supermodel beautiful, more of an intimidating "Hi, I'm Desert Eagle. I'm gonna kick your a**, and you're gonna to like it." style.

    Oh, and +1 for the Python.

    • Troy Ragsdale

      i think the ugliest one is the Unique Arms BCF-66

  • Fred Thomas

    To all you Glock reliable owners out there,I admire your choice of a pistol! That leaves the other brands for the people like me that want a good looking reliable pistol,that is not highly overrated. I had two Glocks and was happy the day I traded them off for another brand.

  • Jack Meadows

    Great way to stir things up :) with you on the luger, prefer the octagonal barrel and square back trigger guard on the early 51 Navies. Have to agree on the 6" Python, royal blue, but i would have to add the Broomhandle Mauser and the Colt 1903 Pocket in nickel/ivory (forgive me Gen. Patton, but also pearl). Great topic, can't wait to see your top 5 ugly, though i agree, the Liberator ought to be on that list.

  • Tom Shinn

    First choice OK. Down hill from there. Any Rossi revolver is better looking than a HSc. The S&W K and N frames, the Colt Python for sure on the list. The standard Luger is far better than the ungainly looking Artillery models. A Colt Model P should be there, also.

  • Les Armstrong

    I guess this is mostly a subjective thing. But, contrary to what the general consensus is – the most beautiful pistol in my mind is a Borchardt !! I believe it to be absolute art !! – I see that the Borchardt is on the ugliest list, so again, subjective. "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder !!"

  • stephen

    i believe that the colt model of 1911 is still the most beautiful handgun ever created…the fact that it has lasted this long and with so many makers and incarnations is proof of that.

  • Bill David

    I have two Mauser HSc pistols, they are beautiful.

  • Dana

    To my eyes, the most beautiful handgun ever made is a Smith and Wesson Model 625 with the 5 inch barrel (Model of 1989)

  • Bill

    My top 5 list includes: 1. Colt Single Action Army 2. Colt 1911A1 3. Smith & Wesson Model 29 4. Colt Python 5. Colt 1851 Navy

  • Kevin

    I like my S&W Model 41 1st year long barrel. My Glocks are about dependability. My 1911s are classic. Luger is art. Yes, to Python. Rhino is “Engineering”. Ugly,, that’s High Point, and Nagant.

  • Mack Missiletoe

    1. Ruger Vaquero / Colt SAA 5"-6" barrel

    2. Certain 1911's (full size)

    3. Smith & Wesson 29 wood grip

    4. Kahr T9 / T40

    5. Walther P38 wood grips

  • hicusdicus

    The most beautiful hand gun in the world is the one in your hand at the right time fully loaded and functional.

  • Bronco Bob

    If this guy thinks like this with hand guns,I'd hate to see what his wife looks like.

  • Don

    I also think the blue Python is gorgeous, with the 4" barrel looking the best.

    I also have to go with the S&W Model 29-2, blue, 6 1/2" barrel – when S&W took the firing pin off the hammer (to say nothing of the lock), to me, they lost their trademark look …

  • Mark A

    My vote:

    S&W Model #27-x

    N Frame 4" (3 3/4") barrel


    Colt 1911

  • Mark A

    Glocks are nice and reliable but they look like a 2×4 with a trigger.

  • Parson Henry Brown

    I agree with the Browning Medalist comment. Probably too few have ever seen one. The Series 70 in blue is also a favorite. Anyone remember the S&W nickel M/19 in 4"? It was so slick, like a Lear Jet, it looked like a racer and shot like one, too! However, if I cannot find a 1911 in a crunch you cannot beat the Glock 22 or 17.

    • Quick Draw

      S&W 19 w/2 1/2 barrel. Blue or Nickle. S&W 66 SS same barrel.

  • Doug

    Where is the Colt Peacemaker. or some of the Smith & Wesson wheel guns, there beautiful with long flowing lines and great balance. Like a beautiful woman.

  • Quick Draw

    You forgot the Glock's……..LOL Seriously I think the Colts S&W, Remingtons Winchesters & Brownings deserve mentioning along with a host of others.

  • Dave

    There should be only 1 flintlock on the list. The Python should be on the list and also the Browning Medalist. I also vote for the Colt SAA rather than the cap and ball revolver but either one is OK. But really, how can anyone vote for a Glock? The Glock is the 2nd most attractive pistol ever made. Every thing else tied for 1st.

  • Brian

    44 Auto mag

    • Brian

      Or the Buntline.

  • Yuri

    Just my humble and personal opinion..


    Colt Python?

    Browning Medalist?

    Browning BDA 380?

    CZ 75?


    Rossi Cyclops 6"?

    Hmm .. maybe wold be better if we change the list to "the 20s most …"

  • MMcQuown

    There's a pair of ivory-stocked pistols in the Philadelphia Museum's von Kienbusch collection that should be included. They are carved and decorated beautifully.

  • http://btinternet r w black

    first it is an artilery luger the p08 had a short barrel 31/2 inch -4 "" on the civilian model but the mauser 1896 broomhandle or bolo with canteen stock was much nicer and less prone to dirt black powder douwer or scottish pistol with CLAW BUTT was beautiful

  • Dave

    Don't forget the S&W Schofield Army model.

    1. P-08

    2. 1911

    3. P-35

    4. HSC

    5. Schofield

  • Tank

    IMHO the classic 1873 peacemaker beats them all far as style , but that being said the 1911 has my strong 2nd , the colts 3rd model dragoon is way kool as well

  • Hawk11B

    Another vote for the 1911!

  • Capt. RM Coates

    Ok, the Mauser seems a stretch, even as a runner up. I'll allow the Colt as a close second, but to my thinking, the 1858 through 1870 Remington New Army is by far the most gorgeous handgun of all time. What it lacks in flutes it makes up for in balanced lines owing to the triangular loading lever- and its combination of mechanical magnificence and legendary (Yes I said Legendary) accuracy have to be counted a things of beauty, as well. After that, purely for out-of-this world aesthetics, I'd say the Mauser 1896, WWII issue Luger, and the Lematt.

    • richard dabinett

      I said I'd take the 1860 in nickel. Still would, but after the Remington in nickel.

  • JJ

    I submit the 1847 COLT WALKER.

  • Richard Vermilyea

    I believe the muzzle loaders picked are attractive but irrevelant when speaking of handguns that might still be in use after 150 years service or so. I would delete the front stuffers and add the S&W N-Frame and the Colt roal blue Python. The Mauser I would replace with the Colt 1903 which is just personal subjective preference on my part.

  • Guy Macher

    Freedom Arms 1997 45 Colt 5.5 inch barrel, hardwood grips.



  • wreckdive

    The most beautiful handgun in the world will be the one you were actually carrying WHEN YOU REALLY NEEDED IT.

  • Rich

    The Colt Diamondback comes to mind. I had them in .38 special in all barrel lengths – even had one 4 inch fully engraved in a presentation case. The Colt Python is a close second, but the Diamondback is perfect in form, size and function. Then of course, let's not forget the 1911 .45 ACP – I love the Series 70 National Match.

  • Buck Williams

    Smith & Wesson Model 28. It saved my bacon a couple of times. It was beautiful then and is beautiful now

  • richard dabinett

    I'll go with the 1860, but I want mine nickel plated.

  • D

    Should have included the Sig P210.

  • mike jaral

    357 colt python (I believe) with a 6" barrel.

  • SPKorn

    Hands down: Colt Python, 6", in Royal Blue with ventilated rib. Nothing before or after has been made with it functional beauty, and probably never will again

    Used Python prices backs up its status

    Colt said "cost too much" to continue to produce. Better management would have found a way

  • Nam Marine

    My 1911 Series 80 Government model in Stainless steel with custom walnut Marine Corps, Globe and Anchor grips!

  • Harding

    Despite the owner and his initials in the handles, I believe it is the personal Adolf Hitler Luger, which has gold inlay and incredibly beautiful scroll-work with ivory grip panels. And it's a Walther PP in .380 caliber.

  • Tom

    For sheer beauty, lines that are aesthetically pleasing I'd have to vote for:

    Beretta 92

    Walther PPK

    Granted they are modern firearms, but their styling is simple, timeless and elegant.

  • Gary K.

    love to read all the comments-not into antiques, Ill leave that to the collectors. Hard to leave out the 1911s, my colt that i bought in 1954 in super 38+P has been hanging on my belt for years. My reason to buy it in super 38 was the nine round mag. I spent a lot of time out in the WAYOUT, and the 9 rounds were my SOS if help was needed. Oh, I did carry two extra mags. My fav nowdays is my P-94 Ruger in stainless. It is more comfy to carry and I think more deadly, esp. with PDX loads. Power to the people!

  • Adam Bradley

    I think the list is very solid. That being said, my number one pick is the Beretta Model 70 and in second place is the Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammerless

  • Mika Henrey

    The Japanese government has been talking about moving out of Tokyo since the 1880s. Just saying. Report Comment

  • dancenbear

    while i think all pistols have a certain sexiness about them i would have to disagree with this selection completely my choices would be 1. the mighty 1911 preferably a colt cold cup 2. s&w 686 3. or for the colt guys the python 4. colt ssa done up properly 5. the desert eagle 5. wow! always considered my self a S&W guy but after reading what i wrote here i guess im a colt guy

  • Frank Horn

    The Colt Model 1860 certainly is a good choice, but it is just a forerunner of the iconic Colt Single Action Army, which is what I pick.

  • Uglygun

    Mauser cannot hold a candle to Walther Model 4,
    Browning Hi-Power trumps Luger
    S&W Model 27
    Colt 3rd gen Detective Special
    Less Bauer 1911

  • Terry Perkins

    I don't care if the 1911 is call slab sided. Function and form define beauty and the 1911 has both those down pat. My wife took my Colt Combat Elete, two tone with its 3.5 lb trigger job, beveled loading base, extended mag release,safety, beaver tail and hammer job, "because it's to pretty to be a guy's gun, besides I can hit what I shoot at." In her case at 10 yards two clips in the X ring, not the 10 but X ring. Now I only get to clean it.

  • Spike1point5

    As much as I like the artillery Luger, one of my absolute favourites is the Lemat revolver.

    I think the top 5 are, in no particular order:

    Browning Hi-power (I love the look of it, it's always been the classic automatic pistol for me)
    Colt New Service
    Walther PPK (It's such an iconic shape, it'd be wrong to leave it off)
    SIG P210 (sleek, clean lines…it's beautiful)

  • Troy Ragsdale

    Gotta be the CZ -52 .I love this gun and if you can see it you can pretty much hit it with a little practice.

  • Kedves Lehel

    I like the 1858 Remington revolver… ,the Colt 1860 is also beautiful…and the Taurus Magnum 44…

  • 1911 gunnuts

    any gun is a pretty gun but i think its hard to beat a custom ithaca 1911 and dont tell me that they dont make them cause i got one

  • Hunter Whitley

    1911 Should have won

  • Roy Weller

    Very close. My first thought would have been the 1872 open top, the next step up from this 1860; and one step before the ever popular 1873 peacemaker.

  • Greg

    Picked a Luger over a Colt Python? Get an eye exam… The feel, fit, finish and action of the Python are the zenith of the wheel gun art.

  • MaximRecoil

    I don't know what order I'd put them in, but my list would consist of the following:

    - Colt Government Model (blue, especially from the 1950s or '60s)
    - Colt Single Action Army (blue, 4 3/4" barrel)
    - Colt Python (blue, 6" barrel)
    - Smith & Wesson 1st Model "Triple Lock" (blue, 4" barrel)
    - Browning Hi-Power

  • MaximRecoil

    Garry James seems to have a tendency to make odd selections for his lists like this. I remember about 5 years ago he did a "most influential handguns" list in G&A, and he got a lot of flack for not including the 1911. In his follow-up article he tried to justify this glaring omission by turning it into a semantics issue; i.e., saying that he had a different definition of "influential" in mind than everyone else; and said that the 1911 wasn't adopted by many countries. That's irrelevant, given that the 1911 was the auto that established the slide and tilting barrel method of lockup as the dominant format, and nearly every combat-caliber auto on the market today can trace its roots to the 1911 in that respect. The 1911 not only belonged on the list according to the accepted definition of the word "influential", but it belonged at the top of the list.

  • MaximRecoil

    Garry James reminds me of a "music snob", i.e., a distinct preference for anything not considered "mainstream" when it comes to their top whatever lists. Such lists would make more sense if he were a writer for a magazine called "Obscure Guns Quarterly" or something, but in something like G&A; while you may get to display your eclectic tastes and esoteric knowledge, you also alienate a large percentage of your readers.

  • SMN

    Model 27 S&W Blue.

  • Newshawk

    You can have your PPK and HSc, I'll take the SigSauer P230 in stainless over all of them any day!

  • guest

    nothing more beautiful than a classic 1911

  • bhupinder.sandhu

    i am 1954 born have seen most guns of the british era webleys in form of rev's pistols 12 bores and grand prix ruled the times but times later on was taken over by european ones most pupular in the field were the mausers a few winchesters but the hunting scene was taken over by the british made 12bores afew 16bores and 20 bores which withered away with time indian scene was dominated by the universal 12 bore eley was the alltime fav .on the handgun scene alltypes from over the world took over.webleys colts and s&w were the preffered ones not forget the rifle scene was dominated by the cz's of all of now there is lot of gun control;which has almost frozen the scene.import of firearms banned with many calibres which are used by the govt.agencies are in the prohibited bore section or only for those who come under high is gone for a toss only the rich can buy handguns after adopting cumbersome license process.genuine gun enthusiasts are thining out.making afree zone for terrorist groups who can wield ak's and tt's or grenades.

  • Fred Bush

    Face it folks, we will never settle on the same gun. We don't agree on the best to carry and we never will. That is the best part of the gun industry today, there IS something for just about everyone!
    Me, I like the S&W 686. Just looks like kick ass power as well as class……. but thats just my opinion :)

  • Sanjuancb

    Not sure where all the Colt Python fandom comes from. IMHO you could throw a rock at a pile of classic S&W's and assuredly come up with a better looking revolver…

  • SIG


  • Shalimar

    I'll take my 93R any day hands down.

  • Ron

    Really? Nobody even mentioned one of the most graceful: the original Whitney Wolverine. It was ahead of its time, and deserved a better fate. Just one man's opinion. But I'm right.

  • Gracie

    All very pretty, however, I still think my Kimber Custom CDPII is the prettiest gun ever…but then again, that's my baby, so I'm biased.

  • Keith

    1911, Savage 99, Colt SAA, Bisley flat top target,

  • David Webster

    Heckler & Koch VP70. Just because its something different to an 1911 or m9. smooth lines, and a bit of history being the first polymer framed pistol.

  • simone says

    Well Said,about the 1911, i have a souped up version 1991a1 beautifulllllllll.Browning can be proud.Would not trade it for anything. dead on.

  • Hoop

    There's no accounting for taste. Personally, I would have put a Ruger GP100 stainless in there.

  • Paul

    The most beautiful handgun ever made…is the one which saves your life.

  • rayzrface714

    The Colt Peacemaker in .45 Caliber would have been my choice with the Parabellum Luger a close runner up! Thank you

  • Heretic

    I prefer the octagon barrel of the 1851.
    I like the Artillery Luger.
    But no one has mentioned my favorite, The Thompson Center Contender.

  • JsThFx

    I vote for any pistol which someone has used to save a life. That said, I really like the Python, too. In general, I like the look of long-barrelled revolvers, esp. with heavy frames.

  • JsThFx

    It would be more fun to show pics of the ugliest ones

  • Tony


  • Robert Johnston

    Modern-day "beautiful handguns"–
    01) Korth Revolver (you pay $10,000US for a copy, it had best look as good as it shoots!)
    02) SigArms P-210 (The weapon that started the SIG craze)
    03) H&K VP-70Z (Art Deco in the mode of the Mauser HSc)
    04) Ruger Super Redhawk (The poor man's "Dirty Harry" blaster)
    05) S&W K-38 Masterpiece (Built To Look Good AND Shoot Good!)

  • Nissim Levy

    Might as well ask what is the most beautiful hangman's noose ever made. There is something really distasteful about praising the beauty of a killing machine.

    • Steve Gib

      There is something distastefull about you!! Firearms aren’t “killing machines”. Yes a gun is intended to be a weapon. Yes it can be used to kill. Yes it can be used to kill unjustifiably. But so can a car, or a kitchen knife, or any other friggin’ thing you can think of!! Guns are used in legitimate self defence cases far FAR more times every year than in crimes. The tool isn’t the damn problem! People are what they are. Bad people will use guns or any other thing they ever come accross in abad way, good people will use them ina good way. Get over your self.

      • Mike Hasel

        Exactly! this macabre portrait some people paint of firearms as a talisman of evil is purely ridiculous. Sometimes guns are intended as weapons, but mostly as means of defense… If you were choosing a fight deliberately you would certainly bring something more effective and efficient… The only “real” reason for handguns is that rifles are not practical to carry around and we need to have something to save lives when “the shit hits the fan” and the rifle is not available. Criminals and crazy people use guns to attack and exploit unarmed people… Innocent law-abiding citizens who are armed for self-defense are a far less desirable target for criminals.

  • Mauro


  • Rod Combs

    Beretta 92 FS Stainless

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