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Aliens (1986)

Aliens is the 1986 sequel to Alien. The now classic science fiction film was only the third feature directed by James Cameron (following Piranha and The Terminator). Sigourney Weaver returns as Ripley, who travels with a platoon of US Colonial Marines to investigate a loss of contact with the colony established on the same planet discovered by the crew of the Nostromo in the original film. For Aliens, the majority of the weapons seen in the sequel were actual firearms visually modified for the production.

The following weapons were used in the film Aliens:



Colonial Marine Weapons

M41A Pulse Rifle

The Marines of the USCMC (United States Colonial Marine Corps) famously carry the M41A Pulse Rifle as their standard issue weapon. In the film, the weapon is described as a futuristic assault rifle with a magazine capacity of 99 rounds of 10mm caseless armor-piercing ammunition with a pump action 30mm grenade launcher mounted underneath the barrel. The pulse rifle was constructed from an M1A1 Thompson submachine gun fitted with a cut-down Remington 870 shotgun underneath with the heat shield and foregrip of a Franchi SPAS-12 covering it. At the end of the film, Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) fastens one of these rifles to an M240 Flamethrower in her attempt to rescue Newt (Carrie Henn).

M41A Pulse Rifle
Private R. Frost (Ricco Ross) loads an M41A Pulse Rifle.
Corporal Dwayne Hicks (Michael Biehn) instructs Ripley on how to use an M41A Pulse Rifle.
Ripley holds an M41A Pulse Rifle for the first time.
Hicks fires his M41A Pulse Rifle before retreating back.
Pvt. Hudson (Bill Paxton) before letting loose with his M41A Pulse Rifle. Hudson also lets loose a record number of f-bombs as well.
Vasquez (Jenette Goldstein) fires the M41A Pulse Rifle. Note the shells ejecting despite the fact the rifle was supposed to fire caseless ammunition. Also note how Vasquez is keeping her eyes open in spite of the low-light conditions and the high muzzle flash.
Ripley prepares to enter the fray with the pulse rifle and flamethrower together.
A closeup of Ripley's pulse rifle and flamethrower.
A closeup of the 30mm pump action grenade launcher.


Armorer Simon Atherton displays the M41A in a behind the scenes clip.
A closeup of the modified Remington.
Simon Atherton shows off one of the grenades used in the launcher, which is just a 12 gauge snap cap with various cuts and a button on top so it can be detonated by hand also.

M56 Smart Gun

Both PFC J. Vasquez (Jenette Goldstein), and Private M. Drake (Mark Rolston) use M56 Smart Guns. These were made from German MG42 machine guns. The body-mounting apparatus was made from Steadicam "arms", with other miscellaneous parts coming from various motorcycles, most notably the handlebars used for the weapon's grips.

A close up of Vasquez's M56 Smart Gun. Note 'Adios' on receiver.
Vasquez and Drake show off their smartguns.
PFC J. Vasquez (Jenette Goldstein) wielding an M56 Smart Gun as the Marines investigate the base.
Private M. Drake (Mark Rolston) with an M56 Smart Gun.
"Let's Rock!" Vasquez opens up with the smart gun.


A pre-production sketch of the smartgun.
Another sketch shows off the detailing of the weapon.
A top view of the weapon.
The magazine drum of the smartgun.
Atherton shows off the steadicam mechanism for Vasquez's gun.
The handlebar grip.
The handlebar trigger for the gun.

M240 Flamethrower

Another weapon used by the Marines is the M240 Flamethrower, most notably used by Sergeant A. Apone (Al Matthews), Pvt. Dietrich (Cynthia Dale Scott), Private Drake (Mark Rolston), and Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) when she famously tapes it to an M41A Pulse Rifle before she goes to rescue Newt (Carrie Henn). These flamethrowers were created from parts from M16 rifles with the M203 handguard. The 'faux' flamethrower used the upper receiver assembly of an M16A1 - cut into two parts, using the top handle facing forward, but the section with the ejection port turned backwards.

Aliens is notable as being one of few films to employ military-spec liquid-fueled flamethrowers in its production, as opposed to the vastly more common (and far safer) gas-powered models usually seen in films (although some gas-burning models are also used in the movie, usually in scenes with actual actors using the weapons). The liquid fuel flamethrower is most notably seen in the sequence where Ripley incinerates the Alien nest.

M240 Flamethrower
Pvt. Wierzbowski (Trevor Steedman) holds the Flamethrower.
Pvt. Wierzbowski (Trevor Steedman) and Frost with the M240 Flamethrower before loading up.
The flamethrower is deployed.
Sergeant A. Apone (Al Matthews) wielding an M240 Flamethrower.
Pvt. Dietrich (Cynthia Dale Scott) holds the M240 Flamethrower.
Private M. Drake (Mark Rolston) uses an M240 Flamethrower when his Smart Gun runs dry.
Ripley tapes the M240 Flamethrower to an M41A Pulse Rifle. An editing mismatch was long present in this scene - Ripley pulls a Flamethrower off the rack, but the next shot shows her putting down a Pulse Rifle. She then grabs a Pulse Rifle and puts down a Flamethrower. However, this goof has been fixed in recent Blu-ray releases of the film.
Closeup as Ripley ignites the pilot.
Ripley with her flamethrower and pulse rifle combo.

UA571-C Remote Automated Sentry System

In the extended version of the film, the Marines set up sentry turrets in the hallways leading to their refuge. These were built upon WWII German MG42 machine guns, the same weapons used for the M56 Smart Guns and provided by Bapty's (movie armorer of the UK). The ammo drums on the side are from WW1 German Spandau Maxim LMG 08/15 machine guns.

MG42 - the basis for the sentry turrets
Sentry turrets firing during a test.
Sentry turrets firing at approaching Aliens.

Multi-barreled Cannon

The Cheyenne dropship, a fictional VTOL aircraft in the Aliens universe, can be seen with a multi-barrelled, chin-mounted cannon of some kind. Some of the barrels appear to be chambered for different calibres of ammunition, and the weapon would appear to operate "Gatling"-style (owing to the circular arrangement of the barrels). Similar weapons are seen dual-mounted in the front of the Marines' APC.

A chin-mounted minigun on the Cheyenne dropship.


Ithaca 37 "Stakeout"

Corporal Dwayne Hicks (Michael Biehn) keeps an Ithaca 37 "Stakeout" handy for "Close Encounters". In one memorable scene, Hicks sticks the barrel of the weapon in an Alien's mouth, and yells "Eat this!" before blowing its head off off. The resultant acid spillage apparently destroys the weapon, as it is never seen again.

Ithaca 37 "Stakeout" - 12 Gauge
"I like to keep this handy [pumps shotgun]... for close encounters."
Hicks picks up a dead Facehugger with the barrel of his Ithaca 37 "Stakeout".
"Eat this!" Hicks blows the back of the Alien's head off.
The resultant acid spillage apparently destroys the weapon, as it is never seen again.


Heckler & Koch VP70

The Heckler & Koch VP70 is the service pistol of the Marines in the movie. This gun is notably seen in the hands of Private Frost (Ricco Ross) just before the Aliens attack. Cpl. Ferro (Colette Hiller) attempts to draw hers from its holster, but is unable to in time when an Alien gets aboard her ship. Lieutenant Gorman (William Hope) uses one to shoot at Aliens during the airshaft scene. Another VP70 is seen given by Vasquez to the synthetic droid Bishop (Lance Henriksen), who then declines to take it and passes it back to Ripley (Sigourney Weaver).

In the special features included with the Collector's Edition DVD, it is mentioned by one of the film's armorers that the VP-70 was chosen as the standard issue sidearm for the Colonial Marines because of its "futuristic look" as well as its relative obscurity.

Heckler & Koch VP70 - 9x19mm
Private Frost holding his Heckler & Koch VP70.
Cpl. Ferro attempts to draw her VP70 after an Alien gets aboard her ship.
Lieutenant Gorman (William Hope) with his VP70 drawn as he and Hicks wait for Vasquez to bring up the rear. Also note Hicks' rubber stunt Pulse Rifle, evidenced by its filled-in barrels.


Atherton displays one of the VP70's.

Smith & Wesson Model 39

PFC Vasquez (Jenette Goldstein) uses a blued Smith & Wesson Model 39 with Ivory grips as her sidearm. She most notably uses it to kill an Alien while moving through the vents, but burns her foot from the creature's acidic blood in the process.

The pistol was referred to as the M4A3 in the ALIENS: Colonial Marines Technical Manual by Lee Brimmicombe-Wood. It was supposed to be a 10mm cased-ammo pistol with a 12-round magazine that had been recently replaced in service by the VP-70.

Smith & Wesson Model 39 - 9x19mm
PFC Vasquez's Smith & Wesson Model 39 in the holster.
PFC Vasquez moving through the vents with her Smith & Wesson Model 39 drawn.
A closeup of the Vasquez's S&W as she takes out an Alien. Note that the hands firing the gun are actually that of Aliens producer Gale Anne Hurd. Hurd explained that Jenette Goldstein had little firearms experience prior to filming and her portrayal of the gun's recoil wasn't accurate.



Seen on the gun racks in the USS Sulaco's armory.

M16A1 with 30 Round magazine - 5.56x45mm
M16A1 seen in the rack behind Private Frost.
In this behind the scenes photo shows the best view of the M16A1's.


Several L85A1 rifles are seen on the gun racks in the Sulaco's armory.

L85A1 with SUSAT scope - 5.56x45mm
Several L85A1's next to some pulse rifles.

Colt Commando

Seen on the gun racks in the USS Sulaco's armory.

Colt Commando - 5.56x45mm
Colt Commando rifles briefly glimpsed in the gun rack behind Frost.
In this behind the scenes photo shows the best view of the Colt Commandos. (far right)

Machine Guns

Lewis Gun (Modified)

What appears to be modified versions of the Lewis Gun are seen on the weapons racks in the USS Sulaco's armory. In a production image, it appears that these machine guns have their barrel shrouds removed.

Lewis Gun - these machine guns appear to have their barrel shrouds removed for the film.
On the left, a brief glimpse of the Lewis Gun .303 British as the Marines prepare to board their dropship.
Behind the scenes footage better showing the tell tale details, barrel shroud has been removed revealing the 'radiator'.

See Also

Alien & Predator Franchise
Alien Alien (1979)  •  Aliens (1986)  •  Alien³ (1992)  •  Alien: Resurrection (1997)  •  Alien vs. Predator (2004)  •  Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (2007)  •  Prometheus (2012)
Predator Predator (1987)  •  Predator 2 (1990)  •  Alien vs. Predator (2004)  •  Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (2007)  •   Predators (2010)
Video Games
Alien Aliens vs. Predator 2 (2001)  •  Aliens: Colonial Marines (2012)

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