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?

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  1. Profile photo of Albert Arthur Coolidge

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

    • #1
    • December 11, 2012 at 2:33 am
  2. Profile photo of Gus Marvinson Inactive

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

    Carry on.

    • #2
    • December 11, 2012 at 2:35 am
  3. Profile photo of Ricochet Editors' Desk Editor
    Gus Marvinson: Not to nitpick, but theDirty Harry gun was a .44 magnum, not a .357.

    Carry on. · 0 minutes ago

    Noted and corrected.

    • #3
    • December 11, 2012 at 2:36 am
  4. Profile photo of Albert Arthur Coolidge
    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.

    • #4
    • December 11, 2012 at 2:36 am
  5. Profile photo of DocJay Member

    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!

    • #5
    • December 11, 2012 at 2:39 am
  6. Profile photo of She Member
    She

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

    • #6
    • December 11, 2012 at 2:40 am
  7. Profile photo of Randy Webster Member

    Real? The mini gun in Predator was pretty cool.

    • #7
    • December 11, 2012 at 2:40 am
  8. Profile photo of Nick Stuart Thatcher

    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.

    • #8
    • December 11, 2012 at 2:40 am
  9. Profile photo of Vance Richards Member
    Nick Stuart: The .44 mag is a LOT of firearm for personal defense.

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

    • #9
    • December 11, 2012 at 2:42 am
  10. Profile photo of Albert Arthur Coolidge
    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.

    • #10
    • December 11, 2012 at 2:44 am
  11. Profile photo of Dan Hanson Thatcher

    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.

    • #11
    • December 11, 2012 at 2:45 am
  12. Profile photo of Frank Gillespie Member

    Is Robocop’s Auto 9 out of the running? 😉

    • #12
    • December 11, 2012 at 2:48 am
  13. Profile photo of Richard Fulmer Member

    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. 

    • #13
    • December 11, 2012 at 2:53 am
  14. Profile photo of Kevin P Inactive
    My Little Friend (M16 with M203 Grenade Launcher)

    from Scarface

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

    • #14
    • December 11, 2012 at 2:54 am
  15. Profile photo of Devereaux Inactive

    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.

    • #15
    • December 11, 2012 at 2:58 am
  16. Profile photo of Goldgeller Member

    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!

    • #16
    • December 11, 2012 at 2:59 am
  17. Profile photo of Devereaux Inactive
    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.

    • #17
    • December 11, 2012 at 3:00 am
  18. Profile photo of donald todd Member

    “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?

    • #18
    • December 11, 2012 at 3:04 am
  19. Profile photo of Richard Fulmer Member
    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.

    • #19
    • December 11, 2012 at 3:04 am
  20. Profile photo of Valiuth Member

    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.).

    • #20
    • December 11, 2012 at 3:05 am
  21. Profile photo of skipsul Moderator

    The Desert Eagle in .50AE gets its share of movie play.

    Of course the Colt Peacemaker was in darn near every western, along with Winchester ’73’s, and various “trap door” springfields.

    The Beretta 92 was John McClane’s gun of choice in Die Hard (along with the mythical Glock 7 ceramic gun in DH2). Though my favorite from that one was the Steyr AUG.

    All of the Storm Troopers in Star Wars carry doctored Sterling SMG’s, while the good guys (and Greedo, who NEVER pulled the trigger) carried doctored up Mauser C96’s.

    The C96 and the Luger are venerable movie guns in their own right.

    Bond’s PPK, though, would have gotten him killed. Those things are cute but have crappy extractors.

    Then there are MP5’s darn near everywhere.

    John, you’ve started a long thread here.

    • #21
    • December 11, 2012 at 3:11 am
  22. Profile photo of Garrett Petersen Inactive
    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.). · 3 minutes ago

    You beat me to it. Plus, you can heat up rocks when you go camping!

    • #22
    • December 11, 2012 at 3:11 am
  23. Profile photo of Illiniguy Member

    It’s not the gun, but the guy who used it. Therefore, any gun used by Humphrey Bogart is the best movie gun.

    As a “Lucky Strike Extra”, here’s my favorite quote about having a gun:

    “I’m on the lam. I’m wanted bad, packing heat.” Sterling Hayden as Dix Handley, The Asphalt Jungle.

    If that’s not the most camp movie quote of all time, I don’t know what is.

    • #23
    • December 11, 2012 at 3:13 am
  24. Profile photo of skipsul Moderator
    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! · 12 minutes ago

    Edited 11 minutes ago

    I’ve fired one of those, and it was every bit as much fun as it looks.

    • #24
    • December 11, 2012 at 3:13 am
  25. Profile photo of DocJay Member

    Skipsul, Han Solo shot first! Yes yes and yes to bringing that up.

    • #25
    • December 11, 2012 at 3:16 am
  26. Profile photo of skipsul Moderator
    DocJay: Skipsul, Han Solo shot first! Yes yes and yes to bringing that up. · 1 minute ago

    Wrong, he didn’t shoot first.

    He SHOT.

    End of Greedo.

    • #26
    • December 11, 2012 at 3:19 am
  27. Profile photo of Goldgeller Member
    skipsul
    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! · 12 minutes ago

    Edited 11 minutes ago

    I’ve fired one of those, and it was every bit as much fun as it looks. · 2 minutes ago

    Oh snap! It does look fun. I was watching an FPSRussia vid and man, he went through a magazine with a trigger pull. (Does that get expensive?)

    I need to look into going to a range one day.

    • #27
    • December 11, 2012 at 3:19 am
  28. Profile photo of Valiuth Member
    Garrett Petersen
    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.). · 3 minutes ago

    You beat me to it. Plus, you can heat up rocks when you go camping! · 4 minutes ago

    Or if modulated by your tricorder you can use it to emit a low grade neutrino pulse to control electronic devices. 

    • #28
    • December 11, 2012 at 3:19 am
  29. Profile photo of skipsul Moderator

    It’s only mentioned, not seen, but the Maltese Falcon refers to the Webley Fosberry “they don’t make ’em anymore”. I sooooo want one of those.

    • #29
    • December 11, 2012 at 3:20 am
  30. Profile photo of skipsul Moderator
    Goldgeller
    skipsul
    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! · 12 minutes ago

    Edited 11 minutes ago

    I’ve fired one of those, and it was every bit as much fun as it looks. · 2 minutes ago

    Oh snap! It does look fun. I was watching an FPSRussia vid and man, he went through a magazine with a trigger pull. (Does that get expensive?)

    I need to look into going to a range one day. · 0 minutes ago

    Don’t know what part of the country you’re in, but twice a year the Knob Creek range in Kentucky has a machine gun shoot, and yes you can pay to shoot many a gun.

    So far I’ve shot the G18, the FN P90, an Uzi, a Tommy Gun, a PKM, and an MG42.

    Next show is in April.

    • #30
    • December 11, 2012 at 3:21 am
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