By: Spencer Durrant
I saw Dr. No and Goldfinger when I was 12 or 13. That may have been a bit young to jump into the James Bond universe, but I’m not complaining. I’ve now seen each film multiple times and consider Timothy Dalton’s Bond portrayal to be the most true-to-character as Ian Fleming wrote James Bond in the books.
But that’s another matter… Let’s discuss the guns Bond has used over the years. Just as the character has evolved since Sean Connery, so have the handguns and rifles 007 has reached for to save the world.
With 24 films (and counting), it wasn’t easy to pick Bond’s “best” guns. I’ve taken into account a few criteria:
• Logical efficacy: Fantastical plots aside, whatever sidearm Bond uses needs to be a logically effective weapon. Sure, a 1911 is one of the most dependable pistols in history, but it’s hardly practical for the world’s best spy.
• “Cool” factor: Watching Bond save the day (and the girl) with a Glock 17 isn’t as fun as seeing him do it with a specially-modified .32 ACP Walther PPK or a Beretta 418 .25 ACP. Right?
• Iconic moments: A Smith & Wesson 27-2 with a 3.5-inch barrel, chambered in .357 mag, was used to shoot Sean Connery’s infamous gun barrel sequence. To make this list, a gun needs to have that level of “star power” within a film.
With these factors in mind, here are what I consider to be the best guns from the Bond films:
The Walther PPK is the sidearm most commonly associated with James Bond, and for good reason. It was used in every film starting with From Russia With Love up until 1983’s Octopussy. Originally, the gun was chambered in .32 ACP in both the books and movies, though it’s now only available in .380.
The PPK checks off the logic factor here, as it’s still a great pick for concealed carry today. It’s definitely a unique, gorgeous pistol, and it saved the day multiple times. If I had to pick just one gun from the Bond films to use, it would probably be the Walther PPK.
Smith & Wesson Model 29
I have a love affair with big-bore revolvers, part of which stems from Michael Valentine’s use of them in the bestselling Dead Six trilogy by Larry Correia and Mike Kupari. It’s largely due to my upbringing in a rural town in the American West.
When Roger Moore pulled out his Model 29 in Live and Let Die (his debut as 007), it was the first time we ever saw Bond use the magnificent .44 mag to dispose of his enemies.
Cool? Hell yes. Practical? Well, not if you plan to keep it concealed (a tall task even while wearing a suit all the time). But if you need to shoot through two bad guys, both wearing Kevlar? The .44 mag is up to that task.
Heckler & Koch UMP-9
Casino Royale is one of the five best Bond films ever made. Fact! And it saved the franchise from the unbearably outlandish Pierce Brosnan days.
The whole film is stuffed with throwbacks to the old movies, Fleming’s original books, and tropes Bond fans have come to expect over the years. But the most iconic of those comes at the film’s very end, when Daniel Craig’s 007 shoots Mr. White. Standing over the whimpering bad guy, Bond holds the Heckler & Koch UMP-9 desert-warlord style and utters three of the most famous words in movie history: “Bond. James Bond.”
Walther WA 2000 Sniper Rifle
We’ll depart from handguns for a moment to look at one of the most valuable collector’s guns in the world. Walther built an incredible bullpup sniper rifle in the late 70s, but didn’t see a market for it at the time. With its high production cost, Walther cut production of the WA 2000. Only 176 were ever made.
Of course, Bond uses one in 1987’s The Living Daylights to attack a KGB sniper, who just happens to be a woman – and Bond’s love interest for the film.
Pierce Brosnan ushered Bond into the modern world and gets to use arguably the most rare gun in all of Bond history during 1997’s Tomorrow Never Dies. The Calico M950A is a U.S.-made machine pistol fed from a magazine mounted on top of the gun.
The gun itself wasn’t ever much of a success, but it helped Bond out of a few sticky situations and signaled the willingness of filmmakers to employ a bit more of the Moore-era Bond effects into Brosnan’s films, after the gritty and violent Dalton films.
I could keep listing guns for a while here, but these are the firearms from this film franchise that are really memorable to me. With the untitled Bond 25 due out in November 2019, I’m excited to see which new weapons Bond uses this time around!
Spencer Durrant is a fly fishing and outdoors writer from Utah. His writing has appeared in Field & Stream, Sporting Classics Daily, American Angler, Hatch Magazine, TROUT Magazine, and other national publications. Spencer is also the Managing Editor of The Modern Trout Bum. Find him on Twitter/Instagram, @Spencer_Durrant.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock