The four most influential pistols of the 20th century

This is a discussion on The four most influential pistols of the 20th century within the Defensive Carry Guns forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I, for one, care. I'm a 1911 fanatic, and the history and influence is quite intriguing to me. I personally think the luger and the ...

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  1. #16
    Member Array gobbly's Avatar
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    I, for one, care. I'm a 1911 fanatic, and the history and influence is quite intriguing to me.

    I personally think the luger and the 1911 are the most recognizable pistols out there. Can't say I like how the lugers look, but the 1911, to me, is a thing of beauty :) Both had a large impact on subsequent pistols, and still do.

    Glocks are cool, I guess... But certainly haven't been around long enough in significant numbers to have the impact on the industry of some of the older platforms. Just my opinion of course :)

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  3. #17
    VIP Member Array suntzu's Avatar
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    I also agree that the Glock was not as influential as people perceive. People just like saying Glock.

  4. #18
    VIP Member Array mcp1810's Avatar
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    But even the idea of the trigger safety is not really original. For years revolvers have had passive hammer blocks or transfer bars that required the trigger to pulled for the weapon to fire. The classic Sig P series has a passive safety in the form of a firing pin block that must be moved by the trigger bar to enable firing. Both of these are passive safeties deactivated by pulling the trigger.
    To me Glock just looks like a pistol designed from a chinese carryout menu. Pick a frame from column "A" a locking system from column "B" an igniton system from column "C" etc. Sort of a pistol built by Captain Obvious. It was a design that I feel was going to happen inevitably, Glock just happened to do it first. So I don't think of Glock as influential, I think of them as early adopters of what everyone was going to anyway. Evolution rather than Revolution.
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  5. #19
    Senior Member Array MilitaryArms's Avatar
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    What is it about the P-08 Luger that you guys think would put it on the list?

    The toggle system was a flop, it wasn't used after the Luger in any successful designs. It was a single action, and that wasn't anything unique to the Luger. The Luger did use a striker, but it wasn't the first... the Borchardt of the 1893 used a striker.

    I can't think of anything the Luger brought to the table that directly inspired future pistol designs.
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  6. #20
    VIP Member Array suntzu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MilitaryArms View Post
    What is it about the P-08 Luger that you guys think would put it on the list?

    The toggle system was a flop, it wasn't used after the Luger in any successful designs. It was a single action, and that wasn't anything unique to the Luger. The Luger did use a striker, but it wasn't the first... the Borchardt of the 1893 used a striker.

    I can't think of anything the Luger brought to the table that directly inspired future pistol designs.
    What makes you think the Glock is in the top 4 influential?

  7. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by suntzu View Post
    I also agree that the Glock was not as influential as people perceive. People just like saying Glock.
    LOL, at first (back in the 1980's) I hated saying "Glock". I thought it was a goofy name. I thought it was destine to failure if for no other reason that the name was goofy. I felt the same way about Google. Hehe. I guess you could say I was wrong.

    As for it not inspiring other designs, just about every polymer handgun that's popular today borrows directly from the Glock recipe. It's hard to deny the M&P copied it. That the XD copied it (and added some 1911 flavor). The Caracal copied it. The Steyr M9 copied it. The Sigma copied it.

    I will say that the Glock didn't innovate any single feature (except the trigger dingus - not something too many people value) but they did mix the features together for the first time and set the trend for modern pistol designs.
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  8. #22
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    Twentieth century revolver designs that could be considered influential would have to include the following.

    Smith & Wesson N-Frame "New Century" Triple Lock - Introduced in 1907, this was the original incarnation of the N-Frame which spawned several really great revolver cartridges including the .44 Special, .357 Magnum, .44 Magnum, and .41 Magnum; cartridges that were later chambered in many other brands of revolver but were developed by Smith & Wesson in their N-Frame revolver. The K-Frame and its .38 Special cartridge is a very important design but came to fruition during the year 1899 so can't properly be included unless one wishes to consider it a 20th century design by virtue of the fact that it came into general use during the year 1900.

    Colt Detective Special - Though revolver models with shorter barrel options had been cataloged by Colt prior to 1927 and folks had previously modified their revolvers by hacking off barrel length, the Detective Special as a unique cataloged model ushered in the snubbie era. The factory snubbie concept and all makers current offerings hark back to this model.

    Colt Army Special - The introduction of this Colt design in 1907 paved the way for a host of respected revolvers that armed lawmen, entertained sportsmen, and won the medal for competition shooters for much of the 20th Century. The Official Police was a renamed Army Special. The Officers Model was a fantastic target version of this revolver. The Python was only a minor revision of the basic design and size. It also formed the basis for other Colt models including the Marshall, Commando, 3 5 7, and Trooper.

    Ruger Blackhawk - This is really the most important and influential Ruger revolver product. It re-energized enthusiasm for the single action revolver and formed a sturdy basis for chambering most any reasonable cartridge with ample strength for all. It offered affordability in addition to all its characteristic attributes. Never intended to gain sales in law enforcement or garner military contracts, it is unique among the four revolvers mentioned in this post because it made its name strictly within the sports shooter, hobbyist, and hunter, and celebrates the citizens' right to bear arms.
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  9. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by mcp1810 View Post
    But even the idea of the trigger safety is not really original. For years revolvers have had passive hammer blocks or transfer bars that required the trigger to pulled for the weapon to fire. The classic Sig P series has a passive safety in the form of a firing pin block that must be moved by the trigger bar to enable firing. Both of these are passive safeties deactivated by pulling the trigger.
    To me Glock just looks like a pistol designed from a chinese carryout menu. Pick a frame from column "A" a locking system from column "B" an igniton system from column "C" etc. Sort of a pistol built by Captain Obvious. It was a design that I feel was going to happen inevitably, Glock just happened to do it first. So I don't think of Glock as influential, I think of them as early adopters of what everyone was going to anyway. Evolution rather than Revolution.
    Not to flame, nor am I a fanboy as I don't and probably won't own one, but if the design is so "obvious", wouldn't that make it revolutionary by default. I also don't think you can claim the glock as the first of what everyone was doing anyway, as it WAS the first and early copies by other companies where viewed as rather shameless copies. It's been adopted by practically every police force in the nation, due to reliability, ease of manual of arms, and simplicity. Literally every polymer framed striker fired pistol is compared to it's glock counterpart. 100 years from now there will still be glocks, I guarantee it.

  10. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmcgilvray View Post
    Twentieth century revolver designs that could be considered influential would have to include the following.

    Smith & Wesson N-Frame "New Century" Triple Lock - Introduced in 1907, this was the original incarnation of the N-Frame which spawned several really great revolver cartridges including the .44 Special, .357 Magnum, .44 Magnum, and .41 Magnum; cartridges that were later chambered in many other brands of revolver but were developed by Smith & Wesson in their N-Frame revolver. The K-Frame and its .38 Special cartridge is a very important design but came to fruition during the year 1899 so can't properly be included unless one wishes to consider it a 20th century design by virtue of the fact that it came into general use during the year 1900.

    Colt Detective Special - Though revolver models with shorter barrel options had been cataloged by Colt prior to 1927 and folks had previously modified their revolvers by hacking off barrel length, the Detective Special as a unique cataloged model usher in the snubbie era. The factory snubbie concept and all makers current offerings hark back to this model.

    Colt Army Special - The introduction of this Colt design in 1907 paved the way for a host of respected revolvers that armed lawmen, entertained sportsmen, and won the medal for competition shooters for much of the 20th Century. The Official Police was a renamed Army Special. The Officers Model was a fantastic target version of this revolver. The Python was only a minor revision of the basic design and size. It also formed the basis for other Colt models including the Marshall, Commando, 3 5 7, and Trooper.

    Ruger Blackhawk - This is really the most important and influential Ruger revolver product. It re-energized enthusiasm for the single action revolver and formed a sturdy basis for chambering most any reasonable cartridge with ample strength for all. It offered affordability in addition to all its characteristic attributes. Never intended to gain sales in law enforcement or garner military contracts, it is unique among the four revolvers mentioned in this post because it made its name strictly within the sports shooter, hobbyist, and hunter, and celebrates the citizens' right to bear arms.
    Great post, thank you.
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  11. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by MilitaryArms View Post
    What is it about the P-08 Luger that you guys think would put it on the list?

    The toggle system was a flop, it wasn't used after the Luger in any successful designs. It was a single action, and that wasn't anything unique to the Luger. The Luger did use a striker, but it wasn't the first... the Borchardt of the 1893 used a striker.

    I can't think of anything the Luger brought to the table that directly inspired future pistol designs.
    The Luger P-08 is one of the most natural pointers I have ever fired. The grip angle and it's relation to the bore axis is spectacular. Ruger thought so as well which is why the MkI and successive series of Ruger .22 pistols copied that angle. I can literally shoot a Luger better with my eyes closed (with supervision) than some pistols with my eyes open. Many of its contemporaries had a grip angle of 90 degrees.
    Without the P-08 there is no 9mm Luger cartridge. With no 9mm Luger cartridge JMB may never have designed the Hi-Power. He may have just done a double action, single stack .45 auto. Without the 9mm cartridge what would the majority of SMG's in WWII have fired? Would "wonder nines" even exist? Would there have even been a market niche for Glock to jump into?
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  12. #26
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    "What is it about the P-08 Luger that you guys think would put it on the list?"

    In the context of its time it was pretty amazing. When it was introduced it replaced the ungainly Borchardt's main spring design that hung "out back" with a simple leaf spring. It turned the Borchardt's ungainly grip angle into an ergonomic delight, still seen in the designs of automatic pistols. It was compact, sleek, elegant, well-balanced and modern looking by comparison with both the Borchardt or the Mauser C96. It was better balanced than the initial Colt service-pistol offerings as well, those being the Models 1900, 1902, 1903, and 1905. It was capable of great accuracy for the time perhaps due to its rigid, fixed barrel. The Luger saw immediate wide acceptance and was immediately adopted by a number of nations as a service handgun. Beginning in 1900, it ushered in the 20th century as far as acceptance of the self-loading pistol is concerned more than any other design. It caused firearms designers to get busy to bring out suitable competition. Competition which did later exceed the Luger's design features. It is a definite landmark design though and it outlasted several other competing yet goofy European designs that came along within the decade after its developement.

    Sure the toggle action seems complicated for the required design task, like taking the long way to a destination, but it worked positively and proved to be sturdy. The typical Luger trigger is mushy but that could be forgiven it considering some of the triggers served up these days on some DAO models.

    It is antiquated in this day and age but a Luger will still spit out 9mm bullets with the best of them. Perhaps not as many as we now consider necessary but the Luger even possesses a convenient button magazine release and may be recharged with spare magazines very rapidly.
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  13. #27
    Senior Member Array MilitaryArms's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mcp1810 View Post
    Without the P-08 there is no 9mm Luger cartridge.
    I would say this is the most compelling argument for its inclusion on the list. I don't think anyone can say with certainty that the 9mm would have never existed if the P-08 hadn't been invented. The inventor could have just as easily used the 9mm in another design I suppose. That's all speculation. What I do know is that the Luger was in fact the worlds first 9mm. Given the global popularity of the 9mm this is significant. Humm.
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  14. #28
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    It was Georg Luger who in 1902 opened the bottleneck 7.65 Luger cartridge to a slightly tapered design that accepted a larger diameter and heavier bullet thus creating the 9mm. He did this to gain market shares for his pistol creation. Sure, someone else could have done it. There were other, now obscure, 9mm cartridges that came along that could have been tuned to give better performance. But the 9mm as we know it has a history firmly entwined with the Luger.
    “No possible rapidity of fire can atone for habitual carelessness of aim with the first shot.”

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  15. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doodle View Post
    Not to flame, nor am I a fanboy as I don't and probably won't own one, but if the design is so "obvious", wouldn't that make it revolutionary by default. I also don't think you can claim the glock as the first of what everyone was doing anyway, as it WAS the first and early copies by other companies where viewed as rather shameless copies. It's been adopted by practically every police force in the nation, due to reliability, ease of manual of arms, and simplicity. Literally every polymer framed striker fired pistol is compared to it's glock counterpart. 100 years from now there will still be glocks, I guarantee it.
    I am not a hater, I just don't buy into all the hype.
    NATO was leaning on the U.S. to adopt a 9mm service pistol just like we got them to adopt the 5.56mm, 7.62x51, and .50BMG. Everybody supposed to be able to use everybody elses ammo to ease supply. LEO agencies in the U.S. were starting to look for higher capacity replacements for their six shooters because of the heavily armed drug dealers. It was no secret there was going to be a huge market for high capacity semi autos in 9mm

    Polymer framed pistols first hit the scene about 1970 IIRC but people didn't buy into them. Folks didn't like that "plastic rifle" they were sending to Vietnam either.

    Glock was smart enough to figure out that he could build a decent quality pistol with a polymer frame a lot cheaper than casting/forging/ machining them out of steel or alloy. The price point is actually what wins Glock most LEO contracts. I am not saying they are "cheap" guns. They meet the minimum standards for the agency tests. But when you are buying pistols for a thousand officers price is a significant factor. My own department first adopted Beretta when they went to 9mm because they had a plant in Maryland and we, the state police, and the county next to us (where the factory is) got a price break. When we went to .40 the Glock scored no better than Sig and I think HK but came in about $40 per gun cheaper than anybody else. That is how they are getting the LEO contracts. In some places they are even trading the departments one for one for their old pistols. They know that a lot of people buy what the local cops carry. They can easily give one away knowing it will likely result in multiple "civillian" sales. It is not about which is "best" it is about what meets or exceeds standards and has the lowest price tag.
    Sure every polymer framed striker fired pistol is compared to Glock. That is the bench mark. But you could also say that all Ladas and Trabbis were compared to Yugos. Doesn't really speak to the quality of any of them out of that particular context. Not saying that Glocks are the Yugos of handguns just saying that it is a known quality in a specific class that others in that class are measured against. Could just as easily say it is an Audi or a BMW.

    But getting back on track with the thread, I would agree that Glock has done a masterful job at recognizing where the market was going applying already existing technologies and techniques to produce a quality product at a price that took the industry by surprise. I thnk the other manufacturers were eventually heading down this path but had enough market share that they didn't see the need to rush into anything. Nobody saw anybody making great strides or investments in that direction. But as an outsider Glock went unnoticed until they caught the old school guys napping. S&W and the rest had a choice, take the polymer plunge or be willing to write off some segments of the market.
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  16. #30
    Ex Member Array Nick62's Avatar
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    Who could argue with the 1911?
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