The Best Video Game Gun

I've spent months kicking this "Best" around. Considering all types of space lasers and sniper weapons and over-powered pistols. But no matter how many other weapons I consider, I always keep coming back to an antique Second World War battle rifle.

The M1 Garand.

This post originally appeared in May 2015.

It might not be the most obvious choice for Best Video Game Gun, but hear me out.

Unlike a lot of the other obvious favourites for a title like this, the M1 — which has featured in over a dozen blockbuster video games — was a real historical weapon, not the product of some video game studio's imagination. So in theory it should be boring, with a set of limitations that make it nowhere near as cool as something like a pulse rifle or rail gun.

Yet it's exactly those limitations that make this such a unique, versatile and strategic video game killing machine.

Developed in the 1920s, and entering service with the US Army in 1936, the M1 was the backbone of American infantry forces in the Second World War. Unlike other rifles of the time, which were bolt-action and required manual reloading after each shot, the semi-automatic M1 could fire eight rounds uninterrupted, after which you'd hear the rifle's trademark "ping" as the empty clip was automatically ejected.

It was rugged, it was accurate and it could put a lot more fire onto the battlefield than standard German or Japanese rifles could. This made it one of the most beloved (and important) rifles of the modern military era.

Note: the exact characteristics of the weapon obviously vary from title to title, but there are a handful of "truths" that seem to apply to depictions of the Garand across video games.

The M1's representation in video games is just as memorable. It's the quintessential battle rifle: deadly in the hands of the patient at mid/long range (thanks to its accuracy and .30 cal rounds), but also capable of filling close, confined spaces (like a room full of virtual Nazis) with lead in a pinch.

All of which makes the Garand an excellent weapon. But it's a quirk of the M1's clip that really sets it apart.

See, the Garand featured what's called an en bloc clip (pictured above), which basically means the bullets and clip came as a package deal. The shooter fires all eight rounds, and when the clip is empty, it's ejected automatically.

In the real world it's possible to pop the clip back out manually (though it's not common, since loose rounds can't easily be re-inserted into a clip), but most games take a far simpler and stricter line: in titles like Call of Duty and Medal of Honour, you just can't reload halfway through a clip. You need to fire all eight rounds before the gun reloads itself.

In real life, this wasn't that big a deal. But in video games, where every other gun on earth (and in space) can magically rescue the bullets in an unspent clip when you swap in a new one, returning them to your stash, the use of the M1 requires strategy.

Standard practice in a first-person shooter is to reload before and/or after every engagement, so that you know you've got a full clip ready when the bullets start flying. With the Garand, this is impossible! You'd have to fire all the remaining rounds in a clip into the dirt just to reload a fresh one, and if you did that you'd be out of ammo in no time.

Which sounds like a pain! But the power and versatility of the M1 is such that the adjustments you have to make to your playstyle are more than worth it. The Garand forces you, more than any other weapon in video games, to fight smart. To plan ahead and to really get to know the weaknesses of this rifle, so that you can make the most of its strengths.

If you're entering a room and you've only got three rounds left, you can't go in guns blazing. You need to consider your approach and be ready ahead of time to switch to a secondary weapon. If you're in the middle of a firefight and you've just reloaded, you only have eight rounds to keep track of, so you're able to actually count them as you pop them off, without needing to even look at your HUD. This informs your targeting, your movement, everything.

This is what I love most about the Garand. There are plenty of guns that rival it for stopping power, or range, or ease of use, but they don't saddle that twitch-finger power with a need for planning. It's the thinking man's rifle.

Or, you know, maybe I just love that "ping"...


    quake 2/3 Rail Gun. Hands down.

      Soooo satisfying, esp with the particle effects around the beam

        that swirl...... :) (Quake 2 RG)

        Last edited 28/09/15 9:41 am

      It looked the coolest, but for brutality factor the Q2 super shotgun was my fave. Close range gibs ahoy!

        Lucio's sonic amplifier is the coolest gun, hands down. It plays frickin' music and can blast people over cliffs with its sonic power! Best gun sound effects bar none :-)

          What's with all these resurrected necro threads? Journo strike?

            Oh wow, I only noticed the dates on the comment just now. Ha ha ha, that's epic!

              And here we are again, another year later...

      Worthy of recognition of the Eraser film.

      The only thing that ups this is the Transformers Quake mod. Model and sound effect of the Q2 railgun was replaced with that of Optimus Prime's rifle, and it worked perfectly. Same rail effect when fired too.

      lol, why are these comments from 2015

        kotaku went through the archives and pulled a lazarus on us all lol...

      I'd go back even further to doom, nothing has given me the same satisfaction as getting the BFG for the first time and blowing away a whole room full of demons in one go.

      haha yes. best real gun m1 garand, best sci-fi gun is quake 3 railgun (on q3dm17)

    Water gun! I am bored and my computer bat work is freezing on every occasion. Nicely done head office, nicely done. Bunch of

      You have a computer bat? That is awesome.

        What is your computer bats name? Does he live in the case?

          I'm concerned about its living conditions. If it's freezing all the time than maybe it needs to be in a warmer climate.

    The correct answer is anything from perfect dark.

      Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath's crossbow has gotta be right up there.

      The reload sound and animation on the Cyclone is one of the best ever.

      Last edited 28/09/15 10:37 am

      correction. the answer is anything from Time Splitters.

    I think the M1 is a solid choice. Similar reason I enjoy a hand cannon on Destiny - take time to line-up and fire smarter shots.

      yeah ive always said that out of every FPS ive played, the M1 Garand is the best gun.

    Yeah, I'd accept that. It was a well balanced gun and my go to in games that had it.

    Icebreaker will always hold a special place for me though. That utility is hard to beat.

    In WW2 games the M1 is good though I also like the StG 44. I do wonder if I will get in trouble for throwing away perfectly good Allied Guns in favor of German made guns at the first opportunity?? Ofcourse since I am basically winning the whole war single handed I guess the people in charge should cut me some slack.

    Brings back memories of many a round on COD 2 with @blackdahlianz playing the online multi had to make your shots count due to the long reloads... good times

    Last edited 28/09/15 9:29 am


      Ugh. No. Your opinion is wrong.
      None of the lego guns from Halo are worthy of even being in the top 20.

        Any gun from Halo 1. No other weapons (except for a few in Half Life) have managed to feel so useful and just right than the weapons from Halo.

    Spot on, the Garand is the perfect video game gun!

    Never thought I would say this , I kind of miss WW2 FPS games.

      I was thinking this exact thing on the weekend, trawling though the shops looking for an FPS to waste some hours on and finding only pewpew laser/jet pack/space zombie games.

      I wanna shoot some Nazis gorddammut!

        I was thinking about rebuying Call of Duty 2 for my fix, but also want some solid multiplayer to go with it and I doubt there are servers running with a good population.

        I guess it's not technically a WW2 game, but last year's Wolfenstein: New Order is extremely good and should fill your nazi murder quota nicely.

    M1 gave me a great saying. Worth a bullet? Worth a clip!

    the FG-42, by far on of the best guns in any WW2 FPS

    using the same 7.92 round standard for the german army at the time, it could be equipped with a scope for some degree of sniping or the mag removed and a belt inserted for full machine gun capabilities, between 750 - 900 rounds per minute (depending on the model)

    I'd probably say the sniper rifle from the original Unreal Tournament. I've loved being about to run around at full pace with the scope slightly zoomed in taking head shots left and right.

      Hands down best video game weapon ever? The shock rifle from Unreal Tournament 1999.

      No contest.

    The single barrel shotty from DOOM.
    The original and best.

    BOOM! *chk* *chk* BOOM!

      I love how I can hear the exact sound effect in my head when I read that.

    I understand everything you wrote, but... I disagree.
    It would be one of:
    UT2K3/4 - Flak Cannon
    Quake 2/3 - Rail Gun
    Serious Sam First/Second Encounter - Cannon

    In the original battlefield, i always went as engineer when playing allies, just so i could use the bolt action M1903. The power of the sniper rifle, but without the FOV restrictions of a scope. Oh, and the PKM from Battlefield 2. I usually got chat messages in that game asking me to stop laying supressive fire on the spawn point!

    Not that it was the perfect gun, but I always really liked the Thompson from Day of Defeat: Source. It was so wild and back then I just assumed it was the most accurate to the Thompson of WWII era.

    Cerebral bore.

    There was a particular Geth gun from Mass Effect 2 (or 3, can't remember), that sounds like the laser rifles from the Terminator 1 & 2 future battle scenes.

    It's not an amazing gun or anything, I just like the noise it makes.

      Ah, the pulse rifle. It does sound absolutely amazing but it uses up a LOT of ammo for you to do enough damage to most things, which sucked. It was in both ME2 and 3.

      Edit: It was in ME1 as well as an attachment-less rifle!

      Last edited 28/09/15 12:52 pm

      Oh man, that reminds me of the Widow out of ME2/3 - the sniper rifle with such a kickback that only the Geth are able to use it... and Shepard. Loved that thing.

      That said, the M920-Cain was the gun I loved most - I spent most of ME2 trying to upgrade my heavy ammo capacity just so I could squeeze out two shots of the mini-nuke in one mission.

    Absolutely loved MP412Rex in BFBC2, powerful, versatile, no bullet drop, accurate. All made it so fun to use. Not saying it was the best gun in games but then again any revolver in games has always been fun to use.

    Also the Fat Man Launcher in Fallout, so satisfying seeing it do a tiny lob and crush whatever you need to kill in a hurry

      I need a Bad Company 3. Number 2 was so much better than BF3/4..

    Cerebral Bore anyone?

      Pure awesome. Turok was a severely underrated franchise on the 64.

    The mounted minigun from Transformers: War for Cybertron. Whenever I fired that thing I felt like I was cutting an entire fricken building in half!

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