Let us start by saying that no movie is going to be perfectly accurate, but some take the time to get most things right.
If the gun movie happens to have a higher-than-likely hit ratio or a greater-than-likely bullet impact effect, I can overlook that a lot more than I can overlook 15-shot revolvers or police running down the street with their finger on the trigger without a negligent discharge.
That being said, here are a few movies that get it right when it comes to firearms.
1. John Wick (2014)
For all the abuse these gun movies take due to John Wick being an unassailable master of death. If you can get past that, the gun work is actually quite good.
It may be a bit gun gamer, but the reality is there are guys and gals who are that good with guns. Keanu Reeves trained extensively with a very famous California gun trainer for this (and the sequels).
I have seen videos of Keanu shooting in a 3-Gun competition. He is very smooth in his shooting, and his reloads and marksmanship are on point.
Certainly, the movie makes his hit ratio a bit high, but again there are people that are that good and much of his action is within seven yards. The real people capable of this usually do have the advantage of being on a one-way range.
John and almost all the professionals he faces have perfect trigger and muzzle discipline. He carries several extended magazines and a back-up gun at all times. His shooting does not exceed his magazine capacity and he reloads often.
Even to the point of picking up guns from the bad guys if he is out of ammo. They even make a point of emphasizing the maxim that there is no such thing as too much firepower, and anything worth shooting once needs to be shot at least twice.
This is one of the most popular modern gun movies that is also fairly accurate.
2. Heat (1995)
This is one of the gun movies that has very good gun accuracy. I am told the director, Michael Mann, demands it, as he is very strict on all aspects of authenticity and doesn’t want to take the viewer out of the scene with anything dumb.
The 10+ minute shoot-out scene, it is very accurate in many ways. The average patrol officer is very undergunned and very much in shock. They are not prepared for a dynamic firefight environment and only a few think to go for long guns.
Both the bad guys and the good guys run out of ammunition, often at inopportune times. The bank robbers have very obviously planned, practiced and trained for the heist, as well as their potential need to shoot their way out.
Long guns were the preferred weapons and lots of barely concealed magazines are seen as soon as the heist begins.
The police are much more selective in their shots than the bad guys. The bullets sometimes wound, and sometimes they incapacitate or kill immediately, but this is shown in direct relation to the point of impact. Also, dozens of rounds are fired for every injury sustained.
Val Kilmer burns through an entire 30-round magazine without a single human hit. He does destroy several police cars, and if it were a real-world situation, I am sure more than a few officers would have had soiled pants, not to mention hide from the bullets.
The only shot that has that movie-magical quality is the headshot of the robber holding the little girl as a hostage.
That said, considering the ruthlessness of the robbers and it was a rifle shot at less than 30 yards, I can see myself taking the shot.
3. Dirty Harry (1971)
Do I feel lucky? I should point out that this gun correctness mostly applies to the character played by Clint Eastwood. It is also vintage 1971, so some of the things we take for granted now, were not widely implemented.
With that in mind, this is one of the gun movies that provides a good look at period gun usage.
Most of the other police officers, and certainly the bad guys, do not follow proper gun rules. In the breadth of things, proper gun etiquette was slow at infiltrating many police agencies and didn’t really take stronghold until the late 70’s.
This only increases the period-correct realism, as does the offhand gripping of the wrist as a way to control recoil. This was taught as proper into the late 70’s as well.
To fault a movie because the bad guys have bad trigger and muzzle discipline is to ignore the facts of life.
I am of the belief that much of the Harry Callahan gun handling was a result of Clint Eastwood being a gun owner and a Second Amendment advocate, more than it had to do with any directorial input.
The focus on terminal damage, as well as needing to know how many shots had been fired, was a key component for those using wheel guns. It was also important to their opponents, as the movie humorously showed.
4. Lone Survivor (2013)
This is a story based on a real-life occurrence and follows the book written by the survivor, a Navy SEAL, Marcus Luttrell.
Of course, in Hollywood, that doesn’t necessarily mean even the main story or outcome will be the same, much less “small details” like gun handling will be correct. This is different.
I have read accounts that the four actors who portray the main characters were put through a very intense three or four-week boot camp. My understanding is the boot camp was a stripped-down version of the SEAL’s BUDS course.
I am sure it had much less focus on physical determination and eating crickets then it did on small group tactics, weapons handling and the mindset of a SEAL.
The actors seem to all be very comfortable with their guns, and they exhibit great muzzle discipline and trigger control. The reloads, round counts and impairment as injuries mount are all taken into account.
As the team depletes their ammunition stores, the tension from the actors ratchets up. It is obvious, that the soldiers know there are more bad guys than bullets.
They are very concerned with making all shots count, even though they know in the end it won’t likely matter. To this end, all shots are aimed semi-auto, even though their long guns are capable of full-auto fire.
For those who have served or just those who know guns, this attention to detail greatly adds to the mounting drama and foreboding.
Conclusion: Gun Movies
Although most gun movies have no idea what gun reality looks like, there are many more than the above listed that do.
What are your favorite instances of firearm usage in movies? Or just your favorite gun movies in general? Let us know in the comments below!