This is a countdown of the 50 greatest classic firearms of all time. I have eliminated guns that are not generally available to the American public, such as the select fire Soviet AK-47 and World War II German STG-44 assault rifles. To make this list, the firearm in question has to be available to the public, made a significant contribution to the shooting sports or the national defense. From the bottom to the top, here are the first five.
46. S&W Chiefs Special Revolver. For years this small revolver was the gun carried by police chiefs, detectives, undercover operatives, and other armed professionals. The Chief’s Special was also popular with civilians; doctors, lawyers, and businessmen carried the chief’s special. It’s J-frame descendents are still excellent choices for concealed carry.
47. Browning Baby Pistol. This little .25 ACP pistol was the standard for deep concealment for decades. It’s a gun that could be carried concealed when everything else was too big. The Baby Browning was also a great back up gun, the modern equivalent of the derringer. After it could no longer be imported after 1968, several companies tried to copy it, but the quality and reliability of the original were never equaled.
48. Colt Python Revolver. The Python is the finest double action revolver ever made. From 1955 to the end of production in 1999, the Python was essentially hand built and fitted in the Colt factory. This resulted in the smoothest double action ever in a factory gun. Coupled with the best styling (ventilated rib and royal blue finish) and outstanding accuracy, the Python was and is a winner. It’s Colt classiest snake.
49. Ithaca Model 37 Shotgun. The first true pump action ambidextrous design, the Model 37 was the successor to the Winchester Model 97 trench gun and the Model 12 trench gun in the military. It was a regular item in police cars for decades. It’s a rugged and useful design for civilian hunting applications. The Model 37s’ high quality of manufacture gave the Model 37 excellent reputation for durability and reliability.
50. Winchester Model 1895 Rifle. This was a favorite of Theodore Roosevelt. In the potent .405 caliber, it accounted for African Lions and other dangerous game. In 30-40 Krag (.30 Caliber U.S. Government), the Model 1895 served law enforcement and was a private purchase item used by military officers in the Spanish American War. It’s greatest accomplishment, was the nearly 300,000 that served Tzarist Russia in 7.62x54 caliber. This was probably the largest military use of lever action rifles in history. It was the last and the best of the 19th century lever action rifles.