Angelina Jolie with long black hair and a handgun, in the movie Salt

Weapons Locker – Modern firearms – Chapter #1 – Handguns, part 2

(Exotic types of handguns in stories)


This article used to be part of our Weapons Locker – Modern firearms – Chapter #1 – Handguns article.

Howbeit, the material was cleft. So now it’s easier to peruse on slow connections and less powerful devices.


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 TTRPG 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 sports the same motif 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: 02, 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

Fitzed revolver

This a series of customisations done to a revolver. This were promoted by a famous Colt demonstrateur, John Henry FitzGerald, during the 1920s and 1930s. A “Fitz Special” features :

  1. A 2″ barrel (though it does have iron sights) with a short ejector rod.
  2. Everything gets shortened and rounded, especially the hammer which gets checkered. This way it won’t get snagged in clothing during fast-draws.
  3. The front of the trigger guard is removed.

A typical subject for this treatment would be a .38 Special Colt Police Positive. The resulting weapon is easy to conceal, easy to fast-draw, and intended for engagements at very close ranges (which is what usually happens in gunfights).

Later on, holdout pistols gained rounded edges, shrouded hammers, etc. to emulate these general ideas from the get-go.

But a fitzed revolver looks more impressive and more dangerous, and that’s what counts.

DCH Fitzed revolver [BODY 02, Projectile weapons: 03, Range: 02, Ammo: 06, Miniaturisation: 01, Schtick (Fast Draw), R#03, Limitation: Projectile weapons has No Range, use the listed Range instead].

M&M Fitzed revolver [Ranged Ballistic Damage 2, Enhanced Advantage (Quick Draw), Diminished Range 1].

Photo from the auctioneer J. Julia .

"Fitzed" Colt revolver

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).
  • Golden bullets which Scaramanga (Christopher Lee’s character) hid in his belt buckle.

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 buzz in US and European media about a “plastic gun” that could defeat metal detectors. It would therefore 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. They 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

Badass .45

There are decades of mythology around the “Colt .45” (meaning here the M1911 model and variants thereof, not the Old West revolvers). In this view it is the most reliable, most robust, most man-stopping, most virile, most patriotic weapon known to man.

In stories, many master gunfighters contribute to this aura – such as the Shadow, the Spider, the Punisher, Barb Wire, and many others with the Colt .45 as their signature handgun.

A .45 ACP Colt M1911A1

The following stats reflect the exaggerated, mythologised version of the weapon :
DCH Badass .45 [BODY 05, Projectile weapon: 04, Ammo: 14, Advantage: Edge (Projectile weapons)].

M&M Badass .45 [Ranged Ballistic Damage 3, Enhanced Advantage (Power Attack)].

In DCH, the increased Ammo capacity could reflect a high-capacity real-world model. The “14” given here is based on the Para-Ordnance Black Ops 14, which is illustrated below (and would be a typical Punisher handgun).

It could also be just plain exaggeration. For instance the .45s dual-wielded by Bruce Willis’ character in the movie Last Man Standing have an Ammo score of *at least* 18.

.45 Para-Ordnance Black Ops 14

Another way to convey the “badass .45” mystique was used in the version of The Shadow starring Alec Baldwin. The cinematography relied on two elaborately customised pistols that look like a much larger version of the Colt M1911, comparable to Desert Eagles and other oversized handguns. See the IMFDB’s movie profile  for more about the “Silver Heat” custom movie pistols.

Badass .45 used by Alec Baldwin as the Shadow in the movie

Quadruple-stack Pistol

Originally, magazines for semi-automatic pistols had the ammunition stacked atop each other. By contrast the high-capacity handguns, usually firing 9mm rounds, had two stacks.

So of course, a smart guy ended up making a pistol with four stacks of ammo per mag, offering a whopping 33-round capacity. Though such capacity isn’t unprecedented in handguns, the packaging is distinctive.

This speciality handgun is an exaggerated version of the real-world Kel-Tec CP33. The real version is a plink gun chambered in .22 LR. The made-up version here uses 9mm, or a similar combat round.

The CP33 was picked since :

  1. It’s large and with a distinctive silhouette, and thus is easier to film, to draw and to recognise.
  2. It has a huge rail on top, so you can easily mount something to make it look meaner. Even if it serves no apparent purpose, like the optics on Han Solo’s heavy blaster.
  3. Speaking of whom, you could use it as a prop for a Star Wars blaster without anybody batting an eye.

[BODY 03, Projectile weapons: 04, Ammo: 33, R#03]. As discussed in the Ammo Drawback rules, the capacity is high enough to not bother counting.

Photo from the manufacturer.

Kel Tec CP33 pistol

Special applications large handguns

Humongous Hand Cannon

Weapons in this class are enormous hand cannons, with a huge barrel, and generally weigh more than two kilos apiece. They fire a special-purpose, niche round such as .500 S&W, .454 Casull, or .480 Ruger. Some even fire 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 if attempting to hunt huge animals with a handgun.

Howbeit, such justifications do not really matter in fiction. And we 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, Range: 04, Ammo: 05, Rec. STR 03, R#02, Advantage: Edge (Projectile Weapons)].

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.

Taurus Raging Bull in 454 Casull

Swith & Wesson Model 500 long barrel

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 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 breech-loading 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. 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 tabletop 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: 03, 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 . 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, 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, 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. These have a specially engineered cylinder that can accept a startling variety of rounds. Realistically, these rounds all have to fit the barrel and thus work with 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. It 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. It 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, and 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. But 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 almost any conditions. That includes underwater and in space – they’d be great weapons for XXth or even XXIst century space marines.

They produce no recoil and emit a duller, less distinctive sound than a firearm. 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


Based on a commercially unsuccessful submachinegun, this pistol was meant to look big and intimidating. 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 was being fired 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

Lancaster pistol

A “pepperbox” pistol has several barrels, each holding a bullet. The striker rotates between the barrels. Usually, these are small weapons in weak, early calibres. You can see an unusual example in our Guns of the Old West article, the James Reid knuckleduster.

However, there was a generation of large and powerful pepperboxes.

That was a bit before and during the American Civil War, so the good revolver designs of the Old West were yet to come. Service sidearms were often slow, with long reloads, and loaded in so-so .36 calibres. And since rifles were single-shot, there were plenty of opportunities to have to use a sidearm for self-defense.

Lancaster pistols were multi-barrelled affairs with a fast action, firing a big round, and reloaded with a break-open mechanism (like with a side-by-side shotgun). These made them much better at stopping large beasts, determined melee attackers, and zombies. Wait, no, not zombies.

The bigger Lancasters qualify as “howdah pistols”. A howdah is the kind of small-hut-on-a-giant-saddle you put on an elephant to carry passengers. But if a tiger or a zombie… no, not a zombie… leaps atop the elephant, you want a powerful, fast-firing sidearm to defend the howdah point-blank.


Here we’re going to assume a well-made, well-maintained, four-barrelled gun with 6 or 7″ barrels, chambered with a big round such as the .455 Webley MkII.

Lancaster [BODY 03, Projectile weapons: 04, Ammo: 04, Recommended STR 02, R#03, Drawback: Long reload time].

Lancaster pistol with four barrels

Photo from the Royal Armouries Collections .


Here’s a two-barrels (over/under) Lancaster built to be loaded with a *rifle* round, a .577 calibre from the regulation Martini-Henry rifle.

.577 Lancaster [BODY 03, Projectile weapons: 05, Ammo: 02, Recommended STR 03, R#03, Drawback: Long reload time].

And here’s a two-barrel one built to be loaded with 20-gauge buckshot:

20ga Lancaster [BODY 03, Shotgun blast (Range 02): 05, Ammo: 02, Recommended STR 03, R#03, Drawback: Long reload time].

In a post-apocalyptic milieu, it is possible that a large pepperbox design might be easier to build and maintain than a revolver. It’ll depend on the specific metallurgy, machining and gunsmithing ressources available. But it’s good at conveying the feel of a post-apoc sidearm.

I suppose the Bride of Frankenstein could also have one. If you’ve misheard “Lanchester” as “Lancaster”.

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 real 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. It 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. 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. Misty Knight has occasionally used the latter.

A Soviet weapon that acquired quite a mystique during the Cold War was the Stechkin. It was 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.
  • Wound certain superhumanly durable persons.
  • 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) from the 1983 official handbook

S.H.I.E.L.D. plasma handgun

(Coming soon-ish).

SHIELD plasma pistol handgun (Marvel Comics) from the 1983 official handbook

SHIELD plasma pistol handgun (Marvel Comics) in action

By Sébastien Andrivet.

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