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If there’s one thing that Hollywood excels at, it’s coming up with some unforgettable fantasy weapons that have gone down in movie history.
While many of them tend more towards melee (look no further than the iconic and unmistakable lightsaber), there is no shortage of innovative and cool sci-fi pistols from throughout the years.
Hell, even notable curmudgeon and professional grumpy old man Harrison Ford has wielded two in his time.
Let’s take a look at the most iconic sci-fi pistols of all time.
The DL-44 (Star Wars: A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, The Return of the Jedi, The Force Awakens)
No weapon is ever knocking the lightsaber off the top spot for “most iconic Star Wars weapon”, but Han Solo’s bulky, lethal sidearm must surely run a close second for the most recognizable weapon from the franchise.
According to Star Wars nerds Wookieepedia, it’s “one of the most powerful blaster pistols in the galaxy”, but had a tendency to “overheat quickly”. Quite why it never overheated in any of the films it featured in, of course, is left as an intellectual exercise for the viewer.
The DL-44 may be a fictional blaster pistol from a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a real-world inspiration. The gun’s design was largely inspired by the German C96 “Broomhandle” Mauser, a distinctive and iconic firearm that’s instantly recognizable by the same sort of boxy, rectangular magazine that can be seen on the DL-44.
The Noisy Cricket (Men in Black)
The 1997 sci-fi comedy is more notable for Will Smith playing Will Smith than it is for its formidable arsenal of weapons, but one of the MiB’s firearms was notable in its Chekhov’s Gun set-up and its memorable pay-off.
The Noisy Cricket is given to Will Smith’s character (inexplicably not called Will, but instead J) early on in his MiB career. J is insulted by being given such a comically small pistol, assuming that his ability to handle a firearm is being mocked.
It is not until later in the movie, when he has cause to fire the weapon, that it’s revealed that the tiny firearm is actually incredibly powerful, blowing Smith (sorry, “J”) off his feet and leaving a crater-sized impact hole.
The Noisy Cricket has no particular real-world inspiration, and resembles a cross between a small pistol and a piece of medical equipment.
PKD-5223 (Blade Runner)
Is it time for Harrison Ford again already? It is when he’s wielded not one, but two iconic sci-fi pistols, the PKD-5223 being the second.
The name is likely not immediately recognizable, but the design is. This heavy, dark firearm had a burnished brown grip and was used, most famously, in the scene in which Ford’s Blade Runner, the hard-bitten Rick Deckard, chased and ‘retired’ a female replicant through the rainy streets of 2020 LA.
The prop gun used in the movie was actually made out of two real guns: the Steyr Mannlicher .222 rifle, and the Charter Arms bulldog revolver. The original prop was sold to a collector for $250,000, so when Dennis Villeneuve came to make the sequel, Blade Runner 2049, the props department had to remake the gun from scratch. They ended up making four copies, one of which was fashioned entirely out of rubber (for action scenes).
The Lawgiver MK II (Judge Dredd)
Judge Dredd is the law, and the tool with which he dispenses justice is the iconic Lawgiver Mk II. One of the things that makes this gun so memorable is that it doesn’t just have one sort of ammunition loaded, but four in total.
The four types of ammunition are full-metal jacket (the gun’s “standard” ammo), armor-piercing (often abbreviated to “AP”), incendiary (also called “hot-shot”), and high-explosive.
As befits a lawman of the dark post-apocalyptic future, the gun has a variety of nifty features, including an integrated silencer, a ranging sight, iron sights, a DNA-encoded grip that prevents ‘perps’ from using the weapon, and a digital readout.
In addition to the Lawgiver Mk II, the movie Dredd featured the iconic IMI Micro Uzi that has been featured in the hands of stars like Ed Harris, Christopher Walken, Chuck Norris and Arnold Schwarzenegger in a plethora of Hollywood flicks.
The Moses Brother Self-Defense Engine Frontier Model-B (Serenity)
It takes more time to say the name of this cowboy-style revolver than it does for its owner to kill you with it.
Creator of Captain Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds, Joss Whedon, famously made the tetchy and ruthless captain quick on the draw as a response to the “Han shot first” furor of the late 90s – so much so, Mal guns down people with almost no provocation on two separate occasions during the movie Serenity.
Mal’s signature weapon, the Model-B, is best described as a bulky six-shooter, complete with the sort of satisfying cocking sound that we’ve all come to expect from a good movie gun – despite the fact it doesn’t have a hammer. Never let logistics get in the way of a good cocking sound.
The Auto-9 (Robocop)
A hulking cyborg police officer is inevitably going to need a really, really big gun. This is the conclusion that the makers of classic satirical sci-fi Robocop quickly realized, and they went out and got the biggest, baddest gun they could think of: the Desert Eagle.
Except it turned out that even this mighty .50-caliber firearm just wasn’t enough gun for the lawman of the future. The producers, perplexed by the issue of what gun to put in the hands of Detroit’s pre-eminent police officer, eventually settled upon a gun based on the Beretta 93R.
Robocop’s eventual gun, the Auto-9, was a machine pistol (unlike its inspiration), had an elongated barrel, and was shown to be powerful enough to blow limbs off. It also had the added bonus of looking really, really cool.
A Sci-fi Pistols Conclusion
It’s entirely possible that we’ve missed a fan-favorite or two off this list (we know everybody’s clamoring to know what kind of gun Bella’s dad used in Twilight: Breaking Dawn) and if that’s the case, we invite you to drop us a line to rectify our egregious oversight.
Until then, we think we can all agree that it’s pretty amazing that the man most likely to hate sci-fi on this list is also the man who’s wielded the genre’s two coolest pistols. Go figure.