The first film in the long series of official James Bond movies was Dr. No, which debuted Sean Connery in the role he’d go on to play a total of seven times (including one non-canon appearance) while helping to weave the character into the pop culture of both the U.S., U.K. and pop culture as a whole.
Connery was the perfect balance for the character of a womanizing, globe-trotting, bullet-dodging secret agent during the Cold War. He was just gruff enough that you could believe he could knock a man out with one punch, but still refined enough to rattle off details about high-end clothing, booze, and to wear at tux like nobody else.
The film doesn’t include an origin story for the main character at all, but rather drops in on Bond in the midst of his spy career as he is sent to Jamaica to investigate the disappearance of a fellow British agent.
The trail leads him to the underground lair of he titular villain, who is plotting to disrupt an Early American space launch with a radio beam weapon (remember, this was several years before astronauts landed on the moon). As this wasn’t the first of Ian Fleming’s novels, there are a few references to earlier story threats, which instantly builds a world around the characters and implies enough of a backstory to make it interesting.
This film also introduced the criminal organization SPECTRE, which would also appear in six subsequent films.
This first Bond movie was made on a budget, and was a financial success, leading to the idea of adapting more of Fleming’s books with Connery playing Bond in a time when sequels weren’t common or well regarded in Hollywood.
This original iteration of 007, considered by many to be the best (depending on when you grew up), also set many of the conventions and tropes that would continue to appear throughout the series, including the main character’s go-to pistol.
Dr. No (1962)
There’s actually quite a bit of dialogue in the movie about Bond’s gun, just as there was in Ian Fleming’s books, on which most of the movies are based.
Early in the film, Bond turns in what has been his regular sidearm, a “Beretta M1934 in 9mm Corto,” to M (Barnard Lee) and the armorer, receiving what is said to be a Walther PPK as a replacement. The gun he is given is actually an earlier PP model.
The dialogue says that Bond has carried the Beretta for 10 years and never missed with it, but M reminds him that the pistol jammed on Bond’s last assignment, leading to a grave injury.
This scene is almost directly pulled from Fleming’s book, but on the page Bond’s Beretta was a 418 in .25 ACP, and the near death incident resulted from Bond’s Beretta getting caught on his clothing on the draw, which led to him being stabbed with poisoned blade.
When Bond receives his Walther, it’s said to be chambered in 7.65mm (7.65x17mm or .32ACP), which is touted as more powerful than Bond’s current Beretta.
In the film, this doesn’t make sense, as the Beretta M1934’s 9mm Short round is superior to the 7.65mm. The dialogue is actually a relic from the book that the screenwriters and armorer (named Maj. Boothroyd in this one, and not yet Q) couldn’t get together on.
When Fleming was comparing the .25 ACP Beretta 418 to the 7.65mm Walther PPK, he was right on the money.
However, as we mentioned Bond doesn’t actually carry a PPK in this movie, but instead a slightly longer-barreled Walther PP in .380 ACP.
M: “Yes, I thought so. This damn Beretta again. I’ve told you about this before.” (to the armorer) “You tell him, for the last time.”
Maj. Boothroyd: “It’s nice and light… in a lady’s handbag. No stopping power.”
M: “Any comments, 007?”
James Bond: “I disagree, sir. I’ve used the Beretta for ten years. And I’ve never missed with it yet.”
M: “Maybe not, but it jammed on your last job and you spent six months in the hospital in consequence. If you carry a double-0 number, it means you’re licensed to kill, not get killed. From now on you’ll carry a different gun. Show him, armorer.”
Maj. Boothroyd: “Walther PPK. 7.65 mil with a delivery like a brick through a plate glass window. Takes a Brausch silencer with very little reduction in muzzle velocity. The American CIA swear by them.”
The Walther PP pistol has an interesting production history, as do many german guns produced before, during, and after World War II.
Walther’s original factory was located in Zella-Mehlis is in the state of Thuringia, Germany. When that part of German was occupied by the Soviet Union after WWII, the company fled to West Germany, where they established a new factory in Ulm.
For several years following the war, firearms production was not permitted in Germany. As a result, Walther licensed production of the PP series pistols to a French company, Manufacture de Machines du haut-Rhin, known as Manhurin for short.
The French company made PP pistols until 1986, so the original Bond guns were all French-made, not German…technically.
In 1978, Ranger Manufacturing of Gadsden, Alabama was licensed to produce the PPK and PPK/S pistols, which were distributed by Interarms of Alexandria, Virginia. This license was eventually canceled.
In 2002, Smith & Wesson began manufacturing the PPK and PPK/S under license until this year, when Walther began producing them again at their new US manufacturing plant in Fort Smith, Arkansas.
FN Browning M1910
Strangely, Bond later uses a suppressed FN Browning Model 1910 to assassinate Professor Dent (Anthony Dawson) and not his Walther, without explanation.
It’s assumed the M1910 was supposed to stand in for the PP, but may have worked better with the suppressors the filmmakers had available.
At the end of the scene, Bond simply twists and yanks the suppressor from the barrel of the gun, which makes sense since the suppressor is obviously a prop and not really threaded to the barrel.
The Gun-Barrel Shot
In what would become a staple of the Bond movies, the intro to Dr. No included the first “gun-barrel shot,” which is a view from the inside of a gun barrel, framed by the rifling, used as a kind of iris that swings to Bond as he pivots and shoots toward the camera, before a veil of red falls over the screen. It would becomes a staple of later Bond movie intro sequences.
A real Smith & Wesson Model 27-2 with a 3.5-inch barrel chambered in .357 Magnum. was used to film this first gun-barrel shot. And the figure in the bore isn’t actually Sean Connery, but stuntman Bob Simmons, who re-did the same shot for From Russia With Love and Goldfinger.
From Russia With Love (1963)
In this first Bond sequel, 007 starts out the film with an actual Walther PPK in .32 ACP as his go-to sidearm, usually carried in a shoulder holster. This would be James Bond’s sidearm for every Bond movie until Octopussy in 1983.
Kerim Bey (Pedro Armendariz), head of MI-6’s “Station T” in Turkey also carries a PPK in From Russia, reinforcing the idea that it’s something of a standard issue firearm for MI-6.
At one point, one of the main villains, Donald “Red’ Grant (Robert Shaw), takes Bond’s PPK and holds it on him on the Orient Express.
Some Soviet agents also use the PPK, presumably standing in for Makarov PMs.
Next up is the first, but not last, appearance of an Armalite AR-7 survival rifle in the Bond series.
In reality, the AR-7 (today produced by Henry Repeating Arms) is a .22LR semi-auto survival rifle designed by Eugene Stoner originally meant for use by U.S. Air Force pilots that can be completely disassembled without tools and all parts stored in the hollow synthetic buttstock. That makes it a pretty cool spy weapon, and in the Bond movies, it’s often portrayed as much more powerful sniper rifle used in combination with a scope while it was originally designed to be used for small game hunting by downed pilots.
In this flick, Bond uses the rifle outfitted with a custom suppressor and infra-red scope, which was issued to him by Q to assassinate Krilencu—though Kerim Bey (Pedro Armendáriz) ends up doing the shooting.
Q states that the rifle is chambered for .25 caliber, but it’s quite possible Q modified the rifle from its original .22LR configuration—not that a .25 is any more capable of a sniper rifle.
Bond later uses the rifle to shoot the pilot of a pursuing helicopter, indicating it’s firing something a little more powerful than a rimfire .22, or a .25.
The AR-7 is seen again in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service disassembled and stored in the glove compartment of Bond’s car.
While Dr. No and From Russia With Love served to establish the character and many “Bond movie” story tropes, the insanely popular Goldfinger is the movie that launched James Bond into the stratosphere.
The story revolved around Bond’s newest assignment to investigate the smuggling of Nazi gold. He stumbles on a plot to destroy the United States’ gold reserves in Fort Knox, orchestrated by a wealthy magnate obsessed with gold.
It was the first true blockbuster of the series and established the tone, at least for the rest of Sean Connery’s 007 movies. It’s also the movie with that famous grey three-piece suit, a bad guy stroking a cat, a room with a bunch of guys training with flamethrowers and ninja weapons in conspicuously close quarters, and a lot of other elements later spoofed in the Austin Powers series.
Bond again carries a brown-gripped Walther PPK in .32 ACP in a shoulder holster.
While we get our first good look at Bond’s shoulder holster in this movie, which appears to be made from blue cloth with a soft, tan leather holster under his left arm, this is the first time Bond never actually uses his trademark pistol on screen.
When Bond first faces off against Goldfinger’s men outside the Geneva factory, he fires a Walther P38 at them. We can assume he got this from some hidden arsenal in his car. Many of the guards can be seen carrying the same gun, and Bond comadeers one later before handing it over to Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman).
The AR-7 makes another appearance in this movie, not in the hands of Bond. Instead, Tilly Masterson (Tania Mallet) is seen using a scoped AR-7 twice in attempts to kill Goldfinger.
Check out this behind-the-scenes featurette aired on the BBC ahead of Goldfinger’s release titled “The Guns of James Bond:”
This go-around, both Bond and Count Lippe (Guy Doleman) carry Walther PPK pistols with brown factory grips used with and without suppressors
Largo’s hitman Vargas also uses a suppressed PPK.
As a large portion of Thunderball was filmed underwater involving a lot of dudes in SCUBA gear shooting spearguns at each other, there actually isn’t a lot of gunplay in this move, which was one of the most popular of all Bond movies.
Browning Auto 5 Shotgun
During one of those “getting to know the enemy” sequences, Bond shoots some clay pigeons with Largo (Adolfo Celi) on the beach with a Browning Auto-5 12 gauge shotgun.
After successfully hitting a clay pigeon from the hip, Bond remarks to Largo that firing accurately isn’t difficult.
If you watch this scene, you’ll see that the recoil from the shotgun seems real, indicated Connery might have been actually shooting live rounds for the scene.
You Only Live Twice (1967)
The fifth Bond film is the first to drift into some openly silly territory, but it does feature Donald Pleasance as a badly scarred Blofeld, which is always a plus.
We find Bond faking his own death, after which he travels undercover to Japan to investigate the disappearance of Soviet and U.S. space capsules. That’s right, this is the movie with the regrettable sequence where Connery, as Bond, is made up to look Japanese. More hilariously, he actually passes for a local in the ridiculous outfit and makeup.
In fact, the only thing that gives Bond away to Blofeld is the fact that he’s carrying a PPK, which Mr. Osato (Teru Shimada) proudly identifies out loud. Apparently nobody else in the world carries a Walther PPK as far as SPECTRE is concerned.
Colt Detective Special
While Bond is in his Japanese fisherman disguise, he uses and early model Colt Detective Special revolver to kill an assassin. Tanaka also uses the revolver.
Webley Mk VI
Later in the film, Blofeld is holding a Webley Mk IV revolver and is later seen dropping the handgun when he is hit in the arm by a throwing star.
Bond retrieves the revolver and uses it during the assault on the volcano lair.
While technically this is a gadget, and we’re not covering the myriad gizmos used by Bond over 25 movies in this list, it’s also a gun. Q bestows upon Bond a one-shot, last resort pistol in the form of a cigarette that fires automatically after a short fuse is ignited when the cigarette is lit like normal.
Bond uses the weapon to complete a ruse and take out a bad guy holding him hostage. So maybe it’s more of a mini-rocket than a bullet, it appears to be fired from a tiny barrel within in the cigarette, so that makes it a gun.
Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
Not only is Diamonds Are Forever the first Bond film of the 1970s, but it also marks the return of Sean Connery to the role after he left the series and was replaced with George Lazenby for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, which served as a kind of Bond origin story.
While the film did well, Lazenby refused to reprise the role for future films, sending the series into disarray until Connery finally agreed to give the role of Bond another go, in his last “official” appearance as James Bond.
This 1971 sequel ignores the Lazenby film and finds Bond investigating a diamond smuggling ring that leads him to an old nemesis.
A visibly older Connery again carries his Walther PPK with brown grips, though like in Goldfinger, he never actually fires it in this movie.
In fact, Bond doesn’t fire a shot with any gun in this movie, making it one of the least action-packed in the whole series, if the action metric is gunshots.
Never Say Never Again (1983)
And now we come to the strange one, Never Say Never Again. Beginning in 1973 with Live and Let Die, the role of Bond was turned over to Roger Moore, who starred in a total of six Bond movies before 1983.
Due to a bunch of court battles involving the movie rights to some of Fleming’s original Bond stories, a competing Bond project was launched that was not an official part of the EON series of Bond pictures.
The offshoot movie couldn’t use the Bond music, logo, or opening sequence format, but it had a stellar cast, and more importantly, it had the original Bond, Sean Connery.
The film was released in direct competition to the EON Bond movie starring Moore released the same year, Octopussy.
Not only that, but NSNA is not an original story even on the big screen, but rather a new adaptation of the Thunderball story.
The movie, which could be called the Old-Man Bond, makes a point of addressing the hero’s obviously aged appearance. He’s more of a world-weary spy than a top-of-his-game secret agent, as in previous films.
With the new feel comes a new gun for Bond, who carries a more state-of-the-art for 1983 Walther P5 instead of his traditional PPK.
At this point, the suits Bond wears, the car he drives, the watch on his wrist, and the gun in his holster were all major marketing opportunities, and Walther insisted the film use its new P5, though Bond only fires it twice in the film.
It would appear that Walther was playing both sides on this one, as they also insisted Roger Moore carry the P5 as Bond in Octopussy, making 1983 the year of the Walther P5 for Bond. The gun was never seen in any Bond’s holster again.
While taking some shots at the range in Q’s lab, Bond fires a suppressed Mauser HSc, which was probably intended to stand in for Bond’s “old” PPK, and it looks pretty similar in passing with the silencer affixed.
Czech Sa.25 Submachine Gun
Even though it’s not an official Bond film, NSNA still has an opening action sequence before the title in which Bond arms himself with a Czech Sa.25 Submachine Gun he takes off an incapacitated revolutionary. The whole thing turns out to be a training exercise…not the first time a Bond intro has been used this way.
Later in the film, Bond, along with Felix Leiter (Bernie Casey) and the US Navy SEAL team use a more modern submachine gun, the MAC-10, during the Tears of Allah scene. This is, by far, the most modern “real” gun used by Connery as Bond in any movie to this point.
During the previously mentioned target range scene in Q’s lab, the armorer demonstrates one of the coolest gadgets to come out of his lab: a firearm that concealed in a fountain pen. It gets a little extra oomph from firing a single explosive round. Bond later uses the pen gun against Fatima Blush.