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Most Iconic Video Game Guns Of All Time

Ever since the original Doom (no, not the new Doom, the original), guns have held a place of honor in the video game world.

First Person Shooter (FPS) games have dominated sales charts and sold billions of copies over the last few decades.  Today, we’re going to change things up and look at some of our favorite fictional guns that have entertained us over the years.  Let’s start with…

The BFG 9000 from Doom

For those of you who confine your gun obsession to the real world, you might not have heard of Doom or the BFG, but if you’ve ever picked up a controller or wielded a mouse in anger on a digital battlefield, you’ve probably heard of the BFG, or at least seen it referenced in other media.

In Doom, either the original or the excellent Doom remake Nintendo Switch-now available on the too-  you play a badass, demon-slaying murder machine, and over the course of the game you get to wield some truly incredible and inventive hardware including some super nice pistols (seen below) and one of the original examples of a weaponized chainsaw.

doom pistol
Tell me you don’t want one.

The BFG is on another level though (heh, video game joke).  BFG literally stands for Big Fucking Gun, and you may have heard that acronym tossed around regarding some real life overpowered guns, and not known where it came from or what it meant.

Big Fucking Gun.  That’s what it means. And oh boy, is that accurate.  Doom is basically the granddaddy of modern shooter video games, but it’s also sort of the progenitor of big dudes carrying absurdly oversized guns and mowing down waves of enemies in video games.  And the BFG does certainly live up to its name.

Doom bfg Lego
Even the Lego version is freaking big.

In a game full of giant, overpowered awesomeness, the BFG stands on its own.  Bullets aren’t quite enough, so the gun fires basketball-sized balls of weaponized green plasma that can basically destroy anything they touch.

In short, if you’re looking to cause a lot of mayhem in a short amount of time, you can certainly do worse.  The BFG has been referenced in a number of other works, including a Disney movie, so it’s definitely one of the most widely-known of the guns on this list.

The Portal Gun from Portal

If you play computer games, or modern games at all really, you’ve probably heard of the Portal series.  Or at least, the Half Life series which takes place in the same universe as Portal (and will be on this list later).

In Portal and its sequel Portal 2, you play an unwilling human test subject named Chell who is awakened after years in a cryogenic coma to find that the apocalypse has come and gone, and you must know outwit the rampant artificial intelligence that insists on subjecting you to increasingly deadly tests.

To do this, you are given the Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device, or Portal Gun.  The Portal Gun allows you to place two portals on certain surfaces that you can then travel between.

This lends itself to some interesting puzzle solving as you move through the Aperture Science laboratory and try to keep GladOS, the AI, from killing you.

portal gun gameplay
Of all the guns on this list, this one is probably the most practical.

The gun allows you to instantly teleport across rooms, or even send enemies through them to their death.  This inventive and interesting mechanic coupled with some of the most amazing dialogue ever recorded make for a genuinely great experience.  If you play nothing else, play this one.  It takes about an hour to complete depending on how good your puzzle-solving is, and its perpetually on sale for peanuts.

Hitman AMT 1911 Hardballer

From 1977 to 2002, Arcadia Machine and Tool produced the 1911 Hardballer, which was arguably the first stainless Colt 1911 clone ever made, which is a neat little claim to fame.

For whatever reason, the prolific Hitman series adopted the AMT Harballer or just “Baller” as the protagonist’s signature weapon.  Or weapons, seeing how you get to dual-wield the things at numerous points, both suppressed and unsuppressed.

hitman pistols
And sometimes doing a silly, but satisfying dual-wield.

For a game that lets you kill people with toasters, ties, and tires, among a myriad of other inventive and in some cases downright diabolical weapons, the fact that a humble 1911 became something of a franchise signature is impressive.

Throughout the series, you get to kill targets with everything from piano wire to some faulty wiring in a hot tub heater, but there is still something incredibly satisfying about forgoing the complicated route and just shooting your way into, and then out of, dangerous situations.

Of course in the 2007 film, the 1911’s became Para Ordnance 1911’s, so what are you gonna do?

hitman pistols
Just ask Taran Butler what he thinks about inaccuracy in TV and movies…though I doubt he cares about this particular issue.

Dead Space: 211-V Plasma Cutter

In the Dead Space series you play as a Isaac Clarke, a humble engineer who stumbles upon a horrifying alien attack in space…where no one can hear you scream.  You are forced to face off against reanimated corpses called necromorphs that have been brought back to life by an alien infection in one of the finest survival horror games of the past decade.

These corpses have of course mutated into successively creepier and more challenging forms that are designed to not only challenge the player’s creativity when it comes to defeating them (you have to basically disassemble the damn things with bullets to get them to actually stop) but also to tap into some pretty wicked body horror as well.

dead space
Tell me that wouldn’t look terrifying coming at you?

The 211-v Plasma Cutter (above) is unique when it comes to video game guns.  As Isaac is an engineer, it’s somewhat fitting that his iconic weapon would be a modified piece of mining equipment.

Imagine you’re in a zombie apocalypse, but instead of “Destroy the brain, Rick” you have to completely disassemble each zombie, separating the arms, legs, head, and torso from each other to keep them from healing and attacking again.

In that situation, a gun that fires a line of hot plasma that can cut through solid rock (or alien flesh) with ease would be a pretty solid addition to your kit, right?

Now, imagine you’re trapped on a space ship/station with no way to resupply beyond scavenging for parts.  And imagine that your badass-beast-boss-banana-sauce plasma cutter takes extremely rare ammo that you can’t buy and you have to work hard to scrounge up.

And sure, there’s the occasional stash of it on a dead body, or loose on the ground, but in a game like Dead Space, you have to work for every round, and dead bodies are not to be trusted.

Especially in the supposedly “safe” save rooms that are scattered about.  Yeah, I woke up everyone in the house, thanks for that.

dead space safe room
“Safe” is something of a relative concept on a space station full of alien zombies.

I really like the idea behind the Plasma Cutter because unlike say, the BFG, you’re given the Plasma Cutter immediately and you aren’t told the ammo is going to be limited.  In most games, you get a gun, ammo is everywhere.  At least for starter guns that typically don’t do much damage until upgraded.

Dead Space chose to forgo that route and instead gives you one of the very best weapons immediately (before you get it, your only real defense is to run and hope).  Instead, the game limits the amount of ammo you have for it, making it vital to make each shot count early on, and forcing the player to be strategic.

This mechanic also separates it from Doom in that you’re still fighting eldritch horrors from another realm, but in the case of Doom, you are this hyper-badass with an arsenal to defeat your foes.

In Dead Space, you’re a nerd with a limited-use laser gun.  One requires a lot more forethought and planning than the other, which adds a lot of tension to what is already a very tense experience.

GoldenEye 007: The Golden Gun

In 1997, one of the most enduring and enjoyable video games based on one of the most popular franchises in history was released. GoldenEye007 was one of the games that truly popularized FPS games, and its signature multiplayer mode entertained millions from dorm rooms to couches in South Georgia homes.  

I played the shit out of GoldenEye when I was 6 or 7.  That probably explains a lot, including my presence here.

If you played the GoldenEye multiplayer mode “The Man with the Golden Gun”, you probably ignored everything I’ve said since that last header cause you’re thinking about all the times you made your friends or siblings furious while playing it.

broken n64 controllers
Controllers were smashed, friendships ruined, it was a good time.

In this particular mode, the titular “Golden Gun” spawns at a central location on the map, and the players must fight to take possession of it.  Its extremely powerful, and rewards accuracy with an instant kill, which was of course the best way to piss someone off…by insta-killing them whenever they came near you.

golden gun
Not bad for a gun made out of a cigarette case, a pen, a lighter, and a cufflink.

The only way to take possession of the gun was to kill the person holding it, allowing you to hold the almighty peashooter and use it to end friendships and ruin familial bonds by causing those you love to rage each time you killed them.

Half-Life: Gravity Gun

The gravity gun is one of the primary weapons in the Half-Life series, which takes place in the same universe as Portal.  In these games, you play an unprepared and under-equipped engineer that must fight off an alien inva….wait we already did that one.  

Uhm, you’re an engineer trying to solve a giant alien conspiracy that produces zombies….yeah, that’s still basically Dead Space.  Look, Half-Life came first and I should have put it first on the list, but I’m not changing it now.

Let’s just talk about the gun. The Gravity Gun makes use of the game’s advanced physics engine to allow the player to move objects to either solve puzzles, or blast enemies.

half life gravity gun
Facing off against enemies with real guns and only being able to throw trash cans at them made for interesting gameplay.

Like the Plasma Cutter, the Gravity Gun is a very strategic weapon, but it is even less overtly powerful in that it is unable to kill outright until one particular point in the game where…well, I won’t spoil it.  But the fact that it’s so rarely a lethal gun makes it a fairly unique gun on this list, a position it shares with the Portal gun.

Call of Duty Zombies: The Ray Gun

You’ve heard of Call of Duty, even if you’ve heard of nothing else on this list.  The game series has sold almost as many copies as the Bible, and there’s a new one every year, which sounds great, but has lead to some…less than great additions to the series.

I’m looking at you, Infinite Warfare.

This year, the series has rebooted itself somewhat and gone back to its WWII roots with the unimaginatively titled Call of Duty: WWII.  Now, throughout even the most lackluster of CoD games, there has always been one bright spot.

nazi zombies
Oh yes.

The zombie mode.  There’s something just mindlessly fun about blasting zombies left and right with your buddies while trying to survive wave after wave of the horde.

And the standout of the zombie mode has always been the Ray Gun.  The Ray Gun is an alien handgun that the player gets to wield sparingly, but when you do, zombies don’t stand a chance.

Unless you screw up and kill yourself with it.  See, the Ray Gun does what’s called “splash damage” which means it kills what it hits, but also damages the things around it, often fatally.  This “splash damage” is great when you’re firing into a group of zombies that are a good distance away, but it can kill you deader than the things you’re firing at if you’re too close.  

This makes the Ray Gun yet another very strategic weapon to use, and since the Call of Duty series has reached a truly staggering number of people, if only through marketing and TV spots, it earns the top spot on our list.  

call of duty ray gun

The fact that it looks an awful lot like our logo is pure coincidence.

Pew Pew Tactical Ray Gun Logo
No favoritism here folks.


How did we do?  What would you have put into this list that we missed?

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3 Leave a Reply

  • Joel B.

    Enter the Gungeon anyone?

    November 17, 2017 6:33 pm
  • Jim M.

    I always liked the "Death Machine" mini-gun in Black Ops.

    November 17, 2017 4:41 am
  • 33ww

    Nintendo Duck Hunt gun?

    November 16, 2017 4:46 pm