Many tradesmen have very specific licenses. A welder needs a license to weld. A roofer needs a license to roof. A plumber needs a license to plumb. So what kind of a license does a super-spy need?
A license to kill. James Bond has used his license plenty — for official government business only, of course. But when spying is your line of work, looking good in a tux just isn’t enough. You’ve also got to have the hardware for the job.
“Mr. Bond, bullets do not kill. It is the finger that pulls the trigger.” -Lazar (Man With The Golden Gun)
Bond and his foes have wielded a lot of high tech devices over the years, but when push comes to shove a gun is always going to be more useful in a fight than a wristwatch laser. A suave guy like Bond wouldn’t be caught dead holding a lame gun, though. In this article we’re going to take a look the top ten James Bond guns.
James Bond Guns
Walther LP53 (1953 – 1976)
Although the Walther LP53 never appeared in a Bond movie, it is one of the most iconic guns in the franchise. Connery posed with the pistol for a publicity photo taken for From Russia with Love, which was used to promote the three subsequent movies as well. Thing is, if Bond took the LP53 into combat, he’d look like an idiot. That’s because it’s a .177” BB gun. Yep, TIL one of the most famous James Bond guns is an air pistol.
The story goes that when Connery showed up to the photoshoot, no one had thought to bring along the appropriate Walther PPK. The photographer had to improvise, but fortunately, he practiced air pistol as a hobby. His pistol was even made by Walther. He handed Connery his LP53 to hold as a prop, which Connery accepted because he probably just wanted to go home, and that was that: James Bond posing with a pea shooter.
Walther WA 2000 (1982 – 1988)
This is the sniper rifle that Bond uses to shoot at a KGB sniper in The Living Daylights. He shoots her rifle out of her hands, and goes on to seal the deal in true Bond fashion by making her a love interest. If only it were that easy to get girls in real life!
It is good that Bond didn’t hit her. Chambered for 300 Winchester Magnum, his WA 2000 would have left quite a mark. The bullpup rifle looks very distinctive with its short, floating barrel and wooden frame and stock, but it would become a commercial flop for Walther. The German police used it a little, but most people didn’t want to shell out upward of five figures for a rifle back in the 80s.
All in all, only 176 of these rifles were made. They can now fetch up to $75 thousand at auction, so check and see if you’ve got one lying around.
The Klobb is a fictional Russian-made submachine that exists only in the video game tie-in for GoldenEye. Naturally, going into the specifics for a nonexistent gun is silly. For example, the video game’s fan website cites the Klobb’s damage as “0.6.” If you’re reading this before you go to basic training, make sure to ask your drill sergeant what that means.
Why is the Klobb on this list? Because it illustrates an interesting thing. People who play a lot of the GoldenEye video game, which gives players access to many guns, consider the Klobb one of the worst. It has a small magazine, a slow rate of fire, and poor accuracy. These could all be complaints for real-world guns as well, proving that even nerds have high expectations for their weaponry.
MBA Gyrojet Pistol (1960s)
James Bond’s Japanese counterpart Tiger Tanaka demonstrated his Gyrojet at a shooting range in You Only Live Twice. This is a weird gun. Instead of bullets, it fires tiny rockets called Microjets. With very little recoil the Gyrojet could do with a lightweight barrel and chamber. This made it very portable, and about 1,000 Gyrojet “Rocketeer” pistols were used during the Vietnam War.
Here’s the problem with the Gyrojet. Its little rocket had a pathetic muzzle velocity, and needed about 30 feet to reach 1,250 feet per second. If you hit someone up close with it, the rocket might be going only about 100 feet per second. That’s not very good stopping power at short range, which is what a pistol is for. At least you can fire a Gyrojet underwater.
If you want to fire it at all, that is. Ammunition for this unusual and thoroughly obsolete firearm now costs about $100 per round, making it a poor choice for plinking. Even a common model Gyrojet can fetch four figures at auction today.
Accuracy International Arctic Warfare (1982 – present)
Bond uses this suppressed sniper rifle to try to take out the main bad guy in Die Another Day. It is good that he didn’t manage to, because it would have been a short movie otherwise. No one in the theater would have had time to finish their Juju Bees.
British manufacturer Accuracy International’s bolt action sniper rifle has become popular the world over since its introduction to the market. True to its name, it boasts features which make its performance reliable even at -40° Fahrenheit. Its special bolt is designed to avoid binding if ice gets into it, and its enlarged stockhole, bolt handle, and trigger guard make it easier to operate while you’re wearing thick mittens. It’s no wonder why the Swedish Army has embraced Arctic Warfare.
Bond’s rifle apparently had a conventional scope, but when he looked through it he was treated to a very futuristic reticle. It must have been a SmartScope™, with built-in wifi capability and its own Siri. “Okay, I think you’re trying to shoot the bad guy. Would you like me to recommend Thai restaurants in your area?”
.38 Caliber Pistol (1800s – present)
This gun has appeared in nearly every single Bond film, although we can’t say anything about it besides that it has a rifled bore. It is down the barrel of this hypothetical gun that we see the famous James Bond opening title sequence.
The man who filmed the opening sequence for Dr. No initially had trouble getting the whole barrel into focus. He made a makeshift pinhole camera and found that the problem cleared up right away. We had always assumed that they just replaced a bullet with a tiny, functional camera.
Moonraker Laser Pistol (if only)
The bad guys in Moonraker obviously couldn’t shoot real bullets. Propellant would not combust in the cold, dead void of space outside, and inside of a space station is a risky place to squeeze off a few. They could have theoretically used frangible bullets indoors, but lasers look much cooler.
The laser pistols made for the movie were actually plastic toy Uzis that a prop designer glued a bunch of futuristic-looking stuff to. We can’t wait for the real thing to come out. Naturally, we’ll have to figure out a new business model if one battery could replace a whole case of ammunition, but being able to burn holes through targets half a mile away sounds like a good way to spend an afternoon.
Sterling Submachine Gun (1953 – 1988)
Bond wields a Sterling submachine gun during the climactic raid on the big bad guy’s Alpine base in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. It’s not a very handsome chunk of metal, not unlike the Sten gun that it started replacing in the British army in 1953.
The Sterling was popular for its great reliability in poor conditions, even though its open bolt was exposed to the elements. What’s more, it could be comfortably fired left-handed. That’s if you didn’t mind a hot casing flying at your face every now and then. Bond carried the L2A3, the last Sterling used by the British Army. The SA80 officially replaced it in 1994.
Golden Gun (never existed)
Some assassins want to blend in with the scenery, but when you’re going after James Bond you have to have a little flair. That’s why Francisco Scaramanga, the main antagonist in The Man with the Golden Gun, had to have a real golden gun. It would have been false advertising otherwise. (He also had Nick Nack, a person of short stature, working for him. Say what you will about him, but Scaramanga was an equal opportunity dirt bag.)
Scaramanga’s golden gun was a 4.2mm single shot pistol, something you would want to use if you intended to show off your assassination skills. The golden gun fired a real golden bullet, which would cost about $40 if it weighed the same as a 4.25mm Liliput’s bullet. This was a good way for the baddie to show off his marksmanship. Imagine how dumb you’d feel if you missed with a $40 bullet?
The golden gun broke down into parts that look like everyday objects: a pen, a cufflink, a lighter, and a cigarette case. Maybe that’s the reason why TSA agents are so on edge all the time.
James Bond Guns: Walther PPK (1929 – present)
If we didn’t make the Walther PPK the top Bond gun, angry Bond fans would have stormed the Widener’s office. Bond can be seen with his little semi-automatic in every one of his films. It may seem a bit out of character for a British spy to prefer a German handgun, but then again, Brits and Germans had a lot of opportunities to see each other’s weaponry in action.
The original Walther PP may have had a funny name, but it made a big splash when it first came out. The blowback pistol had many innovative safety features, including an auto hammer block (good for a gun with an exposed hammer) and a loaded chamber indicator. Bond’s PPK was released the following year. It had a shorter barrel and frame, and a shorter grip at the expense of losing one round in magazine capacity. But when you’re sneaking a gun under your tux, you have to make compromises.
Ian Fleming, who wrote the Bond novels, originally had the spy carry a Beretta 418. Fleming did this because he himself had carried a Beretta 418 chambered for 25 ACP in WWII. One day Fleming got a letter from a firearms expert explaining that Bond would have needed a more powerful caliber than that. He would want a weapon available anywhere in the world. Bond does get around after all. The expert recommended the PPK. Fleming took his advice and made the switch in his next novel: Dr. No. Bond would switch to a Walther P99 in later films.
Shaken, Not Stirred
Did we miss something? We probably did, since there are nearly as many James Bond guns in these movies as there are characters. If you feel we left some critical piece of hardware out of our list of top 10 guns of James Bond, please nominate it in the comment section below. Just don’t ask us to start carrying Microjets or 24K golden bullets.