When it comes to personal protection and defense, you can almost guarantee both with a gun in your hands. From revolvers to rifles, AK47s and vintage firearms, each features a different style yet all serve the same purpose.
Take a trip back to the AD 1000 and you’ll discover the first true gun technology emerging out of China.
As a rather simple weapon, it featured a hollow bamboo tube with gunpowder to propel it’s spear forward.
Within time, the gun’s role in mankind’s world would evolve into shooting for hunting, recreation, sporting events, war and personal defense purposes.
However, when it comes to the meaning and symbolism of guns, most associate them with freedom. Others, often out of ignorance or fear, believe it’s rather evil in nature. Regardless, there’s no denying the practical history of guns throughout the history of time as an advantageous tool.
Now, when it comes to tattoo designs, guns can represent an enemy who hurt them deeply. Not to mention, memories of wartime or military service too. Yet, the meaning doesn’t always have to be negative as the perceptive of guns often is. They can instead symbolize an idea of having courage or bravery times of fear. Even something so simple as a single bullet itself can serve as a positive reminder that we are given only one life.
Regardless of your take, you can still appreciate the fine artwork and designs of these top 50 best gun tattoos for men. From machine guns to rifles, pistols and more, discover an endless amount of rounds loaded with cool ideas.
1. Old School Gun Tattoos
The variety of guns is practically endless: new designs and concepts are constantly being produced and hitting the market. Despite this constant innovation, there is a certain appeal to the flintlocks and black powder guns of a bygone era.
These stylized weapons evoke images of pirate battles and swashbuckling shoot outs and by using a variety of approaches in a number of different styles, these clean tattoos provide a good cross section of designs with old school guns as their focus.
2. Military Themed Gun Tattoos
For those that have served in the military, guns gain a new and powerful meaning. In combat, your gun is directly connected to your survival, so the relationship that soldiers have with weapons goes beyond drinking beers and shooting at the range on the weekends. Many people who serve choose to incorporate guns into the tattoos that commemorate their time in combat. These pieces take a black and gray approach and some incorporate ghoulish skeletons to emphasize the fact that: “War is hell.”
3. Armed Animal Gun Tattoos
For other people guns can be used as props to create different effects. Giving an animal a Tommy gun and a furious expression is a great way to produce an absurdist composition. Giving a dog a gun can create a tattoo that could serve as a testament to the wearer’s time as a K9 police officer. Utilizing different styles and approaches, these tattoos of armed animals perfectly demonstrate the different ways that guns can successfully be used in tattoos.
4. Revolver Tattoos
The Colt Peacemaker is, without a doubt, one of the most influential guns in modern history. There is a saying that goes “God created man, but Samuel Colt make them equal.” Known as the “equalizer” this groundbreaking weapon system allowed a man to fire six shots without having to stop and reload and single handedly revolutionized combat. These pieces use a variety of styles and approaches but they all demonstrate just how excellent these classic weapons look in tattoos.
5. American and Neo Traditional Gun Tattoos
Characterized by bold lines and vibrant colors, American and neo-traditional styles are perfectly suited to these gun inspired designs. From standalone flash images of sawed off shotguns and pistols, to larger designs that incorporate different elements and a stylized composition, these pieces are great examples of how successfully guns can be incorporated into these classic tattoo styles.
6. Semi Automatic Gun Tattoos
Guns have come a long way from the single shot, muzzle loading muskets of the last century. In fact, some of the greatest mechanical innovation has come at the service of the development of weapons.
Another gun that has earned a spot in the heart of American soldiers is the Colt M1911 semi-automatic pistol. It served as the standard issue sidearm for the US Armed Forces for over 70 years and served our troops well. Thanks to its shining reputation and easily recognizable appearance, this iconic weapon is the perfect addition to tattoos.
7. Gun Tattoos Featuring Pin Up Girls
Pin up girls are some of the most popular design elements in tattoos and when incorporated with guns, it’s hard to miss. From the payasas of Chicano tattoos, to femme fatales straight out of film noire, these tattoos demonstrate just how well girls and guns go together.
8. Black and Gray Scenes
Thanks to its ability to create dramatic scenes with a classic sensibility many people choose to use black and gray ink to apply their unique gun tattoos. Using smooth shading and a subtle gradation of tones, these talented artists are able to create striking designs that are impressive for the level of detail achieved. From shoots outs with ghoulish banditos to the ultimate bad ass himself, the Punisher, these tattoos are great examples of how black and gray can be utilized to create one of a kind tattoos.
9. Abstract and 3D Gun Related Tattoos
A growing trend in the tattoo world uses clever tricks and techniques to give tattoos the impression of having three dimensions. One of the ways this is achieved, and that is utilized in these excellent gun inspired designs, is the use of forced perspective. This technique—when successfully applied—gives pieces the effect of depth going into a tattoo.
While some people prefer the hyper-realistic effect that can be created with these techniques, other people prefer more illustrative designs that take an abstract approach. Thanks to these talented artists, both of these different styles are on full display in these unique and eye catching tattoos.
Gun Tattoo FAQs
What do gun tattoos symbolize?
Guns are powerful tools that can be used with good or bad intentions. To those in law enforcement and the military, guns are symbols of authority, freedom and power. For criminals, guns symbolize similar ideals, albeit through a cracked lens. The reality is that guns are only as good or evil as the man pulling the trigger.
This amorphous morality makes them interesting design elements in tattoos that can hold a variety of different meanings. The most common use for guns in tattoos is as a memorial to a veteran’s time in combat. The next most common gun tattoos represent the wearer’s love of collecting and firing these weapons and the visual appeal of guns. To many, guns are seen as works of mechanical art with every piece working together in harmony to produce the desired effect.
Whatever the meaning behind these tattoos, guns are interesting design elements and make for bad ass tattoos that show off the wearer’s appreciation for these deadly tools.