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I've only owned handguns since I started carrying in '16 and have just four.

Citadel 1911 OP
Glock 20SF
Dan Wesson Model 15-2 revolver
H&K USP Tactical

I have tried others at the LGR's in Ohio and N.C. From those occasions I enjoyed shooting:
Glock 19
S&W Shield 2.0 9mm
Sig P226 (I think that was the model).

Everything else I've tried was underwhelming.


Of all those, the most influential to me is still the 1911 platform, followed closely by K frame revolvers.
 
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For myself, the first two informed me of what didn’t work for me:

1. Beretta M9 - first handgun I ever shot, in the Army. Did well with it, but hated the DA/SA transition...so I did what most do, and cocked the hammer. In the years since I noted that most who shoot a DA/SA pistol either cock the hammer, or never de-cock it when they insert a mag, so they hardly ever practice using the DA trigger...which contributes to poor accuracy on the first shot when used “for real.” This informed my preference for handguns with consistent triggers.

2. Kahr P9 - my first civilian handgun. Bought on the recommendation of the gun store owner, who had a relationship with Kahr. Mine was an early one, and jammed constantly. Finally got a refund when it jammed for one of the gun store owners too, who had of course blamed me for the issues. Sent back to Kahr, found out the polymer frame had too much flex. This taught me the importance of reliability.

The next three informed me of what did work for me:

3. Next was my first Ruger SP101 snub, which replaced the P9. Accurate, powerful, and utterly reliable. I ended up selling it when money was tight. Later replaced by my current DAO version.

4. Wanting more capacity, I got a Glock 19 gen 3, which I still have and will never part with. Accurate, powerful enough, almost as reliable as a revolver, inexpensive ammunition, etc. A Glock 26 and 30 followed. Still have all three.

5. Ruger LCP - easily my most carried pistols. I carry a pair most days, and my wife has one as well. After a rocky start (ours are all early gen 1s) they proved reliable, and Ruger service has been outstanding when needed. They allow me to be well armed when I otherwise wouldn’t be. They are also surprisingly accurate, as proven in a low light class I took with one. With two special needs kids, having my sidearms in my pockets rather than on my belt also has other advantages, like keeping them from banging their heads into the guns.
 

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Ruger Super Single Six- first single action I owned
S&W Model 15 snub-nose- first CCW I ever carried while aircrew on helicopters
1911-first .45 acp I owned while in USAF
Ruger Security Six- went through Police Academy with
Glock 17- First striker fired gun I carried as a cop
Shield 9mm- been a primary carry gun since retiring
Sig P-365 is quickly replacing the Shield which I still really like


* I couldn't decide which (2) to delete to equal (5) choices :embarassed:
IKR !!! I recently got a Springfield Hellcat. It’s better than my old Shield 9mm in so many ways. Smaller, lighter, more accurate, better sights, higher capacity........ but still, I can’t leave my beloved Shield for it just yet for some reason !!!!!
 

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My Top 5 Most Influential Handguns...

Colt Junior .25ACP (1st auto and pocket carry gun. The reason I hate pocket carry 50 years later.)
S&W Model 19-4 Nickel .357 combat magnum (My 2nd duty weapon which I carried the last 24 years of service.)
Colt Detective Special .38 Special Nickel (My BUG and off-duty gun for a quarter-century.)
Walther PPS40 (1st semiauto CCW)
S&W Model 4054 (This gun turned me on to the S&W single stack, double action only handguns)
 

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( in no particular order )
Berreta 70S in .380 This was my first handgun and was nice little sleek natural pointer. I got it from family and passed it down to family.
S&W J frames in 38 flavor. My 1st was a nickeled 36-1 and I've had several other variants since then.
Ruger Standard This was my first plinking/small game pistol and the last one I ever needed.
Colt 1911 I wanted a piece of history and since getting one, I totally understood why so many have loved the platform.
Glocks It took me a while to get over how butt ugly they are, but when I finally got one, it grew on me... a lot! They work well and are as dependable as a brick.
 

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For me?
Blackpowder revolvers changed the world.
The peacemaker or variation thereof
1911 and the Hipower
the Glock for starting the revolution
..and ...you guys are gonna laugh, but The grendel P-10...which became the Kel tec P3AT which became the Ruger LCP etc. etc etc....That weird little grendel p-10 and p-12 were something new ( we sold em) and they started ALL the small stuff , and EVERYONE owns at least one tiny pocket pistol of some type.
 

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S&W M65
Colt 1911
Glock 19
Glock 36
S&W M60

In no particular order.
 

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Great thread, Howard! A little tough to prune the list down to five, but here goes, with the approximate year I was first "influenced")...

Llama Model IIIA .380 (1975) - My very first pistol, and "influential" in several ways. "Influential" does not necessarily have to be a good thing! Taught me that a single-action semi-auto is a very poor choice for a first handgun for a newbie. (Those who push Sig 238's and 938's on newbies, take heed!) Taught me that I don't want to depend upon a cheap semi-auto if my life depends on it. Taught me that Llama's are crap. Taught me that hearing protection is important!

Colt Combat Commander .45 ACP (1977) - My first 1911, and my first Colt (I think. I might have bought the Detective Special first, but don't remember for sure). Planted the seed for a lifelong appreciation of Colts, and 1911's (though I didn't actually get my second 1911 for many years).

Dan Wesson M44 (1981) - My first Dan Wesson, and my first .44 Magnum. Ultimately created a DW fanatic, for both their revolvers and their 1911's, and a hardcore .44 Mag enthusiast!

S&W M&P's (2010) - Since you saw fit to generalize about the older S&W semi-auto's, I'll do the same with the M&P's! The Shield, and the M&P 9C convinced me that the plastic fantastics had actually surpassed old-school 'walnut & steel' as the optimum CCW's.

Dan Wesson ECO (2017) - The compact 1911 that's got me rethinking the plastic fantastics for a CCW. I am in awe of the ECO. Maybe my favorite pistol of all time!

YMMV!
 

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I really can't say as it varies, sometimes from day to day.
But among them are.
Uberti Cattleman 1873 in 45 Colt
Beretta Tomcat in 32acp
Ruger Vaquero in 44 mag
Sig P938
S&W 686 in 357 mag
 

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For me, I had an ex who thought handguns were murder weapons, but a Beeman P1 .177 cal air pistol in the basement for about 3 years got me started on the fundamentals of sight alignment and trigger pull and was deemed tolerable by the ex. I put over 20,000 rounds through that gun, and with only one shot before needing to reload it drove home the need to make that one shot count - as I suspect Howard's black powder pistol did for him.

Rimfire and centerfire handguns trickled in over the years, but by far the most influential was a Springfield Armory 1911-A1 in .45 ACP. This was my 40th birthday gift to myself, and my first centerfire handgun. In the vein of "beware the man with one gun," I got to be fairly proficient with it as it was my only defensive sidearm for a few years and was used for training, recreation, competition and of course carried for defense. Others have joined it in the safe with more fancy stuff, but this piece loaded with 230 gr ball as Saint John intended is a reliable piece I'd trust my life to, so it gets the nod as the most influential handgun in my life.
 

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Most influential:

Colt Peacemaker (SAA)
Colt 1911
Browning Hi-Power
Beretta 92
Sadly - Glock
For "most influential pistols of all time," not necessarily the ones I've grown up on, I'll go with @high pockets list, except I'd replace the Browning Hi-Power with the flintlock pistol and add the German Luger 9mm.
So my list would be:

Flintlock pistol
Colt Peacemaker (SAA)
Colt 1911
Luger 9mm
Beretta 92
Sadly - Glock
 

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I figure if I'm going to reply, there should be a bit of a story with each gun.

Colt Police Positive Special: My father bought this revolver for almost nothing back in the 80s. Since my parents were divorced, he gave it to me in my early teens to protect the family if necessary.

This revolver almost deserves two positions on the list, because 30 years later, after carrying an auto for many years, I broke out the Colt only to realize I shoot it better than the semis I have been practicing on for many years, which restarted my relationship with revolvers in general and led to me buying a bunch of S&W revolvers.

Colt PPS.jpg

Browning's 1911: Some of my earliest recollections of firearms in movies are of the 1911. Fro some reason my most prominent 1911 memory is from the 1951 version of "The Thing". When he was about to open the door to confront this alien creature, he pulls out his 1911 and cocks it, which stuck with me for some strange reason. Not long after, I found a all-metal 1911 mock-up at a garage sale, and it became my favorite toy for the rest of my childhood. Fortunately, I never got shot while playing with it, because it looks quite real from a distance!

toy 1911 2.jpg

SIG P380: This one is what truly got me carrying a gun. I had long toted my (real) 1911 on road trips, but even after I got my CCL I didn't carry a gun on my person. Then about 10 years ago I stumbled onto the P238, and it lived in my pocket most of the time for the next 5 years. It was displaced by a S&W 637 after my rediscovery of revolvers, and lately my pocket gun is a Kimber K6S.

SIG P238.jpg

S&W Model 29-10: I got this a few years back, and it has since become my favorite gun. It was used and the owner had run about 10000 rounds of 44 SPL thru it, so the trigger is like glass. I have since shot another ~2000 rounds of light magnums thru it. I go thru phases where I carry it or the 3" M629 I got later. This is the gun that started me reloading, and I now reload the vast majority of the rounds I shoot in many different calibers. I recently got a Winchester Model 70 in .458 Win Mag, and I will never shoot a factory loaded round thru it, which is only possible because I bought that M29.

M29 3.jpg

Browning's Hi Power: Since I started carrying full time, I have almost always carried a revolver. But after the attacks on US servicemen a few years back and some of mass shootings, I felt like more capacity might be a good idea. I bought a well-used Hi Power literally a couple of days before Browning/FN ceased production and prices skyrocketed. This gun has proven to be flawless and I shoot it better than any auto I own. I carried it almost exclusively for a couple of years. These days this is the gun I carry when I'm feeling more paranoid than usual or going to the movies, but lately I'm back to carrying my M629 most of the time.

20190103_001339.jpg
 

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...Browning's 1911: Some of my earliest recollections of firearms in movies are of the 1911. Fro some reason my most prominent 1911 memory is from the 1951 version of "The Thing". When he was about to open the door to confront this alien creature, he pulls out his 1911 and cocks it, which stuck with me for some strange reason. Not long after, I found a all-metal 1911 mock-up at a garage sale, and it became my favorite toy for the rest of my childhood. Fortunately, I never got shot while playing with it, because it looks quite real from a distance!

View attachment 319088 ...
Hey, I had one of those, too!
Solid cast aluminum, if my memory still works. Painted "gunmetal" color.
They were available via mail-order, even in New York City.
Mine got lots of play-time.

There was a .32 revolver replica, too.
It was just like the real one that our beat-cop carried.
 

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That is an absolutely excellent copy of an M1911

I've never seen one done that well before! That's better than Colt did their Repros back in 2003.

Cast toy M1911.jpg
 
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