State Guns — 9 States With Official Guns

State Guns — 9 States with Official Guns

Travis Pike

Travis Pike

When states choose various symbols to represent themselves,their choices are varied and often unique. Some states have official birds, others have official vegetables. But did you know about the relatively new trend of official state guns?

Nine states in the Union have official guns and today, we will break down the states who have a ‘State Gun.’ Here’s a look at each one and a little bit of the history behind them.

1. Utah — M1911

Utah was the first state to have an official state gun, and they went big with their selection. They chose the M1911 and adopted it as their official state gun in 2011 which was the centennial of the M1911. John Browning, who hailed from Utah, held almost 150 firearm patents, but the M1911 is by far his most famous.

The M1911 was a massively successful semi-automatic pistol designed for the United States military. Any M1911 fan will happily tell you that “it won two world wars.”

In fact, the M1911 served from 1911 till 1985, when the Beretta finally replaced it. Although, it remained in the armories of special operations personnel who preferred the 45 ACP round.

Utah state gun, the M1911, suppressed with a Silencerco silencer
Utah went with a real OG, created by the home-state hero, John Browning. Utah is SilencerCo's homestate too, so here's a favorite: an Ed Brown 1911 in 45 ACP with the Osprey 45.

Utah calling dibs on the M1911 was a smart move, and it made sense with Browning hailing from the state. Utah likely didn’t know they’d start a little trend that other states would soon follow.

2. Arizona — Colt Single Action Army

Arizona came in second in the state gun race by adopting the Colt Single Action Army in 2011, right after Utah broke ground. They went with the Colt Single Action Army revolver, which is no surprise. According to every cowboy movie ever, it’s the gun that single-handedly tamed the west.

While it might not have been as popular as Westerns would have you believe, it was still a very common revolver in the old west, and it’s tough to pick a gun that represents that time period better than the Colt SAA.

Arizona state gun, the Colt Single Action Army revolver
Arizona stuck to it's Western roots with the Colt SAA.

This classic single-action revolver most commonly chambered the .45 Colt and came in various barrel lengths and finish configurations.

The old Colt came to be in 1873, and to this day, the gun remains a fan favorite and is easily one of the most famous firearms of all time.

3. Indiana — Grouseland Rifle

Indiana wanted to be different when it came time to adopt an official state gun. Every other state designates a specific model, but Indiana designated a specific rifle. Not a model of rifle, but the rifle that sits in the home of President William Henry Harrison.

Indiana state gun, the Grouseland rifle
The Grouseland Rifle was adopted as the Indiana state gun in 2012.

The former President’s manor is called Grouseland, and the Grouseland rifle is a traditional American long rifle crafted by Colonel John Small of Indiana. To this day, the Grouseland rifle sits on display at Grouseland, which has become a museum.

The Grouseland rifle is a beautiful example of American craftsmanship and the legacy of arms in the United States.

4. West Virginia — Hall Model 1819 Flintlock Rifle

Breech-loading rifles wouldn’t become popular until after the Civil War, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t exist before then. The Hall model 1819 Flintlock rifle was the first breech-loading rifle to be adopted by any military force. John Hall designed and built the rifle in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, so it was a natural choice when WV needed an official state gun.

This rifle was not a cartridge weapon but featured a block at the breech that could be lifted so the user could load the powder and ball. This was much quicker but more complicated, and while adopted by the United States Army, it was never the mainline rifle. Even so, it served up into the Civil War.

west virginia state gun Hall Model 1819 Flintlock rifle
Model 1817 U.S. contract breechloading rifle made by John H. Hall of Portland, Maine, 1817. Acc. # 1915.49.30. Missouri Historical Society Museum Collections. Photograph by Cary Horton, 2004. NS 29096. Photograph and scan (c) 2004, Missouri Historical Society.

Very few are kicking around these days, but the Harper’s Ferry National Historical Park has one, and it’s fired at least once a year.

5/6. Kentucky and Pennsylvania — Respective Long Rifles

Pennsylvania: “Hey Kentucky, can I copy your homework?”

Kentucky: “Yeah, just change it a little, so no one knows.”

I’m combining these two because Kentucky and Pennsylvania both adopted the long rifle as their state gun of choice. Historically the Kentucky Long Rifle and Pennsylvania Long Rifle are both names applied to the American long rifle. When you have a historically important rifle with your state’s name in its title, it’s hard not to pick it as your state rifle.

Kentucky Rifle
A Kentucky rifle is an all-American invention. (Courtesy of John Spitzer)

7. Alaska — Pre-64 Winchester Model 70

I love how much Winchester Model 70 fans hate post 64 models of the rifle. They disliked it so much that when Alaska adopted a state gun, they specifically named the Pre-model 64 Winchester Model 70 as their rifle of choice. Winchester got rid of the Mauser-style controlled round feed and the cut checkering.

Alaska state gun Pre-64 winchester model 70.
Alaska chose the wonderful Pre 64 model of the Model 70.

Winchester Model 70 rifles don’t have a tie to Alaska in terms of design or manufacturing, so it seems like an odd choice. According to the bill that proposed the Model 70 as Alaska’s state gun, the Model 70 says the gun was chosen because it helped Alaskans establish a firm foothold in the wilderness between 1930 and 1963.

Well, it is the rifleman’s rifle, so it deserves some credence.

8. Tennessee — Barrett M82

So far, most of these state guns have been somewhat historical in nature. You could argue the Barrett M82 certainly broke ground, but it’s still fairly modern among weapons like the Kentucky Long Rifle and even the M1911. Tenessee doesn’t care, and they made it their state gun with a single vote against the measure.

tenessee state gun barrett m82
Tennessee went balls out with their state gun.

The Barrett M82 came from the mind of Ronnie Barrett, and it became an instant hit with long-range shooters, military forces, and police organizations. Who doesn’t want a semi-auto .50 BMG rifle? It hits hard, shoots far, and offers awesome capabilities in a rather lightweight platform.

Oh, and those rifles are produced in Tennessee.

9. Texas — Colt Walker

You’d think Texas would be first on this list, but they didn’t adopt a state gun until 2021. When they did, the weapon wasn’t a big surprise. They chose the Colt Walker as their official state gun. Of all the Colt revolvers out there, why go with the Walker? Well, Samuel Walker worked with Samuel Colt to design the gun.

Texas state gun, Colt Walker
The Colt Walker was designed by Samuel Colt with input from Samuel Walker.

Samuel Walker provided a list of specifications and requirements that made the Colt Walker a massive and powerful close-range gun. Walker would carry two of these guns into the Mexican-American war, where we would die fighting.

The Colt Walker guns were massive .44 caliber revolvers that weighed over four pounds and held double the powder charge of other revolvers of the time. At the time of its invention, it was the most powerful production revolver in the world.

The Next State Gun

Who will adopt a state gun next? It’s tough to say. I want Florida to name the TEC9 as their state gun. My wishes are unlikely to occur, but I can dream. Who do you think will adopt a state gun next? What gun will it be?

Tell us what you think below.

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