The gun gamer’s dilemma


You know what is awesome? First person shooter video games. Especially the Battlefield lineup, and of those Battlefield Hardline is pretty fantastic. It is immediately evident when playing the single player campaign that someone on staff is a huge gun nerd. The guns are modeled incredibly realistically, right down to in-game ACOG featuring the correct “donut of death” reticle. But when playing the game, this presents a dilemma for gun nuts like myself: because I can set up a gun in game almost exactly how I’d set up my real life equivalent, do I do that? Or do I entertain a ballistic flight of fancy?

What’s interesting is that in Hardline, stuff that has been proven to work well in the real world…actually works really well in game. The multiplayer system is divided into classes, meaning that certain types of classes have access to certain types of weapons. For fun, here’s a quick look at the classes in Battlefield: Hardline.

  • Operators: These are your primary assaulters, and their weapons are either carbines like the G36C, M4, or assault rifles (that’s the in-game term, calm down) like the M16a3 pictured above or full size AKMs. Sidearms are all 9mm pistols and include the M9, Glock 17, CZ75 and Sig P226. Their additional abilities include carrying medkits to heal team members.
  • Mechanic: This is a support class. Their primaries are all sub machine guns, which in Hardline are actually pretty awesome at short range. Secondary weapons are wheelguns, and include a S&W TRR8 or a Taurus .44 Magnum. This class also gets a grenade launcher and the ability to repair damaged vehicles. Handy.
  • Enforcer: The heavy/tank class. Starting weapon for the enforcer is a Remington 870 Marine, which in close range will absolutely one-shot anyone on the map. Enforcers can also unlock battle rifles like the FAL or the bonkers Ohio Ordnance Works HCAR. Sidearms are all .45 ACP handguns, with the exception of the .40 S&W M&P Pro that’s available. But your starting handgun is an HK45 Compact Tactical, and if you’re playing Cops you can upgrade to a sweet 1911. Other abilities include riot shields, breaching charges, and the ability to replenish teammate’s ammo.
  • Professionals: Lastly, we have the sniper class, and if we play this class I hate you and you suck. They get some dumb sniper rifles and can unlock some equally dumb .308 DMR guns and carry machine pistols, and seriously if you play sniper I hate your guts right up off the ground.

Getting back to the dilemma, if I’m playing an Operator (god I wish they’d named it literally anything other than that) I can rig up an M16a3 with a free-float barrel, stubby vertical foregrip, and a 4x ACOG. That’s a combo that has been proven in the field to work really well, and as it turns out it works really well in game. But I own a 20 inch AR that’s set up like that, so maybe instead I’ll set up the ultimate warrior accurate AK to do basically the same thing.

battlefield hardline 1911

Of course for me, the dilemma is even worse. I love .308 rifles, and I love revolvers. But the class that gets .308 rifles doesn’t get revolvers, which makes me have a sad, because I want to wreck shop on dudes with a .308 then transition to my sweet, sweet .357 Magnum. But I can’t, so I use the sub-gun class and wreck dudes with a UMP then transition to my magnum. Or, I could roll the heavy class and face-shoot people with .45s all day long, because who doesn’t like a good .45? Terrorists, that’s who.

There is a real point to all this digital nonsense though, and something that I saved for last. This game and games like it are absolutely how the next generation of gun owners are getting introduced to firearms. The incredible amounts of realism present in the depiction of firearms in game is a good thing. I guarantee that people will come into gun ranges and say “I shot something just like that in Battlefield.” The immediate response of any employee of any range in the nation should be “that’s awesome! Want to try the real deal?”


  1. Caleb,

    At the final moment you got back into the click-worthy zone. You had me reading suspiciously and planning a “what are you drinking” response. Instead you illucidated on a large section of the gun buying public. Well done!

    I’d like to comment that it isn’t just the next generation of gun owners but the present who are also influenced by games. All those dads with kids that are now grown are showing up at the range renting the P226’s. We have 4 different flavors to try. I am seeing brand new ones on the line and they are out-numbering 1911s.

    As for not having a .357 revo available…that is a crime.

  2. I’m kinda sad the machine gun class is gone. As a Marine Machine gunner I had no greater pleasure that setting up and mowing people down.

    1. Me too, but it would be kind of hard to justify the LMGs in a game that’s essentially a very violent version of cops and robbers. I feel like they were trying hard to strike a balance between “Battlefield’s traditional feel” and “New Shiny Classes!”

      1. I’m gonna go buy this tonight. I understand the reasoning but I really enjoyed the machine gun and suppression mechanics in previous battlefield games(Fuck yeah bi pods) As a machine gunner I’ve consistently been disappointed with the way machine guns are utilized in movies/games

    2. Actually there are M240s on some maps. When you look at the mini map you can see weapons icons some of those are RPG-7s and/or M240s.

  3. I agree 100% that games like this can increase the number of ‘gun people.’ In the range I work in, It’s very common to have younger people ask to see then rental guns, and can name many of them off (Beretta 92, AR, Glock, 1911, etc.) based on game experience. Then they get to try one for real and most of them are hooked! I don’t know if it’s what the game designers intended, but it works.

  4. Great article Caleb, I especially like the way you wrapped it up by bringing in the next generation of shooters into the firearms industry and tying it in to the sales pitch of “That’s awesome! Want to try the real deal?” Beautiful.

    I am an old school gamer myself (cut my teeth on the original Pong while visiting my uncle back in the 70’s) and am a huge fan of the FPS genre (I am a Dust 514 devotee due to its persistent environment and scalability).

    I would add that an additional benefit of gaming can be the team play where people can learn teamwork, tactics, and communications. This is something we are experimenting with another FPS, along with a ton of other training regimens and additional software.

    I love to watch the evolution of the tactics in game and marvel at how “Boyd is in details,” (Boyd’s decision making process) evolves so quickly in the gaming industry, especially the fast paced FPS genre.

  5. That last paragraph is spot on.

    As a fairly new gun owner of 2 years and a longtime gamer, I remember buying a 92FS as my first pistol because I wanted to turn it into a Samurai Edge from Resident Evil. But after shooting and getting training with it, I ended up getting a G19 to replace it as my HD firearm. Though, I still think the 92FS is a great pistol.

    I also remember going to the local range one day where I overhear this dude’s kids a few lanes over talking about wanting to bring in a Cheytach m200 Intervention to “xXQuIkSk0peXx” their posted target with slight of hand pro. Kinda cringeworthy overhearing that but I see it as a good start into the right direction.

    Though gaming may be more realistic when it comes to firearms and operating, like you said, many people are being introduced to firearms through mediums like this. It is always great that video game devs would put a lot of attention to detail when it comes to subjects like this and seeing them play out IRL, I can give some appreciation to realism in gaming.

  6. This is the same phenomenon that earlier generations had with certain movies, we now have with various games. Most Model 29 sales are because of Dirty Harry, and Colt brought out the second-generation SAA because of the rise of the Western.

    The last generation of games have a big influence on the purchasing decisions of prospective gun owners of a certain age. I dare say that half of the PS90s sold are probably because of Counter-Strike, and I think it’s responsible for some of the demand for Beretta Elites, as well.

    I was helping one of my friends look for his first pistol, and in the shop he pointed to the two 1911s they had — one a Rock Island GI, and the other from one of the semi-custom outfits (can’t remember who). He asked why there was such a price difference between the two, and I answered “You remember that scene in MGS3 where Snake gets a 1911, and fawns over it? All the stuff he mentioned, this one has — ‘The feed ramp is polished to a mirror sheen…'” The gun store employee, also a young guy, said “Hey, pretty good impression…”

    That scene starts around 3:40 of this video:

  7. I can confirm your theory. Though I clocked in on Counter Strike. As in, the MOD to Half-Life. Half Life 1 that is.
    Most of my initial knowledge of “this is this and that is that” stemmed from the guns in that game. And since it was the Mod, they could use the actual real world names for everything, not the dirked up names they transitioned to when the game whet commercial all on its own and they didn’t have permission.

    1. Yep, I started playing CS in one of the early betas — when the M4 had a scope, and non-removable suppressor. I think that was changed in Beta 6, but it’s hard to tell.

      Regardless of the silly names, most people just used the real ones anyway. The console still listed the original model names, so looking at that would give you the real ones if you didn’t know them already.

      1. LIkewise. Man, CS was not a game. Anything where you can sit down to play “for a while,” and later realize that you’re tired, you’re hungry, and you need to use the bathroom, then look at the clock and realize that 8+ hours has passed, is past game and into addiction territory.

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