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Improperly Placed Firearms
aka: I Know That Gun
The practice of giving inappropriate firearms to characters or factions in a TV show or movie. They're generally inappropriate because they are either outdated, too modern for the setting, or because the group in question wouldn't have access to them (like Soviet soldiers wielding Uzis)

Needless to say, it isn't restricted to guns, but they are always the first and most notable victim. Which is strange, as it's generally a lot easier to get a few MP-40's than to arrange for a Tiger tank to show up in your production.

One reason this can happen (especially for things more expensive than guns) is that the "right" weapon may not be available, and an incorrect version easier to come by than it would be to make a replica. For example, Chinese AK clones commonly stand in for the real thing in American movies made during the Cold War. An extreme case would be armoured vehicles; there is only one WW2-vintage Tiger tank that still runs in the entire world and leasing a running mock-up from a private collection would be far more expensive than simply using some other tank and hoping the audience doesn't figure it out. This goes even more for ships; before modern CGI, movies were often forced to either use contemporary warships (even with a stratospheric budget, Pearl Harbor's Japanese carrier set was built on the deck of a modern carrier, made obvious by the visible steam catapult runs) or unconvincing models.

While guns are a fairly mature technology with most new designs being more ergonomic than mechanically different, some shows will push this and it gets unrealistic when a gun is still in use in an entirely different universe, 1,000,000,000 years from now, or 100 years before it was designed.

See also A.K.A.-47, Improbable Weapon Usage, Rare Guns, Selective Historical Armoury, Just Plane Wrong, Tanks, But No Tanks and Artistic License - Ships.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    General Examples 
  • The M1911 service pistol (usually the M1911A1 variant specifically), shows up in a lot of Science Fiction as the signature gun of characters who have access to VASTLY higher tech weapons. It's often justified by being much simpler and potentially more reliable than those other Science-Fictional weapons. (A reasonable extrapolation to make from the real world, where it's already over a hundred years old, pretty outdated in some ways, and yet still in common use.)
    • In the Honor Harrington novels, Honor notoriously carries one and puts it to great use. In the 40th century, when more contemporary weapons could easily tear apart a real-word tank. It turns out she's in the SCA, which by that time practice with gunpowder firearms the same way their modern counterparts practice archery.
    • In John Barnes' Timeline Wars, Mark Strang was previously a 20th century bodyguard with every reason to carry a 1911. He kept it when he got drafted into a time-travelling special forces outfit that gave him a gun which could tear appart modern tanks at six miles, with two thousand homing rounds it can synthesize from scrap metal. His stated reasons for keeping it are that the above-mentioned SHAKK looks like kind of like a chromed super-soaker, whereas the M1911A1 is much more obvious about what it does, and that he actually knows how to fix the semi-auto if he breaks it.
    • Here's the IMDFB page for the M1911 series.
  • A very common one is use of the wrong AK variant. Sometimes you see Soviet/ex-Soviet soldiers in a reasonably modern setting wielding AK-47s. In reality, they'd been mostly replaced in Soviet service by the AK-74 (which can be identified by a smaller, less-curved, orange-coloured magazine, as well as a large muzzle brake on the end of the barrel). Lord of War is an example. Recently, however, 7.62-mm AKs, either former mainstays of the AKM line, or more modern AK-10x series, made a resurgence, after combat experience in Afghanistan and Chechnya demonstrated that the lighter bullet of the AK-74 tends to ricochet at the slightest prodding, and is thus unsuitable in forested areas. Thus there can be some unexpected aversion, when a bumbling producer who just doesn't care accidentally gets things straight.
    • In reality, the AK-74 was just starting to make its way to the export market before The Great Politics Mess-Up. The vast majority of AK variants in the world are of the AKM variety or the Chinese Type 56 clone, both firing the original 7.62x39mm cartridge.
  • Misidentification of pistol caliber in live action TV/movies. Hollywood pretty much standardizes around the 9mm blank, so many firearms identified as .40S&W or .45ACP will often have a 9mm "stand in." With something like a Glock, which comes in several different calibres and variants that are only really differentiated by tiny letters on the slide identifying the caliber, it's barely even noticeable. With the M1911, a common stand-in has been the Spanish Star Model B, a visually similar 9mm pistol, especially in older movies made before 9mm chambered 1911s existed. Still, visually telling the difference between a 9mm and .45 barrel is very very tough, and made even more because we almost never look straight down them.
  • Substitution of a common firearm variant for a rare one. Machine pistols such as the Beretta 93R or the Glock 18 generally aren't sold outside of government agencies even if the armsmaster has a Class III permit; the usual solution is to drop a full-auto sear into the semiauto variant. In fairness it's not particularly hard to dress a Beretta up as a 93R, and the only obvious difference between semi and full auto Glocks is the ported barrel which you can only see from above and the small fire selector near the back of the slide, so most people aren't going to lose much sleep over doing this. The Joker's Glock in The Dark Knight is one notable example.
  • An interesting case occurs on the cover of Paratime by H. Beam Piper. The main character is shown holding a Steyr AUG assault rifle. This supposedly represents a bolt-action rifle which U.S. law-enforcement types in 1948 thought looked unusual and advanced ... but not extraordinary or science-fictional.
  • Some productions going for a British feel sometime use Armscor shotguns since these are marked with the British-sounding name of "Squires Bingham." Armscor/Squires Bingham is actually a Filipino manufacturer.note 
    • Speaking of British characters and guns, it is important to note that American AR-type rifles in the hands of British soldiers may not be an example of this trope given certain conditions. If the soldiers are members of the SAS or a few other special forces units that do carry both American made M16s/M4s and the Canadian versions, the C7s/C8s, then it is not an example of this trope. British Army and Territorial Army soldiers using them, however, would be an example of this trope.
  • Another weapon that frequently shows up in odd places and times is the FN P90. Its futuristic looks see it in the hands of plenty of far future armies, or weapons that are clearly based on the design, despite the weapon itself having been developed in the late 1980's. It also lands in the hands of an inordinate amount of terrorists and mercenaries, despite almost exclusive sales to special forces units, police SWAT-style units and presidential bodyguards.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Played straight and subverted in Angel Beats!. The characters use realistic guns, which operate as one would expect guns to, but they're supposed to be in high school. However, it turns out they're actually in a sort of Purgatory, and said weapons can be created and used, so long as the engineers who created them also knew how the thing worked. Which is hilariously subverted in episode 2 when they pull out a gigantic cannon to use against Angel, and the entire thing blows up in their face since none of them knew the mechanics of an artillery gun.
    • Note that mechanically that cannon is actually much simpler than many of the Rare Guns that appear in the hands of characters.
  • Cowboy Bebop is set in a future with space gates, large spaceships and advanced almost-sentient computers, yet every personal weapon seen is either very similar or exactly identical to present-day ones. Spike himself uses a Jericho 941. The anime tries to convey the idea that it's set in a somewhat realistic and retro future, so it makes sense that there are no blasters and that energy weapons are few and far between (though it's never explained how Spike got a plasma cannon on his Swordfish when even police fighters are restricted to machine guns). You'd think personal firearms would have evolved at least a little. Plenty of the main cast's weapons are out of date now. But then again, everything in Cowboy Bebop is retro.
    • It's worth noting that Spike's dated Jericho can fire in the vacuum of space. The pistol might be mundane, but the bullets are better than what you can buy today.note 
  • In Gankutsuou, which takes place in the 50th century, Danglars uses a gold-plated PPK/S, and Morcerf a gold-plated P08.
  • Code Geass is rather strange in this regard. Taking place in an alternate timeline, most of the firearms seen are fictional, but the few identifiable ones seem like very odd choices in the context of the series. The standard Britannian pistol appears to be a slightly modified Heckler & Koch USP .45 or Mark 23 pistol, while the service rifle looks like some kind of cross between a FAMAS and an FN P90. Considering that, in-universe, the EU and Britannia are mortal enemies, it makes very little sense for Britannian troops to be using German, French, and Belgian arms.
  • The ECOAS spec ops troops in Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn use FN P90s, despite the series taking place at least a century or two into the future.
  • Most of the guns in the Ghost in the Shell franchise are based on real-world weapons, some of which are outdated today (even though the series takes place circa 2030 A.D.) and are frequently Rare Guns as well. The FN P90 seems to be particularly popular with the creators, as half the guns in the franchise are at least partially based on it.
  • Noir both subverts this and plays it straight. Of the main characters, Mirielle uses a modern Walther P99, which subverts this. This trope is played straight with Kirika's Beretta Md. 1934. Instead of giving her the more widely available Walther PPK (which uses the same cartridge and is almost exactly the same size), the production staff deliberately gave her an out-of-production World War 2 vintage pistol because they didn't want to give her "the James Bond gun".
  • Gunslinger Girl is an heavy offender, with Marco's Steyr GB pistol, Henrietta's Walther WA 2000 sniper rifle and Triela's Winchester Model 1897 trench gun being quite improper for an assassination team sponsored by the Italian government (and most of them doubling as Rare Guns to boot). Henrietta's WA 2000 is the only one of those that's appropriate at all for an assassin, except that no assassin is likely to have access to them because they're all in private collections, while Triela's shotgun gets a pass on being a somewhat diffuse war residuate and a personal choice of hers (they have tried to make her switch to something else, but she refuses).
    • Subverted by Petra's SITES Spectre submachine gun: while a rare gun it's exactly the appropriate weapon, being actual Italian special forces hardware used to bring instant firepower at close range.
    • In another episode one of the girls' minders appeared to be carrying a Filipino Floro SMG, which is an odd choice given that it is only locally used in Real Life since attempts at foreign sales all failed.

    Film 
  • In the film Aliens:
    • Hicks carries as a backup an Ithaca 'Stakeout' shotgun, and the Marines' sidearm, the VP 70, is a real, unaltered weapon. The Sulaco's weapon racks are also filled with unaltered modern weapons; M16s, Colt Commando rifles, and Enfield L85s. Vasquez also uses a Smith & Wesson Model 39 pistol at one point.
    • Alan Dean Foster hangs a lampshade on the first of these in his novelization of Aliens, when one of the Marines asks Hicks if he got his pump-action shotgun from a museum.
    • Bear in mind that the gun props in Aliens look suitably futuristic enough that they actually avert this trope for anyone who's not a firearms expert. The M41A has become iconic in its own right.
  • The movie Pitch Black featured a shortened Armscor M30R6 12ga. shotgun dressed up a little to look futuristic. It either shot slugs or was treated as an energy weapon.
  • In Escape from New York the United States Police are armed with M16s with the handguards removed (which would burn the hands of the people using them).
  • In Rambo movies, you will notice many. Since part of Rambo 3 was filmed in Israel, the production had access to genuine Soviet hardware captured during the wars with the Soviet-backed neighbours while it was there.
    • Russian helicopters fitted with western weapons (such as the FN MAG machine guns) and even western helicopters with attachments to make them look like Russian choppers (and made them extremely difficult to fly).
    • ZSU-23 Shilka replica made using M113 chassis in Rambo 3.
    • AKMs, AKMSUs, or Chinese AK replica modified (such as adding the muzzle brake) to look like AK-74 and AKS-74s since Hollywood did not have access to those weapons at those times.
    • Sgt. Kourov uses an AKM mounted with a US-made M203 grenade launcher, instead of a Russian made grenade launcher for the same reasons above. Because the two weapons weren't made for each other, it was rather awkward to shoot the launcher, forcing the actors to sort of grip the magazine in an incredibly awkward fashion.
    • A fake SVD made from a Valmet with an SVD-style stock in the second movie. The SVD is quite rare in the United States even now, and at the time its look-alike the Romanian PSL hadn't been imported either.
    • M2 Browning heavy machine guns dressed up to look like Soviet heavy machine guns.
  • In the sci-fi movie Enemy Mine the human pilot is armed with a stainless steel Walther PPK.
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark
    • The main weapon of the German soldiers is the MP-40, despite the movie taking place in 1936. The MP-40 was the MP-38 slightly redesigned to be cheaper to manufacture, and the two are visually nearly identical, but still falls 2 years too short. Of course, as the Germans were collecting paranormal technology, they obviously must have gotten a hold of a short duration time-machine.
    • Something more jarring: Near the finale, Indiana Jones threatens the bad guys by aiming at them with a rocket launcher. The goof is that the rocket launcher is not of German manufacture, but actually a 1950s model of the Soviet RPG series, the RPG-2. A smaller, but still present issue is that the film takes place in the mid 1930s, even though no militaries at the time had developed rocket launchers yet. They only came about in the 1940s, as a more powerful successor to the anti-tank rifles used up until then.
    • Another, smaller goof, is that Indy is at one point seen with an Inglis Hi-Power, a Canadian variation of Browning's design that didn't begin production until 1944. Even having the original, like he does in the bar shootout,note  would have been a bit of a stretch, since it would have only been in production for a year at best at the time of the film.
  • Justified in Lifepod (the sci-fi remake of Alfred Hitchcock's Lifeboat) where one character is carrying a 20th century revolver because it will get through spaceport detectors that will pick up contemporary energy weapons.
  • A case of being a bit too accurate is in the movie adaptation of The Fourth Protocol, where the KGB agent played by Pierce Brosnan uses a Soviet Makarov pistol — as an 'illegal' carrying out an operation that must not be linked to his own country (setting off a nuke outside a US Air Force base to fake an accident) it's the last weapon he'd use.
  • Remo Williams had the hero being tracked as he ran through the woods by what was actually the High Power Illuminator Radar. It is the distinctive 'Mickey Mouse ears' system. This is a radar meant to 'spotlight' a target for the MIM-23 Hawk surface-to-air missile.
  • The film Zulu had a few examples:
    • While the production crew acquired plenty of period accurate Martini-Henry rifles, the production used up all of the available blank cartridges for its obsolete caliber. Thus, some extras wound up with anachronistic Lee-Enfield No. 4 Mk I bolt-action rifles instead.
    • Also, officers used Webley Mk VI revolvers in lieu of period-accurate (but difficult to procure) Beaumont-Adams revolvers.
  • The movie version of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen used several anachronistic guns with cosmetic changes. Dorian Gray used a gilded Luger P08, Captain Nemo used a Tokarev TT-33 pistol with ornate external decorations, his men have equally ornately-decorated Sten Mk II submachine guns, and the antagonist's mooks used Uzis, Thompsons, and AK-47s essentially encased in rectangular metal boxes.
    • They also used Mark V tanks, which were developed at the very end of World War I — in 1899!
  • In the film A Bridge Too Far, most of the American paratroopers (including their Colonel, played by Elliot Gould) are seen carrying the M1 carbine, rather than the modified M1A1 carbine (a smaller, easier to carry weapon with a folding wire-stock) that was specifically designed for and issued to American paratroopers. Many of the M1 carbines are also seen with the post-war modifications of a bayonet lug and/or adjustable ramp rear sight. The sergeant played by James Caan carries a carbine with both of these anachronistic modifications.
  • Hilariously in the film version of Bullet Proof Monk, the Nazi villain's Mooks use Uzis. The Uzi was created by an Israeli.
  • The James Bond movie Octopussy had a scene with Soviet border guards armed with Steyr AUGs.
  • In A Few Good Men, Kaffee notes that Lt. Colonel Markinson committed suicide with a .45, yet the scene depicting his death clearly shows him shooting himself with a Beretta.
  • Averted in Buffalo Soldiers in a nicely self-referential way. The plot revolves around how relatively easy it was to sell off large amounts of weapons stolen from US army bases in Germany. After the Cold War ended and US troops returned home, vast amounts of materiel were left behind. One member of the film crew owned 100 of the appropriate guns to lend the production. Where one character is given a particularly heavy gun to carry on exercises as a punishment, there was some difficulty in sourcing this gun.
  • Captain America: The First Avenger has the British agent Peggy Carter, whose weapon is a Walther PPK handgun. The movie is set during World War II, when the most famous users of this gun were the German police and the Nazi Party officials. It may be a voluntary anachronism, though, as it is mostly known today as one of the signature weapons of James Bond.
    • Somewhat justified by two facts. 1. The Walther PP (Polizei Pistole) was introduced in 1929, the PPK (Polizei Pistole Kriminal, i.e. "Detective's Pistol") followed it in 1931. Both were available commercially before the war, in both the UK and USA. 2. When the war started, one of the first things the British SOE and American OSS did was acquire as many German and European-made handguns, rifles, etc., as they could lay their hands on, with special emphasis on anything that was military or police issue in occupied territory. The reason being that arming their agents with the other guy's weapons made it easier for their agents to acquire ammunition, etc., and harder for the enemy to trace back to their agents if the gun needed to be used and then disposed of.
  • The second of Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes films features the Germans manufacturing or using several firearm models that are anachronistic for the film's early 1890s setting. Chief among them is the classic Mauser C96 pistol, which (while not referred to by name on-screen) wouldn't have been manufactured for at least a few years later (production stared in 1896). It is also incorrectly referred to as capable of fully automatic fire, while the real thing was only semi-automatic (in fact, one of the very first semi-automatic pistols). It would only receive full-auto variants during the interwar period, especially in China. Also, several of the artillery pieces seen in the film (especially the German mortar) would only come into existence a few years prior to World War One, at least more than a decade after the events of the film. However, the uniforms and Gewehr 88 rifles used by the German guards and soldiers are period accurate. A non-weapon goof that fits this trope is that the "German" steam locomotives in the film are actually of British manufacture and wouldn't have been around for another few decades.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Deadliest Warrior, in the IRA vs Taliban episode, the British soldiers shown fighting the IRA are clearly equipped with American M16s.
  • Star Trek: Voyager once featured the smallest of the Calico SMG variants as pistols (guess the 50-round magazine was just convenient).
    • There is a pistol version of the Calico actually: the 9mm M950 which can take a 50 or a 100 magazine. Due to their unique appearance Calico firearms have appeared in several sci-fi movies, including "I Come In Peace" (aka Dark Angel) and the parody Spaceballs.
    • The terrorists in that particular Voyager episode ("Time and Again") also used the Detonics Pocket 9. At least the producers went to the trouble of selecting weapons that looked different from regular firearms.
  • The Doctor Who story The Impossible Planet features the people on the base wielding P90s, a gun which would be several thousand years old at that point.note 
    • Utopia then takes it to a completely ridiculous extent. Guards are shown using Dragunov sniper rifles (a gun designed in the late '50s) in the year 100 trillion. For reference, the universe right now (in the real world) is allegedly 13.7 billion years old. This episode takes place over seven thousand times the age of the universe into the future (95.9 trillion), and they're still using a gun that is almost obsolete now!
      • On the other hand, Utopia does have a Just Before the End setting where it's implied that there's no longer the resources or population to keep high technology working.
    • The Doctor's Daughter features a Webley revolver in a futuristic clone-war. Yes, the favoured weapon of the original Brigadier. It also featured P90 gas-jet mock-ups, oddly enough. Couldn't they have just reused the G36s they had on hand?
    • UNIT, an elite military formation, is armed with bolt-action Lee-Enfield rifles which had been declared obselete in British service nearly twenty years beforehand; they also had WW2-era Vickers and Bren machine-gunsnote 
    • The soldiers in The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone also use P90s, although these have phony suppressors dummied on to increase their length. Interestingly, the suppressors resemble Dalek extermination beam projectors.
    • A well-known old school example is the prominent use of MAC-10s by future (or alien, it isn't clear) Private Military Contractors in "The Caves of Androzani", as well as the people on the Beacon in "Revenge of the Cybermen".
    • The episode "Cold War" has a Soviet submarine's crew using Browning Hi-Power pistols, which are most definitely not Russian and look nothing like the actual Soviet service pistol of the time, the Makarov PM.
  • The 1960s-era series Combat! (set in World War II) sometimes used what appeared to be M3 submachine guns (which were actually issued to US troops at the time) with some modifications in external appearance in place of Nazi MP-38s or MP-40s.
    • Similarly disguised Reising submachine guns were also used in some episodes. Like the M3, the Reising was also distributed to US troops in WW2, though in more limited numbers.
  • Airwolf:
    • The episode "Mad over Miami" features a bad guy holding something he claims is a new American heat-seeking missile launcher, which he uses (unsuccessfully) on Airwolf. It's very clearly an RPG - a Soviet rocket launcher with no heat-seeking capability.
    • In pilot movie, a HAWK missile is seen launching, to be identified by the heroes as a 'heat seeking missile' (the HAWK is a semi-active radar guided missile).
  • The Professionals:
    • In one episode, the Bulgarian secret service mooks at a prisoner exchange are holding StG-44s. This weapon was used in a few Warsaw Pact countries, but only as an interim substitute for the AK-47 and they were long gone by the 1970s.
    • The episode "Fall Girl" had the odd incidence of British Special Branch agents armed with Soviet TT-33 pistols.
  • Stargate SG-1 both commits and averts this trope, often even in the same scene. From season 4 onwards, the team's MP5 submachine guns (which ARE issued in the U.S. military) were replaced by the Belgian FN P90 personal defense weapon. The only American users of the P90 are the Secret Service and some U.S. law enforcement agencies. However, actual U.S. military weapons also appear in the show quite often: the Beretta M9 pistol, the M4A1 carbine, the M16 assault rifle, and the M249 SAW to name a few. Another straight play of the trope occurs much later in the series: when Cameron Mitchell joins the team, the SGC starts using the H&K G36 and MP7 PDW.
    • The Word of God is the 9mm round fired by the MP5 was simply not powerful enough to reliably penetrate Jaffa armor, resulting in a lot of ammunition expended for little purpose. SGC switched to the P90, along with assault rifles, specifically because the 5.7mm round has extremely good penetration against a variety of materials, making it more effective against Jaffa than the MP5. The real life reason for the switch was for safety. When an episode required the cast to stand side by side and firing weapons, the crew realized the hot spent casings from the M P5s would be flying into actors' faces. Since the P90 ejects spent casings downward, the switch was made to maintain the safety of the actors.
    • During the opening phases of the second Gulf War, it was necessary for the Stargate production crew to cut down on their use of the P90, with it only being carried by O'Neill, whilst Carter carried the 'Carter Special'. This was due to the fact that factories that would otherwise have produced the 5.7mm blanks were busy producing live rounds.
    • This trope is played glaringly straight almost any time the SGC runs into an offworld civilization that's using firearms. There is one episode where the other civilization was clearly using M1 Garands and AKs.
    • The use of (for example) the P90 by Stargate Command has some real-world plausibility, even though it's not standard U.S. military equipment. In real life, Special Operations Command can make use of RFI (Rapid Fielding Initiative) to bypass the usual slow-moving procurement system and buy whatever they need directly. SGC would be in a somewhat analogous position to SOCOM (i.e., a relatively small but well-financed and highly important element of the military), quite possibly with even more RFI freedom.
    • It's worth noting that although the Stargate program started out as a secret operation by the US military, throughout the series it became much more international in character. Russia was heavily involved from quite early on, a few other countries (the UK, China and France most prominently) had at least some involvement, and by the time of Stargate Atlantis (concurrent with series 8-10 of SG-1) it had become much more open. The main cast of Atlantis included a Canadian and a Scottish character, with only two out of six main characters actually being American (the other two being Human Aliens). So non-standard and non-American weapons may not be as out of place as they might seem.
  • There was an episode of Hogan's Heroes where an American M7 Priest (a self-propelled artillery piece from WWII), painted grey and given iron cross decals, stood in for a German AFV. They even use the Priest's gun to set off some dynamite they've wired to a bridge at one point.
    Carter: Well, I needed something to carry the dynamite in.
    Hogan: (indicates the tank's gun) That thing work?
    Carter: Yeah, and we're gonna need it, I couldn't find the detonator!
  • In most episodes of Rat Patrol, doctored up M3 Halftracks and M7 Priests (likely the same ones used on Hogan's Heroes) stood in for their Afrika Corps counterparts.
  • The Peacekeeper Pulse Rifle from the show Farscape bears a remarkable similarity to the Steyr ACR, sans magazine and wrapped in tin foil.
  • An in-universe example in an episode of Jake 2.0, where one of the clues that the guys holding him are not German Secret Service is that one of the guys has a Walther PPK. Being a Hollywood Nerd, he instantly recognizes James Bond's favorite gun. He's also an experienced NSA agent, so he knows that nobody uses these anymore. The other clues are constantly-dropped movie quotes ("Can you outsmart a bullet?") and a watch too expensive for a government agent. Turns out they were just hackers (American hackers) playing a prank on him (or rather, on the person they think is their leader).
  • The Steyr AUG seems to be the standard rifle aboard Red Dwarf. Given that most of the ship's crew members are American and British, it is rather odd seeing them using a type of bullpup rifle which their nations had so far never adopted en masse.
  • There are so many M3 Grease Guns and Stens captured by the People's Liberation Army in the Chinese civil war and the Korean War, it's hard to not film a war show in China without them. Cue dozens of anachronistic shows with M3s appearing before WWII. For really low budget shows, it is possible for a Type 56 AK to appear in Imperial Japan hands. It's also common for the Type 54 (a copy of Tokarev TT 33) or Type 64 (PPK) to stand in for other pistols.

    Video Games 
  • Metro 2033's unspecified type of a .44 Magnum revolver, to the point of becoming almost a Running Gag on the series' wiki. Not only is the type of bullet it uses only widespread in America, but revolvers nowadays aren't that widespread outside of the US. There hasn't been a .44 round manufactured in Russia for decades, and Metro 2033 is set in the ravaged remains of Moscow in an alternate near future. Guess the whole choice just runs on pure Rule of Cool.
  • In Grand Theft Auto III, FBI agents at the 5th wanted level strangely carry AK-47s, an odd weapon for American law enforcement to carry. In the other GTA3-era games, they carry the MP5, a more plausible weapon and one which acts in the game as a more logical "mid-power" weapon between the Uzi carried by the level-four SWAT teams and the M16s carried by the army at six stars, while the AK is carried only by criminals after GTA3.
  • Although Serious Sam, with a 22nd century protagonist, has a fully-automatic rocket launcher (still a dream) and a laser weapon (ditto), it also features archaic weaponry, including unlimited-reload Schofield revolvers, a manual-loading snap-open double-barreled shotgun, an unashamedly labeled Tommy Gun and a man-portable cannon (of the cannonball variety). All of which is hilariously out-of-place in places such as ancient Egypt and Babylon... But for very good reasons.
  • In Hidden & Dangerous 2 and its expansion pack you face Italian soldiers that wield German firearms and tanks. The Japanese feature about the same amount, but in their case the developers took the time to model appropriate weapons. There are also some Italian-model aircraft on the field, yet the pilots seen wear Luftwaffe uniforms.
  • The box art for Wolfenstein 3D depicts Nazis using M16s, that fire while falling through air, no less. The box art for its Spear of Destiny expansion features the hero smashing open the glass case of said spear with a Kalashnikov.
  • Return to Castle Wolfenstein has the female Nazi Elite Mooks all wielding British Sten guns. Whether this is acceptable is up for debate, since the Germans did make their own copies of the Sten near the end of the war.
  • In the demo version of Medal of Honor: Airborne Assault the player faces Italian blackshirts armed with German weapons like the Kar-98 and MP-40 in a small village in Sicily. In this same game, there's also an odd example of an inversion: The Airborne are missing the M1A1 Carbine (with folding stock), which was specifically designed for paratroopers. Oddly, the gun's holster is modeled.
  • Modern Warfare 2:
    • During the introductory assault course, the range master is seen brandishing a chrome-plated Desert Eagle before giving a two-tone one to the player character. Keep in mind these are US Army Rangers in Afghanistan: Desert Eagles are definitely not standard issue (nor do US Army Rangers use chrome-plated anything), and getting caught using an unapproved firearm can land you into serious trouble. Then again, the weapon boxes he opens before you run the Pit also contain a number of weapons that aren't standard-issue, and nobody ever complains if you drop one of your starting guns for one that someone had just been trying to kill you with (hell, Soap at one point later in the same game directly asks if you "see anything you like" in the Gulag's armory - one with maybe two guns of Russian manufacture, mind you). It seems that Task Force 141, at least, like many other special forces organizations, doesn't mind too much about the use of unorthodox equipment, though why the player as an Army Ranger can also take guns from enemies without consequence is purely for Rule of Fun.
    • What's funny to note about Modern Warfare 2 is that only one of the weapons the Russians use makes sense. This is the Dragunov SVD - and even then, it's still in its original, older wooden-furniture version, rather than the synthetic SVD-M that modern Russian forces actually use. The RPG-7 makes some sense, but even that is not the favored rocket launcher anymore, nor has it been for quite a while. Most of the other guns used by the game's Russian forces aren't even Russian - for example, the Israeli TAR-21, the French FAMAS, or the Austrian Steyr AUG. The other ones that are Russian, such as the RPD and AK-47, have been replaced in military use already. Still others, like the Amsel Striker, AA-12, and KRISS Vector, have not been put into production.
      • Then again, all these new weapons are possibly justifiable-by this point, Russia has a new government, so it's possible they decided to revamp their military arsenal.
    • There's also the G18, which is a modified Glock 17 standing in for the full-auto Glock 18. As mentioned at the top of the page, this is a common occurrence in films; why they would do that in a video game where they can model whatever gun they want (such as dual sawed-down Model 1887 shotguns being flip-cocked after every shot), is anybody's guessnote . Additionally, the Beretta 93R machine pistol is actually a 92SB with the skeleton stock and forward grip of a 93R added on.
  • Modern Warfare 3 adds a Russian belt-fed machine gun that's actually in use by modern Russian forces, but otherwise goes all-out with this trope: the new Russian sidearm is the never-produced MP412 REX, African militia favor a conceptual Peruvian assault rifle, and multiplayer allows the use of both a Chinese assault rifle and a Japanese machine pistol, despite neither the PLA nor the JSDF being present anywhere in the game.
  • Taken to an extreme in Call of Duty: Black Ops which features several anachronistic faults in regards to firearms shown in the game. The FN FAL in particular - commonly known as the "Right Arm of the Free World" for its use by many Western-aligned nations - is only used, of all people, by the Vietcong and Cuban soldiers in single player. To the developers' credit, the second example is slightly justified, since the specific model of the FAL seen in the game was part of a shipment of about 500 of these firearms, all delivered to the Cuban police. But other parts of the game return to playing this trope straight, since it's never explained why every other Soviet-aligned military present in the game uses the FAL as well. Also, the Soviet special forces seen in the 1968 Kowloon mission use the SPAS-12 shotgun a firearm model from Italy which was introduced in 1982. Bizarrely, the KS-23 pump-action shotgun also makes an appearance in Soviet hands during several other levels. While it is at least an actual Russian model, it was not designed until the 1970s. Somewhere, a firearms enthusiast is drinking themselves to death.
    • Though come to think of it, the plot's Framing Device does provide a possible justification.
    • Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 doesn't have nearly as many examples, partly since there are only four missions set during the Cold War like in the previous game, but it's still around if you look hard enough. A particular screamer comes in the second flashback level, set during the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan. It would have made all the sense in the world for the game to give some of those mid-80's Soviet troops the RPK-74, given that it was available in the previous game and 90% of the flashback arsenal is lifted directly from it - instead, they're given the old belt-fed RPD machine guns the RPK-74 replaced in the real world. Worse, that RPD model is lifted directly from Modern Warfare 2, complete with a Picatinny rail over the feed tray that shouldn't exist for another nine years at that point. The player also has the option of invoking this with the singleplayer version of Create-a-Class; nothing is preventing them from taking an 80's gun they like into the 2025 levels, for instance using an old M16 when the standard JSOC rifles seem to be the HK416 and a slightly dressed-up XM8.
  • The Battlefield series has been subject to this trope ever since its first installment. Examples:
    • The American and Russian Sniper and Engineer classes used British Lee-Enfield No. 3 rifles instead of Springfield M1903s or Mosin-Nagant rifles. A later patch replaced the American Engineer's No. 3 with the M1 Garand, but the Sniper still uses the Lee-Enfield.
    • The Russian and British Assault class used the Browning Automatic Rifle. A later patch replaced the Russian BAR with the DP-1928, and the SAS Assault in the Secret Weapons of WWII expansion got the Bren.
    • The Japanese Anti-Tank class has the German Panzerschreck. Their Medic and Sniper classes use the same weapons as their German counterparts.
    • The Russian army in Battlefield: Bad Company 2 uses two Russian assault rifles and a handgun alongside Chinese machine guns and sniper rifles and a Swedish RPG. What's even weirder is that the game features a wide assortment of much more sensible modern Russian firearms, but the majority of them are only usable in multiplayer.
  • Crysis has the "SCAR" as the default US assault rifle, except the game was produced before the SCAR trials were finished and the rifle shown in-game has elements of both Heckler & Koch's XM8 and Fabrique Nationale's proto-SCAR from the time.
  • While all the other guns in the original Unreal Tournament are futuristic enough, the game's sniper rifle is merely a long-barreled M16 with a scope attached to the carry handle. Lampshaded in the official site's timeline of the series, where the in-universe explanation for replacing it with the Lightning Gun in UT2003 was that it was "a relic of centuries past".
  • In Halo, set about five hundred or so years in the future, the UNSC apparently still uses twentieth-century South African 14.5mm anti-materiel rifles (albeit converted to semiautomatic fire and with the magazine in the bottom rather than the side of the rifle).
    • To be fair, Africa does seem to have become a major world power in Halo (at least until the Elites glass the continent to stop the Flood in Halo 3).
  • The Grease Gun shows up in the non-WWII game Soldier of Fortune 2, in which it serves as the main "assault rifle"... of the Czechoslovakian army.
  • Some Fallout series examples :
    • In Fallout, the standard caliber seems to be 10mm for pistols and submachine guns. Also, Desert Eagles are plentiful as well. Something that all Fallout games feature are man-portable miniguns.
    • Fallout 2 introduces Tommy Guns (using 50-round drum magazines) and Grease Guns as the only .45 caliber weapons. It also has town guards carrying as standard issue the rare G11 caseless weapons, Pancor Jackhammer shotguns, and CAWS shotguns.
    • Fallout Tactics has the Chauchat machine gun from World War 1 as a joke weapon, even though it was manufactured in France. It was also notoriously unreliable - it will not fire in the game.
    • Fallout 3 introduces the "Chinese Assault Rifle", which is an AK-47 clone. This may be justified as Chinese infiltrators invading the continental United States during the war (it's confirmed that they were pushing into Alaska).
    • Fallout: New Vegas adds a lot of old western lever-action weapons to the mix, but they justify adding the Colt M1911 (though never mentioned by name) with the Honest Hearts DLC, by including it as the weapon of choice of the New Caananites.note  On the other hand  Other DLC also introduces three more man-portable miniguns, which for some reason fire pistol rounds (in .357 and .44 caliber in Old World Blues, plus a 10mm one in Lonesome Road).

    Western Animation 
  • Seth MacFarlane shows technically fall into this with pistols: All are drawn as the exact same model, but are identified as what the character in question would logically be using. For example, in Family Guy, all pistols appear as M1911's, but in one episode, Stewie identifies one held by an Army recruiter as an M9.

    Real Life 
  • Andy Rooney (who was a correspondent during WWII) once told the story of a platoon of American soldiers who came across a German weapons cache. Either out of curiosity or necessity, they equipped themselves with the best guns the Third Reich had to offer. To paraphrase: "A U.S. mortar team, hearing the familiar sound of German firearms to their flank, dropped round after round on that position until the firing stopped..."
    • In Generation Kill, Captain America is chewed out by his very annoyed Sergeant for this very reason.
    • This was why the US discouraged its soldiers from taking AK-47s in Vietnam. They are the preferred weapon of the enemy, which make a distinctive sound when fired. However, at the time US riflemen were equipped with an early model of the M16 which was notorious for design faults and a tendency to jam at inappropriate moments (discussed in detail elsewhere on the wiki), no matter how well looked after. The AK-47, by contrast, was and still is famed for its durability and reliability, so it boiled down to a choice between being unable to shoot anyone or being shot at by everyone.
    • For the same distinctive sound, Special Forces teams used them instead of the M16. Any enemy hearing a shot simply heard a fellow soldier shooting enemies.
    • Similarly, there was at least one American unit in World War 2 that got itself trapped behind German lines and ran low on supplies. They ended up having to hunt venison using captured German rifles to avoid alerting enemies to their presence. On the other side, German soldiers loved to use Allied semi-auto rifles (the M1 Carbine was particularly well-liked for its light weight, low recoil and high magazine capacity compared to anything else available at the time; the SVT-40, meanwhile, served as the inspiration for their own later Gewehr 43) and Russian submachine guns whenever they had the chance to do so, giving the PPSh-41 a unique designation (MP717(r)) and even making a 9mm version of it.
      • There are numerous photos from the Eastern Front showing German troops with Russian Tokarev and Simonov semi-automatic rifles in 1941-43, in addition to the PPSh-41 submachine guns. During the opening phases of Operation Barbarossa, they captured so much Soviet materiel' that it just made sense to use the weapons and ammunition. In addition, inter-service rivalry between the Wehrmacht (the regular army, which controlled the weapons procurement process) and the Waffen-SS meant that early in the war, the Waffen-SS relied heavily on captured foreign weapons.
      • Two fun facts on the ammo score; first, the Russian SMGs that used 7.62x25mm Tokarev easily fit into the German logistics train because it was an enhanced version of the 7.63x25mm Mauser round, which the Germans had lots of. And second, the reasons the British Sten Gun was chambered for 9mm Parabellum, the German issue round, were first of all that no comparable self-loading pistol round was made in England (SMGs don't work too well with rimmed revolver cartridges), and second, when the Italian forces in North Africa surrendered to the British 8th Army in 1941 (before the Afrika Korps arrived), part of the booty was several million rounds of Italian-made 9mm Para ammunition; their Beretta SMGs also used it.
      • Similarly convenient for the Germans was that many of the nations they conquered in first years of the war used variants of the Mauser bolt-action rifle, which not only fired the same 7.92x57mm round as the German K98k but were similar in size and even had bolts that were interchangeable with the K98k. Likewise, Poland and Czechoslovakia used light and heavy machine guns chambered in 7.92x57mm, allowing the Germans to press all those weapons into service without any logistical problems.
    • It's not unusual for regular Army units to get some familiarization training with common enemy weapons, as well as those used by allied nations; British soldiers get to run a couple of magazines through an M16A4, for example. Doing this when it's not absolutely necessary (i.e. you've run out of ammunition or your weapon is damaged beyond repair) is nevertheless depreciated.
    • During World War I, the Royal Italian Army dealt with its perpetual machine gun shortage (caused by idiotic political decisions) by using whatever could fire in a burst they could get their hands on. Meaning that, aside for weapons produced locally or bought from allies or the US, Italian troops relied on Austro-Hungarian machine guns (more reliable than the standard FIAT machine gun of the Italians, put into production over a better and cheaper model due to bribery) and older gunpowder multi-barreled rapid-fire weapons, ranging from sensibly-sized weapons like the Nordenfelt gun to the 1-inch Nordenfelt gun (for naval use against torpedo boats) and the QF 3-pounder Hotchkiss (another naval weapon).
  • There are more firearms in China that are not classically Communist-ish than other "red" countries.
    • The Chinese army used Austrian SSG 69 sniper rifles in the China-Vietnam war of 1979, imported through third-party countries. Today, the SPC (Special Police Commando) and PLA Special Force units use its descendant, the SSG 3000, and American Remington M700 rifles for hostage rescue and patrol missions.
    • The most common machine gun in China, the Type 67 is an upgraded WWII-era DPM, itself an upgrade of the DP28.
    • Licensed copies of Czech, Polish and Israeli SMGs are produced and used in small scale by the Chinese Armed Police Forces.
    • The SPC in Chungqing used CQA assult rifles and NR08 SMGs in the past decade, the former is a semi-licensed AR-15 copy and the latter is an MP5 copy.
  • With genuine enemy equipment often hard to come by, training units that simulate enemy forces often use friendly vehicles and aircraft painted - and sometimes structurally modified - to look like those of enemy forces.
    • During WWII the Russians trained dogs to run under tanks, the plan being to strap them with bombs and unleash them on the advancing Germans. They lacked actual German tanks to train with, however. When released in the field, the dogs performed exactly as trained and went under their own tanks. This was compounded by the fact that Soviet tanks had diesel engines, whereas their German counterparts ran on petrol; the differences in scent were likely to have confused the dogs, and they sought out the more-familiar smelling tanks.

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