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(Aliens) - M41A Pulse Rifle

From Internet Movie Firearms Database - Guns in Movies, TV and Video Games
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M41A Pulse Rifle - .45 ACP / 12 gauge (in fiction, 10x24mm / 30mm). The weapon pictured here is the actual screen-used "hero" Pulse Rifle from Aliens and Alien³ (it is still painted black from its use in the latter film). This is the only M41A that Bapty & Co. (U.K.) left intact after Aliens was completed. It was also the only prop to have a functional shotgun unit. Photo taken by Dan Shea for Long Mountain Outfitters.
Non-hero M41A Pulse Rifle: note it lacks a trigger for the Remington 870 "grenade launcher."

The "M41A Pulse Rifle" is a fictional firearm created for the world of Aliens. As described and seen in the film, the rifle fires 10x24mm, explosive tip, caseless, light armor-piercing rounds loaded into a 99-round magazine, although this is commonly downloaded to 95 to prevent stoppages. An LED readout on the right side states the number of rounds remaining in the magazine. In addition, the Pulse rifle is fitted with an underslung pump-action 4 shot 30mm grenade launcher and a telescoping stock.

The props (which were built from a sketch by Aliens director James Cameron) were built by British film armorers Bapty & Co. and consisted of an M1A1 Thompson for the main gun and a cut-down Remington 870 as the grenade launcher, which was mounted underneath the Thompson's barrel and covered with the forend and heatshield of a Franchi SPAS-12 fitted the 870's action. The weapon was finished with a futuristic, custom-made aluminum shell painted in "Brown Bess" paint (although due to on-set lighting, the guns often appear olive green in Aliens). Several practical weapons capable of firing blanks were constructed for the production, although only one "hero" prop had a functioning shotgun unit.

Following the completion of filming on Aliens, all but the hero weapon were broken back down. The surviving hero weapon subsequently went on to appear in Alien³ several years later, where it was once again fired on screen. For this appearance, the weapon's shroud was painted black.

The Pulse Rifles were originally going to be based on the Heckler & Koch MP5A3 submachine gun, using the weapon's 1970s-style straight magazine. However, Cameron wanted the rifles to produce large, impressive muzzle flashes on screen, and this was not possible with the MP5's 9mm round. Bapty instead suggested using the M1A1 Thomspon, as its larger .45 caliber round could produce the desired effect.

The "M41A Pulse Rifle" has been used in the following:


Title Actor Character Note Date
Aliens Sigourney Weaver Ellen Ripley 1986
Aliens Michael Biehn Cpl. Dwayne Hicks 1986
Aliens Bill Paxton Pvt. Hudson 1986
Aliens Jenette Goldstein Pvt. Vasquez 1986
Aliens Al Matthews Sgt. Apone 1986
Aliens Ricco Ross Pvt. Frost 1986
Alien³ . Weyland-Yutani commandos 1992
Ready Player One Olivia Cooke Art3mis 2018

Video Games

Title Appears as Mods Note Date
Aliens vs. Predator Can occasionally jam 1999
Aliens vs. Predator 2 2001
Aliens vs. Predator M41A/2 Pulse Rifle Upgraded version 2010
Aliens: Colonial Marines No markings, appears as unusable props and pre-release promotional media 2013
"Hudson's Pulse Rifle" 4-round burst only, with custom markings
"Ripley's Pulse Rifle" Taped to an M240 Flamethrower Fully-automatic, no markings
"M41A Pulse Rifle MK2" w/ various attachments Fully-automatic, upgraded version


Title Voice Actor Characters Notation Date
Love, Death & Robots - Season 1 Train guards with barrel and handguard from USAS-12; "Blindspot" (S1E15) 2019

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