Classic Covers:

From GUNS Magazine Archives

Revolvers have remained a staple on GUNS Magazine covers; Jan. 1955 (Left), June 2020 (Right)

As we approach GUNS Magazine’s 70th Anniversary, I’ve been spending a lot of time revisiting our archive of classic issues. From the historic articles and retro ads to the vintage covers, there’s just something enchanting about looking back on history.

Though, while our content has largely remained the same over the decades, our covers have changed — specifically, the types of firearms featured. But for a publication running since the 1950s, when blued steel and walnut were more common than polymer, this is to be expected.

To showcase these covers, which haven’t seen newsstands or mailboxes in more than six decades, I pulled cover photos from 1955-1969 issues for a new digital editorial series I’m calling “Classic Covers.” Starting with revolvers, each will feature covers centered around a type of firearm or subject matter. And the best part is, you can read every featured issue online, for free, in our Classic Editions archive.

GUNS Magazine Feb. 1957 (Left) and Oct. 1958 (Right)


First published in January 1955, revolvers have always had a place on GUNS Magazine covers, including our very first issue (seen at the top of this article) which featured a matching pair of Great Westerns belonging to GUNS publisher George Von Rosen.

Cap and ball revolvers, as well as famous and ornate pistols, such as that which killed President Lincoln and the Royal Colt’s presented to European monarchs by Lincoln during the Civil War (Sept. 1955), were featured on many early covers.

Many covers also featured photos or illustrations of people, something not commonly seen on modern firearm publications. The February 1957 issue (above) portrayed Father Oswald T. McGinn, a 78-year-old Roman Catholic priest and exhibition shooter, performing a trick shot in which he held a revolver upside-down.

Various GUNS Magazine issues, 1956-58

GUNS Magazine June (Left) and Apr. 1962 (Right)


The publication’s first full decade, revolvers graced 38 total GUNS Magazine covers in the 1960s — equating to more than one every three issues. Historic and engraved wheelguns remained a theme, as well as the rise of newly manufactured models from the likes of Colt, Smith & Wesson, FitzGerald, Forehand & Wadsworth and Dan Wesson.

Seen in the issues above, derringers were popular in the spring and summer of 1962, including those accompanying the poker game from the June issue.

“The poker hands speak for themselves, most unequally, we fear.”

Various GUNS Magazine issues, 1960-65

GUNS Magazine Oct. 1968 (Left) and June 1969 (Right)

With classic issues come classic stories, such as those from the October 1968 and June 1969 issues pictured above.

The former featured a story on the legendary J. Henry FitzGerald, who was known “for his shooting, which was fabulous, and for his artistry with tools in making fine guns shoot better.” A “Colt man” who was left-handed but could shoot with both hands equally, Fitz was “nothing less than a ‘wizard’ with the handgun.”

The latter issue featured a first look at the then-new Dan Wesson switch-barrel revolver, said to be “one of the most interesting gun developments of the year, and perhaps the century.” Mason Williams’ report came with a humorous safety warning: “The single action is so short that target shooters may injure their thumbs attempting to pull back the hammer the conventional distance.”

Various GUNS Magazine issues, 1965-69

Then and Now

Once frequent cover guns, revolvers have taken a backseat to polymer handguns, semi-auto rifles and the latest custom guns in recent years. We’re guilty of it, too, but revolvers have always remained a staple on our covers.

In the past year, we’ve featured the Ruger SP101 (May 2019), Taurus Raging Hunter (Dec. 2019) and Colt Python (June 2020) on our covers, and revolvers have graced multiple covers of our sister publication, American Handgunner.

If there’s one thing you can count on for the years to come, it’s revolvers on our covers.

View GUNS Magazine Classic Editions