Top Five Unique Handguns

Editor’s Note: The following is a post by Mark Kakkuri, a nationally published freelance writer who covers guns and gear, 2nd Amendment issues and the outdoors. His writing and photography have appeared in many firearms-related publications, including the USCCA’s Concealed Carry Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @markkakkuri.

Read Mark’s previous articles in this “Top Five” series:

The problem with Top Five lists is choosing which five (of anything) to include. So many good choices in so many product categories… Anyway, here are my top five unique handguns. These all demonstrate more than acceptable accuracy and reliability. As for functionality — as in, the reason why you would want this gun or that — that’s far more subjective. Nonetheless, all of these guns have made their way in and out of my purview. I’ve fired them all and carried three of them concealed. All of them piqued the interest of friends at the range. I’ll tell you how friends reacted specifically to each gun, but the guns generally drew smiles, albeit for different reasons. As you know, they each have their strengths and weaknesses and each is definitely unique.

1. Coonan .357 Magnum Classic Stainless (MSRP $1,540)

The Coonan .357 retails for $1,540.

Behold, an auto-loading pistol in .357 Magnum, a caliber more popularly known as one of the most formidable self-defense cartridges ever — for a revolver. As you know, .357 Magnum rounds are relatively long and slender compared to typical pistol rounds, so, with the rounds being fed from a magazine, I wondered if Coonan managed to engineer the gun for reliable feeding… Of course, they did.

And after I squeeze the trigger on a chambered round, I forgot all about the design that went into feeding the cartridges and gave my full interest to managing the resulting fireworks — a ginormous report and ball of fire. A few rounds of that and I immediately began to appreciate the gun’s weight and solid feel. Heavy. Robust. Build to withstand and even master the mighty .357.

Typical reaction: At first, a quizzical look and “Really? A .357 Magnum?” After two or three rounds, huge grins and singular, “Wow!”

***Shop for a New Coonan .357 on GunsAmerica***

2. Ruger LCRx (MSRP $579)

The Ruger LCRx retails for $579.

On the opposite extreme from the Coonan is this Ruger LCRx — a .38 Special +P, five-shot revolver with a 3-inch barrel. Weighing just more than 15 ounces, the LCRx feels like nothing in your hand. Firing .38s from this gun gives you a push back into the web of your hand and is largely absent of any drama.

It’s a simple gun, to be sure, and it’s accurate, reliable and carry-able, and therein lies its excellence. Most five-shot .38s are snubbies. With a 3-inch barrel, you can enjoy a tad more velocity and accuracy — not bad traits for a defensive handgun. The other nice feature of the LCRx is the Hogue Tamer Monogrip. This rubber grip provides excellent purchase and allows all your digits a place to go.

Typical reaction: “That was really smooth and easy to shoot. But would I carry it?”

***Shop for a Ruger LCRx on GunsAmerica***

3. Taurus Curve (MSRP $419)

Taurus Curve retails for $419.

Now in its second generation, the Taurus Curve is one of those guns you either love or hate. I actually think it’s a great gun — and not because it’s easy to shoot (it’s not). The size and shape are just right for front pocket carry and the curved frame really helps conceal it. Six rounds of .380 is not the most powerful or numerous, but it’s sure better than six rounds of nothing. I won’t belabor the caliber issue any further; that’s an article for another day.

But I will suggest just a few more points about the Curve that make it unique. First, it has an integrated light/laser combo. Second, it has no other sighting system save for the loaded chamber indicator that doubles as a sort of trench sight and a bore-axis aiming system (a white “+” on the back of the slide to help you orient the gun if you’re not going to use the light/laser). But use the light/laser to aim, OK? The Curve’s final redeeming feature, aside from its shape, is its weight — 13 ounces.

Typical reaction: “Feels weird in hand, difficult to aim, but GREAT in front pocket.”

***Shop for a New Taurus Curve on GunsAmerica***

4. Bond Arms Patriot (MSRP $598)

The Bond Arms Patriot retails for $598.

While the Curve is curvy and light, the Bond Arms Patriot is chunky and hefty. Actually, at just more than 21 ounces, it’s technically not heavy, but it is such a robustly designed gun that it feels like it weighs more than that. The Patriot is a two-shot, single-action gun. Two shots of .410 shotshell or two shots of .45 Colt. Or one of each!

While no handgun is meant for any kind of sustained firefight, the Patriot surely is a last-ditch, get-me-to-safety kind of gun. Loaded with .410 shotshells, you can convincingly pepper a target twice over if need be. Or .45 Colt rounds can punch big holes. You just have to remember to cock the hammer back before each shot. Reloading is a chore: fire two rounds and you’ll need to swing the barrels open, eject the empty cases and reload two more. Then swing the barrel back in place with a snap. A huge blade on the top front of the barrel serves as a sight, but this is a close-quarters gun if there ever was one.

Typical reaction: “Very cool. But would I choose .410 or .45 Colt? Hmm…”

***Shop for a New Bond Arms Patriot on GunsAmerica***

5. Rock Island Pro Match Ultra 1911 (MSRP $1,168)

Rock Island Pro Match Ultra 1911 in 10mm retails for $1,168.

Meant for competition and maybe some white-tailed deer hunting, the Rock Island Pro Match Ultra 1911 chambered in 10mm provides a load of fun with a hard-hitting, highly accurate round.

Everything you love about the 1911 is present; all the controls, all the feel, all the functionality. But you’re shooting the 10mm from a 6-inch barrel. This combination means velocity and accuracy — and fun.

A brilliant fiber-optic front sight works with a notched, rear black blade to put rounds on target and each magazine holds eight rounds. Add whatever accessories you want to the Picatinny rail and you’re all set.

Typical reaction: “Can’t wait for deer hunting season!”

***Shop for a New Rock Island 1911 on GunsAmerica***


Big guns, big calibers. Little guns, little calibers. Guns in unexpected calibers. Now it’s your turn: Tell us about the unique guns you’ve had the opportunity to fire, what you like about them, and what left you scratching your head.

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  • Steve Baird February 14, 2020, 10:00 pm

    I loved shooting my Elliot’s Colts 4 shot ring trigger in 44, rim fire. It really brought a conversation every cease fire. Not accurate, but a hoot at the 25 yard competition range I belong to. I’m still a big fan of my Sig 225, and don’t carry any pistol other than my Colts officer with a steel frame, in a Kramer IWB leather holster. 1911’s are definitely my favorite although I like Sig Sauer and H&K.

  • Gunsmith February 18, 2018, 6:29 pm

    Bond Arms Bullpup 9/Boberg XR9
    Chiappa Rhino
    Heizer Defense PKO45
    KRISS Vector
    SilencerCo Maxim 9
    Brugger & Thomet MP9
    Arsenal Firearms AF2011-A1 Double-barreled 1911
    Mateba Model 6 Unica
    HK P7 “Squeeze Cocker”
    Cabot Guns Big Bang Set – 1911’s made out of meteorite metal
    Dardick 1100 magazine-fed revolver, firing the “tround”
    Magnum Research Desert Eagle (of course)
    Bergmann No. 2
    And maybe the Hudson H9

  • Gunsmith February 18, 2018, 11:37 am

    Bond Arms Bullpup 9/Boberg XR9
    Chiappa Rhino
    Heizer Defense PKO45
    KRISS Vector
    SilencerCo Maxim 9
    Brugger & Thomet MP9
    Arsenal Firearms AF2011-A1 Double-barreled 1911
    Mateba Model 6 Unica
    HK P7 “Squeeze Cocker”
    Cabot Guns Big Bang Set – 1911’s made out of meteorite metal
    Dardick 1100 magazine-fed revolver, firing the “tround”
    Magnum Research Desert Eagle (of course)
    Bergmann No. 2
    And maybe the Hudson H9 would all have made a better choice than a standard 1911 in 10mm… or standard LCR.

  • Hugo February 11, 2018, 7:07 am

    Chiappa Rhino is an interesting gun. Most manageable snubbie with .357 loads IMHO.

  • Blasted Cap February 10, 2018, 5:10 am

    S&W 329PD. After telling people at the range it’s a 25oz 44 magnum you get one of two reactions. Can I try it, or hell no.

  • Jimmy February 9, 2018, 11:52 am

    This is an almost impossible list to make.Especially when limited to 5 pistols. However, the inclusion of a Ruger LCR is perplexing. Anything Ruger is hardly unique. I would have definitely included a BFR or a deagle. probably the HK P7M8 and the XP100 also.

  • Norm Fishler February 9, 2018, 11:43 am

    Travesty! Surely the Bond Arms/Bloberg deserves a spot.

  • Warzone February 9, 2018, 11:27 am

    What? No Snub-nosed S&W 500?

  • KimberproSS February 9, 2018, 9:37 am

    I fired a M-4 Alaskan Survival Derringer once. Chambers a 45-70 in one barrel and a 2/1/2 410 shotgun or 45 Long Colt in the other. I thought the 410 and the 45 Long Colt were pretty tough recoil with that small weapon and didn’t prepare me for the 45-70. The recoil on this handful is straight back into the hands, no flip up. That being the case, the 45-70 left a nickel sized bruise in the middle of my palm and sent tingles throughout. Only shot it once and would only shoot it again in a survival situation.

    • Dave G February 9, 2018, 11:34 am

      I stood behind a guy who let loose with a 45-70. The shot shell tore open, spraying shot around, and he needed stitches in the web of his shooting hand from the hammer. Wish we had a photo of the fireball, but nobody would shoot it again.

  • Jimmy Joe Meeker February 9, 2018, 9:35 am

    No H&K P7? Travesty.

  • George February 9, 2018, 9:00 am

    Rock River Arms’ Pro Match Ultra 1911. Don’t you mean Rock Island Pro Match Ultra 1911?

  • Roy February 9, 2018, 8:21 am

    I don’t know about the other four but was happy to see the Coonan top the list. It is unique and a real attention taker at the range. The distinctive bark, fire ball worthy of Jerry Lewis playing in the background, and BSE grin it produces on the holder will make friends. I have had it and the Deagle at the range together and the Coonan drew a lot moe stares and always starts a conversation – usually starting with “That is beautiful, what is it?”

  • TJ February 9, 2018, 3:32 am

    I recently had the opportunity to try out a Chiappa Little Badger in .17 HMR which was pretty fun to shoot. It’s a skeletal stock that folds in half for storage and is very lightweight. The stock iron sights are a little short for me, but otherwise it seems to be quite accurate.

    Another that I picked up for myself recently was a Kel-Tec P32 (.32ACP), which isn’t a newer design, but they’re less common these days than the P3AT (.380). As lightweight as it is (6.6oz empty, about 10oz loaded), it has a good feel in the hand and at 7-10 yards appears to be pretty accurate for such a small gun. It may not have a lot of stopping power, but it’s got a great bark to it and a substantial flash from that short barrel. Pretty happy with it so far.

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