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In his write-up of the Thompson submachine gun yesterday, Nick kicked things off by ruthlessly poking the bear. Declaring the Tommy gun truly iconic (no argument there), he included it in a select group of four guns he said were 1) instantly recognizable (even to a lot of non-gun people), 2) have a look and feel all their own and are 3) “ambassadors for their eras.” What were the other three members in the Leghornian icon pantheon? None other than Eugene Stoner’s M16, Mikhail Kalashnikov’s AK-47 and Gaston’s GLOCK 17. As you might imagine . . .

Naming a select group like that with so few members provoked some spirited discussion in the comments section. Figuring there’s no better way to get a bead on the guns that belong in such an august group than tapping the collective wisdom of the Armed Intelligentsia, we’ll put the question to you (and we’ll make it a group of five, just to make it easier). Given Nick’s definition, what guns would you include in a group of the five most iconic firearms of all time?


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  1. If the 1911 doesn’t make the list, there’s something seriously wrong. Best? Maybe, I think so but that’s opinion. Iconic? Absolutely. If it were 50 years ago, I would consider the Colt Single Action Arny as equally so, but times change and I don’t think it has been in video games lately.

      • Agreed. Iconic means there is some history with the weapon. 1876 SAA is the Gun That Won the West. 1911 is really the first semi automatic pistol and has been used since WW I. WWII. Korea. Vietnam and the war on terror. Glocks are great guns, but not iconic.

  2. Winchester ’73
    Colt SAA
    If I were German I would say the Mauser 98. If I were British I would say the Lee-Enfield but I am an American so I say the M1 Garand

    Opinions are like a$$holes, everybody has one.

  3. AK
    Colt Single Action
    S&W Double Action

    Extra Credit : M9/Beretta 92

    Just the silhouette of any of these guns is instantly recognizable

    • Yep.

      I’d give honorable mention to the M-16 (*the* black military rifle, especially unmistakable with that carry handle on top), and the Glock pistol (being the gun that kickstarted the modern era of semiauto polymer-framed pistols and still defines it). Otherwise, this would be exactly my list. Can’t argue with it.

    • I would say that the 1911 doesn’t make the list because it’s not instantly recognizable to non gun guys. Being a younger gun guy, I knew what a Glock was long before a 1911 guy. 1911’s sort of come later if you’re new to the party.

  4. Assuming we are confining this to the modern era (20th Century forward) my list would be, in chronological order:

    Early-20th Century: 20s Era Thompson SMG
    Post WWII: AK-47
    Vietnam: M16
    Late 20th: HK MP-5
    Current: Glock

  5. Let’s see…what ubiquitous gun is depicted with a red-slash through it in every “Gun free zone” sign in the U.S.?

    The Beretta 92FS.

    H8ted by gun-h8ters. H8ted by gun-luvrs.

  6. M16
    Lever action carbine (Marlin, Henry, Winchester are all similar enough in appearance to the layman as to not matter)
    Colt Peacemaker

    Edit: actually, I would change the 1911 to the Tommy gun as far as being instantly recognizeable.

  7. Without actually suggesting that I would *change* the list, I’d want to give consideration to the Luger and the 1911, Colt SAA, H&K MP5, and others. We’re talking “iconic” and recognizable, not necessarily ones that innovated or are historically significant. Maybe even the Dirty Harry S&W 29.

    • Jeremy, you’re the first person in this thread who actually knows what “iconic” means. And you are correct. An iconic gun would have to be instantly identifiable by the gun-ignorant. To me, that definition excludes the Glock and even the 1911. If you flashed their images in front of Brian Williams, would he be able to ID them? Doubtful. Therefore, I’d say:

      Colt SAA, which laypeople know as the “Peacemaker” or “the cowboy gun”
      Luger P08: “Nazi gun”
      Thompson: “gangster machine gun”
      M-16: “US military rifle”
      Uzi: “Uzi”

      • You have a point there. Being iconic doesn’t mean people at large have any idea what it really is — they just recognize it as a symbol. An image that stands in for all sorts of things.

        Even so, I’d say the 1911 could qualify; it’s been seen for so long and in so many places that it has become a true icon. People who don’t know anything about guns, and even people who do, have two handgun pictures in their mind by default: a revolver (the “cowboy revolver” or the ubiquitous “detective revolver”) and a 1911 style pistol.

        And since we’re talking icons — universal visual recognition and highly symbolic — the lever-action rifle and the double-barrel shotgun have to be at least contenders for the top 5. Is there anything more instantly recognizable and symbolic than those?

      • Glad you mentioned the Uzi. Terrible gun, but without doubt it meets the definition of “iconic”. I can’t think of a gun that better captures the 1980s action movie era….

        Like many others here, I think the Glock fails the test of recognizability. To non-gunnies, any black, squared off pistol is a Glock.

        • That might actually make the case for Glock. They don’t have to be able to pick an actual Glock out of a lineup. If Glocks and their blocky silhouettes come to mind whenever someone mentions a modern handgun (that gun all the gangbangers, police, and concealed-carry nuts have), that’s what makes it iconic.

      • I agree with this 100%. The #6 would definitely be the 1911 (or kick out the Luger for it). Being popular just isn’t it. It’s got to be iconic & a distinguishing gun for the group as a whole. The M-16 & 1911 are the two US military staples (along with the1 garland depending on how old you are). If this was a top 10 list we’d as a online forum would come pretty solid on making the list

  8. 1911
    So much of this relies on who you are and your history with firearms. For example I find 1911s, peace makers, and M1s romantic and classic. While working in law enforcement makes the Glock, and loving my AR makes their lineage iconic to me.

  9. Like others have said:

    However, the Thompson, while it is iconic in America for its use in the military and the gangster films, wasn’t as successful or as important as other SMGs. If we are going for global recognition, the UZI would probably be the top, both for its recognition with non-gun people and its impact on the market. Counting its knock-offs, it is easily the best selling SMG ever. There might be an argument for the Mp5, but the success and impact on future SMG design gives my vote to the UZI

    I also don’t even think the G17 is ‘iconic’. While it is famous among gun guys and a common weapon, most people wouldn’t recognize it on the street, and wouldn’t think of it if they thought of the most famous guns. Again this depends on the people to whom we are appealing. The Single Action Army is likely a better choice here.

    So my full list would be:
    UZI (this one is obviously debatable, but it is far more iconic than the Thompson).
    FAL (The right arm of the free world)
    Single Action Army (If we had to choose a pistol. Again though, this is highly US oriented).

  10. Sure as shit not a Glock, except in as much as any black semiauto is a “Glock” to certain ill informed segments of society.

  11. Going by the requirement list
    M16 family
    AK47 family
    GLOCK pistol

    There is a few more I’d add, but 5 is the bag limit

    • The MG42 is interesting, and would certainly make my personal list, as would the glock, but I find for the layman those two wouldn’t seem to qualify as iconic. In fact i found more of the friends I asked recognized the MP40, as the “Nazi sub-machine gun”.

  12. kentucky long rifle
    colt peacemaker
    AK-47/M-16 (tie)
    M-2 .50 cal MA DEUCE–it’s been in every war since WWII.

  13. These are a lot of iconic guns but one of the conditions is that non gunnies know what it is. for instance everyone knows what an AK looks like. But when average people see a 1911 they just see a pistol. A damn good looking one, but they don’t know anything. People recognize Glocks by name but not necessarily by look. Old colt revolvers? forget about it

      • I could see that. But I personally feel the 38 is too generic to be “recognizable” as any particular firearm – i.e. there is no quintessential recognizable snubby 38 to the layman, which may make it iconic in it own way, through sheer ubiquity.

  14. I think you could make a solid argument for the 1911 to be included in that list, but otherwise I think it stands well. These days if you mention pistol, someone thinks of a Glock whether they know that’s what it is or not. Same with the AK and AR, and EVERYONE has heard of the Tommy gun (though most know it for its role in Prohibition-era organized crime, not for its role in WWII)

  15. Here’s mine:

    Colt SAA – every non-gun person can recognize an “old west” revolver, and almost all of them in hollywood are SAAs.

    Winchester lever action rifles – Same as the SAA, every non-gun person knows this as the “western rifle” from movies, especially those who watched John Wayne movies

    Thompson – Gangsters and government alike made this extremely well known in the US. I have to agree with the earlier article this has to be on the list.

    AK-47 – iconic shape, seen nearly every time a non-gun person turns on CNN to catch the latest in an international conflict. Even if a nongun person couldn’t point out an AK in the local gun shop, they still know an AK-47 is a modern rifle.

    M16/AR-15 – First with its “plastic” features and carry handle, and later into the early 21st century with the mass shootings and the media’s hype of the “assault weapons ban” and all the news outlets showing pictures of the AR-15 in various forms, it really is hard to argue that the AR-15 is one of the most recognized guns in the US right now by non-gun people.

    • This is my list as well, though I’d say the Uzi, S&W M29 (“Is that a ‘Magnum’?”), and Browning M2 all deserve an honorable mention. Pistols tend to look the same and all revolvers of a similar size look like the “dirty harry gun” to non-gun people.

  16. This is in order from most to least:

    M1911: every good guy carries one, from John Wayne to Magnum PI
    MP40: every Nazi and wannabe Nazi carries one
    Thompson Gun: enough said
    Mauser rifles: this includes the M1903
    Webley revolver: from Zulu to WW1 to WW2 and beyond, every British officer in a movie carries a Webley whether realistic or not

  17. Iconic. Historically, silver screen, personal opinion, or innovative?

    You can’t build a short list like that without narrowing down the requirements.

    • The criteria was stated in the original article. The premise put forth was that the firearms were so iconic they were instantly recognizable to the non-gun layman. I find that most of the lists that people are posting are not in keeping with that criteria, but rather personally iconic for them. See my post near the bottom.

  18. The Liberal Media says there are only two types of firearms – all pistols are Glocks and all rifles are Assault Rifles.

      • Or due diligence. Or pursuit of honest and dispassionate reporting rather than striving to support a predetermined ideology and/or conclusion. Or, hell, even what is and isn’t a “shoulder thing that goes up.”

  19. Going on the assumption that most folks who don’t know guns learned everything about guns from TV (or the movies)…
    1. Winchester lever action (any) – Westerns
    2. Colt single action – Westerns
    3. 1911 – War movies and TV (it’s surprising how many TV shows feature the 1911)
    4. AR-15/M-16 – ubiquitous
    5. AK – ubiquitous

    • While I agree with your list, the funny thing is that most of the 1911s in movies were actually Starr 9 mms because the blanks would not consistently cycle a 1911.

  20. Pick any 5 of Browning’s designs, he pre-dated the vast majority of modern successful firearm designs, lever, pump, superposed, long piston, short piston, locked recoil system, blow-back system, barrel as piston system

  21. Winchester Model ’73
    Colt SA revolver
    Glock 17

    All are iconic, all are instantly recognizable by non-gun people, all were game changers in their day.

  22. Mauser 98
    Luger pistol
    GAU-8 (and it’s carrying case: the A-10)

    Browning BAR and derivatives – often hidden in aircraft wings
    AR-10 & M-16/AR-15

  23. M16, AK47, Thompson SMG, Glock, 1911

    I don’t think there’s much of a contest. Short of maybe the 1911, those are all guns that most not-gun-people could name off from seeing a picture alone.

  24. Iconic Firearms –
    1 – Revolver – Jack Ruby shooting Lee Harvey Oswald or Dirty Harry Callahan and the S&W Model 29
    2 – Rifle – Lee Harvey Oswald holding his Carcano rifle in his backyard
    3 – Assault Rifle – Malcolm X holding a M1 carbine while looking out his livingroom window
    4- Shotgun – Patty Herst holding a shotgun robbing a bank.
    5 – Pistol – James Bond (Sean Connery) holding a Walter PPK

      • Yup. I like this too. It started mental images rolling. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. pistol with the bird cage flash hider…

    • Definitely a Gen 1 G17, no checkering on the front of the grip or the back strap. Cool…I guess.

  25. American
    M1 Garand
    Winchester lever action
    Colt SAA

    AK-47, AKM, assorted ‘x39 clones
    Mauser ’98

  26. “Iconic” means that it symbolizes something. It doesn’t mean the best or good or even seminal, as in strongly influencing later developments. It means that the object is a symbol of something.

    Certainly, the AK is iconic for what it symbolizes. So is the Tommy gun, which for most people all over the world symbolizes the Prohibition gang wars of Chicago. The Colt Peacemaker is THE symbol of the old West, bar none. The worldwide symbol of the American military is the M-16.

    Which leaves me with one more to choose.

    The Glock 17 is a seminal firearm and one of the most important handguns of all time, but I doubt that it symbolizes anything to anyone other than gun fanciers. The M1911 comes closer, but it’s not there either.

    My final pick has been seen in almost every movie in the last 20 years where firearms are a major component. It’s instantly recognizable, even by people who wouldn’t know a gun from a bologna sandwich. Its Internet Movie Firearms Database listing goes on and on. Most gunnies consider it a POS, but most non-gunnies consider it to be the very definition of a handgun.

    The Desert Eagle.

    • Ha! Love it! Even if they don’t know what it’s called or haven’t seen “Snatch,” people still think of it as “the bad ass gun.” I would sooner own a dozen Kel-Tecs than a Deagle, but I agree with your choice.

      • A lot of geeks say they want a Desert Eagle because of their oversaturation in movies and games. It’s a pretty expensive remedy, mind you, but renting a Deagle at the range and letting them put a mag or two through it is the most effective way to shut them up. The damn things are no fun to shoot in .50AE, so it’s not even a good range toy, and if you’re going to do a .44 or .357 Magnum you may as well buy a decent revolver instead and save about $700.

        • Well, it is pretty fun to watch beginners try to handle one based on what they’ve seen in movies, but at four and a half pounds it feels less like a pistol and more like a carbine with no stock.

          They certainly are cool, but when I just want to make a big boom or show some old cantaloupes who’s boss, I’ll use my .45-70 Handi Rifle; not nearly as flashy, but at 3 or 4 times the range and 1/10 the price of a Deagle, it’s hard to argue with.

  27. Colt SAA. This gun was known and is known to generations of people world wide thanks to Hollywood and the horse opera.

    Winchester lever action. Same as above.

    Luger. Same as above.

    AK. Nuff said.

    Single shot break action shotgun. We Americans have the corner on gun freedom and variety of guns. But for huge patches of the world the simple single shot shotgun is the only gun available for legal and economic reasons.

  28. Picked for both history and recognition at some level (“that’s a cowboy gun, that’s a .45”) by non gunnies

    Winchester 1873
    Colt 1911
    Smith & Wesson Model 29
    Thompson SMG (with barrel mag)

    Notable mentions:
    Colt SAA
    Double Barrel Coach
    Mossburg 500
    Berreta 92
    Gattling Gun
    Glock Brand Glocks
    Walther PPK

  29. The problem with listing the glock in a list of “recognizable” fire arms is that it is pretty nondescript. It looks like any of dozens of other pistols.

  30. Here’s my List:

    1. AK-47
    2. M16
    3. Desert Eagle
    4. Smith & Wesson .44 Magnum Model 29 (Dirty Harry)
    5. Barrett .50 Cal

    I would also like to add Walther PPK (James Bond), but it’s only limited to 5 items.

  31. I think one of the guns that has an iconic role but doesn’t get a lot of love is the old school .38 snubbie. The snubbie has sort of went away, but they used to be everywhere in popular culture. Police detectives carried them, criminals, concerned husbands, murderous ex-wives, TC on Magnum PI, everyone.

    Today the snubbie might make a small appearance, but its mostly went by the wayside. But watch any movie or TV show made before 1990 or so, and you will see a snubbie, usually mentioned as a .38.

  32. To be the most iconic I think about guns which would be recognizable to almost anyone regardless of their gun knowledge. A gun that can be instantly recognized by much of the world and placed accurately in a time period or context where it was/is used, based solely on the shape of the silhouette. The gun names people who don’t know about guns call all other guns they see:

    Top 5 Iconic Firearms:

    Colt Single Action Army
    Colt Detective Special
    Thompson Submachine Gun
    Glock 17
    AK 47

  33. I concur with just about everyone else…Nick’s list was pretty spot on except for leaving out the 1911.

  34. The premise of the original statement were guns that were so iconic they were recognizable even by NON-GUN layman. To wit, I submit the following in no particular order;

    Gatling 1876
    Winchester 1894
    Colt Peacemaker

    I believe these are the quintessential “guns” that are cemented into the popular consciousness. I believe some may be slipping, though video-games keep many of them alive. I vetted this list on several of my non guns friends. Most could identify the make and/or model of nearly all of the list with varying degrees of overlap. I could have parred it down to the 100% recognition guns only but the reactions to some of the guns were so significant to those that recognized them, you could tell they were indeed “iconic”.

    And as far as the glock goes, nobody who wasn’t a “gun person” could pick a glock out of a group of black automatic pistols of various makes – so it fails the stated criteria in my mind, though it would make my personal list.

    • Edit: I saw someone had the UZI on there list. It almost made mine, but while most that I asked recognized the name, they couldn’t identify the actual gun. This is how the MAC 10 actually made my list. Every single person i asked recognized it when shown, though initially a couple thought the UZI was a MAC 10, until I actually showed them a MAC 10. Also of note, the MAC recognition was higher if the Silencer was included.

  35. Recognizable by non gunners
    It cannot be done in five
    Colt 45
    Winchester Lever 30-30
    Thompson Sub
    M1 Garand
    S&W 38 SP Snub
    DH 44 Mag
    Glock 17 as a representitive of all other autos
    There’s a Baker’s Dozen!
    Out of those “5”, not much room left
    A more difficult question is which would you remove from the list
    If Nick suggested only 5, then he is a troll for wanting to watch a flame war.
    Speaking of which, add the WWII two tank flame thrower. It shoots death, so it qualifies.

  36. OK, I’ll play too. Iconic Firearms, IMO and in no particular order:

    Colt 1873 SAA
    Colt 1911
    M1 Garand

    If the list were longer I would include the M1903 Springfield/Lee Enfield/Mauser K98, SKS, Mosin Nagant and all its variations, Remington Model 700 and or Winchester Model 70, Winchester 1873, and the Winchester 1897.

  37. My focus group of regular folks revealed that nobody could identify a Glock. Cowboy Six shooter, Tommy Gun, Vietnam Gun, and Terrorist Gun were the top 4. And coming in at #5 – the double barreled shotgun; great for weddings and getting your daughter back home on time.

  38. I think non-gunnies would have a hard time identifying the 1911A and the Glock. I think many would recognize the lever action Winchester, but many would not know it as anything other than a lever-action cowboy rifle. I believe that most modern, non-gunners, would recognize the AK-47 and the AR-15/M-16 (especially since they have been in the news so much lately), and any non-gunner who has played a WWII video game will recognize the M1 Garand, M1 Carbine, and the Thompson. I bet even a lot of non-gunners would recognize the WWII era weapons, since the war has been so glorified in movies, even if they didn’t actually know their names.

    Edit: Forgot the Uzi, you could not have lived through the 80’s without seeing a movie were a criminal could not be seen firing one from the hip.

  39. TO: All
    RE: Five Most ‘Iconic’?

    • M1911 .45 cal ACP
    • BAR
    • Thompson Sub-Machine Gun
    • M-16
    • AK-47

    Next question?



    • BAR?
      Only if you watched “Combat” as a kid
      Germans, Mauser, had a different sound “Kachew”
      Lt Hanley, M1 Carbine
      Sgt Saunders, Thompson
      Kirbey, BAR
      Cage, Little John Etc M1 Garand’s
      Doc, tourniquet
      Guest star, dead

  40. I think too many gun guys comments above.

    If you talk non gun people the list is pretty small.

    1.AK47/AK series. That distinctive curved mag give the weapon a very distinctive profile not to mentionn it’s appearence as the bad guy gun in nearly every movie and news program for the last 50+ years.

    2. AR15/M16/M4 sereis. Pretty much the flip side of the AK in the good verses evil battle the AR was the gun of the good guy for decades. In the past 20 years or so this has now become schizophrenic good guy /bad guy gun. The fact that it’s image is used so far and wide firmly places the AR family into instantly recognisable status.

    After this is gets very hard.

    Names like Tommy gun,Winchester, Luger, Glock are widely known but I would lay money on it that most non gun people would find it hard to identify any of them as a specific firearm. Tommy gun is used for any sub gun, Luger and Glock are interchangeable with Pistol for most. Winchester is basically any lever gun. One might consider the Maxim series of machine guns for the carnage inflicted in WWI but at best it would be water cooled machine guns of any description.

    I am afraid the actual list is only the famous two as above.

  41. My list of iconic guns for non-gunnies with their (distinctive features)

    1) AK-47 (long banana-curved magazine)
    2) M16 (carry handle, solid buttstock)
    3) Tommygun (drum magazine, forward pistol grip)
    4) Winchester lever action rifle (the lever)
    5) Luger pistol (barrel protusion)

    Item 4) the lever action rifle works for Winchester, Henry, and Marlin, but non-gunnies will most likely call any of these lever actions a ‘Winchester rifle’

  42. AK-47
    Gatling Gun

    I believe those would have the greatest chance of being recognized globally by the non-gun-owning populace. Anything older is a flintlock and unknown. Modern popular firearms like Glocks, M1911, AR’s, etc. could equally be considered so I think there is some interchange that doesn’t really affect the iconic nature of the list. Hollywood movies have had a HUGE impact; for that reason alone you could list 007’s Walther and Dirty Harry’s .44 Magnum and probably not be wrong.

  43. Semi Auto Pistols:

    1. The Mauser ‘Broomhandle’ C96 was the original semi-auto/self loading/repeating pistol, and is recognized worldwide.
    2. The Luger Parabellum P08 is arguably the most recognized firearm of all time.
    3. There were a few before it, and countless after, but the most recognized and successful modern day semi-auto pistol is the Glock 17.


    1. Clint Eastwood/Dirty Harry made the S&W Model 29 famous.
    2. The Colt Peacemaker is synonymous with the wild west.


    1. Certainly the AK-47 is the most commonly used and recognized machine gun in the world.
    2. The Henry Lever-Action Repeating Rifle was the original self loading rifle and no other rifle had a more revolutionary impact on combat technique.
    3. Produced in much smaller numbers than the Henry Lever-Action Repeating rifle, but equally revolutionary was the Maxim Machine Gun.

  44. Brown Bess- Revolution
    Colt SAA- Post Civil War
    Tommy Gun- Prohibition to WWII
    AK- Cold War
    M16- Vietnam

  45. Here is my list (and considering my age, I am surprised that one of the following didn’t make it the previously posted lists considering the movies it was in…)

    AK (any variant)
    30/30 Lever Action
    .44 Magnum (the most powerful handgun in the world, don’tca know?!?)

  46. Reading through everyone’s awesome comments, I’m struck by how quickly time moves. These days, no action film worth its “Salt” is complete unless the hero uses a cache of handguns and carbines to fight the bad guys. Watch any cop movie from the 1970s and everyone from Shaft to Popeye Doyle makes do with a single Colt Detective Special, going head to head with SMGs without showing signs of feeling outgunned. In the 80s the Beretta 92 was the issue handgun of choice and the Uzi was the bad guy go-to gun. Now those guns take a back seat to pricier, more chic guns like HKs and SIGs — even Bond used a P210 two movies ago. (Of course, he can afford it.) Not being a gamer, it does seem that FPSs have really expanded the average Joe’s gun literacy. IMFDb wouldn’t have an audience without CoD.

    Still, watching “The Taking of Pelham 123” takes me back to a time when a S&W M76 was exotic and cops felt fine shooting it out with .38 snubbies.

    • Revolvers also tended to pop up a lot in older movies because they didn’t need any modifying to use blanks, so it was easier on the budget.

    • Being a Gamer and a Gun Nut, I can say it has expanded it, sort of, because they get to “see” some of the guns out there. Problem is that the game developers don’t always name the guns what they are. Sure you will get an AK-47 and M-16. But then they give you the Vector instead of the KRISS Super-V. They have the “M” TAR which is the TAVOR AR. Heck, I had to tell some snot nosed kid that the SVU was a Dragunov. He was stuck on the Dragunov SVD being the only one he has heard of. Or they think some of the guns in the game are made up (like the “Vector”).

  47. In terms of iconic in the sense that John Q. Public will recognize by name and often by sight:
    Tommy gun with the drum magazine has to be at the top of my list. EVERYONE recognizes that as the gangster gun. However, not so many people would recognize it with the straight mag. Does that mean it shouldn’t be on a list?

    M16 with the carry handle upper. Everybody knows this one, too.

    AK47, that banana magazine is distinctive, to the point where this one is probably more known that the M16!

    Uzi. Everyone who watched TV in the ’80s knows this.

    For the last spot, I’m conflicted between the Colt SAA and any double barrel break action shotgun. I’d probably go with the shotgun just because westerns are not as popular these days, and most people will recognize a double barreled shot gun (hey, that’s an Elmer Fudd gun as one of my nephews put it).

  48. Iconic? Meaning widely recognized, not most influential, highest quality, etc…

    I don’t know if I care enough what some dummy recognizes to give this much thought.

  49. How about a Colt Python? It gets displayed regularly on the very popular Walking Dead TV show.

    My other 4 would be:

    Colt SAA
    Luger p08
    Walther PPK

  50. 1. Original Henry repeating rifle Because it was first (I think) to use a “pull bolt to rear by mechanism and feed new round” and was daddy to a whole lot of Winchesters

    2. Walker Colt forerunner of every revolver since Colt invented it

    3. AK-47 – image counts

    4. 1911 – image counts

    5. Gatling? Maxim? I dunno, but the Maim was the 1st practical automatic.

  51. 1911 (although most would just call it a .45)
    S&W M29 (most would probably call it the .44 magnum or Dirty Harry gun)

  52. Gotta include the Star Trek “Phasor” in one of its variations. (Little Phasor, Phasor Pistol, Phasor Rifle, Ship-based Phasors)


  53. Colt SAA – cowboy gun
    The Death Star
    Han Solos blaster
    S-Marts top of the line shotgun – Ash’s boomstick
    Nintendo light gun

    Ok I went off the beaten path but everyone already used the ‘right’ answers

    • Ash calls it a Remington, IMFDB says it’s a Stoeger. Either way, it wasn’t made in Grand Rapids.

  54. What are the top 5 iconic fictional guns?

    XZ-31 Ray Gun (Buck Rogers)
    Type II Phaser (Star Trek)
    DL-44 heavy blaster pistol (Star Wars)
    PKD Blaster (Blade Runner)
    Proton Pack (Ghostbusters)

  55. AK Pattern Rifles
    Colt Single Action
    Smith and Wesson J-Frame Snub Nose
    M41A 10mm Pulse Rifle

  56. I have to agree now after reading everyone’s list. If it is not for us but for the low knowledge citizen:
    the Russian gun that terrorists use
    the Viet Nam gun
    the cowboy pistol
    the cowboy rifle with the thing that goes down
    the 45, I think it’s called the 911
    the one the old time cops used like the cowboy gun but with a real short barrel

  57. AK-47
    Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle

    • A more direct lineage can be drawn from the Henry rifle. Spencer was bought out by the Winchester company but it was a modification of the Henry rifle that became the Winchester rifle. In a straight (ish) line … Volcanic begat Henry who then begat Winchester who adopted Spencer.

  58. -Any Winchester lever-action
    -Colt SAA
    -AK family
    – MP5
    – Mauser
    – Glock
    – Beretta 92
    – SVD

    I know that is eight but still these are the guns most people I know, know.

  59. Wrong, wrong, wrong…

    If the question is “What are the most recognizable 4 projectile weapons” today, they are:

    FN FAL

  60. Mauser C96. Maybe most people don’t know the name offhand, but there are millions of Star Wars fans who will look at it and see Han’s blaster. Eastwood even used one.

    Walther PPK. In .32. For those of us in the right age range to have played Goldeneye, maybe with a can on the front. Almost every Bond’s AND Sterling Archer’s go-to.

    Going to agree with the GLOCK choice. It’s the go-to pop culture semi-auto. It’s the scary gun on the hip of every cop. It’s the “gat” in every gangster’s waistband. It ushered in the era of modern polymer frames. And it has that love it or hate it grip angle.

    S&W model 29, though I’m a little hesitant on that one. A bit of personal bias helps it make the list.

    And slightly more hesitantly, Desert Eagle. I can’t see where it would fulfill the “ambassador of the era” criterion. But everyone knows it, it’s in nearly every movie and even more nearly every video game. Even non-gun people know it by name because of Snatch.

    Honorable mentions/disagreements:

    S&W model 10. Probably everyone reading this remembers it as the original “every cop has one.” But it has been replaced.

    AK47 and M-16. Non gun people will misidentify based on a major feature, and I’ve heard complaints about German soldiers in WWII movies using AKs almost as often as I’ve heard of flattop ARs not being the same because they don’t have the carry handle. Also, cable news networks use them interchangeably.

    The Thompson. This one is harder to disagree with, but I do. Based on the non-gun people recognizing it alone. I’ve heard anything with a vertical foregrip or a drum mag called a Tommy gun. The era of classic gangster movies is gone, and, unfortunately, the WWII vets are leaving as well.

    The 1911 for similar reasons.

    And, speaking of, most Browning designs and their close derivatives. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan. I think the M2 is amazing, and it’s still in service with minimal modification and rare complaints. If I ever have a spare $30,000, I’ll buy a 1919. But, put pictures of both on flashcards and ask someone on the street what the difference is. I’ll admit that most of my Browning design experience is firing blanks out of an M14.

    Colt SAA. Definitely NOT representative of the era, unless you mean the era of spaghetti westerns. It definitely represents the mythical west, granted. But it’s not the Lightning preferred by Billy the Kid or John Wesley Hardin. It’s not the Schofield that even the Imperial Russians loved. In my opinion, the worst part is that it’s not instantly identifiable. Single action revolvers tend to have very subtle distinctions, even for those that pay attention. I forget where I read the comparison before, but having thought on it, Colt is the Apple of firearms: good lawyers, great marketing, but R&D involves taking something someone else makes, putting a shiny new finish on it, and then sue them before they can sue you.

    Any lever gun, bolt action, or pump: recognizability, again. Yes, you and I know the differences, but those with passing familiarity have to look harder. And that’s not even taking into account trying to explain the differences between a 91/30 and a K98 to someone who thinks all revolvers have manual safeties.

    And then, what I consider possibly the most important firearm of all time, the Brown Bess. Yes, it’s a colloquial term for a family of similar designs, but your average American couldn’t tell one from Daffy Duck’s blunderbuss if they tried, and your average CNN reporter would just call it an AR15. But I digress.

    So, my list came from a pop culture perspective, which puts heavy emphasis on rule #1. And it’s not perfect by any means, just my opinions, which rarely get echoed without argument. I’m sticking by the C96, though.

  61. M-16/AR-15, for being the most popular rifle in America, and it’s extraordinarily long service with American armed forces.

    FN FAL, for being the rifle of the western world during the Cold War.

    AK-47, self explanatory.

    Uzi, watching action movies as a child in the 80’s, it was the coolest gun ever, I wanted to be chuck Norris dual weidling uzi’s and taking out bad guys. Everyone knows the Uzi when they see one.

    MP5, another instantly recognizable gun. Like the Uzi, even people that have no interest in firearms know the MP5. Arguably one of the most widely used firearms. There’s not one gun guy that wouldn’t have the MP5 on the bucket list of guns to shoot before they die.

  62. Blunderbuss — Is it a bugle? Is it a rifle? Some kind of prehistoric shotgun? Whatever it is, it’s a .69 caliber madman, CQB old-school style, and instantly recognizable as a Pilgrim’s go-to gat during the original East side/West side turf battles. Praise the Lord and pass the ammo.

    Brown Bess — We’re STILL talking about this bad boy as setting the standard for the 2A framework *right now*. In it’s day, which easily spanned some 150+ years from the early 18th to mid-19th centuries, it was used by oppressors and liberators alike on every continent anyone thought to fight over. With its nasty .75 caliber, spotty accuracy, and ubiquity, it was tantamount to the AK-47 for its time. It took wholesale changes in firearm design and manufacturing capabilities to unseat this muzzle loader from its reign.

    Thompson SMG — The Tommy Gun, a legitimate weapon of war, made infamous by a confluence of a few Prohibition and Depression era gangsters, a lot of Hollywood pictures, and an abundance of grandstanding politicians. That attractively crafted, warm wooden foregrip and that industrially fabricated, cold metal drum magazine combined in the mind of the public at large to define modern firearms for its era, and to suggest that perhaps technology was moving too quickly. Hit a large Halloween party, say, at a dance club THIS month, and I guarantee you’ll find at least one couple going as Bonnie and Clyde and sporting……….a Tommy Gun.

    Glock — When a majority of non-gunnies born within the past 50 years routinely describes any and every all-black, non-revolver handgun as a “Glock”, it’s reached icon status. ‘Nuff said.

    AK-47 — It’s in every movie, every war, every media account of weapons, and it’s on the lips of of everyone to the point that it’s become virtually synonymous with not only “assault rifle/assault weapons”, but almost with “machine gun”. Who can’t quote Samuel L. Jackson? “AK-47: when you absolutely, positively have to kill every last [unfortunate individual] in the room.” Even in silhouette, everyone knows this gun. There’s that peculiar pairing again of wood grip (well, hand guard) and odd metal magazine, which the public does so adore.

  63. For the Glock to make the list it needs to still be in production in essentially unmodified form for another 70 years if the venerable and still much admired 1911 doesn’t make the cut. With apologies to the Glock guys in the crowd it doesn’t even come close to the notoriety, longevity or production numbers of the 1911. Form and function are debatable, icon status isn’t, the 1911 wins hands down.

    The AK-47 and M16 both have to have a place but I don’t think the Garand even comes close as some have suggested. It’s service life is too short and few people now could pick it out of a lineup like the ’47 or 16′.

    I also think we have to stick to the 20th century if by iconic we mean instantly recognizable now.

    That leaves us two guns to add. I suggest the humble Uzi as one. A great many submachine guns are called ‘Uzi’s’ by non gun people as it’s the only sub gun they know the name of, which makes it iconic.

    The last entry is more problematic. Generically a pump shot gun belongs on the list, but I can’t think of a model that has name recognition like ‘Uzi’. The S&W model 29 comes to mind, being the ‘Dirty Harry’ special, but I’m not sure modern shooters would recognize it. The Glock is definitely in the running for this final spot since for at least 20 years now they are a ubiquitous part of the gun scenery.

    My vote goes to the M60 however. From Commando to Rambo to name that war movie the M60 is an iconic weapon in the west. Like the Uzi, any belt fed, fully automatic medium machine gun might be called in the vernacular an ‘M60’. In 1950 I’d say the MG42 would be the gun but now it’s the ‘Pig’.

    Were I writing from the Eastern Block I’m sure the Tokarov, the Makarov, RPD, and RPK would all suggest themselves.

    If I were writing from 1900 the Winchester 94, the Schofield , and the Colt SAA would all be featured, but this is the 21st century and a FAMAS beats out the Schofield any day now for recognition.

    I’m going to go with the 1911, M16, AK-47, Uzi and M60 as the five most iconic firearms of the last century.

    • Iconic is iconic. What matters is whether a gun represents its era and is recognized for that today; not whether its era *is* today (or even the 20th century). Production numbers, longevity, etc. are important factors that can help drive a gun to icon status, but they aren’t themselves the definition of said status. You can’t rightfully hold it against a gun for taking shortcuts or otherwise beating your favs to that status.

      Moreover, I don’t know what barrel you pulled your own personal “70 years” standard out of; but your M60 doesn’t even meet it, having come out in the late 50’s. “Rambo” to “Commando” is a span of but three years by two interchangeable actors making the same movie over and over. Imfdb reports it hasn’t even been featured in any major movies in the last five or six years, and even then, those were “Tropic Thunder” and “Delta Farce.” Iconic? Seriously? In fairness, it has been featured in plenty of other, older movies. Moreover, you can’t film a Vietnam War movie without a scene where someone’s blasting away with one from the side of a Huey. That may be a Writers Guild of America contract term, I’m not sure. So it may have a place on the top 10, and certainly in the top 20; but not top 5.

      The 1911 is nice; but you just won’t find anyone outside of gunnies who can name it, or even distinguish it from anything else out there. For all the flack that Glock catches, the 1911 is the one that just screams generic, semi-automatic handgun. I half expect them to ship in plain white boxes with a barcode and big black block lettering on the side that reads “Handgun.” Icon it’s not.

      One last point: rather than look at just how long something’s been in the public consciousness, how about we also consider how quickly it came into that consciousness? The Glock first showed up in season 3 of “Miami Vice”; within five years of coming to market. M60 took over a decade to hit “Hawaii Five-O.” The 1911 didn’t get into the movies until almost two decades out. Even then it was only sparingly featured through the 30’s and 40’s. Heck, it biggest run on television wasn’t until the 1980’s on “A-Team” for crying out loud! It’s biggest claim to icon probably stems from people’s dads’ war stories; but sadly that’s not an enduring medium, so its place is fading.

      • “…the 1911 is the one that just screams generic, semi-automatic handgun.”

        That’s exactly why I figure it does deserve a spot in the top 5. I agree that non-gun folks may not be able to identify it by name, but I expect almost anyone would recognize it.

        If we tried to come up with a list of 5 firearms that even non-gun people could accurately name or describe then there might not be a list. 😉

  64. 1) Kentucky long rifle – it conquered the British Empire then a continent.
    2) Colt SAA/Peacemaker – God created man, Sam Colt made them equal.
    3) Winchester ’73 – if the wild west wasn’t iconic what is?
    4) Thompson sub machine gun – gangsters are almost as iconic as cowboys.
    5) 1911 – no other firearm would create as big a fuss from it’s owners if it was left off the list.

    Honorable mention
    Beretta 92 – Riggs and McClain never carried a Sig.

  65. What, is there no love for the Glock-7? The world’s first porcelain gun that doesn’t show up on X-Rays, but costs more than I make in a month?

  66. Iconic guns…that anyone would recognize, not just people of the gun, and name it correctly. Or even better, has a nickname. A well known name, or iconic nickname, makes it stick with the public. It’s a double edge sword though…sometimes the name gets mis-applied. Kinda why any small blocky submachine gun is an Uzi, even if it’s a Mac-10. Uzi is a known name. Glock suffers from being the first polymer pistol that got a lot of attention…and like the Uzi (and how every tissue is a Kleenex) a ton of people refer to ANY modern poly-pistol as a Glock because…uh, they all look the same, right? They kinda do in the hands of actors flashing them around on screen. Shame…Uzi, Glock…sometimes even the Luger. If a Nazi is holding it, it’s a Luger, even when it’s a P38. Luger is just a better known name!

    So, my opinion on the top five iconic guns would be:

    1: Thompson submachine gun (Tommy Gun)
    2: Colt SAA (Peacemaker)
    3: Colt 1911 (“45”)
    4: AK-47 (…AK-47 c.c )
    5: Winchester 1873/1894 (Any lever gun in a cowboy flick is “A Winchester” and they’re probably right)

    All of these have nicknames and recognizable shapes. Others might be really significant to the Armed Intelligentsia, but if you were watching a movie with someone who doesn’t pay that much attention to guns, and it’s a war movie, and there’s these action shots of a M2 .50 or an old Maxim firing…it doesn’t matter. If it’s BIG and on a tripod/back of a Jeep it’s just “a machine gun”. But anyone who sees a Thompson can call it a “Tommy Gun”. That’s iconic!

    Now, if you asked (thanks for asking) about which guns I think are most iconic to ME, based on my own proprietary measurement system…

    1: Colt 1892: First popular/mass produced DA/SA revolver with a swing out cylinder, so “modern revolver”.
    2: Colt 1911: First popular/mass produced semi-auto (with a design that endured…the Luger’s toggle lock might’ve been awful cool, but the Browning tilt/lock is still here in many forms).
    3: M1 Garand: Wins because GARAND. If only 30-06 wasn’t so #$&% expensive…
    4: Lee-Enfield Rifle No. 4: Took everything good about the SMLE No. 1 Mk III and made it stronger and cheaper. I know the Mauser is a great bolt action but the Enfield’s action is just nicer to shoot. The No 1 Mk III gets bonus points for that “all wood for miles” look, too. Doubles as a club when needed.
    5: AK-47 (and all AK patterned derivatives): Simple, works virtually all the time, cheap from a mass production standpoint. Not the elegant first world alloy and plastic rifle we came up with, but boy howdy are there a billion of them out there and used by anyone who has at least one hand and three fingers.

    Honorable mention: Winchester 1912. First popular, internal hammer, pump action 12 gauge shotgun produced in large numbers. So happy 101st birthday to the modern mass produced pump action!

  67. i would say that to the non gun crowd it would be the
    ak 47
    and the mossberg 500

    i think this because most non gun people would probably recognize the silhouette of these guns.

  68. In my opinion…if we are asking what “people not of the gun” could identify, what is iconic.

    1-AK…video games and movies. Silhouette of the banana mag.

    2-Winchester Lever Action. Old time cowboy rifle.

    3-Colt SA. six shooter-cowboy pistol

    4-Thommy gun. Gangster machine gun

    5-Uzi. Could be a Mac 10 but they would still cal it an Uzi. Scarface and Miami Vice.

    5-Glock. Glock or 1911 it wouldn’t matter. They would call it a Glock because it’s the gun name that they know for any modern non-revolver.

    5-Double barrel shotgun. TV, movies, video games and even t-shirts.

    I’m over 50 so obviously this prejudices my thinking.

  69. Colt SAA needs to be on there. I don’t know that I disagree with any of the others already listed, though, heh.

  70. AK-47
    Kentucky Rifle
    Winchester Lever Action
    Wells Fargo Stagecoach side by side/ Winchester pump action Shotguns (tie)
    S&W double action revolver /Colt Single Action Army (tie)

    On an expanded list (10):

    Colt M1911
    Armalite M16
    Mauser / M1 Garand
    British Army Musket
    Flintlock Pistol

  71. Iconic: Symbolic of the present culture, especially dealing with the ideals, people and products considered noteworthy. Don’t really agree with the Glock, HK had already been there done that with the VP-70Z

    1. Colt 1911 ’cause it’s everywhere and still working after 100 years
    2. Thompson 1928 Even if you know nothing about firearms unless you don’t have a TV you know what it’s for (Chicago typewriter).
    3. AK-47 most produced arm in history, it’s even on the flag in some African country and recognized worldwide and the commie/terrorist weapon of choice.
    4. Colt SAA won the west and John Wayne carried one making almost every kid in the 50’s and 60’s want one.
    5. The M1 Garand probably the best battle rifle of WWII

    Personal opinion so don’t flame me.

    I can think of about a hundred plus other weapons which could also fill the top 5 list depending on the mood and the amount of coffee I’ve drunk

  72. If iconic is to include recognition by non-gun people then the list really needs to be dumbed down.

    1. M-16 / AR-15 is everywhere in the news these days. A coworker was trying to tell our group at lunch that you could walk into WalMart and buy an M-16. I outed myself as a gun guy when I couldn’t help but correct him.

    2. The AK-47 silhouette is also instantly recognizable even by non-gun folk, and is so pervasive in the news and pop culture that it has to rank near the top of the list.

    3. If a cowboy six-shooter (e.g. Colt SAA) doesn’t make the list, there shouldn’t be a list. The only reason I wouldn’t rank this higher is that scary black rifles are in vogue right now, and westerns, not so much.

    4. The omission of the 1911 from the original list was a crime. While I’m not sure how successful non-gun folk may be at identifying it by name, I have a hard time believing there is any more recognizable semi-auto handgun design in existence. Glock may have brand recognition, but that doesn’t make it iconic IMO.

    5. The “tommy gun” (with drum magazine) certainly deserves a spot for being synonymous with Prohibition era gangsters and The Godfather. I don’t think it’s the first gun most people would mention if you asked them to name any gun, but it’s one I imagine few people would fail to recognize.

    Honorable mentions:

    6. Double barrel shotgun, because Elmer Fudd. I’d imagine that a double-barrel is what first comes to mind when most people think of a shotgun, even ahead of pumps like the 500 / 870. I’m not sure what model / brand might best capture the double-barrel.

    7. Kudos to those who mentioned the Uzi. It’s certainly recognizable and many non-gun folk could name it. It deserves a spot on the list, although I don’t feel like it’s as timeless (or as timely) as the designs that top the list.

  73. Ok we talkin iconic, in my opinion the m16 doesn’t make it, the reason being is that it looks like all other assault rifles ever made. The desert eagle is way more recognizable so is the smith & wesson 500 or 460. I’d also mention the Remington 870, most popular and reliable pump shotgun ever made. What about a Luger? No one can deny the popularity of the 9mm Luger round, this list isn’t very well thought through.

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