Yes, folks, that's a real gun
. .600 caliber, in fact.
"You see the size of that gun he fired at us? It was bigger than him."
It's big. It's bulky. It's heavy, sometimes impractical
, and loud. It looks really, really cool. Sometimes, it has a nickel finish, or better yet, gold.
It may even have a name.
It's the Hand Cannon.
Which type of gun fills this role varies by time period. Back in The Seventies
, it was a .357 or .44 Magnum revolver
, like the Colt Python
. and the Smith & Wesson Model 29
. Eventually, semi-automatics firing the same rounds were introduced. The modern successor to the crown of most ridiculously oversized handgun is the Israeli Military Industries/Magnum Research Desert Eagle
in .50 Action Express. Bigger and more powerful handguns exist (like the Automag V), but they don't have the same media presence and generally look much less cool
. And if bullets just don't cut it, they can always use a Sawed-Off Shotgun
or the M79 grenade launcher
, which can be (clumsily) fired one-handed.
Often, the character's hands are barely big enough to support the weapon. In particularly egregious
cases they're fired one-handed
or even dual-wielded
— try this in Real Life
and you'll end up with a broken wrist/nose and a bullet going nowhere near where it's supposed to.
The character with the giant handgun is sometimes superhuman
or cybernetically enhanced
in order to compensate for the weapon's weight and recoil.
Often, in Video Games
, the Desert Eagle is used as a symbol of just how badass the military is, never minding the fact that a huge gun like a Desert Eagle would never be used by any unit, Special Ops or otherwise, because they're just too heavy and loud (not to mention only having a 7-9 shot magazine depending on the caliber). In series where the heroes battle supernatural or cybernetically enhanced beings, weapons like these may well be necessary to take down their Made of Iron
enemies, which conventional weapons just aren't enough for. Guns that shoot Frickin' Laser Beams
and other such energy weapons are rarely used in this trope, as Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better
works well... better here.
You know you're dealing with either this or a BFG
if a character says something along the lines of, "Wow, that's a really big gun." A stock gag is that the gunman is Compensating for Something
. Otherwise, it may just be taken as a given that for better or for worse, it's a Weapon for Intimidation
A subtrope of Bigger Is Better
. Differs from BFG
in that the Hand Cannon is large for a handgun
, while the BFG is simply large. The BFS
counterpart is the One-Handed Zweihänder
. See also: Small Girl, Big Gun
. Not to be confused with Arm Cannon
, which is literally a cannon on the arm.
Compare Punch-Packing Pistol
in video games, where more standard handguns hold the power of one of these.
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- Sam & Max: Freelance Police: Sam's trusty revolver so big the barrel bends from its own weight!
- In Mike Mignola's Hellboy series, the title character packs the Samaritan: a 20mm (.79'') hand-cannon. However, he is a superhumanly strong demon who fights supernatural menaces. Usually the gun isn't much use anyway, and Hellboy himself admits that he's a lousy shot with it, which is why he uses Depleted Phlebotinum Shells and his Right Hand of Doom.
- In the The Warlord comics, Travis Morgan carries a .44 AutoMag which was certainly never a standard issue sidearm for USAF officers. It also qualifies as an instance of Rare Guns.
- Some of these show up in Preacher: .45 revolvers, .50 pistols, and one piece the Big Bad maniacally refers to as "Doomcock." The Saint Of Killers also wields a pair of Walker Colt revolvers, which pack .44 ball and were arguably the most powerful handguns until magnum revolvers appeared in the 20th century. More specifically, they're a pair of Walker Colts forged from what used to be the Angel of Death's sword which makes them Weapon of Mass Destruction-class revolvers which never miss, never fail to kill what they hit, and can kill God.
- When Nick Fury makes his return to the mainstream Marvel Universe during the Skrull invasion of New York in Secret Invasion, he does so wielding a gun that's about as big as he is.
- In Jon Sable, Freelance, one of Sable's preferred weapons is a chrome .357 Magnum pepperbox. As a prototype that never made it into production, it also counts as an instance of Rare Guns.
- Mr. Shlubb and Mr. Klump, two loquacious hitmen in the Sin City series, use Robocop's Auto-9 machine-pistol (it's actually the same prop, even). Hartigan uses it akimbo with another gun to blow them both away in That Yellow Bastard.
- Hartigan's original pistol was a .44 Magnum, mirroring Dirty Harry's Weapon of Choice. Other minor characters have a preference for large handguns as well, including the prison guard who escorts Hartigan out and the guy who tries to stir trouble up with Marv in A Dame To Kill For.
- Lobo uses pretty much nothing but Hand Cannons or BFGs.
- Marvel Comics' The Punisher 2099 uses as his main weapon the circa-2015 manufactured Smith & Wesson .54 Magnum full-automatic revolver. It's belt-fed and can fire 6 rounds a second (360 a minute). One character later observes that this weapon usually leaves the Punisher's victims with a "hole in the chest...and a missing back."
- In one issue of ABC Warriors, workcrew on a massive terraforming operation on Mars have been going missing. The woman in charge carries a massive hand cannon with three chambers, but only three rounds. It is capable of killing anything it hits. She is eventually killed by hundreds of Martian animals after using up her three rounds.
- In Detective Comics #841, the Mad Hatter uses a revolver that is actually fairly normal... if you don't take into account its four foot long barrel; It's easily mistaken for a walking cane.
- In what seems to be a Shout-Out to the Johnny Dangerously reference below, a character in the very NSFW Lann by Frank Thorne says about his favored machine pistol, "This is not a gun. It's a poem. An ode to death. It shoots through schools — of sharks!"
- Judge Dredd's Lawgiver falls into this category especially after the introduction of the Mark II version. Naturally, there is a degree of Depending on the Artist here. It also shoots (at least) six different types of rounds, including high explosive.
- Deckard's gun from Blade Runner. Is it a blaster? Naw, but there is nothing like a gun that puts a four foot hole in...well anything.
- Colonel Douglas Mortimer in the Western For a Few Dollars More wields a Buntline Special that may be cumbersome on the draw, but can pack one hell of a punch with deadly accuracy.
- In Star Wars, Han Solo's pistol is the Energy Weapon equivalent. It only gets a few shots per power pack, but it only needs to hit once, being able to blow torso-sized chunks out of concrete walls or instantly incinerating Greedo before he could ever fire a single shot.
- In Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, the midget pirate is seen firing a very large hand cannon that blasts him back out of the frame when Barbossa's meeting with Sao Feng is interrupted by the East India Trading Company.
- Robocop in his movies and TV series used a huge machine pistol. It was a Beretta 93R with some futuristic doodads including an extended, casket-shaped barrel and slide assembly with ostentatious compensator. It spews flames each time it's fired, and has an implausibly large ammunition supply. Overlaps with More Dakka. It was originally supposed to be a Desert Eagle (itself a handcannon), but they switched to the modified Beretta when they saw that the Desert Eagle looked small in Robocop's hands.
- Men In Black
- Played straight with the huge revolver the tow-truck driver pulls out when Bug!Edgar threatens him with a shotgun. He's killed by Edgar's shotgun blast before he can use it.
- Inverted by the Noisy Cricket: a tiny, unseemly weapon resembling a hypodermic needle with a handle, pauses momentarily and chirps like a cricket when you pull the trigger, and then promptly annihilates whatever it was pointed at and knocks you flat on your butt. The recoil usually hurls Agent J about fifteen feet, no matter how he tries to brace himself; in the TV series, he eventually acquired what amounted to a silencer for it, which made the blast more manageable and stifled the recoil.
- Dirty Harry and his famous .44 Magnum revolver.
- Arnold Schwarzenegger's character in the movie Red Heat wasn't impressed by the .44 Magnum he was loaned, when his personal gun (a hand cannon in its own right) was confiscated.
- The Hand Cannon in question was a customised Desert Eagle, presented as the Soviet "Podbyrin 9.2 mm." Arnold's character describes it as "the most powerful handgun in the world."
- The '89 Batman movie has The Joker pulling out a revolver with a telescopic 36-inch barrel... out of his pants... which he uses to shoot down the Batwing in one shot. Make of that what you will.
- In the Prohibition-era gangster parody Johnny Dangerously, Danny Vermin shows off his .88 Magnum. "It shoots through schools."
- In Charlie's Angels : Full Throttle, the Big Bad (played by Demi Moore) uses two golden Desert Eagles.
- Snatch. Bullet Tooth Tony and his "Desert Eagle. Point five-o."
- At one point in Hard Boiled, Mad Dog, The Dragon, uses a Thompson/Center Contender, a single-shot pistol that uses rifle bullets, and which he's apparently modified to spit the spent cartridges out in slow-mo, to fight Tequila and Alan. This pistol appears to be using a .30-06 barrel.
- In the Woo-directed Van Damme flick Hard Target the main villain Fouchon (played by Lance Henriksen) also favored a Thompson single-shot pistol (in .45-70 Gov't!) as his main firearm.
- Hungarian movie Argo features a character called Psycho carrying a 2 ft. long revolver. With Disney characters carved on it. Yes, like Mickey Mouse.
- In Pulp Fiction, Jules and Vincent get shot at by a guy with a Hand Cannon, but every shot misses. "Did you see that gun he fired at us? It was bigger than him."
- A Western example from True Grit:
Rooster Cogburn: Why, by God, girl, that's a Colt's Dragoon! You're no bigger than a corn nubbin, what're you doing with all this pistol?
Mattie Ross: It belonged to my father, he carried it bravely in the war, and I intend to kill Tom Chaney with it if the law fails to do so.
Rooster Cogburn: Well, this'll sure get the job done if you can find a fence post to rest it on while you take aim.
- Amusingly, the pistol used in the film was not actually a Colt Dragoon, but a Colt Walker which is even bigger.
- The Cowboys had John Wayne telling the boys he had for cowhands to put their guns in a wagon. Cue the smallest boy extracting the largest gun from his belt.
- The opening scene of Desperado has El Mariachi's buddy spin a story of how he cleared a bar with a sawed-off and a de-stocked Armsel Protecta shotgun, which manage to throw your average Mexican about ten feet in the air with one shot:
Buscemi: The stranger... he bolts out of his bar-stool like you wouldn't believe, he grabs his case and he dives right in the middle of the room with it! Just dives right in! Now, I don't know what he does on that floor, but he's up in two shakes, his suitcase is wide open, and he's pulled God knows what out of it, but it's the biggest hand cannon I've ever fucking seen!
- In the Vigilante Man flick Death Sentence, Kevin Bacon needs to buy some guns for his Roaring Rampage of Revenge so he goes to a black market gun dealer (played by John Goodman). John Goodman then proceeds to use this sales pitch when referring to a Colt Python, a Colt M1911, and a Desert Eagle respectively:
John Goodman: You got the bastards of bastards, .357. A guaranteed head removal. That's... that's a sweetie. You got your standard-size .45, super-sized. That's a fucking Hungry Man right there. And you got the king of mayhem. Half-cannon. Sword of justice. Take this fucker to the holy land, start your own crusade. Any one of these is bound to make you feel better of what's bothering you.
- In Alien Nation, Sykes upgrades from his police-issue sidearm to a Freedom Arms Model 83, a 5-round .454 Casull revolver, in order to combat the Newcomer gang that killed his partner. At the time the film was made (1988), this was the most powerful handgun/cartridge commercially available.
- Bohdi (played by Patrick Swaze) also uses the .454 Casull in Point Break.
- Paul Kersey's friend "Wildey" from Death Wish 3 is the world's most powerful production semi-automatic. The bullet has as much impact energy at 100 yards as the .44 Magnum has at 1 yard. Unlike most examples here, the .475 Wildey Magnum has a relatively manageable recoil.
- Almost all the major characters in Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man wield a Hand Cannon at some point in the movie, ranging from .44 Magnum Desert Eagles to .454 Casull Rugers.
Marlboro: Man, why in the hell are you carrying a hand cannon like that?
Harley: Hey... I learned to shoot using one of these.
Marlboro: Which might be why you shoot like shit. Harley, nobody learns to shoot using a gun that big.
- In The Boondock Saints II All Saints Day, the Saints trade in the silenced Berettas from the first film in favor of Desert Eagles.
- In the original movie, the two trade in two .50-caliber Desert Eagles used by two Russian mob dudes who tried to murder them, along with a pager and a money clip, in order to get their hands on their original arsenal.
- In Police Academy 4: Citizens On Patrol!, gun nut Tackleberry gets to take the recruits to the range. By far the most enthusiastic recruit is Mrs. Feldman, an 80 year old who is raring to become a badass grandma and bust some criminal heads. She takes a particular liking to Tackleberry, and demands to wrap her hands around his immense, rigid, manly instrument. The recoil blows her across the room, and she promptly declares "Damn, that was FUN!"
- Any scene involving Tackleberry. Particularly this scene from the first movie.
- Every agent in The Matrix spawns (literally) with a Desert Eagle .50 Action Express in their shoulder rig. And they seem to have Bottomless Magazines. Just to be clear, the Desert Eagle .50AE uses a gas-operated cycling system akin to what you would find in a semi-automatic rifle. The agents, because of their nature, can of course fire these things one-handed.
- I Come in Peace (aka Dark Angel) has an alien pistol that when fired, blows up entire rooms (example, with a car).
- In Hellboy it is shown that HB's "Samaritan" holds four rounds each about the size of a thumb.
Hellboy: I'm not a very good shot, but the Samaritan uses really big bullets.
- In the second movie, he gets an even bigger gun, that apparently uses clockwork to fire, has six barrels, and fires pairs of massive flaming shotgun shells. It is called the "Big Baby" and he uses this to destroy a forest god.
Hellboy: You woke up the baby!
- Though normal-looking guns are present, the air pirates in Castle in the Sky use these as their weapon of choice.
- The toon revolver in Who Framed Roger Rabbit is abnormally large. Possibly because all of its bullets are sentient.
- Leslie Nielsen briefly wields a ridiculously over-sized Magnum at the end of, 2001: A Space Travesty.
- In Drive Angry John Milton steals a five barreled Hand Cannon from Hell called the Godkiller. It has 3 shots in it and can be used to kill demons.
- The title character of Bad Lieutenant Port Of Call New Orleans walks around with a massive .44 magnum revolver sticking out of his waistband at all times.
- Judge Dredd. The Lawgiver II pistol used by Judges, which is also able to switch ammo types by voice command.
- Same goes for the Lawgiver in Dredd.
- In Looper, the Gat Men all use the Magnum Research BFR .45/70 revolver.
- City Heat, when Burt Reynolds' character pulls out an "artillery" model Luger P08, and Clint Eastwood pulls an even bigger Colt Buntline Special. Definitely some subtext there.
- In Split Second, Stone's modified sidearm is massive — and that's lampshaded by multiple characters calling it his personal cannon.
- In Dead in Tombstone, Guerrero carries a pair of massive custom-made three barreled pistols. He is the only one who knows how to assemble them.
- In The Stainless Steel Rat, a sci-fi action/comedy series by Harry Harrison, James "Slippery Jim" DiGriz (the title's "Stainless Steel Rat") carries a .75 recoilless semiautomatic pistol (usually firing explosive bullets) which, while having been fired repeatedly, has NEVER killed anyone, or even seriously wounded anyone. This is attributed to DiGriz's semi-pacifist beliefs.
- Ciaphas Cain (HERO OF THE IMPERIUM!) encounters a lot of people with very large-caliber boltguns. Of the sort that are normally mounted on tanks. Including Amberley in the book where she shows up in her power armor.
- Notably averted by Cain himself. Although most Commissars carry bolt pistols (the aforementioned full-auto-firing RPG launchers), Cain prefers his trusty old laspistol, the classic pea-shooter of the setting. The trope is in full force on the covers of the books, though, since these depict Cain as he likely appears on propaganda posters throughout the Imperium: either dualwielding boltpistols or combining a boltpistol with a chainsword.
- In the Executioner series of novels, protagonist Mack Bolan carries a .44 AutoMag, the first automatic pistol to use .44 magnum ammunition. He later switches from that to a Desert Eagle.
- In Against a Dark Background by Iain M. Banks, protagonist Sharrow has this literally; the model name of her gun is FrintArms HandCannon.
- Another shows up in the form of a gun much like Killy's from BLAME! in the short story collection State of the Art.
- In the Western novels of J.T. Edson, the preferred handgun of the Ysabel Kid is a Colt Dragoon, nicknamed "the thumb buster" because of its recoil.
- In the Doc Savage novels, Patricia Savage's signature weapon is an old six-shooter handed down from her grandfather - a Colt Frontier Single Action .44 with the trigger filed off and a fanning spur welded on the hammer, which she carries in her purse.
- Kurt Austin carries a Bowen revolver, essentially a .357 Magnum Colt Python custom-built to fire the same .50-caliber rounds that the Desert Eagle is famous for. His partner Joe Zavala calls it "Kurt's Cannon" and likes to joke that it shoots railroad spikes.
- Roland's revolvers in The Dark Tower series are described as being very, very large .45 Colt Single Action Armies of an incredibly antique vintage, with yellowed sandalwood grips. It's also alluded to that they were forged from the metal of Excalibur.
- In the illustrations, the guns look like 7" Colt Single Action Army revolvers. With swingout cylinders instead of a loading gate. Considering they were made in another "if," this makes sense.
- The main character in the Stephen King novel Roadwork, who has virtually no experience with firearms, walks into a gun shop and buys a .44 Magnum and a Weatherby .460 rifle. He eventually uses both of them to shoot it out with the police who have come to forcibly remove him from his house.
- Burke from Andrew Vachss's books favours large-calibre handguns for quick manstopping.
- Brian Mallory, the protagonist's brother from The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling, carries a Russian pistol that most definitely qualifies as a Hand Cannon (and is later called that). It was picked from a dead Tzarist officer in Crimea, "isn't exactly regulation," "queer-looking," and presumably shoots something not unlike artillery canister shells. Think giant razor-buckshot rounds, "as thick as a copper's baton." It is single-shot, insanely loud (it even causes friendlies to lose their bearing for a minute) and can literally gib six people at once with a well-placed shot. In other words, a flare gun from Hell.
- Honor Harrington has her trademark weapon, a replica Colt M1911 chambered in .45ACP. The 1911 is not quite a Hand Cannon in the 21st century, but when the story takes place (around two thousand years in the future), the standard firearms use gravitic technology to propel streams of tiny darts at railgun velocities, to incredibly gory and lethal effect. Duelling is legal on her home world, but specifies the use of only chemical propellant firearms specifically because the wounds they inflict are survivable. She only has the gun because it was given to her since she's an avid supporter of the Society of Creative Anachronisms note
- Anya of the Damsels Of Distress novellas dual-wields a pair of .45 auto revolvers. Being a wendigo, she has the strength and coordination to use them effectively.
- Inverted in the Raymond Chandler novellas Trouble Is My Business and Red Wind. Both stories feature hard guys carrying .22 target pistols. As Chandler puts it: "This guy uses a twenty-two. He uses it because he's good enough to get by with that much gun. That means he's good."
- Johannes Cabal uses a Webley .577 to insure that his victims stay dead. In his line of work, it certainly makes sense.
- Eddie Chase in Andy McDermott's Wilde-Chase novels favours a .50 Wildey automatic, often being mocked by other characters for the overkill. Subverted in The Sacred Vault where he loses not one, but two Wildeys over the course of the story before even getting a chance to fire them.
- Dr. Theophilus Algernon Tanner of the Death Lands adventure series and his always trusty [LeMat] revolver. He's blown away many a "mutie" with the .63 caliber "grapeshot" round fired from the gun's underbarrel. Heroic Albino Jak Lauren packs a .357 Colt Python, which he uses when stabbing the problem to death isn't going to cut it.
- In the Into the Looking Glass Series, "Two-Gun" Berg's signature weapons for his Power Armor are a pair of handguns that are essentially sawed-off .50 caliber sniper rifles.
- In The Dresden Files, magic isn't always the answer. Sometimes a massive gun is. Especially if you're a demon-fueled semi-supernatural entity who can fire a Desert Eagle on the run in heels and still hit a target. Even the eponymous Harry Dresden is known to carry a .44 Dirty Harry, among others. It's also good for tactical variety (to have non-magical weapons), noir-detective vibe, and the occasional phallic joke.
- Later in the series, Murphy gives Harry a Smith & Wesson .500, which he actually argues is overkill, until he's reminded that his Rogues Gallery now includes mutant Sasquatch, fallen angels, ancient gods, and other things that might not even notice a hit from a .44.
- Paladin of Shadows:
- In Choosers of the Slain, MI6 agent Charles Calthrop pulls out a Winchester .454 revolver, after initially reaching for a service-issue Walther to fight back against multiple gunmen in the defense of Katya and Natalya.
- The main protagonist's Desert Eagle .50 cal pistol from A Deeper Blue, with large caliber pistols discussed a bit with a terrorist whose head said pistol is aimed at.
- In The Salvation War series, the fact that demons are larger and much tougher than humans makes .50 caliber Desert Eagles and Smith & Wesson .500 revolvers the handguns of choice.
- In Portlandtown The Hanged Man's gun is a red-handled Colt Walker, which never needs reloading.
- Ultimate Hero has 'Fate', a pistol with two barrels that can fire at supersonic speeds. Played a bit more seriously than normal; firing it has a very high chance of spraining or breaking the shooter's hands.
- In William Gibson's Count Zero Turner wields a .41 caliber revolver loaded with explosive bullets that has a narrow-beam xenon flashlight under the barrel for night fights. At one point he uses it to shoot down a helicopter.
Live Action TV
- Deputy Jo Lupo from Eureka loves Hand Cannons, having an entire drop-down rack of them. When she administered the weapon familiarity test to the sheriff, he had to take it several times to pass.
- Hammer's .44 Magnum in Sledgehammer is not only a blatant phallic symbol, it's the only thing keeping Hammer sane... well when he isn't talking to it... or sleeping with it.
- Jayne might be better known for his most favorite gun, but his one-handed death-dealing implements are not lacking either. (Nor is the ''quantity'' lacking.) In fact, the main sidearm that Jayne uses is a LeMat, a Civil War era revolver with 9 chambers, as well as a second barrel that can shoot buckshot. That's right, a revolver AND a shotgun.
- Zoe's main sidearm is a "Mare's Leg," a cut-down Winchester 1892 carbine worn in a hip-holster.
- Lots of people on Firefly have massive pistols. Jayne's estranged former partner in "Jaynestown" springs to mind.
- Even Mal gets an honorable mention: his gun fires .303-caliber rifle rounds.
- Bones acquires an extremely large handgun (a S&W .500) when she is being threatened by one of the villains of the week. It is clearly too large for her to handle, as shown in the Halloween episode◊ when she fires it at a bad guy with a shotgun, she misses completely, and it knocks her back, so she gives it to Booth. Even he has trouble firing it successfully. But, boy, does it look threatening. Its ridiculous power eventually comes in handy when Booth uses it to shoot a bad guy through an inch-thick solid-steel door.
- Stick-up artist and cat burglar Omar Little uses a Desert Eagle in HBO's The Wire, mostly to break "bulletproof" glass.
- On NYPD Blue, stick-up man Ferdinand Hollie (sort of a proto-Omar) extolls their virtues in "Hollie and the Blowfish":
Sipowicz: No, you see, I got a vision of a street full o' taxpayers gettin' caught in the crossfire, Ferdinand, while you do business with your thirty-eight.
Sipowicz: My mistake.
Hollie: Niggas see that big gun come out, they don't argue. They lookin' down that big-ass barrel like it's the Lincoln Tunnel, and they Jersey-bound. Man, they give it up, wail like bitches. Only fools stop to trifle with a forty-four.
- The Particle Magnum used by Ronon Dex in Stargate Atlantis. Given that later in the series, Rodney McKay easily beats him to the girl, I'd say he's compensating for something, except that he already had the magnum long before that.
- Josh Randall's "Mare's Leg" in the series Wanted: Dead or Alive is a cut down Winchester 1892 Carbine, in a hip holster similar to that of Zoe above.
- Parodied on SCTV with "Harry Filth," a Dirty Harry-esque cop played by John Candy, who at one point carries a revolver that's much bigger than Harry himself.
- During a gun battle on one episode of NCIS, the Big Bad's weapon lets off a godawful boom and blows huge holes in the scenery.
McGee: What's he using, a cannon???
(After which, Ziva identifies it as a .50 caliber.)
- In Hank Williams, Jr.'s song "I Got Rights", the singer goes to a gun store and specifically requests a "Smith and Wesson magnum 44" to hunt down the killer of his wife and son.
- The oversized bolt pistols and SMGs of Warhammer 40,000. .75 caliber rocket-assisted rounds. Don't forget the plasma pistols too. The space marine version even moreso, since it's designed for people who are at least eight feet tall and would require a tripod for a human to wield.
- Dark Heresy has a pistol that is actually named Hand Cannon. While not the most powerful sidearm in the game by any standard, it is fairly effective (especially when loaded with armor-piercing rounds) and its low price makes it attractive to players who can't afford a bolt pistol (there are plasma pistols and Inferno pistols as well, but they're so rare and expensive they only exist in the game to taunt you. And for it's sibling systems, where you usually have more requisition power).
- The Shadowrun Eichiro Hatamoto II is a pistol that fires a single shotgun slug. It's recommended not to miss. Then there's the Remington Roomsweeper, which is kind of like a Sawed-Off Shotgun, except not. It's a pistol that fires shotgun slugs. It's noted that it's damn hard to fire.
- The Ruger Bloodhawk and Super Warhawk, as well as the Krime Stopper are all somewhat oversized for their catagories - the Krime Stopper, especially, is essentially a sawed off shotgun that is classified as a light pistol; thing to keep in mind is that most of these weapons are made for orks and trolls, who're significantly larger than other metahumans; while still big, these guns are more reasonably sized for them.
- Cyberpunk's weaponry supplements have many examples of this, as they're intended for use by and against cyber-enhanced combatants. One of the most memorable is the 'Hellbringer,' a 3-round .666 caliber magnum revolver. There's also the Colt AMT, an eight-shot revolver that fires very large bullets. The caliber is not specified but it causes very high damage in-game. Both of the aforementioned are designed to be used only with cybernetic arms.
- Characters who have full body cybernetic conversions or are wearing powered armour can also carry firearms such as "assault rifles" chambered in .50 BMG or 14.5x114 RUS, as well as a 4 gauge autoshotgun and a 10 gauge, 6-barrel gatling shotgun with a back-mounted ammo hopper.
- Subverted in Warmachine where many warcasters carry guns that are called Hand Cannons but which are no bigger than the setting's average handgun. Most of the time.
- Only a partial subversion as they hit just as hard (or even slightly harder) than the full rifles used by the rank-and-file troops. Hand Cannons have a range of 12 inches and are Power 12 while the military rifles issues to Cygnaran Trenchers are only Range 10 and Power 11. Even in the new RPG; compare the hand cannon (which has the same stats as in the wargame) with a normal repeating pistol shows that it's worthy of the name.
- While Feng Shui gives us the standard hand cannons for the contemporary juncture, for those coming from the 2056 juncture, there's really only one gun worthy of Hand Cannon status — the Buro Godhammer, which fires .50 caliber rounds, has a five-round mag, and can be fired full-auto for even nastier damage (though you'll have to reload after).
- Hong Kong Action Theatre actually calls the largest handguns Hand Cannons, which range from your standard .44 Magnum caliber boomers to out-there weapons out of a sci-fi movie.
- Rifts has a fair number of large handguns, including a plasma Cartridge pistol with a bore two inches wide, weapons deliberately designed for large humanoids, and a laser pistol with its own under-slung Grenade Launcher.
- The magnum pistol from GURPS: Ultra-Tech fires a 15mm round, larger than the bullets in a modern anti-materiel rifle. And then there's the shotgun pistol...
- SLA Industries has the "Blitzer."
- MechWarrior, the tabletop RPG of the BattleTech wargame, has a number of fairly formidable weapons, but the game's nod to this trope is the Sternsnacht handgun. The original is described as a hunting rifle cut down to operate as a pistol, but the knockoffs put out by the companies hoping to cash in on the popularity of the original are large, noisy, extremely heavy for a sidearm (2.5 kg!), have hideous recoil that translates into penalties against the to-hit number, and worst of all, only carry three shots. This makes it a hugely impractical weapon even in spite of the damage it deals.
- Speaking of BattleTech there is also a pistol version of the Gauss Rifle, so just imagine that. There is also a Gyro Jet Pistol, which pretty is much a rocket launcher pistol, and is also described as a "handcannon" in the rulebooks.
- In Scion, Eric Donner, Scion of Thor, (one of the "canned characters" in the gamebooks) has as his signature weapon an oversized revolver called "Giantkiller." In addition to being a huge gun with oversized ammo (which he has to have custom-made), thanks to his divine parentage, it can shoot lightning.
- The shellcaster in Shards of the Exalted Dream is explicitly identified as a hand cannon. The biggest have barrels the size of a man's thigh.
- In the Mutant Chronicles universe, every pistol, submachine gun and assault rifle looks far beefier than it should have to be, and a lot of the Dark Legion's weapons are handcannons, the Ezoghoul's favorite weapon is actually called the "Blutarch Handcannon."
- In the World of Darkness games (especially the Old World of Darkness game Vampire: The Masquerade), the impracticality of the hand cannon - and especially the Desert Eagle .50 - actually became a plot point, explained by Vampires influencing gun manufacturers to produce weapons suitable for supernatural combat.
- In the post-series Transformers Generation One toyline, "Action Masters" were Transformers who gave up the ability to transform in exchange for greater physical prowess and to be "more alive" as the commercial put it. Some apparently felt the need to compensate further, as they came with accessories (usually weapons) that do transform: Kick-Off, for instance, has a handgun with a barrel as long as his arm and as wide as his fist. Several others, like Krok, Rad, and Banzai-Tron, had partners who transformed into extensions of their already-sizable guns, increasing their size and power dramatically. Kick-Off's own weapon can be enhanced by transforming his jetpack and attaching it, making it roughly the size of his entire body but still held in one hand. Meanwhile, Overrun normally pilots a helicopter, but it apt to tear off its primary weapon (which is freaking huge relative to his body; this is a very small helicopter, of course) and use it on foot.
- Sycine Kiongozi in Ilivais X carries a 15mm pistol. It's capable of shooting down Espadas, though granted, they're fairly inexpensively made and small. Still, that's more indicative of a mounted anti-materiel cannon and not a handgun.
- Huge guns by freddiew
- They abound in the Whateley Universe, from Loophole's .44 Magnum to the .50 caliber one-shot that Samantha Everheart used in "Ayla and the Birthday Brawl". Sam cut off the pistol grip so she could hide it under her bra inside her blouse. She could fire it accurately only because she has super-strength. Or there's the sixty pound anti-mutant weapon Captain Tilley wield in the same story.
- Surely this exchange on The Simpsons is a potential trope namer:
: But Captain, I can't avenge my partner's death with this pea-shooter. (holds up a normal-sized pistol.) Captain
: I don't wanna hear it, McBain. Tha-that cannon of yours is against regulation. In this department we go by the book! (The Captain holds up the book of regulations. McBain draws his "cannon", a revolver bigger than his head, and fires it at the book. The book promptly disintregrates, along with a massive chunk of the wall behind it. McBain
: Bye, book
- Kaptain Skurvy's weapon of choice is a literal hand cannon, a miniaturized cannon he holds in one hand.
- Truth in Television: there really are tiny "signal" or "salute" cannon, used for ceremonial purposes, that are equivalent to a large shotgun.
- Exaggerated for comedic effect in Who Killed Who?, where the revolver used is larger than the (human-sized) shooter.
- Any of the various .50 caliber handguns.
- Among the .50 revolvers, this Russian monster◊, the RSh-12 stands out in particular. It is chambered for 12.7x55mm, a round roughly equivalent to .50 Alaskan and competing with it for the title of the biggest, baddest handgun round all around. It is also the only .50 revolver in the world that is actually army issue; it is manufactured in small qualtities for Spetsnaz.
- Very early hand-guns really were, literal, "hand-cannons", merely reduced-size versions of early artillery weapons, with the same one-piece cast barrel-and-stock, and touch-hole ignition.
- Even later when they used matchlocks (1600s or so) most weapons were at least .50 cal, often closer to .75 cal, since modern round sizes fired with black powder wouldn't go through armor.
- XVII-century German Reiter cavalrymen used the so-called Reitpistole as their main weapons. Those were bigger, badder versions of the contemporary wheellock and flintlock pistols, comparable in size to the modern Pfeiffer-Zeliska from the page picture.
- Later, there was the "howdah pistol", a double-rifle elephant gun with the barrel and stock reduced in size to make it holdable, if not sensibly fireable, in one hand. It was said that the sensible way to employ one, should a tiger leap up your elephant toward the howdah in which you were standing, was to hand the giant double-barreled pistol to the tiger and allow him to fire it.
- Magnum Research, designers of the infamous Desert Eagle, also manufacture the "BFR." They claim this stands for "Biggest, Finest Revolver," but I think we all know what it really stands for.
- The Pfeifer Zeliska revolver: a gun chambered for the .600 Nitro Express, traditionally an elephant-gun round. It's not a production model, being hand-made indvidually; purchasing one will cost over $16,000 and the .600 Nitro Express rounds alone go for $40 each. (If you don't want that, it can also chamber the .460 Win. Mag. round.) It weighs 13 pounds unloaded and is over 21 inches long in total. Oddly, the sheer weight of the beast is in fact what makes it anywhere near practical as a weapon: the recoil of even a .600 round isn't enough to make something that massive fly around. Also, it's the gun in the page picture.
- There's also a .700 Nitro Express round, currently languishing unloved; it's only a matter of time before a handgun is designed around it.
- The Maadi-Griffin .50 pistol and the Thunder .50 pistol: handguns designed to use the .50 BMG cartridge, one of the most powerful rifle cartridges in current use (actually a heavy machine gun cartridge, "BMG" stands for "Browning Machine Gun"). For comparison, the muzzle energy of the .50 BMG round is typically around ten times that of the NATO 5.56mm round used in most modern assault rifles.
- Olympic Arms marketed a "pistol" that could fire NATO standard 5.56mm rounds; it bore a passing resemblance to the Mauser C96 and was basically an AR-15 receiver wedded to a short barrel and a pistol grip. In any realistic sense it was a carbine, however, since it fired a rifle round.
- Pretty much every specialized AR-15 manufacturer (and a few manufacturers that don't specialize in AR's) makes a similar weapon. Due to the National Fireams Act of 1934, certain firearm types such as "Silencer," "Machine Gun", "Short-Barreled Rifle," "Short-Barreled Shotgun," and "Any Other Weapon" need to be registered with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. AR-15's which are manufactured as "Pistols" (which do not require federal registration) are not subject to the same barrel length requirements as AR-15's which are manufactured as "Rifles" (which also do not require registration), but a pistol cannot have a stock or a vertical foregrip. AR-15 pistols are often purchased with the goal of being turned into an SBR (making an SBR would involve adding a stock, a relatively simple procedure on this weapon, potentially making it identical to the M4 Carbine or Close-Quarter Battle Receiver, aside from the lack of automatic fire). Turning them into an AOW by adding a vertical foregrip is less common because any rifle or SBR can legally have a vertical foregrip, and while it's only $5 to transfer instead of the usual $200, it still costs $200 to "manufacture."
- Because of the 1968 Gun Control Act, NFA-regulated items are not authorized for import into the United States. Therefore, any AKS-74U that is imported must not have automatic fire and the weapon must have its stock removed, so that it is imported as a pistol. NFA paperwork is sometimes done to restore the stock, however, no new machine gun registrations have been approved since 1986. However, because of other import restrictions (such as certain grip styles and magazine capacity requirements for non-US-manufactured receivers with below a certain number of US-made parts attached, this is not often done).
- Kel-Tec also makes a 5.56mm/.223 pistol called the PLR-16, which accepts AR-15 magazines, although it isn't designed around the AR-15, but rather Kel-Tec's own SU-16 rifle.
- The Nerf Brand Maverick chambers darts only slightly longer than the usual ammunition, but the gun itself is big enough to make Dirty Harry blush. That said, even standard Nerf darts are bigger than many pistol bullets.
- The Nerf Recon and Retaliator both are essentially hand cannons, just with detachable barrel extensions and stocks. The Dart Tag 2012 Speedload 6 is essentially a stockless oversized pistol chambered for rifle rounds in terms of size.
- The 2013 Elite MEGA series Magnus pistol uses the same darts as the 156cm-long Elite MEGA Centurion blaster. Yes, it is a sizeable handcannon that chambers anti-materiel rifle rounds. Yikes.
- The Thompson/Center Contender can fire shotgun shells or various full-power rifle rounds. In fact it's so much like a rifle that when outfitted with the optional stock and longer barrels that T/C sells it basically as a rifle.
- According to the law, it is a rifle or shotgun in those configurations, so don't add the former without the latter due to reasons indicated in the thing about AR-15 pistols.
- During an episode of his series Lock and Load, R. Lee Ermey showed why standard shooting positions are standard. While test firing a .44 Magnum, he was nearly knocked to the floor by the recoil. He then was shown saying he didn't want to shoot it again. This is the same person who had picked up and fired a crew served machine gun in his arms to prove it could be done. Hand cannon indeed.
- The current record-holder (according to the manufacturer) for most powerful production (see the Pfeifer Zeliska, above) hand-cannon is the Smith & Wesson Model 500, a 5-shot revolver with an 8-3/8" barrel (15 inches long in total) that weighs six pounds empty. In a demonstration on Spike TV's Manswers, the .357 Magnum blew a chunk out of a watermelon; the .44 Magnum took off the lower three-quarters; and the Model 500 exploded it. Due to a compensator on the barrel, however, its recoil is actually less than the .44 Magnum — though that's not saying much.
- A challenger appears: the RSh-12 (Revol'ver Shturmovoy, lit. Assault Revolver or Storm Revolver), a Russian monster revolver chambered for the equivalent of .50 Alaskan.
- The four-pound Colt Walker and Dragoon models were outrageously oversized to their smaller cousins brought into production a few years later.
- The popular story is that the Colt Walker and the later Dragoon were designed so that once ammo had been spent, the gun would still be useful to club people and horses while wielded one-handed (the other hand on your horse reins).
- The Le Mat percussion revolver, in addition to a nine-chambered cylinder and a regular barrel, has a central shotgun barrel, fired by a special pivoting striker, hence the name "Grapeshot Revolver". The largest ammunition it can use is .44 ball and one 16ga shot charge. As you can imagine, this is a very big pistol.
- Any LEGO handgun. The revolver, which is the smallest, is the size of a minifig's arm.
- The sawn-off Mosin-Nagant. As in, a powerful 7,62x54mm rifle cut down to pistol size.
- It was a favored weapon of the anti-Soviet peasant resistance during the 1920s-1930s. In this quality it was famous enough that post-fall of the Union, an ultra-compact bolt-action shotgun loosely based on the sawed-off Mosin design was marketed as "[Kolkhoz] Headman Killer" and got pretty popular.
- This 20mm (.79 caliber) Derringer. And a 30mm derringer is in planning according to the site. Since 20mm is considered to be the point where you start calling it an "autocannon" rather than a "machine gun"note , those literally are "hand cannons".
- The Taurus Judge, a 5-shot revolver that can load either .45 Colt rounds or .410 shotgun shells. However, it actually subverts this trope: a .410 shotgun shell can only hold a few buckshot pellets (or a lot of birdshot pellets, which don't do a whole lot unless you dump it point blank into someone's face), and the .410 slug isn't much more powerful than the standard .45 Colt revolver rounds. While films tend to portray it as a simple "handheld shotgun", it's more effective for shooting snakes or blasting carjackers.
- A later variant is the larger and longer Taurus Raging Judge, which can load the more powerful.454 Casull rounds as well as the .45 Colt and .410.
- Taurus also released a revolver called the Raging Bull, which comes in various large calibers up to .500 S&W Magnum (though this version has been discontinued). This model had a 10 inch barrel on it.
- There are a few images of a sawn-off M1 Garand floating around the internet.
- The RT-20 may be a rifle, but its name is short for Ručni Top 20, or Hand Cannon 20mm.
- The Mauser C96 is one of the most famous and successful semiautomatic pistols in history. It was a hand cannon, because the 7.63x25mm round it used was the highest velocity round so far until the .357 Magnum came along.
- In September 2011, a Brazilian drug dealer was caught with this, a homemade 12 gauge revolver. This is not the only time this has happened. Seriously, that last one is even MORE ridiculously big somehow...
- A German slang expression for a large handgun is ï¿½Zimmerflakï¿½ or indoor air defence cannon.
- The earliest hand cannon existed during the Yuan dynasty, making this Older Than Print.
- Pepperbox pistols are examples from the 1800's that were sold to civilians! They were designed for multiple shots, the earliest versions having matches leading to each barrel, and being a very early predecessor to the revolver. Although it's still intimidating looking down four barrels, their downside is they're impossible to aim. They're almost primarily used at point blank, like Derringer was infamously known for. Even more cannon-y was volley guns, which used multiple barrels and often shot them simultaneously.