Ugly Guns

posted on September 3, 2009

The look and shape of handguns sometimes have an impact on their popularity. Several companies have told me that some of their models have not sold well, when they would seem to have everything going for them.

Here's a very good example. In 1999, Smith & Wesson combined the features of two very popular models - the internal hammer Centennial and the five shot L frame .44 Spl. Called the Model 296Ti, the resulting gun had the snag free contours of an internal hammer DAO and the almost legendary clout of the .44 Spl. In a world that's deeply concerned with finding the ideal concealed carry handgun, this combination should have been really popular. Add in the fact that the gun was very light, using a strong titanium cylinder in an alloy frame. This should have been a real crowd-pleaser, but it never took off and was discontinued in 2001.

The chunky little powerhouse was more than a scaled-up J frame, using a frame that had a pronounced hump for the internal hammer to swing through its arc. To the critical eye of too many prospective buyers, it appeared that the humpback frame contour was as ugly as the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Even though the 296 was a nice compilation of features, it just didn't look right and people didn't buy them.

Evidence that looks alone killed off a good model - proving gun buyers are remarkably subjective about their decisions. True enough, but then how can you explain the current popularity of the Taurus Judge? One of the most out-of-proportion revolvers ever made, the Judge is really beautiful only to Taurus management. They sell them by the thousands.


Fn America High Power Pistol F
Fn America High Power Pistol F

New For 2022: FN High Power

FN America brought back its High Power in an all-new, redesigned package that takes the iconic Browning design into the 21st century.

First Look: Nosler Suppressors

In 2022, Nosler expanded into suppressors with four all-new models designed for durability, lightness and great sound mitigation.

First Look: Magpul Hunter American Stock

Magpul now offers an easy upgrade for owners of Ruger American Predator and Ranch rifles with its Hunter American Stock.

First Look: Federal Premium HST In .357 Mag. & .327 Fed. Mag.

Federal Premium expanded its popular HST line of defensive ammunition to include the .357 Mag. and .327 Mag. cartridges.

New For 2022: Henry Long Ranger Express

Henry built on its Long Ranger lever-action platform with its all-new Express model in 2022, providing a utilitarian take on the precision lever gun.

On The Range: Taurus G3X

Taurus USA blended features from its full-size and compact pistols to create the all-new G3X, a hybrid design that aims to do it all.


Get the best of American Rifleman delivered to your inbox.