Top Five Hollywood Gun Handling Awards

John Wick Chapter 2 Movie Poster (Photo: Summit Entertainment)

Editor’s Note: The following is a post by Mark Kakkuri, a nationally published freelance writer who covers guns and gear, 2nd Amendment issues and the outdoors. His writing and photography have appeared in many firearms-related publications, including the USCCA’s Concealed Carry Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @markkakkuri.

Read Mark’s previous articles in this “Top Five” series:

Like many of you, I enjoy a good action/adventure movie with a somewhat believable protagonist and/or an unlikely hero and some crazy plot. I especially enjoy it when the main character is up against unbelievable odds and has to overcome them with minimal means. It’s obvious but worth noting again: Movies like these are meant for entertainment and we’re better off not to let Hollywood influence our firearms choices and tactics. With that, as much as I enjoy movies like these, here are my top five Hollywood gun handling awards.

1. Holsterless Carry Award: Jason Bourne

Besides the fact that David Webb can’t seem to remember who he really is, Bourne also seems determined never to carry a handgun in a proper holster. I’ve seen him tuck handguns in jacket pockets, in backpacks, inside the waistband (appendix) and inside the waistband (small of back). Of course, the way he acquires most of his guns doesn’t really afford the opportunity to get a proper holster, so I can cut him a bit of a break for that.

But, in a couple instances, he picks up a handgun from some vault or locker, along with his famous watch, multiple passports and currency from a dozen different countries. I don’t see why there can’t be a simple but decent IWB holster in there. Or even some kind of universal holster. Side note: Bourne should also get some kind of award for dismantling handguns or throwing them in garbage cans.

2. Weakest Caliber Award: James Bond

There’s nothing inherently wrong with a .32 or .380 caliber pistol for self-defense, especially if that’s the one you shoot the best and will actually carry with you. But a British spy ought to be able to upgrade to at least a 9mm. In one of the older 007 books, Bond said he preferred the Walther PPK because it fit best and hid easily when he was wearing a suit or tuxedo, which of course he always was.

Modern Bonds especially should make use of the greater ballistics afforded by a larger, modern caliber as well as all the innovative means of concealed carry available today. Moreover, as good as shoulder holster carry might appear in movies, it can be limiting if you’re wearing a European-cut suit jacket. Unless you’re James Bond, of course.

3. Heaviest Gun Award: Dirty Harry

The iconic S&W Modle 29 revolver and the associated .44 Magnum cartridge indeed is a very powerful round, punk. And the only way a gun handles that type of round is by being built of steel. And lots of it. Over 40 ounces worth. By comparison, most of today’s concealed carry guns weigh less than half of that. So, it’s a wonder how Dirty Harry got around without some horrible lurching motion impeding his progress.

And, where James Bond preferred the slim Walther PPK for his shoulder holster, Dirty Harry managed to carry that giant revolver in a shoulder holster. Of course, Harry would have worn a suit jacket with American tailoring, so maybe it had some extra room… Have any of you packed a full-size revolver as a concealed carry piece? If so, how? Did you feel lucky, punk?

4. Why Even Bother With a Handgun Award: Jack Reacher

Reacher is one of my favorite movie characters and seems the most real of this bunch. Lee Child’s character is careful, detailed, tough as nails and likes coffee. He’s a former Army MP who knows guns and how to use them. Plenty of guns — handguns, rifles and shotguns — appear in the books and movies, sometimes in Reacher’s hands, but he seems to be without a handgun just as often, if not more often, than with one.

But Reacher — similar to Bourne — is also a master at using objects around him as weapons or simply using his own hands and strength to handle certain situations. In the movies, he seems to have more guns pointed at him but always manages to make some kind of escape. Side note: I could give Bourne this award and switch Reacher to the holster-less carry award. Thoughts?

5. Most Handguns Carried at Once Award: John Wick

And not only does he carry multiple handguns and reloads — concealed — he does so while very well dressed. And then he draws and uses them in multiple scenarios while doing his tactical business. It’s an impressive array of weaponry, right down to the Glock 26 carried in the small of his back. It’s not the number of guns that’s most impressive but the number of magazines to support such an arsenal.

Imagine carrying two full-size duty pistols and a backup pistol. To do Wick’s work, you’ll want at least two reloads per gun, so that’s six magazines not only to store on your person but also to keep organized. Amazing. Anybody know how many guns and magazines constituted Wick’s load-up?

Conclusion

Thanks for reading this article. It’s meant just for fun and could have been titled “Movie Characters Not to Emulate (Except When They’re Doing Things Right).” Seriously, when it comes to gun handling, don’t take many cues from Hollywood.

Instead, seek out the professional and informed opinions of law enforcement training officers and certified self-defense trainers. Enjoy the movies though, and be on the lookout for the good, bad and ugly of movie gun handling. Unfortunately, there are probably many more “awards” that could be given out.

Discover how you can join more than 200,000 responsibly armed Americans who already rely on the USCCA to protect their families, futures and freedoms: USCCA.com/gunsamerica.

{ 40 comments… add one }
  • Retrocon February 9, 2018, 9:33 am

    James Bond correction.

    It’s actually worse than the Walther PPK.

    Watch the original Bond movie, Dr. No. When M calls bond in, he makes 007 trade in, relunctantly, his .25 ACP Beretta. The Beretta was more compact, as you indicated.

    The Walther was not Bonds choice, it was the standard issue, and a caliber upgrade from the .25.

  • Stephen Gilbert December 3, 2017, 2:57 pm

    Baddest gunslinger – Tom Cruise in the “Collateral” movie

  • Big Mac December 2, 2017, 9:39 pm

    #3 is WRONG. Arnold the Governator’s character in Red Heat carried a .50 Cal. Desert Eagle that was modified to be even heavier than Clint’s .S&W .44…………

    • Daniel January 5, 2018, 7:57 pm

      Arnold and Johnny Knoxville both wielded the Smith and Wesson 500

  • DB Cade December 2, 2017, 4:40 pm

    Another Hollywood fail, Jack Reacher is 6’5” not a diminutive 5’6 like Tom Cruise!

    • Airborne 8 January 26, 2018, 11:51 am

      Big ROGER on that one! I’ve read almost every Lee Child book and I guess that once again Hollywood just doesn’t care, and they figure nobody KNOWS Tom Cruise is 5 ft 6 in. or that nobody reads Lee Childs. Maybe the should get Gronkowski when he’s done with football! THAT’S who I picture as Jack Reacher.

  • Leslie bart Hock December 2, 2017, 11:05 am

    I have carried a Ruger Vaquero, .45LC, in a shoulder holster under a tux on several occasions. (Yes, SAA revolvers are an effective defensive weapon if you train with one. Ask any of the old west’s gunfight survivors.) I also carry a .357 Mag SP101 on my belt, cross draw and concealed, almost every day. Usually under a vest, occasionally under a casual shirt that pulls over and a few times in a pocket holster. I prefer the cross draw carry for the .357 as it facilitates a draw when seated. I am retired so I rarely need to wear a suit anymore. Being in Texas western wear with a vest does not draw attention and allows for waistband carry. I have used belly band holsters to good effect with revolvers on occasion but it is a slower draw.
    The only time I carry “one” gun is when I’m at home. Normally I have a Kel Tec P11 in a pocket holster and my .357, Colt 1911, or Vaquero on my waist. Occasionally, if I think the situation demands, I’ll have 2 belt guns, a pocket gun and a Derringer in an ankle holster. Speed strips for revolver reloads as multiple guns allow for a less speed critical reload. I didn’t say it first (wish I had) but “the fastest reload is a second gun”. Typically, 11 rounds of 9mm from the P11 and 5 from the SP101 plus one reload of .357 is quite enough for me to be comfortable with my load out.
    Favorite “big gun” guy is Burt Gummer from the Tremors franchise. He often carries a Desert Eagle in 50AE. Plus his long arm is a .50BMG rifle, first a Grizzly Big Bore and then a Barrett. When questioned about his load out his response was,” When you need it, and don’t have it, you’ll sing a different tune.”

    • Randy December 4, 2017, 7:58 pm

      I take it you don’t swim much, no spear gun?

    • Shan October 6, 2020, 7:45 pm

      Dude!! You’re a bad ass.

  • chip patton December 2, 2017, 3:01 am

    first place should be -Faster- Dwaine Johnson shooting people with a 454 casull is awesome If your not familier with the round stop by your local gun store and hold one in your hand makes a 44mag look like a bb gun 454 casull = 300gr bullet @ 1800 fps!!!!!!!

  • Dean December 1, 2017, 10:44 pm

    Regarding James Bond, there were a couple of 007 movies with Pierce Brosnan, I believe, in which Bond used a Walther P99 instead of the traditional PPK. And as far as “weak” calibers go, you might remember that Peter Quinn (Rupert Friend) in Homeland, often used a Walther P22 with a suppressor for “assignments”.

  • Rangemaster11B December 1, 2017, 10:14 pm

    I once carried a S&W 27 w/ 3.5 Bbl in a shoulder holster (Clint Eastwood’s “The Gauntlet”), but I have to agree with Rick, only in casual clothes.

    • Retrocon February 9, 2018, 9:35 am

      Before concealed carry, i would tote a Model 29, 8-3/8ths bbl, nickle, in a great safari vertical shoulder rig.

      Got looks, even in an open carry “cowboy” state like AZ.

  • PaulWVa December 1, 2017, 7:45 pm

    While it is TV and not a movie, we must take note of the absolutely amazing gun play on The Walking Dead. I know this show is based on comic books written for twelve year old’s but you’d think they would at try to get some of the details right. But when Rick constantly refers to his Colt Python as a .44 magnum , one by the way that has no recoil and never seems to run dry except when drama calls for it. Pump shot guns that shoot without being “pumped”. Women with little or no gun experience making amazing head shots, with snub nose revolvers, on moving targets while running away. But the best is having a “.44 mag” fired within a foot of someone’s head with no reaction what-so-ever to the blast or noise. And you have to wonder how this group that can’t find food or water seem to have an unending supply of ammunition and full auto rifles with suppressors. Science fiction ?…..more like fantasy…. no science to be found here.

    • Gene Kumeisha January 12, 2018, 8:28 am

      It’s TV! Get serious, wow.

    • Airborne 8 January 26, 2018, 11:44 am

      Ya on the Hollywood take, why don’t these idiot producers/directors just hire a weapons consultant to just keep them from looking stupid, like walking around with an empty chamber and jacking a round just before you need to shoot it, or jacking a pump multiple times without shooting in between. And archery, shooting a left handed bow, RIGHT handed or upside down and backwards, I’m doing commercials non-union and I see it happen all the time. But then again Hollywood leftists, non-gun owners figure “Who would know the difference? DUH…a few million people!

  • David December 1, 2017, 5:58 pm

    Back in the early 80’s when I was a corrections officer, I used to carry a Ruger Blackhawk .357 revolver with a 6″ barrel in a shoulder holster. I never had any trouble keeping it concealed. Now, I am unsure why I picked that gun and a shoulder holster. Later, I started carrying a Glock 19 in an IWB holster, which I still do. Much lighter. LOL

  • John Burinda December 1, 2017, 4:48 pm

    John Wick should get honorable mention for “Most practical use of 3 gun training” for that underground blast fest.

  • BR December 1, 2017, 1:33 pm

    If you are of the opinion that the recoil of .44 mag. is bad, you probably do not have a lot to offer a conversation on heavy recoiling hand guns.
    Just say’n

    • Retrocon February 9, 2018, 9:41 am

      Ever fire a 329PD in .44 Mag?

      More painful than a .500 S&W Mag. Hell, more painful than my .50BMG.

      Yes, i have fired all of them.

  • Alton December 1, 2017, 12:21 pm

    Let’s not forget the mighty, Josey Wales, who carried four guns along with cylinder backups!

    • OFBG December 1, 2017, 7:41 pm

      Josey is certainly an icon, but I don’t recall him carrying cylinder backups.
      Might you be thinking of Preacher in “Pale Rider?” He carried extra cylinders for his Remington, as well as a cap&ball Remington pocket pistol as backup.

    • Rich Zellich December 2, 2017, 1:32 am

      For most guns carried, how about the big shootout scene in the 1984 movie “City Heat” with Burt Reynolds and Clint Eastwood. As the two of them, side by side, shoot it out with the bad guys, as each gun goes dry they pull out another gun – each concealed pistol pulled is larger than the previous one, and there’s a sort of contest between the two as to who can pull the biggest gun next. Been a _long_ time since I’ve seen the movie, but I think it ends with one of them pulling a Buntline Special and the other a WW 1 German Artillery Model Luger. All guns concealed, of course.

      • OFBG December 2, 2017, 6:47 pm

        It’s been a long time since I’ve seen the movie as well, but I’m sure that you’re right about the Buntline.
        Hey, if Connor (and Duncan) McLeod can carry a concealed Samurai sword, is a 12-inch SAA rally an issue?

  • John Hunter December 1, 2017, 11:14 am

    You guys have named some top gun play movies but I really enjoyed The Dark Tower.
    The gun play with a revolver was really different and nice. A little unbelievable but like all the other movies, it is Hollywood.

  • KurtW December 1, 2017, 10:51 am

    Weakest Caliber should really go to Stallone’s and Banderas’ characters in “Assassins”. I haven’t watched it in years, but don’t recall either carrying anything more than a .22, usually a Ruger, IIRC.

  • Ro Gal December 1, 2017, 10:28 am

    Witty article written with humor and accuracy! Bravo!

  • Dan December 1, 2017, 9:42 am

    Honorable mention should go to Chow Yung Fat in the Replacement Killers. There is a fight scene where he is pulling Beretta 92 after Beretta 92 out of holsters everywhere. That was a guy that believed in a New York reload!

  • Geoff Standish December 1, 2017, 8:10 am

    Most guns on a person at one time. Neo, in The Matrix, the metal detector scene. Also, Noah MacManus in The Boondocks Saints

  • Rick December 1, 2017, 7:46 am

    I did actually carry a Model 57 in a shoulder holster for a while, but definitely in casual attire! IIRC, Eastwood didn’t have his gun on unless the shot called for him to draw. Thus he didn’t print.

  • CoyoteMW December 1, 2017, 6:32 am

    As to #2. “Weakest Caliber Award: James Bond,” Bond’s preference was actually his .25 Beretta Model 418 until the .32 Walther PPK was forced upon him. This was prompted by a letter from a fan to author Ian Fleming criticizing Fleming’s choice of firearms for Bond, calling the .25 Beretta “a lady’s gun.” Weakest Caliber Award indeed.

    • Alan December 1, 2017, 3:15 pm

      “With a Delivery like a brick through a plate glass window” was the line used to introduce the Walther.
      Yeah, a .32. Like a brick.
      In fact, if one were to throw a standard brick (approx. 4.3 lbs) at 30 MPH, it generates more energy than the average .32 cal ACP.
      No one wants to get shot, but one doesn’t want to be hit with a brick either!

    • Retrocon February 9, 2018, 9:41 am

      You are correct… i didn’t see this post before making my own on the same subj ct.

  • Will Drider November 29, 2017, 3:36 pm

    In “Magnum Force” Harry claims to be loading his .44 with “light Special” ammo. He says “This size gun it gives you better control and less recoil than a .357 Magnum with wadcutters.” So when he say its the worlds most powerful handgun (in general), its only for looks/intimidation. The load would actually be about the same as a .44 Russian.
    Hollywood, being what it is; still made the shot impacts apear to be all perpetrating, totally devastating and awe inspiring MAGNUM THUMPERS with no equal and unlimited distance and retained energy.

    Dirty Harry ballistics are like a lip sync performance. Lol

    • Kimberpross December 1, 2017, 9:40 am

      And I love it…

  • Bill November 29, 2017, 11:39 am

    There must a shrine at Smith and Wesson HQ dedicated to Eastwood’s character and his love of a .44 Magnum. Don’t forget the AutoMag Harry pulls from storage when the 29’s not there. I bet that gun’s sale skyrocketed after that movie. But if we are talking “big” guns don’t forget the “hand carried” harpoon gun Harry used in The Dead Pool.

    • Kimberpross December 1, 2017, 9:43 am

      I read an article a few years back that stated Model 29 sales picked up each time after AMC would run the Dirty Harry marathon. I have to admit I bought a Model 57. I already have a Redhawk 44 mag i use a lot and a 41 mag. Black hawk, so logically a SW 41 mag. double action made sense.

  • Will Drider November 28, 2017, 11:42 pm

    # 3. Please give credit where due: The .475 Wildey Magnum carried by Paul Kersey (Charles Bronson) in Death Wish 3, with 230 gn @ 1730fps and 1475ftlb. Out at 100 yards it has the equivalent MV of the .44 Mag. With 5 inch barrel it weighs in at 64oz, much heavier then Harry’s M29. The Wildey used in DW3 was actually ownen by Bronson and that is a slam dunk!

    Add #6. Most gun savvy couple: Mr. and Mrs Smith (Pitt &Jolie). Only thing they can’t hit with a gun is each other but everyone else get piled up. Lol

    • Jeff Arthur December 1, 2017, 8:59 pm

      Thanks I enjoyed that movie memory

  • Richard Steven Hack November 28, 2017, 8:23 pm

    Some points:

    Jack Reacher spends most of his time traveling on buses around the country. Concealed carry law fragmentation would make it difficult for him to be doing concealed carry most of the time. He probably is a Concealed Carry Reciprocity law advocate. 🙂

    James Bond does incredibly stupid stuff like throwing himself off a cliff, skydiving down to a plane that also fell off the cliff so he can climb in, start it and fly away. So who’s surprised that he carries an inadequate caliber weapon?

    Bourne has probably been trained to stash his weapons in his AO rather than carrying them around. Spies are paranoid about being caught. Being caught with a gun in a restrictive foreign country is pretty much proof you’re either a spy or a criminal. Besides, he’s so good at taking other people’s guns away that he pretty much can get one as soon as someone draws on him. Which is good tactics: if you can’t draw first, and you’re drawn on by someone else, might as well interrupt his process and take his gun than get shot trying to get yours out too late.

    Dirty Harry: “A man’s got to know his limitations.” Which apparently doesn’t apply to .44. Magnum recoil or weight…

    John Wick: “two full-size duty pistols and a backup pistol” I’d recommend that if you’re going to conceal carry. The minimum one gun and one magazine reload always seems inadequate to me – especially if you’re carrying a single-stack 7-round semi-auto or six-round revolver. While multiple armed assailants are rare, you plan for the outlying situations as much as possible. You have to assume (and it’s been proven historically by cops and soldiers) that under stress, you’re going to miss more than hit, so six or seven rounds simply isn’t enough if your assailant decides not to go along with the “two shot” statistical average. You really want to trust your life to a statistical average?

    John Wick also carries small of the back, even though he has been hit and knocked down flat on his back (in the club shootout scene). He simply assumes that’s not going to happen that often and the position is a decent concealment position, especially when wearing a suit. Plus he knows how to fall and roll properly from his martial arts training (except that scene).

    He also carries a backup in an ankle holster. Slow to draw, but he can draw it after he’s been thrown ten feet down to a hard floor.

    ‘Cuz he’s John Wick…determined to win and live…where most of us would be whimpering in a fetal position.

    Also, you can’t beat pre-planning. John stashes an AR-15, a shotgun, war belts loaded with magazines, a fighting knife and an escape route before doing his hit in Italy. He wipes out an untold number of enemies despite being shot ten or fifteen times in his “bulletproof but painful” suit – and still gets his butt kicked by Cassian.

    Finally, like Bourne and Reacher, given one gun with seven bullets, he still manages to grab enough of his enemies’ guns to get through another 20-30-man gauntlet to get his main enemy.

    Wick should be the number one award winner. I believe him when he tells Winston that he’s gonna kill every one of the assassins sent after him in John Wick 3.

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