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NAT’L – OPINION – 10 Most Iconic Handgun Designs of All Time

Volumes have been written about great handguns, and it’s truly hard to whittle the long list of pistol designs dating back well over a century to just ten. One caveat for this particular roundup is that the listed guns have to remain available as a production firearm today, so if you want one you can go buy it (provided, of course, post-COVID supply eventually meets demand). Still, it’s tough to grade some gun designs against each other and assign a value to the great guns of the past. The guns that made the cut all share a few traits in common, however—longevity, popularity, service, and an impact on the firearm industry. Here’s our list of the greatest handgun designs currently available today. Colt 1911: No surprise here. John Moses Browning designed a lot of groundbreaking guns, but none have stood up as well as the Colt 1911 single-action semiauto. This pistol has served as the American sidearm in two World Wars and in countless other conflicts and it remains a favorite design of competition shooters and some law enforcement and military units, which is impressive for a pistol celebrating its 110th birthday next year. Countless companies offer their own 1911 pistols, including Springfield, SIG Sauer, Kimber, Rock Island, and more, and premium builders like Ed Brown, Nighthawk, and Bill Wilson churn out high-end 1911s that are worth very penny. The CZ 75 was released in 1975, and credit for the gun’s design goes to brothers Josef and Frantisek Kouky. Because of export restrictions in what was then Czechoslovakia, CZ 75 clone pistols were built in other countries and that allowed the guns to be shipped around the world. The Kouky-designed pistol utilizes a short-recoil, lock-breech design similar to the venerable Browning Hi-Power (which fails to make the list only because major production was discontinued) and a slide that rides along internal rails. With their double-stack, 15-round magazines the CZ 75 helped usher in the era of the “Wonder Nine” and the design has been copied by a host of other manufacturers including Tanfoglio, IMI, Norinco, Springfield, and others. The CZ 75 remains the company’s flagship, and thankfully these guns are now widely available in the U.S. CZ-USA currently offers 15 different CZ 75 variants for duty, competition and recreational shooting, and self-defense.  [full article]

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