There’s a scene from ‘Demolition Man’ that’s always stuck with me. Upon fleeing his incarceration in futuristic Los Angeles, the batshit crazy Simon Phoenix (played by Wesley Snipes) goes hunting for weapons at a nearby museum, stocking up on machine guns and pistols when inspiration strikes. “Wait a minute, this is the future,” Phoenix smirks. “Where are all the phaser guns?”
Sadly, the world’s militaries have yet to field the futuristic firearms we’ve always dreamed of, but at least movies and television have attempted to make those dreams a reality. Below, an egregiously non-scientific ranking of fictional futuristic firearms based on capabilities, lethality, and real-world practicality.
27. Finger guns (Happy Gilmore)
Nothing says “I’m definitely unarmed” like a pair of finger guns.
26. The Annihilator 2000 (Beverly Hills Cop III)
“America’s Premiere Survival Home and Travel Total Security Unit” comes with a CD player, cell phone, and microwave, for some reason.
25. The Orgazmorator (Orgazmo)
In 1997, the creators of South Park imagined one of the foulest non-lethal weapons ever — and yes, it’s as gross as it sounds.
24. The Army’s Next Generation Squad Weapon
The Army isn’t on the hunt for any old rifle for the Next Generation Squad Weapon intended to replace the M4 carbine and the M249 squad automatic weapon. No, the Army wants the “iPhone of lethality” — if the program ever gets around to producing a prototype.
Pros: Potentially real
Cons: “iPhone of lethality”
23. Westinghouse M-27 Phased Plasma Pulse Rifle (Terminator)
If it’s good enough for Skynet forces in a dystopian future, it’s good enough for us — except, according to Terminator die-hards, it’s apparently too heavy for non-machine warfighters to carry.
Pros: Machine-like efficiency, 40-watt range.
Cons: Impossible to use
22. The BlasTech E-11 blaster rifle (Star Wars)
Lightweight, reliable, and versatile, the E-11 is the perfect standard-issue rifle for Imperial Stormtroopers, optimal for a variety of combat scenarios despite their relative inability to hit a goddamn thing.
Pros: Accelerated cooldown system boosts reliability
Cons: Dismal accuracy
21. The Noisy Cricket (Men In Black)
Small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, the Noisy Cricket packs a mean punch. And apparently it fires “a small orb of energy?” Sure, whatever.
Pros: Ridiculous stopping power
Cons: Insane recoil
20. The Golden Gun (James Bond)
Francisco Scaramanga may not be the craftiest criminal mastermind James Bond ever faced off against, but he certainly had some style.
Pros: Instant kill
Cons: Ridiculously low rate of fire
12. The Human Torch’s arms (Marvel Comics)
Technically fire arms, given the original Human Torch’s status as an android
Pros: Fire arms!
Cons: Fire arms
18. The Sex Machine Crotch Pistol (From Dusk Till Dawn)
The world’s most Freudian dual-cylinder revolver, brandished by Sex Machine (Tom Savini) when a biker at a roadhouse comes at him with a switchblade.
Pros: Concealed carry
Cons: The jokes write themselves
17. Smith & Wesson Looooong Barrel (Batman)
The Joker rocks a Smith & Wesson Model 15-3 with a telescoping barrel, according to the Internet Movie Firearms Database.
Pros: Chambered in .38 special
16. Reggie Bannister’s Quad Barrel Shotgun (Phantasm)
Reggie Bannister’s quad-barrel shotgun is really just two Rossi Squires on a custom mount. Still gets the job done, though.
Pros: Double the shotgun fun
Cons: The recoil must be a bitch
15. The phaser family of sidearms (Star Trek)
The phaser family of weapons, fielded to Starfleet personnel in the Star Trek franchise, encompasses both pistol and rifle configurations. Sure, directed energy beams tend to fall outside the scope of “firearms,” but they’re too ubiquitous and iconic to leave out.
Pros: Lightweight and efficient for a directed energy weapon.
Cons: Does nobody ever sweep their beam in the Star Trek universe or what?
14. Mouse’s shotguns (The Matrix)
Those are electricManville automatic shotguns with 25-shell cylinders and a fire rate of 900 rounds per minute. Too bad Mouse only gets off a few rounds before he gets perforated.
Pros: Stopping power
Cons: Unwieldy as all hell
13. The Laptop Gun (Perfect Dark)
This Carrington Institute submachine gun offers major backup with a fire rate of 1000 rounds per minute when deployed in sentry mode. Even better, is folds up into a bootable PC when you’re dealing with the TSA.
Pros: Versatile and vicious
Cons: Shoulda been a Macbook
12. The ‘Magnetic Accelerator’ gun (Demolition Man)
Fun fact: The “Magnetic Accelerator” 1X.31A particle weapon pilfered from a museum armory exhibit in 2032 by insane convict Simon Phoenix (Wesley Snipes) in Demolition Man was built on the the H&K G11 that was one of four submissions tested in the late ’80s by U.S. officials as part of the Advanced Combat Rifle (ACR).
Pros: Packs a wallop
Cons: Requires charging time
11. Hadron Enforcer (Guardians Of The Galaxy)
Rocket Racoon said it was designed to “blow up moons,” the monster gun appears to fire a lil’ baby nuke of sorts despite being named after the world’s largest particle accelerator.
Pro: Can blow up moons
Cons: Clearly incapable of blowing up moons
10. The BFG (Doom)
They call it a “Big Fucking Gun” for a reason.
Pros: Total annihilation
Cons: Limited ammo
9, The Lawgiver (Judge Dredd)
Finally, the fictional voice-activated machine pistol that self-destructs in the wrong wielder’s hands
Pros: Voice and DNA-based security
Cons: Limited ammo
8. Mark 2 Lancer Assault Rifle (Gears Of War)
The standard-issue assault rifle of the Locust War engineered to carry more ammo and fire with less recoil.
Pros: CHAINSAW BAYONET
Cons: Jams easily. Also, USA Today might put it into a graphic.
7. The Bolter (Warhammer 40K)
It is very, very difficult to make an argument against .75 caliber rocket propelled, armor piercing, explosive rounds — especially when each Bolter is genetically coded so only Space Marines can use them. That’s one way to deal with the illegal arms market, I guess.
Pros: Built in ammo counter
Cons: Extremely heavy without powered armor
6. The M56 Smart Gun with articulated ‘third arm’ (Aliens)
While bulkier than the standard M41A pulse rifle, the Smart Gun with its articulated third arm provides enough support to keep users mobile and deadly
Pros: A deeply badass exoskeleton that can fire 10mm high-explosive rounds
Cons: Ineffective against acidic alien blood
5. The Auto 9 (RoboCop)
This Beretta 93R comes chambered in 9x19mm Parabellum, according to fans, with a variety of specialty ammo options. It also looks damn good spinning around your finger while you contemplate your strange cyborg existence.
Pros: 50-round mag in a pistol!
Cons: Holsters inside of your thigh
4. Zorg’s ZF-1 (The Fifth Element)
Finally, a slick, ergonomic all-in-one firearm that packs the joys of flamethrowers and rocket launchers into a single weapon.
Pros: Net launcher!
Cons: That little red button on the bottom of the gun
3. The Plasmacaster Classic (Predator)
The Predator’s shoulder-mounted energy turret, technically known as a Plasmacaster, is a long-range energy projector weapon with automatic targeting capabilities. Attached to an articulated third arm, it is capable handling a batch of xenomorphs with no serious issues, which makes it automatically superior to most of the other firearms on this list.
Pros: Powerful and precise.
Cons. Only available through rite of passage, apparently.
2. The DL-44 heavy blaster pistol (Star Wars)
Name a more powerful, more customizable, and more iconic sidearm. I’ll wait.
Pros: The go-to of Han Solo, who to be clear, definitely shot first.
Cons: Based on the gross German C96 “Broomhandle” Mauser pistol
1. The Morita series of rifles (Starship Troopers)
The Morita series of rifles may not be as powerful as the other firearms on this list, but they are certainly the most realistic, sort of! Built around the Ruger AC-556 rifle with a custom Muzzelite MZ14 Bullpup stock and an underslung Ithaca 37 shotgun, this honestly looks like the sort of thing you’d actually grab from your bedside at the first sound of trouble.
Pros: Realistic as hell
Cons: Not real at all.