Firearms have played a central role in motion pictures since the production of some of the earliest silent films. Whether they were used in westerns, war movies or crime stories, firearms have often served memorable and prominent positions in some of the popular films ever made. Ranking the significance of the most iconic movie guns was a tremendously difficult and extremely subjective task. Each of the firearms featured here influenced the consumer firearm market, inspired the use of similar firearms in other films, and became part of popular culture. In a way, each of these movie guns eventually became more important than the films in which they appeared.
Harry Callahan’s Smith & Wesson Model 29
When Clint Eastwood hit the silver screen in 1971 as Detective Harry Callahan, he carried with him a very special sidearm. The gun in question was a Smith & Wesson Model 29 44 Magnum. The Model 29 was first built in 1955 and was released to the shooting public in early 1956. Factory ammunition, originally produced by Remington, propelled a 240-grain bullet at nearly 1,200 feet per second. Described as “the most powerful handgun in the world” by Callahan in the film, the 44 Magnum’s ballistics were groundbreaking for that era. Callahan uses the Model 29 to great effect as he hunts criminals on the streets of San Francisco, complimenting his great shooting with some of the most famous lines ever uttered on screen. Smith & Wesson may have developed the 44 Magnum, but Dirty Harry made it famous.
James Bond’s Walther PPK
007 has used a variety of handguns in the 24 Bond films that have been released since 1962 but the most prominent and celebrated of them has been the 7.65mm Walther PPK, the handgun that Bond also carries in the Ian Fleming novels that gave life to his character. Ironically, the Walther that is described as a PPK and carried by Sean Connery in the first Bond film, Dr. No, is actually the larger PP model. PP stands for “police pistol” and the PPK, designed for detective use, is the smallest of the PP series. Though Bond appeared to have graduated to the 9mm Walther P99 in Tomorrow Never Dies, he was back to using the PPK in Spectre, the latest movie in the James Bond franchise.
Matthew Quigley’s 1874 Sharps Rifle
Quigley Down Under starred Tom Selleck but the Sharps rifle carried by Selleck’s character Matthew Quigley nearly stole the show in the minds of many firearms enthusiasts. In the 1990 film, Quigley is a Wyoming cowboy and sharpshooter who was hired by the story’s villain due to his long-range shooting skills. Quigley performs some amazing feats of marksmanship using the single-shot rifle, which was produced by the Shiloh Sharps company in Big Timber, Montana. Three rifles were built for production, each of them chambered in 45-110 with heavy 34-inch octagonal barrels. Though some of the long-range shooting that appears in the film may seem unrealistic for the era, real-life buffalo hunter and scout Billy Dixon killed a Comanche warrior at the Second Battle of Adobe Walls in 1874 at a range of 1,538 yards. Like Quigley, Dixon reportedly used a Sharps rifle to make the shot.
Rooster Cogburn’s 1892 Winchester Saddle Ring Carbine
There are almost too many western movies featuring too many great guns to choose from but it’s difficult to go wrong with the 1969 John Wayne classic, True Grit. Wayne plays Marshall Rooster Cogburn, a lawman who embarks on a mission of vengeance with a young woman at his side. Cogburn carries the ubiquitous Colt Single Action Army revolver on his hip but his 44-40 Winchester 1892 Saddle Ring Carbine is the rifle that makes the film, thanks to the oversize lever loop that allows him to cock and fire it with one hand. These guns were equipped with a ten-round tubular magazine and could be fired as fast as the shooter could cycle the action.
Josey Wales’ Colt 1872 Gatling Gun
The Outlaw Josey Wales, which Clint Eastwood both directed and stared in, is full of iconic firearms of the Civil War era and beyond. Eastwood plays a capable confederate veteran trying to escape capture in the post war frontier, resulting in gunfights galore. One of the most memorable and unique firearms in the film is a Colt 1872 Gatling Gun chambered in 44 Rimfire that is used to dispatch a large number of government troops in short order. Never mind that this exact model wouldn’t have existed during the time period in which the movie was set, the scene is unforgettable.
More Info: forbes.com