Guns of Action Stars — Sylvester Stallone

Operator holding clapperboard, studio light with claps on background. Filmmaker background

Some celebrities have made a name with their ability to thrill us on screen with their firearm handling and shooting ability. These “Action Stars” have used a wide variety of guns throughout their years in film, but some stand out more than others. Here are some of the best and coolest guns used by the incredible Sylvester Stallone.

Rambo and M60 machine gun
John Rambo and his M60 are iconic. Image Source: IMFDB


John Rambo and his Browning M60 are one of the most incredible pairings in action movie history. The belt of ammo slung over his shoulder is also iconic. 

The M60 is a full-auto, belt-fed machine gun chambered in 7.62 NATO, capable of firing 550-650 rounds per minute. It earned the nickname, the “Pig,” from American soldiers because its report sounded like the grunt of a barnyard hog. It is one heavy chunk of steel at 26 pounds loaded, and it proves Rambo’s strength that he totes it around so easily. 

The M60 also matches the post Vietnam-era setting of the film, and it makes sense for a returned soldier to have knowledge on how to operate a more complex firearm such as this. 

The Expendables Colt SAA fanning hammer
Fanning the hammer on a revolver is always a Hollywood favorite. Image Source: IMFDB

The Expendables

The Expendables is a movie filled with tons of action stars and even more firearms. One of the most notable is carried by Barney Ross (Stallone), who frequently uses a Colt Single Action Army as backup. It’s mainly seen when he fires from the hip in those dire life and death scenarios. Of course, he fans the hammer on this single-action, which looks great on screen. 

This classic cowboy gun fires the large .45 LC and holds six rounds in the cylinder. The Ross Single Action Army incorporates a custom shortened barrel with compensator cuts and no front sight post. 

The Expendables was also co-written and directed by Stallone, earning it extra marks on this list. 

Cobra Jatimatic with laser sight
The old laser sight makes is a nice addition. Image Source: IMFDB


Up next is Cobra, where Stallone plays “Cobra,” a LA detective assigned to protect a witness to a string of murders. As you might expect from someone with the name Cobra, he’s the beard stubble, toothpick in mouth, aviator sunglasses type… perfect for an ’80s action movie. 

The Jatimatic SMG is used frequently throughout the film and is even featured in advertising. This uniquely shaped firearm certainly looks the part of a good defensive firearm with the old school laser sight attached. In reality, this Finnish gun was produced in very limited numbers and was never successful. Even in film, Cobra was one of its only moderately successful appearances. This 9mm SMG had both 20- and 40-round magazine options, and could be equipped with a folding stock, but was ultimately beaten out by the competition at the time. 

Bullet to the Head Hi-Power at broken window
Here we can see the three-lug adapter for a suppressor. Image Source: IMFDB

Bullet to the Head

In Bullet to the Head, Stallone plays Jimmy Bobo, a retiring hitman whose partner was murdered. Jimmy must team up with a detective to help uncover and bring down who’s responsible.

Jimmy uses a nickel-plated Browning Hi-Power with three-lug adapter for a quick-attach suppressor. This makes sense given his background as a hitman. The single-action pistol is incredibly accurate and reliable. His Hi-Power is a 9mm, so it’s 13+1 rounds, and this version seems to feature fixed sights. Classic Hi-Powers are steel-frame tanks, making them an excellent no-nonsense sidearm. 

Nighthawks Remington 870 sawn-off
The sawed-off barrel and folding stock make for a great CQB setup. Image Source: IMFDB


When a European terrorist comes to New York, an elite undercover cop must do anything necessary to take him down. Nighthawks is full of classic cop guns for your viewing pleasure. One of the coolest is a sawed-off Remington 870 12-gauge. DaSilva (Stallone) uses a Remington 870 with an overfolding stock and shortened barrel to make a dangerous arrest. This setup handles well in tight spaces and packs a lot of power. It also looks great on the big screen.

Death Race 2000 Machine Gun Joe and Thompson
Machine Gun Joe and his submachine gun. Image Source: IMFDB

Death Race 2000

Death Race 2000 depicts a futuristic world where the most popular form of entertainment is watching a dangerous race to the death. Stallone plays Machine Gun Joe, known for his love and use of the M1928 Thompson. He even drives a car with a Thompson-shaped ornament mounted to the hood. 

The M1928 Thompson, or “Chicago Typewriter,” is a blowback-operated, selective-fire SMG chambered in .45 ACP.  Originally designed to enhance trench warfare tactics, the Thompson features a short 10.5-inch barrel for easy maneuverability. Notably, the Thompson accepts heavy 50-round drum magazines as well as 30-round extended stick mags. The early M1928 Thompsons incorporate the ribbed barrel, Cutts compensator, and forward grip. Later models did away with these details to save costs during wartime efforts. 

Demolition Man Beretta 02 cocking
Stallone lacks a little trigger discipline here. Image Source: IMFDB

Demolition Man

In Demolition Man, Stallone plays a cop who has been reanimated in the future to stop a violent offender. Of course, it only makes sense for him to use a sidearm with a rich history in law enforcement, the Beretta 92. 


The Beretta 92 is a 9mm double-action/single-action pistol with a double-stacked magazine that holds 17 rounds of ammunition. The open-top slide design makes for excellent reliability and quick malfunction clearance. This “wondernine” helped pave the road for the popularity of today’s semi-automatic, double-stack pistols. It’s nice to think this pistol is still kicking ass in the future. 

Escape Plan Colt 1911A1 aiming shot
Stallone uses a Colt 1911A1 while hanging off a helicopter. Image Source: IMFDB

Escape Plan

Escape Plan is all about suspense, including Ray Breslin’s (Stallone) impressive catch of a Colt M1911A1 to save the day during the climax of the film. 

The Government model 1911 has a 5-inch barrel and a full-length steel grip frame. Of course, it’s a single-stack, single-action, .45 ACP pistol. The movie even accounts for an accurate 7+1 capacity, when Breslin fires eight rounds. This classic Colt 1911 features the traditional barebones iron sights, making that daring shot all the more impressive. 

What’s your favorite Sylvester Stallone action movie? What’s your favorite gun he used on screen? Let us know in the comment section.

About the Author:

Alex Cole

Alex is a younger firearms enthusiast who’s been shooting since he was a kid. He loves consuming all information related to guns and is constantly trying to enhance his knowledge, understanding, and use of firearms. Not a day goes by where he doesn’t do something firearms-related and he tries to visit the range at least a couple of times a month to maintain and improve his shooting skills.

His primary focus is on handguns, but he loves all types of firearms. He enjoys disassembling and reassembling firearms to see how they work and installs most of the upgrades to his firearms himself, taking it as a chance to learn. He’s not only interested in modern handguns and rifles, he appreciates the classics for both historical value and real-world use.
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (9)

  1. -When I first saw Rambo first blood, I was maybe eight or 10 years old. I had no clue of what was real and what was not real regarding weapons, but I knew this, Rambo was bad ass, and I wanted to beat him! After that movie, I ran around my backyard for six months in jeans with a burlap sack on tied with a rope and my Swiss Army knife in a custom dagger sheath (because mom wouldn’t let me have a Bowie)

  2. @Keith, That is a good point about firing it while standing up. I did not ever carry an M-60 as I was a medic carrying 2 M3 Medic bags, but I have seen them in action. And now that you mention it, I cannot think of a time when ANYONE fired it from a position other than on the ground, with the bipod in place. Some units had them on tripods but the guys I was with only had the bipod. Firing a 60 standing up is almost as ridiculous as having a Ma Deuce mounted on a 1/4 ton jeep like in the TV series Rat Patrol back in the 60’s. I watched that show because I didn’t know any better. I learned pretty quickly once I got in the Army and saw a Ma Deuce shooting for real.

    At least they didn’t have him (Stallone) as a one man mortar team. For those of you who are not familiar with a mortar team, it was a 3 man team to carry all three components. The mortar plate felt like it weight about 200 lbs after you carried it for a few minutes. I think it was actually about 40 pounds, and a bunch of guys told me that it always felt heavier than that after they walked any distance. I was glad that I was not on a mortar team. I knew guys on those teams but I was never out in the field with them. And I thanked God for that.

  3. Stallone is a good actor who improved his acting with age.
    Anyone who has ever fired the M-60 machine guns knows it is NOT a firearm that someone picks up and fires one handed, especially while standing straight up. The M60 as you noted fires 7.62×51 NATO rounds at a rapid rate. You had to lean forward and fire it in short bursts or it would knock you backwards from the recoil.
    So I gotta call fake on Rambo firing it one handed like he did.

  4. I didn’t know that about Stallone, he is now in the same boat as Liam Neeson. I’m sure they both look ridiculous in a dress. I would say they both likely carry because they are so much more special than everyone else. Hope they choke on it.

  5. I read the book that Rambo: First Blood was based on. It was an ok read, but I was disappointed in the movie overall. In the book, he dies. I got talked into watching the movie where he went back to Vietnam and was I disgusted by the rank lack of knowledge by the writers of what weapons could and could not do. Firing an explosive shaped charge at a tank with a compound bow…? Give me freakin’ break. It takes a bit more than the small amount of explosive contained in that charge to blow up a tank. I found none of it to be remotely realistic, just Hollywood crap. A friend of mine who is also a vet told me years ago that Rambo as portrayed would not have lasted 15 minutes in any of the firefights he was in. I cannot/will not argue with that point.

    But what do I know? I only spent almost 4 years of my life doing things like Recon and SAR for real. I have been shot at, and I have seen too many men die in some of the worst ways imaginable. So I have not bothered to see any of the subsequent Rambo movies, nor will I see the last one in the future.

    That being said, I have seldom found movies to portray being under fire realistically. Blackhawk Down and We Were Soldiers were realistic enough that I could not watch them in one sitting or even on the same day. Blackhawk down took me almost 3 days to watch. I have been given DVDs of several other war movies but they are unwatched. I do not get any pleasure out of watching those kinds of movies as I see things from years ago that are not in any movie that I have ever seen, and there is something about the dreams that come back.

    If I want to watch a shoot-em-up, I will pull up a Denzel movie, like the Equalizer series. The nail gun scene was great and actually pretty realistic. I have seen people shot with nail guns in the ER, though most of those were through carelessness, negligence or unfortunate happenstance. Would not want to go that way. I also enjoyed the Magnificent Seven. They walk the line between fantasy and reality enough that they don’t trigger anything in me.

  6. Stallone is a putz he ripped of the real Rocky guy promised money but never gave – now using weapons to get rich but bashing the legal common man for having them he says what ever keeps him in the spot light plus many covered up drugged rapes over the years like cosby

  7. Interesting weapons feature, however, IIRC, Stallone is one of those Hollywoodlings who had been quoted as opposed to personal ownership of firearms. Amusing that someone who makes a living by pretending violence would personally be opposed to another using such weapons for personal defense.

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