Guns of The Terminator Movies
After five sequels and arguably three reboot attempts, it's time to remember some of the coolest gun movies ever made.
Check out our coverage of the sixth Terminator movie, Terminator: Dark Fate in theaters on Nov.1. This movie is a direct sequel to Terminator 2 and it ignores all of the other movies in the franchise.
And while the newest movie has been touted as gritty and a hard-R movie with James Cameron somewhat involved—the reviews aren’t in yet and the most recent film to hit theaters, Terminator: Genisys, didn’t do so well at the box office and fans have been…more than critical of it as a whole—and critics hated it too. I guess that’s why this ret-conning reboot got the green light—plus it has the original Sarah Connor, Linda Hamilton, returning to the role for the first time since the early 1990s.
Regardless, a Terminator movie is always good for one thing—showcasing some hardware as the robotic super soldiers encased in living tissue travel through time to destroy their greatest enemy before he’s even born, and a couple more times throughout his life. The original Terminator (1984) was ahead of its time, featuring cutting-edge makeup effects and ultra-modern firearms and accessories (well, modern for 1984) like the first pistol-mounted laser sight.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), possibly one of the best sequels in movie history and the only sequel to win an Oscar when the original wasn’t nominated, continued in the spirit of the original when it came to weapons, with some visually interesting firearms that were a mix of modern and classic, like a hand-held mini gun and the sawed-off Winchester 1887 lever-action shotgun Arnold carried through much of the movie.
The most recent installment, Terminator: Genisys, is the fifth film in the series, and it took a more conventional approach, including guns that action audiences are quite familiar with, like the Desert Eagle MK VII, Glocks, and H&K MP5Ks.
There’s always the international market for the latest Terminator, where Arnold Schwarzenegger is very popular. This story from Forbes posits that if it does well enough overseas, it could be green-lit for a sequel, despite how poorly it does in America, which may happen, as Terminator Genisys was planned as the first of a new trilogy of films. We shall see.
In the meantime, here’s a roundup of the coolest guns featured in the entire 5-movie series. Yes, we’re even acknowledging Terminator Salvation.
The Terminator (1984)
AMT Hardballer .45 Longslide with Early Laser Sight
The most visually striking firearm from the dark-toned The Terminator (1984) was the AMT Hardballer .45 Longslide featured at the beginning of the film and shown on the movie poster. The popular-at-the-time 1911-based pistol was fitted with a primitive laser sight made by a designer from the company that would become SureFire. It’s the T-800’s primary weapon until he loses it in the club Tech Noir after being shot by Kyle Reese’s Ithaca 37 shotgun.
Laser sights were rare and not commercially available in 1984. The laser on the .45 was a helium neon laser that required 10,000 volts to activate, and another 1,000 volts to maintain. When it’s activated in the movie, it was actually powered through a cable running up Arnold’s sleeve to a battery pack in his jacket. The laser didn’t have an on-board switch. Instead, it was operated by a plunger switch in Arnold’s other hand. In the photo above, you can see what the rig he had to wear looked like.
Uzi 9mm Submachine Gun
When the Terminator misses his first shot at Sarah in Tech Noir and is put down with a few blasts form Kyle’s shotgun, he gets up and pulls a full-auto Uzi 9mm submachine gun from beneath his coat and starts spraying the club, attempting to take Kyle out. It’s the same Uzi we see from the gun shop, only with the stock folded. Even if the gun had been sold in California at the time, it would have been required to have a 16-inch barrel that the Terminator would have had to cut down, in addition to modifying it so it fires in full auto.
Franchi SPAS-12 and Armalite AR-18
There were a lot of guns and lots of shooting in the original Terminator, but the police station massacre is what made this action/sci-fi movie teeter on the brink of the horror genre. This is where we see the Terminator in full battle mode, wading through a police station of armed cops toward his target, firing a stockless SPAS-12 shotgun with one hand and a cut down, full-auto Armalite AR-18 with the other.
Police stations are usually safe-havens in movies, a setting that stops the action and provides time for exposition. Terminator used it for that purpose, but then destroyed the audience’s expectation of perhaps a clever escape for Sarah and Kyle with a hail of gunfire.
The image of the Terminator stalking the dark hallways, sunglasses covering his inhuman eyes, shooting with unnatural strength and accuracy is probably the most fear-inducing image of the whole series—especially if you saw it for the first time at age 8. He acquires the gun from a California gun shop, which certainly wouldn’t have been selling a fully-automatic AR-18, or the full-auto UZI submachine gun he also gets there. Fans have long theorized the Terminator converted them to full-auto himself.
Smith & Wesson Model 15
As a last resort, after his other weapons run dry, the T-800 pulls out a nickel-plated S&W Model 15 revolver and fires it at Sarah and Kyle’s vehicle from his motorcycle.
It might seem like the gun comes out of nowhere, or that the T-800 must have picked it up during the carnage of the police station assault, but it’s actually sitting on the counter during the gun shop scene, though it’s not prominently featured or shown until this scene.
Valmet M82A bullpup future rifle
The only thing scarier than the Terminator in the original movie were the flashback/flashforward scenes of a future 2029 that was full of them, along with a nuclear-bomb charred planet. For these scenes, resistance fighters are seen firing what appear to be plasma-based weapons at their mechanical enemies.
The rifle Kyle Reese (Michael Beihn) carries as he navigates the grim underground dwelling space of the resistance, is a real gun. It’s a Valmet M82A bullpup assault rifle with the magazine removed. The computerized digital tracking scope was built from scratch for the film using video camera components. Once you know that, it’s hard not to see the boxy 80s electronic housings.
Ithaca 37 Pump Shotgun
For the first half of the movie, Kyle Reese uses an Ithaca 37 pump action shotgun with a full-length magazine tube that he takes from the police cruiser in the opening scenes. We later see him crouched in an alley using a blade from a hacksaw to cut off the shotgun’s wooden stock to make it more concealable.
He also attaches a piece of string in a loop so that he can hang the cut-down shotgun from his shoulder under his trench coat to keep it concealed. This works well enough that he’s able to get through the gate at Tech Noir and sit at the bar without anyone noticing the shotgun.
The T-800 also uses an Ithaca 37 shotgun in the parking garage scene. When Sarah and Kyle briefly shake the Terminator after the club shootout and the T-800 suffers some minor burn damage, he steals an LAPD cruiser and uses the shotgun mounted inside, since he lost his 1911 and the Uzi, which was likely out of ammo.
This Ithaca has a regular length magazine tube, as opposed to Kyle’s shotgun with the extended tube.
Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)
Sawed-Off Winchester 1887 Lever-Action Shotgun
In Terminator 2, Arnold’s T-800 Model 101 is a good guy—a reprogrammed Terminator sent from the future to protect a 10-year-old John Connor from the liquid-metal T-1000. The Terminator acquires his “clothes, boots, and motorcycle” at a biker bar early in the movie, along with a Winchester 1887 lever-action shotgun with the stock and barrel sawed off, and a pair of shades. (The gun may actually have been a very similar Winchester 1901 10-gauge. Go here to find out why.)
There were actually three versions of the shotgun used for filming. The first was the “Rosebox Shotgun” with the trigger guard removed and a normal lever loop. The second was the same as the first but with a large lever loop and a metal plate so it could be flip-cocked with one hand. The third was a rubber prop gun.
Sarah’s Remington 870 Shotgun
Another shotgun got some special screen time in T2, the Remington 870 with collapsible stock that Sarah Connor used to almost kill the T-1000 in the factory at the end of the movie. With a wounded shoulder, she works the pump action and fires repeatedly with one hand as she marches the evil Terminator toward a vat of molten steel, shot by shot, only to run out of ammo. But then…
T-800′s M79 40mm Grenade Launcher and Hybrid Colt/Detonics M1911A1
The T-800 fires the coup de grace from his old-school M79 grenade launcher that he finds in Sarah’s arsenal buried in the Mojave desert. After the shotgun, this is Arnold’s primary weapon for most of the movie, along with a Colt/Detonics M1911A1 Series 70 Hybrid pistol that he hangs on to from the biker bar. The gun is chambered in 9mm with a Colt Series 70 slide, a Detonics frame with an ambidextrous safety, and Pachmayr grips. As a matter of fact, there’s another interesting 1911 in T2…
The T-800 acquires the Colt/Detonics M1911A1 Series 70 Hybrid pistol from a biker who he approaches because his clothes will fit. After demanding his clothes, his boots, and his motorcycle, the biker understandably puts out his cigar on the T-800’s chest. A brief fight ensues that sees the biker tossed onto the grill in the kitchen. He burns his hands and is able to draw his pistol, but he wasn’t carrying the gun chambered. As he tried to rack the slide, the Terminator takes the gun away from him, and then takes his clothes, off screen.
During the escape from the mental hospital, Sarah also uses the Colt, taking it from the Terminator’s waistband as he is shooting at the T-1000 with his shotgun through the roof of the elevator. She uses it throughout the escape and keeps it on her until they get some more firearms.
Sarah Connor’s Detonics Custom 1911
Sarah Connor uses the T-800’s 1911, until she gets to her buried firearms cache and begins carrying a Detonics Custom 1911. It seems James Cameron digs Detonics guns, since he had this long-slide model custom made for the film. It has Detonics’ signature forward-mounted rear sight, if you look closely.
One website says that the gun isn’t actually a long-slide model, but a ScoreMaster frame with a CombatMaster slide and a compensator attached to make it look like a long-slide.
Colt CAR-15 (Commando) Variants
After escaping from the mental hospital and getting to her old friend Enrique’s place in Mexico—and to her underground cache of firearms—she gears up and decides she’s going to go after Miles Dyson (Joe Morton), the man responsible for creating Skynet and the Terminators in the first place. If she kills him, she figures, she can stop the war from happening at all, against John’s wishes.
For the task, she chooses a Colt “Commando” style carbine, which is actually a Colt Sporter II Carbine chopped down to look like a Colt Model 629. The flash hider is replaced by a suppressor and a laser sight is added under the barrel along with an ACOG scope.
You can also see SWAT officers with similar rifles in the Cyberdyne lobby as they fire on the T-800.
Sarah, John, and the T-800 escape the Cyberdyne building in a police SWAT van and the T-1000 pursues them down the highway, first in a police helicopter, and then in a tanker truck. Sarah uses two Commando carbines in this sequence, one is a mocked up Sporter II like the other one, and the second is a slab-side AR-15 Sporter I carbine made to look like a Commando.
The T-800 grabs the Sporter II and climbs onto the liquid nitrogen tanker truck the T-1000 is driving and pumps an entire magazine into him through the windshield. Cameron has said this was a dangerous and foolish stunt to do, as there were no wires and it was filmed on a moving vehicle, much like it is depicted in the movie.
MM1 40mm Launcher
LAPD SWAT officers use an MM1 40mm grenade launcher when they advance on the Cyberdyne building loaded with tear gas canisters. Sarah and John share a gas mask to ward off the effects, while the T-800 moves to incapacitate the officers without killing anyone, per his orders from John. He shoots several cops in the leg with his trusty 1911 before picking up the MM1 and firing one-handed it directly at the cops, disabling several of them, and pulling the gas masks off others, before commandeering the SWAT van—though he does take a lot of damage from police gunfire.
GE M134 Minigun in 7.62mm
And how could we not mention the iconic Minigun scene. Finding the M134 Minigun in 7.62mm in the weapons cache actually makes the T-800 crack a smile, letting us know he was going to be letting Ol’ Painless out of the bag at some point. The gun is the same prop used by Jesse Ventura in another Arnold movie, Predator (1987), but with some modifications.
For Predator (bottom photo), a steel Y-frame was added to the gun so a rear pistol grip could be mounted in it, along with the forend from an M60 machine gun, so it could be held with the non-trigger hand. Ventura carried the 550-round ammo can on his back.
In T2, Arnold keeps that, and supposedly the power source running the electric machine gun, in a huge duffel bag hanging from his shoulder in the only scene where he fires the Minigun, from a office-building window. The M60 grip is gone in T2 and a “chainsaw” horizontal grip has been added to the top. For both films, the firing rate of the gun was lowered from 6,000 rpm to about 1,200 rpm, so the barrels wouldn’t be a blur on film when spinning.
When the T-1000 (Robert Patrick) first shows up from the future, he runs into an LAPD officer who is alerted to the disturbance caused by the time displacement field. As the officer examines a section of chain link fence that has been melted away, the T-1000 ambushes him and takes his Beretta 92FS pistol before taking his car and assuming his identity. The T-1000 changes forms, but this persona becomes his default for the rest of the movie.
The T-1000 uses the Beretta during the shootout with the T-800 at the mall. If you look close you can see the pistol has been modified to have a left-handed magazine release button, as Patrick is left-handed. We also see LAPD officers armed with Beretta 92FS pistols outside the Cyberdyne building and when the two little kids are playing in the desert, the toy guns are models of Beretta 92FS pistols.
Browning Hi-Power Mk III
While the T-1000 enters the mental hospital as a police officer, he soon goes stealth in a very memorable scene. The T-1000 becomes a section of checkered flooring near a coffee machine. When the security guard, Lewis (Don Stanton), walks on him, its the physical contact the cyborg needs to emulate him. He becomes the security guard before killing him and stashing his body in a closet. When he does, he also takes the guard’s Browning Hi-Power Mark III pistol.
This is the gun we see in another memorable scene, when the T-1000 turns to liquid metal to walk through a set of locked bar doors, but the Hi-Power doesn’t fit though the gap at first when he begins to walk, so he has to turn it to get through. I suppose that giant radio on the T-1000’s duty belt is part of his liquid metal body and non-functioning, or that would certainly have gotten stuck too.
Heckler & Koch SP89 as an MP5K
As he walks back toward the mental hospital after being shaken off the Connor’s fleeing car, the T-1000 talks to a motorcycle cop and says, “Nice bike.”
The next time we see the T-1000, which is quite a while later, he has adopted the motorcycle cop persona and has presumably been cruising around while the Connors and the T-800 were in Mexico. He is armed with a Heckler & Koch SP89 that has been mocked up as an MP5K by adding the appropriate foregrip and converting it to fire in full auto for the movie. How can you tell? Because a real MP5K would have a paddle magazine release behind the mag well and a push pin lower receiver—the gun in the movie has neither.
The T-1000 attacks the group with the MP5K at the Cyberdyne building as he gives chase in a police helicopter. If you look closely at that scene, you’ll see the T-1000 has generated an extra left arm so he can pilot the chopper and shoot the MP5K through the windshield at the same time.
Mossberg 590 Shotgun
And let’s not forget about ol’ Enrique. When the gang gets to the middle of nowhere in the Mojave desert, we meet Enrique (Castulo Guerra) and his family at their humble home which also houses Sarah’s underground arms cache. Understandably cautious, Enrique approaches the group with a Mossberg 590 pump action shotgun.
Unfortunately, if you take the deleted scenes from T2 as canon, it looks like the T-1000 paid Enrique a visit after Sarah and the others leave to kill Dyson—which means the likelihood of any of their survival is small.
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003)
Remington 870 Trench Gun
The guns of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines were largely unremarkable. Is this because it’s the first Terminator without Cameron at the helm? Possibly. There a few mistakes that Jim would never have let slip by, like the H&K UMP-45 supposedly interred in 1997, in yet another of Sarah’s weapons caches, when the gun wasn’t made until 1999.
But, they did give Arnold another shotgun. This time, it’s a full-sized Remington 870 trench gun with a full-length magazine tube, a custom foregrip, heat shield, and a U.S.M.C-style support clamp, which would normally have a bayonet lug on the bottom.
Browning M1919A4 .30 caliber machine gun
There was also this Browning M1919A4 .30 caliber machine gun in the T3 weapons cache, fitted with a drum magazine, a shoulder strap, and a special side-mounted handle and trigger so it can be fired one handed from the hip. It’s used to recreate a version of the Minigun scene from T2, where the Terminator shoots a powerful machine gun at a horde of police cars, but doesn’t kill anyone per his directives. You can see a full-auto Glock 18 with an extended magazine tucked in his belt.
Terminator Salvation (2009)
This was the first movie in the series without Arnold. It’s also the first to take place, almost entirely, during the future war with Skynet and the machines, with Christian Bale playing an adult John Connor and Anton Yelchin playing a young Kyle Reese. And, since it’s a war, there are a lot of guns in this one.
In possibly a nod to T2, Reese carries a stockless Remington 870 and shell carrier through a good part of the flick. His is equipped with a Royal Arms 12 point breaching muzzle brake. Marcus (Sam Worthington) teaches him how to tie a sling to it around his shoulder, similar to the way Reese rigs his shotgun in The Terminator to hide it under his trenchcoat.
M203PI Standalone Grenade Launcher
Near the end of Salvation, John Connor uses the not-often-seen M203PI grenade launcher in it’s standalone configuration with a pistol grip and sling. The M203 is usually seen mounted under the forearm of a rifle, an ability that made it the successor to the M79 grenade launcher for the U.S. Military.
Terminator Genisys (2015)
Desert Eagle MK VII and Remington 870 Police Combat
And that brings us to the newest installment, Terminator Genisys. This flick stayed pretty conventional with its firearm choices, giving a Desert Eagle MK VII to Sarah Connor, this time played by Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones), and a Glock 17 to Reese (Jai Courtney).
Sarah also uses a Remington 870 Police Combat shotgun with a folding stock, in yet another nod to T2. Later, she uses a FN Tactical Police shotgun.
Arnold is back as Old-Man-Terminator in Genisys. It makes some sense, kinda. He’s a metal endoskeleton covered in living tissue. As years pass, that living tissue ages. We had never seen a Terminator for more than a few days at a time in past movies, so it’s plausible.
In the fifth installment, Arnold wields another shotgun. Actually, it looks like he uses two shotguns, both plain-jane Remington Model 1100s with a pistol grip and no stock. He uses one with a stubby barrel and magazine tube to face off against a CGI recreation of his younger self from the original movie. Yes, there’s more time travel involved…and they basically retcon the entire series and TV show.
Benelli M3 Super 90
During a confrontation in a parking garage, “The Guardian” Terminator (Arnold) uses a hidden shotgun that looks like a Benelli M3 shotgun with a pistol grip. Sarah gets ahold of the shotgun and gives it back to Arnold, who uses it on the rooftop.
Benelli M4 Super 90
“The Guardian” Terminator uses a Benelli M4 Super 90 shotgun fitted with an EOTech sight and an adjustable stock while in 2017.
Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)
A new Terminator, with Arnold reprising his role in some fashion, is due out this year with Linda Hamilton stepping back into the role that made her famous as an aged Sarah Connor. There isn’t much out there about the plot, but this is the first Terminator movie with James Cameron’s involvement since T2.
Let’s hope he was able to get his mind out of the Avatar world long enough to get back to the roots of the Terminator series…if they absolutely must keep making them.
For more on Terminator: Dark Fate go here.