Right-Handed Left-Handed Guns

Top - This trope in full effect. Bottom - How guns are really designed
A trope starting to crop up in videogames, in which a firearm is clearly not designed to be used in the hand it's being held in; since almost all FPS protagonists are right handed, this has them holding left-handed guns. Or when wielding Guns Akimbo, a left-handed gun in the right hand and right-handed gun in the left.

In a real right handed gun, the ejection port almost always ejects spent casings to the right, away from the shooter. There's a good reason for this; spent casings are typically extremely hot and can be ejected with significant force; although many conventional service weapons like the AR-15/M16 family are designed for ambidextrous operation without need of conversion, using some weapons in the "wrong" hand is potentially dangerous. This is especially true of bullpup weapons. The Austrian Steyr AUG and French FAMAS require conversion for left-hand operation, while the British Army simply trains everyone to use the SA-80/L-85 and its derivatives right-handed, period. The FN F2000 uses a forward-ejection system for ambi use, but is prohibitively expensive and has some functioning issues, while the P90 SMG ejects downward and is generally well-liked.

Sometimes the gun won't simply be reversed; the controls present on the left (to allow the user to operate them with their thumb; safeties, fire selectors, etc) will still be present, as well as all the stuff from the right.

Several game companies have spoken out as to why this is reversed in videogames; mainly, it's for the Gun Porn effect. The left side of a right-handed gun is typically fairly flat and less visually interesting than the various moving parts, levers and controls found on the right; in addition, there's an opinion that ejecting brass across the screen rather than off to the side is more "dynamic." The only guns that tend to escape this treatment are belt-fed machine guns, since the belt is interesting to look at and makes for a nicely in-depth reload that would be harder to see with the weapon reversed (machine guns that feed from the right, as such, tend to be reversed even in games where this trope is otherwise not used), and revolvers, since a typical revolver's cylinder already swings out to the left for reloading and they don't have an ejection port. Any game using this trope is also likely to have a lot of superfluous yanking of the charging handle during reloads, because, well, it's right there after all.

Another explanation for this trope that has been offered by gamers and game makers is that, in cases where a gun in a game is based on a gun in real life but that the developer has not officially licensed, mirroring the gun gives enough distance from its real world counterpart to be able to dissuade possible legal action for copyright infringement.


Video Games
  • Counter-Strike may have started this trope. The modeler for the game was apparently left-handed and wanted to play the game like that. So he created realistically-modeled guns being used left-handed. However, since playing with a left-handed gun is confusing for most of the right-handed world, they added an option for a right-handed model. Of course, to save time and resources, they simply mirrored the left-handed gun models. Every other CS-like Game Mod for late-90's shooters has the same issue; either a bizarre and in-depth case of Follow the Leader, or proof that the Counter-Strike modeler was the only person in the world at the time who modeled weapons for game mods.
    • The German-exclusive weapons in Left 4 Dead 2 also have this issue, the weapons being pretty much directly ported from Counter-Strike: Source.
    • Global Offensive is finally going away from this - the weapons are now modeled correctly for right-handed use. Part of this can probably be thanked on the game reusing modified models of some L4D2 weapons, which were already correctly modeled for right-handed use.
  • All S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games do this, despite their otherwise sensible FPS realism. This includes using left-handed SA80's and OTs-14 "Grozas" without explaining how the player avoids breaking his jaw with the moving bolt handle. Then again, it's also not explained why the Enfield's being fired with the barrel cover still on. Only one mod for one game attempts to marginally fix the issue by making the cartridges fly off to the right... except that, given that the weapons' worldmodels are reversed, there's no ejection port on the right side of most of the guns.
    • Newer mods have addressed this complete overhauls of the in-game weapons. Many players are still willing to overlook this issue in favor of the series otherwise immersive world and excellent (not counting the bugs) gameplay.
  • The PlayStation 2 and Xbox game Black also does this, mostly in the name of Gun Porn. The weapons are also embellished rather heavily to play up the gun porn angle even more (the Uzi, for example, has an RIS rail immobilizing the charging handle on top and another charging handle added to the side).
  • Duke Nukem 3D is one of the earliest offenders. In a USENET post, the developers admitted that a right-handed Duke wielding guns with left-side ejection ports wasn't very realistic. Gratuitous spent brass flying across the player's field-of-view was just that cool. Duke Nukem Forever avoids this for its new pistol, but keeps it for the returning shotgun.
  • Averted, interestingly, in the grand-daddy of all modern FPS games, Doom: the marine in that game is actually left handed.
  • Far Cry 2 goes to a ridiculous extent with this, doing it even when it results in a horribly awkward animation (your right-handed character using a Springfield with a lefty bolt, despite his thumb being painfully in the way of the bolt's travel and never moving) or really wouldn't matter (the upward-ejecting Desert Eagle has the barrel lock swapped, the downward-ejecting Ithaca 37 has a left-sided ejection port added on). Even the PKM which already ejects to the left is mirrored, this time so the belt is more visible.
  • Zigzagged in the Battlefield: Bad Company series. Some weapons are modeled properly, while some are modeled weirdly - such as an HK416 with both the fire selector and the ejection port on the left side of the receiver.
    • Battlefield 1942 and Vietnam had every gun modeled as left-handed; this practice stopped from 2 and onwards, save for the Bad Company spinoffs.
  • Postal 2 has a similar, strange example. When you find a shotgun or sniper rifle on the ground, they will have a right-handed ejection port and bolt, but then once you pick it up and use it, the port/bolt is suddenly reversed.
  • Strangely inverted with the Modern Warfare games - some guns have NO ejection port at all on their models, usually because they're on the right side of the gun, and even when aiming down the sight you wouldn't see that side of the gun anyway. By Modern Warfare 3 they've gotten blatant enough about it that even guns that should have something clearly visible on both sides of the gun when aiming, like the Desert Eagle's obviously-projecting safety levers, will only be modeled on the left side.
    • The top-tier shotgun in Call of Duty: Black Ops is the High Standard Model 10 (HS-10). Its only attachment is Akimbo, ignoring the notice on the weapon that explicitly states "Do Not Fire From Left Shoulder."
    • Akimbo in Modern Warfare 2, at least for the USP, results in a combination of correct and incorrect models - the right-hand gun is modeled as it should be (or close enough, given the above), while the left-hand one is, to save on resources, just a reversed copy of the right one. Other dual-wieldable guns tend to avert this, however; submachine guns in general likely do because they have folding stocks that would make it incredibly obvious if the model was reversed.
    • The PKP in Modern Warfare 3 is reversed, presumably to make the belt more visible like with the other machine guns. Similarly, the Saiga 12 in Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 and the AWM in Call of Duty: Ghosts have left-sided ejection ports (the latter combined with a right-handed bolt handle anyway, just to anger gun enthusiasts further).
  • Done terribly in the MMO Fallen Earth. The bolt handles are usually on the left, yet your character still uses their right hand to eject spent shells from rifles.
  • The Marathon trilogy contains examples of this trope played straight, and being intentionally averted: right-handed sidearms (like the standard issue magnum automatic) will have correctly displayed right-handed actions and ejection ports, but when you pick up a second from a fallen (right-handed) comrade, it will suddenly be left-handed. This effect is caused by the guns-in-hand graphics and animations being flipped on the X axis for dual wielding, instead of adding a memory-hogging second graphic set.
    • The Unreal Tournament 2004 mod Ballistic Weapons, which handles Guns Akimbo much the same as Marathon, does this as well - weapons are for the most part modeled correctly for right-handed use, but any dual-wield-capable gun will have its model mirrored when in the player's left hand.
    • Unreal Tournament III justifies this for its returning, dual-wieldable Enforcer pistol, which is clearly designed with the ability to load its magazines from either side.
  • Halo: Reach's DMR ejects spent cases to the right, but the charging handle is on the left and visibly slides back and forth with each shot, putting the user's face in danger if he should ever look down the sight when firing.
    • In a neat aversion, your Spartan can unlock a piece of armor which makes your left arm robotic and switches your use to that arm.
  • Perfect Dark does this like a combination of the earlier Marathon and the later Battlefield: Bad Company - some weapons are modeled correctly for right-handed use, while others would fit better for left-handed users. Grab a second one, and that one's model will merely be a flipped copy of the first one. Perfect Dark Zero avoids giving right-handed people left-handed guns for the most part (exactly one rifle has a left-sided ejection port), but continues flipping the model for one-handed guns used akimbo.
  • Blood generally mirrors a gun's sprite/model for Guns Akimbo. The exception is the Sawed-Off Shotgun of Blood II, which has your character hold the second one with a second right hand where their left hand should be. The Extra Crispy Game Mod fixes this.
  • Zig-zagged in PlanetSide 2. There is little rhythm or reason to the placement of mechanisms on guns. Almost every TR weapon ejects to the right or downward, but the placement of the charging handle is seemingly random - the Mini Chaingun fires caseless ammo and has the bolt on the left, the CARV LMG both ejects and bolts on the right, and the TRAP-M1 loads from the right, ejects left and bolts backwards, which would have a good chance of whacking the shooter in the chin when aiming down the sights. Every gun's fire selector is animated on the left even when the gun has no visible selector switch; the T4 AMP has the user flick the grip when switching from semi to fully automatic.

  • This promotional poster shows Captain Jack Sparrow dual-wielding a pair of flintlock pistols, one left-handed and one right-handed. Similar to cartridge ejection, the side the mechanism is on ejects a plume of smoke and sparks. Bearing that in mind, closer inspection shows he is holding them in the wrong hands - i.e. the left-handed gun in his right hand and vice versa.
  • In Saving Private Ryan, the left-handed sniper Jackson uses a right-handed M1903A6 rifle—appropriate for the period, as left-handed weapons in 1944 were only made by custom gunsmiths, and government procurement didn't (and still doesn't) bother with such things. While most left-handed shooters (including those who are actually right-handed and shoot lefty due to eye dominance) would still cycle the bolt with their right hand (after moving their left thumb out of the way), Jackson awkwardly flips his weapon sideways to cycle the bolt with his left. Apparently Barry Pepper is just that much of a lefty, despite him using his sidearm right-handed at other points in the movie.
  • In Romancing the Stone, the right-handed Jack Colton uses a left-handed Remington 870 Wingmaster shotgun for some reason.

Live-Action TV
  • One of the reasons Stargate SG-1 switched its main weapon from the MP5 to the P90 was because the latter weapon ejects spent cartridges straight down, making it safer to have the actors standing next to each other while firing.
  • One episode of Spooks has Tom, while undercover with a British infantry unit, stops a private from firing his SA80 assault rifle left-handed because the bolt would have flown back and possibly broken the private's orbital bone. This leads the colonel Tom's investigating to go into an angry rant about the rifle's shortcomings and the government inefficiency that led to its development.
    • The SA-80/L-85 cannot be operated left-handed, therefore everybody in the British Army shoots right-handed, no matter what. This is a common complaint against this rifle, even if the L-85A2 model fixed most of the many reliability problems.

Real Life
  • The loading gate on a Colt Single Action Army revolver is on the right-hand side; a right-handed shooter has to transfer the gun to his/her left hand to reload in a non-awkward fashion. By the way - Samuel Colt was left-handed.
    • Pistols were originally meant to be used by officers and mounted units as a secondary weapon to their swords. Revolvers were worn in a cross draw holster high on the right hip for easy access from a saddle; they were historically used by cavalry far more often than by infantry (and even nowadays, plenty of soldiers will tell you that, ounce for ounce, a couple extra grenades beats a pistol any day of the week). The SAA was originally intended for use by cavalry, and the .45 Long Colt cartridge, much like the massive Colt Walker, was intended to be powerful enough to bring down either man or horse with one shot.
      • In 1914, French officers were still expected to use their sidearm in conjunction with a sword. As a result, their standard-issue pistol in WWI was a revolver whose cylinder swings out to the right, for use in the left hand.
  • The German Walther P38/P1 9mm automatic pistol, the standard service sidearm of the German Army during World War II and the West German Bundeswehr from 1958 to about 2004, is unusual in having its extractor and ejector both on the left side of the breech; most autopistols have the extractor on the right side (including every other pistol Walther has ever made). As a result, the P38/P1 invariably ejects its "empties" straight out to the left, or up and to the left, the opposite of pretty much every other pistol in the world. No one at Walther has ever been able to adequately explain why this one pistol was built this way.
  • There are some guns that by extension, avert this trope due to their design.
    • Ease of changing parts: The Steyr AUG for example, requires a quick change of the bolt and moving the ejection port cover to the other side; the weapon is issued with a spare bolt with the extractor and ejector on the opposite side for this purpose. In a reversal, however, the "AUG NATO" version, which is compatible with STANAG magazines, can only be used right-handed.
    • Direction neutral design: The P90 feeds from the top and ejects rounds downward. The F2000 ejects rounds forward before they go out to the right, making the problem moot. The Ithaca model 37 shotgun has a unique combined loading and ejection port, which ejects spent shells downwards. The Browning M2 can be set up to load ammo belts from either side, since it's designed to be used in several different mountings, including side by side and quad-mount (like Charlie's sled), which require flexible feeding and ejecting mechanisms.
    • While not direction neutral, lever-action rifles and pump-action firearms tend to at least be control neutral, since the loading mechanism is located under the receiver rather than on either side, most are comfortable for both right and left-hand shooters.
      • An almost direction-neutral design is the World War II Bren light machine gun. It feeds from the top and ejects rounds downwards, but the sights are necessarily offset to the left, as otherwise the magazine would block them. The forward grip, likewise, is also offset to the left.
      • The Desert Eagle is another example. The slide-lock lever and magazine release are, as typical, on the left, but it's otherwise as direction-neutral as possible, with safety levers on both sides of the slide and ejecting its spent cases upwards.
    • The German army G36 standard assault rifle is designed to be used by both right- and left-handed soldiers. The ejector is on the right side of the weapon, but a good distance away from the optics, so that a left-handed shooter won't be hit in the face by the casings. It also has a symmetric grip, the safety-selector switch on both sides of the grip, and a unique charging handle that can be quickly grabbed and pulled from either side, so that it can easily be operated from the left hand. It is, however, more difficult for a left-handed soldier to carry the rifle, as it misses a hole for the carrying belt on the right side of the weapon, but this is mainly to avoid interference of the belt with the ejector. The XM8 and MP7, both based on the G36's action, are much the same, the latter also adding a bolt release button inside the trigger guard to be hit with the trigger finger, rather than the left-mounted bolt release on the M4 and M16 it was attempting to replace.
    • In US Navy use, earlier models of the Heckler & Koch MP5 were often modified with a "Navy trigger group", which added a second selector switch to the right-hand side of the grip. Later MP5 models and the UMP have ambidextrous fire controls straight out of the factory.
    • While most pistols eject empty casings to the right, some, like the H&K USP and Walther P99, are designed with ambidextrous magazine release levers and buttons which allow users to quickly remove the magazine with either hand, at the cost of being slightly awkward for first-time users; the USP also comes in nine different variants with safety lever, decocking lever, both, or neither, with the eight that include them split evenly between left-side for right handed shooters and right-side for left handed. Others, like the latest revisions of the Beretta 92 and the Glock series, have reversible release buttons for left-handed shooters. Still others use heel-mounted release levers, popular pretty much everywhere except America, which are also easy to use with either hand.
  • The Stoner 63 zig-zagged this trope, depending on its configuration. Eugene Stoner (who also designed the AR-15) envisioned a "system weapon," or in modern parlance, a modular weapon. The Stoner 63 rifle could be reconfigured into a carbine, squad automatic weapon, or light machine gun by swapping and or rearranging a few parts. The rifle fed from a detachable box magazine under the receiver and ejected to the right. The carbine was simply the rifle with a shorter barrel group and folding stock. For the SAW configuration, you installed a heavy barrel group with integral bipod and flipped the receiver side-down, feeding the magazine from the top and ejecting to the left. The LMG setup took the SAW configuration and replaced the mag well with a belt-feed mechanism that fed from the right and ejected to the left. All of these conversions could be performed in the field without tools in a matter of minutes. The Stoner 63 was field-tested in Vietnam to great reviews, but was not adopted because the M16 was cheaper and already in mass production. The Navy SEA Ls especially liked it as an LMG and held on to them long enough to use them in Grenada.
  • Fire a flintlock musket on the left hand side and you'll find a quite large amount of gunpowder explode in the pan centimetres from your eyeball.
  • AK series weapons have an ejection port on the right side that is far enough away from the shooter so that you can shoot it lefty. Whilst all the controls are on the right, they are all simple enough to operate them with either the support hand or firing hand with ease from either side, no matter the handedness of the operator.
  • The Diemaco C7 rifle (a Canadian copy of the M16), among other improvements, added a brass deflector behind the ejection port, which (at least in theory) prevents casings from hitting the shooter if they fire the weapon left-handed, as well as an ambidextrous safety/selector switch. The brass deflector was later worked into the M16A2 and later variants.
  • For years, Remington has been making left-handed bolt-action guns, and Model 870 shotguns.
  • The M1 Garand and Short Magazine Lee-Enfield from World War II both had sniper mods featuring scopes that were mounted to the left of the receiver, rather than above like most other scoped weapons, so as not to block the insertion (or, in the case of the Garand, ejection) of their clips when the user needed to reload. The improved Lee-Enfield No.4's sniper mod, the No.4 (T), averted this, using a 90-degree bent mount that fits to the left side of the receiver but still places the optic on the weapon's centerline.
  • Truth In Video Games for at least a couple of shooters. The USMC, for instance, has noticed that snipers using bolt-action rifles with the "wrong" bolt for their handedness (i.e. right-handed shooter using a lefty bolt) can cycle and refire the weapon faster than a sniper using the "correct" bolt for their handedness. The biggest reason for this is that the shooter can use their support hand to work the bolt rather than their firing hand. This gives a big benefit - the shooter doesn't have to break their grip with their firing hand, meaning they don't have to waste time ensuring their rifle is still on-target after a shot (especially since with any kind of precision supported shooting, such as with a bipod or sandbag, you don't need to support the weapon with your off hand). This has actually become a part of modern tactical shooting, from using the left hand to charge an M4, to reversible or ambidextrous charging handles on rifles like the SCAR and the above-mentioned G36.
  • The Chinese QBB-95, a light machine gun variant of the QBZ-95, is designed to use 75-round drum magazines rather than belted ammo. Since using a drum mag on a bullpup would be incredibly awkward to hold and fire, the drums are a proprietary design where the open end of the magazine is offset to the right, so the actual drum is closer to the chest area and not in the way of the shooter's arm. Of course, this would mean it would be even more awkward than normal for a left-handed shooter to use (and it hasn't stopped the gun from appearing in Counter-Strike Online, either).

Alternative Title(s):

Left Handed Right Handed Guns