OK, this is possibly the mother of all flame-worthy post topics. And for that very reason, we’d never presume to designate one handgun as the best ever. Or would we?
The choices are daunting, to say the least. Revolvers, semi-automatics, single-action, double-action, DA/SA. Stainless steel or polymer frame. American, German (Austrian?). And then there are the calibers. OMG…the calibers.
For a pronouncement like that, we’d defer to someone with far more time and experience dealing with handguns, both inside and out. Shooting them as well as working on them. Everything from GLOCK to Beretta. From Smith & Wesson to Colt to Ruger, SIG SAUER, Walther, infinity and beyond.
Which is why we’re comfortable presenting the following opinion on the subject from frequent commenter and ballistic polymath, Dyspeptic Gunsmith.
He left the this under Logan’s review of the Colt 1911 Government 80 series pistol:
I met a Marine vet who served in SEA during the late 60’s. Upon hearing that I was a gunsmith, he asked me a very direct question:
“What, in your opinion, is the single best handgun ever made?”
Taking note of his USMC awards and pictures on the wall of his law office, I replied: “There are many good pistol designs out there, but I have to give my vote to the 1911.”
Turns out that was the correct answer.
It also came out that he volunteered in Vietnam to go down into tunnels after Charles with nothing but a flashlight, a 1911, and some magazines. He said that when he needed it, the 1911 never failed him. As far as he was concerned, there will never be a better handgun – because when he needed it most, the 1911 was there, it worked, and it settled “disagreements” quickly.
We’ll leave it to you to decide if that was DP’s honest opinion of the best handgun ever made or whether he was telling the Marine what he thought he wanted to hear.
Either way, a solid case can be — and has been, repeatedly — made for John Moses Browning’s all-American mesiterwerk single-action semi-automatic pistol as the single greatest handgun ever designed (do we even need to specify that it’s the original .45 ACP?). Still. Over a century later.
We’ll let you take it from here.