Guns have featured prominently in movies since cinema began. They first appeared on screen as early as 1894, when Editon Studios produced silent film clips of shooting exhibitions by real-life legendary sharpshooters Annie Oakley and Buffalo Bill Cody.
Since then, firearms have appeared in thousands upon thousands of films in numerous genres – Westerns, mysteries, spy films, war movies, family dramas, comedies, and more. Sometimes, there’s even a gun in the title. We’ve had “The Fastest Gun Alive,” “The Man with the Golden Gun,” “The Guns of Navarone,” “Young Gun,” “Johnny Got His Gun,” “The Naked Gun,” and of course “Top Gun” (though that title didn’t refer to guns per se) – among countless others. (These are the most profitable action movies of all time.)
To assemble a list of iconic movie guns, 24/7 Tempo consulted the “Best Movie Gun” page created by fandom_cultures for IMDb, an online movie and TV database owned by Amazon, then cross-referenced the information with several firearms and fandom sites. The IMDb list includes guns from movies made through the end of 2016. There are only 33 entries but 34 guns because two different ones appear in the same movie.
Some of these weapons are in scenes that are truly memorable. Who can forget Indiana Jones proving with his Smith & Wesson M1917 why you shouldn’t bring a sword to a gunfight, or Dirty Harry Callahan asking a punk to gauge his chances of survival in the face of an S&W Model 29 Magnum?
Some of these iconic guns are classics, like the aforementioned Smith & Wessons and the Colt AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. Others are futuristic creations, like Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg’s devastating ZF-1 from “The Fifth Element” or the sort-of gun Proton Pack wielded by the Ghosbusters.
Then there are those that aren’t real but could be: James Bond’s foe, Francisco Scaramanga’s one-shot pistol made of solid gold in (what else?) in “The Man with the Golden Gun” and would-be presidential assassin Mitch Leary’s homemade two-shot plastic resin pistol in “In the Line of Fire.” (See where this film – and “Dirty Harry” – place in our list of Clint Eastwood movies ranked worst to best.)
Real or fictional, the most iconic movie guns play important parts in their respective films, lending their unique traits to both character and plot.
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