Completing the Firearms Trilogy — Best Movie Guns

Since I had such a strong response to my last two posts about guns, I thought I’d start one more thread on the subject. 

On a recent conference trip to Pennsylvania, a faculty member (who shall go nameless here to protect his career) took me to a shooting range and produced a collection of famous guns from the movies.  It was great — we shot a Civil War revolver, a revolver of the kind used by the army in the old west, a “Dirty Harry” Magnum .44, a WWI-era Colt semi-automatic, James Bond’s Walther PPK — well, you get the idea. At least I learned why the gunmen used their hands to rapid fire with the hammer in the cowboy movies, and why it took so long to reload during the Civil War

But it got me to thinking — what is the best firearm in the movies — the one that, if you could have only one, you would pick? I nominate the Magnum .44 from “Dirty Harry.” I suppose the James Bond gun is popular, but when I shot it, I thought it was all show and no action. Any other nominees?

  1. Albert Arthur

    You already mentioned it, but the Magnum has to be on the top (or top 3) of any “best movie gun” list.

  2. Gus Marvinson

    Not to nitpick, but the Dirty Harry gun was a .44 magnum, not a .357.

    Carry on.

  3. Ricochet Editor
    C
    Gus Marvinson: Not to nitpick, but theDirty Harry gun was a .44 magnum, not a .357.

    Carry on. · 0 minutes ago

    Noted and corrected.

  4. Albert Arthur
    Gus Marvinson: Not to nitpick, but theDirty Harry gun was a .44 magnum, not a .357.

    Carry on. · 0 minutes ago

    Yeah, well, tell that to Dirty Harry when he’s pointing it at you and explaining to you how it will take your head off.

  5. DocJay

    Quigley Down under had what I recall was a Sharps 1874.  It was a beauty in the world of early accuracy shooting.  Jerimiah Johnson had a Hawken .36, not a .50 but  by God it was a Hawken!

  6. She

    Not strictly a movie gun, but Richard Sharpe’s Baker rifle.

  7. Randy Webster

    Real?  The mini gun in Predator was pretty cool.

  8. Nick Stuart

    I like the .357 because it has plenty of knock-down power, once loaded it is always ready (no need to chamber a round or wonder if you have the safety on or off), and in the short barrel configuration very compact and concealable and harder for the bad guy to wrestle away from you.

    The .44 mag is a LOT of firearm for personal defense. Good sidearm if you may encounter a Kodiak bear maybe. Others will differ of course.

  9. Vance Richards
    Nick Stuart:  The .44 mag is a LOT of firearm for personal defense.

    Thus the, “will blow your head clean off” line.

  10. Albert Arthur
    Vance Richards

    Nick Stuart:  The .44 mag is a LOT of firearm for personal defense.

    Thus the, “will blow your head clean off” line. · 0 minutes a

    Although, Harry shoots a lot of people and as far as I remember none of them lose their heads.

  11. Dan Hanson

    I have a prejudice against the Dirty Harry depiction of handguns.  The Smith and Wesson Model 29 .44 magnum may have been the most powerful handgun in the world when the Dirty Harry movies were made, but that doesn’t make it a bazooka.  Even the most powerful handguns are nothing compared to any rifle cartridge of medium power or above.

    Also, the impact of a bullet won’t knock you off your feet, let alone blow your head clean off or send you flying through a window.   That’s true even for high power rifle bullets, and it’s especially true for handguns.  In fact, when people are shot they tend to just crumple to the ground like a rag doll.  There’s nowhere near enough momentum in a bullet to cause a human body to go flying – if there was, Newton’s laws tell us that the shooter would also get thrown backwards by the recoil.

    So my preference by far is for movies that treat guns realistically.   One of the most realistic depictions of handgun combat I remember was in a movie called “Thief” starring James Caan.   Highly recommended.  Oh, and he used a Colt M1911 automatic.

  12. Frank Gillespie

    Is Robocop’s Auto 9 out of the running? ;-)

  13. Richard Fulmer

    The .44 WCF Model 1892 Winchester carbine that John Wayne used in the movie, Stagecoach.  Like the weapon used in the TV show, The Rifleman, it had a large lever “loop” and could be cocked with one hand. 

  14. Kevin P
    My Little Friend (M16 with M203 Grenade Launcher)

    from Scarface

    (But the Cream Puff Tommy Gun from “Buggsy Malone” is a close second)

  15. Devereaux

    I tend to favour the Remington 1858 that Eastwood had in Pale Rider. It was way ahead of its time in being able to be reloaded from additional loaded cylinders quite quickly and simply.

    Then there are the 2 S&W Shofields in the latest 3:10 To Yuma

    DocJay mentioned the Sharps 45-110 that Selleck had in Quigley Down Under.

    I have to say that I generally find the old western guns more “interesting” even if the modern stuff is more practical.

  16. Goldgeller

    I don’t know the movie(s)… but the Glock G18 (there was one in Skyfall) is a gun that will probably live forever in the popular imagination. It’s a handgun, but it fires like a machine gun! And it has a long magazine! So tacticool!

  17. Devereaux
    Richard Fulmer: The .44 WCF Model 1892 Winchester carbine that John Wayne used in the movie, Stagecoach.  Like the weapon used in the TV show, The Rifleman, it had a large lever “loop” and could be cocked with one hand.  · 5 minutes ago

    You do know that that was made up for the movies – Winchester never made that kind of lever until relatively recently, in response to people wanting the movie gun.

  18. Donald Todd

    “The Shooter” had a nice collection of weapons, most of which got at least a bit of use.  The sniper rifle used by the hero was the item I most appreciated.

    Some of the movies about WWII had Thompsons and BARs, as well as the very good German machine pistols and machine guns.

    While I don’t offhand remember a movie displaying the M79, that was a wonderful piece of equipment as well.

    All of these lead to a question for John Yoo.  Will you permit concealed carry in Oakland when you are mayor?

  19. Richard Fulmer
    Devereaux

    Richard Fulmer: The .44 WCF Model 1892 Winchester carbine that John Wayne used in the movie, Stagecoach.  Like the weapon used in the TV show, The Rifleman, it had a large lever “loop” and could be cocked with one hand. 

    You do know that that was made up for the movies – Winchester never made that kind of lever until relatively recently, in response to people wanting the movie gun.

    The loop was specially designed for Wayne to accommodate his large hands.  Together with the rifle’s short barrel, the loop enabled him to twirl the gun and cock it in one motion.

  20. Valiuth

    I think I would take a phaser. This way I can have a wide range of both lethal and non-lethal options and I could skirt gun carrying laws.  Also I think I would be more accurate (no recoil.).