To all the guns we’ve loved before…
On this day that we celebrate love, we pay homage to our most passionate love affair…the gun. Here are 14 of our favorite guns of all time.
The M134 Mini Gun is an air-cooled, electronically-powered rotary machine gun with six barrels chambered in 7.62x51mm (.308.) It has a high rate of fire at 2,000 to 6,000 rounds per minute. It was developed by General Electric during the Vietnam War and mounted to military helicopters. The minigun has a very distinct sound which if you’ve ever been around one recreationally, tell me it didn’t make you smile. Also, let’s be honest, we all wanted to be Jesse Ventura in Predator a little.
Below is the author’s personal video of the minigun at the Oklahoma Full Auto Shoot and Trade Show (OFASTS) June 23, 2012.
Auto-Ordnance Thompson Submachine gun
Made infamous by 1920s and 30s gangsters, the “Chicago Typewriter” has an undeniable profile, especially with its 100-round drum magazine. John Taliaferro Thompson, whose extensive testing of the .45 ACP led to the military’s adoption of the Colt 1911, believed that the perfect combat weapon would be one that fell between a pistol and a rifle caliber. Trading shares in his company for Commander John Blish’s patent on a delayed blowback breech system, Thompson’s first Thompson prototype was belt-fed and finished in 1918. It wasn’t until WW II that the “Tommy Gun” was widely used in the military, where it was highly sought after by special forces serving in World War II. The Thompson 1927-A1 available today is semiautomatic with a 16.5-inch finned barrel with attached compensator and comes with either a stick or drum magazine. The fine wood furniture and craftsmanship of the Thompson, plus the (macabre) history behind it, make it a must-have for collectors.
Though not first plastic pistol ever invented, the GLOCK is certainly the one that made an everlasting impact on the gun industry. Austrian businessman, Gaston Glock was not a firearms designer or inventor, but his company did use advanced techniques in polymers to develop products for the Austrian military. In the 1970s, he set out to answer the call for the military’s desire for a new combat pistol. His striker-fired, simple design won the contract after proving itself reliable, durable and easy to use during extensive testing. Chambered for 9mm with a 4.49-inch barrel, the GLOCK 17 has been the choice for law enforcement agencies for years. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, you still have to give GLOCK the respect it deserves for being one of the most influential firearm designs in our lifetime.
According to Ken Hackathorn, the UZI was “sold to more military, law enforcement and security markets than any other submachine gun ever made” between the 1960s to the 80s. (Wikipedia) Designed by Israeli Major Uziel Gal in the late 40s, the UZI is an open-bolt, blowback-operated submachine gun chambered in 9mm. It was one of the first guns to use a telescoping bolt allowing the magazine to fit inside the pistol grip. The UZI’s mostly stamped steel construction makes it cheap to produce and with few moving parts, the UZI is easy to maintain, especially in the field. I got my first taste shooting full auto with an UZI, so it will always hold a place in my heart.
FN FAL—The Right Arm of the Free World
Belgian firearm designers Dieudonné Saive and Ernest Vervier introduced the FN FAL in 1951. It is a gas-operated, short-stroke spring-loaded select-fire or semiautomatic rifle with a tunable gas system and tilting breechblock. During the Cold War it was adopted by 90 militaries—but not the United States—around the world. The FN FAL served for 60 years and became one of the most used service rifles in history. It is chambered in 7.62x51mm (.308 Winchester.) Over two million were made. The NRA’s American Rifleman has an interesting article about “lesser-known facts about the FN FAL” and notes, “7.62×51 mm NATO is Not .308 Winchester: Although similar in appearance and dimensions, the two cartridges have different characteristics. Commercially imported FN FAL rifles that are .308 marked will handle both .308 and 7.62×51 mm rounds, but the thinner .308 case can affect extraction.”
Ah, the MP5. Who doesn’t love this gun? Made in about 100 different variants, this German 9mm submachine gun is one of the most used in the entire world—including the United States. Development began in 1964 and the MP5’s designed was based on the G3. It is a roller-delayed blowback, hammer-fired submachine gun that operates from a closed bolt. The H&K MP5 comes standard with a 15- and 20-round slightly curved magazine and has a barrel length of 8.8 inches. It’ll fire about 800 rounds a minute.
M2 Browning Machine Gun—The ‘Ma Deuce’
In the summer of 1917, legendary firearms designer John Browning started work on developing a modified M1917 machine gun that would fire a larger cartridge than the .30-06 to compete with the tanks and aircraft introduced during World War I. Browning passed away before completing his design and it was taken over by DR. S.H. Green. Colt developed a few prototypes which led to the manufacture of the M2 in 1933. The Ma Deuce is an air-cooled, belt-fed machine gun that operates from a closed bolt on short recoil. Chambered for .50 BMG, the Ma Deuce or M2 Browning Machine Gun has been in service longer than any other gun in history other than the 1911. It is still in use today and made by General Dynamic, U.S. Ordnance and Ohio Ordnance Works for the U.S. and FN Herstal in Belgium.
Probably one of the most prolific guns in the entire world, the 1911 is by far one of the greatest firearm inventions in history. Designed (again) by John Browning, the classic 1911 is a single-action recoil operated semiautomatic pistol chambered in .45 ACP with a 5-inch barrel. Manufacturers now make 1911-style firearms in all sizes and calibers. According to Wikipedia, “The pistol was widely copied, and this operating system rose to become the preeminent type of the 20th century and of nearly all modern centerfire pistols.” Developed in the 1890s to replace the revolver, it wasn’t until 1911 that the United States Army adopted the handgun. Today, the 1911 and all its variants is still extremely popular for competitors, professionals, collectors, concealed carry, recreational target shooters and as a sidearm for military and law enforcement. Very little about its operation has changed throughout the years. I guess it’s hard to mess with perfection, huh?!
New (relatively speaking) to the firearms world, Barrett has quickly become of those guns that most gun people have on their bucket list. The founder of Barrett Firearms, Ronnie Barrett started his company to purposely build a semiautomatic rifle chambered for the .50 BMG. The Barrett M82 operates on the short-recoil principle, has a fluted heavy barrel, uses a box magazine that holds 10 rounds and is characterized by its large muzzle brake. It is the first shoulder-fired .50 BMG semiauto rifle ever made. Its military designation is the M107 and it was first adopted for service in 1990 for Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Current models are also available in .416 Barrett.
Browning Hi Power
Also designed (mostly) by John Browning, the Browning Hi Power saw 83 years of continuous production until Browning officially discontinued it in 2018. Unfortunately, John Browning passed away before finishing the design of the Hi Power, but FN Herstal’s Dieudonné Saive finished it. The Hi Power is a single-action, recoil-operated semiautomatic pistol with quite a few similarities to the 1911. The Browning Hi Power Mk I uses a 13-round staggered magazine. Browning editor’s write, “The 9mm Browning Hi-Power was John Moses Browning’s final design — he was working on it when he passed away in Belgium. When you shoot a Hi-Power it is not just shooting “another nine.” it is shaking hands with the greatest firearms designer the world has ever known. The web guys at Browning think that’s cool. You will never regret owning this legendary pistol” and we have to agree.
Brugger & Thomet TP9/MP9
Beginning life at Steyr Arms in 1989 as a select-fire pistol, Brugger & Thomet (B&T) bought the rights to the gun after 2001 and started making and selling it after improving on the original version. The MP9 is the select-fire model and the TP9 is the semiautomatic model. The B&T TP9 is recoil-operated with a rotating barrel locking system and fires from a closed bolt. It has a 5.1-inch barrel and is chambered for 9mm. Its original configuration has a vertical foregrip and folding wire stock which makes it an SBR in the United States. To pass importation laws, B&T removed the vertical foregrip and stock and replaced it with Picatinny rails. Many B&T TP9 owners, though, file for a tax stamp and add the wire stock back to create an SBR.
Weird caliber. Cool gun. The FN Five-Seven got a bad rap—FN developed the 5.7x28mm round to penetrate body armor in an attempt to replace the 9mm service weapons and of course, the media reacted like the sky was falling. Though the caliber never caught on, civilians have found the FN Five-SeveN a hoot to shoot—its loud produces a large muzzle flash, yet is lighter in recoil than a 9mm. The pistol itself is also lighter in weight than other popular plastic pistols even though it is full-sized with a 4.8-inch barrel and 8.2-inch overall length. The FN Five-seveN is a striker-fired, single-action pistol first developed in 1989 by FN. It’s developed quite the cult following despite its reputation.
STI/Taran Tactical 2011 Combat Master John Wick 3
No, we haven’t shot it or even seen it and it isn’t even available yet and yes, it is super overpriced, but we’re huge fans of John Wick and kudos to Keanu Reeves for training like he acts, so… Be mad about it all you want. This is the gun the character John Wick will use in John Wick Chapter three. At the base is a 9mm STI International 2011 (double-stack 1911) highly customized by Taran Tactical. Features include a 5.4-inch barrel, FDE/bronze BLC-coated match-grade bull barrel, fiber optic sights, specialized grip job and a bunch of other fancy upgrades.
Yeah, yeah, it’s a fantasy gun, but that doesn’t mean we can’t love it! The DL-44 blaster was one of the most powerful plasma pistols in the galaxy, able to penetrate Storm Trooper armor (ARMOR PIERCING!) and therefore banned. (Okay, we’re not sure if that’s true.) The design of the blaster was based on the German Mauser, but the actual Star Wars movie prop gun was mostly made of wood. Little is known about the Blaster; a lot has been written about it. I mean, how much can you really know about a fantasy gun with many different histories written by many different fans?
Without budget being a factor, what are your favorite, most-loved guns? List them in the comment section.