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