Son of a Gun: The Firearms Baby Name Report

Mar 6th 2014

If naming a child Violet or Lily suggests delicate, timeless beauty, and naming a child River or Sky conjures the majesty of the natural world, what does naming a child Ruger or Beretta suggest?

That's no longer a hypothetical question. Gun-related names have become a style category of their own, and as I've briefly noted in the past, they're on the rise. Today I'd like to take a closer look at this trend.

I cross-checked lists of firearms terms and manufacturers with names given to five or more babies in the most recent statistical year (2012) and/or 10 years earlier (2002). I ended up with a list of 15 gun-related names, including brand names like Ruger and Colt as well as general terms like Gauge and Shooter. The decade-long popularity trend was crystal clear:

Every name on the firearms list rose significantly over the 10-year period.

The average rise was over 500%. Five names which didn't appear at all in 2002 -- Beretta, Browning, Savage, Trigger and Wesson -- showed up on the 2012 list. Here's a visual summary of the trend (* indicates girls' names):

Babies Receiving Gun-Related Names, United States

You may not see these all as "gun names"; the borders of the category are fuzzy. For instance, Gunner could be a respelling of the Nordic name Gunnar as well as an English noun. Even trickier is a name like Cooper, which is both a rifle maker and a familiar tradesman surname. (I left Cooper off of my list, but it too has soared in popularity.)

For borderline cases, I made my decision based on prevalence in name-idea threads on forums for firearms enthusiasts. A sign that a gun association really is a driving force in the popularity of borderline names: in 2002, the traditional Gunnar outpaced Gunner in the U.S., while today Gunners are in the lead by a 2-to-1 margin.

What does the trend mean? I believe it points to two different cultural threads in the United States over the past decade. The first is the rising role of guns as a cultural identifier. For hunters and firearms enthusiasts, guns can be both a passion and a symbol of a way of life. It's notable that other manufactured goods categories, like automobiles, haven't followed the same name trajectory.

Some gun owners perceive their lifestyle as being threatened by those who don't understand them or share their values. Choosing a gun name, then, can summon up happy memories of hunting with your dad -- or be a statement of cultural defiance. It's an in-group statement, designed to speak to those who share your cultural touchstones. (Suffice it to say that if the name Savage makes you think "Dan Savage" rather than "Savage Arms," that name isn't aimed at you.)

The second, equally important change is about names themselves. Think of it this way: to get to the point where you're asking, "Should we name him Ruger or Wesson?" you have to NOT be asking "Should we name him after Grandpa John or Grandpa Jim?"

The past decade has seen an accelerating movement away from traditional names. Over the same decade that the 15 firearms names above rose by a combined 3,824 babies, the four most classic English baby names, John, Mary, James and William, fell by a combined 16,875 babies. Something has to be stepping into that gulf. Parents today cast a broader net, and are more likely to consider creative meaning names that reflect their personal lives and interests.

Consider, too, that gun names were always popular for dogs, suggesting that a love of guns is nothing new. A foxhound named Trigger would never have surprised anyone. Today, parents are more willing to "pull the trigger" on that kind of eye-catching name for babies, too. Just as we're naming our pets more like children, it seems that we're naming our children more like pets.

This broad change in the naming process means that names are a more sensitive cultural barometer than ever before. Any shift in parents' interests, passions and values is sure to be encoded in the name record. Today, if you want to know what people really care about, follow the names.


March 6, 2014 2:31 PM

Can Heckler and Koch be far behind? Wow. Pardon the pun, but some of these names seem particularly loaded. Trigger reminds me of Roy Rogers's horse, but Shooter? I'm stunned.

Laura, you know you're now on an NSA watchlist, right? I can't imagine the searches you had to do to come up with this post. Thanks, though! As always, you give us a fascinating glimpse into the culture at large.

March 7, 2014 11:52 AM

Some other weapon-y names that have surged in this decade:

Stryker (a type of AFV)

Ryder (as in the BB gun)

Bowie (as in knife)

Archer (maybe similar to Cooper)

Rambo (only 5 in 2012, but still)

Rogue (half Palin, half WoW?)

Dragon (to go with the Khaleesis?)

March 7, 2014 12:22 PM

My sister, who is now of retirement age, had a college roommate whose brother was named Marlin, explicitly after the Marlin rifle.  I don't see Marlin on the list above.  No more baby Marlins?  (I am too lazy to look it up.) 

March 7, 2014 1:31 PM

CGDH and Miriam, to my surprise neither Ryder nor Marlin came up in any of the discussions I looked at on firearms websites. Ryder in particular seemed like a slam dunk, but apparently air rifles aren't quite so name-worthy.

March 7, 2014 7:25 PM

Maybe Marlin is considered more fishy than gunny. :-)

March 7, 2014 10:49 PM

Love the gun-name stats, but I came on here tonight to talk about cartoon characters.

I was watching an episode of Lego Ninjago on Netflix with my boys and realized that the names of the (titular) ninjas are Kai, Zane, Cole, Jay, and ...Lloyd. Even more interestingly, the first four (with names I would associate with the current generation of children) are presented as adults while Lloyd is a child - and the Chosen One, one of the central figures of the series. Lloyd. (This probably also explains why one of my sons suggested the name Lloyd for our newborn.)

To me, it sounds old and unfashionable. It peaked in popularity about the same time that my great-grandfather - Floyd - was born. To my boys, it sounds perfectly natural on another child. It's listed in the BNW book as a porch-sitter, but given what we know about name trends it's not surprising that it's coming back around. What I wonder is how long it'll be before it pops back up - will it be five years from now? 10 or 15 years from now, when the kids who are watching Ninjago have children? I'll be watching with interest, and I really wonder how many other cartoons are doing the same thing.

(I would love to see a post on this!)

March 8, 2014 8:45 PM

Yet more ways--you know, in addition to the preventable deaths of hundreds of children--gun nuts are ruining this country.

March 9, 2014 1:15 PM


I have been wondering EXACTLY the same thing about the Ninjago characters.

I have also wondered about the boy's name Lyle.  It fits many of the popular trends of L intenstive names and vowels.


March 10, 2014 10:28 PM

Back to gun names:  Another one I am surprised not to see is Walther.  Also Sig, as in Sig Sauer, Winchester, and Thompson.  OTOH I am not surprised that people are not naming their kids Glock, very unfashioable sounds.

March 13, 2014 11:17 AM

I know all naming stuff is cultural but I just can not imagine looking at my sweet innocent new baby and thinking, "Oh, I'll name him after a killing machine."

June 20, 2014 11:50 PM

I really admire the important ideas that you offer in the content. I am looking forward for more important thoughts and more blogs. Bandar Bola Agen Sbobet

August 12, 2014 10:01 PM

It's so crazy to think you were looking at my daughter's birth records!  My spouse and I had a baby in 2012 and we named her Beretta.  Although we are not gun owners we wanted to name her something that sounded fierce, feminine, and was a nod to her roots (Italian).  Also we liked the little homage to Etta James and use Etta as a  nickname for her.  She is now 2 and Beretta fits her personality to a T--everyone says she is "a little pistol"

January 20, 2015 3:03 AM

Great web site you have here.. It’s difficult to find excellent writing like yours nowadays. I truly appreciate people like you! Take care!!
Gejala Penyakit Darah Tinggi

March 23, 2015 12:34 AM

Good article


April 13, 2015 9:30 AM

Such a nice article and I like this website for all its awesome pages regarding Pets and Pet's naming. It is so important to give a nice name to your beloved Pet. Whether a baby dog or a baby cat, it's your duty to give him/her a good name whichever you like. I have a pet dog and his name is Blacky. He is a German Shepherd breed and a nice one. It's also necessary to take care of pets to give them a healthy life. Thank you.

December 16, 2015 2:02 AM

Thank you for sharing of information, I am very pleased with the content of your article is very useful and I wait for the next article to update the information again. obat maag kronis

January 4, 2016 9:26 PM

AgaricPro Obat Herbal Untuk Bermacam Penyakit adalah salah satu obat herbal yang sangat ampuh untuk mengobati berbagai penyakit seperti Obat Sinusitis. terbuat dari ramuan herbal yang sangat berkualitas dan terjamin, dapat juga menyembuhkan penyakit seperti penyakit Agaricpro | Obat Maag. Jika Anda tidak menyukai obat kimia, jangan khawatir karena produk kami terbebas dari bahan kimia, jadi AgaricPro | Obat Asma dapat disembuhkan dengan produk kami. Produk best agaric AgaricPro Sebagai Solusi Untuk Hidup Lebih Sehat, AgaricPro Untuk Mengatasi Berbagai Macam Penyakit dengan kualitas yang sangat tinggi ini mampu menyembuhkan penyakit-penyakit yang ganas seperti penyakit AgaricPro | Obat Hematuria. Banyak orang yang sudah menggunakan produk kami dan memberikan testimoni positif, karena produk kami memberikan efek yang sangat besar untuk menyembuhkan penyakit AgaricPro | Obat Asam Urat. Produk kami bisa didapatkan di Tasik Store. Jika Anda mempunyai keluhan tentang kewanitaan, maka Obat Keputihan Crystal X adalah solusinya. tidak hanya penyakit AgaricPro | Obat Stroke tetapi juga bisa menyembuhkan penyakit AgaricPro | Obat Liver. Jika anda mempunyai keluhan wanita, seperti keputihan maka Nes V | Obat Keputihan sulusinya untuk Penyakit Wanita dan Obatnya . Mulailah dari sekarang untuk hidup Healthy Life Indonesia . Segeralah lakukan pengobatan jika Anda mempunyai keluhan AgariPro |Obat Kurang Darah , karena jika dibiarkan penyakit Anda akan semakin parah. AgaricPro | Obat Hernia dan juga AgaricPro | Obat Kolesterol. Dengan kualitas yang aman ampuh dan terjamin bisa menyembuhkan berbagai penyakit Jantung, Maag, Rematik. Obat Penyakit Asam Urat Ampuh and Obat Maag Alami

January 5, 2016 10:58 PM

Obat Darah Tinggi hadir membantu anda dalam mengatasi darah tinggi. Dan ada Obat Hernia Untuk Bayi, Anak dan Dewasa yang merupakan sebuah obat herbal yang efektif mengatasi penyakit hernia. Obat Penyakit Hernia ini juga sudah banyak dibuktikan. obat hernia anak bayi juga sangat cocok untuk orang tua yang bingung mencari obat hernia. Maka dari itu kami menyediakan cara mengobati hernia pada anak bayi yaitu Obat hernia pada bayi. obat penyakit hernia ini juga dapat menjadi obat hernia inguinalis. Selain obat penyakit hernia, ada juga celana hernia yang kami sediakan untuk penderita hernia. Namun jika anda bertanya cara mengobati hernia pada anak bayi? Jawabannya adalah dengan mengkonsumsi obat hernia herbal. Untuk lebih jelasnya anda dapat membaca penjelasan hernia, penyebab hernia, gejala hernia, bahaya hernia, dan cara mengatasi hernia pada bayi. Sudah banyak anak bayi yang terbantu oleh obat hernia pada anak bayi yang terbantu sembuh, jika anda masih ragu silahkan cek testimoni hernia

February 12, 2016 7:03 AM

Fantastic way to share the Name Report in this post article of this post is awesome. I have just visited this post through my friend I want to say thanks for giving this info here.

Get car locksmith service kansas city ks

February 16, 2016 4:24 AM

I am very pleased with the content of your article is very useful and I wait for the next article to update the information again. Obat Hernia

March 13, 2016 7:00 PM

على اقوى عماله بشرية متخصصه في هذا المجال وبخبرة طويلة وبأسعار خياليه كشف تسربات المياه بالرياض  لن تطرأ على ذهنك من شدة انخفاضها

April 8, 2017 4:48 AM

articles that are useful for me <a href=""> jas hujan axio </a>


May 10, 2016 10:10 AM

it was amazing the contents of the articles you post , it is very beneficial to me personally . thank you


July 12, 2016 10:20 PM

<a href="">makanan pencegah rabun senja </a>| <a href="">cara mengurangi mata minus </a>|<a href=""> penyebab dan penyembuhan buta warna </a>