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Do you feel lucky, punk? The magnum revolver’s reign as gaming’s favorite sidearm

Ahoy has posted a video history of the Magnum revolver, one of the most iconic handguns in film and games. From “the gun that won the West” to Dirty Harry’s weapon of choice, and now the favorite hand cannon for gamers looking to pack a punch anywhere from the wild west to distant worlds, the revolver is a classic design that has earned its reputation as one of the most deadly and reliable weapons in any arsenal.

Samuel Colt patented the first revolver in the 1830s, and his designs went on to dominate the western frontier and the Civil War. Magazine-loading handguns, with their larger capacity and faster reload times, eventually replaced revolvers as the standard design. They found new relevance when Smith and Wesson introduced the .357 magnum round in 1934. Magazine-loading firearms had trouble loading and ejecting larger, rimmed cartridges, so the reliable revolver became the favored delivery system for these new, more powerful slugs. Clint Eastwood made the gun famous with his .44 Magnum in the film Dirty Harry.

Like the AK-47, revolvers have stuck around despite the availability of more advanced guns, because of their simplicity and reliability. Greater accuracy or reload speed don’t mean much when your gun jams, so many people that rely on guns prefer to use one with the fewest points of failure possible. Both revolvers and AK-47s have shown up time and again to get the job done under the most adverse conditions.

In games, the Magnum revolver has become synonymous with raw power. In order to balance out the powerful punch packed by each round, Magnum ammo is often rarer or more expensive within games, the weapons require longer reload times than their automatic and semi-automatic peers and hold fewer rounds, meaning more time is spent vulnerable and reloading. Scopes are sometimes added to make sure those precious shots land.

The video makes an interesting point that Magnum revolvers are often just named by their ammo caliber and not the make or model. Starting with Dirty Harry’s .44 Magnum, the powerful ammo seems to be the most notable feature of the weapon. In games where there is often great specificity about the weapons’ manufacturer and model, Magnum revolvers still tend toward that anonymity.

Anyone who has spent time in first person shooters probably has strong associations with Magnum revolvers, like when your friend managed to snatch it from its corner of the map and run away with the Goldeneye match. What gaming memories do you have about the Magnum, punk?

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Will Fulton
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Will Fulton is a New York-based writer and theater-maker. In 2011 he co-founded mythic theater company AntiMatter Collective…
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