The Guns of James Bond: Pierce Brosnan
Goldeneye (‘95) • Tomorrow Never Dies (’97) • The World is Not Enough (‘99) • Die Another Day (’02)
Some think the two Timothy Dalton Bond movies in the ’80s weren’t well received, which caused a six-year gap in Bond films—but the truth is a bunch of legal disputes put the Bond movie series in limbo and led to Dalton resigning from the role.
By the time everything was sorted out, it was 1994, and the role of Bond had to be recast for a new decade. One of the candidates for the role back when it went to Dalton was again tapped to shrug into 007’s tux and shoulder holster: Pierce Brosnan. M was also recast for the first time in 17 films, this time played by Judi Dench, who became the first woman to portray the character of Bond’s boss, replacing Robert Brown.
Miss Moneypenny was also recast, ousting the aging Caroline Bliss in favor of Samantha Bond. However, Desmond Llewelyn again reprised his role as Q, MI-6’s armorer, for two more films, literally turning the reins over to John Cleese in a scene during Brosnan’s third Bond film, The World Is Not Enough.
Llewelyn’s presence in the film sort of ruins the idea of this being a complete reboot, and there are references to previous Bond films, yet with the recasting, Bond is again in his late 30s or early 40s, so…we just have to accept it and move on.
Brosnan turned out to be an excellent choice for Bond, able to pull off the suave debonair scenes with aplomb, as well as the intense actions scenes. After all, he was Remington Steele.
GoldenEye wasn’t only the first Bond film of the 90s, it was also the first one made after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, which provided the background for the movie’s plot.
The film scored big at the box office, bringing the character back so to speak, and spawned an equally successful FPS video game of the same title for the N64 console.
Something that always annoyed me a little was Brosnan’s exaggerated cup-and-saucer grip that he used as James Bond. We can’t really compare him to previous Bonds in this regard, since the other actors in the role almost always shot their diminutive PPKs one-handed. For the firs time, the character has a gun more fit for a two-handed grip, and Brosnan uses one that many actors were taught to use it seems in the 1990s.
He was finally broken of this habit long after he left the Bond role by firearms instructor Taran Butler while training for November Man (2014).
For his first go at the role of James Bond, Brosnan continued the tradition of carrying a Walther PPK, at least for this film.
We first see him with the pistol, fitted with a suppressor, in the opening scene at the chemical weapons factory.
At one point, Valentin Zukovsky (Robbie Coltraine) identifies the gun by the sound of its hammer being cocked saying, “Walther PPK, seven point six five millimeter. Only three men I know use such a gun. I believe I’ve killed two of them.”
That’s a far cry from calling the pistol “standard issue” like in previous films, indicating how antiquated the PPK had become by 1995, with handguns firmly entering the polymer age.
The film opens with Brosnan as Bond infiltrating a chemical weapons plant, presumably in Russia somewhere, with his Walther equipped with a suppressor.
He also uses a pretty cool grappling hook and cable gun, paired with a bungee cord (so 90s) that allows him to descend from the top of a large dam in a couple seconds.
With the the whole end of the Cold War theme, Bond’s other go-to gun in this movie is an AKS-74U, which is the compact version of the AK-74. He never actually deploys with one, but just picks them up from dead or incapacitated Russian soldiers, another series tradition that Brosnan’s Bond takes to an extreme in his films.
He gets his first one at the chemical weapons factory in the beginning when things turn south and he has to make a hot getaway after his partner Alec (Sean Bean) is killed.
He again uses one taken off a bad guy during the escape from the Soviet archives. He brings it into the T-55 tank with him, and then uses it again to confront Alec Trevelyan on his train.
Onatopp also uses an AKS-74U with two magazines taped together jungle-style.
Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
In Brosnan’s second Bond film, he starts off again carrying the Walther PPK, though he’s not thrilled about it, lamenting at one point that Q hasn’t gotten him the new P99 he asked for.
The PPK is most notably seen in the Tomorrow printing factory shootout and with its equally iconic suppressor attached when Paris Carver (Teri Hatcher) shows up to confront Bond.
Bond also has a slightly different aesthetic and a shorter haircut in his sophomore Bond flick, which makes him seem a bit older than he did in GoldenEye.
This film also has the disctinction of being known as the movie where the more modern, polymer-framed Walther P99 striker-fired pistol replaced the PPK as Bond’s go-to sidearm.
There had only been two previous in-canon films where Bond carried something other than the PPK, which were the original Dr. No where he carried an older PP standing in for a PPK, and Octopussy when Bond carried the Walther P5.
In Saigon, Bond picks out the P99 from Wai Lin’s (Michelle Yeoh) hidden armory. He then uses the gun, with a suppressor attached, through most of the movie’s climax aboard the Stealth ship. He loses the pistol when it runs dry during an intense gunfight, or it might have been shot out of his hand while he was firing it alongside his MP5SK, it’s hard to tell.
Indicating what would be a lasting change, the P99 was prominently featured on many posters for the film.
In Vietnam, when Bond and Wai Lin (Michelle Yeoh) escape from Elliot Carver’s penthouse, Bond grabs a Calico M950A from a downed security guard.
The machine pistol was made by Calico Light Weapons Systems in the U.S. Chambered in 9mm, it fed from a proprietary helical magazine mounted on top of the gun, which came in a 50- or 100-round capacity.
While the magazines were innovative and made 50-round and above capacities possible for handgun-sized firearms, they were prone to jamming up, plus they were expensive to manufacture. That’s mostly why they never took off, even though they found a home in any movie that needed a futuristic-looking firearm. Oddly enough, in this movie, the gun runs dry rather quickly for having at least a 50-round magazine.
Sterling Armalite AR-180 (custom)
In the opening sequence of this Bond film, he carries an interesting rifle. It’s a heavily modified Armalite AR-180 that has been minimalized to be more of a clandestine gun.
From what we can see, the barrel has been cut down; the handguard and flash hider completely removed giving the whole front of the gun a skeletonized look; the side-folding stock was replaced with a top-folding stock; the factory sights have been swapped out for a custom unit that allows the top-folding stock to lay down flat; and the bolt cocking lever has been modified so it wouldn’t catch on Brosnan’s jacket lining. The receiver looks to be unchanged.
According to imfdb.org, the rifle used was a UK-made Sterling AR180. In a deleted scene, he takes the rifle out of his jacket and quickly assembles it. That’s why the first time you see him with the rifle, it has a short magazine (to allow the gun to be folded up) which magically becomes a 30-round mag when Bond is shooting from the cockpit of the jet before stealing the plane. But, to be fair, he could have swapped magazines off screen and had the 30-rounder in his jacket.
The rifle assembly scene was likely cut because it would have slowed down the action of the pre-credit scene. Bond had infiltrated a large meeting of arms dealers and customers in the mountains. The military brass decides they want to take the opportunity to wipe out a large percentage of the world’s most dangerous terrorists and arms dealers in one strike.
They order a missile fired from a warship. They tell Bond to get out of there, but he reports there are a number of nuclear weapons present, but the missile is already out of range and can’t be aborted.
Bond uses the rifle, what looks to be a gold cigarette lighter grenade, and a larger timed magnetic explosive, to destroy parts of the arsenal on display creating a diversion and sending the criminals scattering.
He then commandeers the jet with the nuclear weapons affixed, which he then flies away just ahead of the missile strike, while fighting the second pilot behind him who comes to after being knocked out. Bond is of course victorious, and we embark on another 007 adventure.
All of this is done at a rapid pace—it’s a Bond pre-credit sequence after all—so that forgives the trimming of the gun assembly scene.
Remarkably enough, he stows the rifle in the cockpit and doesn’t toss it away, like Bond usually does.
Heckler & Koch MP5K (with PDW folding stock)
In this movie, a bunch of bad guys carry the H&K MP5K-PDW submachine gun, instead of the AKS-74U from Goldeneye. And, as in the previous movie, Bond takes one from a stealth boat guard he kills, which he then uses alongside his P99 pistol.
He actually keeps the same MP5K for the whole time he’s on the bad guys’s stealth boat. He loses it when ambushed by Carver at the end of the sequence.
It’s worth noting these guns aren’t real MP5K-PDWs, but actually MP5Ks fitted with the stock from a PDW. The difference is the factory MP5K-PDW has a Navy trigger group and a threaded barrel for suppressors. The guns int he movie have the semi-auto SEF trigger group and plain barrels.
The World is Not Enough (1999)
Brosnan returned for his third Bond film carrying the Walther P99 pistol, which he began carrying in the previous film, which was the first time, other than in Octopussy when Bond carried a Walther P5, the character carries something other than his signature PPK from the start of a movie.
Bond fits the pistol with a suppressor in one scene and in the first half of the pre-credits sequence, Bond is carrying a P99 that is revealed to be a remote stun grenade, triggered by a button hidden in his eyeglasses.
In a rare instance, Bond uses two (technically three) 1911-pattern handguns in this movie. The first is an M1911A1, which are carried by the Swiss bankers that Bond meets during the precredits sequence in Spain.
Bond uses one to interrogate a banker. If you pay attention, Bond and the guards fire a whole bunch of rounds from the 7- or 8-round capacity pistol without reloading.
Colt Mk IV Series 70
The other 1911 used by Bond is a Colt Mk IV Series 70 pistol that belongs to Elektra King (Sophie Marceau).
Bond takes it from her and shoots her with it (she was a total bad guy). He then tucks the pistol into his waistband and jumps into the water, but when he emerges on the submarine, he has a different gun.
Auto Ordnance M1911A1
When a soaking wet Bond boards the submarine, he has shed his jacket, and the Colt pistol he got from Elektra has somehow become an Auto Ordnance 1911, which is distinguishable by the slanted cocking serrations on the slide.
This is likely because the filming locations changed for the two scenes and the guns were acquired from different prop houses.
Throughout the movie, Renard (Robert Carlyle) and many of his henchmen use the FN P90 personal defense weapon. The submachine gun is chambered for the 5.7mm rounds, which is only used by FN’s Five-Seven pistol and the P90.
Bond uses one briefly during the shootout at the nuclear test site.
Die Another Day (2002)
The first Bond movie of the 21st century saw the return of Brosnan for his final performance as 007, again carrying the Walther P99 pistol.
We also see Miranda Frost (Rosamund Pike) using a different P99 when confronting Bond and Gustav Graves (Toby Stevens). In this film, John Cleese has taken over the role of Q and also uses a P99 to fire three shots to demonstrate the bulletproof-ness of a pane of glass.
He then demonstrates a high-frequency ring that shatters the glass, which he then gives to Bond as part of his kit.
Smith & Wesson Model 10 HB
This film finds Bond basically disavowed and disconnected from the normal weapons, gadgets, and resources of MI-6.
When he arrives in Havana and meets with Raoul (Emilion Echevarría), the manager of a cigar factory who is also a British sleeper agent, he is unarmed. Raoul gives Bond a Smith & Wesson Model 10 HB revolver, marking the first time Bond carries a revolver since the Sean Connery days.
Bond then uses the revolver to infiltrate the clinic to find Zao, which he does. When the two fight, Zao gets ahold of the gun, but it’s yanked out of his hand before he can uses when Bond activates the magnet of a nearby MRI machine.
Bond uses an Ingram MAC-10 submachine gun fitted with a muzzle shroud to shoot his way out of Colonel Tan-Sun Moon’s (Will Un Lee) headquarters. He also uses it during the following hovercraft chase. Yeah, this was the one with some of the most absurd premises that pretty much pushed the character to the point of self-parody.
There’s also a hotel made out of ice, and a car that can become completely invisible. Yeah…the first half of this one is a solid entry, but the second half is…kind of silly.
Back to the hovercraft chase, Bond uses the MAC-10 to shoot out the controls on a concrete gate, causing it to slam shut behind him and kill his pursuers. He then uses it to set off landmines to destroy two more hovercrafts as they race through the DMZ in Korea.
And that was the last time in the Tux for Brosnan, who left the role after his fourth film, leading to a short hiatus of Bond movies until the role was taken over by Daniel Craig in 2005 in a true reboot of the series. So technically, Brosnan is the last actor to play Bond in the original continuity.