Science fiction has three iconic images that definite the genre: aliens, rockets, and rayguns. Whether due to our obsession with phallic guns, or the idea that a laser pistol is just too cool to pass up, the scifi gun has endured since H.G. Wells introduced them as a “Heat-Ray” in 1898's War of the Worlds. As good old Han Solo would later say, “Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.” Read on for our list of the best things that go PEW PEW PEW!
- Deckard’s hand-cannon in Blade Runner: Deckard’s gun was an amalgam of several other guns, namely the .44 Bulldog and a Styer Model SL. For the movie, they added some winky-blinky lights and a massive grip, making the thing look like it came off of a tank. And who could forget those massive CHOOMPF sounds it made when Harrison Ford fired it? This wasn’t a little popgun, it had some real kick to it. It certainly wouldn’t be very comfortable to wear in a holster under your coat, but it would give you some serious intimidation skills when you whipped it out.
- The Good Samaritan Gun from Hellboy: Not to be outdone by Deckard’s overly large firearm Hellboy sports a truly massive revolver that would dwarf a normal hand. According to the comic books, “The gun itself has unearthly resistance to almost all forms of attack, and includes grips carved from fragments of the True Cross. The metal of the gun is forged from a combination of Irish church bells, cold iron from crucifixes, blessed silver, and other mystic metals.” Plus it comes with a handy lanyard so he doesn’t lose it. Of course, even that gets dwarfed in Hellboy 2: The Golden Army when he whips out another gun called, no lie, The Big Baby.
- The M41A Pulse Rifle from Aliens: While Ripley used to be a blue collar salvage worker, she proves that she wants to fight alongside the Marines in Aliens when she asks Kyle Reese... er, Corporal Dwayne Hicks to show her how to use this gun. It’s basically a balls-out automatic rifle, complete with an underslung grenade launcher. She gets through the lesson and quickly becomes an expert in popping caps in Aliens. This supposedly also inspired the Assault Rifle in the Halo series, so it’s definitely something to have on-hand during alien invasions.
- The Varon-T Disruptor on Star Trek: One episode of The Next Generation called “The Most Toys,” obsessive collector Kivas “Douchebag” Fajo had four of the five of these highly illegal, outlawed collectible guns. They could tear your body apart from the inside, in a slow and painful manner, which is why the Federation outlawed them. Of course, it was still fine for Worf to carry around a bat’leth sword. That couldn’t be painful at all, could it?
- The Lasseter Laser Pistol on Firefly: Not to be outdone by Trek, Firefly later had their own ultra-rare gun (the prototype handheld laser pistol_ and it was named after the jovial and affable John Lasseter of Pixar, who directed Toy Story... which Joss Whedon helped write. Mal and his on-again, off-again “wife” Saffron conspired to steal this sucker and make some dough, but things never really go as planned on that show.
- Reason version 1.0B7 from Snow Crash: In Neal Stephenson’s cyberpunk novel Reason is a gun that comes complete with its own operating system, carrying case, and a heat exchanger that you need to drop into a nearby body of water to keep the gun from overheating. It fires spent uranium rounds gatling-gun style, and features millimeter-wave radar, giving you daylight vision, even during the night. It might not be the easiest thing to carry around, but it’s deadlier than the bubonic plague. As long as the system doesn’t crash.
- The Needler gun from the A Stainless Steel Rat novels: Harry Harrison’s Rat books still haven’t been adapted for film or tv, which continues to vex us. It’s a great property that needs someone smart to bring it to the screen, big or small. Needlers, or needle guns, are popular in the series, and can be outfitted with different types of needles: tranquilizer, paralyzer, nerve toxin, truth serum, etc. Anyhow who is already scared of needles certainly wouldn’t like this thing. If you haven’t read these, A Stainless Steel Rat Is Born is a great starting point.
- The Sandman guns from Logan’s Run: In the movie, the Sandmen fired guns with an incendiary charge at the Runners. Deadly, yes, but not too imaginative. However, in the books they were six-round guns, and each round did something different, like the “homer” bullet which tracked you and would burn out every nerve in your body, or the “tangler” shot with was a sticky, goo-like web substance. Always be prepared!
- The Lawgiver from Judge Dredd: Since a Judge was judge, jury, and executioner, this thing came in handy. They were DNA locked to each individual Judge, and featured bonus items like heat-seeking bullets, rubber “ricochet” shots, armor-piercing rounds, and even grenade rounds. Oh, and it also had a top range of three miles (!). That’s some serious distance. Of course, if your bullet is going to explode when it hits, maybe aiming isn’t that important at that range. Plus it gives you the ability to shout “I AM THE LAW” whenever you want.
- The thermal smart bullet in Runaway: Granted, Gene Simmons’ over-the-top performance in this Tom Selleck action flick from 1984 was pretty lethal. However, all eyes were on the “smart bullet” that Simmons’ character had devised. It could be encoded with its targets thermal signature and track them, even around corners. The POV shots of it in flight were flight reminiscent of that flying needle in Dune, but it was cool and scary just the same. And yes, we know it’s not a gun, but a bullet. Just remember guns don’t kill people... the bullet has a lot to do with it.
- Soran’s gun from Star Trek Generations: While we’re loathe to put to Trek entries on this list, Soran’s gun gets a special mention for the street cred alone. You know how gangstas like to turn their gats to the side when they hold ‘em? Soran’s will turn right side up when he “gangsterizes” his hold on the pistol, for no apparent reason. The barrel just sort of flips back upright when he holds it sideways. It might look a bit like a doctor’s exam tool, but at least it gives you some props and bling value.
- The Zorg ZF1 Gun from The Fifth Element: Zorg’s gun is nothing short of spectacular. It can break down into four pieces that are undetectable by x-rays, is good for left or right handers, features a 3000 round magazine, has a “Replay” button that sends all shots to the same location, a rocket launcher, an arrow launcher (with posion or explosive-tipped arrows), a net launcher, a flamethrower, and an “ice cube” freezing blast. Oh, and it’ll self-destruct if you push the button on the bottom. Not bad. We could go on about it, but it’s better if you just watch Zorg himself infomercial-it for you in the video below.
You’ve probably noticed that a lot of these guns aren’t laser guns, and that’s simply because laser guns are just sort of, well... boring. They fire a laser “pew!” and that’s it. Sure they look cool, and there’s always the classic Buck Rogers-style laser pistols, but we wanted a bit more oomph in our arsenal for this list. Not that we wouldn’t want a laser gun of our very own. Trust us, it’s one of the first things we’ll expect our future selves to bring back when they encounter time-travel.