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Gun Twirling
aka: Gun Spin

"You know, when you twirl your gun like that, you kinda look like a dick."
Forum Roleplay, IC

A character spins a gun around their finger by the trigger guard. Breaks pretty much every rule of gun safety at once, but at least it looks cool. A frequent comedy variation is for a gunslinger to do this successfully, and then have some hapless sap try it, only for something to go wrong.

This trope, like several other Guns and Gunplay Tropes, originated in Westerns. It was possible to do this relatively safely with the gun commonly used in the period, the single-action revolver, because it takes two actions to fire it: first cock the hammer, then pull the trigger.

With double-action revolvers, pulling the trigger first cocks the hammer and then releases it, so twirling a revolver around by the trigger is a great way to fire it in some random direction, such as at yourself, or the person standing next to you. Even if you get lucky and don't hit anything important, the recoil will probably break your finger.

Subtrope of Weapon Twirling.

Examples:

Anime and Manga

Comic Books
  • In one Lucky Luke album, one guy tries this — and shoots himself in the hand.
    • In the album The Klondike, Soapy Smith had the habit of doing this. One gag involved Smith trying to shoot a Mountie only for Luke to shoot his gun, causing it to start twirling.
    • In the same album, Luke and Waldo like to make an enemy do this at gunpoint. Especially Smith, whose finger eventually swells up to the point of making him unable to shoot.
  • Vengeance features rookie hero and Young Gun the Ultimate Nullifier, who wields dual hip-holstered pistols that temporarily depower anyone hit by their bullets. He likes to spin them when he's bored, when he's trying to make a point, or when he just wants to look cool.
  • Thelife And Times Of Scrooge Mc Duck has the title character twirl two guns at once, before aiming and shooting on the spot.

Fanfiction

Film
  • Bret Maverick demonstrates this ability in the Maverick movie.
  • Taken to a logical extreme in Tombstone, where Doc Holliday and Johnny Ringo "duel" entirely by seeing who can do the most elaborate Gun Spin. Doc wins by using a tin cup to mirror all of Johnny's tricks.
    • Also the scene on the street when Doc is called a Drunken Piano player and told he's probably seeing double, he pulls his second pistol and spins them in opposite directions with his tin cup still in his hand (a very difficult trick), accompanied by a Pre Ass Kicking One Liner that sadly doesn't quite pan out. seen here(start at 0:45).
  • This is a Character Tic of Alex Murphy in RoboCop (1987). Murphy does this as he copies a move from his son's favorite TV show. He explains to his partner Anne Lewis that he does this so he can be a role model. After Murphy is killed by Clarence Boddicker and his gang, Bob Morton and his development team at OCP seize his body and transform Murphy into RoboCop. As part of the process, Murphy's memory is erased. However, certain elements of Murphy's past remain in RoboCop. When his sharpshooting skills are demonstrated by Morton at the police firing range, the other officers including Lewis all eagerly watch him. After he finishes shooting, we see RoboCop twirl his custom gun on his right finger before putting it on a leg holster. Lewis later uses it to identify RoboCop as the late Murphy.
    • Also applied later as a Tear Jerker when RoboCop/Murphy goes to his old house, and has a flashback to his son asking him to perform said trick.
    • The gun safety issue is averted by the fact that Murphy only does that trick after unloading the weapon. When he's doing it with Lewis prior to chasing down Boddicker, he reloads his pistol afterwords. When he does it for the first time as RoboCop, he has just emptied the clip at the firing range.
    • As to the concerns this raises about his gun handling technique, Murphy was shown to be a pretty lousy shot before he became RoboCop and received his Improbable Aiming Skills as part of the package deal.
  • The eponymous hero of the Trinity Spaghetti Western movies absolutely loves doing this.
  • An almost-Throw It In moment in The Mexican has Brad Pitt's character drop his gun when he tries to do it. (He actually did do it by accident on set, but that wasn't the take they used in the film—just the inspiration.)
  • Most famously in the Rooster Cogburn movies, John Wayne used a Winchester lever-action rifle with an enlarged cocking lever, allowing him to recock by spinning the gun one-handed.
  • In an homage to the above, the Terminator used a shotgun with an identical action in Terminator 2: Judgment Day. The armorer provided a regular Winchester 1887 and a modified one; when Arnold grabbed the wrong one to do some flip-cocking for a scene, he nearly broke three fingers.
  • Subverted in a western where Kirk Douglas shows off his fancy pistol twirling and shooting skills for a young cowboy. Impressed, he asks if Kirk can teach him to do that. Kirk replies, "Hell no! All that fancy twirling never saved anyone!"
  • Jango Fett does this before holstering his blaster in Attack of the Clones
  • Clint Eastwood's Man With No Name does this every time he holsters his weapon.
  • In Planet Terror, El Wray demonstrates his skills by twirling a pair of revolvers in various ways. Considering that the film is a throwback to 80s Grindhouse action films, it's pretty much justified.
  • Buford "Mad Dog" Tannen from Back to the Future Part III enjoys this little bit of showboating before his climatic Showdown At High Noon Eight O'Clock with Clint Eastwood, twirling his revolver forward, then twirling it back to smoothly replace it in its holster.
  • Whenever The Three Stooges find themselves in the old West, expect them to have ... issues with handling their guns this way.
  • Used in Silverado to establish characters as being skilled with guns.
  • Used as a gag in House, when a bat-winged skeletal monster seizes Roger's shotgun and flies off with it. Rather than claw his face off as expected for such a bestial-looking critter, the creature performs a Gun Twirl with it and then Shoots The Rope from which Roger is suspended.
  • EVE twirls her Arm Cannon before "holstering" it the first time she fires at poor WALLE (and never does it again for the rest of the movie).
  • Helga actually does this in Atlantis: The Lost Empire just right before the submarine gets attacked by the Leviathan.
  • In The Black Hole, S.T.A.R. twirls his laser gun after beating Old B.O.B. at target shooting.
  • Most of the characters in Versus doing this at least once after pulling a gun or before holstering it, just because it adds to the Rule of Cool.
  • The Quick and the Dead features an entire cast of gunfighters who twirl their guns in varying degrees of fanciness.
  • Kid Blue in Looper twirls his (very heavy in real-life) gun in an attempt to intimidate Joe... and nearly drops it.
    "Did you shoot your other foot off?"
  • Django Unchained has the titular character do it a couple of times when he holsters his gun during practice. He never does it while actually drawing it, but since he only fires off one shot at a time (he's practising his quick draw,) the gun should still be loaded, making it a pretty bad idea. However, Django is described in-universe as having "a flair for the dramatic", and since the film uses, deconstructs or parodies so many classic Western tropes, this one could hardly not be used at some point.
  • Lucky Luke does it in the Terence Hill Live-Action Adaptation, faster than his own shadow.
  • In The Mask, Stanley Ipkiss twirls several handful of weapons in each of his hands.
  • Silent Night Deadly Night Part 2. Ricky does this while cackling maniacally after the "Garbage Day!" killing.

Literature
  • In an effort to subvert this trope, Western writer Louis L'amour had one of this characters twirling his gun and accidentally killing a man. When he's hung the townspeople put a sign around his neck saying "This was no accident".
  • Parodied in The Colour Of Magic, as the head of the Assassins' Guild does this trick with a short blowpipe after firing off a poisoned dart.

Live-Action TV
  • Sylar does this in an episode of Heroes ... for bonus points, it's after he's just stolen Bob's ability and he turns the gun to gold while he spins it.
  • Chuck Connors in The Rifleman was another example of the 'twirl a lever-action gun to cock it' variety.
  • Ronon Dex of Stargate Atlantis is quite fond of this. Given that his pistol is a Death Ray, this is even more of a bad idea than usual.
  • Batman had one of the villains entertain a kid by teaching how to properly twirl a pistol.
  • A M*A*S*H episode has Frank Burns attempting this in a very clumsy fashion; he then hands the gun to Radar, who does it expertly.
  • Daiki Kaitou loves doing this, in an especially strange example since his gun is the Transformation Trinket that lets him become Kamen Rider Diend.
  • Square One TV had one segment of Mathnet set in an abandoned Southwest town—one episode began with George Frankly twirling his calculator.
  • The one episode on Red Dwarf where the crew get trapped in a Western virtual reality game, the Cat does this - with a gun in each hand.
  • The (first) Doctor does this in the Doctor Who serial The Gunfighters. Steven attempts to copy him and drops the gun.
  • Like everything else to do with guns, Brisco from The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. is an expert at this.
  • The Office (US): When Dwight is told that he can't wear a gun in a holster in the office, he twirls the gun and it discharges putting a hole in the floor and deafening Andy in one ear.
  • Sammy Davis Jr. could spin two guns while singing. Danny John-Jules references this as an inspiration for the Red Dwarf example above.
  • Sledge Hammer! has the title character do this a lot, including once after giving a kid a lecture on playing with guns.
  • The West Wing: In "We Killed Yamamoto", after some time at the shooting range Simon Donovan (Mark Harmon)twirls his pistol, a .357 magnum, and sticks it down the front of his pants ... and promptly pulls it out again when he feels what the barrel of a pistol feels like after its just been fired.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation features Chekhov's Gun Twirling in the episode "A Fistful of Datas": A gunfighter in a Holodeck western is seen twirling his gun several times. Later, just after the accident that leads to a Holodeck Malfunction, Data (who has also been corrupted) picks up a tricorder and imitates the same move with it.
  • Dean Winchester does this with a Sawed-Off Shotgun, of all things, in a Season 5 episode of Supernatural. He also does it while dual-wielding flare guns (despite having been hung up by his wrists for some time — his fingers should be rather cramped) in the second episode of the series, "Wendigo."

Music
  • Frank Gallop's The Ballad of Irving has the eponymous character meeting his end this way.
    Well, finally Irving got three slugs in the belly
    It was right outside the Frontier Deli
    He was sitting there twirling his gun around
    And butterfingers Irving gunned himself down!
  • Brian Johnson of AC/DC fame does this with his microphone.

Video Games
  • The Malta Group Gunslingers in City of Heroes twirl their guns as they prepare to shoot.
  • The Gunslinger class in Ragnarok Online did this when entering battle pose and each time he/she scores a hit.
  • In Persona 3, the Protagonist and Mitsuru spin their Evokers when they draw them. Seeing as how they are planning to shoot themselves in the head with them, gun safety isn't that big an issue.
    • It also isn't a real gun, so it isn't so dangerous.
  • Balthier from Final Fantasy XII does this, with a predictably suave and gentlemanly manner.
  • In Half-Life, Gordon does this as the Idle Animation for the revolver. The Black Mesa Fan Remake applies this to the Glock.
  • This is how The Kid reloads the Dueling Pistols in Bastion.
  • Revolver Ocelot of Metal Gear does this, seeing as how his weapon of choice is a single action revolver. He does it during his entire introductory speech in Metal Gear Solid game, and in MGS3 he's seen twirling his original service pistol, and a crossbow at one point, and then with three pistols at the same time in some crazy Up to Eleven variant of Russian Roulette. Before his boss battle he does a complicated series of tricks with a revolver in each hand.
    • In The Twin Snakes remake, Ocelot twirls his weapon with his off hand after his other hand gets sliced off by the Ninja. However, he ends up dropping the gun — then picking it up quickly and pointing it at Snake.
    • In Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Ocelot uses his twirling guns for a practical purpose: to protect himself from a swarm of hornets. He spins them as they fly at him and they fall down dead.
    • Snake can do it also, but only with the Single Action Army revolver, and not to the same impressive extent as Ocelot.
      • If you do that in first person view while fighting Ocelot, depending on how well you did it, he will either mock you you, or be impressed. Either way, he'll start doing it, leaving him open to attack.
  • In Spyro 3. Certain cowboy-themed enemies spin and flip their weapons... which serves no purpose but to give the player an opportunity to attack.
  • One very common enemy (a cowboy themed semi-Elite Mook) in Viewtiful Joe does this, as does recurring Miniboss the Joker.
  • In Knights of the Old Republic, and the sequel, pressing the x key (PC default) or Y button (X-Box) outside of combat with a pistol causes the character to do this. Equipped akimbo too, but with a different animation.
  • In Final Fantasy VII, Vincent's Victory Pose contains this.
    • Vincent's attack animation with pistol's also contains this. Justified, in that he needs to spin the gun to re-arm the hammer mechanism since his claw like left hand is too bulky. It works fine for handling the pump action on his shotguns however.
    • There's also the final flourish in the synchronized marching mini game, where Cloud's sword twirl is recreated with a Mook rifle.
  • Rebecca's idle animation.
  • Rubi Malone in Wet does this all the time, often when going into an arena battle.
  • The main character of Shogo: Mobile Armor Division does this every time he draws his dual pistols, as well as after reloading them.
  • The Heavy Weapons Guy in Team Fortress 2 does it with a shotgun.
    • Although to him a shotgun is practically the size of a handgun.
    • There's also a popular glitch that allows him to twirl his Gatling gun. Makes you wonder what they put in that sandvich ...
    • The Scout does this in reverse when reloading his pistol, pointing the barrel downwards before removing the magazine and then twirling it the rest of the way after he's replaced it.
    • The Engineer does this in his taunt for the Pistol and the Wrangler, complete with blowing the smoking barrel out.
  • In both of the Gungrave games, leaving Beyond the Grave idle for a bit and he'll twirl his dual-handguns as an idle animation. He also does it at the start of each level ("KICK THEIR ASS!") as he draws them.
  • Devil May Cry 4 features Dante twirling his dual pistols Ebony & Ivory prior to some rapid-fire action with a move called "Honeycomb." Nero is also shown twirling his massive Blue Rose revolver when putting it away after firing in cutscenes.
  • The two main characters that use pistols as their default weapons in the western themed third person shooter Red Dead Revolver twirl their guns dramatically during the loading screens.
    • One of these characters is a professional shootist and sharpshooter in a circus and the other is a well-written version of the classic western hero archetype. The characters actually perform complicated gun-twirling routines (the hero with a single, large colt and the shootist with two smaller revolvers) during these loading "screens", and the routines change as you progress through the game. Red Dead Revolver, as a result, had arguably the single best and most entertaining load screens in the history of video games.
  • Red Dead Redemption also features John Marston doing it whenever he shoots up an opponent in a duel. Granted, by that point he has usually fired off every bullet in his gun anyway, so at least he doesn't need to worry about shooting anyone.
  • For the sawed-off shotguns in the Marathon series, this is the standard method of reloading. The exact mechanism for this is Handwaved as being "too complex for [the player's] mind to understand".
  • Fox McCloud does this when finishing up his B special in Super Smash Bros.. Melee, whether after one or more shots. Don't most blasters lack even a trigger guard (which might be useful)? However, in the Super Smash Bros universe, his own blaster shots cannot hurt him, and by default don't hurt his teammates either.
  • One of Sly Cooper's ancestors, Tennessee "Kid" Cooper, does this in one of the game series' Cutscenes.
  • In Advent Rising, this is how the character reloads his guns. All his guns. Yes, even the rocket launchers.
  • Tanya Adam's Idle Animation in Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 has her spinning and juggling her .45 Colt pistols.
  • Asagi can occasionally be seen spinning both her guns before holstering them in Soul Nomad & the World Eaters.
  • Model 1887 shotguns used akimbo in Modern Warfare 2 are flip-cocked after each shot.
    • In an homage to the motorcycle ride in Terminator 2, Alex Mason flip-cocks an 1887 Winchester during the escape from Vorkuta. He manages to fire two shots from the single-shot weapon before he has to reload.
  • Twirling is an idle animation for the protagonist of Saints Row, and how he reloads akimbo firearms.
  • Done in the first two Fallout games whenever a character holsters a handgun—or an SMG, in some cases.
  • In Fallout: New Vegas, you meet Joshua Graham (the Burned man) in the Honest Hearts expansion with him doing this while preparing some Colt M1911s. Oddly, his twirling of the guns is done in a very safe way - he ejects the magazine and locks the slide before giving the gun a half-twirl to check the barrel, then twirls it back and reloads the gun once he's satisfied. Have a look.
    • In addition, the 1911 has a grip safety- it literally can't be fired with just a finger on the trigger.
  • Manosuke Naitou of Ace Attorney Investigations 2 is a master of this.
  • Princess Eruca can be seen doing this in combat in Radiant Historia.
  • The Florian sisters of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's Portable: The Gears of Destiny does this with their pair of Variant Zappers during one of their special moves. Amita also does it in one of her victory poses and during her Full Drive Burst as she switches them from their gun form to sword form and back.
  • Used in Gears of War on two weapons. The first is the Gnasher shotgun where after a non-active reload animation they spin it by the lever. In the active reload however they forgo the flair entirely to get back to shooting faster. The second one is the Boltok revolver in Gears 2 and onward with the weapon specific execution. The character grabs the gun by the barrel, whacks the victim across the back of the skull, then spins it on their finger to return it to shooting position. More forgivable since executions are intended to be Awesome, but Impractical.
  • In Tales of Vesperia, Patty Fleur does this before using her Variable Trigger arte. You can delay the attack by making her twirl her pistol longer, which also makes it stronger.
  • In Borderlands and Borderlands 2, characters wielding pistols will twirl them as they switch to a different weapon. Marshal Friedman spins his own revolver a few times after using it to execute a murderer.
  • Despite being perfectly able to wield two revolvers with the precision and effectiveness as [[Equilibrium John Preston]], Max Payne does not twirl his weapons.
  • The Kusagari Kid from the Wii exclusive Red Steel 2 twirls his revolver (his first and main firearm) when drawing and holstering it. Considering he's a wide-brimmed hat, duster coat wearing samurai/outlaw/cowboy, this is hardly surprising.
  • In Guild Wars 2, idle characters wielding a pistol in the main hand will do this.
  • In Super Robot Wars Compact 2 and Original Generation, this is justified with the Weiss Ritter and it's Oxtongue Launchernote , which must perform this in order to switch firing modes. Of course, Excellen (it's pilot and an extremely cheerful sniper) likes to put a lot more flair into it.
  • John Mullins randomly twirls his Silver Talon .44 semiauto. Mullins being an actual soldier before going merc, you'd think he'd know better.
  • Your player character in S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat does this when pulling out any pistol equipped in the weapon slot. This includes even the Hand Cannon Desert Eagle. Although it is uncommon, NPCs can be seen twirling their pistols when idle and provided they do not have a rifle/shotgun/machine gun equipped (often when they get wounded severely in a fight with other NPCs and/or mutants and their main gun is taken away either by you or another NPC, as well as offering to revive them with a medkit).

Web Comics
  • In Suicide for Hire, Hunter does this. When Arcturus tells him to stop, he says he has it under control; and nearly shoots Codename Rudolph in the head just seconds after.

Web Original

Western Animation
  • "My Little Duckaroo": Daffy Duck twirls his gun and ends up shooting himself in the head, showing why this is a bad idea.
  • Being a cowboy-themed superhero, Vigilante of the Justice League naturally does this.
  • Quick-Draw McGraw has done this a few times.
  • Hank in The Venture Bros. twirls a stapler in this fashion while helping Brock put up Christmas decorations.
  • In the King of the Hill episode "Soldier of Misfortune" Dale talks about a phony story about how he supposedly performed a hit on a man to his gun club. Upon finishing his story he twirls the pistol he had used to tell the story; he ends up dropping the gun and it discharges, hitting a cash register.
  • Kevin from Captain N: The Game Master does this frequently. Which is odd, because his Zapper doesn't have a trigger guard.


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alternative title(s): Gun Spin
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