Top Three Most Prolific Handguns in Cinema


By James Martineau,

Firearms have played an essential role in film history since its inception. Often, the firearms become characters themselves and many of them have achieved a cult like status due to their use in popular films. Films such as Dirty Harry, the James Bond film series and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid are examples where the character is tied to the firearm they use. Which firearms then are the most prolific firearms in cinema history?

3. Magnum Research Desert Eagle

Distributed by Warner Bros. does not own the copyright to this photo nor does it intend to distribute it for monetary gain. Fair Use Doctrine

The third most prolific handgun in cinema history is the Desert Eagle was developed by Magnum Research and Israel Military Industries. It began production in 1983 through the present. The Desert Eagle has been produced in many calibers during its lifecycle such as .50AE, .44 Magnum, .41 Magnum and .357 Magnum among others. This gives a buyer many options of stopping power according to his or her needs. It was available in multiple finishes such as brushed chrome or titanium gold. Although not the most reliable of pistols, the aesthetically pleasing design and notoriety in films have helped the Desert Eagle to be a popular firearm.

Besides being used by Agent Smith in The Matrix film series, the Desert Eagle is also seen in Austin Powers, The Boondock Saints, the Resident Evil series among dozens of others. It first saw use in 1985 in the film Year of the Dragon starring Mickey Rourke. It is most often depicted as being fired one handed, no simple task for a firearm firing Magnum type rounds. The pistol saw its greatest heyday through the late 80s in to the 2010s but a quick search reveals that the Mark XIX of the Desert Eagle has only been used four times in the past five years. Will the Desert Eagle fade away into cinema history? Films like John Wick whose character uses practical yet stylish firearms may see the end of the Desert Eagle as a popular firearm in film.

2. Walther PPK

Distributed by Sony Pictures Releasing. does not own the copyright to this photo nor does it intend to distribute it for monetary gain. Fair Use Doctrine

The second most prolific handgun is the Walther PPK. A much more battle proven design than the Desert Eagle, the PPK saw service during the Second World War and the Cold War. The PPK contrasts to the Desert Eagle in the somewhat lethargic .380 Auto or .32 ACP used by the PPK. The pistol uses a simple blow back action operation. It was also an innovative design that introduced an automatic hammer block, and combination safety/de-cocker and a loaded chamber indicator. The two arguably most famous uses of the pistol are the James Bond series and the pistol Adolf Hitler reportedly used to kill himself.

There seems to be no end to the James Bond series so the PPK will likely continue to be used there. Ever since From Russia with Love through the forthcoming No Time to Die Bond has used the PPK. The only exception is in Casino Royale when he used the Walther P99. There were, however, a number of promotional posters for that film that featured him wielding the PPK. Due to the use of the PPK in militaries, it is likely that the PPK will see continued use in film. The popularity of World War II and Cold War films will likely see the PPK used. Its small profile and concealability with ensure its place in spy films as well. Overall the use of the pistol in cinema has greatly increased its popularity and ensures a higher than normal value for a .380 Auto pistol.

1. Beretta 92

The most prolific firearm used in cinema is the Beretta 92. This design was innovative as it built off the Beretta Model 84s direct feed magazines. It also used the open slide design and locking block barrel found in the Walther P38. This amalgamation proved an excellent combination as the Beretta 92 is notoriously reliable and accurate. Besides its use in cinema, the 92 is used by militaries throughout the world to include the United States Armed Forces. The pistol also saw service in the police departments most famously the LAPD. The use of the Beretta 92 in police and militarizes will ensure its continued use in media.

Distributed by Warner Bros. does not own the copyright to this photo nor does it intend to distribute it for monetary gain. Fair Use Doctrine

Since its first appearance in the 1986 film A Better Tomorrow staring Chow Yun-Fat, the Beretta 92 has basically been in every film that features modern firearms. Since the aforementioned film, the Beretta 92 has been featured in more than 500 films, not including its appearances in TV and video games. Aesthetically pleasing and easy to manipulate, the 92 series is an excellent firearm for use among actors unfamiliar with firearms. A popular feature of the Beretta 92 for film use is its ease of disassembly. Actors in martial arts films are often able to grab and remove the slide before their assailant can fire the weapon. It should be noted that the depiction of this quick disassembly in Lethal Weapon 4 was dishonest as the takedown lever was already rotated. Press checks with the open slide also look cool as depicted in The Matrix Reloaded. The popularity of the firearm in media as well as its use in law enforcement will ensure the firearms continued popularity among private owners for the foreseeable future.

The Desert Eagle, Walther PPK and Beretta 92 have cemented themselves in cinema history with the iconic characters and films that despite being decades old remain popular. The aesthetically pleasing lines of all three handguns as well as the use of the PPK and 92FS in the police in militaries will ensure continued use of these firearms as long as there are films that depict the era in which these handguns are used. D4guns has examples of these firearms in our inventory and can be found at