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Weekend Roundtable: Most Iconic Guns in Cinema

Guns, guns, guns. From Dirty Harry’s .44 Magnum to Han Solo’s blaster pistol, Hollywood loves guns, the bigger and louder the better. Setting aside political arguments about the 2nd Amendment (we’re talking about fiction and fantasy here, folks), this week’s Roundtable takes a look at some of the most iconic guns in cinema.

Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)

Ol’ Painless isn’t just a gun. It’s not some measly little pistol you pull out of a holster, carefully aim and fire. No, Ol’ Painless is a force of nature. It’s unleashed. Though Jesse “The Body” Ventura’s weapon of choice in ‘Predator‘ is technically a mini-gun, there’s nothing “mini” about it. We’re talking about a weapon that’s meant to be mounted on a helicopter. In one of the film’s defining moments, Ventura’s soldier empties somewhere in the neighborhood of five hundred rounds in one fell swoop, mowing down half the jungle in the hopes of nailing the unseen alien that’s been slaughtering his fellow men. The creature wouldn’t go down that easily, but it’s courtesy of Ol’ Painless that Dutch and company learn that, “If it bleeds, we can kill it.”

Daniel Hirshleifer

I have to go with the Lawgiver from ‘Dredd‘. From its distinctive shape and design to its ability to fire multiple types of ammo – including armor-piercing, incendiary, ricocheting bullets and more – the Lawgiver is almost a character unto itself. And what better gun could there be to bring law and order to the unruly citizens of a Mega-City? Other guns may be more iconic, but few are more effective.

Shannon Nutt

There’s nothing particularly special about the 12-gauge double-barrel shotgun Ash uses in the ‘Evil Dead’ movies. In fact, it’s not even the same type of gun used in all three films. (It’s a single-shot shotgun in the original.) However, the gun becomes the stuff of legend in ‘Army of Darkness‘ when Ash uses it to shoot the sword of an approaching knight, then introduces the weapon to the medieval crowd as his “Boomstick.” Get one for yourself; they say it’s S-Mart’s top-of-the-line.

Wayne Rowe

“I wanna introduce you to a personal friend of mine. This is an M41A pulse rifle. Ten millimeter with over-and-under thirty millimeter pump action grenade launcher.” The most iconic gun in cinema is easily the standard issue Colonial Marines rifle from ‘Aliens‘. It’s design defined film and videogame weapons for years to come. Ripley wielded it with style and sex appeal, and any sci-fi fanboy worth his mettle has come to worship the firearm of the future. Heck, using it in the latest, crappy ‘Colonial Marines’ videogame is the only thing that made the game worth playing at all. Well, that and the M56 Smart Gun. Regardless, the pulse rifle has my vote, hands down.

Luke Hickman

There’s one movie gun that I’m a huge fan of, but most people hate it when they see it. I cannot tell you how many times I heard people say, “That is the stupidest thing ever,” when they saw Rose McGowan’s leg-gun in the trailers for ‘Grindhouse‘. Personally, as if I wasn’t already sold on the film, when I saw the assault rifle mounted to her stumpy leg, my obsession began. Talk about a gun that does it all; it’s an automatic machine gun and it fires shotgun blasts, not to mention propelled grenades. Mount this monster to a hot chick’s leg, let her smoke a whole lot of zombies, and you’ve got one amazing combination. Knowing that McGowan would eventually become a hybrid damsel in distress and weapon, I couldn’t wait for this plot point to come to pass when I screened the movie.

M. Enois Duarte

Since I’m an ‘Evil Dead’ fan, you might think that my first choice would be Ash’s double-barrel shotgun, appropriately named the “Boomstick,” in the second sequel. But no, one of my favorite movie guns comes from longtime guilty pleasure ‘The Fifth Element‘. The ZF-1 is an absurdly ridiculous weapon, but also so damn cool that I almost wish it was real. Demonstrated with lots of flair and drama by Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg (Gary Oldman), the ultra-light but fully-loaded (in the most literal sense) gun is undetectable and equipped with a titanium recharger, a three-thousand round clip (in “Replay” mode, it sends every following shot to the same location), rocket launcher, arrow launcher with explosive arrowheads, net launcher, flame thrower and, for the grand finale, an all-new ice-cube system. And to top it all off, it’s adjustable for righties and lefties, and the whole thing comes in a neat, egg-shaped carry-on case with a remote control. Only, don’t ever, ever, ever, ever… ever, ever… touch the little red button on the side.

Josh Zyber

There are so many possibilities for this topic, from Deckard’s cool futuristic pistol in ‘Blade Runner’, to RoboCop’s semi-auto hand cannon, to the motion-activated sentry guns in ‘Aliens’. I hardly know where to begin. I bet that a lot of you assumed that I’d pick the Weirding Modules, didn’t you? But no, as I think about it, only one choice stands out far above the others as the most iconic of iconic movie guns. That would of course be James Bond’s sleek little Walther PPK, first introduced in ‘Dr. No‘ and featured in twenty-something sequels to date. It may not be the deadliest or most powerful weapon on this list, but it has gotten our hero out of plenty of dangerous jams over the years.

This list hardly scratches the surface. Tell us about your favorite movie guns in the Comments below.

24 comments

  1. Danny

    I think my favorite gun from a movie is… the NOISY CRICKET! That’s right, the tiny gun with the huge recoil from the original Men in black. I remember when I was a kid in that theater and seeing Will Smith knocking himself about 20 feet back trying to take down the bug. Great scene, great gun.

  2. NJScorpio

    First, gotta agree with the M41A from Aliens. Just that sound is so amazing. Combine that with the screech of the Aliens being hit, and it’s amazing!

    Other than what is on the list above…

    Castor Troy’s gold Springfield Armory M1911-A1s from Face/Off.

  3. The eponymous firearm from Winchester ’73. Terrific film, terrific McGuffin.

    It’s not nearly as iconic as those mentioned above, but I was always partial to the gristle gun that shoots teeth in eXistenZ.

  4. BPD7

    I absolutely loved Dirty Harry’s .44 magnum.
    Love Charles Broson’s Wilde gun in DW3.
    I liked the Desert Eagles in Hitman the movie.

    And the machine gun at the end of Scarface used by Tony Montana

  5. Matt

    The most recognizable is probably the M41A Pulse Rifle from Aliens… But my personal favourite is RoboCop’s fully automatic Auto 9 sidearm.

  6. Signia76

    My pick was that thing in Predator too! I laugh my ass off when he starts mowing down trees with it.

  7. Scott H

    The mini gun Arnold uses to push the cops back in Terminator2 is my favorite. Any time I use a weed eater, I imagine Im mowing down weeds with the mini gun. Another favorite of mine is the M56 Smart Gun from Aliens that had a cool sound to it when fired, and you can’t forget when Ripley makes the M41A even more bad ass when she duct tapes a flame thrower to it. Oh also any of the creative weapons used in the Despicable Me movies.

  8. Ulises from Mexico

    The Death Star from SW, you can destroy a planet with that thing… Well that’s not a gun, I like the gun that Tony Montana uses in his final moments. Say Hello To My Little Friend!

  9. John Rambo firing the M60 or M242(??) gun like it’s a regular M4 or something. The gun he fires was meant to be vehicle or turret mounted. You might ask Which Rambo movie – Did he not fire a big on in First Blood, First Blood 2 and the remake titled Rambo?

  10. EM

    Han’s blaster is what I thought of immediately upon seeing the headline, and it’s what I keep coming back to. Among its many virtues: it’s fast enough to zap Greedo before that Rodian runt has a chance to fire—no two ways about it!

  11. Robocop one should have been on there.

    How about “Say hello to my lil friend”

    Blades (vamp movie) gun was bad ass too.

    Mmmm Ghostbusters? Does that count as a gun? It should if starwars blasters do.

    Will Smith little gun in men in black?

    James Bond handy PP7? I know it by the N64 name! lol.

  12. Lord Bowler

    For Sci-Fi guns, I’d go with the Zat’Nik’a’Tel or ZAT gun for short from Stargate SG-1.

    Second, would be Wynona, John Crichton’s side-arm in Farscape. Best line: “Don’t move! Or I’ll fill you full of…little yellow bolts of light!”

    Or, The Lawgiver!

    For real guns, I’d second the Winchester ’73 from the movie of the same name.

    Second, the rifle used in Quigley, Down Under by Selleck.

  13. Jason

    all of these are fine choices but I want an Official Red Ryder carbine-action two-hundred-shot range model air rifle!

  14. Pedram

    If they ever make a Gears of War movie, that gun will be my pick. A gun with a chainsaw on it? Hell yeah!

    It even combines Ash’s two iconic weapons into one.

  15. Sam

    Johnny Depp Machine gun in Dillinger. There is no mistaking the wonderful sound and he fight off G-Men.

  16. Jay Perry

    Hands down the M41A pulse rifle…just thinking about that sound is giving me goosebumps. I would like to also put in an honorable mention for the M56 Smart Gun from Aliens. The whole steady cam (steady rifle?) system straped to this hulking mass of weaponry was awesome. The muzzle flash was just plain epic. Having it strapped to one of the best badasses in movie history didn’t hurt either!

    Side note: Ol’Painless didn’t hit Predator ;-)