After Pulp Fiction propelled him into the mainstream, Samuel L. Jackson began getting bigger parts, but the variety of roles he took did not narrow. In the late 90s and early 2000s, Jackson played everything from a school teacher in a tough urban district with PTSD to John Shaft himself.
One might think he took pretty much any role that came his way, but he never fails to deliver a stellar performance, even if the movie that role is wrapped in isn’t exactly living up to the same tier. These are all the guns he used on screen, from an M16A1 in Vietnam to the .45 he carried in Jackie Brown, from 1996 to 2006.
Hard 8 (1996)
Hard Eight isn’t a well known movie, but its notable because it is the directorial debut of Paul Thomas Anderson, who also wrote the script. Besides Jackson, who had a small role, the cast includes John C. Reilly, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Philip Baker Hall.
Tanfoglio TA 90
In one scene Jimmy (Jackson) is seen threatening another character with what looks to be an EAA Witness or a Tanfoglio TA 90 pistol, which is a variant of a copy of the venerable CZ-75 pistol.
Later Sydney finds a stash of Jimmy’s guns, which includes several 1911s and a Tanfoglio, plus a revolver.
The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996)
In 1996, Gina Davis was super popular, and starred in numerous comedies, romances, and thrillers in the 1990s. In 1996, she threw her hat into the action movie ring and did an admirable job playing a housewife suffering from amnesia who slowly discovers she is really a covert government assassin who has been hiding underground by accident for years. Jackson essentially played a private detective named Henessey who serves as Charly’s somewhat bumbling sidekick.
S&W Model 36
Henessy carries a small S&W J-frame Model 36 revolver at the beginning of the movie, as befitting a kind of scummy PI, but during the movie, he starts carrying a Colt King Cobra revolver with a 6-inch barrel chambered in .357 Magnum.
Colt King Cobra
Jackie Brown (1997)
When Tarantino made his much awaited follow-up to Pulp Fiction, he wrote the role of Ordell Robbie and cast Jackson as the antagonist in Jackie Brown, a movie that left Pulp fans a bit cool. It was a tonal departure from his previous two films, which would become something of a trademark for the director as his career went on.
Based on an Elmore Leonard novel, Jackie Brown is deliberate and slowly paced, dialogue heavy, and fairly linear—while less bombastic than Pulp or Reservoir Dogs, it has proven to age well over time.
In the first act, Ordell Robbie (Jackson) picks up one of his associates who he recently bailed out of jail, Beaumont Livingston (Chris Tucker). Ordell knows that Beaumont was picked up on serious charges and can’t handle doing real time, so his only option is to give up Ordell for a deal from the cops. This is one of Chris Tucker’s earliest roles and one that helped his career take off.
Ordell convinces Livingston to act as his backup for a fictitious arms deal. He convinces him to hide in the trunk of his car with a shotgun and back him up while he goes to sell some machine guns to new customers in Koreatown. The shotgun he gives him is a sawed off Mossberg 500 with a cut-down wood pistol grip, wood pump grip, and a ventilated barrel rib—and it’s most certainly not loaded.
Smith & Wesson Model 10
He locks Livingston in the trunk with the unloaded shotgun, drives around the block, leisurely parks, pulls on a pair of leather gloves, checks his S&W Model 10 that he had stashed in his glove compartment, and proceeds to open the trunk and shoot Beaumont to death before shutting the trunk again and driving off.
Later, when Ordell goes to Jackie’s house intending to kill her for the same reason he killed Beaumont, he has a different pistol, presumably having disposed of his S&W when he disposed of Beaumont’s body. This time he’s packing a diminutive nickel plated Beretta 950B Jetfire in .25 ACP.
Jackie takes the gun from him using Max’s revolver and holds it on Ordell until she can convince him to sit down and talk. She keeps the little automatic, though we don’t see it again. This is likely a nod by Tarantino to Pam Grier’s b-film days in which she often took roles in Blaxploitation films in which she used a small, nickel automatic pistol.
When Ordell meets back up with Louis (Robert De Niro) after the handoff and finds out not only was Louis duped into taking a ringer bag mostly full of romance novels instead of money, but also that Louis also shot and killed Melanie (Bridget Fonda) in the mall parking lot simply because she was annoying him.
Ordell Check’s Louis’ nickel M1911A1, which looks an awful lot like Vincent Vega’s pistol from Pulp Fiction, sniffing the chamber to see if it had actually been recently fired. He lets Louis finish telling his side of things before he kills him right there in the front seat of Melanie’s VW bus, firing three shots from his own .45 into his gut.
Later, Ordell holds the 1911 on Max Cherry before heading to his office to meet Jackie for the last time.
One Eight Seven (1997)
One Eight Seven is part of a small sub-genre of urban school dramas in the late 80s and through the 90s that focused on drugs and gang violence. The most famous was Dangerous Minds (1995), but there was also The Principal (1987), The Substitute (1996), Lean On Me (1989), and this movie, which was a bit different that its predecessors, but not too much.
Fifteen months after being stabbed nine times by a student at the New York City high school where he taught Mr. Garfield (Jackson) begins working in Los Angeles as a substitute teacher who goes full time. The school is just as rough with “hardened” gangsters as students, but Garfield isn’t laying down anymore.
S&W Model 19
As a teacher trying to prevent violence, Garfield doesn’t really use firearms too much.
During the climax of the film, he is forced to play Russian roulette with a Smith & Wesson Model 19 snub-nosed revolver with Cesar Sanches, played by Clifton Collins Jr. of Westworld fame. When the movie came out, he was credited as Clifton Gonzalez Gonzalez.
Cesar is particularly antagonistic toward Garfield as he made an example of him early on and broke his finger in front of a classroom of students, which is why he’s wearing the large splint through most of the movie.
S&W Model 66
Dave Childress (John Heard) keeps a snub-nosed Smith & Wesson Model 66 in his desk at the school. Garfield finds it when going through his desk after taking over his class.
Later, Childress refers to it as a “.357.”
At the end of the film, Stevie (Jonah Rooney) carries a Model 66 Snub revolver when they visit Mr. Garfield.
The Negotiator (1998)
This 90s thriller was originally intended as a vehicle for Sylvester Stallone, but when he bowed out, Jackson stepped into the starring role opposite Kevin Spacey.
Jackson plays Lt. Danny Roman, a top hostage negotiator for the Chicago PD. Roman gets wise to a conspiracy in his own unit to embezzle large sums of money from the department’s disability fund. When his fellow cops set him up as a murder suspect and IAD is about to arrest him, Roman storms the office of IAD Investigator Terence Niebaum and takes him, his assistant Maggie, police commander Grant Frost, and con0man Rudy Timmons as hostages.
Winchester Model 1897 Shotgun
In the opening scene that serves as an intro to the movie and establishes Roman as an ace negotiator—a bad guy is armed with a Winchester Model 1897. Roman takes the gun when Omar falls on the floor and holds it on him.
Early on in the film we see that Roman’s sidearm is a Beretta 92FS, which he is forced to surrender along with his badge when he is placed on suspension pending murder and conspiracy charges. We also see a number of Chicago police officers throughout the movie carrying Beretta 92s.
The gun we see the most in this movie is the SIG-Sauer P226, which is carried by several characters.
When Roman takes the office hostages, he uses a P226 that he acquires from one of the IAD officers during a scuffle. We get a lot of good closeups of the handgun and we can see that the slide lock has been filed down to make the gun function better with blank ammunition.
HBT officer Hellman (Nestor Serrano) also carries a P226 which is also briefly wielded by Inspector Grant Frost (Ron Rifkin) near the end of the film. HBT Commander Beck (David Morse) also uses a SIG P226 at the climax of the film.
Some of the cops on the Chicago HBT team also use SIG-Sauer P226 pistols. The two HBT operators who attempt to breach the building from the air are armed with P226’s fitted with Surefire 332R flashlights, both of which are confiscated by Danny and used later in the movie.
Rules of Engagement (2000)
I always get this movie confused with the other military mystery thriller Jackson did just a year later. In this one, he stars opposite Tommy Lee Jones. The story is a complex one involving an alleged civilian massacre in Yemen that echoes an experience two men shared while serving together in Vietnam.
The only time we see Jackson use a firearm on screen is during the flashback to Vietnam, where we’re supposed to believe both he and Jones are a few decades younger.
During the scenes set in Vietnam at the opening of the movie, the entire platoon, including Childers (Jackson) carry what appear to be actual M16A1 rifles, and not a civilian model mocked up to look like their military counterparts.
In several closeups, we can clearly see the forward assist on the rifles and no brass deflector, indicating that they are M16A1s and not A2s. They also use the period-correct 20-round straight magazines. Though many films depict troops in Vietnam using 30-round curved AR magazines, the higher cap mags didn’t come along until late in the war and were issued in limited numbers.
During the pivotal scene, Lt. Terry Childers draws his M1911A1 sidearm and uses it to force NVA Col. Binh Le Cao (Baoan Coleman) to order his men to disengage after they ambus the U.S. Marines being led by Lt. Hayes Hodges (Jones).
The M1911A1 in .45 ACP was adopted as the official U.S. military sidearm before WWII and remained in service until 1985 when it was replaced by the Beretta 92FS as the M9 in 9mm.
What is 2000’s Shaft? Is it a remake of the 1971 original starring Richard Roundtree? In a way, yes. They didn’t know what to call it then, but today we’d apply the familiar term of reboot.
Technically, Shaft is a series of blacksploitation films, beginning with the original and followed by Shaft’s Big Score! in 1972 and Shaft in Africa in 1973.
In the 2000 film, Jackson’s character is named John Shaft like the original, but is actually the nephew of the original John Shaft, played once again by Roundtree. In this version, he’s an NYPD detective (at least at the beginning) who ends up dishing out his own brand of justice when he becomes a PI.
The flick is a fun early 21st century action romp and is notable for performances from a young Jeffrey Wright and a young Christian Bale, who is actually the easy-to-hate antagonist.
In the movie’s first act, John Shaft gets fed up with the bureaucracy of the legal system and retired from the NYPD, electing to work as a private detective instead.
When he is relieved of his sidearm, Shaft switches to his backup gun, a stainless steel Kahr K9 for the rest of the film.
The K9, was introduced in 1995 and features a double action only (DAO) trigger mechanism with a locked breech recoil operated action. It was intended to address the police backup / off duty and civilian concealed carry markets.
Shaft’s on-duty sidearm is a Glock 19. While the G19 had certainly appeared in a bunch of movies before this one, Shaft is the first time a Gen3 G19 was seen on screen, as the model came out only about a year before the movie began production.
Ithaca 37 Shotgun
A number of police officers use the Ithaca 37 pump action shotgun, including the crooked Det. Jimmy Groves (Ruben Santiago-Hudson). Shaft also uses the Ithaca in one scene while fending off bad guys in an alley.
Jackson teamed up with his Pulp Fiction co-star, John Travolta, once again for this military crime thriller, which I always mix up with that other Travolta military thriller, The General’s Daughter (1999) from a few years earlier.
This one is about a DEA agent and former Army Ranger, Tom Hardy (Travolta) whois asked to interrogate some Special Forces soldiers after an incident during a training mission in Panama results in several casualties.
Jackson plays tough-as-nails Army drill instructor MSgt. Nathan West who is at the center of the incident.
As is typical, the movie uses Beretta 92FS pistols to stand in for their military M9 counterparts. The M9 became the general issue sidearm of the U.S. armed forces beginning in 1985 when it replaced the M1911A1. The M9 us used by nearly every character in the movie, including West.
Normally, West carries an M1911A1 on his hip in a black leather holster, a symbol of his veteran status. He is seen firing the pistol during one version of the past events being recounted, which are seen as “flashbacks,” resembling the structure of Courage Under Fire and about a million other detective stories.
All of the Rangers, including West, carry the M4A1 carbine in Panama with ACOG sights attached to the carry handles and a Cobray CM203 grenade launcher mounted under the barrel.
West’s rifle however appears to have an ELCAN C79 sight on his carbine, though its a bit hard to tell.
Hardy also has an M4A1 hanging on the wall in his apartment.
In the photo above, you see West firing away with his M4 in one version of the events. The way he drapes his poncho over his shoulders like a cape, paired with the beret, really gave his character a distinctive look while being in uniform.
In the 70s and 80s, S.W.A.T. teams showed up in all kind of action movies and TV shows after the elite LAPD unit garnered world wide attention and the escalation of terror threats and hostage situations put special weapons and tactics at the forefront of many law enforcement initiatives.
This 2003 movie is a big screen adaptation of the 1975 TV show of the same name. Jackson plays Sgt. Daniel “Hondo” Harrelson, an old-school teams guy who leads a newly-recruited team as the find themselves assigned the task of escorting a notorious international crime lord who has promised $100 million to anyone who breaks him out of jail.
The main protagonist, Jim Street, is played by a young Colin Farrell…and believe it or not, the once S.W.A.T. team member turned bad guy, Officer Brian Gamble, is played by a young Jeremy Renner. The movie also stars Michelle Rodriguez and LL Cool Jay.
Heckler & Koch MP5A2
One of the primary weapons in the SWAT team’s arsenal is the Heckler & Koch MP5A2, which is used by several characters, including West. In real like, S.W.A.T. teams did rely on the MP5 in this time period as it was reliable, used high capacity magazines, and was chambered for 9mm, which was ideal for close quarters hostage rescue applications.
The MP5A2s in the movie feature the Navy trigger group, and are equipped with Surefire dedicated forend weaponlights.
Though he doesn’t use it, Hondo carries the same sidearm the rest of the team does, a Kimber Custom TLE II 1911 pattern pistol fitted with a Surefire 310R gunlight. Part of the L.A. SWAT legend is that, while general law enforcement was switching to higher capacity 9mm pistols, team members all used the hard hitting .45 ACP pistols, which they bought and customized themselves.
Custom M4A1 Carbine
Several SWAT team members also carry M4A1 carbines when appropriate. In the first act, when Street is in disgrace after botching a hostage rescue, he’s working in the legendary LAPD S.W.A.T. gun cage where he customizes and maintains team member’s firearms.
When Hondo shows up at the precinct, he drops off his M4A1 for maintenance and tuning. We see it’s fitted with a Trijicon TA47 ACOG scope attached to the carry handle and a large Surefire M500AB gun light handguard.
Twisted was a lesser known thriller from 2004—yet another movie about Ashley Judd and a serial killer. This time around, she plays Jessica Shepard, a rising officer in the San Francisco Police Department who has recently been transferred to the homicide division and promoted to Inspector.
Jackson plays the role of John Mills, the old partner of Jessica’s deceased father, who is now SFPD Commissioner. He also acts as Jessica’s mentor and surrogate father. Her father died in a gruesome murder suicide in which he killed her mother’s extra marital lovers, her mother, and then himself. While she buries herself in her work, she has a secret alcohol problem.
Jessica and her new partner, Mike Delmarco (Andy Garcia), are assigned to a high profile serial killer case. Eventually, she is drawn in deeper when the serial killer murders one of Jessica’s former lovers, meaning he is now stalking the cop who is hunting him.
Jackson actually has a meatier part than it appears at first, as Mills transitions from mentor and then in a third act twist its revealed that he is the actual serial killer after he makes attempts to frame Delmarco. Even more, he’s the one who told Jessica’s father about her mother’s nymphomania with many lovers, which made him snap…but it was Mills who actually killed him in the end.
Jessica is forced to shoot Mills in the chest. He falls off a dock and dies in the water.
Smith & Wesson Model 36
It appears that Mills’ service pistol is a Smith & Wesson Model 36 revolver. As the big cheese cop in charge, it makes sense that he would use a snub-nosed, easy to carry revolver like the Model 36.
Shepard carries a more appropriate for the time Beretta 92FS Compact as her duty sidearm. Her partner carries a regular Beretta 92 FS.
The Model 36, also known as the Chief’s Special, is a five-shot revolver chambered for .38 Special. It is one of several J-frame revolvers from S&W, which are very compact. First introduced in the 1950s, the Model 36 is still in production in the classic blued model and in the stainless steel Model 637 “Airweight.”
The Man (2005)
Jackson went the way of the odd-couple action comedy, opposite Eugene Levy as Andy Fiddler, a mild-mannered salesperson for a dental supply company who lives in Milwaukee. Meanwhile, in Detroit, a federal armory administered by the ATF is robbed of a cache of assault rifles, ammo, and other weapons. During the robbery, an ATF agent was killed and Internal Affairs agent Peters (Miguel Ferrer) suspects the dead agent and his partner, Derrick Vann (Jackson), were in on the robbery.
Vann tries to clear his name and sets up a buy. Unfortunately, Andy is in a diner where Vann is waiting. Due to a cue mix-up, he is mistaken for Vann and is taken on a bizarre ride of unfortunate events with Vann in tow.
SIG Sauer P226
At one point, to complete a ruse, Vann loads a SIG Sauer P226, which is fitted with a red laser sight, and loads the magazine with polymer-bullet training rounds.
Smith & Wesson 5906
Agent Vann’s duty pistol is a 9mm Smith & Wesson 5906. However, when Fiddler is being interrogated, the Internal Affairs agent says a “.45 slug” is the same as one from Vann’s gun. Perhaps the 5906 was supposed to be the S&W Model 4506, which is a similar looking pistol though larger and chambered in .45 ACP.
xXx: State of the Union (2005)
xXx, or “Triple X”, is a product of the popularity of extreme sports and bro culture in the early 2000s. Vin Diesel, riding the original Fast & Furious wave, plays Xander Cage, an extreme athlete who is recruited by the NSA to infiltrate a terrorist group of former Russian operatives. Jackson had a small part as Augustus Gibbons, the mysterious NSA operative who recruits Xander.
In the 2005 sequel, xXx: State of the Union Ice Cube replaced Diesel, int he starring role and Jackson reprised his role, which was expanded for the sequel.
Colt XSE Pistols
Gibbons carries two customized Colt XSE (almost every gun in these movies his highly customized) and most memorably uses then during the shootout at the beginning of the movie.
He loses the guns during the fight and they are later used to frame Darius Stone (Ice Cube) for murder.
FN Tactical Police Shotgun
We see one NSA agent with an FN Tactical Police shotgun outfitted with a vertical foregrip, gun light, and a C-More red dot sight during the early shootout at xXx headquarters. Gibbons picks up the shotgun after the agent goes down and his own Colt XSE pistols run dry.
Black Snake Moan (2006)
This is a strange movie in the Samuel L. Jackson canon and feels more like a Delta fever dream. Jackson plays an aging Mississippi bluesman holds a troubled local woman, Rae Dool (Christina Ricci) captive in his house in an attempt to cure her of her nymphomania after he finds her nearly naked and severly beaten on the side of a dirt road.
The title comes from a Blind Lemon Jefferson blues song recorded in 1927. The film also contains many references to the Mississippi Blues movement, mostly in the soundtrack.
Harrington & Harrington Topper Shotgun
Lazarus Redd (Jackson) owns a Harrington & Harrington Topper single-shot break action shotgun that is later confiscated by Rev. R.L. (John Cothran).
Later, Rae’s boyfriend comes back from basic training and threatens Redd with what I guess we’re supposed to assume is his M9 service pistol that he brought home with him (lol). It’s actually a really new looking Beretta 92FS.
Home of the Brave (2006)
In 2006 Jackson had a role in the ensemble film with diverging story lines, Home of the Brave, which follows the lives of four Army National Guard soldiers in Iraq and their return to the U.S. and their attempted re-assimilation into society.
Jackson plays Lt. Col. Dr. William Marsh, who works in an Army field hospital. We see him trying to care for wounded soldiers as the field hospital is being attacked by enemy mortar fire.
All the characters have their individual struggles when they return home. Marsh slips into self destructive behavior as his son, angry about the senselessness of war and the impact it has had on his family, starts getting in trouble in school.
Marsh gets drunk on Thanksgiving Day and invites some yard workers to the house for dinner. Afterward, his wife sees him in his study with a loaded gun, contemplating suicide.
He goes for therapy for PTSD and is an example of how the effects of war, even for non-combatants, can slowly eat away at them for years after.
Beretta 92FS as an M9
In Iraq, when the convoy is attacked in the first act, Marsh pulls his M9 service pistol in the Humvee. It’s actually a Beretta 92FS, which usually stands in for the M9. They are nearly identical, save for the materials used in a few components and the roll marks, of course.
Beretta 92FS Inox
The pistol Marsh has when he’s contemplating suicide is a Beretta 92FS Inox, the stainless steel civilian version of the M9 pistol he carried in Iraq. A lot of times, a Taurus stands in for the stainless version of the 92FS, but in this case, it’s a genuine Beretta.
Hard 8 (1996)
Jackie Brown (1997)
One Eight Seven (1997)
The Negotiator (1998)
Rules of Engagement (2000)
S.W.A.T. (2003) • Twisted (2004)
The Man (2005)
xXx: State of the Union (2005)
Black Snake Moan (2006)
Home of the Brave (2006)