While President Obama pondered his March Madness brackets instead of keeping eye on world problems, Utah beat Arizona. No, not in college basketball, but in the race to become the first US state to declare an official state firearm.

Yes, joining the Rocky Mountain Elk (official state animal) and copper (official state mineral) as official state designees, Utah has recognized the Browning Automatic Pistol M1911 as the official state firearm. Gov. Gary Herbert signed the act honoring the pistol. Utah is the first state to legislate such a designation.

Arizona’s bill to designate the Colt Single Action Army .45 caliber revolver as their official state firearm is still pending legislative action. Endorsed by over forty state legislators, the act would recognize the revolver’s role in the history of Arizona and the Old West.

Alaska, not to be outdone,  also introduced legislation to designate a state firearm. State Senator Charlie Huggins (R-Wasilla, AK) together with Sen. Kathy Geissel (R-Anchorage, AK) introduced the legislation. It was referred to committee per senate rules.

Utah chose the M1911 as their official state firearm in recognition that John Moses Browning was born in Utah in 1855 and in 1879 while working in his father’s gun shop Browning received the first of over 128 gun patents he would be awarded. Browning’s inventions changed forever the design of automatic weapons. His revolutionary gas blowback design has influenced gun designers worldwide, essentially ending mechanical recoil systems.

Former police officer and Utah state legislator, Rep. Carl Wimmer (R-Harriman, UT), the bill’s author, indicates the M1911 was selected as it served for so long as a personal protection weapon, both in military and civilian roles. Wimmer believes it is fitting that the act was passed in March 2011, marking the 100th anniversary of the adoption of the pistol by the US Army. Wimmer also notes that the Browning Arms Company is headquartered in Utah, although owned since 1977 by FN of Belgium. John Moses Browning was born in Utah after his gunsmith father moved from Illinois to Utah.

Critics of the legislation cite the recent tragedy in Arizona as reasons the state should not adopt an official state firearm at this time, but Wimmer replies we should learn our lessons from the Tucson event and move forward. Another supporter, Rep. Stephen Sandstrom (R-Orem, UT) noted a firearm never jumped from the floor and started shooting someone; it requires a person to pull the trigger. He contends the bill honors both the firearm and the inventor.

Utah has won the race to be first to designate an official state firearm. Arizona and Alaska vie for the recognition as the second. Is it possible that other states could join these in recognizing the role guns have had in the history of their states?

Could the list of states with designated state guns increase? Perhaps soon a list such as:

Alabama – M2HB .50 caliber Browning machine gun

Alaska – (Pending action) Pre-1964 Winchester Model 70

Arizona – (Pending action) Colt Single Action Army .45 caliber

Arkansas – Iver Johnson .32 caliber “Safety Automatic” revolver

California – Mark V .460 Weatherby Magnum

Colorado – Magpul Massada 5.56mm

Connecticut – Ruger Mini-14 5.56mm

Delaware –

Florida – The Kel-Tec P-32 Mousegun

Georgia – The Elgin Cutlass Pistol

Hawaii –

Idaho – The Idaho Integrated Breeching Shotgun

Illinois – The Harmonica Gun

Indiana – The Gatling Gun

Iowa –

Kansas – Dan Wesson Arms .357 Magnum Model 15-2

Kentucky – The Kentucky Long Rifle

Louisiana – The Le Mat Revolver

Maine – The Bushmaster M4 rifle

Maryland – The Stoeger Coach Gun .12 gauge side-by-side

Massachusetts – The Thompson Sub-machinegun

Michigan – The Marble Game-Getter .22/.410 over/under

Minnesota – The Desert Eagle .45 caliber

Mississippi – The US Army Model 1841 Rifle

Missouri – The Hawkins Plains Rifle

Montana – Montana Rifle Company’s ASR, .300 Win Mag


Nevada – The M60E4 Machine Gun

New Hampshire – The Thompson Contender Single Shot (interchangeable caliber) pistol

New Jersey – The Henry “Golden Boy” lever action rifle

New Mexico

New York – The Buntline Colt

North Carolina – The PARA USA – Tactical Target Rifle (TTR)

North Dakota

Ohio – Hi-Point Carbine

Oklahoma –

Oregon – The Calico M100 .22 caliber Tactical

Pennsylvania – The Derringer

Rhode Island

South Carolina – The “new” Winchester Model 70 lever action

South Dakota –

Tennessee – The M82A1 .50 caliber sniper rifle

Texas – The Hi-Standard .22 caliber semi-automatic pistol

Utah – The Browning M1911*

Virginia – The M1805 flintlock pistol

Vermont – The Sharps Rifle

Washington – Olympic Arms AR-15

West Virginia


Wyoming – A-Square Bolt Action .577 Tyrannosaurus caliber rifle

[* the first and so far only to have a state firearm designation]

The above is the humble opinion of the author, who encourages readers to post their own versions for these and other state(s). It is noted that many other selections could be made for Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York with so many distinguished manufacturers and inventors. So which firearm would you, the reader, pick for these states?  The list also represents a challenge to the readers to discern why some states are identified with firearms mentioned. A few states remain to be filled in – perhaps readers in those respective states could give their suggestions.

Everyone is entitled to have an opinion and express it!

Anyway, determining a state designation is not the highest business state legislatures take up, but it can be a fun one!