Garry James took on this question on the Guns & Ammo website, and given his love of antique arms, most of his choices came from the 19th century and earlier. I had to agree with most of his selections, though I actually like the looks of the Rast-Gasser.
This got me to thinking that we had plenty of hideous sidearms in the 20th century, so I have made up a list of my own, giving you five more than you get on G&A, to boot!
1. FN Model 1900: thank heavens it was all uphill from here for John M. Browning. The Model 1910 would, I think be on the best-looking list for many gun fanciers. This one, not so much.
2. Dreyse Model 1907: almost equally unlovely was this German product. Paul Mazan wrote about it in SGN (5/20/03), recalling his father brought one home from World War II because it was the only trophy pistol the officers wouldn’t deign to steal.
3. Sauer Behorden Modell: being historically significant doesn’t make it pretty. This one introduced the trigger safety now so familiar, but it was not much to look at.
4. Dardick: this unusual revolver used triangular plastic-cased “Tround” ammunition; it was way ahead of its time and remains that way.
5. Clerke First: this nasty little .22 revolver was introduced to serve the low-end market vacated when the 1968 Gun Control Act cut off importation of cheap handguns. As bad as the various RG revolvers were, this was worse.
6. Husqvarna: this gas-operated pistol was the inspiration for the Wildey, which surely generated more publicity per unit sold than any gun in history.
7. LES Rogak: a copy of the Steyr GB-18 made in Morton Grove, Ill. The retarded-blowback Steyr was no great shakes, but the Rogak was far worse.
8. Claridge Hi-Tec: also sold under the trademark Goncz, and in carbine form, this big, clumsy piece was truly a dog.
9. Wyoming Arms Parker: we all love Wyoming, but this particular namesake had nothing of the Equality State’s beauty.
10. Star Ultrastar: when Glocks became popular in the late 1980s, Star rushed to market with this one, which was essentially a Model 30 with a plastic frame. It was fat, slippery and just plain homely. It didn’t slow, and may have speeded, the Spanish maker’s slide to oblivion.
Those are my candidates in this lack-of-beauty contest. What are your nominees?