The history of Hollywood’s shoot ‘em up movies stretches as far back as cinema itself. The shootout has always been the plot device of choice for action films, westerns and gangster flicks. Some of the most legendary actors have made their names with one-liners famously delivered before firing the first shot. A gun fight can define a film, a career and even an entire genre.

Let’s face it, the movie shootout is and always has been an art. The guns, the actors and the authenticity of the action all play a part in creating a crowd-pleasing battle.

We considered breaking these down into categories like “best barroom shootouts” or “best western shootouts,” but it just seems more fun to consider the entire history of gun fights on the Silver Screen.

We ranked the following shootouts based on a few criterion:

  • Guns: Were the guns used as much a part of popular culture as the movies themselves?
  • Notoriety: How firmly is the shootout engrained in shooting lore?
  • Cool Factor: How eye-poppingly awesome was the shootout?
  • Authenticity: Was the use of firearms authentic and believable throughout?

How does Tony Montana’s final overture compare to Wyatt Earp’s legendary stand-off? We had a pretty lively in-house debate, and we have a feeling that it’s not over just yet.

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