After the warring Bond films of 1983, Roger Moore played the character for a final time in A View to Kill (1985) before the role of Britain’s top secret agent was turned over to Timothy Dalton for the 15th movie in the series.
He was meant to revive the character as a more hard-boiled action hero dealing with real-life modern problems and circumstance after the run of decidedly campy Moore movies. The film also marks an attempt to shed some of the more chauvinistic and “old-school” elements of the character. Both of Dalton’s Bond films were criticized for being too violent, a common trait of action movies in the late 80s.
First up is The Living Daylights, which finds Bond involved with the girlfriend of a Russian defector who claims to have information on a conspiracy meant to reignite tensions between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.
One thing that didn’t change between actors was Bond’s sidearm.
The Living Daylights (1987)
Like his predecessors, Dalton carries the familiar brown-gripped Walther PPK in .32 ACP, both suppressed and unsuppressed. He draws the gun at an amusement park in Vienna, frightening a young child. He later uses it to intimidate and later assassinate Gen. Pushkin in Tangier.
He later shoots Brad Whittaker with the PPK eight times, but the bullet fails to penetrate Whittaker’s body armor. In response to the shots, Whitaker, armed with a machine gun, says, “You’ve had your eight, now have my 80!”
AKMS Rifle with Folding Stock
Later in the film, Bond picks up one of the AKMS rifles used by many of the Bratislava Soviets. Bond uses the gun to defend himself on the cargo plane.
Walther WA 2000
The film also features one of the few on-screen uses of the famed Walther WA 2000 sniper rifle, which is given to him by Vienna station chief Saunders (Thomas Wheatley) to fire at the KGB sniper, who turns out to be Kara.
The rifle is a semi-automatic bullpup sniper rifle produced by the Carl Walther GmbH Sportwaffen company in the late 1970s in three different calibers.
Production of the WA 2000 was very limited and the run was stopped short due to the expensive production process. It was deemed too pricey to achieve widespread sales and not robust enough for use as a military sniper rifle. Only 176 were ever built. Today they are considered extremely rare and valuable.
Bond chooses to fire steel-tipped rounds from his WA 2000, because he says KGB snipers typically wear body armor.
License to Kill (1989)
Bond again carries a Walther PPK for Dalton’s second film in the role, but it’s a bit different this time around.
This particular pistol is a WWII-era German Waffenamt variant of the PPK, which was sourced from Stembridge Gun Rentals instead of Bapty and Co., since the movie was filmed entirely in the U.S. and Mexico, according to imfdb.org.
Differences in the Waffenamt variant include orange bakelite grips, a lanyard ring, a smaller rear sight, a grooved top, and an irregular front.
It’s possible Dalton’s Bond carries the same PPK variant pistol in his first film, though we don’t get a good look at the whole gun in that movie so it’s hard to say, but the different filming locations make it likely this is a different pistol.
We get a great view of the gun’s grips when it’s held up by the barrel in one scene.
We also get a good shot of the shoulder holster Bond uses to carry his Walther. While Connery’s Bond carried the gun barrel-down in a fabric and suede leather holster rig, Dalton’s bond carries the pistol inverted with the barrel pointed up into his armpit in a leather holster.
It’s worth noting that, during the tour of Sanchez’ drug lab, Dario (Benicio del Toro) pulls a Walther P5 on Bond, the same pistol Moore used in Octopussy and Connery used in Never Say Never Again.
Beretta 950 Jetfire
Pam (Carey Lowell) carries a stainless steel Beretta 950 Jetfire as her sidearm throughout the film.
She gives one to Bond, and grabs a spare pistol out of her purse when Bond leaves to check the hotel room. He carries the gun until the end of the sequence.
She also notably uses her Jetfire when she meets Professor Joe Butcher (Wayne Newton) when she goes to “study” with him.
During the pre-credits sequence, Felix Leiter (David Hedison) hands James Bond a Taurus PT92 9mm handgun in the helicopter.
Bond uses it during the shootout against the henchmen that open fire on them. He later uses it to shoot out the Jeep’s left front tire.
This is the first time a Beretta 92 is used by Bond, even if it is a Taurus clone. The 9mm Beretta 92FS pistol became a staple of pretty much any movie with a gun after it was adopted by the U.S. Military as the new standard sidearm, the M9, in 1985, replacing the M1911A1 in .45 ACP.
The same Beretta is carried by 80s action icons John McClane (Bruce Willis) and Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson).
One of Q’s custom guns, Bond gets a cool Camera Gun to assassinate Sanchez, which can only be fired by him thanks to the fingerprint recognition mechanism built into the pistol grip (think proposed smartgun tech). This is why the Chinese intelligence agents can’t get it to work.
Q says the gun’s “film” is “.220 high-velocity,” which look a lot like weird .223 rounds.
Unfortunately for Dalton, that was it for his brief run as 007, through no fault of his own. His two Bond movies were fairly successful relative to other film in the series, but a legal dispute over the film rights to Ian Fleming’s books and the character itself brought the film series to a halt, and Dalton simply had to move on, stepping away from the role.
There wouldn’t be another Bond movie released until 1995.