Gunslinger; a person highly skilled in the use of a gun and veteran of many gunfights.
Martial arts are impressive, and sword fighting can be breathtaking to watch, but for those who need to wipe out every last opponent in the room, there is no substitute: a great gunslinger is the way to go. Sometimes arrogant, sometimes stoic, and sometimes just plain nuts, the gunfighters on this list are all some of the best sharpshooters that cinema has to offer. Whether it be by six-shooter, machine gun or rocket launcher, the following gunslingers never miss a shot. Although the word “gunslinger” usually pertains to fighters that lived during the Old West, here we’re taking it mean anyone who can accurately cause the most damage with their firearm of choice, regardless of the time period they fire it in.
Destruction and mayhem aren’t just the only things we’re taking into account either. For this list, we’re nominating the fastest and most accurate shooters that have graced film, and the ones that look the coolest doing it. The number of opponents they’ve out-shot will play a factor, as well as their drawing speed and ability to repeat their sharpshooting endeavors. We are not counting gunslingers in films not yet released.
Locked and loaded, here are the 18 Deadliest Gunslingers in Movie History.
18. Inspector Yuen (Hard Boiled)
Inspector Yuen is technically a cop, although you wouldn’t be able to tell by the staggering death toll he racks up in director Jon Woo’s shootout extravaganza Hard Boiled. Right from the first scene where he blows away numerous gangsters in a tea house, you can tell that Yuen is a loose canon cop that plays by his own rules, and in movie-making terms, that’s the best kind to have. Played by Chow Yun-Fat, the policeman spends most of Hard Boiled flying through the air while shooting pistols and shotguns off like a madman.
As a cop, Yuen does have an obligation to save human life, but that doesn’t stop him from riddling a near infinite amount of bad guys with bullets in a hospital towards the end of the film. In one gorgeous, seemingly uncut tracking shot, the policeman and his undercover buddy dart through the hallways as bullets fly every which way. It’s a jaw-dropping gunfight that goes full throttle and doesn’t let up an inch, making this renegade officer one dangerous sharpshooter.
17. Django (Django Unchained)
While training his protege Django, a freed slave turned bounty hunter, Dr. King Schultz remarks that his student is a natural when it comes to wielding a firearm. The Doctor’s statement turns out to be true as Django proves to be the unoffical “fastest gun in the South” in Quinten Tarantino’s bloody revenge tale, Django Unchained. With a six-shooter in his hand there’s no telling what kind of damage Django can do, especially when he’s so enticed to be paid money for killing white folks.
The bounty hunter proves to be not only fast, but accurate when unloading his revolver. During the climactic shootout at Candyland, Django blows past opponents with ease, creating a hefty body count until he is eventually backed into a corner and captured. One of his deadliest traits is his wit, however, and it isn’t long before Django makes his way back to Candyland to finish his rampage, in which he outdraws not one but three rival gunslingers in the process. Word of advice: always carry two guns.
16. Wesley (Wanted)
What’s deadlier than a sharpshooter super-assassin? A sharpshooter super-assassin that can somehow curve bullets, a skill that makes it pretty much impossible to hide during a shootout. Wanted tells the story of an elite group of killers that are all deadly gunslingers, but they soon find out that the deadliest one of them all is their new recruit, Wesley, who is transformed from a lowly office worker into a meat-eating super-killer.
After being tricked by the organization into killing his own father, Wesley doesn’t take the matter lightly, and uses his newfound skills to do some serious damage. He busts into his former safe haven, guns ablaze, and mows down the competition in an endless hail of gunfire. Assassin after assassin is killed by Wesley until no one is left but their supreme leader played by Morgan Freeman, who manages to escape at the last second. No matter, though, because thank’s to Wesley’s superb shooting skills, he’s later on able to put a bullet through his enemy’s head from miles away without leaving a trace.
15. Private Jackson (Saving Private Ryan)
Snipers are always good to have when things get hairy on the battlefield, and whoever has Private Jackson on their side in a battle should thank their lucky stars. The superstar sniper from Steven Spielberg’s war-epic Saving Private Ryan is a crack shot that can nail an enemy troop from miles away while still being mind-boggling accurate in the process. He’s not a mystical super-assassin, he’s just a regular guy who is insanely good at his job, making him even more deadly in a realistic fashion.
While bombs dropping and bullets whizzing by would be enough to shake up any soldier, Jackson is notorious for keeping his cool during a standoff. During his troop’s final stand the sniper relentlessly picks off enemy personal one by one with ease from a perfect vantage point in a tower. Unfortunately, while Jackson meets his demise from an explosion by way of tank, his sacrifice as well as his brothers in arms’ in that epic battle were not forgotten, especially by the man they came there to save.
14. T-800 (Terminator Franchise)
The Terminator might just be the most technically proficient man with a firearm on this list. After all, he’s not a man, he’s a cyborg. Backed by a state-of-the-art guidance system, the T-800 has the potential to shoot a penny out of the sky if he wanted to. In James Cameron’s first film in the franchise, the T-800 is an unstoppable killing machine anytime he gets to lay his hands on a gun. He’s able to take out an entire police station of cops like it was clockwork, and of course it is clockwork to a cyborg killing machine from the future.
Business isn’t as usual in the sequel, in which the Terminator promises not to kill anyone by the request of future resistance fighter John Connor. After swearing to no longer terminate, the T-800 uses a mini-gun and grenade launcher to disarm a whole patrol of policemen and SWAT teams without killing a single innocent soul. He makes Swiss cheese out of vehicles, blows up the surrounding area to smithereens, but still manages to spare every life on the field. If that’s not being proficient with your weapon, than we don’t know what is.
13. John Rambo (First Blood Series)
John Rambo starts his cinematic journey as just a broken man in search of acceptance. He’s a Vietnam vet that’s got the raw end of a deal, who feels mistreated by the country he served to protect. After being pushed to his limits by an egotistical cop, Rambo unleashes the beast, and we soon find out that this broken man is an expert fighter and survivalist, causing as much destruction as humanely possible. Once the ex-special forces soldier gets his hands on a machine gun, he quickly lights up the town in a flurry of gunfire doing so much damage that the national guard had to be called in order to subdue him.
As the franchise continued, the higher the death toll seemed to rise with each new installment. When we find Rambo in the first sequel, he is offered a deal to go complete a mission back in Vietnam in exchange for reduced jail time. Rambo, of course, accepts, and the death total steadily rises as the fighter shoots and blows up a prisoner camp and every soldier in it. Rambo III has the super-soldier team up with his old mentor to take on the Soviets, and the fourth installment, simply titled Rambo, has him kill close to a hundred soldiers in Burma. One of the most dangerous men on the planet with a gun in his hands, Rambo is the perfect fighting machine, but he is haunted by a lifetime of killing, and haunted even further by knowing he’s so good at it.
12. The Lady (The Quick and the Dead)
As we’ve seen in Django Unchained, revenge is the perfect motivation for beefing up your sharpshooter skills. The Quick and the Dead is a Western revenge tale set during a dangerous dueling contest which pits the fastest gunslingers in the West against one another. One of these gunslingers simply goes by The Lady, and her goal is to make it to the end of the tournament to face off against the evil Herod, who horrifically killed her father in front of her as a child.
Sam Raimi’s violent Western isn’t the genre’s best outing, but it does provide some very cool sharpshooter characters like Russel Crowe’s Cort and Leo DiCaprio’s Kid. For this list however, we’re going with Sharon Stone’s The Lady for the fastest and most deadly, as she proves to outgun every opponent she comes across during the infamous tournament. She’s even able to outdraw Gene Hackman’s Herod at the climactic standoff, who up until that point is unbeatable, and proves she can go toe to toe with any of the other sharpshooters from this list.
11. Han Solo (Star Wars Series)
Blasting Storm Troopers with laser guns has never looked so cool and effortless as when Harrison Ford has done it as renegade smuggler turned war hero, Han Solo. As Captain of the Millennium Falcon and a frequent associate with dangerous criminals, Solo always comes prepared with his trusty blaster by his side. He can single-handily blow away entire Storm Trooper brigades without breaking a sweat, and as we’ve seen in The Force Awakens, the dashing anti-hero can still accurately fire a blaster without even looking.
Solo is scary accurate but he’s also dangerously fast when it comes to outdrawing enemies. Sorry Mr. Lucas, but despite what you say we know Solo shot first against Greedo, proving he’s a quick draw and not above taking out his opponents when the opportunity presents itself. It’s rumored that the Rogue One reshoots might include a cameo of Alden Ehrenreich as the young Solo. We hope that’s true, and we get to see Solo blast a wretched hive of scum and villainy once more before his standalone film drops in 2018.
10. John Preston (Equilibrium)
Blending martial arts and intense gun play, Kurt Wimmer’s dystopian sci-fi shooter Equilibrium takes action movies to astounding new levels. In a futuristic world where human emotion has been outlawed, enforcement is carried out by super soldiers known as clerics, and the most notorious of them all is John Preston, played by Christian Bale. He’s tasked with the job of destroying art, music, books, anything that would lead to human emotion, and anyone that would dare stand in his way.
Things take a turn when Preston just can’t find it in him to put a bullet between the eyes of a sweet adorable puppy, and he turns on the fascist government which made him a killing machine. He starts taking out enemy clerics left and right, mowing them down using lightning fast shooting maneuvers that would make your head spin. Employing the art of “gun-fu,” the ex-cleric can tear through large enemy groups like they were nothing, and easily dispatch some of the toughest fighters the government has to offer. Tonally imbalanced, Equilibrium is far from a perfect movie, but John Preston is as close to any as a perfect killer.
9. El Mariachi (Desperado)
While his day job is playing guitar in a Mariachi band, this Robert Rodriguez created character moonlights as a suave gunslinger that will stop at nothing to get his revenge. After being shot through his hand by a vicious gang of thugs, El Mariachi sets out to settle the score with all involved. He travels from cantina to cantina looking to find anyone who has information about the people on his hit list. More than likely, the seedy individuals are unwilling to talk, which leads El Mariachi to reach into his guitar case full of guns, jump on the bar top, and dive through the air as he unleashes his fury on any criminal unlucky enough to be drinking at the bar that day.
While he is fond of his double barreled shotgun, and his infamous pelvic six-shooter, El Mariachi’s weapon of choice are his two handguns that he hides up his sleeves, Travis Bickle style. Just when his enemies think they have the drop on him, the Mexican gunslinger whips out his pistols with sleight of hand and unloads without allowing his opponents time to think. Played with a unique brand of charisma by Antonia Banderas, El Mariachi’s prowess with his guitar is only matched by his skill with a gun.
8. Doc Holliday (Tombstone)
Displaying a certain brand of Southern swag and charm, sharpshooter Doc Holliday is one of fastest gunmen in the Wild West. Most widely known for his friendship with lawman Wyatt Earp and his involvement with the shootout at the O.K. Corral, Holliday has been played by a number of actors in Hollywood productions. For the purposes of this list however, while Dennis Quaid is quite good in Wyatt Earp, we’re going with Val Kilmer’s rendition in Tombstone for really nailing the certain swag and presence that was the myth of Doc Holliday.
Suffering from a mean case of Tuberculosis in the movie that eventually does him in, Holliday is deathly pale most of the time, making him appear to be a gunslinger Grim Reaper, which is essentially what he is. Despite being violently ill, Holliday has the audacity to drink himself into a stupor and still effortlessly win in any gunfight he finds himself in. He’s one of the few men who comes away from the O.K. Corral shootout unscathed, and when he’s finally confronted by his “rival” Johnny Ringo who thinks himself a match, he’s quickly proven wrong as Holliday delivers a lightning fast shot to Ringo’s dome. Quick, arrogant, and in every sense of the word, deadly, Doc Holiday is the epitome of the word “gunslinger.”
7. Smith (Shoot ‘Em Up)
Director and writer Michael Davis’ ultra-violent 2007 Shoot ‘Em Up wasn’t treated with the nicest of criticisms upon its release. Many critics accused the film of being nothing more than nonsensical mayhem, while others to this day defend the turbocharged film by saying it should be looked at as a comedy. Either way you slice it, the one thing that is certain is that main protagonist Smith is easily one of the most dangerous men with a gun in movie history.
After delivering a stranger’s baby during a shootout, Smith becomes the voluntary guardian after the mother is shot dead. As it turns out a vast assortment of bad guys are after this baby, which is just fine with Smith, who can eliminate most of them with a blink of an eye. One nonsensical shootout is shown after another, and it seems that not a minute goes by before some poor henchman gets blasted in the face. Smith proves to be a regular sharpshooter when it comes to firearms. His secret? His love and appreciation for carrots which he believes improves his eyesight during shootouts. He’s like the carrot version of Popeye – if Popeye was an ultra-violent gunslinger, that is.
6. Chris Kyle (American Sniper)
If we’re talking sharpshooters, then of course we have to include Chris Kyle, the most decorated sniper in U.S. history, played by Bradley Cooper in the 2014 hit American Sniper. Directed by virtuoso Clint Eastwood, the movie is a strikingly realistic look into the life of Kyle, who had at least 160 confirmed kills during his four tours in Iraq between 2003 and 2009. Seen for having a talent for shooting at an early age, Chris eventually joins the Navy SEALs and really hones in on his marksmen abilities.
Kyle’s first kill is one that nightmare’s are made out of. As he horrifically watches a young child take a bomb and run towards troops, Chris makes the hard decision to pull the trigger, ending the boy’s life before he can do any damage. As Chris says later on, he’s prepared to take responsibility for every shot he took, which ended up saving the lives of his friends and brothers in arms. Kyle became the sniper with the most confirmed kills in American history, a feat which earned him the title “legend.”
5. John Matrix (Commando)
If you think about it, the massive death toll at the end of Commando might just be one of the largest created by any shooter not just on this list, but in all of movie history. After having his daughter kidnapped by an evil politician, ex-Black Ops Commando John Matrix stops at nothing to get her back, and we mean nothing. After a suiting up montage that would embarrass Rambo himself, Matrix goes beast mode, mowing down a small army with relative ease using everything at his disposal including machine guns, rocket launchers, handguns, grenades, machetes, pitchforks and even buzz saws.
The kill count is so absurdly huge that it’s impossible to keep track of. Best estimates have determined Matrix’s rampage to result in 89 bodies, others have said that it’s well over 100. It’s hard to tell what with platoons being ripped apart and blown up every which way. Whatever the final number is, it’s certainly a testament to the Commando’s freakishly dead-on shooting skills. Matrix never seems to miss a shot, firing wildly while enemy personnel fall of roof tops and tumble down stairs. Played by legendary action hero Arnold Schwarzenegger, John Matrix has certainly cemented himself a spot on this list, and in the halls of greatest cinematic killing machines of all time.
4. The Sundance Kid (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid)
John Matrix might have one of the biggest kill counts on this list, but death tolls aren’t the only thing we’re taking into consideration. To be the ultimate gunslinger you have to be quick, and almost no one is quicker than Robert Redford’s legendary Sundance Kid. Kicking off with a bang (pun intended) the Kid showcases his impressive talents when confronting a gambler in the bar accusing the gunslinger of cheating in a card game. The mouthy gambler takes a few steps back when he learns he’s talking to none other than the Sundance Kid, who is known far and wide for his impressive six-shooter skills. After asking the Kid how “good” he really is, Sundance proceeds to whip out his revolver, shoot the gambler’s holster off, and blast his gun around the room in six impressive shots. He’s that good.
When they find they can’t outrun a posse hired to track them down, Butch Cassidy and Sundance make the move to Bolivia to start new lives. They soon find that old habits die hard, and they begin robbing banks in Southern America, creating quite the reputation for themselves. That reputation eventually catches up to them when an entire army confronts the dynamic duo at a small restaurant. Although they’re able to take a considerable amount of them out, the army proves to be too much for even the “fastest gun in the West.” The two bandits finally meet their demise in a hail of gunfire, which is probably the way they would have wanted to go out anyway.
3. John Wick (John Wick)
Who knew one dead dog would lead to such mayhem? It just goes to show that you shouldn’t piss off the wrong guy, especially if that guy is one of the deadliest hitmen that ever lived. After retiring to a life of solitude, super-assassin John Wick is devastated when his wife is diagnosed with cancer. After her death, John is left a broken man, until he gets a puppy that his deceased wife had left to him to help with the grieving process. Unfortunately a band of Russian thugs that are eyeing John’s prized muscle car also brutally murder his adorable dog out of spite. Big mistake, as the hitman known in the underworld as the “Boogeyman” comes out of retirement to hunt down all those responsible.
In one impressive gunfight after another, Wick proves he’s no joke. He easily dispatches the squad sent to his house to kill him, using a unique blend of martial arts and gun play to outdo his enemies. Wick is deadly fast, able to get shots off before the goons sent to kill him even know what’s happening. He continues his rampage to get the guys responsible for his dog’s death, racking up a kill count of epic proportions along the way. We’re less than a year a way from John Wick: Chapter Two, which will no doubt have the infamous gunslinger come out of retirement once more to increase his already staggering death count.
2. Leon (The Professional)
The definition of a professional, Leon in Luc Besson’s ultra-violent film is in a class of his own when it comes to taking out the trash. Creeping in the shadows and striking when you least expect it, this silent hitman is the kind of guy you call in when you want people to disappear with no traces. Leon can take out guards and mobsters before they have the time to know what hit them. In the first 10 minutes of the movie, the “cleaner” efficiently kills a whole squad trying to protect a high profile mafioso, which all meet their demise under Leon’s silenced firearms.
Despite being a professional killer, Leon lives a pretty low-key life in a rundown apartment, with his only companion being a plant that he loves to water. His world is turned upside down however when his teenage neighbor has her family brutally murdered by a gang of corrupt cops. Leon reluctantly takes the child in and starts teaching her the ways of the contract killer. It all leads to a bloody and lengthy final battle with a gang of masked enforcers outside of his apartment. While Leon manages to take a good number of them out, he finally meets his demise, but not before making one last explosive statement.
1. The Man with No Name (Dollars Trilogy)
“You see in this world, there are two kinds of people, my friend: those with loaded guns, and those who dig. You dig.”
Although he may sometimes travel under the aliases “Joe” or “Blondie,” most know this iconic gunslinger as simply as The Man with No Name. This is perhaps Clint Eastwood’s most recognized role, and that includes renegade cop Dirty Harry. The Man with No Name is the stuff that legends are made out of. He’s a wanderer, drifting from place to place looking to score a few dollars, or a few dollars more. Like most of the sharpshooters on this list, he isn’t a hero. His motivations are usually for his own personal interests, which makes him an interesting sort of fella to watch. His stoic nature makes us curious to what makes this man tick, and why he’s so damn invincible when he has a gun in his hands.
While he might face some overwhelming odds, The Man with No Name is never outgunned in Ennio Morricone’s Dollars trilogy. Even when confronted with superior numbers, the gunslinger has the audacity to nonchalantly roll a cigar and take a few drags before drawing his firearm and squeezing off several well aimed shots. He’s the undisputed fastest gun in the West, and while others on the list come close (like the Sundance Kid who bears the same title), this guy is in a league of his own. Whatever crazy situation The Man with No Name might find himself in, he always comes out on top, and thanks to his impressive shooting skills, he’s our pick for the greatest gunslinger in movie history.