The 1911 has been continuously produced for well over 100 years with models in the lineup of numerous manufacturers. Likewise, we have Colts and Winchesters that rode the range as standard cowboy gear in the 1800s and are still popular today. I got to wondering, which firearms besides the 1911 will still be in production when they are 100 years old.
CZ 75 (Current age: 48)
My first nomination is the CZ 75 which has been around — you guessed it — since 1975. The CZ 75 was designed by brothers Josef and František Koucký in the Czech Republic. Communist Bloc import/export restrictions kept it within the communist countries until 1985. Countless clones exist and the original CZ 75 is still offered by CZ-USA. CZ, by the way, now owns the American icon, Colt. It seems to have a mind to continue producing popular Colt products.
Unlike most other semi-auto pistols, the CZ 75’s slide rides ‘inside’ its frame rails. Frames on the original model, known as the “short rail” pistols, were forged. Starting in 1980, the company modified the design by lengthening the slide rails to 140mm, transitioned to lower cost cast frames, and introduced a “half-cock” safety notch on the hammer to prevent it from inadvertently striking the firing pin during manual manipulation.
These changes resulted in the standard CZ 75 models going forth. Along about 1995, the CZ 75 was updated to the B model, with the addition of a firing pin block. Almost all CZ 75 models produced after this time, excepting some competition models, employ this safety feature.
Beretta 92 (Current Age: 48)
Beretta, as a company, has been around for over 500 years. It stands to reason that at least some of its products would have longevity as well. The Beretta 92 has been copied and branched into so many different models, it has a firm foothold in the shooting culture both here in the U.S. and around the world.
The U.S. Army’s selection of the Beretta 92, serving under military designation M9, was the Army’s primary handgun for more than 25 years. It certainly helped seal the Beretta name in the minds of servicemen and women serving during that era. Since its inception, the Beretta 92 has undergone constant improvements and modifications resulting in numerous model designations.
After Beretta’s contract with Brazil’s military ended, Taurus acquired the Beretta manufacturing facilities in Brazil and began producing its own versions of the model 92 and 96 (the .40 S&W version). My prediction is that demand for the Beretta 92 will remain strong for at least another 52 years.
Colt Single-Action Army (Current Age: 150)
These cowboy guns, and the many clones based on the Colt version, have remained. Several times, Colt has shut down the production line on its single-action Colt revolvers only to revive it again — each time with some improvements to the gun. The Cowboy Action Sport, Cowboy movies, and gun collectors are sure to keep this one on the books for the foreseeable future. As far as meeting the 100 years criteria, it has already done it.
Browning Hi-Power (Current Age: 88)
The Browning Hi-Power is based on a design by American firearms inventor John Moses Browning and completed by Dieudonné Saive at FN Herstal. Browning died in 1926, several years before the design was finalized. FN Herstal named it the “Hi-Power” because its 13-round magazine capacity was almost twice that of the Colt 1911. The Hi-Power was first put into service in 1935, hence the P-35 designation that identifies the gun.
During World War II, the FN factory was used to build the pistols for the German military. FN moved its production line to Canada where the Hi-Power was manufactured at the John Inglis and Company plant. Hi-Powers have been used by the armed forces of over 50 countries. Both licensed and unlicensed copies have been built in Argentina, Hungary, India, Bulgaria, and Israel.
After 82 years of continuous production, FN Herstal announced that the production of the Hi-Power would end. It was discontinued in early 2018. From 2019 to 2022, with new Belgian Hi-Powers no longer being built, new clones were designed by various firearm companies to fill the void, including Girsan, Tisas, and Springfield Armory.
These new Hi-Power clones began competing with each other by offering new finishes, enhanced sights, redesigned hammers, beveled magazine wells, improved triggers, and increased magazine capacity. Seeing all the activity in its beloved firearm, FN reopened the line in early 2022. There has been a slight name change. Early models were identified as “Hi-Power.” FN’s new designation for the gun is “High Power.”
SIG P210 – 1949 (Current Age: 74)
During most of the years I owned a gun store, the SIG P210 was not in production. That didn’t stop people from wanting one and asking us to help search one out on the secondary market, primarily auctions. The SIG P210 was manufactured in Switzerland by SIG from 1948 to 2006. It is of all-steel construction chambered in 9mm with a capacity of 8+1. It was used from 1949 to 1975 by the Swiss Army and police units. It was also adopted and is still in service with the Military of Denmark. Swiss production of the P210 continued until 2006.
A new model, the P210 Legend, was introduced by SIG Sauer GMBH of Germany in 2010, and another, the P210A, was introduced by SIG Sauer, Inc., of New Hampshire in the United States in 2017. In 2022, Sig Sauer released the P210 Carry originally debuted at the 2010 Shot Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. The P210 Carry is a lighter and smaller version of the original P210 featuring an alloy frame and a 4.1-inch barrel instead of the 4.7-inch barrel on the original P210. It also differs because it has front slide serrations, a Nitron finish and black Hogue G10 grips. It’s a beautiful gun I predict is going to be around for at least another 25 years.
Colt Python (Current Age: 68)
The Colt Python was first introduced in 1955 as Colt’s top-of-the-line model and originally intended to be a large-frame .38 Special target revolver. It features precision adjustable sights, a smooth trigger, solid construction, and extra metal. Pythons have a distinct appearance due to a full barrel underlug, ventilated rib and adjustable sights. The Python is known for its accuracy for several reasons. The cylinder lock when the revolver is at full cock is tight. The gap between the cylinder and the forcing cone is tight. Each Python revolver was boresighted at the factory with a laser, the first mass-produced revolver for which this was done.
Production of Python revolvers was halted at the end of 1999 with Colt citing changing market conditions and the costs of defending lawsuits as the reasons. The Colt Custom Shop continued making a limited number of Pythons on special order until 2005 when this limited production ceased.
Things apparently changed and the market demand was still there. Colt re-released the Python in January 2020. The new Python is built out of stronger stainless steel than the originals and is available with a 3-inch, 4.25-inch, or 6-inch barrel. The new production Pythons are shipped with Altamont wood grips. Shooters and collectors alike represent a strong market for this comeback, and I feel it will be around for many years to come. (Or at least till I get mine!)
Smith & Wesson J-Frame (Current Age: 71)
The J-Frame was first issued in 1950 as the Model 36 Chief’s Special, a .38 Special snub nose to compete with Colt’s Detective Special. The Chief’s Special is now offered as a five-shot .38 S&W Special or .357 Magnum, an eight-shot .22LR, and a seven-shot .22 Magnum. The first models were steel. However, by 1952, the first lightweight aluminum alloy Airweight models appeared.
In 1965, the J-Frame Model 60 snub nose was S&W’s first stainless steel revolver. In 2002, S&W made the Model 360PD, a .357 Magnum snub nose with an amazingly light and strong aluminum/scandium alloy frame. It weighed only 11.3 ounces empty, compared to 14.3 ounces for the aluminum alloy Model 637 Chief’s Special Airweight, and 19.5 ounces for the original carbon steel Model 36 Chief’s Special.
S&W currently offers J-Frames in nine different models. The most recent J-Frame innovation is the M&P Bodyguard 38 snub nose featuring an entirely new aluminum alloy/polymer/steel composite frame weighing just 14.3 ounces. I can’t foresee of a day when small concealable on-belt or pocket revolvers will not have a place. This model line will still be around at least 50 years from now.
Remington 870 (Current age: 73)
Pump-action shotguns rule! And who better to take the lead over the next half century than the iconic Remington Model 870. Both of my pump shotguns are Winchesters — the Model 12 that was my father’s and my own Model 1300. There are those who say the Mossberg line may be the king down the road, but I’m voting for the Remington.
Remington produced the Model 870 in 1950 to compete with the Winchester Model 12. Its previous pump shotguns were too expensive to manufacture, making them too pricey for many shotgunners. The Remington Model 870 is widely used by the public for shooting sports, hunting, and self-defense, as well as by law enforcement and military organizations worldwide. The current owners at Remington obviously have a clue about what they have, as they are producing the Model 870 in a variety of hunting, sports shooting, and LE configurations. The Remington Arms website reports over 11 million 870s sold.
Browning Citori (Current age: 93)
Visit any active skeet shooting range and you’ll see a Browning Citori pressed to many a shoulder. The Browning Citori is an over/under shotgun marketed and distributed by the Browning Arms Company. The Citori is manufactured in a wide variety of models, styles, and gauges to accommodate enthusiasts of clay target games such as trap, skeet, and sporting clays, as well as upland bird and waterfowl hunters.
The Citori was introduced in 1973 as a more affordable version of the highly successful Browning Superposed. The Superposed, which was first sold in 1931, was the last completed firearm design by the famous firearms designer John Moses Browning. In aging this design, I’m counting back to 1931.
In 1977, the Browning Arms Company was acquired as a subsidiary by the FN Herstal company of Herstal, Belgium, which continues to oversee operations today. The name “Citori” has no meaning and is just a name made up for advertising purposes.
Models of the Browning Citori come in all the popular shotgun shell gauges and are made in an over/under “stacked” barrel configuration with forends and buttstocks made from high-quality walnut wood. Barrel lengths can be purchased from 26 inches for skeet shooting to 32 inches for sporting clays and trap shooting. The top barrel has a vented rib attached by soldering for the entire length of the barrel tube. Newer Citori internal barrels are chrome-lined for added surface strength. All metal parts are bright blued for the standard model.
“In-the-white” higher grade models with more elaborate machine-applied engraving can also be purchased. Rubber recoil butt pads (12-gauge) or plastic butt plates (sub-gauges) are standard. Citori actions are made with internal hammers and coil springs and all Citori models have shell ejectors which expel spent shells when the breech is opened by pressing aside the top lever and bending the action fully open, which also re-cocks the internal hammers.
The Browning Citori has a single, gold-plated trigger. A barrel selector mechanism is used to choose whether the top or bottom barrel fires first. The barrel selector is combined with the manual safety and is located at the top rear of the receiver behind the top lever. If the first shot misfires and the gun does not recoil, the trigger can be reset to fire the second shot.
Winchester 94 (Current age: 129)
The Winchester Model 1894 was the first commercial American repeating rifle built to be used with smokeless powder. The Model 1894 (Model 94) was originally chambered to fire metallic black powder cartridges such as the .32-40 Winchester or .38-55 Winchester. In 1895, Winchester went to a different steel composition for rifle manufacturing that could handle higher pressure rounds and offered the rifle in .25-35 Winchester or .30-30 Winchester. The .30-30 Winchester (.30 WCF – Winchester Centerfire), is the cartridge that has become synonymous with the Model 94. Starting in 1899, the Model 94 was also chambered in .32 Winchester Special.
The Model 94 is a popular hunting rifle, particularly for whitetail deer. It was the first sporting rifle to sell over 7,000,000 units. The millionth Model 94 was given to President Calvin Coolidge in 1927, the 1.5 millionth rifle to President Harry S. Truman on May 8, 1948, and the 2 millionth unit was given to President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1953. Chances are, if you don’t own one yourself, somebody in your family does. It’s the cowboy gun we all recognize and want to shoot.