Guys who really like guns also tend to like movies, particularly movies with gunplay in them. No big surprise. Any movie with gunplay and action gets attention from the gun community, but there are some movies that hold a special place in serious gun enthusiasts’ hearts. These are “Gun Guy Movies”. What sets them apart from other action movies is a nebulous combination of things that have come together to be just right.
The film has to have gun action in it of course, but it is more than that. The actors in the film have to show a level of gun-handling competence that is realistic. I don’t mean how good a shot they are, though that is part of it. Anyone who is around weapons all of the time knows how you handle them. The “Manual Of Arms” is ingrained in them. How to move around other people with them safely, but with the relaxed body language of someone who knows what they are doing. Appearing competent, confident, but not cavalier.
Then there are the guns themselves. They have to be something that exists in the real world, and it has to be used in a realistic way. They can be rare or cutting-edge weapons, they can be something vintage or classic, but realistic use is the key. There are a few exceptions to this, if the movie is just plain cool enough or so bad-ass it just defies all party-pooping. Hard Boiled, the John Woo classic, is an example.
Surprisingly being a war movie does not automatically put a film into this category. So let’s look at a few of the movies that are pretty much universally loved by the gun community. Of course, we have to start with a leader in this field – Michael Mann. Mann knows how to make a movie that will be embraced by the gun community. To quote the IMDb:
“Mann brought to this film a level of attention to detail, especially in firearms, rarely seen in Hollywood productions at the time.”
Thief is one of Mann’s earliest films and it is a classic in its own right. It has superb gunplay. James Caan plays the main character, an ultra-competent thief who takes down the toughest scores. In the film, Caan displays state-of-the-art tactics for that time period. His gun handling is excellent thanks to Mann’s attention to detail. The guns are made by a very famous custom pistolsmith named Jim Hoag. The movie portrays a very realistic shoot-out with the character reloading and handling his firearms in a realistic manner while wounded.
As they would say over at TV Tropes, this movie could be the trope codifier. Mann outdid himself with this one. All the gunplay in this movie is exceptionally realistic.
Michael Mann films are so high up any gun guy’s list, due to firearms realism, that this entire article could be just his work. Collateral is another great example, if just for the “Is that my briefcase?” scene. It was the same on TV for Mann. Miami Vice is the definitive gun guy TV show. They showcased the ultra-valuable Bren 10 handgun and its 10mm round, carried by Don Johnson in the first few seasons. The Galco shoulder holster he wore is now known as the “Miami Classic” due to the show.
What really brought Miami Vice to the attention of shooters was The Hitlist, an episode from season 1. A very famous competition shooter was hired to play the hitman in the episode, and you get to see their real-world speed and skill right from the start.
The Way of The Gun
This was the first film directed by Christopher McQuarrie, and who knew he had it in him? It is a crime thriller with a dynamite final shootout. It has one sketchy part, but that’s easy to overlook as the final gunfight has tactics, reloading, and excellent gun handling, all on point.
Quigley Down Under
A classic western starring Tom Selleck. Quigley is a cowboy who responds to a job offer down in Australia. Turns out it wasn’t for shooting dingoes though, it is for shooting the local indigenous population. He doesn’t like that idea and so he butts heads with the people behind it. This one is noteworthy because Quigley famously used an 1874 Sharps long-range single-shot rifle. All of his shooting exploits are realistic and it has some great scenes.
From the start, this movie calls out to gun guys. Keanu wakes up, and the first thing he does is make sure his sidearm is still loaded. Then he vomits. Then he goes on to clean his gun for the day ahead. The movie has excellent gunplay, with weapons that are famous for their use by the LAPD SWAT teams and SIS squads. An all-around, great, dirty cop thriller that I highly recommend.
Not the remake, but of course the original is on the list. John Milius is a well-known member of the gun community and knows what he is doing. Set in the 80s, the USSR invades the US and a group of high school kids takes to the mountains to fight an unconventional war against the dirty commies. The high concept is the draw on this one as much as the guns. This was every boy’s daydream back in the 1980s, or it was for everyone I knew. The guns themselves are an impressive array of mostly US guns mocked up to look like Soviet weapons. This is impressive because, at the time, it was incredibly difficult to buy Combloc weapons. Seeing so many AK47 variants was a treat.
I could go on forever as this is my sweet spot, but I’m sure this article has a very niche audience already.
This article is recreated from our old site.