To commemorate a significant historical event or an aspect of gun manufacturing or ownership unique to the region, 10 U.S. states have designated official firearms. In 2011 Utah was the first state to name an official state gun and has ignited what now appears to be a trend. Missouri was the most recent state to designate a firearm for state representation, the Hawken Rifle in July 2023, with ties to a local gun maker.
But there are a few surprises (or lack thereof) on the list of state firearms. Three states—Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho—all land in the top five for gun ownership in the U.S., however, none of them have designated an official state gun.
With a little bit of research and some hopeful thinking, we’ve made some suggestions on what gun these three states should designate.
1874 Sharps Rifle
Montana comes in at number one for gun ownership in the U.S., with 66.30 percent of adults owning a gun, according to the World Population Review. With many of Montana’s frontiersmen needing a survival firearm in the 1800s, the Sharps rifle emerged as a leader. It only makes sense to appoint a gun that’s been a part of Montana since its admittance to the United States.
This famous single-shot long gun first appeared on record in use in what would be founded as Montana in 1853 from the Isaac D. Stevens surveying party. “The Sharps rifles issued… proved excellent and reliable arms,” as quoted in the American Society of Arms Collectors. Montana’s frontier, with its rugged and often harsh features, required a trusty weapon for survival, and the falling block rifle with power and accuracy did just the trick.
Most recently, an 1874 Sharps rifle found in Montana was forensically proved to have been carried by an Indian warrior in the 1876 Battle of Little Bighorn. It was sold to the highest bidder at an Arizona auction in 2017 for $272,250.
Image courtesy wikipedia.org/wiki/GNU_Free_Documentation_License
In a close second to Montana, the World Population Review ranks Wyoming second for gun ownership, with 66.20 percent of adults owning a firearm, and although Wyoming shares much of the Rocky Mountain survival allure that Montana does, the state deserves an official gun that really blows every other gun out of the water.
This gun has a different history than Montana’s suggested designation but certainly packs a punch to protect against the similar unforgiving landscape. John Linebaugh, a Missouri man turned lifetime resident of Wyoming, modified a .45 Colt to handle stronger firing power–with homemade gun-making becoming a hobby surprisingly after growing up in an anti-gun family. This creation later inspired the .50-cal. .500 Linebaugh revolver in 1986, one of the most powerful handgun cartridges.
In light of Linebaugh’s passing in March 2023, naming his incredible invention as Wyoming’s official state firearm would be a fitting tribute to the state’s innovative nature and honor its resilient residents.
“‘If you choose a weapon well and take care of it, it’s a trusted friend.’,” Linebaugh told the Cody Enterprise.
ODIN Works OTR-15
What better way to recognize the 60.10 percent of gun-owning adults in Idaho than by appointing a gun built by Idahoans with Idaho-made parts? ODIN Works located in Boise, Idaho has built a reputation for manufacturing high-quality rifle parts and accessories for more than 10 years, but it finally built its own gun, the Odin Tactical Rifle-15 (OTR-15), using Idaho-made products excluding the stock and grip. The gun won the “Coolest Thing Built in Idaho” award in 2022 from the Idaho Manufacturing Alliance and ODIN even won a contract to supply rifles for the Idaho State Police who recognized the OTR-15 as a superior choice for a duty firearm. Though it appears military-grade, the OTR-15 operates like a semi-auto sporting rifle but is customizable. Gun-owning Idahoans can truly make this gun their own.
We’d love to see these top gun-owning states designate an official firearm and pay tribute to its resilient citizens and innovative manufacturers. These guns, and other guns you’d choose for your state, could make it on the list in the future. Contact your state legislators and ask them to forward a bill for a state firearm. Which gun are you choosing?