Do you know how I became an “internet gun writer?”
Obviously, I had an interest and knowledge of firearms — a gun nerd since I was about 12-years-old.
But what made me a gun nerd?
It all started with the Playstation game Syphon Filter 2…
The game came with a manual, and it listed every weapon in the game with a brief description for each gun.
Something clicked as I read that manual on the way home from K-Mart. (R.I.P. K-Mart.)
My interest developed almost instantly.
I slowly slid into my gun nerd-dom.
I was born into a family of hunters, so I was lucky to have access to firearms safety and parents willing to teach me to shoot. The combo allowed my interest to grow safely.
I’m obviously still a gun nerd, and I still play video games.
Recently, I began thinking…I can’t be the only nerd with an interest in both video games and firearms.
Top 10 Gun Nerd Video Games
So, for my fellow gun/video game nerds I wanted to pull together what I think are the 10 best gun-themed games of all time.
1. Duck Hunt
The OG of shooting games! Duck Hunt!
You literally hold a pistol to play the game and blast away at ducks as a hunting dog either teased or congratulated you.
Duck Hunt was one of the first home console games that used a light-gun.
This style would become quite popular at arcades, but unfortunately, was a rare sight in homes.
I spent many mornings playing Duck Hunt with my older brother. Crunching down on Cocoa Pebbles, we sat in our tighty-whities, and blazed away at those blasted ducks!
Seriously, Nintendo needs to get on a modern version of Duck Hunt — maybe a virtual-reality style with a shotgun instead of a pistol.
Until then, Duck Hunt will always be my favorite gun game.
2. Red Dead Redemption 2
If you are a western fan, then Red Dead Redemption 2 will tickle both your love of guns and cowboys.
Taking place at the end of the cowboy era, it’s an odd compilation of both classic cowboy guns, neat oddities, and new world Browning designs.
While you’ll be wielding the common Colt SAA in the beginning, your arsenal will evolve and allow you to use guns like the Krag Jorgenson and Winchester 1897.
Some are anachronistic, but we’ll forgive that for the chance to use a Caracano and pretend it’s a half-decent rifle…and that you have the ability to unload with a Browning A5.
RDR2 makes the list because the details are often done right. For example, you can use a Spencer 1860 carbine and reload it with a Blakeslee tube.
Seeing the finer details in the optional first-person mode makes the guns way more interesting.
When you find guns you like, you can pour money into them and make them more effective with optional upgrades.
As a shotgun nerd, I loved the variety of shotgun ammo, including Dragon’s breath and exploding slugs.
Silly sure, but still a lot of fun.
Outside of being a gun game, this is one of the best games ever made. Seriously, you’ll lose yourself in the incredible map.
Just watch out for bears.
3. Ghost Recon Wildlands and 4. Ghost Recon Breakpoint
I could fill this entire list up with different Tom Clancy games, but I won’t.
I’ll just toss on the last two Ghost Recon games.
Admittedly, the Breakpoint release was botched, but years later it’s now a decent game.
Like modern guns and tactical shooters?
These games are for you, with a massive selection of modern tactical weapons.
One of my favorite things was to outfit my character with guns I actually owned like a SIG 556 and CZ Scorpion. You can also attach a variety of accessories to your weapons, including real optics and real accessories.
Want to trim some barrel length, tack on a MAWL, and maybe a Primary Arms 1-6x optic? You can.
Want an EoTech and Magnifier? You can do it.
There are tons of possibilities in the game.
Wildlands allows a few more options to create firearms. Many range from cool to silly. My favorite is a short-barreled, stock-free, and drum-equipped SIG 556R.
The newer Ghost Recon games even utilize real gear, including stuff from 5.11, the Blackhawk Omnivore, Crye Precision, and many more.
These games aren’t for everyone, but I have a ton of fun with cover-based shooters.
So these games appeal to the gear nerd in me.
5. Escape from Tarkov
Where do I even start?
Escape from Tarkov is THE game for gun nerds. It’s chock full of realistic guns, attachments, and gear.
Tarkov is one of the most addictive and frustrating games out there, but once you start, you’ll never actually escape.
It’s a first-person shooter with an entire bullet ballistic system that nerds create spreadsheets to master.
(No offense to said nerds…also thank you for the spreadsheets.)
Certain aspects of Tarkov are exaggerated to make things more of a game and less of a ballistic simulator, but the thought is the same.
Guns and accessories are painstakingly recreated in the game.
You can bubba up an SKS with Tapco or FAB Defense furniture, or toss a KAC Handguard, and a Raptor Charging handle on an M4A1.
There are interesting features like using a folding stock to preserve room in your inventory. You can speed reload and ditch ammo and magazines.
Guns can even be weird and as silly as you want them to be.
I, personally, like seeing how many PEQs and lights a rail can hold.
6. Brothers in Arms
Rarely do you see a console-based game utilize fire and movement as an actual strategy — Brothers in Arms does just this.
The game experiments with the usefulness of cover and suppression.
When your character is under intense enemy fire, it’s hard to see, hard to aim, hard to move, and you’re quick to catch a dirt nap.
Brothers in Arms turns machine guns into something more than inaccurate lead sprayers and makes it a priority to get the bipod out and the gun stable.
When the machine gun starts rocking, bad guys hit the dirt allowing your team to flank and eliminate those pesky Nazis.
Maybe it’s just because I was a machine gunner, but I do enjoy seeing a somewhat accurate representation.
It’s not perfect, but the best attempt I’ve ever seen in a game.
Besides the machine guns, you get lots and lots of opportunities to spray lead from a number of WW2 authentic weapons.
The game even has a gun as a costar — Baker’s cursed 1911 and its stainless finish.
Where most games shove a Luger in the hands of the Germans, Brothers in Arms uses a period-correct Walther P38 as the German sidearm.
Little details like that appeal to my inner gun nerd.
7. Hot Dogs, Horseshoes, and Hand Grenades
I’ve only played this game for a little bit, but it requires a VR setup.
However, Hot Dogs, Horseshoes, and Hand Grenades is the most in-depth weapon simulator in the world.
Hundreds of guns are present and users get the opportunity to shoot them in an arcade-like shooting gallery.
This includes your standard handguns, SMGs, and shotguns, but also machine guns and grenade launchers.
The VR nature of the game tasks you with learning to load, charge, and fire the guns.
It’s almost educational.
But let’s be real… it’s the dumb fun ability to dual-wield esoteric Soviet submachine guns and spray downrange with reckless abandon.
There’s a weird satisfaction with loading 12-gauge shells into a Mossberg 590A1 one at a time.
You can also attach accessories and must do so manually. You can slap on a bipod, an ACOG, PEQ 15, foregrip, and so on and so forth.
The accessories are nearly as unlimited as the guns, and you can go as far as tossing on a bayonet and charging a hotdog.
The game is rather shallow, but the number of accessories and guns you can play around with make it a ton of fun for gun nerds.
8. Arma 3
Growing up as a huge fan of Operation Flashpoint, I’m glad to see it continue as Arma.
This particular installment — Arma 3 — is the latest and greatest in a painfully realistic first-person shooter series.
Rambos need not apply.
Arma 3 is the antithesis to Call of Duty games and takes a slow, methodical nature to combat with decently realistic recoil, firing rates, and tons of different guns.
The guns are pretty authentic with excellent animations.
Oddly, though, some guns are chambered in weird calibers.
For example, the Scorpion in the game uses 9x21mm ammunition.
LMGs are best used with bipods, snipers are slow, and zeroing grenade launchers is a must.
You can even customize your firearms with a wide variety of different accessories that allow nerds like me to tinker. Some optics even allow you to zero them for specific ranges.
The devil is in the details, and Arma 3 is full of details.
This is a game that prioritizes slow, methodical gameplay versus the running and gunning of other games.
The effect of rounds cracking overhead, getting murked before you even see the bad guy, and the massive open environment makes this a fun and intense game.
Video games and realism will always be a tough cookie to crack. Realism is rarely fun, and the game should be fun.
However, the Arma series has always found a way to mix the two well.
9. Borderlands Series
Coming off the Arma series, we are going in the complete opposite direction with the Borderlands series.
Not a single thing in Borderlands is even remotely realistic.
None of the guns are real, none of the tactics are real, and the game is a Rambo-style shooter.
What makes Borderlands fun is the thousands of guns that have various effects.
These vary from elemental effects that can freeze an enemy, all the way to rather unique reload methods.
When some guns run dry, you throw them, and they explode or turn into a drone or a turret, and a replacement magically spawns in your hands.
Some guns shoot bullets while others shoot lasers, flames, or gyrojets.
Nothing is off the table in Borderlands.
After every battle, you run across the map searching for new guns — hardly ever using one gun for very long.
Borderlands is completely chaotic and silly BUT it’s a ton of fun.
Swiping between a ton of different guns as you chase down crazed psychopaths, monsters, and corporate commandos is a blast!
Better yet, it has couch co-op! My son and I kick it quite often, spraying down bad guys in Borderlands. It’s always a good bonding time.
Black comes in as number 10 on our list — mainly because the guns aren’t hyper-accurate representations.
Magazine sizes are way too big, except when they aren’t. Things like reloads are way off from the real thing.
So why does it make the list?
Well, simply put, the joy of Black is when you pull the trigger…the gun barks and jumps and destroys.
There is something utterly addictive about the gunplay.
Environmental damage is a very real thing in Black, and it’s very satisfying.
Shells make noise as they litter the ground. The noise, muzzle flash, and firing rates of these guns make it a whole lot of fun.
If you are a stickler for realism, then Black isn’t for you. However, if you like the experience of blazing away with an Uzi like you’re in an 80’s action movie, then Black is perfect.
It’s an old game, but you can find it on the Microsoft Store if you own an Xbox, or you can buy an old physical copy if you want it.
Support your local GameStop, I guess!
Video games are an excellent way to spark interest in firearms. From the ingenuity of Borderlands to the Old West Vibes of Red Dead Redemption to the nostalgia of Duck Hunt, these are some of our favorite video games to geek out on.
Side note: Did you know the NRA made video games? Not very good ones, but they did.
Did your love of guns come from video games? If so, which ones? Let us know below! Keep nerding out with our full review of Escape From Tarkov!
12 Leave a Reply
You missed the biggest streaming game from the last couple years: Player Unknown Battlegrounds. The guns are all realistic in a battle royale setting. Not as detailed as Tarkov, but more detailed than Call of Duty.
No love for Payday 2? Sure the guns have different names than the real guns, but only because they didn't feel like paying licensing fees to every major gun manufacturer. You can customize and bubba up just about anything and everything.
Perfect Dark on the N64 had a pretty amazing range of guns, including a handful of the best from GoldenEye. What's more, the game had a shooting range challenge mode with a medal system and unique events for each gun. The medals weren't just bragging rights, either: earn a gold with a particular gun, and you unlocked the ability to bring it along on campaign missions if you wanted.
And, as if that weren't enough, *every* weapon in the game had an alternate fire mode, and they were all different. Grenade launchers and burst fire are straightforward enough, but target tracking, threat detecting radar, cloaking devices, throwable auto-turrets... Guns for days, man.
the original COD's were amazing and the modern warfare installments have been great. I could certainly do without the rest Including the newest. Rainbow 6: Siege should have made your list instead of Ghost Recon. I guess you likely picked it for the realism in the guns because of Siege's futuristic gadgets. The only shooter I play is COD: Warzone with the boys currently
Goldeneye? Does anyone have experience with Insurgency? I’m not a PC gamer.
I'm a big fan of Insurgency, the PvE mode is actually very hard and hugely enjoyable. The PvP gameplay is solid now that they've had some time to develop it. Sadly, the competitive community is effectively dead.
Battlefield 3 , was the first game I played that had bulletproof and realistic recoil
BF2021 can't come soon enough, so excited for it to return to the modern age again!
Come on, you forgot Squad, the better Arma 3.
I keep trying to get into Squad but the mismatch in kit makes me rage quit. Going up against USMC players with M4s and ACOGs with my stripper clip loading, iron-sighted SKS was a very unfun night :(
Travis, this is a good list. But you left out a big one.
Arizona sunshine. With a Hyperblaster.
The Hyperblaster feels almost like a real pistol in the hand, and you can ditch your second controller, and just run it in Arena mode. It's a little too square, but it's close.
Moving zombie targets. VR. A controller that almost feels like a real pistol.
I got to 1k in infinite mode. Challenge you to do the same.
You forgot Golden Eye. Turn in your gamer nerd card and never return.