September 14, 2011
By Garry James
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.
No. 2: Any late Georgian British Dueling Pistol (by Egg or Manton)
'Elegant ' is not a good enough word for them. As stylish as Chippendale chairs. (photo by James D. Julia, Inc.)
No. 5: Mauser HSc
A simply lovely little pocket pistol; clean lines and a unique, physiognomy.
No. 3: U.S. Model 1836 Pistol
Simply the most attractive flintlock martial pistol ever built — even beats out the 1805 Harper's Ferry. (photo by James D. Julia, Inc.)
No. 4: Artillery Luger
With its long barrel, the Artillery makes the famous Luger silhouette even classier.
The Winner: Colt Model 1860 Revolver with Full-Fluted Cylinder
Here we are talking true age nonspecificity. With its fluid, sinuous lines, the Model 1860 was incredibly ahead of its time. Compare it with any other revolver of the period, and it is a true standout. Show it to the average person, and I'll bet nine out of ten times he would place it in the Art Deco period of the 1920s and 30s. The full flutes, a feature not seen many other guns, add a panache that really takes it over the top. (photo by James D. Julia, Inc.)
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