The 50 Best Guns Ever Made | Outdoor Life

The 50 Best Guns Ever Made

We rounded up our top picks of all time

best guns of all time

HANDGUNS

Colt 1873 Single Action Army

Dubbed the Peacemaker, the 1873 SAA was one of the most popular handguns on the 19th century frontier. It has become the most copied handgun in history, and over 137 years after its introduction this classic is still being manufactured by Colt.

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best guns of all time

S&W Military & Police DA .38 SPL

Introduced in 1899 as a black powder cartridge gun, this swing out cylinder DA revolver not only made a successful transition to smokeless powder, but became the dominant American law enforcement handgun for the next 70 years. It spawned the entire S&W K frame line and remains in production.

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best guns of all time

Colt 911A1 .45 ACP

The first successful military semi-auto handgun, it served the as the standard U.S. sidearm through four major wars and countless police actions. As popular today as ever, it is still carried by some law enforcement personnel and countless civilians. The most customized handgun ever, it's a mainstay for competition shooters.

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best guns of all time

Ruger Single Six Convertible .22/22 Mag

This single action Ruger became one of the most popular "fun guns" of its era and remains popular today. The ability to shoot .22 rimfire or .22 Magnum made it practical for the woods or practice range, and it literally taught legions of American handgunners how to shoot.

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best guns of all time

Ruger Super Blackhawk

A beefed up version of Ruger's original Blackhawk single action revolver, the Super Blackhawk easily digested massive quantities of the hottest .44 magnum loads available. It became a favorite with handgun hunters, and those trekking big bear country, and remains a standard by which other big bores are measured.

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best guns of all time

Walther P-38

Adopted by the German military, the Walther P-38 was an acceptable performer. It's most sterling feature,however, is that it was the first successful DA/SA operating action. It was a pioneering design breakthrough that became a feature of many other successful handguns, including our current military issue M-9.

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browning top guns

Browning Hi-Power

The P-35 High Power was John Browning's last handgun design. Some experts consider it his best. Still in production, and in use with LE and Military agencies in many countries, it was the first staggered magazine high capacity handgun - a design breakthrough that spawned many other successful designs.

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best guns of all time

S&W Model 29

Dirty Harry gave it notoriety, but the Model 29 .44 Magnum's claim to fame came once it got into the paws of handgun hunters. Superbly accurate, and delivering more power than any other available DA revolver, it became a mainstay for those pursuing big game with a handgun.

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best guns of all time

S&W Model 60 Chief's Special

The Model 60 was nothing more than a stainless steel version of the popular Model 36 snub nose .38 Special. Yet, it was ground breaking because it was the first successful handgun made from stainless steel, and it showed the handgun industry how to use this material.

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best guns of all time

Freedom Arms .454 Casull

The .44 Magnum reigned supreme in the handgun hunting fields for years, but the quest for more power resulted in the .454 Casull cartridge. More than existing handgun designs could handle, it found a home in the rugged, yet precise, Freedom Arms SA revolver and ushered in a new era for handgun hunters.

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best guns of all time

CZ 75

Introduced in 1975, the CZ 75 was the most innovative handgun design of the previous 40 years. The first successful pistol offering user option of cocked & locked SA, or DA/SA carry, it is in widespread use throughout the world, and a favorite of many current competitive shooters.

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best guns of all time

Glock G17

The polymer-framed Glock 17 was controversial upon introduction. But history validates it. As the first successful polymer-framed handgun, it spawned a sea change within the industry, and today every major handgun maker has a polymer-frame model. And, they are wildly popular. Thank you, Gaston Glock!

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best guns of all time

T/C Contender

This graceful, rugged, and accurate, single shot pistol revolutionized handgun hunting. With its interchangeable barrel system a hunter could, literally, have one handgun that would handle anything from bunnies to buffalo, by simply changing the barrel. The Contender continues to travel the world in search of game.

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best guns of all time

Colt Woodsman Second Issue

Few guns are more fun that a .22LR semi-auto pistol. Few are more revered than the 2nd Issue Colt Woodsman. Unlike other Woodsman models, this incorporated a 1911-style magazine release button instead of the European-style heel release. Lightweight, accurate, and reliable, it was a winner.

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best guns of all time

S&W Model 41

Among competitive target shooters, the S&W Model 41 .22LR pistol became legendary. Utterly reliable, nail-driving accurate, and possessing an exquisite trigger, it dominated NRA Outdoor Pistol competition until the manufacturing costs of the required hand-fitting severely curtailed production. Those that own them today cherish them.

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best guns of all time

RIFLES

Winchester 1873

The Winchester 1873 was a significant improvement over existing lever guns, but marketing was key. Chambered for the same cartridges that fit the popular 1873 Peacemaker revolver, frontier "logistics" were solved. It was a favorite with Texas Rangers, and became known as "The Gun That Won The West".

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best guns of all time

Winchester 1886 45/70

An improvement over the 1873, the 1886 Winchester was chambered for such powerful cartridges as the 45/70 and 45/90. It is likely the strongest lever action rifle ever made, and lead to modern designs. It took lever actions out of the pistol cartridge class and into the Big Bore world.

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best guns of all time

AK-47

As the most widely used military rifle in the world, the AK-47 is legendary for its reliability, ease of use, and ability to function in the harshest environments. There is not much one can do to make one stop shooting, other than run out of ammunition.

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best guns of all time

AR-15

Adopted by the U.S. Military in the early 1960s, it has made the transition to what is becoming known as the Modern Sporting Rifle (MSR). One of the most inherently accurate semi-auto rifles yet designed it is a favorite with competitive shooters, and can also be chambered for many popular hunting loads.

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best guns of all time

M-14

Designed shortly after the Korean conflict to replace the M-1 Garand, it offered a high capacity magazine and the ability to effectively mount a sniper's scope. One of the best .30 caliber battle rifles ever designed, it's still in service with the military, and a favorite with competitive shooters.

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best guns of all time

Mauser Model 98

The primary battle rifle of the German forces in WWI and WWII, the rugged and reliable M98 bolt action has formed the basis for a significant percentage of today's bolt action sporter rifles. The controlled feed design is especially favored by those hunting dangerous game.

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best guns of all time

Springfield 1903

Our primary battle rifle of WWI, it was consider one of the most accurate rifles of its day. Untold numbers of surplus guns were sporterized by custom gunsmiths, and was largely responsible for the popularity of bolt action rifles among American hunters.

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best guns of all time

Winchester Model 62A

This graceful little rimfire, exposed hammer, pump action rifle, was one of the first designed to shoot the .22 Short, Long and Long Rifle cartridges interchangeably. It was the most popular rimfire repeater of its era and a favorite with shooting gallery operators.

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best guns of all time

Winchester Model 94

The logical evolution of the Winchester 1886, the Model 94 Winchester in .30-30 caliber may well have harvested more deer than any other rifle in history. It remains in production and is a popular option today for deep woods hunters.

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best guns of all time

Ruger #1

No single shot centerfire rifle has achieved the popularity of the elegant Ruger #1. Available in all all popular calibers from varmint rounds to dangerous game loads, it remains the standard for single shot rifles.

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best guns of all time

Remington Model 700

One of the most enduring bolt action rifles currently in production, the Remington Model 700 is available in a wide range of models and calibers. Suitable for hunting any game animal, it is also a mainstay in the Tactical/LE market, and currently serves as one of our military's sniper rifles.

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best guns of all time

Winchester pre-64 Model 70

Introduced in 1937, and temporarily discontinued in 1963 (hence the pre-64 designation) it earned the nickname "The Rifleman's Rifle" for its smooth operation, three position safety, hinged floor plate, and an improved stock design. It became the standard by which bolt action sporters were judged, and demand prompted its re-introduction.

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best guns of all time

Savage Model 99

The first successful internal hammer lever action rifle, it was for many years the only lever action capable of handling the breech pressures of modern cartridges. Over one million have been sold, and it is still going strong after almost 100 years of service.

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best guns of all time

T/C Classic .22

Some experts consider the Thompson/Center Classic .22 to be the most accurate semi-auto rimfire rifle ever made. Most agree that it has the best trigger of any rimfire semi-auto. Although it's been around less than 20 years, it has achieved elite status.

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best guns of all time

Ruger 10/22

Simple, rugged and reliable, the 10/22 earned high marks on its own. Competitive shooters, however, took advantage of its semi-modular construction and turned it into the premier action sports rimfire with a wealth of aftermarket parts that allow stocks, triggers, barrels, and other key components to be tuned for maximum performance.

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best guns of all time

Marlin Model 60

In the realm of economical, reliable, and easy-to-use .22LR semi-auto rifles, the Marlin Model 60 has reigned supreme for many years. It's not the fanciest rimfire on the market, but legions of American shooters have made it a favorite "working gun."

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best guns of all time

Savage Model 110

Price has always been a factor in a firearm's popularity, especially if it can be combined with top performance. That characterizes the Savage 110. One of the most inherently accurate bolt action rifles on the market, it's always been easy on the wallet, and remains a top choice for many.

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best guns of all time

Marlin 336

Introduced in 1883, the 336 made the transition from black powder to high pressure modern cartridges, and it's side ejection and solid receiver top made scope mounting a snap. America's love affair with lever action hunting guns never ended, and the 336 is more popular today than ever.

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best guns of all time

SHOTGUNS

Winchester 1897

Introduced in 1897, it was the first successful pump action shotgun. One of the most popular shotguns of its time, it saw service in two World Wars and numerous police actions. Production ceased in 1957, but it remained in military service with some units until at least 1972.

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best guns of all time

Winchester Model 12 pump

Although production ceased in the early 1970s, the classic look of the Model 12 was often emulated in other guns, including Winchester's subsequent models. During it's heyday it was one of the top winners in Trap and Skeet competition, and its smooth handling has made it a classic.

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best guns of all time

Remington Model 870

Introduced in 1949 the Model 870 remains in production today and could conceivably be called "America's Favorite Pump Shotgun." Several million have been sold in a variety of barrel and stock configurations, and it has also seen military service.

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best guns of all time

Mossberg Model 500

The Model 500 isn't the most exotic or expensive pump shotgun on the market, but it works. A favorite with those who want solid performance at a modest price the aluminum alloy-framed 500 combined lightweight, reliability, fast handling, and interchangeable barrels to fill many roles.

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best guns of all time

Remington Model 1100

One of the most popular shotguns in history, the gas-operated Remington 1100 has excelled at Trap, Skeet, Sporting Clays and action 3 Gun competition. Smooth handling and low recoil are hallmarks of the gun, and the wealth of interchangeable barrels make it a good fit for any use.

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best guns of all time

Browning Citori

In an era when a quality over & under shotgun cost and arm & leg, the Browning Citori emerged as as an effective alternative. Available in Trap, Skeet and Field models it offered solid performance, enhanced features and, while not cheap, didn't break the bank. It was a trend setter.

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best guns of all time

Ruger Red Label O/U

A talented firearms designer, Bill Ruger was also a genius at marketing. During a period when modestly-price over & under shotguns were going the way of the passenger pigeon he introduced a sleek little 20 gauge. It, and the resulting 12 gauge models, have become classics.

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best guns of all time

Browning Auto 5

The John Browning-designed Auto 5 was the first successful recoil operating action for a semi-auto shotgun. The reliability, as compared to contemporary gas-operated systems, was significant enough that it was one of the few semi-autos of its era to see military use. Current inertia systems are based off of the Auto 5.

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best guns of all time

Remington Model 32

The Model 32 over & under was one of the truly great shotgun designs in history. Unfortunately, it was unveiled when the Great Depression was still a recent memory, and the required amount of hand-fitting increased the cost to a point where few could afford it. The Model 32 spawned the Kriegoff, and it lives on.

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best guns of all time

Browning BT-99

The single shot, box lock, Browning BT-99 was designed to do one thing - dominate 16 to 27 yard singles Trap. Hand-fitted parts, receiver machined from a single steel block, fluid handling and interchangeable choke tubes made it a top competitor whose feature live on today in subsequent Browning guns.

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best guns of all time

Beretta 391

Gas operated semi-auto shotguns are popular. In upper level clay target competition, however, fixed breech over & unders often ruled the roost due to reliability factors. The Beretta gas-operated 391 changed that. It became a winning gun at Sporting Clays, and that translated to subsequent field gun models.

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best guns of all time

Parker DHE

As one of the classic side-by-side shotguns, the name Parker carries a lot of weight. The DHE model broke new ground when it incorporated automatic ejectors within the action. It's a simple thing, but a major advancement in SxS technology, and one incorporated into many subsequent designs.

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best guns of all time

Benelli 20 Ga Montefeltro

Upland gunners prize light and quick handling shotguns. The 20 gauge Benelli Montefeltro is one of the best in that regard. At 5.6 pounds,, handling 2 2/4 or 3 inch shells from a reliable inertia operating action, with a full range of interchangeable choke tubes, it's a winner.

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best guns of all time

Winchester Super X3

Shotgun slugs are a fact of life for many American deer hunters. The Super X3 slug gun is a solution. This semi-auto offers a cantilever scope mount and rifled barrel designed for sabot slugs. The soft recoiling gas system and rifle-like accuracy make it a top choice for slug gun hunters.

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best guns of all time

Beretta Silver Hawk SxS

The epitome of the classic side-by-side field gun, the Silver Hawk is extensively engraved, offers a choice of barrel lengths, monoblock action, single trigger, and is available in a pistol grip or straight English stock. Few guns compare to it in this genre.

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best guns of all time

Beretta DT-10 Trident

In World Class competition you have superbly-trained athletes vying with other equally trained athletes. The gun used sometimes becomes the difference, and few guns have made as many trips to the winner's circle as the Beretta DT-10 Trident over & under. It's medal count speaks for itself.

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best guns of all time

Perrazi MX-10

Perrrazi guns are one of the top competitive over & unders of all time. The MX-10 model took that one step further and was one of the first shotguns to provide an adjustable comb to allow a shooter to precisely fit for comb height, cast on and cast off.

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