coutesy IMFDB
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The Internet Movie Firearms Database is a great resource and a powerful tool. The brains behind IMFDB recently begun to use its accumulated data to compile a variety of fascinating facts on guns in pop culture and the results of this list — the most frequently used guns on-screen — may surprise you . . .

The 5 Most Popular Movie Guns of All Time
courtesy IMFDB

Number five is the iconic MP40 submachine gun. Popular culture has portrayed the MP40 as the most common weapon in the hands of German soldiers during World War II. This is actually incorrect, as the bolt-action Karabiner 98k was more common, but in films, television, and especially in video games, the MP40 will be seen issued on at least a one-to-one basis with the Kar 98k. We tallied it at 375 individual onscreen depictions.

The 5 Most Popular Movie Guns of All Time
courtesy IMFDB

Number four on the list with 406 appearances is the classic Luger P08. This seems to be one of those firearms that everybody knows the second they see it. Its unique grip angle and toggle-action made it one of the most desirable “trophy guns” for American GI’s to bring back when they came home from the Second World War.

The 5 Most Popular Movie Guns of All Time
courtesy IMFDB

Coming in at number three with 523 screen appearances is the venerable M1911A1. The U.S. military was re-issued the 1911 pistol in 1924, now designated the M1911A1. Changes to the gun included a larger ejection port, a shortened trigger, a longer grip-safety spur and slightly shaved hammer spur to prevent hammer bite, serrated front sight, a curved mainspring housing, simplified checkered grips (although diamond grips still appeared on some), and relief cuts around the trigger guard on the frame.

The 5 Most Popular Movie Guns of All Time
courtesy IMFDB

Our guess is that if you lumped in all the M1911 appearances with this of the M1911A1 it still wouldn’t surpass number two on our list, the Teutonic GLOCK 17. The G17 tallied 713 appearances. That’s pretty amazing with a lifespan of only a hair over three decades compared to the lower ranked guns on the list.

The 5 Most Popular Movie Guns of All Time
courtesy IMFDB

And the number one firearm on our list is the ubiquitous Beretta Model 92FS with 847 appearances. The pistol is also known as the M9 in U.S. military service (there are few actual M9’s seen in movies and TV shows; property masters and armorers almost always use the civilian 92FS, even when the pistols are seen in the hands of actors playing U.S. military personnel).

Four out of five branches of the military issued the Beretta M9. It was all five did until 2006 when the USCG adopted the SIG-Sauer P229. Of course the Beretta’s 30+ years of illustrious service will be coming to an end with the announcement of the Army’s new handgun choice: the SIG SAUER P320.

We were amazed that the Uzi, Colt SAA, Thompson submachine gun or even the AK-47, MAC-10 or AR-15/M16 did not make the list, but the numbers don’t lie.

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  1. I imagine the mp40, like the ppsh41, could be produced 2 or 3 to one against the service rifle. The germans might have benefitted from arming whole units with the sub guns like the russians did. They certainly made a major move for fire power putting the STG 44 into field use.

    • Yeah for as backwards as the Russians are always portrayed, they were the first to utilize the “everyone shoot a shit ton of small high velocity rounds” fire superiority concept that now dominates modern warfare. If Russia had literally anyone else as a leader other then Stalin at the outset of the war, they would’ve fared so much better.

      • The Soviet historian Victor Suvorov makes a pretty good case that the Soviets were actually far more advanced and ready for war that anyone else. Hitler however apparently caught them off guard and invaded before Stalin did. The Soviets seem to have been planning to attack, and we’re not ready to defend. Suvorov claims that Stalin wanted Germany , Britain, and France to exhaust themselves allowing the Communists to blitz their way across all of Europe. The last country to enter a world war generally ends up on top. Wherever the case, Communists and Nazis were both really bad. The Nazis may be gone, but the Communists are still with us today.

        It is hard for me to believe that M16/M4/AR15s and AK47s shouldn’t be on this list. I’d think them more common than MP40s and Lugers.

        • It seems to me that the Nazis never really left us; they’ve just been laying low. There are far right regimes popping up all over the world, especially in Easterbrook Europe.

          Most of them do not conceal their affection for Fascism.

        • Patrick. Right in in America we have brownshirts openly operating. They are called antifa for some weird reason. Reverse propaganda, I guess.

        • The biggest issue the Red Army faced when war were declared was the poor leadership and inexperience of its senior officers. The Great Purge had a profound impact on the combat effectiveness of the Red Army. During the Great Purge a good portion of Army’s senior leadership was arrested and then shot, and the men the replaced them tended to be either inexperienced or they were picked primarily for their perceived political loyalty and not for any perceived martial brilliance.

          On the other hand the Red Army’s equipment and operational doctrine were fairly good in 1941. Not every piece of gear they had was top notch, but most of it was good enough, and their operational doctrines were excellent. In all likelihood if Germany hadn’t invaded the Soviet Union in 1941 Stalin would have been happy to wait until the Allies invaded mainland Europe so that he could stick a knife in Germany’s back. I don’t think he would have tried to push all the way to Berlin, but I do think that he would have tried to take all of Poland, all or most of the eastern European republics like Romania, Hungry, and Czechoslovakia, some of Eastern Germany, and some, or maybe even all, of Austria.

        • @Patrick Hall.
          You seem to have fallen for leftist propaganda and believe that Nazism is far right.
          NationalSOZIALISTISCHE Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (National Socialist German Workers’ Party or NSDAP) was as far left as you can go. Push for big, all powefull, all controlling government and ‘socialist” in the name are just two, most obvious, clues.

        • Patrick Hall got tricked. He thinks Poland is ran by FAR-RIGHT NAZI just because they oppose the EU.
          EU is no different from Soviet Union as it goes now based on behavior alone.
          Poles fought the Nazi to the death, just as they did against the Communists.
          The recent massive torch holding demonstrations in Poland held banners against Nazi and Commies.

          But the news didn’t show you the close up pic of the banners. HA! Even Fox News (save Tucker) will not let you know the truth.

        • @How_Terrible:

          Not only that but the Soviets had massive logistical problems brought on by their stupidity before the war.

          When the Nazis invaded the Soviets moved their means of production East of the Ural Mountain range. While this kept their factories out of German hands/attack range it also presented a serious problem. In the 1940’s the Russians had two gauges and widths of railroad track. Those different widths/gauges met at the Urals.

          This meant that anything produced to the East of Urals was shipped by rail Westward and then had to be offloaded from one train, placed on another and then continue it’s journey to the war zone. This problem covered just about anything the military could need from vehicle parts to weapons to ammo to food to petroleum products.

          The Russians realized the problem and came up with a number of solutions to quicken the pace of moving goods but the problem continued to one extent or another until the end of the war and even after.

        • It isn’t propaganda to use words the way they are actually defined in the dictionary. And I am aware that the word “Nazi” is partly an abbreviation for ‘socialist’, in German.

          The political and economic theory practiced by the Nazis violates at least four core principles of communist philosophy:

          1) Abolition of private property. The biggest property owners in Germany gladly joined Hitler and enabled the German war machine.

          2) Centralized banking. The Nazis left the German bankers alone and cheerfully engaged western banks as long as they could. Bankers were heroes of the Reich just like the capitalists.

          3) The end of ethnic and class distinction. The Nazis *increased* ethnic distinction and made no effort to reduce class distinction.

          4) Abolition of inheritance. Absolutely no move in this direction.

          Perhaps more importantly than these examples, the Nazis did not embrace on single core principle of communism. Instead, Hitler destroyed the Marxist movements in Germany before he did anything else.

          I understand that it’s fun to use ideologies as insults, rather than to bother to learn what words actually mean. If you don’t mind me saying so, that’s one thing you have in common with both fascists and communists.

    • Most late war Volksgrenadier Division were equipped almost entirely with MP-40s. That’s why the Germans started working on what would become the STG-44. When faced with the “wall of lead” put out by Garand equipped US infantry these units were ineffective.

      The doctrine for the STG-44 was primarily semiautomatic fire not full auto. Something the US Army didn’t figure out until the end of Vietnam.

      • Ian on Forgotten Weapons did an analysis of the ammunition production rates of 7.92×33 compared to the actual number of guns from the MKb42 to the StGw44 actually in use month by month and worked out there was an average of 200 rounds per gun per month.

        Hardly the wall of steel anticipated.

        • The STG-44 was developed to meet two different requirements. On the Western Front it was basically “The Amis have a better infantry rifle than we do.” In the East it was too few troops to hold too much ground. The requirement for select fire was driven by the Eastern Front requirement. It was seen as a force multiplier to make up for the lack of infantry.

  2. By your count, what are the figures for Colts Single Action Army?
    Were these figures arrived at by how many movies at least one of these guns appeared in, or how many examples of these guns appeared in each movie?
    Seems like multiple SAAs are seen in nearly every western, multiplied by how many westerns have been made since the beginning of motion pictures, decades before the MP40, Beretta M9/92, or Glock existed.

    • IMFDB probably doesn’t keep complete figures on that since 98% of Westerns had everybody carrying SAAs and anachronistic 1892 Carbines, and 98% of those were C-movies with no discernible plot whatsoever.

      On another note, my dog watches Bonanza every day.

        • I thought of that too, but it took place in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War and the Peacemaker didn’t come for another 8 years. Leave it to Clint to keep the weaponry historically accurate.

          Can anybody come up with another?

        • The Good, the bad, the ugly, I think is similar. Takes place right after the civil war and I don’t think they use any SAA.

        • NCA, the movie was set DURING the civil war.

          I saw it last weekend with my son, and he loves the old westerns.

        • In the Good, The Bad and the Ugly, they USUALLY used cap and ball pistols, but I have a strong memory of the scene where banditos hired by Tuco try to sneak up and kill Blondie in his hotel room, where Blondie is sitting at a table cleaning his pistol with six .38 cartridges lined up. Blondie quickly loads five and kills the banditos. Further, there is the scene where Tuco, after having been abandoned by Blondie in the desert, stumbles into town and goes into a gun store to get a new pistol. After having found a satisfactory combination of cylinder and frame, he says to the smith, “Cartridges.”

  3. The only real difference between the 92FS and the M9 is that current-production 92FSes have slimmer grip panels and two dots on the rear sight, and some 92FSes are built on 96FS frames (the ones with the angled dustcover). When 92FSes changed to plastic and MIM parts the M9 did as well, but the rest of the M9 specs are the same as the 92SB-F/92F (which isn’t that big of a dimensional difference).

  4. Most popular movie guns of all time???? Somebody hasn’t seen a lot of movies….

    Practically every western made during the first 60 years of movie making had two guns, one was the Colt Single Action Army, and the other was the 1892 Winchester. Nothing else even comes close in terms of popularity in movies.

  5. I think I read once that the 92 cycles better with blanks than just about any other semi-auto pi stol and that’s why it’s so prevalent in movies.

    • Never had a failure to feed/eject on any Beretta I’ve owned, esp. the 92/96 series. That open slide probably makes a big difference on weak loads or blanks. It also has a fairly distinctive look and character too, easily recognizable as a Beretta.

      I’ve seen some Px4 series popping up here and there on some shows as well, the subcompact has an easy to identify shape too.

      • I had an FS for a few years and probably ran 5000 rounds through it without a failure, although there were probably only a couple hundred hollow points in the bunch.

        I stuck the slides of it and a S,R&Co P95 on my kitchen scale once and the inch shorter P95 slide weighed an ounce and a half more.

        If you want a more reliable han dgun than a 92 it’s going to have to feature a rotating cylinder.

  6. Nothing beats the M1 Garand. It may not be as ubiquitous but Roy Sheider used it to blow up a shark and Clint Eastwood used it to clear the neighborhood ne’r-do-wells off his lawn.

  7. I read on the interwebs that a German officer at the Leningrad front told how had been issued an MP-40 and a P0-8 Luger, but he preferred the Kar-98 for its greater range and the Astra 900 blowback 9mm for its reliability in the muddy conditions.

    • Movie audiences love full auto. It isn’t all that effective in the real world. You can read accounts of the 82nd’s defense of its drop zones at Market-Garden against mostly MP-40 equipped German infantry. The troopers fired their Garands so fast the stocks were charred and left piles of dead Germans in front of their positions

      The only accurate depiction of modern infantry using select fire weapons that I have seen is in the Canadian film “Hyena Road.” It was all semiauto fire

      • It’s been several years since i’ve Seen it; but I seem to recall in “Blackhawk Down” that the only full auto was from SAW & similar medium/heavy machine guns. The M-16’s were pretty much depicted using aimed fire semi-auto.

  8. For that matter, M2 (.50 caliber AN/M2) were used in many US WWII aircraft – Wikipedia:
    The 12.7 mm AN/M2 was used on a lot of aircraft during WWII, as it served as the main aircraft armament in the US military. Most US fighter aircraft were armed with four, six or eight AN/M2 MGs mounted in the wings. Some famous examples being the P-40, P-47 and P-51 for the USAAF and the F4F, F6F and the F4U for the US Navy. For bombers the AN/M2 was used in both flexible and fixed positions for both offensive and defensive use. In flexlible defensive positions, the B-17G Flying Fortress heavy bomber was armed with 13x AN/M2 guns in both turreted and flexible positions. In fixed offensive configurations, like on the B-25 Mitchell, commonly carried 6 to 12 fixed guns for strafing.

    But, I bet no one thought to count those, as the aircraft were more visually interesting in most cases than the guns mounted.

      • AN versions of the .30 and .50 cal Brownings were used because the lighter weight internals cycled the blanks better.

        The best recognition point for a AN .50 cal is the full-length perforated barrel jacket.

    • “Most US fighter aircraft were armed with four, six or eight AN/M2 MGs mounted in the wings.”

      Not at the beginning of the war. There were *lots* of .30 cal in aircraft like the Hellcat-Wildcat type Grummans…

      • The Hellcat never had .30’s. The Wildcat only had the .30 during development. Line units got .50’s. The P40 and P39 had a mix to include .30’s. But the .30’s were quickly dropped in favor of .50’s.

  9. I find it hysterical that all the bad guys in TV cop shows filmed in NYC always carry a 92FS–and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if it was the same pistol from the same prop house. I have yet to see a High Point though. I think Danny Reagan is the only one to carry a Kahr.

    Another thing I’ve read is that most of the 1911s used in old movies weren’t–because the 1911 would choke on the blanks. So they used a 9 mm Spanish model instead when the gun had to be fired.

    • I’ve heard the same thing but it covers more than the 1911. .45 semi autos can be a bear to make work with blanks. Especially since hollywood wants the gun to look normal and unaltered. So they mostly use 9mm because it can be more reliable in blank usage.

    • Actually most of the guns used in movie and TV productions do come from just a handful of prop companies. I’ve seen video tours of a couple of them, and they had some truly impressive collections.

    • The first ant man has ants clogging the hammer on a glock. But every other scene with the same gun/actor combo shows a hammerless glock.

      • hammer fired glocks a dime a dozen compared to the porcelain glocks made in germany.

        don’t show up on your airport metal detectors and they cost more than you make in a month!

  10. The Beretta was insanely popular in movies and tv shows from the early nineties.Although a very different system, it has been replaced with the Glock in more modern movies and shows.

  11. If we’re talking “appearances” in film rather than poplarity of the firearm, the postings might do, but I believe Clint Eastwood/Dirty Harry probably did more for the surge in .44 Mag sales than Elmer Keith and all the other gunnies ever did. Just sayin’…

    Guess that was a long time ago.

  12. The reason the Beretta is #1 is because it’s the easiest to convert to a blank firing gun.
    See forgotten weapons piece on it

  13. Our Eyesight is not as good as some, by the time I’ve gotten close enough to observe what is playing on TV the humans that live in the house that has the TV notice me and start throwing things, screaming and some even shoot guns. So I’ve never really gotten to watch TV.

  14. The title says “Movie Guns’, but in the section about the MP40, the article mentions films, television and video games!
    Seems like I’ve seen a zillion SSAs on-screen.
    I find it much more interesting when I spot an unusual gun in a movie or TV show.
    I recall a scene in one of Clint Eastwood’s westerns where he wields a Broomhandle Mauser.
    Also, in a 1950 episode of the ‘The Lone Ranger’, John Banner (famous for his role as ‘Sargent Schultz’) plays an evil European baron who carries an Austrian Gasser revolver.
    Then, in an episode of ‘The Wild, Wild West’, a government official shoots a pinfire revolver at a fleeing James West.


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