Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, or so the saying goes. Imitation happens quite often in the firearms world.
I have a very inquisitive mind. When I see a gun that appears to be a copy of another gun, I investigate it and find out how/why the design was copied. In my opinion there are sometimes legitimate reasons for doing so, other times it is just cheap, non-imaginative people cashing in on someone's hard work.
The Mauser 98 rifle was designed by Paul Mauser in 1895 and adopted as the Gewehr (rifle) 98 in 1898 by the German Military. They eventually shortened the barrel and called it the K98 (for Karabiner the German word for Carbine).
The action of the Mauser proved very tough and it was licensed to other countries like Argentina, Turkey, Spain, Siam and others.
One of the 1st guns to copy this design was the U.S. Springfield M1903 Rifle. After the Spanish-American War, the US War Department saw the need to design a better rifle. Taking cues from the Mauser and the then current Krag-Jorgensen, they created a new rifle. It was close enough of a copy that Mauser sued the US Government and won $3M in royalty payments (which of course ended once WWI broke out)
Since that time there have been many other copies of the Mauser 98. The original Winchester Model 70, the current Ruger M77 and others. In fact most modern bolt actions have some design element that originated with the Mauser.
The Russian Tokarev TT33 pistol bears a striking resemblance to the Browning/Colt 1903.
The Tokarev was designed in the early 30's by Fedor Tokarev and was adopted by the Soviet Army in 1933. It was also used by many of the Soviet Satellite states using various names as well as in Egypt where it was known as the "Tokagypt".
There is little doubt that Mr. Tokarev used John Browning's pistol as the inspiration for his gun.
To be fair there are some internal differences, but I'll let you decide, here are the pictures, first the Browning 1903:
and the TT-33 Tokarev
The Soviets next gun following the Tokarev was another copy of a previous design, this time a German gun. The Makarov is a copy of the Walther PP (PPK). The PP (Police Pistol) was introduced in 1929, with the PPK (Police Pistol Kurtz/Kriminalmodel) following in 1931. The Makarov was developed in the late 40's and adopted by the Soviet Army in 1951.
The Walther PPK:
The Soviets were not the only ones enamored with the Walther design, Sig-Sauer also copied it with the Sig P230 pistol:
The Argentinian company, Bersa also copied the design for their Model 83 & Thunderer pistols:
The Indian Arms 380
There were other copies as well; the Astra Constable, the CZ 50/70, and other cheap compact pistols...
Another Walther design that was copied (at least in part) was that of the Walther P-38 (P1). Adopted by the German Third Reich in 1938, it featured a slide mounted De-cocker/safety, double/single action trigger and an open top slide.
The Walther P-38:
The Beretta (and subsequently the Taurus, see below) pistols copied many design elements of the Walther, the first was the modelo 1951, It was built by the Egyptians under license and called the "Helwan", the Iraqis called it the "Tariq".
The Beretta M1951:
I'm sure many of you reading this have noticed a striking similarity between the Taurus revolvers and those produced by Smith & Wesson. There is a good reason for that. Both companies were once owned by the multinational conglomerate: Bangor Punta.The engineers from S&W were told to assist the Taurus gun smiths in making a copy....I doubt they envisioned Taurus revolvers competing in the same US Marketplace, but who knows?
The Taurus Model 65 with a 6" barrel:
and the equivalent gun from Smith & Wesson, the model 19:
The Smith & Wesson revolvers were not the only design that Taurus copied. In 1980 Beretta completed a contract to produce pistols for the Brazilian Military. They sold the Sao Paolo plant to Taurus and a license to produce the Model 92. The Taurus version does have some differences. The Taurus PT92 does not feature the slide mounted decocker/safety of Beretta M92, instead using a manual safety mounted to the frame (although Taurus has since added the de-cocker mechanism).
The Beretta M92/M9:
and the Taurus PT-92:
with their own version called the PT-22:
Colt's small pocket pistol: the Mustang was a miniaturized version of their 1911 pistol:
Sig copied the design/idea with their P238 pistol:
When production of the US M1A / M14 was discontinued by the US Military in 1964, many companies (Springfield Armory Inc, Armscorp, Federal Ordnance and others) sought to make reproductions of the rifle. Ruger saw an opening and in 1967 they introduced the Mini-14. They copied the design into a smaller version, firing the .223/5.56 mm round instead of the larger 308/7.62 mm cartridge.
The original M14:
and Ruger's Mini-14:
The Mini-14 (and subsequent Mini-30) were not the only Rugers that used previous designs. Ruger's very first commercial gun; The Ruger Standard; was a .22 pistol that used elements from the German P-08 Luger, the Japanese Nambu and the High Standard Supermatic.
Ruger combined the grip frame & barrel of the Luger, the receiver & action of the Nambu, elements from the Colt Woodsman and the magazine from the High Standard.
Bill Ruger felt the grip angle of the Luger to be perfectly suited to a target pistol. The resemblance was obvious and the similarity of names (Ruger/Luger) led many to believe this to be a Luger copy, instead of just inspired by the design.
Here is the Nambu pistol:
and the P-08 Luger:
The Ruger Standard:
Ruger was the victim of cloning as well, The Bridgeport Firearms P66 was designed to compete with the Ruger and the Colt Woodsman, The inspiration for the pistol obviously came from the Ruger Standard.
AMT (Arcadia Machine & Tool) in California saw fit to make a near exact copy of the Ruger Mark series pistol called the AMT Lightning, of course a lawsuit brought by Ruger put an end to the shenanigans:
Interestingly enough Ruger's 2nd and 3rd guns also used a previous design. The Single Six and Blackhawk were clones of the Colt Single Action Army.
In 1941 Colt ceased production of the Single Action Army revolver. Fast forward to the Post WWII era......the Western Movie genre was gaining momentum and the gun buying public sought to own the guns used in the movies. Ruger set to work building copies of the Peacemaker. Ruger's 1st revolver, the .22 rimfire Single Six, debuted in 1953, followed by the .357 Blackhawk in 1955. Ruger added adjustable sights to his center fire guns (eventually adding them to the rimfire Single Six as well), but otherwise they were a close copy of the Colt. Once shooters began experimenting with the Rugers they learned that the Ruger could handle hot loads well beyond what the original Colts could take.
Another interesting note, after Ruger saw success with his clone, Colt re-introduced the SAA in 1956.....
The Colt 1873 Single Action Army:
and the Ruger Blackhawk:
The Ruger Vaquero:
another Ruger gun that was inspired by past designs is their Number 1 single shot rifle, it is based on the Farquharson rifle which was designed and patented in 1872. Of course the patent (and many memories) of the Farquharson had long expired and faded by the time Ruger brought it back to life in 1967
An original Farquharson Rifle
And the Ruger No. 1
Dakota Arms also makes a high quality Farquharson copy
One of the most copied guns is the Browning High-Power. There were several countries that manufactured versions under license from FN, but there were others that copied the design (wholly or in part). In fact most modern double stack semi-auto pistols have some design elements of Browning's last design.
Debuting in 1935, it was used on both sides during WWII and used for law enforcement world wide since.
The original Browning P35 High Power:
The Hungarian FEG clone (I believe this was an unauthorized copy):
The High-Power was also the inspiration for the CZ-75 Pistol:
The CZ 75 was adopted by the Czech Army in 1975 and has been the subject of cloning ever since, this partly due to CZ's inability to obtain patent rights in other countries.
The IMI/Magnum Research Jericho 941 pistol was a copy with some unique features:
The Italian Tanfoglio was another CZ-75 clone
Canik firearms out of Turkey has started making clones of many guns, here is there Canik 55 Shark FC
As is the Caracal Pistol, made in the United Arab Emirates
The Smith & Wesson Model 61 (aka the Escort) was a copy of the earlier 1908 Pieper Bayard. Here they are together.
Armscor makes a revolver that was obviously inspired by the Colt 357 Magnum Revolver (which became the Python & Trooper models)
Here is the Colt 357
....and the Armscor M200
The Filipinos were not the 1st to copy the Colt Revolver, The Japanese company Miroku, once exported this revolver to America, two versions were made, the Liberty Chief and the Police Special.
The new SCCY CPX pistol appears to be a direct copy of the Kel-Tec P-11. There are unconfirmed rumors that the owner of SCCY is a former employee (even a relative) of Kel-Tec's George Kelgren. Here is the Kel-Tec P11
And the SCCY CPX:
One of the most prolific guns in America is the Marlin model 60, .22 auto-loading rifle. Introduced in 1960 it was an instant hit.
Many people mistakenly think that Ruger's 10-22 is a copy of the Marlin model 60. Not true, around the same time Marlin was redesigning the M60, Ruger was working on their 1st rifle, a gas operated, semi-automatic .44 caliber carbine. It was the .44 Carbine that lead to the development of a .22 semi-auto.
Although we can assume the sales of the Marlin pushed Ruger to introduce their own .22 auto-loader. For what it is worth the Marlin model 60 has outsold the Ruger at an almost 2 to 1 ratio.
The Ruger 10-22 has definitely had its share of copy cats. The simple design, ease of modification and removable 10 round magazine made it very popular.
AMT again copied Ruger's design with a 22/25 Lightning Rifle:
Olympic Arms in Olympia, WA also made a stainless copy of the Ruger 10-22 is pistol & rifle configurations. Ruger's lawyers were able to stop production of both guns
Magnum Research now has a 10-22 clone called the MLR22:
JARD inc sells a complete 10-22 copy, the J1022:
Zimmerman Arms also makes a 10-22, but there gun is more tactical in look and feel
Rumor has it that Armscor (Philippines) is about to market an exact copy of the 10-22, pictures are tough to find, but I did find this one:
The legality of clones is probably a moot point as the patents have no doubt expired and thanks to the aftermarket it has been possible to build a complete 10-22 without any Ruger parts for awhile now.
The Walther P99 was introduced by the German Arms maker in 1996 (and was even used in 3 movies as 007's side arm) has recently been cloned by the Canik Arms company in Turkey:
the original Walther P99:
and the Canik 55:
No one can argue that the gun world was turned on its collective head when the Glock pistol was introduced. It was different, and that lead to other companies copying the design. S&W was 1st, the Sigma pistol "triggered" a lawsuit by Glock. Glock won and the pistol had to be redesigned....
The Glock 17 Gen2
The Turkish made Akdal Ghost is another copy of the Glock
The hottest market in firearms for awhile was the 380 pocket guns. A company called Diamondback Arms released what appears to be a compact Glock pistol. The shape, look and take down features all mimic the larger Glock pistols. Many nicknamed the DB380 the "baby Glock". That may have been cute and funny, but Glock wasn't laughing. At the 2014 SHOT show Glock introduced their own 380 pocket pistol, the REAL baby Glock, the G42. Here is the Diamondback DB380:
and the Glock 42
In 2010 Taurus introduced a revolver that chambered both the 45 Colt and the 410 shotgun shell. People thought Taurus created something new, not really, the MIL Thunder 5 was introduced in 1992, but went out of production before the Judge was introduced.
The MIL Thunder 5:
Smith & Wesson jumped on the bandwagon, even giving their revolver a similar name: The Governor.
There is a good reason the Kel-Tec PMR 30 and the Grendel P30 look alike and share so many features, they were both designed by George Kelgren, the founder of both companies.
The Kel-Tec PMR 30:
Once upon a time John Browning designed a shotgun for Remington called the model 17. Remington built the pump shotgun for about ten years, they refined it into the model 31, finally abandoning it in favor of the 870. Ithaca picked up the design, changed some things and called it the Model 37
The Remington model 17:
The Ithaca model 37
Taurus has made copies of some American Favorites, here is their version of the Winchester model 62, which was derived from the model 1890 & 1906.
Here is the Taurus:
Taurus Also made a copy of the Colt Lightning, called the Thunderbolt:
Here is the original Colt version
Uberti also made a high quality version:
The original SP1 AR-15:
and finally the most widely recognized and most copied firearm of all time: the Colt 1911. Designed by John M. Browning for the US Military trials, it served as the official US Military sidearm from 1911 through 1986 and is still issued to some units. It has been off and on used in Law Enforcement (Tacoma, WA Police Dept recently adopted the Kimber Pro Carry as their new sidearm).
There are no less than 50 manufacturers of the 1911 today including Colt, Kimber, Ruger, S&W, Sig, Remington, Taurus, Springfield, all of which make multiple models. It was made by the NAZIs during WWII as well as the Communist Chinese (Norinco). They are made in the U.S.A., Canada, Brazil, The Philippines, Italy, and now in Turkey.
Here is the original 1911; restored by Master Gunsmith Doug Turnbull: