The Best Guns of Stanley Kubrick Films

Stanley Kubrick was an American director known for several classics such as “The Shining”, “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “Eyes Wide Shut,” and several others I’ll get to later. One of his major film themes for quite a while was war, whether that be storytelling or critical of attitudes within as he used satire. He was by far one of the greatest filmmakers of all time, so it is no surprise that his movies are on-topic. Though not all his films include firearms, several of his war-based films do (as well as a few random others). Today we’re looking at the best guns in some of his films.

Full Metal Jacket — M14

You can’t talk about Stanley Kubrick films without mentioning “Full Metal Jacket.” If somehow you haven’t heard of it, this cult classic follows marines through basic training which eventually leads to not only witnessing but fighting in the Battle of Hue during the Vietnam War. “Fortunate Son” by Creedence Clearwater Revival should immediately come to mind as soldiers are shown storming into battle. This movie has truly become a major part of American culture and the view of the Vietnam War. 

Among the several guns, you’ll see the M14 rifle the most. As Private Leonard (played by Vincent D’Onofrio) states: “There are many like it, but this one is mine.” Yes, we know what happens to Leonard, but it’s still a classic line.

Throughout basic training, while troops are still stateside, all the trainees are seen carrying, training with, and caring for their M14s. They are then transitioned to M16 rifles when they arrive in Vietnam later in the film.

Pyle: “Seven-Six-Two millimeter, Full Metal Jacket” (Warner Bros)
  • Type: Rifle
  • Caliber: 7.62x51mm NATO
  • Capacity: 5, 10, 15, 20 round detachable magazine (or more)
  • Fire Modes: Select fire

A Clockwork Orange — Winchester Model 1897 

“A Clockwork Orange” is another one of Kubrick’s, however, it faced controversy due to the violent content. In this film, Alex DeLarge (played by Malcolm McDowell) is the young leader of a gang. Together the gang commits heinous acts across a dystopian England while drugged up and seeking more thrills. Eventually, Alex gets arrested and imprisoned.

In an effort to get out two years into his sentence, he decides to participate in a new rehabilitation program dubbed the “Ludovico Technique” which promises he will be released after two weeks. After his release, he has a horrible reaction to violence, which is an effect of his new conditioning. It makes it difficult to return to his old life.  

There are surprisingly few guns in this film. (Well, maybe it’s not surprising since it’s set in England.) The Winchester Model 1897 appears the most when Alex is sentenced and then transferred to be conditioned. It’s carried by the guards during Alex’s introduction to the new facility, and the Minister happens to visit.

three armed guards stand outside an open door
British guards stand outside the entrance with their Winchesters. (Warner Bros)
  • Type: Shotgun
  • Weight: 8 lb
  • Length: 39.25 in
  • Caliber: 12-gauge
  • Action: Pump-action
  • Capacity: 5-round tubular magazine (and 1 more with it chambered)

Paths of Glory — Lewis Gun

Set in 1916 during World War One, “Paths of Glory” is based on the true story of a fight between the French and the Germans. However, this film takes a close look at war by being critical of power, and the idea that soldiers are pawns to the general. 

While striving for glory and witnessing several casualties, French General George Broulard (played by Adolphe Menjou) decides his men should try to take Ant Hill, which is a vital part of the Germans’ position. Broulard chooses his subordinate General Paul Mireau (played by George Macready) to lead this attempt (he is hesitant as it sounds like a death trap, but then finds out there’s a promotion waiting for him if he follows along). 

Colonel Dax (played by Kirk Douglas) leads the regiment assigned to take Ant Hill, and Dax is more hesitant than the others. He cares for his men, while Broulard and Mireau have their own success in mind. This creates the main conflict as the battle, death, and other atrocities ensue. 

Paths of Glory movie - several soldiers talk and plan in the trenches of a war
Though it’s hard to see, the soldier second from the right has a Lewis gun in hand. (United Artists)

The Lewis Gun is definitely an interesting gun for this film. Sadly, it only appears briefly as it is carried by a French Soldier. If you aren’t aware of what exactly this gun is, it’s a machine gun commonly used by the British around this time. It’s often taken from aircraft and altered for soldiers to use on the ground, giving it some crazy power. Aside from its other features, its eye-catching pan magazine sits on top of the gun, making it stand out to audiences at first glance. 

A Lewis gun product image
Here the prominent features of the Lewis gun can be seen. (Photo credit: IMFDB)
  • Type: Machine Gun
  • Caliber: .303 British
  • Feed System: 47- or 97-round pan magazine
  • Fire Modes: Full-Auto, of course

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb: Luger P08

Dr. Strangelove is another great Stanley Kubrick war film, however, this is heavily satirical (making it one of my favorites). Deranged US Air Force General Jack D. Ripper (played by Sterling Hayden) believes that fluoride is Russia’s plan to poison America, so he decides to launch a nuclear missile on Russia in an effort to protect America’s “precious bodily fluids.” He does this without asking or talking to anyone else, and he, in summary, just threw the ‘key’ away to disable the bomb.

Once others become aware they scramble to try and disable it. They logically understand that this would bring an all-out nuclear war. Among the chaos, an ex-Nazi now nuclear scientist and advisor work with the others to stop the bomb, but typically his suggestions are…interesting.

One of the best guns is a Luger P08. During an alternate ending a pie fight breaks out between the generals, scientists, a Russian Ambassador (played by Peter Bull), the President (played by Peter Sellers), and others in the war room. This ironically mimics an actual war, as the President has been ‘wounded’ in the prime of his life by a creme pie. During the fight, Strangelove is still trying to get back into his wheelchair (as he had fallen before the fight began). His totally-not-sentient leather-gloved hand pulls a Luger P08 from his pocket, leading to him — quite literally — wrestling with his hand as it aims for his temple. 

This ending was cut due to the fact that around the time of filming, President Kennedy was assassinated. Stanley Kubrick decided the scene with the President getting struck down with a pie was inappropriate. The ending was made available to the public years later as an alternate ending to the existing nuclear holocaust ending. 

Dr. Strangelove fallen from his wheelchair holding his luger up in the air with his 'alien hand'
This is moments before Strangelove has the fight of his life with his hand, as somehow it armed itself with a Luger P08. (Columbia Pictures)
  • Type: Pistol
  • Caliber: 9x19mm
  • Weight: 1.92 lbs
  • Barrel length: 4 in
  • Capacity: 8-round detachable box magazine
  • Fire Mode: Semi-Auto

Let’s hear from our readers. Have we missed any cool guns in the Stanley Kubrick films? Let us know in the comments section.