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July 19, 2006

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There's No Excuse for Ugly Guns

One of the dumbest pieces of conventional wisdom I’ve ever heard is that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Spare me. Does anyone think that Angelina Jolie is a skank? Does anyone think that Rosie O’Donnell is a babe?

Ugly things are depressing not only because they are awful to look upon, but because most of them didn’t have to be ugly. Firearms are no exception. It’s no more trouble to make something with graceful and harmonious lines than it is to create an aesthetic abomination. That is, assuming that the designer has artistic talent and not just mechanical ability.

Through the history of firearms, many of the most effective guns have also been the most graceful—the Kentucky rifle, the Springfield Model 03, the Colt Peacemaker, the Winchester Model 12, the Savage Model 99. Gun designers who put ugly firearms on the market should be sealed in a room where the collected speeches of Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) are played at a deafening volume for all eternity.


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GLN Admin

Some examples would be useful.

If form should follow function, I would suggest that the least desireable firearms would be those that are most highly adorned by engraving or other unnecessary design elements. The highest level of form not following function might be English or Italian engraved doubles.

Your thoughts?

Guy Miller

Dave!! You are harsh to the extreme! NOBODY deserves to listen to Schumer, no matter what!


I've got a plain vanilla (read: ugly) Savage 110 that I bought, not because I needed it, but the price was too good to pass up and I figured I could resell it for and make a couple of bucks. It is without question the most accurate rifle I have ever fired. After one trip to the range I decided to keep it, and it looks a lot better to me. Too bad the powers that be at Savage know only how to make really accurate, functional guns - and not beautiful, accurate and functional guns. Gee - that sounds about like saying a girl has a "great personality."

Eagle I

Beauty is only skin deep, ugly goes all the way to the bone.

Forcing one to listen to Chuck Shumer would be cruel. Forcing one to listen to Dick Durbin would be unusual.

Greg Russell

In regards to firearms, beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. Some think my Glock 21 to be a horrible looking beast, but to me, it`s magnificant. It`s a dream because it cycles anything and everything I put through it, and I`d stake my life on it`s functionality.

Larry McWilliams

Angelina Jolie certainly has an objective beauty, but she has some really nasty tattoos which, in my opinion, tend to flaw that beauty, and to such a degree that I would not consider her a "babe", though her beauty is still evident. Likewise, I have seen guns that were absolutely gorgeous, but because of dings, misuse, abuse, etc., they aren't quite as nice. Objectively "beautiful" guns are items to behold, but I'd be more inclined to display them rather than play with them, for the money I'd likely have to give for them because of that beauty. Like another responder said, I have many guns that aren't objectively pretty, but I am graced to have them, and I won't feel like I'm marring perfection if I accidently put a scratch on the finish.


Sporting arms should be functional art. 90% of Beretta’s fit these criteria, in my opinion, as do Winchester Model 70’s. Rugers come close to these criteria since their stock design is quite good. Savage stock design sucks. Remingtons I’ve seen in recent years shoot well, but their stocks often have putty filed holes ruining the appearance.

Still, I must admit its all personal choice. Some people don’t like Pizza.



Not everyone can afford $4,000 Italian doubles or $2,000 engraved rifles. When I was shopping for my first shotgun I bought a remington 870, not because its the fanciest on the rack, but because its been proven for more than 50 years. If I would have had thousands and thousands to spend I still wouldve got the 870. In my opinion people who show up to pheasant hunt with me with $4,000 shotguns aren't really interested in hunting there just interested in showing how much money they have

 Mike Diehl

Errr. The Savage 114s look pretty good to me, aesthetically speaking.

mike shickele

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
I own two rifles that have wood stocks; a model 7 .223, and a CZ classic in 22LR. Both are very nice, but they are not the rifles that I take out to the field.
I see the benifits to stainless steel, though I don't own any rifles made of it. If any of my barrels ever needed replacing though, it would be with stainless.
For a hunting rifle, I insist on a fiberglass stock; no exceptions.
Even when rifles where properly bedded I have seen POI change with humidity; this is due to stock warp in the reciever area.
Once a stock allows moisture in, it may never release that moisture again.

Guns with engraving, and wonderfully adorned wooden stocks may be nice to look at, but they are definitely not the most accurate, or the most appropriate firearms for the field.
Reliability is an important concideration; I would not go into the field with a firearm that I could not trust.

After all; how beautiful is a super model, that cheats on you, and spends all of your money?

Mike Diehl

Alot of that is probably true, Mike S. But most of the accuracy depends on the construction, not the material from which the stock is made.

I have two wooden stocked shooters and their POI doesn't change enough to risk me missing any game within rational shooting range. My Ruger 77 RSI shoots sub 1 MOA (no bs) except that I am not as good a shooter as the rifle. Ditto for my ancient Mannlicher. I practice alot but with that .30-06 I'm about 1.5 MOA most of the time. Rain. Wind. Sun. Cool. Etc.

My 70 year old dad (who shot expert in the US Army ages ago) has arthritis. He makes my rifles look reeaaaall sweeet and makes me look like a stumblebum.

But neither of us is gonna miss our deer from a sitting position out to 260 yards.

I suppose the wood stocks MIGHT be a problem if I were to suddenly haul one off to Alaska and try to hunt Dall sheep at 400 yards. That's not in the offerings for me.

In the end seems like once one has established that a rifle is a basically accurate rifle the concern to me is less about whether the POI changes because of the weeather and more about me finding enough range time to live up to the capabilities of the rifle.

jake griffin

I dont know about you guys but, im going to stick to brands like savage and mossberg. these companys make high performance guns at a low price.

Phillip Abernathy

Some guns appear ugly to me but i do not care as long as it shoots straight. I have a used 223 single shot NEF that the previous owner painted camo with spraypaint it looked like hell even after i removed the spray paint (there are still little spots that wouldnt come off) but i have yet to establish the shooting abilitiy to match the guns accuracy. So all in all i just dont care about looks as long as it functions and shoots good

Larry Winner

Last year deer hunting, I hunted in a heavy rain. My Ruger Model 77, walnut stock 7mm Remington Magnum was soaked. When I got home, I cleaned it and let it dry. I put it together and it still shot in the same place.

O Garcia

Beautiful guns are mostly born, meaning the lines are beautiful from Day 1. Grace and elegance might be the words to use. When the gun is like that, you don't even need engraving or gold inlays. A beautiful action naturally begets a beautiful stock, even one with the plainest of finishes.

If you look at the old Rigby Mausers, there isn't much embellishment in them (they weren't the glamour guns of their era, but the Nitro doubles), just well-fitted, classic stocks and "Rigby" iron sights. And no one can deny these working rifles are still among the most beautiful.

Simply put, with a naturally beautiful design, you're doing something grotesquely wrong if the gun looks bad. Same with the examples Dave P. gave. I can't imagine how you can uglify the 1873 Colt, although with the Savage 99, the factory succeeded many times by trying to adapt the gun to telescope use. In its original form, the Savage 99 was/is one of the slickest looking guns ever.

Some beautiful guns can be made out of plain designs, with polishing, even bending and reshaping. But it's hard. The British gunmakers have made art pieces out of such ugly looking military actions like the Snider and Lee-Enfield. Unfortunately, not all actions can be reshaped as much as we want. The Remington M700 simply wouldn't obey because it is not the trimmest of actions (too tall, and the angle of the tang doesn't help either) and has an ugly trigger guard and cocking piece shroud. The Remington can be made beautiful, but it won't be on the same plane as a Model 70. (I'm not starting a brand war here, just to be clear with my intentions. I love both designs.)

Makes you wonder why Remington discontinued the Model 725. The 725 ain't no Model 70, and I'm not too thrilled about the 725's safety, but IMO overall the 725 still looks better than the 700.

O Garcia

And yeah, I still think Gwyneth Paltrow is the most beautiful of the three (Gwyneth, Jennifer Aniston and Angelina). Just my opinion.

Ted Strong

Mr. Garcia,

Unless I've mixed up my episodes of Access Hollywood, isn't she the least plasticine of the lot as well?

Don Pacis

true, what good is a rifle if it doesn't shoot straight indeed? the thing is you also look at the rifle, cuddle it, stroke it. so what's wrong with having a ravishing beauty in your hands when hunting's slow? (Gwyneth, Christina, Angelina & other goddesses will do) a recurring fantasy is a mock gathering of Dakotas and Jarretts and assorted custom jobs, bolts and bores glistening in the dark woods after a good day's hunt...


Oops. In my previous rant I should have added a $4000 tag doesn't buy "functional art" in a sporting arm. It can be found in a $300 gun.

Taste. It's all a matter of Taste.

e.g. Rem 870 and Win 12 have great lines and form, and both guns are very functional without excessive costs.

Later. Soap box just broke.

craig curtis

i want to know what mr petzal is so fired up about? wich guns are you referring to ? i know the babes but didnt catch the gun that was so god awfull ,it prompted this discussion.i know you see alot more firearms than ill ever hope to dream about but ive only seen a few that i thought were just plain rosie odonell UGLY so can you elaborate please thank you !!


Who cares about what a gun looks like......dead is dead...and the pheasent, deer, varmint,etc,etc aint gonna critique your particular weapon...its all about killing the game cleanly... use what fits and you can handle well. If you want pretty..buy a picture.

JA Demko

Nobody would, I think, describe the AR or AK series of rifles as aesthetic triumphs. Yet the AR series can be capable of astounding accuracy and the AK can be reliable under the worst conditions. Beauty is as beauty does.


the deer didn't know I bought an ugly mossin-nagant with iron sights at a yard sale for $20.00
the deer didn't know I got an ugly box of 10 surplus soviet ammo for $0.49
the deer didn't know my ugly camo is army surplus for $4.99
the deer didn't know my ugly hunting trip was 15 mile long one-day outing
the deer didn't know an ugly FMJ killed him before he hit the ground
the deer didn't know he got a ride in my ugly '83 ford escort to my ugly kenmore freezer
the deer didn't know I stuffed my ugly face with his beautiful meat for many months


Dear Mudd: Thanks for sharing.

Fritz Krueger

My son and I need your help. He purchased a 300wsm Kimber rifle and I purchased a 300 wsm Winchester featherweight rifle. Both guns were boresighted. We shot a total of 14 shots in about an hour. We started at 25 yards and then went to 100. We got them both close to the bullseye at 25, but when we went to 100yds, we were both high and to the left, at least a foot high and 3 inches to the left. This is our first experience with the wsm. Why would we be so far off at 100 yds when we were almost in the bull at 25 yds. There was a slight wind, but nothing too drastic. Thanks, Fritz p.s. please e-mail me with your response when you get time.

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