Firearms history is paved with strange designs.
As a Glock owner, I’ve never understood the whole “Glocks are ugly” thing. Sure, they’re utilitarian in nature and don’t have the beauty of a fine 1911 or an old Colt revolver, but surely there are uglier handguns out there.
So we did a little research and it turns out there have been a lot of ugly handgun throughout the course of the history.
In fact, we found many ridiculous or experimental designs that are nothing short of downright hideous. Here are eight of the ugliest ones of the bunch.
The Mateba autorevolver looks more like something you’d see Sylvester Stallone wielding in some future dystopian movie than a firearm in existence today. But the Mateba is very real, semi-automatic revolver that’s chambered in .357 Magnum, .44 Magnum and .454 Casull.
As an added bonus, the .357 can also shoot .38 Special, so I guess it has that going for it. But at nearly 3 pounds in weight, we’re wondering who this hefty handgun was marketed for and what practical use it could possibly have.
There are a few different models, but they all look very strange. If this type of weird appeals to you, be prepared to pay a pretty penny. You can often find Matebas going for anywhere from $1,700-$2,500.
Most shooters can agree, Ohio-based Hi-Point Firearms makes some of, if not THE ugliest modern handguns on the planet. These polymer-frame handguns are pretty much the cheapest semi-auto handguns on the market today. Function before form is definitely the thinking here.
Hi-Point currently makes pistols chambered in .380 ACP, 9mm Luger, .40 S&W and .45 ACP. You’ll probably run across the .380 ACP models, the CF-380 and 380 COMP and 9mm models C-9 and C-9 COMP most often. In any case, they’re all extremely ugly firearms.
While the Hi-Points won’t win any beauty contests anytime soon, they do seem to be durable. Demolition Ranch devoted a whole episode to torture testing one a while back, and despite his best efforts, he was unable to render the handgun non-functional in his first video. In spite of their ugly designs, Hi-Point have developed a small, but dedicated fan base on the internet who love the reliability and low price point.
Another very strange-looking revolver, the Italian-made Chiappa Rhinos are chambered in .357 magnum, .40 S&W, 9mm and 9x21mm. Just like the Mateba, these revolvers look more like a movie prop than an actual firearm.
And just like the Mateba, they aren’t cheap, running anywhere from $700-$1,000 new. If you noticed the odd placement of the cylinder in relation to the barrel, you might be wondering just how this thing shoots. Well, the fired round is coming out the bottom of the cylinder rather than the top. Weird, right?
This gun got a little mainstream love when actress Margot Robbie carried a customized Chiappa Rhino 60DS as villain Harley Quinn in the 2016 anti-superhero movie “Suicide Squad.” You know, we actually like the Rhino in this role. It’s a very fitting firearm for an anti-hero like Harley Quinn.
The FP-45 Liberator has to be a contender for ugliest firearm in history, pistol or long gun. Chambered only in .45 ACP, this single-shot pistol came at the tiny cost of just $2.10 per unit back in 1942. Yes, this is a World War II firearm.
Now, you may be wondering what practical use such a crummy handgun could possibly have in war time. But it was actually a pretty clever idea that went into the FP-45. The U.S. Army manufactured a million, and planned to drop them into Nazi-occupied areas of Europe. The idea was for resistance fighters or members of the populace to stealthily take out a soldier from the opposing army with the liberator. The fighter would then steal the enemy’s weapon and continue the fight with a better firearm.
The other thought behind the FP-45 liberator was psychological. Initially, war strategists hoped to drop so many behind enemy lines that the Nazis could never recover them all and would leave them constantly watching their backs for armed citizens in these occupied areas.
But war strategists ultimately decided against mass drops. Some were given to Greek and French resistance fighters, but most were believed melted down into scrap metal, presumably for other, more important uses in the wartime effort.
As crummy as these guns were, they’ve since become a legend of World War II and a collector’s item. You’d be hard-pressed to find one for less $1,000 these days.
The Deer Gun
Another war time liberator pistol, this one may be the only 20th century handgun even more ridiculous-looking than the FP-45. This single-shot pistol was just a pound and was chambered in 9mm. The poor design looks more like something you’d attach to the end of your garden hose, doesn’t it?
In any case, the CIA developed these during the Vietnam War. The idea here was to distribute these to the South Vietnamese for the same purposes as the FP-45. They only made 1,000, and it’s uncertain if any were actually used for their intended purpose. One thing is for sure, it ended up as one of the strangest handguns in firearm history.
Nambu Type 94
World War II certainly saw some very ugly firearms in circulation. Such was the case with the Japanese Nambu Type 94 service pistol that was used in World War II and the Chinese Civil War. Only 71,000 of these were ever made between 1935 and 1945.
The handgun fired the 8x22mm Naumbu cartridge, a now defunct round. Your modern-day equivalent would be .380 ACP. Of course, this begs the question of why any military would want a service firearm weaker than at least 9mm. In any case, it doesn’t sound like the Type 94 saw as much action as other handguns. It also had a reputation for accidental discharges, which probably helped the Japanese armies move away from this design.
Dardick Model 1500
Good lord, what is going on here? This cartoonish-looking handgun was the brainchild of inventor David Dardick in 1958 when he patented a new type of round called the Dardick tround. Yes, that is “tround” with a T. The 1500 was designed to fire this new round out of an open chamber revolver design.
Dardick continued patenting similar strange triangular round designs like this for decades, and released several different model types that shot different types of trounds. But, the handguns just never took off for quite obvious reasons. Sometimes it’s best to not try and re-invent the wheel, you know?
Dreyse Model 1907
The Germans were actually responsible for many iconic firearms designs in the early part of the 20th century and through World War II. But the Dreyse Model 1907 was clearly not one of them. Also known as “The Needle Gun,” this ugly handgun was chambered in .32 ACP and featured a seven-round, single-stack magazine.
The gun saw action in World War I when it was used by German and Austrian troops. It even saw a little bit of action in World War II with Nazi National Militias. Quite a few American troops found these strange handguns and brought them home as souvenirs following the war. As a result, you can still find these for sale today.