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By Kurt Allemeier

From Ralphie’s air rifle in “A Christmas Story” to M1 Garands in a “White Christmas” to a Minigun in “Scrooged,” firearms are a holiday movie tradition. That’s not even counting films like “Die Hard” or “Lethal Weapon” that may or may not be Christmas movies, but are at least set during the holidays.

Even Yukon Cornelius who helped Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and Hermey and tamed the Abominable Snowmonster — or “Bumble” — carried a sidearm.

Revolvers, semi-automatic pistols, and full auto machine guns are Christmas movie guns that make appearances around the holidays, but everyone knows the king of Christmas movie guns is the Daisy Red Ryder air rifle that was so coveted by Ralphie.

Ralphie’s Red Ryder Air Rifle

In “A Christmas Story,” Ralphie writes an essay about why he wants “an Official Red Ryder, carbine action 200-shot, range model air rifle with a compass in the stock and this thing that tells time.” He asks Santa for it. He asks his parents for it. At every turn he is admonished with the warning “You’ll shoot your eye out.”

Ralphie calls the air rifle, “as cool and deadly a piece of weaponry as I had ever laid eyes on.” The BB gun in the film is named after a comic strip cowboy that was popular with boys after his introduction in 1938. Daisy saw a marketing opportunity and in a promotional agreement started selling the Red Ryder BB gun in 1940.

In the end, the Old Man tells Ralphie he missed a gift tucked in the corner behind the desk. Unwrapping the gift, he finds his beloved Red Ryder air rifle and heads out to the backyard where his first shot ricochets and hits his glasses.

He makes up a story about an icicle hitting him. He wears his old glasses and the family enjoys Chinese turkey for dinner. That night, he goes to sleep with his “oiled blue steel beauty,” dreaming of “pringing ducks on the wing and getting off spectacular hip shots.”

By the end of the 1940s, Daisy was selling more than 1 million Red Ryder BB guns annually. The air rifle Ralphie received, with all its embellishments, never truly existed, as it was combined with the Buck Jones Special that had a compass and a sundial. Six were made for the movie. One is on display at the “A Christmas Story” House and Museum.

Another air rifle that is less iconic but equally important to its Christmas movie is the pump action BB gun Kevin McCallister uses in “Home Alone” against Harry and Marv, “the Wet Bandits” who’ve been breaking into vacant houses in his suburban Chicago neighborhood.

Beretta 92s are Christmas Movie Guns

The Beretta 92F may be the most ubiquitous of Christmas movie guns. John McClane ruins Hans Gruber’s Christmas party with one, and mulleted Martin Riggs puts down three bad guys in a Christmas tree lot with his Beretta.

The original Christmas movie

It seems like every police officer or criminal in movies made after 1986 and set around Christmas has a Beretta 92 in hand. There are 23 iterations of the gun since production began in 1975 with the 92FS the most movie friendly.  “Die Hard” had Beretta wielding baddies as well as its barefoot hero.

Cops carried them in “Jingle All the Way,” and bad guys dished out mayhem with them in “The Long Kiss Good Night” and “Reindeer Games.” Sgt. Al Powell eschewed his Smith & Wesson Model 15 for a Beretta 92FS in Die Hard 2. The Beretta 92 also appears in less well-known Christmas-related movies “Fatman,” “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang,” “In Bruges,” and “Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas.”

Fatman

Police officers with guns aplenty burst in on the Griswald family gathering in “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” but this department didn’t get the memo because they arrive armed with Tauruses, Colts, and M16A2s.

Christmas Movie Machine Guns

“Die Hard” has plenty of Christmas movie guns, including full auto guns that will be touched on another time. Today, the movie with the Class III Christmas movie guns is, surprisingly, “Scrooged.”

In “Scrooged” Bill Murray is a television executive without the Christmas spirit who is met by three spirits on Christmas Eve in a play on Charles Dickens “A Christmas Carol.” Along with a live version of “A Christmas Carol,” one of Murray’s network Christmas specials is “The Night the Reindeer Died.”

In the show within the movie, terrorists attack Santa’s Workshop. As the elves run for their armory, “the Six Million Dollar Man,” Lee Majors arrives at the workshop by snowmobile armed with a General Electric M134 Minigun. Santa is carrying an M16 and a couple of elves are manning (elfing?) an M60 machine gun.

How unrealistic! No, not Santa’s workshop, nor elves strapped for battle, but an action hero toting a Minigun. Despite portrayals like Old Painless wielded by Jesse Ventura in “Predator,” Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator and Lee Majors, the Minigun is essentially a modern-day Gatling gun. The Minigun requires an outside electric source and a truckload of ammunition to fire 2,000 to 6,000 rounds per minute through the six rotating barrels.

Elves taking up a defensive position with an M60 is far more realistic since “the pig” is an imposing weapon that can throw plenty of lead at marauding North Pole terrorists.

Christmas Movie Guns and World War 2

When Christmas movies “White Christmas” and “It’s a Wonderful Life” reached back to World War 2, they included classic American service weapons.

At the start of “White Christmas,” Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye become a singing duo after a Christmas performance during the war. The soldiers, as they watch the performance, carry M1 Garands, M1 Carbines, and an occasional M1903 Springfield.

White Christmas

George Bailey never went to war in “It’s a Wonderful Life” because of his bad ear, but his brother, Harry, did. The only person we see fight in the war is Bert the Cop in North Africa carrying his M1903 Springfield. Bert also squeezes off a few shots from his Smith & Wesson Model 10 to scare off George who is harassing his wife Mary who doesn’t recognize him.

Bert the cop

“It’s a Wonderful Life” director Frank Capra served in the U.S. Army during World War 2 in the Signal Corps, making propaganda films. His “Why We Fight” series was made at the request of Gen. George Marshall, the U.S. Army Chief of Staff.

Yukon Cornelius’s Christmas Movie Gun

Yukon Cornelius is a man of the ice and snow. He is a prospector leading his rag-tag sled dog team of a cocker spaniel, poodle, Saint Bernard, collie, and a dachshund. While Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Hermey the Elf run away from the North Pole unprepared, not so with Yukon Cornelius. The red-capped rescuer is ready if things go sideways, outfitted with a fixed blade knife, impact tool, and most importantly, a revolver.

The gun, which stays in his belt during the beloved Christmas special, even while tangling with the Bumble, appears to be a nickel-plated Colt Single Action Army with staghorn grips. Even Yukon Cornelius loves a classic wheel gun.

A pair of nicklel/gold Single Action Armies with staghorn grips.

Famous Christmas Movie Guns

Whether settling down with a cup of egg nog to watch the yule tide action of “Die Hard,” the snowy shenanigans of “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” or the more traditional “It’s a Wonderful Life,” Christmas movie guns abound. Hopefully the plinkers, hunters, and collectors have been as good as Lee Majors this year and got what they wanted under the Christmas tree!

 

This article originally appeared at Rock Island Auctions and is reprinted here with permission. 

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41 COMMENTS

  1. The coolest Christmas movie gun ever was Hans Gruber’s hard chrome HK P-7 M8. It took me from the movie’s release until 2014 to find one, but I did. And Die Hard is a Christmas movie. It was released in the Christmas season. There are Christmas carols, Christmas trees and a Christmas party in the movie. I now consider this matter closed. Oh! Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year to everyone! Even the damn trolls.

      • @ James Campbell: Here is a real beauty……my brother turned me on to this video a few years back and I saved it in my gun video favorites file!

    • Yep, that movie was the first to feature the P7 if memory serves, though it gets almost only screen time and no mention in the plot (unlike the fictitious Glock in the Die Hard 2).

      I don’t own one, but a good friend does, and it is a fine piece of Tectonic Engineering, and only slightly edged out by the SIG 210.
      Now if only HK would run a batch of replacement magazines. All kinds of P7M13’s, but P7M8’s are as rare as hen’s teeth.

  2. Sadly, if you try to buy a Yukon Cornelius toy these days, he is carrying a long knife (which apparently is much less triggering, so to speak) but no revolver.

    I remember unwrapping my Red Ryder. Couldn’t believe my parents got me one and it got plenty of breaking-in that Christmas vacation.

    • I attended a stage performance of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer in Denver with my family last week. The costumes were excellent, but Cornelius wasn’t carrying a revolver (or even a knife, for that matter).

  3. James, are you sure? I remember a conversation with a couple of guys at Small Arms Services in Albany, GA shortly after the movie was released. The consensus was that it was an M8. These guys know firearms. If it was an M13 I withdraw the comment. You could give me an M13, but I’d sell it as soon as possible. The M8 is the thinking man’s P7. I thought the M10 was a bad idea that went wrong.

      • James, if it takes an M13 to fill your grip you must have catcher mitts for hands. Hats off, sir. I’m average size on everything. An advantage. Everything fits me. Prefer single stack most of the time. Larger magazine capacity is over rated.

        • Oh man I was just talking to my actress wife about the criminally underrated The Long Kiss Goodnight! Geena Davis best movie! Way over the top & hyper entertaining. I’ll see if I can find it…

        • The Long Kiss Goodnight! Geena Davis

          A favorite movie of mine. Love Geena Davis too, total package.

        • Another fun fact……..

          HK MP5s weren’t used in the movie. They were HK94s with cut down barrels. Look at the scene where the bad guy on the conference room table changes mags, a button release, not a MP5 paddle. No tri-lug for suppressor mounting is a dead giveaway too.

          More fun facts?

          No Bren Tens chambered in 10mm were used in ‘Miami Vice’. They all had the optional 45acp barrels.

  4. “… to a Minigun in “Scrooged,” firearms are a holiday movie tradition.”

    ‘The Night The Reindeer Died’

  5. Ah, the (Buck Jones) “…air rifle with a compass in the stock and this thing which tells time.”
    I first shot mine in the attic of my Grandparent’s house back in the early 60’s. I still have it and it’s one of my prized possessions! Merry Christmas!!

    • Just watched “A Christmas Story Christmas”. I was skeptical going in to it, but it was a very satisfying sequel.

      • It did exactly what sequel of its nature should do; build on what came before without rehashing everything that made the original a classic. And how the Red Ryder figured back into the plot was very minor but still crucial: It inspired Ralphie to write about the best Christmas his Old Man ever gave the family.

    • So A Christmas Story has 3 sequels now, My Summer Story aka It Runs in the Family, A Christmas Story 2, and now A Christmas Story Christmas. Jean Sherpherd also made several TV movies involving the Parkers but they follow a different continuity from the ACS films.

      • I mean, there was also Ollie Hopnoodle’s Haven of Bliss in the middle there, and least one other that came out before ACS, too. Jean Shepherd left behind a HUGE body of work.

        • He made two TV movies before A Christmas Story, and two more TV movies after which includes Ollie Hopnoodle. After Ollie he made a theatrical sequel to ACS called My Summer Story. In short, Shepherd made 4 TV movies and 2 theatrical films, all based on his short stories. Sadly its very hard to find his TV films. He also made a TV pilot tor a project that ended up becoming The Wonder Years.

  6. I remember walking through my neighborhood with my pals and our BB guns to shoot rats in the woods in the late 1950’s. We would be stopped by a SWAT team today.

  7. SPEAKING OF GUN , ANY THING ON IF BROWNING 1911 22LR , ETC , BLACK LABLE
    MAGAZINES MADED OF ALL METAL , THAT CAN BE DISASSEMBLED , AS CURRENT ONES MADED IN BELGIUM ARE ALMOST JUNK … O WHATEVER

  8. Don’t forget the BS with Die Hard 2 with the “Glock 7, a porcelain gun, made in Germany, that doesn’t show up on your airport xray machines”

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