Commercial Art: A Look at Classic Firearms Print Ads – Part 1

Luis Valdes – TTAG

Back in the day, when print media was king and was the main source of information for anything firearm related, gun companies paid media companies to plaster their ads throughout the pages of the various gun rags. Magazines like Gun & Ammo, Soldier of Fortune, American Rifleman, and so many more.

Remember, this was mostly before Al Gore’s newfangled internet became what it is today. Before companies could do direct targeted marketing through YouTube and social media.

So here is part of my collection of vintage ads, back when print was still king and the sale had to be made on one page versus a seven-minute YouTube video.


In the olden days, GLOCK always had that exotic feel to their ads. Remember, before the new millennium GLOCK was pretty much the only major player in the polymer framed striker-fired market.

Their 9x19mm and .40 S&W guns were taking over space in LE holsters across the country and GLOCK wasn’t stupid about capitalizing on that fact. They worked that into their ads at every opportunity.

Here we have a 90s era GLOCK ad showing off the then then-new G22 in .40 S&W.


The GLOCK Model 34 and 35 were brand new in 1998 and the G34 was even used as the hero gun in the film End of Days. “Between your faith and my GLOCK 9mm, I take my GLOCK.” – Jericho Cane (Arnold Schwarzenegger)


The first of the slimline GLOCK pistols. The G36 was and is about the size of a G19, but it in single stack .45 ACP.


The G26 and G27 “baby GLOCKs” were revolutionary when they came out in the 1990s. The AWB banned civilian sales of 17-round mags, so GLOCK developed a compact, AWB-compliant gun that was just right for the CCW market.


Here we have a Gen2 G19 being advertised as a premier duty pistol. It’s apparently a space-age gun because NASA’s Protective Services adopted the G19 as their duty pistol.


Here we have a Gen2 G17 being plugged as the best pistol on the market.


GLOCK advertising that their pistols serve across the country, especially in my home town of Miami.


A famous GLOCK ad with the flaming “C” models shooting an especially stout .40 S&W for effect.


GLOCK went on a marketing blitz showing all the agency patches across the globe that had adopted their pistols. This is just one of many.


Steyr Arms was always the odd ball back then. They made some eye-catching guns but their market footprint was tiny. They just didn’t have the contracts or wholesale presence their competitors did and their ads kinda show it with comparatively bland, colorless work.

Steyr’s first generation M-Series. I recall having new old stock of these at Lou’s Police Supply when I worked at their original location. They were an interesting design but GLOCK simply beat them in every way. The biggest thing that popped out about them was the odd triangle sights they came with.


Here we have the GB Pistol, a gas-operated 9mm that lost out to the G17 for the Austrian Army Contract. It is honestly a fantastic pistol, but the price tag, even back then, was not cheap.


The late 80s and early 90s was the era of the “assault pistol“. Pistol braces didn’t exist yet and having a non-SBR version of a SMG was pretty much this. They sucked for the most part since there was no real practical use for them.


The Steyr AUG, a rifle in constant demand by gun store fondlers, but little actual market demand. They never sold well due to their high costs and hard-to-get for magazines. The ad here is for LEO letterhead-only buys.


The 1980s was the era when Israeli-designed firearms were in top demand due to Hollywood. The UZI SMG and Jericho 941 pistol were both class acts of that era.

The guns themselves went through a number of different distributors and importers over the years. I very much like both ads which were very well done.

Automatic Weaponry made legal transferable machines guns. Clearly this ad was designed before the ’86 machine gun ban.

Here, we have a 90s-era Jericho pistol chambered in .40 S&W being advertised when it was being imported by Mossberg.

So there you have, some ads from a bygone era of print media. Some had flash, others didn’t. But all were different in their own way. Stay tuned for part two.


  1. avatar Geoff "I'm getting too old for this shit" PR says:

    Thanks for reminding me select-fire Uzis and Steyer AUGs could be had nearly over-the-counter (after the stamp paperwork comes back)…

    *sobbing pitifully*

    1. avatar jwm says:

      1984. Gunshop in WV. Brand new in the box uzi sub gun for 350 plus the .gov stamp. Bought a gently used 94 .30-30 and a webley .38 for less than a hundred each.

  2. avatar T78 says:

    Cool article guys! I always like to go and look at old gun ads from back day.

  3. avatar Michael says:

    The SPP never really got a chance. It was the problem child of a Glock crossed with an UZI. Even without an arm brace, using a one point sling it was more accurate than the sights it came with. There was a proprietary scope adapter that was never imported in sufficient quantities to make a difference. It was and is a good choice for someone not needing a 9mm to conceal that would group adequately to sweep ’em off the front lawn or clean up the back 40. -30-

  4. avatar Joseph Quixote says:

    Old Winchester, Remington and Browning ads are much more entertaining.

    1. avatar Reason says:

      My thought too. Where are the ads from the late 1800’s through the 1950′ with the art work that ws used. Those old Winchester, Remington, Marlin, UMC ETC ads were works of art.
      Those ads from the 1980’s and 90’s just do not compare. Cool but not art.

  5. avatar Fully Involved says:

    Oh hell yes! Cant wait for part 2!

    Also we need more articles on guns depicted in or used in different art forms. Lets get some culture up in this b!tch.

  6. avatar Docduracoat says:

    This is how I know there will never be time travel.
    Future me would come back and have told me to buy 10 full auto Uzis’.
    Then sell them when America elects it’s first black president.
    I’d be rich!

    1. avatar Chris T in KY says:


  7. avatar GS650G says:

    I love the really old ads with ridiculously low prices like 39 dollars for a 38 special.

    1. avatar jwm says:

      And you could order them thru the mail and have them shipped to your front door. Without any sort of license.

  8. avatar How_Terrible says:

    Good god. In the 90’s and AUG cost almost as much as it costs today….

  9. avatar Manse Jolly says:

    Waiting on parts 2, 3, and 4!!

    Love looking at old ads.

  10. avatar Chris T in KY says:

    What missing are the general newspapers who featured these gun advertisements. It was not just the outdoor news media. Positive images of Arms were everywhere is the country not that long ago.

  11. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

    Anything made out of plastic is not old. You want to show some old ads? Show some from when I was a child. Not from when I wasn’t jumping out of airplanes for the army anymore.

  12. avatar I 3/ 10 says:

    When I was a kid, a Sears catolog had a few pages of firearms pre 1968. Those are the print pages I remember seeing guns in.

  13. avatar Rustybore says:

    National Geographic magazine from 100 years ago, had terrific single page ads for various COLT products. These ads continued up to the mid 1940’s or so.

    1. avatar Chris T in KY says:

      Thanks for posting! I’ve been wondering where I needed to start looking. My 2A research continues.

      1. avatar Rustybore says:

        Yeah, often you can find stacks National Geographic pretty cheap at flea markets and yard sales. Our ancestors rarely threw them away, and whole piles of them survive to this day. At one point, I made a fair amount of money by carefully slicing these ads out of the magazine and selling them on ebay.

        It is an interesting and somewhat depressing contrast to see how firearms used to be promoted and their very presence in society widely accepted in the (then) modern order. I suspect that back in 1919 for example, the National Geographic magazine was a must have for middle to upper class folks who considered themselves forward thinking and dare I say “progressive”? That was then and this is now. One would NEVER find a COLT ad in a modern issue, it just wouldn’t happen and if it did, no doubt, subscription cancellations would be monumental!

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