Propped Up — Real Guns Dressed Up As Sci Fi Weapons By: Travis Pike


There’s nothing like a good Sci Fi flick, specifically Sci Fi action or even science fantasy, if you want to get specific. I enjoy laser swords, blasters, plasma cannons, and all, but I enjoy it when a movie or tv show dresses up real guns as Sci Fi weapons and produces something unique and grounded.

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M41A pulse rifle
Who can forget the M41A pulse rifle from Aliens?

These guns tend to be a bit more realistic and often match my favorite environment well—a grungy sSci Fi dystopia where things aren’t always bright and shiny. I love these movies and love these guns as well. I went forth and gathered what I think are the top five props made from real guns that serve as Sci Fi weapons.

Starship Troopers — AC556 and Ithaca 37

Starship Troopers is an excellent piece of propaganda and an amazing Sci Fi satire film. It’s one of those movies that people didn’t really appreciate at first, but over time it has gathered a cult following. The Mobile Infantry roll into battle wielding the Morita Mk1 Rifle. The Morita Mk1, and various other Morita rifles, pop up throughout the film. The Mk1 is the mainstay of Mobile Infantry, though, and the weapons get a ton of screen time.

Starship Troopers Morita Mk1 Rifle
Combine an AC556 and an Ithaca 37 and you get a weapon worthy of Rico Roughnecks.

The Mk1 is a combination of a Ruger AC556 and an Ithaca 37. The AC556 is the select fire assault rifle variant of the Mini 14. The armorer dropped the gun into a Muzzlelite bullpup stock and then modified that Muzzlelite stock extensively. They also dropped an Ithaca 37 as an under-barrel attachment to create a series of over-the-top Sci Fi weapons.

The One — P220 Sport

This was an early 2000’s movie the world forgot—well, most of the world, but not me. The One starred Jet Li and Jason Statham. To be fair, it starred multiple Lis since Jet Li played multiple versions of himself. This is a movie that involves the multiverse way before Marvel made it cool. Jason Statham and Delroy Lindo play multidimensional cops chasing down the evil Jet Li.

P220 Sport in The One
Look at Statham with hair! Also, peep the massive pistol.

Their sidearm is the M590, and it’s not a Mossberg-made shotgun. The M590 is a modified P220 Sport. It drops the Sport series compensator and replaces it with some crazy combination of glowy light and muzzle device. Later on, Statham adds an optic mount, red dot, and foregrip to the gun and states, “My own design. Highly Modified M590 Hand-portable system. Fires 25 smart rounds per second.”

This gun holds a special place to this day. It’s why I remember the movie and 11-year-old me loved it.

The Expanse — Glock 26

I blame Reeder for getting me into The Expanse, and I also thank him for it. The show is grimey, but at the same time, it’s a Space opera worth watching. It does a great job of world-building, and part of that is the weaponry. Almost all of The Expanse‘s weapons are based on real guns, which makes them look grounded. There are plenty of examples, but the one that sticks out to me is the Star Helix pistol, which is based on the Glock 26 pistol, or more accurately, an airsoft version of it.

Glock 26 in The Expanse
The Glock 26 is all dolled up for The Expanse.

This particular gun features a Glock 17 magazine with a base plate to extend the grip and a muzzle device that makes the gun unrecognizable. It pops up every season and is described as a 3D-printed gun. It’s probably the most common sidearm of the series. These pistols are dolled-up Sci Fi blasters, but that Glockness always stands out.

Aliens — MG42

Aliens is the OG of propped-up Sci Fi weapons. They made a lot of their firearms completely unrecognizable while keeping them grounded and cool looking. As a kid, I always wanted to join the Marines and pitched myself smoking a cigar as I fired a belt-fed weapon from the hip, and I think Aliens inspired this. The M56 Smart guns in the hands of colonial Marines were all kinds of cool to see.

Sci Fi weapons - the M56 Smart gun in Aliens
I would totes be a Smartgunner if given the chance.

The M56 Smart gun is a squad support weapon tied to a computer targeting system that’s secured to the belt of the gunners. It’s fired from the hip and is all kinds of cool. The prop designer prepped up an MG42 machine gun with parts from a motorcycle and Steadicam rig. The gun fires 10mm caseless high explosive rounds at 1,2000 rounds per minute…which is coincidentally the rate of fire of the MG42.

Deep Rising — Calico M955A

Deep Rising might have been a massive flop, but it was one of my favorite VHS tapes as a kid. The movie intended to be some form of prequel to a new King Kong but flopped so hard that the idea was abandoned. The movie is about a captain and some hired guns recovering a ship, and then a deep sea monster attacks.

Deep Rising — Calico M955A
Deep Rising is terribly underrated.

The mercs come armed with the M1-L1 triple-pulse rifle. In real life, it’s a dolled-up Calico M955A submachine gun. In the film, the gun holds 1,000 rounds and looks like a rotating barrel-style minigun, as well as thumbhole stocks, red dots, and flashlights. They looked cool, and that look followed them from Deep Rising to Stargate and Smallville and some other shows.

The Book of Boba Fett — Colt 1851

Star Wars has one of the longest traditions of making real guns into Sci Fi weapons. There is a lot to pick from in Star Wars, with countless real guns turned into Sci Fi blasters, but today we’ll go for one of the newer series. In The Book of Boba Fett, we get the entrance of fan-favorite Cad Bane, and it’s glorious.

Cad Bane with LL-30 Blaster Pistol
Cad Bane kicks it old school as a classic Colt.

He’s a man who carries two LL-30 Blaster Pistols. In real life, those LL-30s are Colt 1851s with cartridge conversions. They are modified with unfluted cylinders, micro-optics that are never used, and a few modifications to the frame and barrel. Yet, they still look perfect as the gun of a frontier gunslinger.

Deadpool 2 — Kriss Vector

Finally, we get into one of the coolest Sci Fi blasters ever put on screen. I grew up on 1990s Marvel comics and loved the X-Men and similar titles. Rob Liefield had a huge impact on me as a kid. His version of Cable and his ridiculous over-the-top weapons fascinated me. To see that brought to the big screen in Deadpool 2 was the right kind of fan service.

Deadpool 2, Cable with BMG Kriss Vector - Sci Fi weapons
It’s ridiculous and totally Cable worthy.

What’s great is Cable’s gun is over the top but based on a real gun or, well—guns. The BFG, as it’s called, uses a Kriss Vector base with a Thompson stock, an optic with an offset red dot, a rail mounted to the gun then an M203 mounted to the rail. At the end of the barrel are a Barrett-style muzzle device and an absolutely massive flashlight.

Sci Fi Weapons Activate

To me, the best sci-fi blasters are made from real guns. Those guns stand out and always make an impact. Dressed-up plastic is lame, and I never remember it. You dress up a Vector, and it captures my heart.

These are my favorite propper-up guns. What are yours? Let us know below!