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From Internet Movie Firearms Database - Guns in Movies, TV and Video Games
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Aliens Poster.jpg
Country Flag of the United States.jpg United States
Directed by James Cameron
Release Date 1986
Studio 20th Century Fox
Distributor 20th Century Fox
Main Cast
Character Actor
Ripley Sigourney Weaver
Newt Carrie Henn
Hicks Michael Biehn
Burke Paul Reiser
Bishop Lance Henriksen
Hudson Bill Paxton
Lieutenant Gorman William Hope
Vasquez Jenette Goldstein

Aliens is the 1986 sequel to Alien. The now classic science fiction film was only the third feature directed by James Cameron (following Piranha Part Two and The Terminator). Sigourney Weaver returns as Ellen 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 this film 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 United States Colonial Marine Corps (USCM) 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 (loaded to 95 to prevent jamming, according to the Aliens: Colonial Marines Technical Manual by Lee Brimmicombe-Wood) of 10mm caseless armor-piercing ammunition with a pump-action 30mm grenade launcher mounted underneath the barrel. The rifle is also fitted with an LED readout that displays the number of rounds remaining in the rifle's magazine. 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).

The Pulse Rifle was constructed from an M1A1 Thompson submachine gun fitted with a cut-down Remington 870 shotgun with the heat shield and foregrip of a Franchi SPAS-12 covering it, although only one weapon used on the production had a functioning shotgun unit. The weapon was finished with a custom-made futuristic aluminum shell painted in "Brown Bess" paint, although due to the predominantly blue on-set lighting in the film the weapons often appear olive green on screen. Following the production, all but one of the Pulse Rifles (the "hero" rifle with the functioning shotgun unit) were broken down - the surviving gun was reused in the filming of Alien³ several years later.

M1A1 Thompson with 30-round magazine (the basis for Pulse Rifle) - .45 ACP
The remaining "Hero" M41A Pulse Rifle from Aliens. This weapon is constructed from an M1A1 Thompson and a cutdown Remington 870. Note that unlike the other prop guns, it has a trigger for the Remington and the shotgun's barrel protrudes further beyond the front of the weapon.
Another screen-used M41A Pulse Rifle from Aliens, with the original paint. Note the lack of the Remington trigger on this prop.
Opposite side view of an M41A Pulse Rifle from Aliens.
Private R. Frost (Ricco Ross) loads an M41A Pulse Rifle. Note the LED display is off despite loading in a magazine.
"I want to introduce you to a personal friend of mine.."
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. The LED readout is visible in the middle of the weapon.
Hicks fires his M41A 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 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 (Sigourney Weaver) loads a magazine into the Pulse Rifle while in the dropship.
The LED readout displaying the 95 rounds in the magazine.
Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) prepares to enter the fray with the M41A Pulse Rifle and flamethrower together. Note the LED readout here only reads "42" instead of "95".
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.

M56 Smart Gun

Both PFC J. Vasquez (Jenette Goldstein), and Private M. Drake (Mark Rolston) use a heavy machine gun system designated the "M56 Smart Gun" (the weapon's designation comes from the Aliens: Colonial Marines Technical Manual). These weapons were constructed from German MG42 machine guns with the grip and stock removed. The body-mount apparatus was a built-up Cinema Products Model III Steadicam harness with the Model III Steadicam arm attached to the left side: the arm was then bolted to the MG42's rear sight bracket using a custom C-clamp. The two rigs are not identical, with both using different variations of the Model III arm (Drake's has more anodized components than Vasquez's), and Vasquez's vest was modified slightly for comfort.

'Dressing' on the MG42 was constructed from various motorcycle parts, most notably the handlebars from a 1976 Husqvarna ("Husky") Magura 360 used for the linkage to the weapon's actual trigger (actually a brake lever mounted in a clutch perch) and grips, a 1981 Kawasaki KZ750 control panel used for the front controls, and the footpegs from a Kawasaki AR-125 used to decorate the barrel shroud. The weapon is paired with a special sighting system worn on the operator's head. This was inspired by the FLIR eyepieces mounted on the helmets of US AH-64 Apache pilots.

When the Marines are ordered to unload their weapons, Vasquez is seen removing a module to "clear and lock" her weapon: this module normally serves as a connector between two cables, one on the gun and one on the Steadicam arm. According to the Aliens: Colonial Marines Technical Manual, this is a "DV-9" battery unit that can be disconnected in order to prevent the weapon from firing. The battery prop was constructed from an Edison Giocattoli 3-in-1 "Secret Agent" folding pop gun fitted with two "connectors" made from classic quarter-inch mono audio jacks. The same pop gun was also used to make "tools" of unclear function worn on the belts of six of the Marines in the film.

MG42 Machine Gun - 7.92x57mm Mauser
Screen-used M56 Smart Gun from Aliens. This particular version is the one carried by Vasquez (Jenette Goldstein) in the film, bearing the marking "Adios" (Drake's instead says "My Bitch;" it is known at least one screen-used weapon was used by both actors, since one of the M56 props has one marking painted over the other). Note that a linkage is visible running from the brake handle on the rear grip to the MG42's real trigger; the red switch on the front handle (which is still marked "horn" on one side and "pass" on the other) is purely cosmetic, and does nothing.
Top view of an M56 Smart Gun from Aliens.
A closeup of Vasquez's M56 Smart Gun. Note 'ADIOS' on receiver.
Vasquez (Jenette Goldstein) and Drake (Mark Rolston) show off their Smart Guns.
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. The battery unit can be seen hanging under the weapon just below the Steadicam arm.
Some detailing seen on the M56 Smart Gun carried by Private M. Drake (Mark Rolston).
"Let's rock!"
Vasquez (Jenette Goldstein) opens up with the Smart Gun.
Vasquez (Jenette Goldstein) raises the Smart Gun.
Vasquez fires the Smart Gun. Note the large and uniquely multi-ported muzzle flash.


A pre-production sketch of the Smart Gun.
Another sketch shows off the detailing of the weapon.
Loading a belt into the disguised 50-round MG42 drum used by the Smart Gun.
Atherton shows off the steadicam mechanism for Vasquez's gun.
The handlebar grip.
The brake lever trigger for the gun.
The targeting system used for the Smart Gun, incorporating many parts: it is based on a Beyerdynamic HM560 headset, with additions including, amusingly, the scope from the G1 Megatron Transformers toy.
Closeup of the targeting system worn by Vasquez (Jenette Goldstein). The system was inspired by the targeting devices mounted on the helmets of US Apache helicopter pilots.
Edison Giocattoli 3-in-1 "Secret Agent" folding pop gun, one of many pop guns built on the same casing. This version or one very much like it was the one used to make the Smart Gun battery props, since the same folding rear handle is seen on the "belt tool" props.
Closeup of the battery that must be connected in order for the Smart Gun to be fired.

M240 Flamethrower

Another weapon used by the Marines is the M240 Flamethrower, most notably used by Sergeant A. Apone (Al Matthews), Corporal 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) propane-powered models usually seen in films (although some propane 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.
Wierzbowski and Frost with the M240 Flamethrower before loading up.
The flamethrower is deployed by Sergeant A. Apone (Al Matthews) and Pvt. Dietrich (Cynthia Dale Scott.
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 (Sigourney Weaver) pulls a Flamethrower off the weapons rack in the dropship. In the original releases for the film, an editing mismatch was long present in this scene, when in the very next shot the first weapon laid down on the deck is the Pulse Rifle.
Flamethrowers seen on the right, as Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) then grabs a Pulse Rifle.
This was originally the next shot following the above screenshot, as the flamethrower is placed down in a continuity error. This goof has been fixed in recent Blu-ray releases of the film. Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) then attaches the M240 Flamethrower to an M41A Pulse Rifle.
Closeup as Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) ignites the pilot on the flamethrower.
Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) 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. In the Aliens: Colonial Marines Technical Manual, this weapons system is designated as the "UA571-C Remote Automated Sentry System". These were built upon WWII German MG42 machine guns, the same weapons used for the M56 Smart Guns and provided by Bapty & Co. (The UK film armorer). The ammo drums on the side are from WW1 German Spandau Maxim MG08/15 machine guns, leading to them frequently being misidentified as MG08s.

MG42 - the basis for the sentry turrets
Screen-used sentry turret from Aliens. Image from Prop Store of London.
In the extended version of the film, Vasquez (Jenette Goldstein) and Hudson (Bill Paxton) observe the sentry turrets firing during a test.
Sentry turrets firing at approaching Aliens in the extended version of the film.
Behind the scenes photo of two sentry turrets.


The Cheyenne dropship, a fictional VTOL aircraft in the Aliens universe, can be seen with a multi-barrelled, chin-mounted cannon of some kind. In the Aliens: Colonial Marines Technical Manual, this weapons system is designated as the "GAU-113/B". 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 cannon on the Cheyenne dropship.
Behind the scenes photo of the cannon.


Ithaca 37 (Shorty Custom)

Corporal Dwayne Hicks (Michael Biehn) keeps an Ithaca 37 hunting variant with an engraved receiver customized with a cut down barrel and MP40 pistol grip (making it resemble the 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 the back of its head off. The resultant acid spillage apparently destroys the weapon, as it is never seen again. It appears to be the same custom Ithaca 37 featured in the British television series The Professionals and Dempsey and Makepeace, although the wire stock has been removed and the grip wrapped in tape.

Ithaca 37 "Stakeout" - 12 gauge. The shotgun in the film closely resembles this version.
Screen-used custom shorty Ithaca 37 shotgun from Aliens around the time of filming, when the grip was still wrapped in tape.
Opposite side view of the Ithaca 37 from Aliens. Image from Prop Store of London.
A close-up of the hunting-style engravings on the Ithaca from Aliens. Image from Prop Store of London.
"I like to keep this handy.." [pumps shotgun]... "for close encounters."
Hicks (Michael Biehn) picks up a dead Facehugger with the barrel of his custom Ithaca 37.
"Eat this!"
Hicks (Michael Biehn) blows the back of the Alien's head off.
The resultant acid spillage apparently destroys the weapon, as it is never seen again.

Remington 870

The "over/under 30 millimeter pump action grenade launcher" seen underneath the M41A Pulse Rifle is in reality a cut-down Remington 870 shotgun mounted inside the heat shield of a Franchi SPAS-12 and operated using a cut-down SPAS forend. This particular weapon uses grenade rounds that are roughly the shape of shotgun shells. The grenade round props were constructed from a 12 gauge snap cap with various cuts and a button added on top - in fiction, the button on top can be depressed to detonate the round by hand.

Knight's Armament Masterkey version of the Remington 870 - 12 gauge. This shortened version of the 870 is often mounted on the M4A1 Carbine or similar weapons and is representative of the version seen in the film.
Franchi SPAS-12 Short Barreled Version - 12 gauge
Private R. Frost (Ricco Ross) works the action of the "grenade launcher" mounted underneath the M41A Pulse Rifle. The distinctive ejection port of the Remington is seen.
Newt (Carrie Henn) tries to pick up one of the grenade rounds. Note the green safety cap.
Closeup of the grenade round. It appears once the safety cap removed, a button at the top of the round can be depressed to detonate the round.
Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) takes up a few of the grenade rounds.
A closeup of the pump action "grenade launcher." Note the ejection port is clearly a hole cut in the SPAS-12 heat shield, since it goes through part of one of the vent holes.


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 detonation button on top.


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). Sergeant A. Apone (Al Matthews), Corporal Dietrich (Cynthia Dale Scott), Private Spunkmeyer (Daniel Kash), and Private Crowe (Tip Tipping) keep theirs holstered throughout the film.

In the special features included with the Collector's Edition DVD, it is mentioned by one of the film's armorers that the VP70 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
Screen-used Heckler & Koch VP70 and holster from Aliens - 9x19mm.
Opposite side view of a H&K VP70 from Aliens - 9x19mm.
Private Frost (Ricco Ross) holding his Heckler & Koch VP70.
Cpl. Ferro (Cynthia Dietrich) attempts to draw her VP70 after an Alien gets aboard her ship.
Another VP70 is seen given by Vasquez (Jenette Goldstein) to the synthetic Bishop (Lance Henriksen), who then declines to take it and passes it back to Ripley (Sigourney Weaver).
Lieutenant Gorman (William Hope) with his VP70 drawn as he and Hicks (Michael Biehn) wait for Vasquez (Jenette Goldstein) to bring up the rear. Also note Hicks' rubber stunt pulse rifle, evidenced by its filled-in barrels.
Lieutenant Gorman (William Hope) fires the VP70.


Atherton displays one of the VP70's.

Smith & Wesson 39

PFC Vasquez (Jenette Goldstein) uses a blued Smith & Wesson 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.

Smith & Wesson 39 - 9x19mm
PFC Vasquez's S&W 39 in the holster.
PFC Vasquez (Jenette Goldstein) moving through the vents with her Smith & Wesson 39 drawn.
A closeup of the Vasquez's S&W as she takes out an Alien. TRIVIA: In this closeup, the hands firing the gun are actually that of Aliens producer Gale Anne Hurd. Hurd explained in the audio commentary that Jenette Goldstein had only a little firearms experience prior to filming and her portrayal of the gun's recoil wasn't accurate enough for the director, so Hurd was asked to get into costume and fire the weapon for the closeup.
Production image of Aliens producer Gale Anne Hurd in costume as Vasquez firing the S&W.



What appear to be M16A1 rifles are briefly 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.
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.
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 image better showing the tell-tale details, barrel shroud has been removed revealing the 'radiator'.

See Also

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