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Hollywood spends a lot of money training actors to look like they know what they’re doing with a gun. That said, plot and audience excitement trumps authenticity in many if not most cases. Trigger finger discipline? Not dramatic enough! So what’s the most believable gun movie you’ve ever seen? If you’re in the mood, what’s the least believable gun movie you’ve seen?


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    • I was going to post the same for John Wick, though I’d nominate Wanted for the the least believable: moving the firearm while firing while the bullet is in the barrel to curve the shot? Really Hollywood? LOL.

      • What, like shooting around corners? Really? I saw a guy do that with a golf ball once (he was a pro), and I was dazzled. Claiming someone could do it with a bullet is amazingly stupid.

    • I’m sorry folks. Really. I like <i.John Wick as a fantasy action flick. I do. It’s a good one.

      Realistic? Are you effing kidding me? Jerry Miculek and (new) James Bond somehow had a child, with ice in his veins who never misses? Seriously?

      Fun? Yes. Realistic? Try 1998’s Ronin….

    • John Wick 2

      Both John and all of the bad guys were seen constantly exchanging their empty magazines for full ones. John did a few New York reloads by placing fully loaded guns along his planned escape route.

      Quite a change from the never-empty guns of Hollywood..

  1. London Has Fallen
    Extremely far fetched plot, but the firearms handling was very realistic. Also, the martial arts scenes were mostly very accurate.
    Guess they paid good to get good firearm/martial arts people involved with the movie.

    • Most credible: 2010 version of True Grit, starring Halle Seinfeld and Jeff Bridges.

      Least credible: Any Sylvester Stallone Rambo film.

    • WOTG is a VERY good movie for gun-handling!!

      Also, most of Steven Segal’s early movies showed very good gun-handling (from him at least). He was doing stuff that’s common practice today, but wasn’t in the late 80’s-early 90’s. He knew his Gun-Fu from pretty early on.

    • Yes, Heat is in the top tier for realistic gun handling. Pretty much any work of Michael Mann’s where there’s “gunplay” is done with exacting detail. Just look at the original Miami Vice.

      And I do agree, John Wick (and by all accounts the forthcoming sequel) have excellent firearms handiwork. I’d also put Ronin up there as well.

      • I like anything by Michael Mann. However, there is a scene in Last of the Mohicans, during the siege of Fort William Henry, where Hawkeye shoots down a series of enemy Indians as they chase a messenger sent to get reinforcements. Between the necessary lead and the variability of hand made firearms, it’s beyond credible although cool to watch.

      • If any of you are old enough to remember Tom Mix, Lash LaRue, Bill Boyd, and Line Ranger, the good guy could shoot the gun from the bad guy’s hand every time.

        A made for TV film, The Shooter, had some fantasy shots performed by a fictitious Gunny Sgt…..great for movies but no way in real life.

        • Come on, pay attention. It’s the *Lone* Ranger, there are zillions of people out there now who don’t know there was no “Line” Ranger.

  2. Lord of War… Everybody in the movie acted just like what they were supposed to be, a borderline firearms illiterate assclown.

    • Lord of War is one of my favorite films because the SJW types Hollywood usually pushes us to side with either die or get told to fvck off while reality laughs in their faces. Nick Cage isn’t even an actor I enjoy watching, and he absolutely nailed the role.

    • Lord of War was wonderful. Having traveled to far away places to shoot people and break things, I have seen the miracle that is life in some of the most picturesque market/bazaar free fire zones. Not uncommon to see a crate of rifles opened up and a salesman occasionally firing rounds in the air. Lord Of War gave a glimpse in to how things work.

  3. Most: probably Act of Valor because the cast had active duty SEALs who obviously had their shit wired tight, and they used live rounds. Honorable mention goes to John Milius’ work; Rough Riders, the original Red Dawn.

    Edit: John Wick, DUH.

    Least: I don’t even remember the title, but there was some WW2 movie from the 60’s. Filmed in Spain or Portugal because the “American” GI’s carried Spanish Cetme rifles. It was just plain silly looking.

    “Company of Heroes” on Netflix was godawful too. Protagonist carried a Gewehr 43 that had a weaver scope Bubba mounted. He manually racked the bolt after each shot. I lost it at the semi auto K98k complete with muzzle flash made in MS Paint.

  4. I watched Black Hawk Down recently, and that looked pretty realistic.
    Guns didn’t click when they raised them.
    None of the M-16s and M-9s made the generic shotgun sound when loading.
    People got shot and didn’t fly across a room, or die instantly (except the headshots).
    Guns ran out of ammo.
    Gunshots caused hearing loss.
    Ejected brass was hot.
    Mike Durant’s MP-5 jumped as he shot it on full auto one-handed.

    • The historical accuracy of the firearms in the Mummy is off the charts. Handling is good.

      My favorite is Collateral.

      Most ridiculous is Last Man Standing with Bruce Willis.

        • Yeap. Hands up in front (“defensive” position), wait till the perp gets closer (to hold his hand/ gun in a safe direction while administering needed lead), point (no need to aim) and double tap the immediate threat, attend to the other threat without further delay. So far, so good but that last head shot (that looks cinematic and “cool”) in a DGU will cost you thousands in legal defense and 10 to 15 years in prison. Just saying.

        • Point taken, but Vincent wasn’t approaching the situation from a DGU perspective. Also, he’d done a few other things to earn him some time already, so avoiding legal consequences were not exactly top of mind for him.

        • “thousands in legal defense and 10 to 15 years in prison”

          LOL. VIncent was a contract assassin. At that point in the movie he had already murdered at least one, maybe two people, on just this one hit, which likely isn’t his first by a long shot.

          It also wasn’t a DGU. He confronted, escalated, and killed those two to get his case back. Legal costs and prison time aren’t even in his crosscheck.

  5. I’d say probably John Wick, Act of Valor or a lot of stuff directed by Michael Mann like Heat and Collateral. Most movies involving guns are pretty unrealistic though, so not sure if I would qualify them as believable.

    • The Pacific War series on TV based on Eugene B. Sledge’s With the Old Breed at Pelleliu and Okinawa was grim and more than realistic. // Three Amigos had some fantasy shots that made it pure fiction and least credible.

      Chuck Connors in The Rifleman showed absolutely impossible shots from the hip….great for fantasy but not possible in real life.

  6. Modern- Heat, John Wick, Taken (the Croatian bad guy house scene)

    Older- Saving Private Ryan.

    Western- The Long Riders.

    Worst? Geez. Anything with Ahnold. Especially Predator. Just how many rounds did that mini gun fire into the jungle?

    • Saving Private Ryan is “older”? What does that make me?

      No, don’t answer.

      How about the original “True Grit” and “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”?

    • I was surprised I had to get this far down the list to find the movie that first popped into mind. Saving Private Ryan was pretty awesome. So was Fury for that matter.

    • Lone Survivor would be in my least realistic category. Including the scene where they all jump down the rocky side of a hill in their full kit.

      • Their jumping off the cliff wasn’t a gun scene, so your critique doesn’t count. However, I will admit to a certain degree of incredulous disbelief when their scopes and rifles maintained accuracy after those leaps.

        In general, I thought most the gun handling and effects were extremely well done. A sharp comparison between “American” arms– M series– and “Communist” arms– AKs, etc.

        I don’t want to cast aspersions on SEaLS and especially the author, but I did find quite a bit of that movie a little over the top for believeability. Still, those men deserve our respect.

    • I know it’s not about gun handling, but the whole movie lost credibility for me when he rolled down the hill into a rattlesnake. They even had the rattle sound effect.

  7. Best: US Marshalls for hailing the glory of Glock and recognizing the pointlessness of nickel plated sissy pistols

    Worst, but still a lot of fun: Commando and its m16 with infinite ammo cheat code

  8. L. A. Confidential — everyone was competent, but not slick, like they were just keeping their s#it together when the bullets flew. I like that a lot better than well-choreographed gun fu (although that is fun in its own right).

    Saving Private Ryan was also that way. Out of Sight, as well — Jennifer Lopez with an 870!

  9. Definitely Heat. There are so many little details they put in that add realism. The guys press checking their guns before going into a fight, characters bounding between cover during gunfights, the echos you hear reverberating though the streets, the cops shooting controlled pairs while the bank robbers are letting loose with full auto, people actually reloading. They had a scene where the cops were walking down a hallway and one of them kept on racking his shotgun. At first I though it was just more Hollywood gratuitous cocking until he pocketed all the ejected buckshot shells and loaded up with slugs because he was about to breech a door.

    • Racking a shotgun to unload it is not a good way to do that. If you just put a finger in the loading port and press the side where the shell latch (I think it’s called) holds the round in the mag, and the round will pop out in your hand.

  10. There’s a few that come to mind. As mentioned, Saving Private Ryan but also Full Metal Jacket seemed rather realistic.

  11. It has been awhile, but “Heat” with Al Pacino & Robert De Niro.

    The big heist featured AR’s complete with feed ramp & stovepipe issues. I haven’t seen it since it came out. In the plot, maybe they were former abused MILSPEC weapons from the armory.

  12. Worst: True Lies.

    A fun movie but the gun scenes were beyond dumb. The bouncing MAC-10 that magically fires itself, crossed thumbs on a Glock 19, shooting through a van right past the faces of two good guys without causing hearing loss, the list is endless.

    Best: They’ve mostly been mentioned, like Heat, John Wick and Collateral.

    Let me add: The Wild Bunch.

    • “Have you ever killed anybody?” “Well, yeah, but they were all BAD!”
      “I married Rambo!” has to be one of the funniest lines I ever heard in a movie.

    • True Lies is an action movie, but is also a parody of Bond films.

      The gun handling was supposed to be unrealistic. IIRC, they had to do all kinds of mods and rigging to get that subgun to bounce fire down the stairs. Harry is a spy, but knows how to fly a Harrier, rides a convenient horse through a hotel, including a rooftop chase, and fires a bad guy on a missile through a building into a helo.

      They could’ve cast Leslie Nielson in the role, even giving him the same one-liners, and it still would’ve worked.

  13. Cowboy Bebop – always impressed with the firearms realism in this series. They’re never just generic guns, always actual recognizable real guns. Oh cool, Spike’s using a Jericho 941! or Wow, check out that commander 1911! Also the handling, reloading, firing aspects all seem like someone who’s worked with a gun before was on the staff.

  14. Few random thoughts:
    Equilibrium had some of the corniest gun scenes in movies. Starts in 1:43

    Linda Hamilton did the best Sarah Connor, but I thought Emilia Clarke had really good trigger discipline.

    • I started to watch this movie on Netflix about 6 months ago. I couldn’t even get past the first scene where he shoots everyone in the dark. It looked terrible.

  15. Pulp Fiction. Not only does it cover what happens when you hand someone of John Travolta’s intelligence a gun, it also covers SS&S.

    I just need to find someone like Monster Joe.

    Heat get’s an honorable mention for the main shootout. Instead of a soundtrack over it they used the real sound of the blanks. That’s why it sounds better than most movie shootouts.

    • It would have been hillarious to have The Wolf be like “didn’t you guys follow the 4 rules?” Total inside joke, but regardless.

      • Marvin would have preferred if those rules were followed. I’m sure Winston Wolf would have had a very abrasive way of saying it too. Probably with sugar on top. ROFL!

  16. Act of Valor has got to be the most realistic as someone mentioned. Real SEALs played the parts and were asked to make all the action as realistic as possible. Watching that feels more like you are right there in the mission than watching it on a screen.
    Saving Private Ryan is another good one.

  17. This is the fiftieth time you’ve asked this question, and for the fiftieth time it’s “Stop, or My Mom Will Shoot!”

    • Tombstone was an awesome movie. But realistic? The double barrel shotgun was over done and it’s been a bit I believe they had a few scenes where they had 6 or more shots in. The true cowboys carried 5.

  18. Can’t believe I’m the only one to mention: Hard Target (Van Damme movie, forgive me) but reloading and running out of ammo was specifically written into the choreography. Gotta love that kind of attention to detail.

    • Uggh, 45-70 or not I have a hard time believing that a snake’s head will explode when shot like that. That said Mythbusters me all you want on it.

      You remember Next of Kin at all? Been ages since I’ve seen that either.

  19. Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead remake was something else. Not sure if it was the realest or the most unreal; you decide.

    Terminator was a great flick, but watch the police station sequence closely. Arnold is alternately firing a shotgun and a machinegun, and machinegun sounds are tracked over Arnold firing the shotgun.

    • You don’t know that, he was a magical machine from the future, and could carry multiple guns in each hand, probably!

  20. 13 Hours was pretty good.

    “Tears of the Sun” had good ops in it.

    Zero dark Thirty

    Act of Valor

    Worst – Anything John Woo, Mission Impastable

  21. Top Gun. A different kind of gun but the air combat scenes were flown by trained aviators. Can’t get more realistic than that.

  22. You guys watch different movies than I do. No Asylum love in the comments yet?

    For very unrealistic firearms related scenes, try out THREE HEADED SHARK ATTACK or POSEIDON REX as good examples. Bask in the glory of just how bad it can be (the gun handling, I mean).

    There’s another one that was really laughable that I’m drawing a blank on the title. Had something like AR’s firing full auto with close-ups of the ejection ports with no brass coming out.

    Also, I think we watched one recently that had people shooting at a tornado trying to stop it. There are times that I wonder if the people making such movies really think a handgun could do that.

    • I know it wasn’t an AR, but I watched the original “Starship Troopers” the other day and there were definitely scenes with their rifles firing full auto with no brass being ejected.

      • The one I’m thinking of was a really, really and I do mean REALLY low budget bad monster flick. I think the movie may have been a troll, though, and if so, in that meta sense it was well done.

        • Low budget syfy flicks abound with bad gun handling and unrealistic gun use. One of the worst, I don’t know if I ever knew it’s name, was the good guys hunting the monster with break barrel pellet rifles. That had cgi muzzle flashes, poorly done, as they fired semi auto. It was beyond bad.

  23. Jack Reacher was very good. Not a ton of gun play in the movie, but what is is done right. Directed by Zach McQuarrie, same guy who directed Way of the Gun. He should get the guns right- his brother is a SEAL and does his technical consulting.

  24. Worst gun movie I can recall at the moment–because I watched it a week ago–is Jane Got a Gun. Ever seen a Colt Walker loaded with cartridges, and carried in a holster? Or 1851 Navies? (Yes, there were cartridge conversions, but the ones you see close up are not–which hardly explains the cartridges in the belt holster. Redeckilus.

    • Excellent point. Restrepo was a skillful documentary. No actors. Real people. Kudos to the US troopers of the 173d Airborne Brigade.

    • Roger that, ghostrider.
      I remember when Saving Pvt. Ryan came out, there were WW2 veterans in the movie theater that were shaking & crying, and a couple walked out because it was so intense & realistic (who had actually landed on Omaha & Utah).

      Restrepo did the same thing to me; at one point, I had to go outside & chain-smoke until I calmed down enough to finish watching the film. Bomb Patrol Afghanistan is another one that makes my HR go up and squirt a few tears.

      But as for non-documentary realism, I’d have to go with The Pacific and Band of Brothers. Generation: Kill wasn’t that bad either.

      Most unrealistic gunfighting? Wanted & Equilibrium.

  25. Silence of the Lambs

    when Jodie Foster’s character kills Buffalo Bill at the end . . . that was a damn awesome display of revolver use.

  26. This doesn’t fit into the Best/Worst category, just something you kinda notice and then can’t un-notice….

    Stargate (1994) had a scene where there was a bunch of soldiers getting ready to face the enemy. As the camera cuts to each of the soldiers you hear the click-clack of racking a round into the chamber. Basic foley, nothing exciting. And so far nothing to notice except a bunch of soldiers getting their rifles into a ready-to-fire configuration.

    And this is where the entertainment sets in…..

    The soldiers move forward into new positions and take up aim. And as they do, click-clack again.

    Some hand signals, some more movement, and….. as the camera shows each of the soldiers taking up their new position, they each get the click-clack of racking a round.

    Each soldier has racked a round into the chamber three or more times and not a single shot has been fired yet.

    Once you notice things like this in movies, you can’t un-notice them and you start to see this kind of mistake everywhere! Good or Bad Guy draws pistol from holster and you hear the click-clack noise in a lot of television shows, like somehow that is the sound a gun makes when drawn from a holster. Even laser-blasters in some movies make the same click-clack noise when handled.

    And just to be ‘that guy’ that ruins it for everyone… pay attention to any knife or sword being handled in any way… withdraw the katana from its scabbard…. shiiiing. Pull a knife out and run your thumb along the edge… shiiing. Even picking up a sword make a short shiiiing noise. If you were blind you could still tell when any kind of edged weapon was touched or handled in any way because of that shiiing noise.

    • Know what you mean. Once i saw short clip how theyre recording a sound of fight in chinese martial arts movie: guy with piece of cloth is watching movie and waves or stretch the cloth everytime when actor makes sudden move… After that nothing was the same, even Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan. Whenever i hear those sounds i imagine the “cloth man” working.

  27. I don’t have a best/worst list. As mentioned L.A. Confidential was great except Bud White wouldn’t survive being shot a kajillian times. I went and bought a pump shottie after watching the good guys. Arnold in Commando is silly but my favorite for body counts…

    • Bud White lived because Dudley Smith didn’t give him permission to die.

      BIG James Ellroy fan, here.

  28. The Sharknado series deserves an honorable mention….

    But seriously, movies like Act of Valor, Lone Survivor, and American Sniper are some of the best examples of real events that made an effort to provide realistic firearm manipulation.

    Keanu Reeves deserves credit for his role as John Wick too. The videos of his training with Taran Butler for the movies shows he put in some real work to play the role but I wouldn’t consider John Wick as a very good “real world” example.

  29. While not a movie, I love the show ‘The Walking Dead’ on AMC, but it has some seriously unrealistic gun shooting scenes.

    1) In Season 2, Glenn is being driven back and forth on a field to shoot zombies at about 30-40 yards with a shotgun. He’s hitting every one of them in the forehead while driving on a bumpy grass field going about 20 mph, while hanging out a truck window.
    2) Nearly endless supply of shells in shotguns, I swear one of the characters stood shooting Zombies for like 2 minutes straight and only re-loaded his shotgun once or maybe twice (not sure on that one).
    2) Season 3: Close ups of semi auto pistols firing with no slide movement or recoil, and very fake looking muzzle blast as they are fighting into the prison.
    3) Every time someone raises a gun and points it at someone, even a striker fired pistol or an AR-15, it makes a click sound as if they cocked a hammer. But that is the same in nearly every movie or show ever produced. Guns always make a sound when raised.
    4) Rarely does someone shooting a zombie miss the forehead of a zombie, even with a pistol while on the move.
    5) I think early in the first episode Rick tells another cop to turn the safety off his gun, which appeared to be a Glock.
    6) Lots of shooting in close/tight spots, with no apparent discomfort due to the noise (although at one point while in a car Rick does tell the other passengers to cover their ears before he fires).

    That said, Rick is pretty good with his 6″ Colt Python most of the time. At one point he is teaching someone how to handle a firearm and does tell them one of the 4 rules, to keep the finger off the trigger until they are ready to fire. At least there’s that.

  30. John Wick and the Boondock Saints

    Keenu Reeve comes by the screen work honestly. Here he is shooting three gun:

    Saving Private Ryan and Blackhawk Down
    Zulu for pure realism and massive carnage
    “At 100 meters, volley fire…………present!…………!”

    In the early morning hours of February 2, 1968, I was manning an M60 machinegun on the flight line at Lai Kke, Vietnam which was the fire base and 3rd Brigade headquarters of the 1st infantry Division. Beginning at 1 AM or so on January 31, we started receiving heavy mortar and rocket fire. The rockets were 107mm, 122mm and 140mm and they had been doing devastating damage. We had already received over 2,000 rounds of incoming mortar and rocket fire and now we were waiting for a reported ground attack across the runway in anattempt to destroy our helicopters.
    We had just watched ‘ZULU’ shown on a white sheet not three weeks before and it had been so popular that we saw it three nights straight.

    So there we were , all lined up for a human wave attack, surrounded by burning equipment and the exploding ammo dump. It was an incredibly tense few movements and then, clear as a bell, we suddenly heard someone shout, “AT 100 HUNDRED METERS….VOLLEY FIRE…PRESENT!!!!”

    The ensuing laughter along the line, bunker to bunker, some borderline hysterical, was a moment I have relived a thousand times since. Here’s the final attack on YouTube:

    and favorite western shootout was Duvall and Kostner in Open Range at the end of the movie. If you haven’t seen it, the entire movie is on YouTube:

    • The end of Open Range starts off great the way the bad guys needed a moment to think about what they just saw after their bad ass buddy got his head blown off, which I thought was very realistic. And then Kevin Costner shoots a third guy and that .45 bullet throws him right off his feet. Then he continues to shoot 16 rounds out of that Peacemaker including a 9 round fanning fest he opens up on one guy. The rest of the battle was pretty realistic though.

  31. Unforgiven
    A Midnight Clear
    Quigley Down Under
    Seven Samurai (matchlocks)
    The Comencheros
    Winchester ’73

    • The comancheros took place when Texas was an independent republic. Mid 1830’s to mid 1840’s. But the actors carried Colt SAA’s, Winchester repeating rifles and at least one 1866 Remington derringer.

      This was a common failing of the Duke’s westerns. Pre and civil war era movies using guns from a later generation.

  32. Yes to Heat (haven’t seen it in a long while) and John Wick (just saw it again).

    Here’s a couple weird ones: Good, “No Country for Old Men”; Bad, “Blood Simple.”
    Blood Simple’s plot is based on the fate of a revolver loaded with only 3 rounds, but they switch props between a Harrison 32 and Smith 38 with a sawed-off trigger guard. Great movie though, if you don’t care about gun details.

    Not a movie, but the series “Strike Back” is an orgy of gun fights and I think they tried hard for realism, but I’m not knowledgeable enough to know if they hit that mark.

  33. Open Range is an overall great movie. As good as the shootout was, there are a couple of flubs. In the initial throw down, Costner fan fires his revolver no less than eight times into one guy. And of course there is the scene where Duval shoots a guy through the wall with his shotgun and blows the guy across the alleyway. Still a great movie. I love hearing those big slow bullets moving along.

    What about “The Town”? I’m no gun/gunfight expert but it all seemed very good, much like “Heat”

  34. Devil In A Blue Dress. Easy (Denzel Washington) hiding and trying to figure out what to do next. Mouse (Don Cheadle) and his pistol at the end; guys who are shot in the chest don’t simply fall down.

  35. “The Objective” was believable because it had an actual operator in the cast. Most of the movies nowadays are actually trying to be accurate with their gun handling, unlike not too long ago when the Die Hard never reload endless magazine stuff was de rigeur.

    Just remember, the same Hollywood people who bring you all this flat screen gun excitement want to take your guns away in reality. Because only the elites should have access to “weapons of war.”

  36. To Live and Die in LA, the shoot out at the end during the failed arrest close to the end is about as real as it gets and an excellent reminder that simply because you get a lethal hit it doesn’t necessarily mean your enemy will expire in a timely fashion.

  37. Open Range…great gun fight scene at the end…Costner and Duvall take on a gang of not so bad asses.

  38. Lone survivor was pretty accurate, they had suppressors on their m4’s and it didn’t make the tipical “silencer pew” noise lol

  39. One of my all time favorites ” Unforgiven”. Maybe someone else mentioned it, I got tired of scrolling.

  40. I think the Tom cruise movie “Collateral” and “Act of Valor” were the most realistic I’ve seen to date. Hard to say what was the worst-there are so many!

  41. The Matrix movies win, because they can blame anything that’s not actually up to snuff on the machines who programmed the Matrix.

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