Top 10 Handguns of All Time

In the September 2009 issue of American Rifleman, a group of 10 men, 8 magazine editors and 2 curators from the National Firearms Mueseum, rated their own “Top 10” list from 1 to 10. These rankings include military, police, and civilian models for their practicality, technology, and history. A first-place vote received 10 points, a tenth-place vote was worth 1 point. With ten panelists, 100 points was the maximum score a handgun could receive. The 10 handguns that received the highest points made it to the “Top 10” list.
Without further ado..

The Top 10 Handguns of All Time



  1. with 92 points:
    M1911, M1911A1 pistols and variants, caliber .45. The longest serving military issue pistol in history, and still one of the most popular handguns in America.
  2. with 53 points:
    Smith & Wesson Hand Ejector Revolver, calibers .22, .32, .38, & .44. This is the ubiquitous police issue revolver, it was in common use for nearly 70 years.
  3. with 41 points:
    Glock 17 pistol, caliber 9mm. The first polymer frame pistol took firearm technology to the next level. It’s combination of weight, size, and accuracy changed the way people thought about handguns.
  4. with 33 points:
    Smith & Wesson Model One Revolver, caliber .22. The first widely successful American repeating handgun to use self-contained ammunition.
  5. with 31 points:
    Volcanic Volitional Repeater, caliber .22, .31, & .41. This handgun has a crazy history that included (and helped create) such firearm manufacturer names a Smith & Wesson, Winchester Repeating Arms, and Henry Repeating Rifle.
  6. with 31 points:
    Colt’s Single Action Army Revolver (a.k.a., “The Peacemaker”), caliber .45 (and others). This might be the most recognized handgun in the world for both it’s technology (at the time), it’s practicality (more than 350,000 were produced), and it’s legend as the “The Gun That Won The West.”
  7. with 31 points:
    Walther PP, PPK, PPK/S Pistols, caliber .32, .380. The world’s first successful double-action semi-automatic pistol gained wide fame as a small, reliable handgun, but mostly because it’s the official handgun of fictional super-spy James Bond.
  8. with 27 points:
    C96 Mauser “Broomhandle” Pistol, caliber 9mm. Ugly and unwieldy, it’s success is primarily in it’s production value. Mauser produced and sold more than ONE MILLION C96 pistols between 1896 and 1937.
  9. with 25 points:
    Browning Hi Power Pistol, caliber 9mm, .40. Primarily a redesign of the M1911, it was designed to hold more rounds of smaller 9mm ammunition, as well as some internal structural changes.
  10. with 18 points:
    Smith & Wesson Registered Magnum Revolver, caliber .357, .44, .460, .500. Big and powerful, it (the .44 version) was famously described by Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry as “the most powerful handgun in the world”. Unfortunately, the .44 no longer holds that distinction. It was usurped by it’s cousin, the massive .500.



We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about the “Top 10 Handguns of All Time” and maybe learned a little along the way. It just so happens we have some of these models in stock at the shop, versions of the M1911, the S&W .357 & .44 Magnums, the Glock, and the PPK/S.
If you’re interested, come down to the shop and check them out.

Thanks and have a great weekend,

DGS News | news@dryesgunshop.com