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Firearms exist for a variety of needs and use cases. Hunting? Target shooting? Long-range steel slaying? Home defense? Concealed carry? I can think of a gun(s) in my collection for each of those roles. And more. Gun companies are more than happy to keep cranking out the firearms to fill niche roles. But while some are runaway hits, there’s always the other side of the karmic coin…the abject, utter failures.

Thanks to our uber useful, handy-dandy gun review database it’s easy to to identify the three of the most egregious offenders in the category of “things no one should every buy.” I’m positive there are more (and the comments section will be full of them) but these are the three worst examples we have personally reviewed.

Chiappa 1873 SAA Revolver (Review)

The folks at Chiappa make some wonderful guns. The 1873 SAA Revolver isn’t amongst ’em. With the accuracy of a blindfolded Stevie Wonder and build quality that makes even the staunchest gun right supporter think that maybe California might have been onto something with their “Saturday Night Special” law, the 1873 chambered in .22LR and .22WMR easily makes the top bottom of our list.

You might say to yourself, “For $150 I might be able to live with a lower quality firearm.” Dan Z. contends that would be a mistake. I’ll make you a promise though: you’ll be mightily impressed with the performance of your next handgun…as soon as you realize that there’s no resale value for this hunk o’ junk and lose it in a tragic boating accident.

Calico M-900 (Review)

One of my goals is to find a firearm designed between 1970 and 1990 that doesn’t look like a cheap science fiction prop. My search continues. And one of the cheapest and crappiest of the items turned out during that aesthetically dark period is the Calico M-900.

The concept was sound: a helical magazine with greater ammo capacity than anything else around. It’s a concept that’s still in use in guns like the PP-19 Bizon design. The concept, though, wasn’t the issue — the execution, however, was.

Overpriced in today’s market, less attractive than Britney Spears during her unfortunate early 2000’s period, and with fewer features than a budget Kia, the Calico is a good idea for those who need something in their gun safe to pull out when their friends are over, preceded by the phrase, “Hey, look at this thing!” And then immediately put back in the safe having never ever tried to pull the trigger on this thing at the range.

SAR 21 (Review)

Imagine putting together the best select-fire infantry rifle you could possibly conceive. Now change out every feature of that gun with the worst possible design component and ideas available. What you’re left with is the the SAR 21.

From the terrible trigger to the abysmal ergonomics, the built-in (and awful) scope to the lack of any ability to re-configure the firearm for specific missions, the SAR 21 is a leading contender for the title of worst firearm ever designed.

What’s more, being a pre-sample machine gun, this thing will cost you a minimum of $10,000. You can buy a better budget AR-15 with more features and fewer problems for under $500 these days. Even if you illegally modify that AR-15 for full-auto fire (don’t do that), the ensuing court case and imprisonment will likely cost you less cash and be less embarrassing than owning one of these monstrosities.

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  1. I would nominate the RG .45 Colt revolver, I can’t remember the model number. Abysmally made, when firing in single action it was a throw of the dice as to whether the hammer would drop prior to touching the trigger or after. Gunsmiths wouldn’t touch it- internals were too poorly constructed.

    I turned it into the police as I didn’t want to have selling or even giving it to someone else on my conscience.

  2. The GP100 was designed between 1970-1990, and doesn’t look like a cheap science fiction prop. The CZ75 and CZ82/83 don’t fit that category either.

  3. For $150 on sale, you can buy a Heritage Rough Rider. My family’s favorite shootin’ iron.

    • My Rough Rider was only $129 (.22lr only), and I like it pretty well for a cheap plinker. It fills the niche of single action revolver for me, and provides a companion for my Henry lever action .22 rifle.

      Of course I’d love to have a Ruger Single Six instead of the RR, but they run a little higher than $129 (and a SA .22 revolver was kind of low on my priority list, since I already had a DA .22 revolver and a .22 pistol).

    • Unfortunately, I can’t. Zinc alloy frame is not good enough for the state of Illinois. It might melt in my hand or something.

  4. What, no Remington R51? Nick, you aren’t even trying.

    Honorable mention to the Taurus Curve and the Taurus View.

      • Ditto here.
        I was rooting for the R51 back in ’14 when it flopped. I still say “damn, what a fine looking gun” whenever I see it in the case at work and dream of taking it home. After Remington shook the bugs out of the design I was thrilled and now just need a few 100’s I can play with before the wife spends them on something useless like food or bills.
        Always brings a smile to my face whenever I get to take it out of the case to show a customer – and a bigger smile when I demonstrate the disassembly/reassembly without breaking a sweat (practice, practice…).

  5. Off topic, but it would seem some racist guy shouting “Allahu Akbar!” just wasted some folks in Fresno.

    Suddenly that whole body armor thing from earlier doesn’t seem quite so odd.

  6. I was never in danger.

    I would add the Ares SCR (no longer made, I think and for good reason). And I hate to say it, but the DP-12 shotty.

    • The DP-12 is actually a very fun gun to shoot, and not as heavy as it looks. I’ve actually been considering it as a NY-legal truck gun for when I go visit my parents across the border (from PA), but the excessive cost and the fact that I will fall under LEOSA within the next 10 months made me change my mind.

      What’s your beef with the SCR? It’s a fantastic design for those stuck in NY, and again I considered buying a lower so I could bring my AR to my parents house for shooting fun with my brothers, or so my wife could have an SCR when we were geographically separated on each side of the border. Now my brothers live with me, and she’s not my wife anymore, so no need for one of those either! But Ares, now FightLite (ugh), is making the SCR again.

  7. I shot the Chiappa; it was fine. Shot a little low, that’s about it. Just file the front sight down a bit.

  8. I have two pistols hidden in my safe that will immediately qualify me for membership in Shooters Anonymous.

    A Davis D-32 – the pot metal bastard offspring of an illegal and immoral coupling of a Jennings and HiPoint. Chambered in anemic .32ACP because anything more powerful would blow the gun up. The nickel or chrome plating on the pistol is pretty but that’s about all I can say for it. It does feed ball ammunition without jamming and goes bang every time I’ve pulled the trigger. A co worker found the pistol in his late father’s estate and gave it to me because I “know all about guns and stuff.” No money spent other that a 50 round box of ammunition.

    Number two is a Stoeger .22 Luger. I’m more ashamed of this pistol because I actually paid money for it. Back in the day when I was young and foolish and didn’t know any better I found a guy at a gun show who had a Stoeger Luger for sale. I’ve always wanted a Luger. Today I have enough disposable income that I might be able to afford the real thing but 35 years ago a hundred bucks was about the maximum I could spend on a gun without cutting into the grocery or mortgage money. So I bought the .22 Luger – a “private sale” by the way using the evil gun show loophole – for a hard earned Franklin. The Stoeger is klunky and ugly and “sort of” looks like the real thing. I haven’t shot it in years but I remember that it fed everything and actually put the rounds on target.

    • Many years ago when I used to go frequent gun shows I’d bring with me a few Jennings, or Ravens. My strategy was to avoid the 3 day wait by trading one of these crapmatics for a decent gun that I really wanted. Back then in Florida was before the CCW was implemented and if you bought a handgun the dealer couldn’t transfer it for 3 days, unless you had a handgun to trade in with it. I usually took a small loss, but since I never paid more than $50-75 for one of those jam-o-matics it didn’t make a difference. At least I was able to take my new purchase home instead of driving back to where ever three days later.

    • Ah, the poor Pico… unloved by all… and all because it just HAD to be “the Smallest Production Pistol” on the market.
      I distinctly remember telling a customer once that if the Pico was the best gun she could get away with carrying it would be because she wasn’t wearing enough clothes. Like trying to write with a pencil sharpened to a short nub – you can do it, but only with great concentration and effort. Just get something a little bigger.

    • Thought that was a Panasonic portable cassette player with a pair of 12″ subwoofers… 😉

    • The Cobra looks like it came out of that same Bryco/Jennings/Lorcin/Raven/Davis Charlie Foxtrot. HiPoint has taken over that price point. If I had no gun and not much money those pistols might do the job until I could afford something better. I’m reminded of the old Liberator pistol. Single shot in .45 and the goal was to shoot a enemy that had something better – even an 8mm Nambu was something better. Take the better gun and go.

    • I have a Ross factory sporter. It is definitely fiendishly complex, and I have no doubt it was not well suited to trench warfare, but it is actually a sweet shooting gun.

  9. My Calico in 9x19mm is fantastic. What’s not to love about a reliable roller delayed blowback with a huge magazine? I’ve had dud rounds stop up the .22lr version, but the 9x19mm has eaten everything I’ve shot through it. Fantastic little carbine.

    You’re dead right about it being ugly and overpriced these days, but it’s cheaper than the other roller delayed blowback 9mm carbines out there, by a long shot.

  10. Add the Puma to the Potmetal dumpster fire.

    I had one of those Canik’s with the decocker button on top of the slide. It was a quad action-two trigger pulls make it fire once.

  11. The IMI Timberwolf 357 carbine was designed in the late 80s.

    It didn’t sell because it looked to “old fashioned”. (I guess people wanted that futuristic look).

    I wish they would bring it back….I’d buy one…..

  12. I’ve got 2 that will make the list. An rg10 in 22lr and an rg22 in 22 short.
    Both sit at the back of my safe never to see the light of day at a range again.
    The timing is off on the 22 and the 10 has a cracked frame. Cheap junk. And no gunsmith I’ve talked to will touch them.

  13. “One of my goals is to find a firearm designed between 1970 and 1990 that doesn’t look like a cheap science fiction prop.”

    Uh… AK-74? AKS-74U? SIG SG 550? CETME-L?

    • shot a lorcin once, it is a guaranteed single shot with probability of follow up shots in a rapidly diminishing scale.

      • A girl had one and asked me to clean it and test fire it.
        I couldn’t even get the first round to feed much less the subsequent ones from the magazine.
        I had to hold the slide open and manually insert a round in the chamber. The shots seem to be keyholing the paper target.
        This gun looked like it was cast from the same metal you find in cheap bathroom fixtures.
        When I gave it back to the girl, I told her to keep it in case she needed something heavy to throw at someone.

        • My dad had a Lorcin I worked on a little. I remember the biggest part of the trouble with it was the awful factory magazine. I believe we bought a replacement from Sarco. I don’t recall how reliable it was after that, but it was a lot better. I was flabbergasted when he later sold it for $200. I’d probably turn down a free one.

  14. If machine guns are eligible, the French Chauchet, hands-down. The magazine jammed nearly every shot, the whole thing was a piece of crap. Of course, it was a French gun, so….

  15. I love my Calico M-900. Mine runs like a top and makes it easy to use up 100 rounds in a heartbeat.

  16. The Polish Dueling Revolver picture is appropriate. Also the Urban Glock with the sights on the side of the slide.

    You generally get what you pay for, a good gun doesn’t just look like a gun, it functions like a gun.

    DEWATjunk guns and give them to a muni stage company for theatrical use.

  17. The Rohm RG 66 was definitely a hit or miss firearm , I’ve seen several of these come through me over the years and I always take them for a ride before I decide to keep or diffuse them . I have cut more than a few to keep them off the street . The shorty’s like the little 10’s that shot the 22 shorts were the worst of the worst , they were made with poor materials very poorly put together and could not hit the broad side of a barn . I ran across one however , a possible fluke of nature , number 66 with only the 22 magnum cylinder , with a 9 inch barrel , that can shoot the wings off a fly . It is tight at the wheel and functions flawlessly every time and by every time I mean hundreds of times . It used to always go with me on my four wheeler in the woods and I still have it . Wouldn’t sell it for nothing and be happy to challenge anyone with a Single Six , which I have a few , in a accuracy contest . Never just consider something worthless because of reputation .

  18. I own one one that I have never, and likely will never, fire; a mum’ed Jinsen Arsenal (Korea) Arisaka that my paternal grandfather brought back with him. The rifle is in pretty rough shape, has small crack in the bolt body at the firing-pin sear cutout, and is missing all of it’s magazine guts.

    The last I heard of my grandpa talk about it before he died, was that he had 20 rounds of ammo which came out of the dead Jap’s bandolier in 1980, fired two, and gave the rest to a war-buddy who had a much nicer Arisaka.

    When I was 10 and he gave it to me, the first thing he said was, “Don’t ever shoot it unless you want to end up like Jap I took it from”, while giving me a kind of weird look. I was terrified the ghost of that dead Jap was going to come back and kill me if I ever did, so I was more serious than I had ever been when I promised I wouldn’t. Only in my 20’s after I had a gunsmith who knew Arisakas inform me that trying to fire it could be extraordinarily bad, did I understand why Grandpa told me that….. but even so, I still have a weird paranoia about shooting it; even if the best gunsmith in the world told me it was %100 safe, there’s no way in hell that would I chance being wrong about what Opa meant.

    *Also, why did the page photo switch from a nice firearm, to a self-shooting Nagant?

  19. Long-range steel slaying? What the hell is that? And where can I find a new budget AR-15 for under $500? I haven’t found even an “assemble it from parts” AR-15 for that price.

    • Hi Mach,
      You need to look at the ads. I just tossed mine in the bit bucket, but I remember seeing 1/2 a dozen for $450-500. DPMS, ATI, Del-ton, Armalite and Bear Creek come to mind but there were a bunch more.
      Good hunting

  20. Two Guns that should definitely be on the list are athe Stoeger Luger .22 and the Erma Luger .22 I ran into someone who had about 5 of them that did not function I have a stoeger luger .22 and a friend of mine got one at the same time and both of them failed to fuction properly. I sent mine back to the manufacturer and it still failed to operate when I got it back.

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