Guns of Breaking Bad Part 1

This tour of the guns favored by each character in the hit AMC series will have you cuing up S1E1 on Netflix.

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reaking Bad shattered viewership records throughout its five-season run. Producer Vince Gilligan, who was also the brains behind The X-Files, propelled the series to critical acclaim, winning 16 Emmys, two Golden Globes, and a host of others. At its core, the show is the story of a good man forced to do bad things...and finding out that he really enjoys being a bad guy in the process. The series follows the evolution of the protagonist, Walter White, after he “breaks bad” after receiving a diagnosis of terminal lung cancer. After going on a ride-along with his DEA brother-in-law, Walter begins producing methamphetamine in ever-greater quantities in order to leave behind enough money for his family to feel secure after his death—at least, that's how it starts. The New Mexico desert provides a perfect backdrop for this innovative take on the classic Western, complete with enough firepower to do the genre justice. Here we take a look at the guns favored by each character on the show: Walter White

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Walter White (Bryan Cranston) points a Smith & Wesson 4506 pistol in the series pilot.photo from imfdb.org

Walter White, portrayed by Brian Cranston, is a loving father and husband, that only wants what every good man wants for his family: a good home and a decent living. Walt’s life is turned upside down after he is diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer.

After his descent into the criminal underworld, Walter proves that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Through this plunge he takes on the alter ego of Heisenberg, a name he assumed after Werner Karl Heisenberg, a German theoretical physicist and one of the key pioneers of quantum mechanics and nuclear physics.

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Walt exhibiting poor trigger discipline on a Smith & Wesson 4506, but he tries to kill himself with it in the next couple minutes, so we can give him a pass here.photo from imfdb.org

Out of the frying pan and into the fire

In one of his first forays into the drug business, Walt and his accomplice Jesse end up hostages of a rival drug crew that they initially sought out as partners. Fearing that Jesse had ratted one of them out, their new enemies plan to take them out. To save their skin, Walt tells the rival crew he will teach them to produce meth as potent as he can and the unlikely ensemble finds themselves in a run-down RV in the desert.

Fortunately for Walter, he’s a much better chemist than he is a criminal. Creating a small explosion, the RV erupts in chaos as the captors perish in a toxic haze. Crashing the rig, Walt emerges half naked with one of the gang member’s Smith & Wesson 4506. After filming a goodbye video to his family with Jesse's camcorder, Walter unsuccessfully tries to shoot himself before the police arrive and is only foiled by the gun's safety.

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W with the Ruger KGP-161 previously used to hold him hostage.photo from imfdb.org

In the second episode of the series, Walt is left to deal with the aftermath of the RV hijinks in the pilot. This means getting rid of bodies and hardware, including the six-shot .357 Magnum Ruger KGP-161 used to hold Walt and Jesse hostage earlier. The gun is dissolved in the same grotesque acid "bath" as its owner.

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Walt finishes off a drug dealer he just hit with his car.photo from imfdb.org

Walt has a soft spot for Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), even if he acts foolishly at times. Sensing that Jesse is going to avenge the murder of his girlfriend’s little brother in "Half Measures" (S3E12) Walt intervenes to help save his life.

He mows down the drug dealers that Jesse intends to kill with his Pontiac Aztec, killing one instantly. The other is only injured, so Walt takes the dealer's Smith & Wesson 945 and executes him with it, marking a big change in Walt's character and what he's capable of.

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An arms dealer helps Walt with weapon selection.photo from imfdb.org

In the aptly named episode "Thirty-Eight Snub," (S4E4) Walt decides that he should take his future into his own hands.

To that end, he visits a black market arms dealer whom his lawyer refers him to. Initially, the dealer suggests a Ruger KP89, an updated P85 with an aluminum frame and a firing pin block safety. Walt rejects the Browning-based design in favor a small, hammerless, snub-nosed revolver.

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Walter practices drawing from a seated position.photo from imfdb.org

The revolver that Walt ultimately selects and begins to carry to the increasingly hostile meth lab is a Ruger LC9. As the gun dealer explains, it’s a simple affair that just works when you need it to. The recessed hammer makes it easy to conceal and comfortable to carry. It appears that model Walt purchased is wearing Hogue grips.

At the end of the season, Walt uses the Ruger to take out the guards at the lab and drops it on the floor after they're dead. Since Gus Fring is now a memory, Walt and Jesse proceed to burn the lab down with all the caustic chemicals already there, erasing any trace of their participation, or so they think.

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Walt takes cover with a S&W 442.photo from imfdb.org

The fifth and final season once again has Walt packing a revolver, this time a Smith & Wesson Model 442 Airweight.

Smith & Wesson J-Frame revolvers have been in production since 1950. The 442 is a variation of the Centennial Airweight, with an alloy frame rated for +P use. The blacked-out appearance and enclosed hammer help with concealment.

This is the gun Walt has one him in the desert when Hank meets his ultimate demise and Walt begins a life on the run.

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An M60, complete with ammunition and instruction manual.photo from imfdb.org

When Walt returns from his exile in the final episodes of the last season, he purchases an M60 machine gun and a few cans of ammo from the same underground arms dealer who sold him his Ruger.

This 7.62x51mm general-purpose machine gun was introduced in 1957, and has seen action with every branch of our armed forces. Fed from a disintegrating belt, the M60 can fire up to 600 rounds per minute—a feature that Walter plans to take full advantage of. In addition to his chemistry skills, Walt is apparently a pretty good mechanical engineer. He rigs the M60 to a garage door opener motor and a swivel mount and uses it to take out the entire gang.

Mythbusters even tested out Walt's contraption and found that it would most likely have worked the same way it did in the series finale.

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Walter settles the score with an M60 in the series finale.photo from imfdb.org

Jesse Pinkman

Jesse, played by Aaron Paul, is one of Walt’s former chemistry students, and not one of the better ones, who decided to cook meth after high school instead of going to college.

Before he runs into Walter again, he is a small-time meth producer that goes by the name of “Cap’n Cook.” After forming a partnership with Walt, Jesse slides further into the darkness that exists in the illicit drug trade as his new mentor asks more and more of him.

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Jesse prepares to get the jump on a pair of junkies.photo from imfdb.org

As he makes his way deeper into the seedy underbelly of society that drug dealers call home, Jesse finds himself in need of protection, as he is in charge of the distribution side of their burgeoning business.

Jesse winds up buying a Ruger SP101 in a brown paper bag from a shady dude at Taco Cabesa, in a planned confrontation with Tuco that never happens. He ends up using the gun on several occasions, notably when he tries to get his drugs and money back from the tweaker Spooge.

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Five cartridges visible when Walt unloads the SP101.photo from imfdb.org

The SP201 is available in a number of calibers from .22 to .357. We see five cartridges when Walt unloads it in "Negro Y Azul," indicating that it is likely a .357 as the pistol’s cylinder holds six if chambered for .327 Federal Magnum.

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Jesse prepares to kill Walt’s protégé with a Berretta 85F.photo from imfdb.org

Toward the end of the third season, Jesse purchases a Berretta 85F. Part of the “Cheetah” series, the 85F is a single stack .380 ACP that holds eight rounds.

Jesse is first seen cradling the pistol in a showdown with a pair of drug dealers that Walt ends with his car that we talked about before.

We see the pistol again when Jesse uses it to take out Walter’s new lab assistant, Gayle.

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Jesse with a Taurus PT99 taken from a deceased cartel member.photo from imfdb.org

Hollywood often uses the Taurus PT99 as a stand-in for Berettas, as they bear more than a passing resemblance. This is no accident. In 1974, Beretta was awarded a large contract to produce the 92 for the Brazilian Army. To meet demand, Beretta set up a factory in São Paulo, Brazil. Taurus purchased this factory in 1980, and began using the Beretta tooling to make their own pistols. The patent had expired at this point, so there was no need to license the design from Berretta.

Jesse keeps the Beretta clone with him while working with Mike and is seen with another similar pistol in Mexico.

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A tweaker wielding a Smith & Wesson 3000. "Tucker! Tucker! Tucker! Tucker!"photo from imfdb.org

Jesse finds himself on the wrong end of a firearm more than once in the series. One of those times he finds himself on the business end of Smith & Wesson 3000 wielded by a meth head played by Damon Herriman, who is perhaps best known for his role as Dewey Crowe on Justified.

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Jesse’ AMT Backup lying on the floor.photo from imfdb.org

In the final season, Jesse has left the production game. But that doesn’t mean he can let his guard down. After a meeting with Walter, we see that he has taken to carrying a .380 in his waistband.

The Ordnance Manufacturing Corporation (OMC) first manufactured the AMT Backup, but Arcadia Machine & Tool later took over production. The first model was built as a single-action only and manual safety, while later versions used a double-action only mechanism with a heavy trigger pull acting as a safety.

DEA Agent Hank Schrader

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Hank with his Glock 22 at the end of the show's final season.photo from imfdb.org

Henry “Hank” Schrader (Dean Norris) is Walter’s brother-in-law and he represents law and order in the series.

He’s employed by the Albuquerque field office of the Drug Enforcement Agency where he makes a series of impressive busts, which are, unbeknownst to him, all connect with Walter somehow. He eventually becomes obsessed with catching Heisenberg, though he doesn’t know he’s related to the shadowy figure. Loud, brash, and boisterous; Hank has the brains to carry the personality.

hank schrader breaking bad glock 22
Hank shows off his service weapon at a party.photo from imfdb.org

As a DEA Agent, Hank carries a Glock 22. The first time we see this pistol is at Walter’s birthday party in the premier episode. In a moment of perhaps poor judgment, Hank decides to show the pistol off as everyone is gathered in the living room watching a newscast of a bust he organized the day before. He proclaims that he prefers the .40 S&W, stating that he’s seen a 9mm round ricochet off a windshield.

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Hank holds his own with a Glock 22 in a shootout with a madman armed with an M4.photo from imfdb.org

Hank continues to carry the G22 throughout the series, proving he knows his way around his service weapon many times. The first time he uses it is to shoot it out with a meth-addled Tuco in the second season. Despite being outgunned, Hank gets the upper hand against the maniac armed with a full-auto M4.

Hank also uses a 1911 he picks up from an assassin sent to kill him, but only to fire one shot.

The DEA

Considerable amounts of drugs are a fixture on the show, so the Drug Enforcement Agency is as well. In addition to Hank’s reoccurring character, we see a few tactical teams that intervene in larger operations. These agents are armed as we would expect, with M4s and 870s being the long guns of choice.

In the takedown of Jesse’s lab in the premier episode, there are a couple of different M4s present. I don’t know if this is because of issues by the shows armorer getting enough identical rifles, or if officers would be able to choose a manufacturer they prefer, but we see two different makers.

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A DEA agent outfitted with a Mk. 18 Mod 0 about to hit Jesse’s lab.photo from imfdb.org

Most of the rifles seem to be Mk. 18 Mod 0s, wearing EOTech holographic sights and back-up iron sights. The front sight and carry handle is removed from most, but at least one agent is seen with the carry handle and front sight combination. Furniture seems to be Crane or Vltor MOD stocks outfitted with full-length rails on the forearms.

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Here we see the shorter barrel of an Olympic Arms K23B.photo from imfdb.org

Some of the M4s seem shorter than the others. These are likely Olympic Arms K23B fitted with 6.5-inch barrels—almost half the length of the 10-inch pipe on the Mk. 18 Mod 0s. These also wear EOTech holographic sights and full-length rails on the forearms.

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A DEA agent with an 870 slung over his shoulder.photo from imfdb.org

Remington 870s and law enforcement have gone hand-in-hand for nearly the entire life of the iconic scattergun. The raid is Jesse’s lab is no exception, with an agent carrying one slung over their shoulder as the raid commences.