Wednesday, January 12, 2011

AR-15 Rifles in the Movies!

Guns, rifles, pistols and more – weapons have been an integral part of storytelling and filmmaking since 1903’s The Great Train Robbery, at the end of which one of the bandits points his gun at the camera and “shoots” the audience. Cinema lore tells that when the film was first shown, audiences ducked when the gun appeared pointing at them!

Everyone recognizes the AK 47 – this assault rifle has been name-dropped in myriad films and television shows and has gained quite a reputation for itself – but did you know that at AR 15 is equally as popular, if not more so, and has made its debut in a number of box office hits!

Check out some of the movies starring the AR-15 rifle in its many variations:

I Am Legend

2007’s I am Legend stars Will Smith as a doctor trying to find a cure for a virus that has wiped out the majority of the world’s population. The film features some intense action sequences and an array of powerful weapons. One of the character’s main weapons is a semi-automatic Colt AR-15 model that closely resembles an M4A1 carbine. Although the AR 15 is usually a semi automatic rifle, it was modified for the film to fire automatic for the film.

Bad Boys

Another hugely popular Will Smith action flick, Bad Boys follows two Miami detectives as they try to protect a murder witness and recover a stolen stash of heroin. The movie was such a huge hit it spawned a sequel a few years later, but it’s during the first film that the AR15 rifle really shone. During the film’s final, climactic, blow-out action scene, Will Smith’s character, Mike Lowery, is seen using an Olympic Arms 6.5” AR-15. This shorter semi-automatic is interesting because it is the first ever AR 15 pistol – you read that right; this OA 6.5” AR 15 is not a rifle, but a pistol. Since it incorporates the recoil system into a flat top upper receiver, there is no need for a buttstock.

Tropic Thunder

Tropic Thunder was 2008’s action smash hit starring Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr and Jack Black as a pack of film stars attempting to make a Vietnam War movie. The film was a huge box office success, due in no small part to its incredibly explosive and intricately choreographed action sequences.

Throughout various parts of the film, characters use a 16’ barreled AR 15 Sporter II Carbine. Interestingly, this rifle is anachronistic for Vietnam as the original AR 15 carbine did not feature a forward assist on the upper receiver so this version would not have existed at the time of the actual war. However, the movie’s comedic nature and mockumentary style probably have something to do with their use of a historically inaccurate rifle!

If the film had opted to select the actual rifle in use during the time of the Vietnam War, they would have had to use the original AR 15.


Any movie with Al Pacino in it almost screams cool gun scenes, and one of his coolest is the iconic scene featuring Tony Montana challenging Alejandro Sosa’s men with one of the most memorable lines in movie history, “Say hello to my little friend” before firing a fully automatic Colt AR-15. The Colst AR-15 was used instead of an M16A1 due to cinematographic needs of the movie.

Other Films & Shows Featuring AR 15 Rifles

The Fast and the Furious: Colt AR-15A3 Tactical Carbine
Planet Terror: AR-15 Carbine
The X-Files: Colt AR-15 SP1 Rifle

Tony Autry is the owner of Del-Ton, Inc., and online purveyor of gun and rifle models, parts and supplies. Browse our wide array of rifle kits, barrel assemblies and more and contact us with any questions!