Hollywood's Weirdest Guns

Prop guns are props in the sense that, yes, they’re being used as a supplemental object in a film. They’re very much not props in the sense that they are totally real firearms. But yes, they do use blanks on screen. While most blank firing adapters significantly alter the aesthetics of the gun, Hollywood prop masters manifest some extra-fancy internal blank firing adapters for easy cinema viewing. 

And, weirdly, while California is notoriously anti-gun, Hollywood owns over 16,000 guns purely for movie-making. The most famous Hollywood armorer is Independent Studio Services (ISS), who owns over 15,000 live firearms (in California!!) according to their site. They get around the state’s strict gun laws with, basically, a permit that says “yeah guns are fine ONLY if they’re for movies.” So there’s that. 

Needless to say, Hollywood houses some of the weirdest and most unique weapons we’ve ever seen. Keep reading to see our favorite top 10.

10.  Planet Terror / Leg Machine Gun

Director Robert Rodriguez was totally down with replacing Cherry Darling’s (Rose McGowan) severed leg with a machine gun. You know, to give her a little “oomph” since she’s missing a limb. We’re not sure how it’s fired (presumably by mind control). But hey, if there’s no trigger, you don’t have to keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to fire.

9. Dirty Harry / .44 Magnum Smith & Wesson Model 29

Arguably one of the most famous guns solely from the movie Dirty Harry. Young San Francisco police inspector, Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood), comfortably conceals a three pound .44 Magnum Smith & Wesson Model 29 for the duration of the film. 

The gun’s popularity skyrocketed after the film debuted. Some Model 29 revolvers sold for triple the price. An 8 ⅜ inch and three 6 ½ inch Model 29s were produced for Dirty Harry, one of which now lives at the NRA Museum  — serial number #S20691.

8. The Man With The Golden Gun / The Golden Gun

The Golden Gun first appeared in Ian Fleming’s novel, The Man With The Golden Gun. There, Fleming writes of a gold-plated .45 caliber revolver. In the film, it’s increasingly dramatized (hello, Hollywood!) as a custom-built, single-shot pistol entirely made of gold. Because, um, apparently California isn’t aware that gold is incredibly soft and could never be used for anything structural. Oh, and it disassembles into four components to evade security: a pen, a lighter, a cigarette case, and a cufflink (we guess the cufflink is the firing pin?)

This oddly specific (and super non-functional) golden gun shoots a single custom-made 4.2-millimeter 23 carat gold bullet (again with the softness?). By holding one bullet, the gun depends strictly on the precision of the assassin. We just have one question — is the single bullet chambered?

7. Men In Black / The Noisy Cricket

This tiny, totally false firearm debuts in Men In Black. Jay (Will Smith) is reluctant to carry such a small defense handgun. Annoyed, he compares it to his counterpart’s large Series 4 De-Atomizer, saying “he’s going to break the damn thing.” And, while the recoil is a little extreme, at least Hollywood recognizes backpressure. Regardless, the Noisy Cricket does end one debate: size doesn’t matter.

6. Predator / Minigun

Unlike most on this list, the Minigun is a very real firearm, although rarely held in the shooter’s hands. And… honestly, a lot of functional aspects were changed for filming. So, no, it’s not very real — it’s kind of real. 

This movie popularized the infamous Arnold Schwarzenegger, in part for his use of this minigun-wielding power. The M134 Minigun (real life version) is a 7.62x511mm Nato six-barrel rotary machine gun with a sustained rate of fire of 2,000 to 6,000 rounds per minute. Hold up, let us do the math for you. At $0.20 per round, that’s about $400 to $1,200 every sixty seconds. We guess you’d need to be, like, a governor of California or something to afford those ammo prices. 

5. Aliens / M41A Pulse Rifle

The M41A Pulse Rifle featured in Aliens is also, weirdly, kind of real. That is, after the movie’s launch, gun aficionados and sci-fi fans have made their own versions of the combo-pulse rifle and grenade launchers. With time and money, almost anything is possible. 

Prop guns were created with M1A1 Thompson and fitted with a cut-down Remington 870 shotgun, with the heat shield and foregrip from a Franchi SPAS-12, plus a few extra elements.

4. District 9 / The ARC Gun

The ARC Gun (the Mulcher) is an alien weapon that fires electricity. And it only functions in the hands of an alien. Due to its insanely high electric charge, one hit from the firearm causes the target to explode. Hollywood sure is all about these no-bullets-needed firearms. We can’t blame them, really. No ammo costs? Count us in.

3. Inception / The Suppressed Beretta PX4

This gun isn’t that ridiculous, but we couldn’t let the article fly by without including a silenced firearm. And, yes, we know silencers don’t silence firearms — but Hollywood either doesn’t get the picture or simply doesn’t care. 

Inception grossed over $828 million worldwide — becoming the fourth-highest grossing film of 2010. And for good reason. The film was shot on, well, literal film, an uncommon practice after the introduction of digital cameras. Thematic elements, nonlinear storytelling, and abstract ideas (like the subconscious mind) drew in a wide crowd. But, ok, back to the silencer (cue eye roll).

Dom Cobb’s (Leonardo Di Caprio) suppressed Beretta Px4 supports his stealth mission to squelch the bad guys from his team’s mission. This 9mm handgun barely whispers as Cobb assassinates one after the next. Handguns are loud. Like, really loud. Even a suppressed 9mm pistol is around 126 dB — a sound that nestles on the decibel scale between thunder and a jackhammer striking concrete. So, yeah, in real life, Cobb would have efficiently gotten one bad guy before the rest of them ganged up on him. Quickly. But we’ll just leave it at that. We can’t destroy an all-time-favorite Christopher Nolan film for readers.

2. Minority Report / Sonic Gun

This shotgun-type weapon fires explosive sound concussions. It doesn’t necessarily kill its intended target, but like a shotgun, it’s got a spread and can take down a crowd of people with just one shot.

We’ve got questions: What does ammo cost and where do you buy it? How effective is a silencer on a sonic gun? If it doesn’t fire a bullet, is it technically a gun? If so, do we need to stock 4473s for it, or does it have its own government form?

1. The Fifth Element / The ZF1

So. Ridiculous. SO ridiculous. So ridiculous it’s simply amazing. We’re just stunned by the engineering (however falsified) that must have gone into generating a weapon that can:

  • Shoot exactly into the same target as the previous round with only the press of a button
  • Shoot small yellow rockets that operate like grenades
  • Fire arrowheads that either explode or release poisonous gas
  • Launch nets to capture villains non-fatality
  • Throw flames at a short range
  • Generate freezing powers high enough to stop opponents stone cold


This ridiculously amazing weapon was built around an AKS-74U carbine. And it’s entirely not practical, even for production. Each individual function of the ZF-1 is actually a separate prop which has only that single function. And the folded down “pod” version? Also a totally different prop. 

We’re just curious if, hypothetically, we could make one of these — how would ATF classify it and what’s the wait time?

Also, what is with Hollywood’s trigger control?