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Angelina Jolie with paired pistols

Weapons Locker – Modern firearms – Part #1 – Handguns


Introduction

This article covers some basics about modern firearms – stuff available from the 1930s onward.

As always with Weapons Locker articles, we are interested in fiction, with an emphasis on comic books – but also on action movies and video games, since those media do the heavy lifting in shaping perception of firearms.

Though the lead writer does happen to have military training, we’re not here to discuss real-world firearms and their use. Furthermore, it is centred on American fiction, since this is the one that floods the world over – and feeds on conventions developed elsewhere, such as Hong Kong action movies of the 1990s.

The illustrations in this article mostly come from the Internet Movies Firearms Database , and we own the copyrights to absolutely none of it. If you like the photos, hit the IMFBD, there are many more and they’re larger.

Quick note about the game stats

This article is dual-statted for both DC Heroes 3rd Edition and Mutants & Masterminds 3rd edition. Neither of these systems is oriented toward fine-grained distinctions. Thus a set of stats can easily cover an entire category of weapons.

We’re not going to draw any distinctions between, say a 9x19mm and .40 S&W round, because the game systems simply do not support it. People interested in finer distinctions are better-served by more details-oriented games (my favourite is GURPS 4th edition ).

This also means that this article isn’t about long lists of guns. They’d all have the same stats !

Return of the caveat

As heavily emphasised through the article, this text is about firearms as depicted in comics books, action movies and video games plus some related genres like pulp novels. This is all about fictional things. It’s not meant to cover anything like real world weapons, which behave differently, and makes no claim whatsoever about realism.

The article does provide some useful facts and figure about how these things work. But this is all intended for verisimilitude, not realism. When the common depiction fiction is very different from the real world we’ll mention it, but the goal is not explain how it works in real life.

The tone and content of the article are probably clear enough that this disclaimer isn’t necessary, but many people have a rigid stance on the subject. Better safe than sorry, heh ?

How this article is organised

Since a lot of handguns we are going to cover are rare and unusual — this is about firearms in fiction, after all — we’re going to make two rounds through the categories of guns covered in this article.

The first round will cover the 2-3 common types of weapons in each category, the ones that represent the vast majority of models. Then the second round will cover the “special application” firearms in each category, which are much rarer.

Many firearms reference special rules — for instance Long Reload or Autofire in DCH, or Armour-Piercing or Shotgun Blast in DCA. See our technical RPG articles for more.


Concealed handguns – the basics

Derringer

These are tiny pistols that can fit in the palm of the hand, and in most pockets. The archetypal one has two barrels, one on top of each other, each holding one bullet. These weapons fire weak ammunition that is only useful at very close ranges – say, .41 rimfire or .22 long rifle.

In fiction these weapons tend to be associated with Old West gamblers, women (as a garter gun or purse gun) and people carrying backup weapons for their holdout weapons. It’s not uncommon to carry two derringers given their small size and limited capabilities.

DCH Derringer [BODY 02, Projectile weapons (Diminishing): 03, Ammo: 02, Miniaturisation: 02, R#03, Drawback: Long Reload]]

M&M Derringer [Ranged Ballistic Damage 2, Diminished Range 3, Limited 1 (Two shots), Feature 1 (Tiny size)]

Below is a 1866 Remington. Designs have not changed much since that classic and they’re usually too tiny to be identified anyway.

Typical derringer


Holdout Pistol

A small, flat pistol in a compact calibre, that can be easily concealed in clothing. These weapons are intended as backup weapons if the handgun of the user jams, runs dry, etc.. Police officers in countries with violent crime issues often carry those.

They are sometimes known as “ankle guns”, since it’s not uncommon to have them holstered there. The user drops to a crouch, lift their pant’s leg and draws. In the US, drawing your holdout pistol rather than reloading your main handgun is sometimes called the “New York reload”.

Holdout weapons can also be the main weapon for a person who needs to look unarmed – say, a spy or a bodyguard.

Previous generations of holdout pistols — during the early XXth century — were chambered for anaemic rounds such as .25 ACP or .22 Short, lowering the APs (DCH) or Rank (DCA) by one. Rounds such as .32 ACP are the lower bound for the stats given below.

DCH Holdout pistol [BODY 02, Projectile weapons: 03, Ammo: 06, Miniaturisation: 01, R#04]

M&M Holdout pistol [Ranged Ballistic Damage 2, Diminished Range 1]

Here are three examples. The snubnosed Colt Cobra is a typical subcompact .38 revolver that is iconic of such weapons from the 1950s to the 1970s, the sort of thing the hard-boiled undercover New York City detective will likely pack. This specific model is the Agent variant of the Cobra.

Colt Cobra Agent holdout revolver

The Star Firestar M43 subcompact was once marketed as the smallest 9mm in the world. With its Colt M1911-like appearance, it is a good stand-in for a generic holdout semi-automatic of the mid-to-late XXth century.

Star Firestar M43 Plus holdout pistol

The Pistolet Makarova (usually called “Makarov”) was a common Soviet compact handgun of the Cold War era.

PM Makarov holdout pistol


Medium-sized handguns – the basics

Peashooter

Peashooters are compact or medium-sized handguns used by folks who aren’t much of a threat in combat. Whether a pistol is a peashooter is entirely determined by *who* uses it.

The exact same .38 Special revolver would be a peashooter if used by a 1970s NYPD beat cop shooting fruitlessly at Spider-Man as he swings away on a web line — but a .38 Special as per the stats below if used by a manly private detective played by John Wayne.

In decades past, “Saturday Night Special” short-barrelled revolvers fell in this category. More recently it has been cheap .380 semi-automatics of dismal quality. It can be safely assumed that these weapons are not well-maintained. A professional cannot by definition carry a peashooter, and the quality is so poor that maintaining those is difficult in any case.

These weaker stats help maintain the distinction between mooks and actual gunmen. They are less likely to hit (they jam easily in DCH, they are less accurate in DCA) and if a mook gets a lucky dice roll, the low damage means that the consequences are not likely to be deadly. It’ll be a grazing hit.

DCH Peashooter [BODY 01, Projectile weapons: 03, Ammo: 06, R#05]

M&M Peashooter [Ranged Ballistic Damage 2, Inaccurate]

The example below is a .380 Lorcin, which was ubiquitous in the USA in the early 1990s. There were hundreds of thousands of these things nationwide, and they were terrible.

Lorcin cheap pistol .380


.38 Special Revolver

For most of the XXth century, the .38 Special Revolver was the standard law enforcement sidearm, wielded by beat cops, police detectives, private dicks, etc. It’s the defining weapon of the hardboiled detective, carried in a leather shoulder holster over a tired white shirt.

The .38 Special calibre was indeed special — considerably more powerful than its predecessor the .38 Long Colt — and as such carried a mystique until the 1980s. Being a revolver, it also benefited from the image of reliability that wheelguns have in fiction (in real life, it has been several decades since revolvers were more reliable than semi-autos).

Even in fiction, though, these weapons started being phased out by the mid-1980s. From then on, a .38 was likely to be considered a peashooter rather than the powerful and reliable combat-grade piece of the disillusioned NYPD detective interrogating punk informants in the neon squalor of 1970s Times Square.

DCH .38 Special Revolver [BODY 03, Projectile weapon: 04, Ammo: 06, R#02, Drawback: Long Reload]

M&M .38 Special Revolver [Ranged Ballistic Damage 3]

The good old Smith & Wesson Model 10 Military And Police, or the Colt Police Positive, are the two main exemplars of this category. The one below is the S&W, but these two revolvers look almost the same. They both debuted during the turn of the century.

Typical .38 revolver - Smith & Wesson model 10


Medium Calibre Semi-Automatic Pistol

A semi-auto in a workhorse combat calibre – usually 9x19mm or .45 ACP, which are the two handgun cartridges that dominated the XXth century. Semi-autos were originally associated with military sidearms, but starting in the 1980s they also become associated with law enforcement as revolvers were phased out. This is now the standard pistol for everybody.

The ammunition capacity of such pistols has steadily progressed. The pistols that founded this category usually carried 7 or 8 bullets, but later high-capacity 9mm pistols made 13 or 15 shots the standard in the US by the 1990s. A modern 9mm or .40 pistol carries about 17 bullets.

Action heroes usually rake the slide of their pistol before a firefight erupts, to signify resolve and create tension. In practice, modern safeties are good enough that having an extra bullet in the chamber is okay, and raking the slide would just serve to eject a perfectly good round.

DCH Medium Calibre Semi-Auto [BODY 03, Projectile weapon: 04, Ammo: 15, R#03]

M&M Medium Calibre Semi-Auto [Ranged Ballistic Damage 3]

(DCH players can easily find the correct ammo capacity for almost any model of pistol on the net – say, Wikipedia).
There are innumerable remarkable pistols in this category, but to mention only a few models :

  • The Colt M1911A1 was the workhorse American combat pistol of the XXth century, ubiquitous in comic books. Endless modernised variants of this gun exist. Pulp adventurers like the Shadow had this Colt. The standard magazine holds seven rounds.
  • The Lüger P08 is the German pistol most associated with the debut of the 9x19mm (“9mm Parabellum”) ammunition. Its distinctive silhouette also made it a recurrent presence in comic books, and it still can be glimpsed somewhat often. It is the signature handgun of DC’s Sarge Steel and of most Nazi villains. The standard magazine holds eight rounds.
  • The Beretta 92 and variants was the 9mm that threatened the domination of .45 on the US market, after the US military adopted it as the M9. The “big black gun”, with double the capacity of most .45s became the standard 9mm in fiction, especially after Mel Gibson used one in Lethal Weapon. It is also strongly associated with the classic action roles of Chow Yun Fat back in Hong Kong – one in each hand, blazing ! The standard magazine holds fifteen rounds.
  • The .40 Glock 22 is the current FBI sidearm, and looks very much like other medium-frame Glocks – say, the Glock 17 that became the standard law-enforcement pistol during the 1990s. The standard magazine holds fifteen rounds.
  • The Mauser C96 was one of the most prestigious handguns in the world during the first half of the XXth century, and its distinctive and elegant look meant that it was spotted in the pages of comic books even after that (for instance, Manhunter). It is usually loaded with ten-round strips. Han Solo’s heavy blaster pistol in Star Wars used a C96 as the base for the prop.

Semi-automatic pistols


Large handguns – the basics

Magnum Revolver

These children of the late 1950s fire very powerful cartridges, and developed a strong mystique as “the most powerful handguns in the world” – particularly after the Dirty Harry movie. They’re generally chambered in .357 magnum or .44 magnum.

These weapons are usually pictured as large ones – a .357 with a short barrel will probably have the .38 Special stats listed prior. In the 1960s comics often had those cripple engine blocks and the like – and of course, if any handgun sends targets flying in fiction, it’ll be a magnum !

Tough policemen and detectives in the 1980s usually had a .357 magnum – Marvel’s Misty Knight, David Soul’s Hutch in Starsky and Hutch, Iron Man’s bodyguard Bethany Cabe, Danny Glover as Roger Murtaugh in Lethal Weapon… but, confusingly enough, TV series hero Magnum, P.I. actually uses a .45 M1911A1 as described above.

The stats are also informed by common video game depictions of magnums – in games they are usually much more powerful than basic handguns, though they usually fire more slowly.

DCH Magnum revolver [BODY 03, Projectile weapons: 05, Ammo: 06, R#02, Rec. STR 02, Drawback: Long Reload]

M&M Magnum revolver [Ranged Ballistic Damage 4]

The two models with the strongest mystique were the Colt Python and the Smith & Wesson Model 29 (used by the aforementioned Dirty Harry).

A third quick example is a much rarer weapon, a Mateba Unica. Beyond its unique action (it’s one of the very few semi-auto revolvers ever designed), it managed to look like a futuristic revolver, which is no mean feat. Part of the unique look is because the barrel is aligned with the bottom chamber, not the top one, to lower felt recoil. One of the Section 9 agents in Ghost in the Shell prefers to use Matebas, and Vash the Stampede’s gun in Trigun is built more or less like a Mateba.

Magnum revolvers in black


High-Power Semi-Auto

These guns started making a strong showing in fiction in the late 1980s, with the Desert Eagle – a semi-auto available in a variety of a calibres including a custom .50 handgun round, .44 magnum, etc. This huge, powerful Israeli gun became a recurrent figure in movies, video games, role-playing games and the like, though it’s not used by any military or law-enforcement organisation.

Similar guns are produced by small gunsmithing companies — one random example would be the LAR Grizzly — but the Desert Eagle clearly dominates this category.

Note that most mooks who are armed with Desert Eagles actually use standard semi-auto stats, in much the same way that a mid-calibre gun used by a mook will have peashooter gun stats.

DCH High-Power Semi-Auto [BODY 03, Projectile weapons: 05, Ammo: 09, Rec. STR 02, R#03]

M&M High-Power Semi-Auto [Ranged Ballistic Damage 4]

One of the visual qualities of the Desert Eagle is not visible on the photo below. The barrel is not rectangular like with most semi-autos, but triangular – giving it a very distinctive and powerful-looking shape from the point of view of the person it’s pointed at.

To go beyond the Desert Eagle we’ll include an illustration for a 1970s handgun that also garnered a mystique – the Automag, which some thought was the future of handguns. The name straightforwardly describes what it does.

High-power semi-auto pistols


Machine pistols – the basics

Machine Pistol

A firearm slightly larger than a big pistol, built from the ground up for automatic fire. It can efficiently be fired one-handed – at least in fiction and video games.

Such weapons do not quite fit a military or law-enforcement need — except for tank crews and the like — but they look cool and impressive. Starting in the 1980s, machine pistols featured prominently in action movies.

They were often mook weapons, but a memorable example is the MAC-10 used by Kurt Russell’s Snake Plissken in Escape from New York .

Machine pistols often have a very high rate of fire, and going long on the trigger means running dry in seconds.

One of the earliest examples of machine pistols were the weapons used by Doc Savage’s crew (but not Doc himself). These “super-machine pistols” or “superfirers” were extra-large pistols with a drum magazine.

DCH Machine Pistol [BODY 03, Projectile weapons: 05, Ammo: 06, R#03, Advantage : Autofire]

M&M Machine Pistol [Ranged Multiattack Ballistic Damage 3]

The category-defining weapon was the Ingram MAC-10 machine pistol, featured in many Hollywood movies and guns-rich video game. Another example is the Micro-Uzi, which as its name indicates is a very small version of the famous sub-machinegun.

Lastly, we’ll illustrate this category with the Skorpion, a Warsaw Pact machine pistol for tankers. Though chambered in a weak calibre, during the Cold War the Skorpion was routinely presented as the dream weapon for terrorists, insurgents and other Communists, giving it a strong mystique.

Typical machine pistols


Special applications weapons

We’ll now cover each category again, in the same order – but now that we’ve done the basics, we’ll cover much rarer, specialised weapons.


Special applications concealed handguns

Magnum Derringer

A derringer – but chambered in a much more powerful round such as .22 Winchester Magnum or even .357 magnum. These are not pleasant to fire, but this is the sort of gun a trained professional (such as the Punisher) carries as a last-resort weapon. Other users in fiction include assassins shooting at point-blank and by surprise.

Meryl in Trigun uses similar weapons, though hers are one-shot. Of course, since she carries about 60 derringers, it’s not much of a drawback.

DCH Magnum Derringer [BODY 02, Projectile weapons (Diminishing): 04, Ammo: 04, Miniaturisation: 02, R#03, Drawback: Long Reload]

M&M Magnum Derringer [Ranged Ballistic Damage 3, Diminished Range 3, Feature 1 (Tiny size)]

The four-shots COP .357 Magnum remains the exemplar of this category of weapons – largely because it has four barrels, which looks scary despite the weapon being tiny.

COP concealed magnum pistol


Credit Card Gun

This is a sound-bite name for a type of derringer – extra-flat and compact, and holding one powerful bullet. It has the height and length of a credit card – hence the name.

DCH Credit Card Gun [BODY 02, Projectile weapons (Diminishing): 04, Ammo: 01, Miniaturisation: 04, R#03, Drawback: Long Reload]

M&M Credit Card Gun [Ranged Ballistic Damage 3, Diminished Range 3, Feature 1 (Tiny size), Limited 1 (One-shot)]

This fictional weapon is an exaggerated version of the .357 Magnum WSP Downsizer. The real Downsizer was 3.25” long, and most of them were in .45 ACP rather than .357. Like many weapons that catch the interest of gamers, the real-world Downsizer was produced in tiny quantities – perhaps a hundred were made.

The picture below is a spoof of the original advertisement for the Downsizer. We’ve photoshopped in a credit card instead of the playing card used in the original photo.

Credit card pistol


Black Widow Mini-Revolver

A derringer-sized revolver with five shots, shooting a .22 Magnum round. It is a single action revolver, meaning you have to cock back the hammer with your thumb before you can fire a new round. But action heroes can do that very quickly and will fire it like a semi-auto.

.22 Magnum is a nasty round doing remarkable damage for its size. It flies way faster than .22 Long Rifle does, even with the very short barrel. Between the magnum powder charge and the small barrel, a revolver of this type produces a huge, deafening muzzle flash with a strong intimidation value.

In fiction this gun is almost always associated with female shooters, for the usual Freudian reasons – hence the “Black Widow” name. Angelina Jolie’s Lara Croft uses a gun of this type in the second Tomb Raider movie.

DCH Black Widow [BODY 02, Projectile weapons (Diminishing): 03, Ammo: 05, Miniaturisation: 02, R#03, Drawback: Long Reload]. This gun will usually shoot anti-personnel rounds, see the ammunition section.

M&M Black Widow [Ranged Ballistic Damage 3, Diminished Range 3, Feature 1 (Tiny size), Limited Penetration 1]

There are various types of revolvers in this category, many of them made by North American Arms. The Black Widow is an actual commercial model, and well-regarded. The one in the photo actually sports the same logo as Marvel Comics’s Black Widow on the grip – how could we resist using it as an example ?

Black Widow concealed pistol


Badass Holdout Pistol

A gun of the same dimensions as a basic Holdout Pistol, but performing like a combat-grade piece. This category encompasses two sorts of guns :

  • Holdout guns with a mystique. The main example is the Walther PPK (“polizei pistole, kurtz” – compact policeman’s pistol). This was the pistol used by James Bond (in the movies, both Connery and Moore sported it), and Chow Yun Fat has one hidden up his sleeve in The Killer – so it must be badass, right ? The stats below thus completely ignore the actual ballistics of the gun (which are less than great).
  • Recent, high-quality compact pistols using combat-worthy calibre bullets (9x19mm, .40S&W, .45 ACP and the like) thanks to progress in engineering, materials, etc.

DCH Badass holdout pistol [BODY 03, Projectile weapons: 04, Range: 03, Ammo: 07, Miniaturisation: 01, Limitation: Projectile weapons has No Range, used the listed Range instead, R#03]

M&M Badass holdout pistol [Ranged Ballistic Damage 3, Diminished Range 1]

The first picture is the aforementioned Walther PPK. The second is an example of a modern holdout piece — a Glock 27 subcompact firing a .40 bullet — that is a common choice for law enforcement agencies. As of this writing the 27 is the holdout gun the LAPD recommends to its officers.

Badass holdout pistols


Body Pistol

This gun looks distinctive and futuristic – which is important for story purposes. But even better, one can tell by looking at it that it is cunningly, innovatively designed and is the sort of thing modern super-spies might use.

This pistol looks sort-of melted and bent. It has no asperities and few flat surfaces. It thus fits very well along the body (waist or ankle), and is optimised for a fast and clean draw. Being intended for short-range, self-defence engagements it has no iron sights, but comes with an integral laser sight. It carries 6 rounds in .380, and is smartly designed to deliver them right.

DCH Body pistol [BODY 03, Projectile weapons: 03, Ammo: 02, Miniaturisation: 01, Schtick (Fast Draw), R#03]

M&M Body pistol [Ranged Ballistic Damage 2, Enhanced Advantage (Quick Draw)]

The name “Body Pistol” comes from my old boxed edition of the Traveller RPG. This weapon is based on the real-life Taurus Curve.

Taurus Curve subcompact pistol


Secret Pistol

A custom-built pistol that can be assembled from discrete components, all of which look mundane and pass as normal accessories. It is thus undetectable until assembled and fired.

The daddy of these guns is the Golden Gun used in the 1974 James Bond movie The Man With The Golden Gun, though others have since surfaced in fiction and RPGs and are especially dear to players who want their character to always be armed. Except in some cyberpunk settings, this sort of weapon is usually a Gadget (DCH) or a Device (DCA).

DCH Secret pistol [BODY 01, Projectile weapons: 03, Ammo: 01, R#03, Drawback: Long Reload, Advantage: Misc. Secret pistol (5 pts)]

M&M Secret pistol [Ranged Ballistic Damage 2, Feature 2 (Secret pistol), Limited 1 (One-shot)]

The Golden Gun is assembled from a golden pen (which becomes the barrel), a golden cigarette lighter (which becomes the receiver), a small golden cigarette case (which becomes the handle), a golden cufflink (which becomes the trigger) and fires golden bullets which Scaramanga (Christopher Lee’s character) hid in his belt buckle. The picture below shows the parts and the assembled Golden Gun.

Assembling the Golden Gun from James Bond


Special applications medium-sized handguns

U.N.C.L.E. Special

The P38 was one of the classic pistols of the 1940s… and the 1950s… and the 1960s… and the 1970s. You could still see it in comics during the 1980s. It is one of the iconic weapons of the Cold War, particularly in Western Europe where 9mm Parabellum (which the P38 fires) is very popular.

Almost everybody back then had a P38, and its shape (looking like the love child of a Lüger P08 and a Walther PPK) was emblematic.

The P38 formed the base of a famous fictional weapon used in 1960s in TV series The Man From U.N.C.L.E.. This weapon received a barrel extension, a detachable stock, an extended magazine and a telescopic sight to become a marksman’s carbine. Curiously, this “U.N.C.L.E. Special” was later copied as the design of one of the main robots in Transformers.

Similar guns were seen from time to time in fiction, arming hitmen – since the visuals of assembling a precision carbine from a spy pistol are cool.

DCH U.N.C.L.E. Special [BODY 03, Projectile weapon: 04, Ammo: 08, R#02] w/ Attachments [BODY 01, Range: 06, Ammo: 15, Telescopic vision: 02, Note: the Range and Ammo replace the normal Range and Ammo of the main gun when mounted on]

M&M U.N.C.L.E. Special [Array. The first application is Ranged Ballistic Damage 3, the second is Ranged Ballistic Damage Extended Range 1, Senses 1 (Extended Visual), Quirk 2 (must be assembled first)]

Man from UNCLE P38 pistol


Assassin Special

There exists a number of pistols built from the ground up to be silent assassination weapons – integral suppressor, slide lock to prevent the scha-klick noise from the action, special firing pin, etc. But those are speciality spook stuff, and hitmen without access to those have to make do.

As it turns out, some ’plink pistols’ – small-calibre, easy-to-shoot pistols intended to kill varmint – are an excellent base for a suppressed weapon.

One approach is to take a Ruger Mk1 or Mk2 .22 Long Rifle pistol – a widely-sold, high-quality, very accurate pistol using an ubiquitous varmint round – and fit it with an integral suppressor (“integral” because it is permanently part of the gun – it’s not something you screw on).

This is the “Assassin’s Special”, which is what many people will picture when thinking about a hitman with a silenced pistol.

Given the incredible efficiency of sound suppressors in fiction, an assassin’s special is very quiet – quiet enough to make the aforementioned dedicated silent assassination weapons unnecessary in most stories.

See the “Accessories” weapons locker article for more about silencers.

DCH Assassin special [BODY 02, Projectile weapon: 03, Ammo: 09, Thief (Stealth – only to muffle the shot): 03, R#03]

M&M Assassin special [Ranged Ballistic Damage 2, Feature 1 (Silenced)]

Silenced pistol


Plastic Gun

Decades ago, Austrian manufacturer Glock innovated by using a lot of plastics for its pistol, including the frame. While this wasn’t unprecedented (the H&K VP70s, for instance, had a synthetic frame) it triggered a puzzling hysteria in US and European media about a “plastic gun” that could defeat metal detectors and allow all sorts of bad guys to hijack airplanes willy-nilly.

While this was a complete misunderstanding of just about everything, this created the fictional niche of the “plastic gun”. Since even in fictional worlds the majority of passenger flights do not get hijacked, it will usually be portrayed as a very special, hush-hush technology only available to top-drawer spies and leading international terrorism agencies.

In comic books those also could be issued to agents trying to arrest mutant masters of magnetism, and fire special ceramic bullets.

DCH Plastic gun [BODY 02, Projectile weapon: 04, Ammo: 12, Invisibility (Metal detectors): 04, R#03]

M&M Plastic gun [Ranged Ballistic Damage 3, Concealment 1 (Metal detection)]

The picture below is a first generation Glock 17 from the early 1980s, which launched the media myth. Later iterations of this design have since become ubiquitous in the US, completely killing the dangerously exotic aura that launched the “plastic gun” tall tale.

Older Glock pistol


Armour-Defeating Semi-Automatic

The more recent trend in high-end military handguns is high-capacity, medium-calibre pistols firing ammunition specially designed to defeat body armour — usually APHC bullets (see the chapter about accessories and ammunition).

Niches for these weapons include defence against military and paramilitary organisations fielding armoured soldiers (including maffias in troubled countries such as Russia), and high-intensity tactical operations in confined quarters. An armour-defeating ammunition is the last thing one would want in most law-enforcement operations, but it has a clear place in some SWAT operations.

For more about armour-piercing bullets, see the Ammunition weapons locker article.

DCH APHC Pistol [BODY 03, Projectile weapons: 04, Sharpness (Projectile weapon): 02, Ammo: 20, R#03]

M&M APHC Pistol [Ranged Ballistic Damage 3, Armour-Piercing 2]

The best-known real-world gun in this category (above) is the FN Five-seveN, firing the same round as the P90 below. It is well-known since it is weapon Sam Fisher uses in the Splinter Cell video games. Marvel character Fantomex also seems to use a pair.

Another model (below) is the Russian 9x21mm TsNIITochMash SPS, more pronounceable under its commercial name “Gyurza” (a type of viper).

Armor-piercing pistol

An imaginary pistol in this category is the 5mm Seburo M5, often seen in manga by Masamune Shirrow and their anime adaptation. The Seburo M5 is essentially a more compact version of the real-world Five-seveN. It is used by most Section 9 agents in Ghost in the Shell, including Major Kusanagi.

Seburo M5 pistol from Ghost in the Shell


Target Pistol

These are specially-built pistols used in high-level competitive precision shooting, such as the Olympics. These are very accurate, and can be adjusted in numerous ways to better fit the hand and preferences of the marksperson.

Almost all target pistols fire light, small rounds like .22 Short or .32 Wad Cutter. While these rounds have excellent ballistics, allow for engaging multiple targets at very high speed, have low noise and recoil, etc. they have very little stopping power, and are not fit for combat use.

Target pistols are sometimes used as movie props (a Hammerli is used in Point of No Return – and a Walther GSP in the original version of the movie, Nikita). They can easily be used as props for near-future handguns, or even for light blaster pistols (Princess Leia’s gun in Star Wars is based on a target pistol).

A cinematic or comic book marksman might rechamber and reengineer one for a combat-grade ammunition, but that would be a Gadget (DCH) or a Device (DCA) with unique statistics.

DCH Target pistol [BODY 01, Projectile weapons: 02, Range: 05, Ammo: 05, Drawback: Long Reload]

M&M Target Pistol [Ranged Ballistic Damage 1, Extended Range 3, Accurate 2]

Here are a Hammerli SP20, a Pardini SP and a Walther GSP – all in .22 LR and thus able to wound (or kill under certain circumstances) as per the stats above.

Target pistols


Special applications large handguns

Humongous Hand Cannon

Weapons in this class are enormous hand cannons, with a huge barrel, and generally weight more than two kilos apiece. They fire a special-purpose, niche round such as .500 S&W, .454 Casull, .480 Ruger or even a rifle round like .30 carbine or 5.56mm.

These are chiefly collector’s pieces, though they can actually be useful in some extreme circumstances. Maybe as protection in an area with aggressive bears or attempting to hunt huge animals with a handgun.

Such justifications do not really matter in fiction, though, where we further have the niche of gunmen with superhuman strength (such as the typical cyberpunk operator with a full cybernetic arm) or who are just insane (like Jack Nicholson’s Joker in Batman). Vash the Stampede’s revolver in Trigun can also be considered a Humongous Revolver, though it has other peculiarities.

Some video games feature an Humongous Revolver as a Magnum pistol that is more powerful than most rifles, can kill most enemies in one shot and for which you can never find more than a handful of ammunition. Resident Evil games in particular feature this sort of absurdly powerful pistol.

DCH Humongous Hand Cannon [BODY 03, Projectile weapons: 05, Stagger: 06, Range: 04, Ammo: 05, Rec. STR 03, R#02, Bonuses & Limitations: Projhectile and Stagger are Combined, but neither has Range – use the listed Range instead.]

M&M Humongous Hand Cannon [Ranged Ballistic Damage 4 Linked w/ Ranged Ballistic Affliction 5 (Limited Degree Dazed/Prone, resisted by Fortitude), Quirk 1 (Requires STR 1+ to be used)]

Here are two examples – the Taurus Raging Bull from Brazil, and the Smith & Wesson Model 500.

Huge revolvers

A good example of a gun used by a superhumanly strong marksman is Alucard’s original pistol, in Hellsing. While it’s a semi-auto, it uses the exact same stats ; it is chambered in the aforementioned .454 Casull. Alucard later used an even more powerful pistol.

Hellsing Arms .454 Casull

One last example of a semi-auto that fits this category is the Wildey pistol, with the most powerful round possible (.475 Wildey Magnum) and the longest barrel possible. This utterly non-Freudian artillery piece features heavily in power fantasy movie Death Wish 3.

Wildey pistol with the works


Sniper Pistol

A huge, long-barrelled handgun shooting a rifle round and sporting a large, precise-looking scope. This pistol holds only one round – it’s thus not a combat piece, but more of a one-shot-one-kill affair, hence the “sniper pistol” monicker.

Most models are reloaded by break-open action, like old-school hunting shotguns – you manually insert a new round in the barrel.

In the real world this is a very specialised hunting weapon, though in fiction it gets used by badass assassins in John Woo movies.

DCH Sniper handgun [BODY 03, Projectile weapons: 06, Range: 05, Ammo: 01, Rec. STR 03, R#02, Drawback: Long Reload]

M&M Sniper handgun [Ranged Ballistic Damage 5, Limited 1 (One-shot), Senses 1 (Extended visual)]

The best example is probably the Thompson Contender G2 chambered for the 30/30 Winchester rifle round – it’s very big, has a long barrel, and offers distinctive and stylish visuals.

The one below is a Magnum Research Lone Eagle, chambered in .30-06 – same basic idea. The last one is an EAA Thor from Tanfoglio, used by Liquid Ocelot in Metal Gear Solid : Guns of the Patriots.

Sniper pistols


Shotgun Revolver

A large revolver-action handgun that fires shotgun rounds. A revolver that is a shotgun. A buckshot magnum !

The idea is to have a close-quarter handgun with superior firepower and that can use speciality rounds (such as armour-piercing slugs) when needed. It uses modified 32 gauge shells (12.5x40mm, in metric) ; between that and the short barrel it is only useful at close ranges.

This is based on a Russian weapon, the OTs-20 Gnom. Like many weapons beloved by role-players and video games with lots of guns, it didn’t quite exist. That is, no real client picked it up and there was but a tiny production run, which is a bother when it comes to a gun that uses unique ammunition. A loaded Gnom weights about 1.2Kg

DCH Gnom [BODY 03, Shotgun blast (Range 02): 06, Ammo: 05, R#03, Recommended STR: 3, Advantage : Scattershot, Limitation: Shotgun Blast is Diminishing (on top of the normal Limitation for Shotgun Blast, so it loses 2 EV per AP of Range), Drawback: Long Reload]

M&M Gnom [Shotgun Blast 4, Diminished Range 2]

Here’s a Gnom photo, taken from guns.ru . The little thing at the front is indeed a laser sight. Presumably it’s used when shooting slugs at vehicles, or applications along these lines.

GNOM revolver shotgun


Dual-Use Shotgun-Revolver

An even stranger weapon, this revolver is chambered in such a way as to indifferently fire large .45 rounds or .410 shotgun shells. The usefulness in real life is debatable, but in fiction “shotgun” and “power” are synonymous, turning this sort of weapon into a redoubtable hand cannon.

This type of gun is based on the various Judge handguns produced by the fearless Brazilian gunmaker Taurus.

DCH Judge [BODY 03, Ammo: 05, R#03, Drawback: Long Reload. Can be loaded with either bullets (Projectile weapons: 05) or .410 3” buckshot (Shotgun Blast (Range 03): 05, Advantage : Scattershot, Limitation: Shotgun Blast is Diminishing as with the Shotgun Revolver above]

M&M Judge [Array. Shotgun Blast 3, Diminished Range 1 — or Ranged Ballistic Damage 3]

A Judge like the one illustrated below is used by Mark Wahlberg in Max Payne, where the .410 shot performs as powerfully as the stats above imply.

Taurus Judge revolver


Underbarrel Single-Shot Shotgun (Handgun-Sized)

A single-shot, break-open .410 shotgun that can be fitted under a large, long-barrelled handgun. Such a contraption is usually installed under a magnum revolver – it would also fit under a humongous revolver, but the weapon would look impossible to use.

As per the Dual-Use Shotgun-Revolver above, that .410 is a small bore mostly fit for birdshot is ignored in favour of Hollywood Shotgun depictions.

More compact, high-tech versions of this (with an electric trigger) could be used for some firearms that are depicted has having a single-shot underslung weapon – for instance when loaded with a Dragon Breath pyrotechnic round as a one-shot “underbarrel flamethrower”.

DCH USSS [BODY 01, Shotgun Blast (Range: 02): 04, Ammo: 01, R#02, Drawback: Long Reload, Advantage : Scattershot, Limitation: Shotgun Blast is Diminishing as with the Shotgun Revolver above]

M&M USSS [Shotgun Blast 3, Diminished Range 1, Limited 1 (One-shot)]

The best-known fictional example is the contraption used in the movie adaptation of RED – which also has a tactical flashlight on the side. More about it on the IMFDB .

Big revolver with grenade launcher

Universal Revolver

In the vast majority of stories, gun-using heroes do not have a problem with ammunition supply. However, in some environment (especially post-apocalyptic ones) ammunition can become a critical matter.

A type of weapon that could shine in such a context are multi-calibre revolvers, with a specially engineered cylinder that can accept a startling variety of rounds. In the real world, these rounds all have to fit the barrel so the idea is to accept all rounds around the 9mm calibre – .38 Special, 38 Long, 9mm Kurtz, .357 magnum, .380 ACP, etc. etc.

In fiction, such a weapon could be truly universal, firing all possible handgun rounds without a hitch. Perhaps the barrel uses memory metals or similar techno-babble.

DCH Universal revolver [BODY 02, Projectile weapons: 03 to 05 depending on bullet, Ammo: 06, Drawback: Long Reload, Advantage: Misc.: Multi-calibre]

M&M Universal revolver [Ranged Ballistic Damage 2 to 4 depending on bullet, Feature 1 (Multi-calibre)]

The Phillips & Rodgers, Inc. Medusa M47 was the most remarkable such project and could easily be used as a fictional universal revolver.

Medusa revolver


High-Tech Combat Pistol

A large, intimidating, futuristic pistol full of gizmos. This “Cable gun” is imaginary and was probably built by a some secret organisation with comic-book technology, like A.I.M..

It represents all sorts of huge pistols drawn by comic book artists without being based on any real-world weapon, which are implied to be very powerful and sophisticated. The pistol Bruce Willis used to “negotiate” as Korben Dallas in The Fifth Element belongs to this category.

Some High-Tech Combat Pistols use special ammunition as a matter of course – see that section.

DCH HTC Pistol [BODY 03, Projectile weapons: 05, Ammo: 15, Rec. STR 02, R#02]

M&M HTC Pistol [Ranged Ballistic Damage 4]

The gun below is concept art for the Half-Life video game mod Natural Selection , developed by Unknown Worlds Entertainment. It meets nearly all the characteristics of the powerful near future handgun.

Science-fiction pistol


Blade Runner Blaster

The strange pistol used by Deckard (played by Harrison Ford) in the landmark movie Blade Runner is a mystery – its specs remain unrevealed. But the looks of this gun are so iconic that we couldn’t resist throwing it in.

In the movie it performs much like a magnum revolver, and seems to be a heavy and powerful weapon. It can harm and kill even Replicants, which are visibly stronger and tougher than a human, though it’s hard to tell how powerful it makes the gun.

From the two triggers it’s tempting to hypothesise than the blaster has two magazines, and both presumably fire different speciality ammunition – see the ammunition chapter. A possible loadout for Deckard was four badass bullets and four anti-personnel bullets (see the ammunitions weapons locker).

The most powerful handgun in the first Fallout video game looks exactly like the blaster.

DCH Blade Runner blaster [BODY 03, Projectile weapons: 05, Ammo: 08, R#02, Rec. STR 02, Advantage: Ammo is two separate, swiftly selectable pools of 4, Drawback: Long Reload]

M&M Blade Runner Blaster[Ranged Ballistic Damage 4. Will often be an Array firing two different types of ammunition]

The picture below is a replica made by gunsmith Nobutaka Toku .

Blade Runner pistol


SN9 WASP Revolver

Another futuristic firearm, this one from the movie Avatar – since everybody has seen it and the SN9 WASP has a remarkable appearance and performance.

The is an autorevolver (like the Mateba) firing hypervelocity 9mm saboted rounds – essentially of super-bullet of superior stopping power, range, penetration and accuracy.

The one used by Colonel Quaritch was huge since it had both an underbarrel laser sight/tactical flashlight and an electronic scope mounted over the receiver with magnification, computer-assisted aiming, thermal imager and movement detector (!).

DCH WASP [BODY 03, Projectile weapons: 05, Range: 06, Sharpness (Projectile weapon): 01, Flash (Stdy illum.): 05, Telescopic vision: 03, Thermal vision: 06, Detect (Movement): 06, Ammo: 06, Rec. STR 02, R#02]

M&M WASP [Ranged Ballistic Damage 4, Extended Range 1, Armour-Piercing 1, Feature 1 (Flashlight), Senses 11 (Extended Visual, Extended Infravision, Extended Ranged Detect (Movement), Counters All Concealment]

In most milieux such a weapon would be considered a Gadget (DCH) or a Device (DCA) – even in Avatar this wasn’t a standard issue pistol and the Colonel had bought it with his own money.

Still, it lies *just* at the outer periphery of what can be considered a modern firearm for the purposes of this article, since some super-special agencies might equip their top agent with a weapon like this in a comic book world.

WASP pistol from the movie Avatar


18-shots, triple-barelled revolver

This improbable XXth Italian weapon did exist, albeit in minuscule quantities. The inner circle of chambers holds 6 rounds, and the outer one 12. The hammers can apparently be set to fire 1, 2 or all 3 chambers at once. And the weapon comes with a fast loader – a perforated metallic disc in which all 18 bullets can be placed so they can all be loaded at once.

Realistically this large, complex weapon firing an underpowered round (.25 ACP) is probably not the greatest idea ever. But in sufficiently cinematic  fiction à la Wild Wild West it could certainly be a signature weapon. Thus, the game stats below are *particularly optimistic* as to the ballistics of .25 ACP, the reliability of the action and the ability to set the number of active hammers on the fly. As always, it’s the fantasy version of the gun.

DCH 18-shot wheelgun [BODY 02, Projectile weapons: 03, Ammo: 18, Rec. STR 02, R#04, Dart Bonus]

M&M 18-shot wheelgun [Ranged Ballistic Damage 3, Power Attack]

Triple-barelled, 18-shots Italian revolver


Heckler & Kock P11 Underwater Operations Pistol

This specialised weapon is one of the few firearms that exist for underwater combat. Each sealed barrel holds a 10cm steel dart and a charge of propellant.

The dart has a range of about 30 metres on the surface and 10 to 15 metres underwater depending on depth – which is *well* beyond the underwater range of even a high-powered rifle. It is relatively quiet, but not cinematically so.

In a fictional context, replacing the projectile by a similar one in hardwood and adding a laser sight makes for a redoubtable vampire-staking weapon. The heavy, unusual-looking pistol could also serve as a prop for a number of imaginary weapons, such as a micro-missiles launcher.

Our Weapons Locker : Half-Life article also uses its mechanism to explain the impossible underbarrel grenade launchers in these games.

Note that one doesn’t reload a P11 – one buys a new five-barrels block, loaded and sealed, from the factory. Not having seawater flood a barrel until it has been fired is rather important to the working of the gun, hence the necessity of only firing factory-sealed barrels.

DCH P11 UOP [BODY 03, Projectile weapons: 03, Ammo: 05, Range: 02, R#02, Bonus: Projectile weapons can use the listed Range when used underwater, and uses its normal Range above the surface]

M&M P11 UOP [Ranged Ballistic Damage 1, Feature 1 (Useable underwater]

Here’s a P11 wielded underwater by Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft, Tomb Raider. Thanks Angelina, come back any time.

Underwater P11 pistol


Rocket-Launching Pistol

No, really. Worse, those actually existed during the 1960s, and were viable combat weapons (though the earlier models of rockets were less than reliable).

Having few moving parts, rocket-launcher pistols can operate under very adverse conditions (including underwater and in space – they’d be great weapons for XXth or even XXIst century space marines), have no recoil and produce a duller, less distinctive sound – more like a fwoosh than a bang.

The Japanese commandos working with James Bond in You Only Live Twice had them, and some 1980s science-fiction role-playing games postulated similar guns as the standard future armament before energy weapons became fully viable. That’s about it for the footprint of this sort of weapon in contemporary fiction, though you can find a lot of advanced versions in science-fiction stories.

In a comic book environment, rockets with specialised warheads would definitely be used. There are curiously few examples of comic book characters with rocket pistols, though – perhaps the idea of a rocket pistol sounds stupid and unrealistic, even though they actually existed.

DCH Gyrojet pistol [BODY 03, Projectile weapons: 04, Ammo: 06, R#03, Drawback: Long Reload]

M&M Gyrojet pistol [Ranged Ballistic Damage 3, Feature 1 (Useable in space]

The aforementioned 1960s real-world example is the MBA Gyrojet 13mm pistol. It wasn’t terribly reliable or accurate, but it wasn’t horrible either, and subsequent generations of rockets and launchers would likely have eliminated the teething problem.

The stats above assume a more mature weapon than the Gyrojet was, issued by a large-ish agency like S.H.I.E.L.D. to some of its agents.

Gyrojet pistol


TEC-Nine

Based on a commercially unsuccessful submachinegun, this pistol was meant to look big and intimidating as it evoked the larger, automatic weapon it was derived from – with a shrouded, perforated barrel and a big magazine.

This brought the manufacturer both commercial success (as people who wanted to have a scary gun, including many street criminals, got one) and legal troubles (as its scary looks drew attention to the fact it was easily converted back to automatic fire).

In the US, the TEC-9 became widely associated with gangs during the 1980s and 1990s, its archetypal use being fire gangsta-style (held to the side) by several men inside a powerful car in a drive-by shooting. TV series like Miami Vice reinforced this image – a large pistol facilitates cinematography, especially when having to film quickly.

A comic book gang leader at Milestone was even named after this gun, as was rap artist Tech-N9ne.

As the “gang machinegun” – for instance it is featured in many Grand Theft Auto video games, for instance in the hands of C.J. Johnson or Tommy Vercetti – the TEC-9 is usually depicted as being inaccurate and not terribly effective. Even when used by a good guy – like Kurt Russel’s Jack Burton in the classic Big Trouble in Little China – it seldom hits.

DCH TEC-9 [BODY 02, Projectile weapons: 03, Ammo: 32, R#04]. If converted to automatic fire, becomes [BODY 02, Projectile weapons: 04, Ammo: 06, R#06, Advantage: Autofire]

M&M TEC-9 [Ranged Ballistic Damage 3, Inaccurate 1. Alternate effect Ranged Ballistic Multiattack Damage 4, Inaccurate 3]

TEC9 machine pistol


Cut-Down Rifle / Superhuman Handgun

Some fiction shows superhuman gunmen using firearms that are only workable with superhuman strength — even in a context where human strength can go rather high and man-portable gatling guns are unremarkable.

Such weapons are essentially cut-down, one-handed rifles as far as the ammunition and receiver are concerned, though they may look like absurdly large pistols.

The stats for such superhuman handguns vary enormously, but here’s a baseline :

DCH Superhuman handgun [BODY 04, Projectile weapon: 06, Range: 04, Ammo: 10, R#03, Rec. STR 06, Limitation: Projectile weapon has No Range – use the Range given next instead, Drawback: Long Reload]

M&M Superhuman handgun [Ranged Ballistic Damage 5, Quirk (requires a Strength of 5+ to use)]

An excellent example of cut-down rifle as per this category are the Garands used by vampire Luke Valentine in the anime Hellsing.

Rifle cut down to be used as a pistol

The next two examples are used only as examples of visual designs – the actual guns in the actual stories are far more powerful than the stats above. But pistols of this size and bulk could credibly fire a rifle round such as 7.62mm in a precise, fast fashion… provided there existed people with superhuman strength to wield them.

The first design is the Jackal, used by Alucard in Hellsing

Alucard's huge pistol

The second design is one of the Cerberus guns in Gungrave (the second pistol has white bits instead of red bits). In Gungrave the Cerberus is monstrously powerful – again, the idea is just to show possible designs for pistols built for superhuman gunmen, not provide stats for Cerberi.

Gungrave pistol


Special applications weapons machine pistols

Burst-Capable Pistol

A pistol that can fire bursts was something of a dream weapon. Most gunfights fought with handguns take place at very close range, are decided quickly, occur in poor visibility, and see the vast majority of the shots missing.

Handgun experts soon designed techniques such as double-taps or 2+1 shooting, where the idea is to quickly pump several bullets into the opponent. Clearly a pistol that fired like a machinegun would be even better.

It never quite materialised, due to problems with recoil control and other engineering issues. Past the first two bullets in a burst, the target for most such weapons would become the ceiling. Some shooters developed techniques with it – these weapons were one of the very few cases where firing gangsta-style actually caused fewer issues than it solved – but such weapons remained very hard to control.

They were thus often used with a removable stock – see below.

Fictional gunfighters always were able to fire Burst-Capable Pistols accurately — using just one hand if needed — and the real weapons slowly caught up with that, becoming increasingly robust and easy to control.

DCH Burst-Capable Pistol [BODY 03, Projectile weapons: 04, Ammo: 20, Bonus : May use a burst mode increasing EV to 05 – each burst costing three Ammo (5pts), Recommended STR: 02 (03 with bursts), R#03]

M&M Burst-Capable Pistol [Ranged Multiattack Ballistic Damage 3]

The main modern example in this category is probably the Beretta 93R, which had a noticeable presence in movies and comics (including the movie Broken Arrow where it is used by John Travolta). The folding handle at the front was the trick that made it useable.

Our second example is one of the pistols used by Selene (played by Kate Beckinsale) in Underworld, a fine example of fictional burst-capable pistol.

Lastly we have a recent example of the category, the Glock 18. This specific one is a second generation 18, since the larger barrel with a very visible compensator is better at evoking automatic fire.

Burst-fire pistols


Extended Burst-Capable Pistol

This admittedly clumsy term is a variant of the category above – but the weapon can be fitted with a rifle-like stock, has an extended barrel (or can be fitted with one, especially in fiction) and accepts extended magazines.

In the real world this was done in order to make early burst-capable pistols controllable despite their terrible recoil. In fiction, these pistols do not have recoil issues – which means that the attachments are here to make a good thing even better.

In stories this is normally a sleek professional’s weapon. The modular nature makes it look precise and technical, and the early weapons in this category were prestigious and highly sought-after.

Thus, the stats below assume that the weapon is, somehow, always in the proper configuration – stock and barrel for the long-distance shot, extended magazine and two-handed grip for close-quarter battle, pistol configuration when carried, etc. Such is the way of the professional.

Even if not ready, there will be just enough time for the gunperson to swiftly modify their weapon – because it’s cool and if you use one, it means you’re cool too.

The two classics from the early XXth century are the Mauser C96 Schnellfeuer (“rapid fire”) and variants, and the Lüger P08 Artillerie.

A Soviet weapon that acquired quite a mystique during the Cold War was the Stechkin, based on the same concepts as the Mauser and equipping sinister KGB tactical specialists conducting covert raids in Afghanistan or gangland-style assassinations. The 1970s saw the promising Heckler & Koch VP70, a forerunner with its polymer frame and three-rounds burst capability.

DCH EBC Pistol [BODY 03, Projectile weapons: 05, Range: 06, Ammo: 15, Advantage: Autofire, Limitation: Projectile weapons has No Range, use the listed Range instead]

M&M EBC Pistol [Ranged Multiattack Ballistic Damage 3, Extended Range 1]

Below is the Mauser – the most famous one in this category. It was the signature firearm of the badass ninja/hitman Manhunter in a famous 1970s DC Comics feature. This one is unloaded – it normally uses an extended magazine that is as long as the pistol grip. Note that the stock is hollow and doubles as a holster for the pistol, and that people like Manhunter can fit an extended barrel for long-distance shots.

Next is the Stechkin APS, which works the same way (including the stock/holster) and the H&K VP70 (ditto with the stock/holster).

Burst-capable pistols with removable stocks


S.H.I.E.L.D. APDU .30 Machine Pistol

This weapon, as you probably guessed, is encountered in the Marvel Universe. It was a feature of certain S.H.I.E.L.D. stories in the 1980s, though it doesn’t appear to be a standard piece of equipment. It is possible that even S.H.I.E.L.D. has but a dozen such weapons in its armouries.

Like the WASP pistol above, they are at the outer limit of the scope of this article but can arm extraordinary agents in a comic book world.

This .30 machine pistol is fed by clips holding 60 rounds on a disintegrating link belt. There are several rates of fire (from semi-auto to 600rpm) presumably selectable by a three- or four-positions selector. It has a floating bolt/receiver and can be fired with one hand by a strong person.

The S.H.I.E.L.D. Machine Pistol is engineered to fire rounds with a spent uranium, high density core that is larger than that of APHC, APSC, etc. bullets. This allows this exceptional weapon to successfully engage armoured personnel, to wound certain superhumanly durable persons, and to penetrate some kinds of power armour and lightly armoured vehicles.

DCH S.H.I.E.L.D MP [BODY 04, Projectile weapons: 06, Sharpness (Projectile weapon): 02, Ammo: 08, R#03, Advantage : Autofire]

M&M S.H.I.E.L.D. MP [Ranged Multiattack Ballistic Damage 5 Armour-Piercing 2]

SHIELD machine pistol (Marvel comics)


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National stereotypes

When it comes to firearms in fiction, perception is everything, and one of the key branding elements for guns, sports cars and other macho pieces of equipment is nationality.

Though this will not usually matter for off-the-rack equipment, equipment specifically used by a Player Character or recurrent Non-Player Character might have the following adjustments based on common stereotypes :

  • Israeli equipment (Desert Eagle or Jericho pistols, various sorts of Uzi submachineguns, Galil or Tavor assault rifles, etc.) and Russian equipment (AK-series assault rifles, Dragunov precision rifle, Guyrza pistol, etc.) are super-tough, need little maintenance – and in the rare case when they jam, they can be fixed with a manly slap on the receiver. In DC Heroes you can increase BODY by 01 and/or decrease R# by 1. In Mutants and Masterminds you can add Feature 1 (Exceptionally rugged).
  • German equipment (MP5-series submachineguns, USP-series pistols, PSG-1 sniper rifles…) is super-accurate and a marvel of precision engineering. In Mutants and Masterminds you can consider Accurate 1, in DC Heroes giving it a Range 1 AP higher than normal.
  • Other countries do not have enough of a marketing image on the US market to develop such stereotypes, though most emergent countries (China, Brazil, Mexico…) are liable to see their guns considered as less reliable purely out of stereotype.
  • American guns are the standard and inform the base stats of the weapon categories in this article, such as anything “magnum” or with a pump action (real or imagined…) being more powerful. One niche is the mythology that existed (and still exists) around the stopping power of the .45 ACP round – in some stories it may be strong enough to give some .45s the stats of high-power semi-autos.

By Sébastien Andrivet

Helper(s): Roy Cowan, Chris Cottingham, Eric Langendorff, Azraelfl, Max, Blindswordsman, Darci, Pawsplay and (allegedly) Angelina Jolie. SN9 WASP specs from the Avatar Wiki.

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