Most of the time, guns intended to be fancy and particularly fancy leave me rather cold. I can recognize the mind-blowing skill that goes into really high-end hand engraving, but engraved guns just aren’t really my style. Same with precious metal inlays…it’s just not for me. Even if I one day become wealthy enough to afford such things, I can’t really see myself partaking.
However, I would like to think that I do have some appreciation for the truly elegant firearms that are out there. There are lots of typical, ordinary looking designs, and quite a lot of pretty hideous ones (which I am often drawn to because of their under-appreciated nature). The Dreyse 1907 I recently picked up is a good example – it may look like Schmeisser was pretty hung over on the morning he drew it up, but it’s still an interesting and historically significant design.
But, every once in a while I stumble upon a gun that is just absolutely gorgeous not because it has been gussied up with decorations but because its functional parts lead to a very pleasing form, complemented by just the right choice of materials for its construction. The best example I’ve yet seen is the 1896 Bittner manually-repeating pistol:
I am really drawn to the juxtaposition of the organically curved frame with the octagonal barrel and the point at the base of the grip. The case hardened finish with rich dark wooden grips and spring covers is just perfect. I think what I really like it that these elements were not created to be aesthetically appealing, but are natural results of the engineering process that went into designing the pistol. It’s like beauty in the natural world, coming from form rather than design.
I will have a post later on discussing the Bittner in terms of mechanics and history, but I wanted to point it out today as my long-time number 1 choice in pistol aesthetics. I dearly hope that if I ever manage to get my hands on one, it doesn’t turn out to be a letdown!
Still, I’m sure plenty of folks have much different tastes than I do – so tell me, what guns do you think are the most elegant?