Firearm aesthetics

The Heym Express Rifle by Martini is, to my eye, the most attractive bolt action out there. The stock is nigh on perfect in form and proportion. I plan on buying one as my retirement gift to myself. Although you didn’t ask about sidearms, my vote is for the P08 Luger. Preferably Swiss made. The toggle action is a bit too complicated to make it the practical choice, but for sheer beauty it’s unrivaled in the pistol world.
If this discussion is being opened to handguns I think is hard to beat the aesthetic of a 3-1/2" Model 27 Smith & Wesson; it has classic looks, perfect proportions, and a beautiful menace.

Best regards,
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Years ago, I bought a Ruger boat paddle in 7.62x39. I figured at 10 cents a round and very little recoil, it was the perfect step up from a 22 LR for my kids to shoot. After having it for several years, I gave the rifle away to my Montana elk outfitter. He had 3 young sons and they got an inexpensive to shoot, low recoiling, butt ugly rifle.

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Thx for posting a ‘blast from my past’ - this make/model Mark II in 30-06 was my 1st bolt action purchase in ‘90. I live/work in Germany so a majority of my rifles are tucked away @ parents house (ND) & haven’t seen the darlings since 2015. Won‘t debate the butt ugly label: I purchased for accuracy + functionality in all-weather + Lt weight on Mtn climbs.
Thanks Wishfulthinker! Ruark had it right!
Funny you mention Winslow. I had a good friend who was a stock maker and at one time he worked for Winslow. The ones he made working for himself were of classic style..........unless the customer wanted otherwise. But thank you for not posting a picture of a Winslow.
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The sorts of things that come to mind when I think of German aesthetics.

Double rifle drilling in 9,3x74R.
Pre-war German Double Rifle Drilling in 9.3x74R

Double rifle in 9.3x74R
9.3x74R Double Rifle

9.3x74R Double Rifle

Heym's Interpretation of the Ruger No 1 with octagon barrel and magnificent wood.
Heym Ruger No. 1

Or even an American interpretation of the Germanic style in 7x57 by master gunmaker Al Lind.
7x57 Mauser Rifle
Nicely figured walnut combined with polished blued steel or frosted stainless does it for me.
I really enjoy these photos and discussions of finely built, beautifully stocked and blued steel rifles and shotguns. Mine are all generic walnut and blue, but that doesn't stop my dreaming about something in the future along those lines. Keep the photos and discussions coming!
I'm with the classical idea of beauty: all in the proportions. This is true of anything we look at--a building, a woman, a rifle, you name it. Long ago, the Greeks realized that there are measurable (and amazingly constant!) ratios that make something more or less pleasant to the senses: 1:1--symmetry, and the unison in music; 2:1--nice if a little blocky, and the octave interval in music; 3:2--perfect and interesting, and the fifth interval in music; 5:4--sensual and beautiful, and the third interval in music, etc...

Look at the ideal proportions of the human body, and these ratios appear. Ditto for the Fibonacci series (0 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34....) whose curve follow the "universal" rule of harmony.

Classic rifles are beautiful because, for the most part, they follow these proportions. Look at a classic British double--the barrels (3/3rds) will have 2/3rds of length protruding past the forend, while the distance buttpad to tip of the forend will roughly equal the length of the barrels (1:1 ratio).

This is why, while undoubtedly nice touches, engraving and wood-grain take the back-seat to proportions in what make a rifle beautiful. A nicely engraved rifle with its elements out of proportion would look like a well-dressed woman with shoulders too wide or too short a neck. While a plainly-finished rifle with perfect proportions will look like... well, you can complete your own analogy ;-)
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I have eclectic tastes when it comes to firearms. I generally prefer wood/blued vs synthetic/stainless guns but I've seen expensive blued/engraved/wood stocked guns that do nothing for me and I've seen stainless/synthetic guns that grab my attention. Probably the most important elements for me are simplicity and execution. A simple gun done well is much more appealing to me than a gaudy gun that's either poorly executed or just too over the top. Don't misunderstand, I like quality engraving and quality woodwork as much as the next guy but it has to been done well and appropriate for the particular firearm. The problem is how to define appropriate. YMMV.

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