Firearms play an important role in cinema, specifically action and drama. While many on-screen depictions of firearms are inaccurate, they’re still exciting to watch. The best movie guns stand out because of their unique look, sound, or association. Here are some of our favorites:
The Beretta 92 is a double-action/single-action (DA/SA), hammer-fired semi-automatic pistol, introduced in 1976. The Beretta 92 features a 15-round magazine capacity and fires the 9mm cartridge.
In 1985, the United States Army adopted a variant of the Beretta 92 series to replace the aging M1911A1, becoming the famous M9. However, filmgoers probably know the Beretta 92 best for its depiction in Lethal Weapon (1987) and Die Hard (1988) as the sidearm of Martin Riggs and John McClane.
Smith & Wesson Model 29
Introduced in 1956, the Model 29 is a double-action/single-action (DA/SA) N-frame revolver with a swing-out cylinder. Chambered in the .44 Remington Magnum cartridge, the Model 29 is a potent weapon suitable for hunting and defense against dangerous game. While not its first film appearance, Dirty Harry (1971) is probably the most iconic. When Dirty Harry Callahan confronts a wounded bank robber, he delivers this classic line, creating a timeless association:
“I know what you’re thinking. Did he fire six shots or only five? Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I’ve kind of lost track myself. But being this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do ya, punk?”
When the film premiered in theaters, it caused a spike in demand for the Smith & Wesson revolver; dealers couldn’t keep the Dirty Harry gun in stock. Of all the actor’s weapons over the years, the Model 29 is still considered the Clint Eastwood gun.
IMI Desert Eagle
While the Desert Eagle wasn’t the first magnum-caliber handgun to grace action films, it has undoubtedly become one of the most recognizable. The Desert Eagle is a gas-operated, semi-automatic, single-action-only (SAO) handgun designed by Magnum Research in the United States and Israel Military Industries (IMI). Introduced in 1983 and initially chambered in .357 Magnum, a .44 Magnum variant soon followed.
One of its earliest film appearances is the 1985 Arnold Schwarzenegger film Commando. However, it’s the .50 Action Express model that attracts the most attention. Holding seven rounds per magazine, the .50-caliber Model XIX is famously carried in The Matrix (1999) by the Agents, led by Agent Smith.
Heckler & Koch MP5
The MP5 is one of the most famous movie guns; it’s a highly popular 9mm submachine gun derived from the G3 battle rifle. The MP5 was adopted by the West German Federal Police in 1966 and underwent several changes over the years.
The MP5A2 and A3, which most firearms enthusiasts are familiar with, were introduced in 1970. The integrally suppressed variant, the SD, became available four years later, seeing use among United States special operations forces (SOF), most notably the Green Berets.
While the MP5 has been in hundreds of films, films such as Commando, the Die Hard series, and Lethal Weapon 2 (1989) helped establish its status as an icon.
The first of Glock’s polymer-framed, striker-fired handguns was adopted by the Austrian Army in 1982. Gaston Glock, a manufacturer of curtain rods, responded to a request for tender to replace the aging Walther P38. Fast forward to the 1990 film Die Hard 2, and protagonist John McClane describes one of the mercenaries’ pistols:
“That punk pulled a Glock 7 on me. You know what that is? It’s a porcelain gun made in Germany. Doesn’t show up on your airport X-ray machines and costs more than you make in a month.”
This reflected claims in the 1980s that the Glock was a plastic gun. However, the gun is not plastic. The Glock is more than 80% steel by weight, and the polymer frame is opaque to X-ray machines.
Today, you’re as likely to see a Glock in the hands of on-screen criminals as you are law enforcement.
The famous British spy, James Bond, also known as Agent 007, has used a variety of firearms over the years. In his 1956 novel Diamonds Are Forever, author Ian Fleming had armed Bond with a .25-caliber Beretta 418. Geoffrey Boothroyd, a firearms enthusiast and fan of the character, wrote a letter to Fleming, criticizing Bond’s choice of sidearm.
This led to a friendly correspondence between the two that lasted several years. One of the results was that Bond was forced to relinquish his Beretta in exchange for the Walther PPK, chambered in .32 ACP. The PPK has become a mainstay of the series, accompanying Bond for decades.
The PPK was introduced in 1929. Compact and lightweight, this sleek handgun allows the user to fire either single action or double action.
M60 Machine Gun
The M60 is a 7.62mm, belt-fed, air-cooled general-purpose machine adopted by the U.S. Army in 1957. In the ‘60s, the M60 saw significant use during the Vietnam War, where soldiers nicknamed it “the pig.” At 23 lbs. unloaded, it isn’t hard to see why.
If you’ve seen a film set during the Vietnam War, you’ve probably seen the M60. However, the film most often associated with the M60 isn’t set during the Vietnam War, although the protagonist is a veteran of that conflict.
In First Blood (1982), starring Sylvester Stalone, John Rambo hijacks a U.S. Army cargo truck. He steals the M60 machine gun on board to devastating effect, machine-gunning several businesses and a police station, leaving the town in tatters.
General Electric M134 Minigun
The Minigun is an electrically driven multi-barreled rotary machine gun chambered in the 7.62mm NATO cartridge. Firing at a blistering cyclic rate of 6,000 rounds per minute, the Minigun is a fearsome weapon on the battlefield and the silver screen. While the real-life Minigun is a mounted machine gun, typically fired from a vehicle, many films depict it as a handheld weapon.
Blain, portrayed by Jesse Ventura, carries the Minigun fed from a back-mounted ammunition pack in Predator (1987).
In Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), the T-800, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, fires the Minigun effortlessly at members of the Los Angeles Police Department, disabling their squad cars and sending them scrambling for cover. In reality, the recoil generated by the high cyclic rate, combined with the system’s weight, is very difficult to control safely.
While there are a variety of double-barreled shotguns on the market, the category itself is one of the most iconic movie weapons. The double-barreled shotgun, especially when sawed-off, can be found in the hands of heroes and villains.
In Mad Max: The Road Warrior (1981), the titular character carries a sawed-off shotgun as his primary weapon. Ash Williams in Evil Dead 2 (1987) and Army of Darkness (1993) uses his 12-gauge double-barreled Remington, also known as his “boomstick, to dispatch Deadites.” Simple, reliable, and powerful, there’s a timeless quality to the double-barreled shotgun
Iconic Guns Need High-Quality Holsters
The best movie guns are those firearms that are immediately recognizable to the viewer. If a person unfamiliar with firearms can recognize a Beretta, that’s usually because they saw it in a film.
If you decide to buy a Beretta or a Glock for concealed or open carry, it’s important to have a quality holster to match. At We the People Holsters, we manufacture IWB and OWB Kydex holsters to suit a wide variety of firearms, from the classic to the modern. Call us today to find out more about our selection of holsters.