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From the History Books

What’s the Ugliest Handgun Ever Made?

by Garry James   |  September 16th, 2011 86

In my earlier blog on the most beautiful handguns ever made, Jim Wargula (a faithful reader) suggested that I cover the ugliest handguns, ever. Great idea; and an incredibly fertile field.

Again, we probably should establish some parameters. I’d like to keep it to form over function—we can cover guns that include both in a future blog. Also, it ‘s only fair to eliminate some that are just outright bizarre, or specialty pieces such as the Reid Knuckleduster, Chicago Palm Pistol or Cochran Turret Revolver—those are just offbeat contrivances that seem to transcend any sort of aesthetic judgment.

So here are my personal top five. In this case, I suppose, they’d have to be in descending order. Check out the gallery below and be sure to chime with your thoughts.


  • joe gunner

    this has got to be the worse list of ugly guns ever made. Have you guys ever seen a high point?

    • GrizzlyIX

      The '95 Nagant has this one beat, for form & function BOTH!

      Anyone ever see a Rojack semi-auto from the '70's? Totally useless, right up there with the Hi-Point line of 'boat-anchors"!

  • Kent Bosworth

    Glocks are perhaps the ugliest handguns ever designed.

    Having said that, I'll hunker down with my 1911 and wait until the Glock loyalists have stopped breaking furniture.

    • Tony Caruana

      You must have read my mind. Totally with you on that.

    • Jim

      The Glock is ugly but it works every time and I can live and fight with that if I had to…

      • Jim

        Glock 29, Ugly, small , powerful little gun

    • Dave R.

      I think the Glock's lack of beauty makes it handsome. Yes the 1911 is the best handgun of all time, however after Katrina, Glocks were pulled from saltwater and worked.

    • Dave R.

      In a life or death situation, a firearm of any kind is better than nothing. ;)

  • Black Campbell

    For modern stuff, I'd have to say Glock, that Chiappa Rhino, anything Hi-Point…

    • 2WarAbnVet

      The Rhino is so ugly that it's beautiful.

      • jib quinn

        I have mixed feelings on the Rhino. I can't help but agree with both positions.

      • Leo Atrox

        I must admit that I desire a Rhino because, if for no other reason, it has such a unique and ungainly appearance. "So ugly that it's beautiful?" I agree completely.

  • 3strokes

    The FP 45 Liberator was not a handgun but a cigarette lighter.

    What caliber was it supposed to have? 1 millimimeter?

    • Garry James

      Nope. It was .45 ACP. I've shot mine and it is as ugly in the hand as it is to the eye. It's smoothbore so the bullet starts tumbling as soon as it leave the barrel–but as it was meant to be fired point-blank, I suppose that doesn't make much difference.

    • H Stan Boring, PHC,

      The Liberator was a smooth bore .45 ACP. The steel rod was a hand ejector. Extra rounds were in the butt. It was meant to be used by the Maquis to kill Germans at close range and take their weapons. It was made by Delco, whose real product was auto headlights.

      As to the others; The Lancer's pistol was ungainly looking, but not TOO ugly! The Borchardt has a certain bizarre panache, but it IS ugly. The Savage Navy is butt ugly all over. The Rast und Gasser is not quite as bad as the Savage, but close.

      Chief Boring

      • Xin-Loi

        A wooden dowel used to push out the fired 45 case.

  • Jack Meadows

    there are a great many (dis)honorable mentions out there, but this is a pretty good list. gotta agree on the Hi-Points, but I was robbed with one working at a gas station so I may be a tad predjugadiced against them, and Glocks and XDs would be so much easier to hate if they didn't work so darned well…

  • Ralph Cavolo

    Yogi Berra once answe,red a fellow catcher when he called him the ugliest man in Baseball," I not paid to hit the baseball with my face yaknow". He then proceeded to hit the next pitch for a stand up double. I bet thoses liberator pistols save more than a few paratroopers in the hands of the Frecn underground

    • Garry James

      'Fraid not. To my knowledge none were ever dropped in Europe.

      • Patrick

        If they were not used in Europe where they have been dropped Japan?

        • Garry James

          Well….apparently nowhere. There are some tales that a few made it to the pacific, but I have not seen any solid evidence. Too bad, because it was a good idea. When I lived in South Wales one of the Brits who worked for me said when he was a kid, after the war, he and his mates found a cache of Liberatos and were playing cowboys with them until the local police confiscated them. Theat story, anecdotal though it may be, at least indicates some may have made it across the pond.

  • 58Hawken

    Any of the "Judge" line deserves mention.

    • hicusdicus

      I have to agree. I have 7 of them and looking at at the working end of the barrel with a full load of 000 buck in the cylinder is the ugliest thing one could ever see.

  • Ed Komelman

    L'm thinkin the Nambu should be ranked with this bunch.

  • John Z

    Springfield XD should be on the list. I love polymer pistols but the XD out ugly-ed the Glock. XDm looks like a masterpiece in comparison.

    • Aaron

      Glock is far more ugly than the XD.

  • Tom

    When I first saw the Model 1898 Rast und Gasser, I thought it was a Nagant. It's up there with it. I have never read a blog that I agreed with so much. Those Glocks are definitely not lookers, but they do work. Guess the ugliest thing I ever owned was a Glock 17. But it shot almost equal to my Beretta 92. Sold it for what I paid for it. No regrets. Firing mechanism reminded me of a ball point pen. I always thought the Bisleys were ugly too.

  • Harvey

    I vote for the C96 Mauser. Functional and historic, but as ugly as you can find. The Webley-Fosbery Automatic Revolver is another contender, as is the M1895 Nagant. Bad news!

    • Garry James

      Harvey, all excellent choices. The C.96 is ugly, no question about it, but it does have a certain steampunk panache. It's the perfect Chinese warlord gun. I collect Webleys, love 'em, and have a slug of them, but pretty thay ain't–with the possible exception of some of the WG Target Models. The 95 Nagant , as another contributer noted, is right up there with the 98 Rast and Gasser.

    • 2WarAbnVet

      I've loved the "Broomhandle" since I was a kid. Don't forget that, after the Battle of Omdurman, Churchill wrote his mother that, "It was the best thing in the world,"

  • Ed

    Chiappa Rhino beats them all for ugly

    • Garry James

      Can't argue with that one a bit.

  • http://n/a Rick Hamby

    I just didn't think the 98 Rast und Gasser was near as ugly as some others… the Rhino came to mind 1st.

  • Tom Amann

    my vote goes to the dardick which is tied with the Jap type 94. both of these are far uglier than a glock or a broomhandle whjch I always liked.

    • 2WarAbnVet

      You've pegged the Type 94. It was not only ugly it was dangerous to the user.

  • Chris S

    My 1883 Reichsrevolver won't out-ugly this crowd, but it's probably a top-ten contender. No wonder its contemporary, the 1873 Colt, is much more highly prized, as dictated by collector prices!

  • Tom Wriggins

    I cannot recall the exact Model, but there is a TV ad for Walther for a compact 9mm/40 S&W pistol which features a silhouetted woman in a jump suit, and claims it is, amongst other qualities, "attractive". The pistol seems top heavy and 'blocky' to me, and it certainly qualifies as UGLY !

    • JJ

      I agree-the Walther PPQ is unforgivably ugly.

  • Jim Wargula

    A great collection of butt-ugly shooters! They must be ugly, as I don't own a one of 'em and don't know anyone that does… I imagine that you have only scratched the surface, however, as the supply of displeasing-to-the-eye arms models has to be in the dozens! Thanks for the smiles! BTW I pickup my new Glock tomorrow! ;)

  • Bill Walsh

    Too bad Glock doesn't make a polymer 1911. Would win hands down most likely.

    • Dave R.

      Thats an interesting statement. I like it. :)

  • Tim McNamara

    Has anyone ever seen a Nambu type 94? It has to be one of the ugliest pistols ever conceived. Or, the Mauser Pocket Pistol of 1910? Both are terminally ugly handguns. I do not consider the glorious Glock an unattractive weapon and I doubt John Browning would have either.

    Now, how about the best looking military rifle ?

    • Garry James

      Tim, you are soooo right about the 94! Totally skipped my mind when I was putting the list together. You win. It definitely trumps the 98 R&G. And also, how about they Type 26 revolver? No beauty contest winner there, either..

  • Chris S

    I've got a 1997 Gun Digest with an article entitled "Seven Selected Turkeys of the 20th Century" by Jim Thompson, and according to Jim, the Type 94 Nambu was a "genuine freak" that "didn't feel any better than it looks, and worked worse." After reading about its shortcomings and considering its bizarre appearance, the 94 takes "ugly" to a whole new level.

    • Garry James

      You know, Chris, I've shot a 94, and I have to admit, as grotesque as it looks, it fit my hand pretty well and pointed OK. Now I don't have particularly big mitts, so maybe this was the reason….but it wasn't as bad as it looks. On the real minus side, though, you can trip the sear manually without pulling the trigger.

      • Tanstaafl2

        I've heard there were instances where Japanese soldiers "surrendered" and manually tripped that sear while handing over the Type 94 pistol to some unfortunate Marine or G.I.

  • Gibbs303

    Let's not forget the Danish Model 1910 and Model 1910/21 pistols, or the Bergman No. 3, or the Gabbet-Fairfax 'Mars' monstrosity…

    And perhaps one of our movie buffs can answer this: Was that a Bergman No. 3 used by Patrick Wayne's character in his father John Wayne's movie, 'Big Jake'? It has been a while since I have seen it, but I recall Patrick's character got fitted out with a 'spring-loaded holster' rig, and the gun used looked like a the Bergman…

    • Gibbs303

      As I recall, he used it to shoot one of the bad guys, played by Glenn Corbett, who is probably best known for playing Zefram Cochrane in the Star Trek: TOS episode, 'Metamorphosis'…

  • Olesniper

    I gotta go with the 1893 Borchardt. That gun is just plain fugly.

  • GregorSamsa

    I've got to agree with Hi-Point, Glock and Springfield XD's. The only thing is (at least with two of these), ugliness doesn't necessarily equate to crappiness. My Hi-Point and my XD 9mm subcompact (my favorite pistol!) have performed flawlessly through thousands of rounds. Thug/ghetto/rapper/doper/punkass Glocks however, I have no use for whatsoever, especially since mine has experienced numerous FTF's.

  • JT

    I must be strange, because I kinda think these look cool, and #5 to me is better looking than some on the top prettiest list.

  • Nick Ford

    I can't believe that nobody has suggested the Jo.Lo.Ar yet! I'd call it on par with the T-94 for ugly!

    • Humberto D.

      I agree with you Nick. The Jo.Lo Ar was a awfull piece of steel. Conceived as a pistol for cavalry it was actualy used by my uncle in the Peruvian Army in the 40´s. He "lost" the piece and was issued a .32 ACP 1910 FN and kept it with no regrets until he retired in the 70´s.

      • Nick Ford

        I actually own a Jo.Lo.Ar in 9mm Largo (I believe all the Peruvian guns were in .45), and I really like it. Not to ever use, in fact I'm a little afraid to shoot it) I just think it's neat. I like ugly guns. In fact I'm surprised I only own one of the ones on the list!

    • old vet

      Read this comment many times, glossed over it and went on, Finally looked it up on Google. Just proves what these blogs are all about. Great call! It ( the Jo Lo) ranks right up there. Also it's history is cool.

  • Dale Bailey

    The Borchardt is too steam punk to be called ugly.

    Also there is no such thing as an ugly gun,just ugly antis

  • http://TheBuzzard Roger Closen

    Ugly is not a judgement of good or bad or even mediocre. As the old adage says, "Function comes before form." Bottom line is that ugly didn't stop the purpose for it to be a weapon, good or not so good. Time has or will make that judgement.

    • hicusdicus

      The ugliest gun in the world is your gun when it somewhere you are not when you need it.

  • John

    So Garry, when do we get your list of the most off beat of the offbeat contrivances you mentioned?

  • Larry De Meo

    The Borchardt: an early example of American engineering where function is everything and form has absolutely no place. If he were alive today, old Hugo would be designing ships for the U.S. Navy! Ugly? Perhaps. Would I like to own one? I'd give my right…err…left arm!

  • Matt

    The Rast and Gasser is more odd looking than ugly. I certainly wouldn't put it in the number one spot. I agree that the glock should at least make the list. If you want a really ugly revolver, one that isn't weird or different, just ugly, try any of the solid frame H&R revolvers, like the 723, 923, young american, etc.

  • A McCann

    I never met a gun I didn't Like. While not pretty I would like to own any of the Ugly guns.

  • hicusdicus

    After the bullet leaves the end of the barrel the looks of the dispensing unit are of no consequence, The only thing that matters is if it misses.

  • JJ

    I'd like to nominate the Walther PPQ as the ugliest pistol in production.

  • Frank Mosna

    My first reaction for ugliest gun would be anything French. But I would add the Nagant, Nambu and the new Rhino that shoots from the bottom of the cylinder. They had a solution to a problem that didn't exist.

  • Alan Talbott

    Yeah…………… that Rhino looks like something from an old Monty Python cartoon . Still I suppose all aesthetics are subjective .

  • James Konen

    Almost any Kel-Tec but that .22 magnum that holds 30 rds. is one ugly spud, looks like something Buck Rogers designed!

  • Bill

    The Mauser "Broomtail" sure ain't no beauty. And the Luger; merely a shortened Borchardt. Would like to see both of them on the ugly list. The "Broomtail" could make the double ugly list. Add the 1873 Colt SAA to the most beautiful list and I'll forgive the omission of the aforementioned uglies.

  • Jack Meadows

    won't swear by it, but I believe the "Big Jake" gun was just a gussied-up Walther P38 with some scrap metal tacked onto the frame. Watch closely in the scene where the Duke first handles it, when Chris Mitchum unloads it you get a good look at the grip.

  • Evan

    … anything Hi-Point.

  • Dave R.

    Damn straight! ;)

  • Dave

    The ugliest handguns ever made are thoose cheap hi point pistols don't wanna offend any one that owns one thoose things are just ugly and cheap

  • mike

    i like it . it is different.i also like the hi point model jhp 45 acp i use it and it operates very well.

    • old vet

      Lot's of folks "dis" the Hi Points. I don't think they are ugly, maybe a little strange. Don't own one myself, but see many at our club, even had a guy compete with one, seemed to work o. k.. Everyone says their service is great. Just say'n.

  • Brian

    Obviously, the gentleman who designed this gun wasn't much of an artist, but it appears he wrote backwards as well!

  • http://btinternet ray black

    what about the french liebel with the 12 guage under barrel

    or the webley 1922 semi auto

    nambu pistol

    the partisan pistol was an engineers design fire twice 2nd round clipped to bottom of pistol grip and throw away

    the apache pistol with knife blade

    the duck foot navy pistol

    enfield service pistol from crimea period even with shoulder stock

  • richard dabinett

    The Borchardt looks like it belongs in an Aliens flick. I'd say the Rast and Gasser has it's issues too, but since I have one I won't.

  • Vhyrus

    The fact that a CZ-52 is not in this list invalidates it entirely.

  • Maxxonry

    Why is it fair to eliminate the outright bizarre? Those are the ugliest ones. Maybe you should start an ugly gun column for the website. Pick from reader submissions and send him or her a small prize, like a hat or shirt or something.

  • Ricardo Briozzo

    Garry: Where put you the british Mars pistol? Damm… it's ugliest.

  • old vet

    Lots of votes for the Glock, have a 17 with the rough texture no less also a Beretta 92. Love the Beretta, is a beautiful piece, but man, the Glock, once you get used to the trigger, is really sweet. Wouldn't part with either.

  • @politics_right

    To a Frenchman inside occupied France, the Liberator was the most beautiful gun ever made, since it allowed him to kill a German and take his rifle. I don't know how many actually saw use in 1940-45; I read somewhere that most were never issued and were later destroyed. One can buy a replica of the Liberator these days. It's all in the eye of the beholder!

    • old vet

      Should read, NONE were ever issued and almost all were later destroyed to find an original now is rare. If someone is making a replica out there it would surely need to be rifled, otherwise the feds. would call it a short shotgun. The original was smoothbore.

  • Tony


  • Jim

    I totally disagree with the choices given. The hi point is so damn ugly I would not own a gun if that was all I had to chose from. The Glocks are utilitarian and have their own beauty as does the for runner to the luger that has a mechanical beauty. The hi point looks like a kid taped two bricks together and made a toy gun for play. Its and attempt to sell a gun to people who don't care about guns and just want to shoot something. I would rather have a pipe gun than this POS

  • Northwest Brush Hunter

    What About The Mortimer Repeating Pistol, Look At It And You’ll Agree It Fell Off The Ugly Tree.

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