GDC Selects: 7 Rad 80s Action Movies and Their Guns

At we like to celebrate our favorite eras and genres as well as the guns that made them famous. Today, we’re headed back to big hair, shoulder pads and neons for a deeper dive into the top action movies from the 80s. Be careful, though, spoilers ahead.

7. Beverly Hills Cops: Browning Hi-Power

80s guns

Eddie Murphy wields a Browning Hi-Power while searching for his friend’s killer. (Photo: Paramount Pictures via YouTube)


Eddie Murphy kicks off the list with the classic 80s movie that launched Murphy to stardom. Beverly Hills Cop sees Murphy as Detroit cop Axel Foley chasing down the murderer of his best friend in, you guessed it, Beverly Hills, California. Foley relies on his trust Browning Hi-Power to solve the crime. We first see the handgun appear around the 12-minute mark as he scouts for an intruder in his apartment. From there, the Browning Hi-Power makes its grand finale in a hail of gunfire in the big shootout scene near the end of the film.

6. Aliens: M41A Pulse Rifle and M56 Smart Gun

80s guns of Aliens

Ripley ultimately uses the M41A Pulse Rifle against a slew of aliens, including the biggest, baddest of them all. (Photo: 20th Century Fox via YouTube)

Bringing in some of the coolest sci-fi guns, director James Cameron’s classic showcases a variety of weaponry but the two that stand out the most are the M41A Pulse Rifle and iconic M56 Smart Gun.

The M41A Pulse Gun makes its grand entrance as Ripley attempts an escape. Stumbling across Mama Alien herself, Ripley uses the M41A Pulse Gun to let loose on the aliens. In a twist of irony, Ripely could have simply run from Big Mama but then we’d lose out on that epic battle scene.

The M56 Smart Gun uses a German MG42 construction with both the stock and grip removed. Rigged up to a Steadicam body mount, we get our first taste of the Smart Gun from Privates Vasquez and Drake around the 38-minute mark. From there, we have to wait another full 40 minutes before we see the gun in action taking out xenomorphs.

Special shout out to the Ithaca 37, another popular 80s gun that makes a cool close quarters appearance.

5. Lethal Weapon: Beretta 92 and Smith & Wesson Model 19

80s guns

Riggs shows off his Beretta 92 at the range. (Photo: Warner Bros. via YouTube)


The first Christmas movie to grace the list, Lethal Weapon sees two of the biggest 80s stars, Mel Gibson and Danny Glover, star as LAPD Sergeants Martin Riggs and Roger Murtaugh. Though this film features a variety of firearms, Riggs’ Beretta 92 and Murtaugh’s Smith & Wesson Model 19 take the cake. The Beretta 92 makes its first appearance during a drug deal gone south and eventually elicits the often quoted, “I’m getting too old for this shit,” from Murtaugh. The Beretta 92 flexes its muscles during the range scene where we see the Beretta take a chunk out of the paper target followed by an impressive smiley face tacked into the target by the 9mm bullets.

Murtaugh’s faithful and trusty 6-shooter, the Smith & Wesson Model 19, proves its reliability, later though, taking out the driver of the General’s car. Ultimately, this causes the car to crash and explode showing that all the fancy 9mms in the world can’t stack up against a good Hollywood explosion.

4. First Blood: M60

rambo first blood guns

The M60 flexes its muscles in First Blood, even making its way onto the movie poster. (Photo: Orion Pictures)

First Blood is a pure action-driven flick starring Sylvester Stallone in the role of Vietnam veteran John Rambo. Though several guns come into play during the film, the one that most famously graced the movie poster is none other than the M60, a.k.a. The Pig.

Despite wreaking some serious havoc with The Pig, Rambo draws first blood with a rock. Launching the rock at a helicopter, he causes a sniper to fall to his death. At this point, he takes possession of a Winchester 88; however, he never really uses it. But who would when you could have an M60 at your disposal? The M60, itself, appears after Rambo hijacks a military truck. Using The Pig to knock the power out in town, Rambo uses lights-out to his tactical advantage.

Moral of this story: be kind to veterans and for God’s sake let a guy grab some lunch on his way out of town.

3. RoboCop: Auto 9

80s guns

RoboCop taking first shots at the range with the Auto 9 — a futuristic take on the Beretta 93R. (Photo: Orion Pictures via YouTube)

From the opening title to talk of the Star Wars program and let’s not forget the laughable “Nuke Em” board game, everything about RoboCop screams the 80s. A film full of futurism, RoboCop employs Barretts lugged by bad guys, Aimpoint-style scopes and Sig Sauer 226 pistols; but the creme de la creme of this film is all in the Auto 9.

A modified Beretta 93R, the Auto 9 comes to Alex Murphy after his transformation into the hunk of man-metal known as Robocop. The cyborg uses the full-auto handgun to topple bad guy after bad guy, culminating into the action-packed battle scene where RoboCop takes on a factory filled with villains. Better yet, RoboCop pulls off some impressive gunfighting moves including the ubiquitous no-look shot. The film’s firearms culminate in a showdown between the Auto 9 and a Deagle wielding main boss. We’ll let you guess who comes out on top.

2. Terminator: SPAS-12, AMT Hardballer Longslide and Ithaca 37

terminator guns

Terminator takes aim with the AMT Hardballer Longslide. (Photo: Orion Pictures via YouTube)


A cinematic journey into 80s action flicks wouldn’t be complete without yet another cyborg on the list — of course, we’re talking about Terminator. The James Cameron directed Terminator catapulted the career of Austrian bodybuilder, Arnold Schwarzenegger, making him a household name. Not to mention, it’s got some of the most quotable lines in movie history.

With more gunfire than any other movie on this list, Terminator is jam-packed with action and weapons; but three firearms stand out as the most memorable from the film — the SPAS-12 shotgun, AMT Hardballer Longslide and Ithaca 37.

Terminator takes possession of the SAS-12 shotgun and Hardballer Longslider with laser early in the movie. Using the Longslider to dispose of the wrong Sarah Conner and the real Conner’s roommate, the handgun oddly enough sounds more like a suppressed model — though it features no can. Terminator tracks Conner to a local club and busts up in ready to claim victory. Unfortunately, Kyle Reese is a step ahead and saves the day with an Ithaca 37. Reese and Conner ultimately escape, but not for long.

An epic battle ensues pitting old against new, Ithaca against SPAS and human against cyborg. The Terminator’s fast pacing, amazing effects, and legendary fight scenes set the tone for sequels to come. Arnold wasn’t wrong when he uttered, “I’ll be back.”

1. Die Hard: Beretta 92, HK P7 and HK 94

guns of die hard

John McClane stalks through the scene with an HK 94. (Photo: 20th Century Fox via YouTube)

A Christmas tradition for many, Die Hard tops our list as the most rad of all the 80s action movies. From great one-liners to memorable moments, Die Hard holds a special place for many 80s fanatics. Offering a ton of iconic guns to viewers, some of our favorites are the Beretta 92, HK P7 and HK 94– the latter converted to appear more like an MP5A3.

John McClane first shows off his beloved Beretta 92 — didn’t we tell you this was a fave of the 80s — a few minutes in when he openly carries it onto a plane. My, have times changed. Viewers are treated to full-auto bursts via the bad guys’ HK94. Everyone’s favorite bad guy Hans Gruber, played by the late and great Alan Rickman, soon enters the film dispatching his enemies with an HK P7. Don’t worry, HK, we don’t hold it against you. It isn’t too long, though, until McClane trades that Beretta in for the HK 94.

With a finale that features all three guns and some creative concealment, Die Hard proves why it tops our list.

What do you think? Did your favorite movie make it onto the list? Let us know in the comments.

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