The Gun Movie Throwdown!

What’s the greatest movie for Gun Nuts ever? That question comes up all the time, so we’re going to settle it. We’ll do a 32 film bracket, based on four major movie categories. As the originator of this idea, I’ll nominate six films in each category, then the readers will provide the remaining eight films via the comments.

The categories we’re going to use are simple. We’ll have a category for War/Military films, so for example Black Hawk Down or Tears of the Sun would be in this category. Up next, Western/Period films, like Silverado, Zulu, or Last of the Mohicans. The third category is Action/Sci-Fi, where you’ll find Bad Boys 2 and Terminator 2. Final category would be Thriller/Drama, with Collateral or Ronin serving as examples.

Here are my six nominees for all the categories, now it’s up to you to provide the remaining two in each category! They’ll be selected based on number of comments submitted. Then from there we’ll have throwdowns in each bracket daily until we get to the final Four. TV Shows and mini-series are not eligible, that’s a whole different series of posts!

Bracket 1, War/Military

  1. Saving Private Ryan
  2. Black Hawk Down
  3. The Dirty Dozen
  4. Enemy at the Gates
  5. Red Dawn (original)
  6. Act of Valor
  7. ?
  8. ?

Bracket 2, Western/Period

  1. Zulu
  2. Last of the Mohicans
  3. Shane
  4. Open Range
  5. A Fistful of Dollars
  6. 3:10 to Yuma (Christian Bale)
  7. ?
  8. ?

Bracket 3, Action/Sci-Fi

  1. Terminator 2
  2. The Expendables
  3. Bad Boys 2
  4. Die Hard
  5. The Matrix
  6. Tremors
  7. ?
  8. ?

Bracket 4, Thriller/Drama

  1. Heat
  2. Collateral
  3. The Kingdom
  4. Ronin
  5. Hard Boiled
  6. Lethal Weapon
  7. ?
  8. ?

Nominate your choices in comments below, make sure to identify which bracket they belong to!


  1. War/Military: “Purple Hearts” – 1984 (See R. Lee Ermey as “Gunny” three years prior to Full Metal Jacket)
    Western: “The good, the bad, and the ugly” – 1966
    Action: “The Solider” – 1982 (Also with Ken Wahl from “Purple Hearts”)
    Thriller/Drama: “Shooter” – 2007

  2. Way of the Gun. x2

    And you are starting too late in Mann’s career. His directorial debut, “Thief”, with James Caan is a great caper film and the final shoot-out is a good mix of revolvers, Caan’s 1911 API standard “Modern Technique”, showing “sometimes you have to shake ’em free” reloads, and a rare film appearance of the High Standard Model 10 bullpup shotgun. Mann started out wanting his gunfights to look right.

  3. Wild Bunch (Western)
    The Outlaw Josie Wales (Western)
    Dirty Harry (Action)
    Full Metal Jacket (War)
    Arizona (Western)
    Predator (Action)

  4. If Lethal Weapon is included in Cat 4, then you have to also include Die Hard (original) IMHO.

  5. For the military category:
    The Wild Geese, lots of FALs and a story straight out of Soldier of Fortune magazine.

  6. For Westerns I submit “THE WILD BUNCH” (often cited among the best 100 movies of all time), “THE PROFESSIONALS” and “THE SEARCHERS” although the last film featured historically inaccurate firearms throughout it was still a great story.

    For Military/War, I submit “THE DOGS OF WAR”, “PORK CHOP HILL”, “HAMBURGER HILL”, “THE WILD GEESE” (yeah, it’s cheezy but it’s still great gun theater) and another Peckinpah flick “THE CROSS OF IRON”.

    For adventure, I would vote for “BLOOD DIAMOND” and “THE KINGDOM”…

    All The Best,
    Frank W. James

  7. “Crossfire Trail” with Tom Seleck is another western classic that has alot of different guns being used.

  8. In Bracket 1 I’d add “The Final Option”, “The Dogs of War” and “The Wild Geese”
    In Bracket 2 I’d add “The Outlaw Josey Wales”

  9. War: “Dr. Strangelove”
    Western: “Once Upon a Time in the West”
    Action: “Hot Fuzz”

  10. It was made for TV and therefore doesn’t quite fit, but SHARPE’S EAGLE shows that a handful of chosen men with Baker rifles is sufficient to see off any number of Napoleonic columns. So I’d suggest that for Military while seconding (or thirding) the FAL-heavy WILD GEESE for the same category.

  11. Bracket 1
    Full Metal Jacket

    Bracket 2

    Bracket 3

    Bracket 4
    The Professional
    The Way of the Gun

  12. Western: Blazing Saddles

    OK OK, it’s funny, I just like the movie and there was guns and Slim Pickens in it. And I needed a chuckle thinking about it.

  13. Western: Couple of under-rated movies which, coincidentally, star Burt Lancaster: The Professionals (with Lee Marvin, Jack Palance, Robert Ryan, Woody Strode, and — be still, my heart — Claudia Cardinale. Where was I? Oh, yeah). And Valdez Is Coming, from a novel by Elmore Leonard. Couple of Tom Sellecks’s westerns have also had some good gun stuff… e.g., The Crossfire Trail.

    For crime, well, anything by Michael Mann (Heat, Thief, Collateral, Miami Vice). For a war movie, Hell Is for Heroes with Steve McQueen.

  14. Bracket 2?: Last Man Standing (Bruce Willis)
    Bracket 4: From Paris With Love (John Travolta)
    Bracket 3?: Hit Man
    Bracket 3: Desperado (Antonio Banderas)

  15. How about Kurt Russell’s Snake Plissken movies? Escape From New York. Escape From LA.

  16. The castanets in Way of The Gun are lifted from The Professionals. The movie is filled with that kind of homages.

    Since Caleb isn’t making us show ID, I’m voting twice. 😉

  17. WTF, I thought you just wrote a story about how Heat was not a good movie, and now it’s #1 in the Thriller/Drama category?

  18. You can(and you did) put down every film by Michael Mann. Ever.

    Also under war: Defiance

  19. A couple that might be worth considering: military-we were soldiers…; “drama”-the replacement killers.

  20. 1; War/Military. The Lost Battalion.
    2: Western/Period. The Long Riders.
    3: Action/Sci-Fi. Tremors (Love ‘that’ basement.
    4: Thriller. The Maltese Falcon. (I know of no other movie referencing a Webley Fosbery. They even mention this one as the rarer .38cal.)

  21. Western: Gotta have Quigley Down Under and Crossfire Trail (both of them have beautiful rifles)
    Thriller: Way of the Gun and Shooter (because .408 Chey Tac…that is all)
    Though I must say, I’d vote for Collateral as possibly the best gunhandling in any of these movies.

  22. War/Military: The Patriot
    Western/Period: The Good, the Bad, the Weird
    Action/Sci-Fi: Serenity
    Thriller/Drama: Léon: The Professional

  23. Narc, A History of Violence. No Country For Old Men, State of Grace, Man on Fire; Dramas

    The Professional. Action. Plus an obscure choice, The Man From Nowhere, a great Korean gun movie. Action, I guess.

    St Paul

  24. War/Military – Full Metal Jacket,

    Western/Period – Quigley Down Under, Last Man Standing, Silverado, Tombstone, The Outlaw Josey Wales, The Quick and the Dead (Sharon Stone…stupid story, but a lot of great period guns featured),

    Action/SciFi – Serenity, Predator, Split Second (Rutger Hauer), Rambo 4, Shoot ‘Em Up, Equillibrium

    Thriller/Drama – any Dirty Harry movie

  25. War Military — To Hell and Back, The Audie Murphy Story. and 12 O’clock High, (The Movie but the series was great too.

    Western/Period — Way to many great ones.
    The Shootist, with John Wayne and Ron Howard,
    True Grit (Original), and several other John Wayne westerns like the The Searchers, or Rio Lobo etc…
    They Call me Trinity with Terrance Hill (it’s a spaghetti western and really funny)
    Finally you would be hard press to not include The Magnificent Seven.

    Action/SciFi – Dirty Harry, Blade Runner

    Thriller/Drama – Pulp Fiction

  26. Yes, the first Sniper movie, along with any of the new 007 movies, and any w/ Connery, Mr&Mrs Smith, Capt. America great movie for the .45 ACP.

    Cowboy/Western: Quigley, Butch Cassidy & Sundance Kid. Indiana Jones

    SciFi: Star Wars

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