Why We Name Our Guns

posted on June 14, 2011

There are many reasons to give a name to your favorite firearm. Many gun owners name a gun in memory of someone special, as a good luck charm or simply because they love it.

'Tombo' Martin, former Major League baseball player and co-host of "Buck Commander" on The Outdoor Channel, agrees. "I think a guy will nickname his gun just to give it special meaning," said Tombo. "My .300 Win. rifle is nicknamed J.D. Hogg. It is special to me because the first animals I ever killed with that gun were actually a two-for-one-shot on some hogs in Brady, Texas, during my first hunt for our show. The name also honors Jefferson Davis (J.D.) Hogg, better known as Boss Hogg, my favorite character from the 'Dukes of Hazzard' T.V. show."

It's clear that theNo. 1 reason is they love their guns. For more insight and different perspectives on the matter, I did what a lot of people are doing these days: I posted the question on Facebook. Have you ever nicknamed a gun? If so, why?

Here are some reasons that my Facebook friends provided:

No. 2: It honors a loved one.
The memory of a lost friend, pet or family member can be an inspiration to nickname a favorite possession.

"I have an old Stevens .22/410 over-under scattergun that I call Red-Nose. It was my grandfather's gun and his name was Rudolph Kurpis," said Brandon Butler.

No. 3: It has been around forever.
If you keep something long enough...you can't help but name it.

"I call my Remington 11-87 Special Purpose (black synthetic): Black Death. I've hunted with it since I was 15 years old. It has killed every turkey I've ever taken, hundreds of crows, numerous deer, squirrels, armadillos, rabbits, ducks, geese and more. I love that thing," said Mark Olis.

No. 4: It has a good reputation.
Sometimes a gun becomes famous within the circle of hunters that put it to use.

"One of my friends, who can afford the finest gear on the planet, still chooses to turkey hunt with an old single-shot shotgun that he bought more than 30 years ago. My buddy calls his shotgun The Mule and he stenciled that name on the butt stock," said Dave Maas. "He bought it for around $30. It has one single gold bead near the end of the barrel. Funny thing is that the bead doesn't sit at 12 o'clock, it's at 1 o'clock, so, to aim properly, you have to tilt it and shoot it gangsta' style. The Mule's forearm also has been known to fly off the gun during recoil. But damn, that gun shoots a tight pattern!"

No. 5: It describes an action.
A good shotgun can turn the lights out on a wild turkey in a heartbeat.

"My Mossberg 835 shotgun is called Old Painless. When it throws its stream of hard-hitting lead, those gobblers never feel a thing," said Jeremy Whitehead.

No. 6: It travels well.
Hunting is not all about dropping the hammer on a critter. It's about the great places in this wide-open country that we all enjoy visiting.

"My Winchester 1300 is named Good Time City, because I always have a good time hunting turkeys in many different cities and states," said Dean Nadler.

No. 7: It's inspired by Hollywood.
Funny quotes from the movies can inspire folks to name their prized firearm.

"My custom Remington 870 turkey gun is named B.M.F., as heard in the popular movie 'Pulp Fiction' (1994): 'How do I know which wallet is yours?'...'It's the one that says Bad Mother F*#$@%,'" said David Draper.

No. 8: Just trying to be funny.
Everyone likes to joke around and tease the ones they love the most.

"I've got a .44 Rem. Mag. revolver I carry on my hip when I bowhunt black bears. Her name is Marge because she's just like a slightly disgruntled housewife—kinda sexy and edgy, yet always by your side," said Luke Hartle, "but she has one heck of a bark if you set her off."

No. 9: It's picky about what it hunts.
Sometimes a firearm is reserved to take only one kind of animal. It has one job and it always does it right.

"I named my Ruger .270-cal rifle: Widow Maker. You see, I've only taken bucks with it," said Freddie Phillips.

No. 10: The name is taken from TV.
Television commercials are another good source for a witty name.

"I call my H-S Precision 300 Ultra Mag, AT&T. This rifle can really 'reach out and touch someone.' The farthest deer kill so far is 650 yards," said Mike Mattly.

No. 11: It says good luck.
Some names are just an unspoken prayer for success.

"All of my rifles and shotguns have the same name: Wilhelmina! Wilhelmina supposedly to means 'protector' in German. The word protector seems fitting for any gun," said Lisa Metheny. "But I choose that name because about the time I am ready to squeeze the trigger I can't help but wonder to myself 'will-it-mean-I'll-fill-my-tag-a.'"

No. 12: The name tells a tale.
Many times the name of a gun stems from a story of a favorable hunt.

"My hand-crafted .32 percussion cap muzzleloader was custom built for me and stained with a beautiful scarlet tint," said Mitch Kezar. "One day, that gun helped me slay a big fat gray squirrel. A half hour later, the sky opened up and started to pour. We got absolutely drenched by that thunderstorm. The rifle took a couple of days to dry out, and that is how she got her name: Storming Scarlet. She is wickedly accurate, and has harvested hundreds of squirrels and rabbits since then. Should my house ever catch fire, this rifle is the first thing to get thrown out the window and saved."

No. 13: To keep it simple.
Guns usually have complicated names, acronyms and confusing monikers, given to them by the manufacturer. A nickname simply makes it easier to say.

I own a Remington Sportsman 16-gauge. It was my father-in-law's shotgun, whom I never met, as he died decades ago. It was a bit rusty and in rough shape when it was gifted to me. So I invested in getting it re-blued, that's why I nicknamed it Blue. I plan to pass it down to my son. He'll never know his grandpa, but hopefully he will have many fine memories sharing the woods with Blue.

So, what's your name?
Have you nicknamed your gun? Tell us by leaving a comment below.


Marlin 1894 Trapper
Marlin 1894 Trapper

I Have This Old Gun: Marlin 1894 Trapper

Collectors refer to these shortened carbines as “trappers,” but that term was never officially used by either Winchester or Marlin. Winchester referred to them as “Baby Carbines” or “Special Short Carbines” on the rare occasions when they were cataloged.

The Rifleman Report: From The ''Inside Out''

The term “inside out” can be taken literally or applied as a phrase to describe the thoroughness with which an idea is understood. In this month’s issue, we hope to illustrate that the latter especially is used as a guiding principle to keep the American firearm industry at the top of its game.

Colt CZ Group Makes Offer For Vista's Ammo Brands

Colt CZ Group made an unsolicited proposal to purchase the Sporting Products Division of Vista Outdoor, which includes Federal, CCI, Remington Ammunition and others.

Review: Smith & Wesson M&P9 M2.0 Metal

Firearm trends appear to be a virtual pendulum at times—it isn’t uncommon to see a theme grab hold of the industry only to be reversed entirely some years later.

The Armed Citizen® Nov. 27, 2023

Read today's "The Armed Citizen" entry for real stories of law-abiding citizens, past and present, who used their firearms to save lives.

Double Check Before Hitting That Purchase Button

Fake websites are one of the biggest scams and a painful reminder to slow down, particularly during the holiday season, and double check before hitting that purchase button when online. Ammo, gear and even firearms are not immune to the growing trend.


Get the best of American Rifleman delivered to your inbox.