February 24, 2021
1. Beretta Model 92F
“Lethal Weapon” (1987)
Before polymer-framed, striker-fired 9mms took over the marketplace, there was the Beretta Model 92F, a staple of law enforcement and the U.S. military (as the M9). It was also the tool of Mel Gibson’s Martin Riggs character in all installments of the Lethal Weapon series. The 16-round capacity was used to its full potential to hose down a huge number of bad guys. And, besides the fact that the M92/M9 was the current service pistol at the time, the film did a lot to increase the sales appeal of the 92F.
Caption 1-2: Beretta’s Model 92F was the gun of choice for Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon.
2. Colt Walker Model 1847
“Lonesome Dove” (1989)
As Gus McRae, Robert Duvall was given the task of lugging a .44 caliber Colt Walker Model 1847 throughout all episodes of this classic Western series. With it, he shot bottles out of the air and slapped some manners into an exceptionally rude bartender. Pretty much the most potent sidearm of its era, the Walker weighed an imposing 4.5 pounds and sported a nine-inch barrel, which obviously kept it out of the frontier concealed-carry category.
Caption 3-4: “Lonesome Dove’s” Colt Walker Model 1847: Pure power as either a club or a handgun.
3. Smith & Wesson No. 3 Schofield
Clint Eastwood as William Munny and his partner “The Schofield Kid” both made use of S&W’s groundbreaking top-break revolver in the Academy Award-winning classic. The Schofield Kid used it to extinguish a baddie in an outhouse. Munny used it to take out Sheriff Little Bill (played by Gene Hackman) and assorted deputies in a climactic shootout. Although Colt Peacemakers were featured prominently in the film, lesser lights such as the Schofield and the Starr Model 1858 double-action .44 put in major supporting roles.
Caption 5-6: The Schofield finally gets its due as a frontier classic in “Unforgiven.”
4. Smith & Wesson Model 40 Centennial
“Pulp Fiction” (1994)
Although Quentin Tarantino’s vastly influential gangster epic featured semiauto pistols galore, there was a definite nod toward old-school artillery. S&W’s J-Frame M40 Centennial was front and center in the diner holdup scene featuring the hysterically dangerous Amanda Plummer as Honey Bunny. The Smith’s ultra distinctive “hammerless” profile is easily recognizable and ultra menacing up until the point both Plummer and her boyfriend (Tim Roth) are talked out of further mayhem by an ultra-cool Samuel Jackson.
Caption 7-8: Smith & Wesson’s coolest J-Frame, the Model 40 Centennial, was wielded by Amanda Plummer’s character in “Pulp Fiction.”
5. Ruger Mk II
This Sylvester Stallone/Antonio Banderas vehicle was one of the first action movies I can recall where suppressed noise signatures were more or less believable. Why? Because the pistols in question were chambered to .22 Long Rifle. Prior to that it seemed that Hollywood employed large caliber suppressed centerfires that made about as much noise as a mouse breaking wind. These, however, were Ruger Mk IIs, used by both principals as they tried to outmaneuver and eliminate each other.
Caption 8-9: Ruger’s suppressed Mk II .22 auto gets its due as a discreet assassin’s tool in “Assassins.”
6. Howdah Pistol
“Ghost and the Darkness” (1996)
This big-budget tale of the Tsavo man-eating lions featured several rifles, and one humongous double-barreled Howdah pistol wielded by Michael Douglas as the fictional white hunter Charles Remington. Howdah pistols were employed as a last-ditch defensive tool for when a tiger managed to climb aboard an elephant to get into the “howdah” or basket to settle up with the hunter within. The pistols were of large caliber—often .577 Snider—for obvious reasons. Although a visually arresting prop in the movie, it was usually Val Kilmer’s character (Col. John Henry Patterson) who ultimately dispatched the lions with a sporterized .303 Enfield.
Caption 10-11: Michael Douglas introduces the Howdah pistol to movie fans in this dramatization of Africa’s Tsavo man-eaters reign of terror in “Ghost and the Darkness.”
“Saving Private Ryan” (1998)
Steven Spielberg’s World War II epic featured the usual array of period weaponry: M1s, Thompson SMGs, BARs, MP-40s, MG-42s and KAR-98ks. But to many fans the most stunning sequence was when Tom Hanks’ character, Capt. Miller, although mortally wounded, fires his .45 ACP 1911A1 at an advancing German tank. The tank explodes, a result of Allied planes coming in to provide “nick of time” support for Hanks’ beleaguered squad. Dramatic as all get-out, and a fitting coda to the final action sequence of this groundbreaking film.
Caption 12-13: Tom Hanks uses a 1911A1 for his last-ditch defense in “Saving Private Ryan.”
8. S&W Model 627
“Blood Work” (2002)
Those who normally associate any Clint Eastwood character with a Smith & Wesson Model 29 .44 Magnum, a Colt Single Action Army or an 1851 Colt Navy were in for a surprise update here. As retired FBI agent Terry McCaleb, Eastwood packs an N-frame Smith & Wesson Performance Center eight-shot .357 Model 627 featuring a 2.5-inch barrel. He uses it to ultimately find and terminate the seemingly friendly bad guy played by an excellent Jeff Daniels.
Caption 14-15: In “Blood Work,” Clint Eastwood switches things up with a Smith & Wesson Model 627.
9. HK USP .45 ACP
It’s fairly obvious that Tom Cruise received professional instruction in preparation for his role as a hired killer in this suspense movie, as his impressive gun-handling skills with an HK USP are on full display here. With it, he “double and triple taps” an array of victims, while forcing cabbie Jamie Fox to chauffer him around nighttime LA to fulfill his contracts.
Caption 16-17: Tom Cruise plays against type as a baddie using an HK USP in “Collateral.”
10. Colt Python
“The Departed” (2008)
Colt’s classic .357—here in 2.5-inch trim—is still a visual showstopper as shown in this Martin Scorcese crime extravaganza. It’s an A-list packed suspenser featuring Jack Nicholson, Leonardo de Caprio, Matt Damon, Alec Baldwin, Vera Farmiga and Martin Sheen. The Python is carried by Nicholson’s right-hand man, Mr. French, played with chilling understatement by Ray Winstone. The Python is featured in Winstone’s suicide scene, which comes with shocking suddenness. When it comes to sheer visual “handgunny” impact, you still can’t beat a Python, particularly a short barreled, stainless (or nickeled) one.
Caption 18-19: There’s nothing like a short-barreled Colt Python, as “The Departed” proves.
11. Walther P99
“Casino Royale” (2006)
This slam-bang installment of the James Bond series saw a new Bond, Daniel Craig, using a different Walther than the PPK that served as a linchpin in the series going back to 1962’s Dr. No. Actually, the P99 had premiered as the official Bond Gun in a previous installment, 1997’s Tomorrow Never Dies. The P99, of course, was a heftier, more potent item chambered to 9mm Luger and featured a 17-round capacity. How Craig managed to retain the gun without losing it through the most exhaustive and acrobatic foot-chase opening sequence in franchise history is indeed a cinematic mystery. The P99, as groundbreakingly good as it was, was discontinued.
Caption 20-21: James Bond ups the caliber ante with a 9mm Walther P99 in “Casino Royale.”
12. Colt Pocket Hammerless M1903
“Public Enemies” (2009)
Reaching for this .32 pocket pistol is what prompted FBI agents to ensure that John Dillinger’s movie date at Chicago’s Biograph Theater would be his last. Throughout the movie, Johnny Depp, as Dillinger, used Thompson submachine guns and 1911s, but the little Colt was his choice for an inconspicuous concealed-carry piece for social occasions. Side note: This classic Colt pocket pistol was also featured in Patton, with George C. Scott in the title role (1970), and in This Gun for Hire with Alan Ladd (1942).
Caption 22-23: In “Public Enemies” John Dillinger opts for a Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammerless.
13. Walther PPK
What goes around, comes around. And that’s certainly the case with the return to stardom of the Walther PPK in this James Bond installment, with Daniel Craig again in the title role. In the Ian Fleming novels, as well as a bevy of Bond films with Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan, the PPK was as reflexively associated with the title character as the Colt Single Action Army was with John Wayne in innumerable Westerns. It’s never clear in each instance whether Bond’s PPK was chambered in .32 or .380 ACP, although old-school purists would, no doubt, like to believe .32 ACP is the preferred caliber!
Caption 24-25: James Bond returns to the Walther PPK in “Skyfall.”
14. SIG P226
“Jason Bourne” (2016)
Matt Damon’s memory-challenged CIA operative made heavy use of SIG’s P226 in this installment of the Jason Bourne series. The SIG was a thoroughly believable choice of primary hardware, thanks to its employment by the military and countless government, special ops units, and law enforcement agencies. Considered one of the finest 9mm pistols made, the P226 appears to be the sidearm of Damon’s fellow agents—and opponents as well.
Caption 26-27: Jason Bourne relies on a staple sidearm, SIG’s P226, in “Jason Bourne.”
15. Kimber Warrior 1911
“John Wick Chapter 2” (2017)
As an ultra-efficient dispenser of mayhem, Keanu Reeves’ John Wick character shoots his way through this one using a fairly democratic assortment of Glocks, HKs and a Benelli M4 shotgun. However, for his final shootout, he uses a Kimber Warrior 1911 .45 ACP—plus a single magazine—given to him by Laurence Fishburne’s character, the Bowery King. And yes, Wick prevails. But just barely.
Caption 28-29: The Kimber Warrior 1911 takes center stage in a final “John Wick” fight.
16. Colt Single Action Army .45
For accuracy in its portrayal of legendary Texas lawman Frank Hamer, this movie is head and shoulders above 1967’s Bonnie and Clyde. As Hamer, Kevin Costner went on an extraordinarily entertaining gun-buying spree at a local gun shop which included Thompsons, Browning Automatic Rifles, Winchester Model 94s, 1917 Smith & Wessons and enough ammo to seriously stress the suspension of his Ford V8. However, what he packed and practiced with was a replica of Hamer’s favorite iron: a Colt Single Action Army called “Old Lucky.” The scene where he uses it to shoot at tossed bottles as a trio of awestruck boys look on is one of the film’s highlights.
Caption 30-31: Frank Hamer’s signature shooting iron: “Old Lucky” was lucky indeed for this legendary Texas lawman in “Highwaymen.”