images from IMFDB.org

The Guns of Back to the Future

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or any movie fan, today is a sacred day indeed. October 21, 2015 was the day in the future to which Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) traveled from 1985 in "Back to the Future." Technically this happened at the end of the first film, but the 2015 journey was the main focus of "Back to the Future 2" (1989), making today the official Back to the Future Day, a date that will never come again. One might not think a sci-fi comedy series would call for a lot of hardware, but there is a surprising variety of firearms throughout the three films, especially in the final installment, which takes place in the Old West version of Hill Valley, California. Let's run through the series, gun by gun.

Back to the Future (1985)

The 1985 Hill Valley portrayed in this film was a bit dark. We don't meet many people before Marty travels back to 1955, but the members of the McFly family we do encounter are grim people, to say the least. Principal Strickland is mean in an in-your-face kind of way, and Doc Emmett Brown (Christopher Lloyd) is dangerously obsessed and Marty's family are all sad, never-was type of people. This all serves to make the 1955 versions of the town and characters seem all the more idyllic.

Guns of Back to the Future
Doc's not too big on safety, letting a teenager handle plutonium in a mall parking lot, looking down the barrel of a gun to see if it's really unloaded...you know, the little things.photo from imfdb.org

The impetus for Marty's adventure comes in the form of two Libyan terrorists who show up at the Twin Pines Mall parking lot during the time-traveling DeLorean's trial run. Doc Brown agreed to build them a bomb so he could get the plutonium from them he needed to make his time machine work. In turn, he gave them a "bomb" made of pinball machine parts. They weren't too happy about it.

Guns of Back to the Future
Libyan terrorists attack Doc Brown for stealing their plutonium with an AKM rifle and a VW bus. Hopefully he's wearing body armor under that jumpsuit...photo from imfdb.org

They're driving a strangely menacing VW bus, with one terrorist shooting an AKM rifle from a sunroof. Doc Brown draws their fire away from Marty, attempting to defend himself with a Colt SAA with pearl grips, but finds it unloaded. He is shot by the terrorists, who then pull around and try to shoot Marty, but the AKM jams, giving Marty enough time to hop in the DeLorean and flee.

Guns of Back to the Future
The terrorist's AKM jams, allowing Marty to escape.photo from imfdb.org

But the chase isn't over. The terrorists pursue in the VW bus, launching an RPG at the DeLorean.

Marty floors it, and when he hits the crucial speed of 88 mph, he and the car travel to 1955.

He's promptly confronted by another gun, this one a Parker 1878 double barrel shotgun wielded by Old Man Peabody, who is certain, thanks to his son, that Marty in his radiation suit and gull-winged DeLorean is an alien that crashed into his barn.

Guns of Back to the Future
Old Man Peabody with his Parker Double. "Take that you mutated sum-b*#&!"photo from imfdb.org

That's all for firearms in the first movie. Marty makes sure his parents meet, thereby securing his existence, and travels back to 1985 to find it a bit better than he left it. But it's not long before Doc shows up, wearing some crazy clothes, telling him he has to come back to the future with him. And we come to the sequel.

Back to the Future II (1989)

Doc, Marty and his girlfriend Jennifer travel to October 21, 2015 to find a futuristic Hill Valley with flying cars, hoverboards, an 80s-themed cafe, and ultra high-top Nikes. Also, all the kids wear their pants inside out. They got some things about future-world right, like the big flat-screen TVs, voice-controlled electronics, and what looks like a chunky version of Google Glass, but they got a lot wrong. Luckily, they didn't attempt to create any future guns.

As is the theme of the series, the trip to 2015 ends in disaster when a future version of Biff Tannen steals the time machine and changes everything after 1955. Doc and Marty end up in an alternate reality 1985, where Biff is a corrupt casino owner who runs the town, which seems to be overrun by armed bandits driving tanks and motorcycles.

Guns of Back to the Future
"Mr. Strickland!" "So you're the little bastard who's been stealing my newspapers?" "No, it's Marty! Marty McFly, from school, sir!"photo from imfdb.org

Marty runs into his principal, Mr. Strickland, who is now a shotgun wielding homeowner trying to protect himself from drive-bys. After he almost ventilates Marty with a Mossberg 500 pump shotgun, he fires a few shots at fleeing bandits, yelling, "Eat lead, slackers!"

All of Biff's henchmen carry some kind of handgun, and Biff himself carries a Smith & Wesson Model 60 revolver, which he tells Marty he used to kill his father, George McFly, in this alternate timeline.

Alternate reality 1985 Biff with his S&W Model 60. "Kid, I own the police. Besides, they couldn't trace the bullet that killed your old man!"
Alternate reality 1985 Biff with his S&W Model 60. "Kid, I own the police. Besides, they couldn't trace the bullet that killed your old man!"photo from imfdb.org

Doc and Marty travel back to 1955 to stop Biff from changing the timeline, all the while trying not to run into their other selves.

They accomplish their goal, but don't return home before lightning strikes the DeLorean, with Doc in it, sending him to the past.

Back to the Future III (1990)

Marty finds out that Doc was transported back to 1885, and that he ends up being killed by Biff's ancestor, Beuford "Mad Dog" Tannen. So he enlists 1955 Doc Brown to help send him to the Old West.

When he gets there, he finds what we expect from a western, a bunch of Colt Single Action revolvers, double-barrel shotguns, and lever-action rifles.

The 1955 Doc Brown kicks off Marty's time-travel run by firing a Colt SAA into the air, but not the same one he owns in 1985. Either that, or he changed the grips at some point.

Doc Brown in 1885 with his customized Winchester Yellow Boy rifle. "It'll shoot the fleas off a dog's back at five hundred yards, Tannen! And it's pointed straight at your head!"
Doc Brown in 1885 with his customized Winchester Yellow Boy rifle. "It'll shoot the fleas off a dog's back at five hundred yards, Tannen! And it's pointed straight at your head!"photo from imfdb.org

Early in the journey, Doc Brown uses a customized Winchester Model 1866 Yellow Boy Rifle with a telescopic scope (with apparently zero eye relief), custom sights, and a large-loop lever, all of which its suggested Doc added himself. In a very Clint Eastwood-y moment, Doc uses the rifle to sever the rope Marty is dangling from.

Once Marty establishes himself in the Old West, he wins a sidearm and holster at a town fair shooting gallery that's an awful lot like his favorite arcade game "Wild Gunman." The pistol he wins and carries is a Colt SAA Peacmaker.

"Just tell me one thing, son. Where'd you learn to shoot like that?"   "7-Eleven."
"Just tell me one thing, son. Where'd you learn to shoot like that?" "7-Eleven."photo from imfdb.org

Here, he gets to act out his version of the "Taxi Driver" mirror scene.

Guns of Back to the Future
"You lookin' at me, Tannen?"photo from imfdb.org

Beuford Tannen, Biff's loud, evil forefather, also carries a Colt SAA, only his is nickel plated and carried in an ornate, black holster.

Guns of Back to the Future
Beuford "Mad Dog" Tannen with is nickel Colt SAA. "Dance, runt!"photo from imfdb.org

Tannen also uses a tiny Colt Theur Derringer that he keeps in his hat. He tries to shoot Doc with it, but the shot is deflected by Marty throwing a Frisbee Pie Co. pan at him.

Guns of Back to the Future
Tannen with his Colt Theur Derringer and the Frisbee pie plate coming in from the left. Marty: "Hey, lighten up, jerk." Tannen: looks around at his boys "Mighty strong words, runt."photo from imfdb.org

Other than some assorted shotguns and rifles carried by background characters, that's about it for the Back to the Future series. And if you're celebrating today, remember, "If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything."

Personally, I plan to celebrate all the way through Halloween. Eat your hearts out:

The author's BTTF2 Marty costume.
The author's BTTF2 Marty costume.photo from imfdb.org