Let’s get ready to rrrumble! If you believe Paul Barrett, America has decided on America’ gun. It’s Teutonic, Tenifer-coated and tenaciously reliable. In fact, he christened Gaston’s gun in Glock: The Rise of America’s Gun. I guess if you sell 10 or 20 million heaters to everyone from your friendly neighborhood LEO to Ma and Pa Kettle, you have at least a plausible claim to the title. Now, however, the original thinkers at CNBC are promoting another contender with their upcoming, uniquely-named exposé, America’s Gun: The Rise of the AR-15. The promo features plenty of portentous music with hints at the insightful analysis we’re in for: “It is both legal and lethal.” Style aside, though, who’s right? Which one really is America’s gun? The Glock? The AR? Or do they both have it wrong?

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138 Responses to Question of the Day: What is America’s Gun?

  1. Colt 1911s are still being made, with just about every handgun maker having a variation and priced close to $1000 or more. Glocks are popular and AR-15s are infamous, but I would wager that you say the word “handgun” to the average American citizen, the image that pops into their head is a 1911, even if they couldnt tell you what it was called.

    • I think the image associated with “pistol” is something approximating a 1911 or M9, but for a lot of people the word “handgun” may generate an image of a J-frame or colt detective. Though it’s probably all very generational and culturally variant.

    • I’m not weighing in on 1911 vs. Glock (or stiker-fired in general), but I think 1911 when I hear the word pistol. A 1911 is like a Harley Davidson, whatever else you want to say about it, it has soul.

    • “I would wager that you say the word “handgun” to the average American citizen, the image that pops into their head is a 1911, even if they couldnt tell you what it was called.”

      This so true … if said average American is a senior citizen. For everyone else … “handgun” = Glock.

    • Seconded. Besides, America shouldn’t just have a single “beater” pistol (Glock) or an AR that “no hunter worth their salt” would ever use. America should have lightweight CCW.38 special revolvers, “mouse” .380s, classic .45’s, all-American .30-06’s, target .308s, olde school lever .45-70’s, Mosins, hand cannons, “out west” .300 mags, “reach out” .338s, “Safari” .375s, “alternative” 6.8s and 300 BLKs, “practice” .22s, “pest” .177s and anything else that I may have forgotten.

      I have no problem with the government banning .9mms as long as my super soaker gets “grandfathered.” Everything else should be left alone.

  2. Poorly worded question.

    America’s rifle is absolutely the AR-15.

    America’s pistol is absolutely the Glock, as I feel pretty confident that Glocks have overshadowed 1911s in sales.

    Although that doesn’t mean they’re the best choices. For example, I am a Caracal convert. Much of it comes down to taste.

    Robert, now that you have your new drop-safe Caracal, does that mean the rest of us can send ours in now too?

  3. I think to pick a gun as “america’s gun” you need to set some kind of criteria. Like is the choice meant to reflect ubiquity, history, or some more esoteric philosophy.

    For ubiquity, the AR and the Glock are decent choices. Maybe the Remington 870, the J-frame revolver, or depending on where you live, the lever 30-30?

    For history/history in the making, maybe the Pennsylvania/Kentucky rifle, the Colt SAA, the lever carbine, the 1911, the M1 Garand/Carbine, the Thompson SMG, the M14, the M16, the M4 carbine, etc.

    For esoteric reasons, maybe it’s simply “the gun you have” that is America’s gun. Maybe you want to call “America’s Gun” the gun most consistent with the 2A, in which case the commercial/civilian AR15 is a good choice.

  4. Between those two choices, hands-down the AR. Glocks are deservedly popular, but I don’t see them as being “America’s gun.”

    I’d pick the 1911 over either of those. Or, hell, any Colt or SW revolver. Designed here. Made here. Used here for over a century. AR’s getting close to that, but I don’t think it’s there yet.

    • SD3, I appreciate your humor ALMOST as much as I appreciate the natural pointability, effortless quick-sights and butter-smooth trigger of my Emerati Kitty Cat 🙂

      Caracal C and Caracal F fo’ life!

  5. Colt single action army. Winchester lever action. Colt model 1911. S&W Model 10.
    Nothing modern, designed and built by a foreign country. Nothing that hasn’t at least 75 years of history, American history. If you want something that screams “American” watch the faces of the staid, tight ass, Europeans when an American single action revolver comes up for auction.

    • An N frame registered magnum revolver….Pattons ‘killing gun’. It was super popular from the mid-30’s on with the police, FBI, state patrol, hunters, civilians, etc… Versatile and historic.

  6. The shotgun. It was the gun that truly tamed the frontier and I’ll bet there’s quite a few homes where the shotgun is the only gun in the house. Because of our urban population now I can see America’s gun becoming a handgun of some sort. For the one gun urban family it would probably be a glock.

  7. America’s gun is icon not a fad. The Glock is not yet an icon the way a Colt SAA, 1911 or an M-1. The Glock is just popular. The AR-15 design has been around long enough to be an icon yet I don’t consider it an American icon. The M-16 is iconic in the way the M-1 is. When pick up an M-1 you pick up a piece of Omaha Beach. When you pick up an M-16 are part of the 7th Cav in Vietnam. When you pick up the “modern sporting rilfe” you pick up a varmint gun.

    So what is America’s gun vice its current popular gun? The Winchester ’73 and the Colt SAA represent America in a way that no other rifle or pistol can.

    • Thanks a lot…you ruined the beauty of the moment…I was leaning back remembering what gun forums used to be like where the anger was directed at fellow gunnies for their obvious ignorant and wrong opinions, rather than worrying how to save the Republic….ahhh, it was fun while it lasted.

      • Sorry to burst your bubble, but the fact remains that there are those who are wholeheartedly attempting to separate us from our freedoms. Any and all actions on their part need to be shared with those on our side, as quickly as these actions occur.

        • The Republican leadership wants to put five Democrats in Red States on the spot. While I like the idea I’d prefer to kill it dead now in the Senate.

  8. America’s gun? Anything with “Colt” in the name: single action army, 1911, or AR. Whether they grew up watching TV westerns, inherited grandpa’s 1911 from WWII, or followed Vietnam/ Iraq/ Afghanistan on the news, people who don’t know guns recognize the name Colt.

      • Not stupid at all. He said the gun for himself not you or another person. Are you claiming that you know more about what is true for DB Jr than he knows about himself?

        The .357 is probably the most versatile round and handgun.

        • He’s going to use the gun on himself?

          How very odd.

          The .357 is a fast hitting weapon. It’ll blow right through the ‘target’. And the target can keep coming on.

          But the .45 cal has a proven history of putting down drugged-up assailants.

          The .357 doesn’t.

          You want to make a loud noise? Get a .357.

          You wanna survive combat in the extreme? Get a .45 ACP.

          ’nuff said.

        • Chuck,

          That was a bizarre reply. My comment had nothing in reference to DB Jr using the gun on himself. The 357 is not a man stopper? It’s a noise maker? I’m astonished at your reply. The 357 revolver was the gun of choice for police for many decades. The caliber is a proven man stopper. Most likely there have been far more jams of .45 semi-autos than there have been .357 rounds failing to stop an attacker.

          Going beyond what seems to be your sole focus of shooting human beings the 357 makes for a great kit gun when out in nature, and it offers the choice of using two calibers. For the average American citizen the 357 or the 38+P round that is fired from a DA/SA revolver is probably the best choice for their most encountered forms of defense. Those forms being a home intrusion and self defense on the street.

        • Chuck, 357 magnum is numero uno manstopper of all time. Have you heard of……hollowpoints?
          You can go anywhere from 200 foot pounds of energy to over 700 with 38, 38+p, 357 reduced load, 357 regular to hot load.
          Your so silly I want to slap your face.

  9. Glock’s popularity was born out of infamy in the U.S. It was the “hijackers” gun. The AR-15 will now rise to that same level of popularity because of its infamy.

  10. TO: All
    RE: What IS America’s ‘Gun’?

    As we say in the Army, “It depends on the situation.”

    But generally speaking, we’re talking a long-gun and a side-arm.

    For the long-gun, I—from my professional perspective—recommend a variant on the AR-15 that meets your needs: in-house, outside, long-range, whatever? Choose the accessorization that meets your needs.

    For the sidearm, I recommend something along the lines of a Springfield Armory XDm .45 cal with a Crimson Trace laser targeting system.

    Regards,

    Chuck(le)
    [.45 cal, because it’s just silly to have to shoot someone twice.]

    P.S. Extra mags for all weapons and lots of ammo.

  11. I’m gonna go with the classic double-barrel shotgun. It’s just like America.
    Big, loud, difficult to control, and when it’s pointed at you you shut up really damn quick if you know what’s good for you.

    • Good luck at ranges greater than 25 meters…..

      And I recommend against the Biden tehnique, i.e., shooting through doors when you don’t know what’s on the other side.

      • Good luck in court if you shoot some one at ranges greater than 25 meters and try to claim self defense, Chuck.

        • If I’m shooting at people beyond 25 meters, it’s because we’re in a ‘state of war’. And the courts aren’t going to be around to sort things out.

    • Never did work well with ‘conformity’.

      Maybe I should have gone Special Feces. But I’m happy with being a born-again Christian of the Airborne-Ranger persuasion…..

  12. The AR-15 is windly popular, and there’s gotta be at least 10 million of them out there, but ironically/happily they are responsible for a miniscule number of deaths in America compared to other guns.

    The Glock has the dubious distinction of being probably the only gun (or gun brand) that is wildly popular with both cops and crooks. Cops go for Glocks, S&W, Sigs and some H&Ks. Criminals love Glocks (to the point of including them in various rap “songs”), Hi-Point, Davis, Lorcin, Raven and S&W revolvers.

  13. Somewhere there is a Vietnam Vet (or hundreds), who had a first gen M-16 blow up on him, defecating mid-sized bricks right now. The AR is the DoD’s gun. America’s gun is . . . well . . . How dare you ask Americans to pick which one of their children they love best 🙂

    • I fired M16 for decades. Me and all the paratroopers in the 82d.

      If you keep it clean it shoots just fine.

      You stuff up a long-gun with grunge it’ll blow up every time.

        • Yeah….like looking for something misplaced in the house. It’s always found in the ‘last place you look’.

      • More money spent on tweeking the AR/M-16 platform and the 5.56/.223 than any other small arms system in human history. It should work fine now; had the DoD not tirelessly stuck by it, the AR would merely be a footnote of history.

        I hear the same refrain time and time again (usually from military or ex-military) and the simple fact is the same complaints, on the same scale, were never made of almost any other rifle. M1’s never had that prob. Same for AK’s, Steyers, Galils, etc.

        The AR platform works decent now but it took a very long road getting here. Again DoD’s gun, but as some here have already pointed out – the shotgun would be America’s gun if we had to pick one. Thank God we do not.

        • I’ve got AR-15s. Fired lots of rounds through them.

          No problems.

          What’s YOUR ‘problem’?

        • I was in the infantry, and a range coach during my stint.
          I have nothing good to say about the unreliable POS.

          Presumably, the civilian models are better, since people aren’t being forced to utilize them. But better is a far cry from good.

        • TO: Luke
          RE: Heh

          I have nothing good to say about the unreliable POS. — Range Coach Luke

          I coached West Point cadets how to shoot the M16 in ’71. I used the weapon throughout my 27 years in the infantry.

          It’s not a POS. And the AR-15s are much more ‘versatile’ in their configuration. Wish I’d had the red-dot and sniper scopes back in my enlisted days.

          Regards,

          Chuck(le)
          [God is alive….and Airborne-Ranger qualified.]

          P.S. So am I…..

  14. This almost has to be a dishonest piece, by definition. Anyone who’s being honest and has an IQ above room temperature knows that criminal violence is not dependent on the legality of personal weapons. At minimum, it legitimizes the hysterical “other side”.

  15. I do know the current winner of America’s caliber (and has been for a long time) at least in modern times is the 22LR. From that jump-off point, I believe the Ruger 10/22 is America’s Gun. BTW, I do not own a 10/22 and it is not my own first choice for 22LR carbine or rifle.

    • I immediately thought of the 10/22, too. I own them and will buy more…but saying that, its almost like choosing a Corolla as America’s car….Great product, ubiquitous certainly but not iconic.

    • Admittedly the 10/22 is kinda popular, they sold about 5MM so far.

      5MM 10/22s may sound like a lot. Until you learn the Marlin/Glenfield model 60 is over 11MM last time I looked.

      To be fair, the 10/22 gets more top-of-mind because it has gee-whiz-mall-ninja accessories available. But there’s 6MM more model 60s out there.

      • I could go with Generic .22lr Rifle as the American gun. I am old enough to remember when Boy’s Life magazine had ads showing teenage kids hiking and using their .22’s to kill rattle snakes to protect themselves and friends. My God, can you imagine what Law Enforcement Agencies would be involved now if two or three teenagers were walking around with rifles strapped to their backs?

        • I’m that old too, though I was living about 50 miles outside a major metro, so things we a bit different when I was 10-15. In the mid-late 70s. We all had motorcycles. We all owned guns and carried them on said motorcycles. We brought guns on the bus to middle-school, so we could get on a different bus (without a note or anything!) and go hunting at someone’s house after school.

          At YMCA summer camp, 8 year olds up all went to the rifle course. And shot .22s…

  16. With the people I know..
    Rifle – AR-15, very popular with pretty much everybody
    Pistol – 1911. I know many people with multiple 1911’s and would love to have one myself. I personally don’t have any friends that have currently have Glocks or even want one. We all shoot 1911’s, XD’s, Sig’s or Ruger’s.

    • I cut my ‘eye teeth’ on the M1911A1. Took second place in an infantry-heavy brigade pistol competition with it.

      I like it a lot.

      But I prefer the Springfield Armory XDm as I have a Crimson Trace laser targeting sight on it. And it holds more ammo in the mag.

  17. “How is it that something born on the battlefield…” has found its way into every kitchen and dorm room in America??

    “The microwave oven was invented as an accidental by-product of war-time (World War 2) radar research using magnetrons (vacuum tubes that produce microwave radiation, a type of electromagnetic radiation that has a wavelength between 1 mm and 30 cm).

    In 1946, the engineer Dr. Percy LeBaron Spencer, who worked for the Raytheon Corporation, was working on magnetrons. One day at work, he had a candy bar in his pocket, and found that it had melted. He realized that the microwaves he was working with had caused it to melt. After experimenting, he realized that microwaves would cook foods quickly – even faster than conventional ovens that cook with heat.

    The Raytheon Corporation produced the first commercial microwave oven in 1954; it was called the 1161 Radarange. It was large, expensive, and had a power of 1600 watts. The first domestic microwave oven was produced in 1967 by Amana (a division of Raytheon)”

    • I caught that “How is it that something born on the battlefield…” line in the promo as well. I’ve got to ask, is there a single firearm ever made that neither was made for battlefield use nor traces its roots to a battlefield weapon? The AR is just the latest in a long line of firearms that made their way from weapon of war to personal weapon. When humans stop killing (or torturing, or oppressing) each other and all animal predators cease to pose a threat to humans then we won’t need guns for self defense. Then guns will be for collecting, target shooting, hunting, etc. But I’m not holding my breath.

    • “How is it that something born on the battlefield…” has found its way into every kitchen and dorm room in America??

      You mean, like the Jeep?

  18. boy what a hard question. Like asking, what is America’s car? Are we talking about a platform like the AR-15, or a piece of history like the M1 or a level winchester? The colt 1911 certainly fits the bill. But so does the Remington 870, as does the Mossberg 500- its a workhorse that takes a beating.

    I have to agree with the above comment “the one you have.”

  19. when are people going to get over this myth that semi auto rifles are “Designed to kill the most people in the least amount of time” or “designed to inflict as much damage as possible as fast as possible”?

    if we wanted that, we have assloads of bombs we could use to accomplish the same thing way more efficiently.

  20. Unless the firearm in question carries the imprimatur of Samuel Colt, John Moses Browning, John Garand or Eugene Stoner, it isn’t an American icon or “America’s Gun.”

    Bwaaahahahaha..let the flame wars begin!

      • That’s it? The best flame you can come up with is “Garand is a Canadian?” John Garand was a naturalized American citizen, I believe.

        Weak sauce there. I’m disappointed, considering the bait I tossed out.

        Besides, Garand designed his weapon in the US. Glock was designed in Austria.

  21. I’d say either a flintlock Kentucky Long Rifle to symbolize the independent American frontiersman, a Winchester ’73 representing the American West, or a Winchester ’94 serving to put both meat on the table and provide real homeland security.

    AR-15’s will no doubt be in the discussion someday, but as of yet they have neither been around quite long enough to be “venerable,” nor have they had achieved historical significance, in my opinion.

  22. The Browning M-2.
    The rest of the world looks upon it with horror, it’s reigned without peer for 80-some years, and we’d all love to have one.

    Of those we can actually afford without winning the lottery, it’s got to be the Winchester ’73.

    And the AR platform still sucks.

  23. Well despite being a 9mm kinda guy and not even owning a 1911…..I have to put another opinion into the pot for the 1911. There is a reason it is one of the most widely copied and made firearms after 100 years and why it is still used by military forces today.

    • Only used by the SMART military forces. As in the Rangers who went in to rescue the SEAL team that had their chopper shot down.

      In the AAR, the Rangers reported that the only reason they lived was because they were all packing their personal M1911 .45 cals. Instead of the Army issue wussy 9mms.

      The Taliban they examined after the dust settled were all high on qat.

      • I was on a specops listserv in the early days of OEF and a note came back from theater that said bring your 45s ( didn’t say which one) because the M-9 didn’t cut it. Before we get into caliber wars remember the military uses ball ammo and bigger is way more better.

  24. I would have to say, to determine “America’s Gun” You need to look at who made it, who used it, who still makes it, and who still uses it.

    The M1 made a pretty decent run, but the AR/M16 platform, developed in the 60s, is pushing 50 years of service in the US Military. The platform is by far the most popular rifle design on the market right now. 50 years after its introduction. Designed and originally produced by Colt, and overwhelmingly made in the US still. Thanks to original design, American made, time in service, and current popularity, I cannot see a better nominee for long gun than the AR15.

    For sidearm, the answer is obvious. The 1911 is the only answer. I don’t own one, don’t necessarily care to. But it is American made, its has been in service for over 100 years, and remains one of the most popular handgun systems on the market. No single handgun system has that longevity and history.

    There are lots of other great American guns: Remington 700, Winchester Lever, S&W Police .38, M1A1/M14, M2, Thompson Submachine Gun, Remington 870, Mossberg 500. To name a few. I just gotta hand it to Colt on both counts here.

  25. Pick your brand, but I have to go with a .22 rifle. Variation aside, most shooters probably have one. It may be a tactical AR style or an old bolt action, it may get shot once a week or sit collecting dust for months at a time, but there they are. I have a Marlin 60, a Marlin 25, and a 10/22. On the handgun end, I have a Buckmark, a Ruger Singel Six, and an old Iver Johnson Target Sealed 8 that was Grandpa’s varmint gun.

  26. It’s doubtful that anyone within the NBC organization knows there’s a difference between a Glock and a 1911, XD, Shield, Beretta, Ruger SR, or any other semi-auto.

    • NBC interviewed the ASStronaut Mark Kelly shooting his Glock 9mm off the porch while Gabby watched, and the intrepid reporter noted Kelly’s Glock had a “standard capacity” unlike the 33rd capacity Jared Laughners Glock had.

      Damn, now Glock is selling different capacity Glocks, does this mean Harry Reid owns a 100 round version?

  27. I loved the comment at the end of the video, “… the weapon [AR15] that is dividing a nation.”

    No, the AR15 is not dividing the nation. What is dividing the nation? People who regard rights as privileges. People who expect someone else to do something about their problems. People who regard the State as an all powerful god that can do no wrong. People who think the end justifies the means.

  28. Crap… Looks like James Yeager at 1:58. There is no way this is gonna be close to fair. With inflammatory yahoos like him representing honest, ethical, gun owners like us, we are doomed

  29. People, people. First we must decide what we are looking for. What qualities does America’s gun have to have? Guns lacking those qualities are eliminated until we arrive at the correct gun. Here we go:

    It must be American. Sorry, Gaston.

    It must be a gun of the people, because this is a democracy, so it must not be sold for $3,000 by Les Baer. Sorry, 1911.

    It must be made by an iconic maker, but it must not be primarily of historical interest. Sorry, Colt SAA.

    It must have had a large presence in the civilian market for a long time. Sorry, AR-15.

    It must work. Sorry, Hi-Point.

    It must not be a pop-gun. Sorry, Mark III, all 22’s, and Daisy.

    It must be a gun we can imagine being carried by both Humphrey Bogart and John Wayne. Sorry, KSG, and also all those weird-looking things made by Fabrique National.

    What’s left?

    The S & W J-Frame.

    • “It must be a gun we can imagine being carried by both Humphrey Bogart and John Wayne. The S & W J-Frame.”

      Srsly?

  30. For better or worse, I think around the world when people see an AR-15 they think of America’s influence. Glock is too common the world-round to just be “America’s” and 1911s or any sidearm are too personal to be atributed to an entire nation.
    I would also accept Abrams Tank or B2, but I think those are beyond the scope of this discussion.

  31. My vote would be either the trenchgun (pump 12 ga shotgun), 10/22 because they are so proliferated and common, or a 1911, one of the most copied and trusted guns ever designed.

    Ultimately I’d say the 1911…it’s been in business for over 100 years and still going strong.

  32. I’ll go with Glocks and AR-15 because I own multiples of each but my favorite handgun at the moment is an el cheapo Rossi (AKA Taurus Tracker) .44 Magnum with 2″ barrel. It’s just a hoot to shoot!

  33. “Why anyone needsht to haave one of theshe military, ashtalt-shtyle weaponsth…”
    There really ARE alien entities among us!!!

    HEY! SQUITLER!!! You don’t NEED that military-style mouth of yours. Just sayin.

  34. “America’s Gun” is pretty clearly the Remington 870, even though I think the Mosberg 500 is a much better platform.

  35. America’s Gun?
    The one used to preserve her:
    The AR-15

    When and if the time comes to resist tyranny with civilian arms, the gun that will be used most will be the ubiquitous AR-15 chambered in .223 with a full-capacity magazine.

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