There are some obvious candidates for vintage and historical handguns with cult followings that may immediately come to mind. Those handguns include legends like the Colt 1911 or Single-Action Army (SAA), Browning Hi-Power, SIG P210, and so on. There is no question that those guns enjoy a following, and a fiercely loyal one. However, those followings are so large and established that they’re pretty much mainstream. This is dedicated to those guns, newer vintage and century-old plus antiques, with smaller but fanatical fan bases.
The FB Vis 35, largely known in the U.S. as a “Radom 35,” is a World War II-era Polish pistol chambered in 9mm. They were never produced in the U.S. and so can be quite difficult to find, but they’re of great interest to collectors. Looking like the offspring of a Browning Hi-Power and a Colt 1911, the FB Vis 35 had a reputation for being accurate and reliable, however, some models were of lower quality.
The FN Five seveN is the most modern handgun here, but production began in 1993, rendering it vintage. It was the first handgun chambered in the exceptionally high-performing, proprietary FN 57x28mm cartridge. This fast, flat, and far-flying bottleneck handgun cartridge and the Five seveN’s high-capacity have solidly established this hot rod’s cult fame.
A century before the FN Five seveN was first adopted by users around the world, the globally renowned FN Herstal released the FN 1900. This elegant handgun was the first mass-production firearm to operate with a slide. This is where the history of the semi-automatic handgun began. And the FN 1900 was so well-produced, it remains prized as a carry gun to this day, well over a century later.
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There are arguably more cult Colts than any other brand. The 1911, SAA, Detective Special, Python, 1851 Navy, among others. However, the Colt Woodsman, first of the rimfire semi-autos, became and remains an iconic part of the functional American outdoors history.
Before the 57x28mm cartridge, the super-hot 762x25mm “Tokarev” cartridge reigned among handgun bottleneck rounds. The Czech CZ 52, older cousin of the likewise cult-worshiped CZ 75, is built sturdier than the Tokarev TT-33, the pistol with which the cartridge is most often associated. Its capability for handling super-hot Tokarev loads and its continued affordability make it impressive and one of the easiest of the cult handguns to own.
The SIG P230, and its sibling, the P232, already win points for being SIG Sauer firearms. These modest, concealable sidearms gained popularity in the 80s and 90s in the U.S. as the backup of choice for thousands. In addition to their SIG quality and reliability, it likely does not hurt that they look like sleek, sexy Walther PPKs designed in a wind tunnel.
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