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James Bond's Guns 

They don't make them like they used to

James Bond - gadgets, cars and guns - they have always been part of the 007 package; from novelties like the famous Golden Gun to Bond's own personal issue pistol. 

Jonathan Ferguson, Keeper of Firearms and Artillery at the Royal Armouries talks about the firearms of James Bond. 


Pistol with the The Reichsadler of Nazi Germany on the grip.
Walther Model PPK pistol, German (PR.12124)

The Walther PPK vs the Walther P99

Most famously, 007 traditionally carries the Walther PPK (Polizei Pistole Kriminal) but from 'Tomorrow Never Dies' until Daniel Craig's first outing in 'Casino Royale,' he adopts the bigger, plastic-framed Walther P99. In keeping with a 'back-to-basics' approach in 'Skyfall,' the PPK appears again, this time with a biometric set of grips to prevent Bond's enemies from turning his own weapon against him. Bond has stuck with it through 2015's 'Spectre' and also carries it in the most recent film, 'No Time to Die.' 

Some early PPKs like the example pictured, were made for the Nazis during the Second World War. It is perhaps ironic that one of post-war Britain's greatest fictional heroes is armed with the same weapon. 

Once a personal choice, it seems that Bond's preferred sidearm has made a comeback as the standard issue sidearm of MI6. Though unlikely to be the case in real life today, the slightly larger PP is indeed an official British military issue pistol, and one has seen use by Special Forces. It was replaced as a personal defence weapon for aircrew by the L113A1 Glock pistol that replaced the standard-issue Brownings and SIGs that were in use. 

Bond's unofficial armourer

Bond's own fictional relationship with the PPK interestingly came about when a fan was able to influence production design. In the 1950s, firearms expert Geoffrey Boothroyd wrote to Bond author Ian Fleming, with tongue only slightly in cheek, criticising his initial choice of a .25 calibre Beretta and suggesting instead the now-iconic PPK. 

Boothroyd also loaned two of his own guns to Ian Fleming and both became part of the James Bond literary canon: the iconic Walther PPK, and a Smith & Wesson M&P revolver, which was immortalised by Fleming's illustrator Richard Chopping on the cover of 'From Russia with Love.' 

These guns are currently in the safe-keeping of the Royal Armouries and can be seen on our Collections Online website. 

Boothroyd became Bond's official armourer, and as the spin-off movie franchise took off, became immortalised as the now famous character of 'Q' (for 'Quartermaster'). Q returns in 'Skyfall' as a nerdy cyber-warrior who places more faith in computers rather than firearms. Well, as this change would suggest, times have indeed moved on since 1955, and I'd like to think that Mr Boothroyd would now find the PPK to be rather out of date. It's low-powered, low-capacity, and excessively heavy when compared with more modern choices for a concealable covert-operations weapon. Likewise the .357 Magnum revolver preferred by Boothroyd at that time makes little sense today, being heavy, hard-recoiling, difficult to conceal, limited to six rounds, and no more capable against the typical hench-person than most modern semi-automatic pistols. More of a 'Dirty Harry' than a James Bond gun. 

SIG pistol with black textured grip
Centrefire self-loading pistol - SIG Sauer model P229 (PR.8188)

So what next for Bond?

So, what should Bond carry next time around? It's not publicly known what operatives of the real-life Secret Intelligence Service now carry, but as the similar P228 and the larger P226 are British military issue, the SIG-Sauer P229 makes a lot of sense and, if I were following in Boothroyd's footsteps would be my own recommendation. It's more accurate and more powerful than the venerable PPK, as well as packing twice as many rounds into its magazine. The downside is that its larger and heavier than the tiny PPK. Smaller options include the Ruger LCP9, the Kahr CM9, or another SIG, the P239. All of these are similarly light and powerful, firing the 9mm Parabellum cartridge rather than the 9mm Short or the even weaker 7.65mm Browning cartridges available for the PPK. The same goes for perhaps the best compromise choice, the slimline PPS - Walther's spiritual successor to the PPK and the weapon chosen for the 007 novel 'Carte Blanche.'

Personally, considering the modern concealable holsters and specialist tailors available that would still enable Bond to wear his best tuxedo, I would have to advise him to opt for the P229 pictured. 

Perhaps like the Aston Martin DB5, the classic elegant lines of the PPK are what keep filmmakers coming back for more. Due to the high-pressure rounds they fire, as well as modern fashion, all of the modern alternatives are chunky-looking by comparison, even if they hide just as well under clothing. They really don't make them like they used to.