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"One golden shot means another poor victim has come to a glittering end."
― The Golden Gun described in the film's opening song[src]

The Golden Gun is the deadly signature weapon of the notorious assassin Francisco Scaramanga. It first appeared as the titular weapon in Ian Fleming's posthumously published 1965 novel, The Man with the Golden Gun. In his final book it is merely a gold-plated .45-caliber Single Action Army revolver. In the 1974 film adaptation, however, the firearm is entirely different - a custom-built, single-shot pistol assembled from four seemingly innocuous golden objects: a fountain pen, a cigarette lighter, a cigarette case and a cufflink, similar to a gadget. The Golden Gun is the most infamous weapon in the James Bond franchise, as despite its gold, elegant appearance from the precious metal and in the case of the film can be disguised as everyday items, the specially-made powerful bullets (which are also golden) from this simple but distinctive handgun are known to be always fatal, and its owner, Scaramanga himself, is also an equally dangerous Bond Villain that rivals, if not surpasses James Bond's shooting skills - altogether a terrifying combination. In both the film and especially the original novel, the world-class hitman even killed multiple 00 Agents with this very weapon. Because of this fearsome feat, the Golden Gun gained a large cult-following among fans, and its popularity led to appearances in some of the James Bond video games as a rare unlockable weapon to be used in singleplayer missions or multiplayer battles, as well as other media.

Novel appearance[]

The With The Golden Gun novel full cover

The Golden Gun's original design, as it appears in the 1965 first edition The Man with the Golden Gun novel by Ian Fleming. Note four golden bullets of its ammunition are also visible on the cover.

In Ian Fleming's novel, the Golden Gun is a gold-plated Colt. 45 that carried up to six 11.5mm 24K solid gold dum-dum bullets with silver jackets. This powerful firearm was used in dozens of assassinations - including five SIS agents and maiming one, by Scaramanga prior to 007's seemingly suicidal mission of killing him sent by M. He sometimes shows off his weapon by twirling his golden revolver before shooting down birds. The infamous hitman also carried a golden Derringer whose single bullet was coated with snake venom, as a backup weapon, which itself was used during the final battle against James Bond after his Golden Gun was lost by a surprise attack, which left Scaramanga himself gravely injured after his train crashes. Before the confrontation, 007 cleverly manages to slip into the villain's room and remove the cartridge from the Golden Gun's chamber, and when Scaramanga attempts to shoot Bond with his notorious weapon in a shootout inside the assassin's train, it was empty, saving the 00 Agent's life, and therefore forced to be discarded. Scaramanga still manages to successfully shoot Bond with his backup Derringer before the spy could with his Walther PPK thanks to his unmatched marksmanship skills after faking a final prayer, nearly killing him, but ultimately loses and dies when 007 quickly returns fire in agony, into his heart, defeating the arrogant professional killer that was thought to be unbeatable at last, albeit barely, as a policeman saves Bond just in time from the poison.

At one point in the novel, Bond himself had the opportunity to use the Golden Gun to shoot a pineapple off a showgirl's head.

Film appearance[]

Overview[]

For the film, the Golden Gun is a single-shot firearm that fires a custom-made 4.2-millimeter (.165 calibre) 23K golden dum-dum bullet with traces of nickel, similar to its novel counterpart. Scaramanga used the weapon in numerous assassinations of officials, political enemies, gangsters, and even a 00 Agent - Bill Fairbanks (002). When James Bond soon becomes the new primary target for the main antagonist, he finds a bullet from the Golden Gun marked with his trademark code number on it, "007", as a means of intimidation. However this whole thing turned out to be a set up by Scaramanga's lover Andrea Anders who desperately wanted the assassin dead and was using Bond to do it, to set her free from this hated "monster" as she thought that just leaving Scaramanga would only make her his next target. Though she confessed to Bond and agreed to help in return, she payed the ultimate price when Scaramanga found out and gunned her down for her treachery. Scaramanga also used the Golden Gun to kill British scientist Gibson and his own employer, Hai Fat. When Scaramanga met James Bond in his island and proposed a duel with him during their dinner with Mary Goodnight, the former pulls his Golden Gun before the latter could with his Walther PPK after the two exchange threats in a classy manner, beating Bond in drawing speed - something very few can ever do as Bond himself is known as one of the finest shots in the world, and would potentially kill the MI6 agent, but, the villain mercifully refuses to shoot, saying defeating 007 this way would be "ridiculously easy" and dishonorable, as he views him as a rival (which proves to be accurate). Scaramanga's failed opportunity to shoot and kill Bond with his Golden Gun at the dinner would ultimately be his crucial mistake; Eventually, Scaramanga was fatally shot after losing the gun duel in his final battle against Bond by being caught off-guard inside the funhouse section of his estate due to the 00 Agent cleverly posing as Scaramanga's replica mannequin of himself, ultimately killing the deadly assassin and drops the weapon alongside him. And, when his island was also destroyed, the Golden Gun itself was presumably lost as well.

Components[]

To evade security, the pistol can be assembled and disassembled into its component parts:

Gold Pen Fountain Pen – Forming the ‘barrel’ of the pistol, the pen screws directly into the body of the lighter. Includes removable thread cap.
Gold Cigarette Lighter Lighter – With a hidden ‘slide out’ section the lighter forms the main body of the weapon. The lighter ‘lid’ opens to reveal a breech chamber.
Gold Cigarette Case Cigarette Case – The end of the case opens to create the handle and trigger housing.
Gold Cufflink Cufflink – With sprung blades, the cufflink fits into the trigger housing to create the trigger which can be pulled.
Golden Bullets & Belt Bullet – A single custom-made 4.2 mm golden (23-carat gold with traces of nickel) dum-dum bullet can be fitted into the ‘breech’ of the cigarette lighter. For transit, the ammunition is concealed in the buckle of his belt.

Video game appearances[]

Golden Gun vs Baron Samedi

The Golden Gun as seen in GoldenEye 007 (first video game appearance). Baron Samedi is also shown in the background.

In the official James Bond video games, Francisco Scaramanga's weapon, the Golden Gun, first appeared in the post-game Egyptian singleplayer level and multiplayer portion of the iconic 1997 Nintendo 64 video game GoldenEye 007. Due to its popularity, it was also added into the subsequent titles The World is Not Enough (N64 version only), Nightfire, Everything or Nothing, GoldenEye: Rogue Agent, Quantum of Solace, the 2010 remake of GoldenEye 007, and 007 Legends. The vast majority of the games featured the Golden Gun in its film appearance.

Screenshot 2024-05-04 1.31

The Golden Gun as seen in 007 Legends (latest video game appearance).

In most cases, to use the Golden Gun, it must first be unlocked by difficult means (such as completing the entire game on the hardest difficulty in GoldenEye 007), sometimes as a cheat code. True to Ian Fleming's novel and specifically its film adaptation, in each of the video games it is featured, the Golden Gun is very rare but suitably extremely powerful. Always the strongest firearm (except for Everything or Nothing, where its abilities are controversially different), it predictably counts for an instant kill, which reflects that Scaramanga never missed - as the master hitman himself famously quotes in the film "I only need one", although in the games even the most skillful of players can miss, which proves dangerous in heavy gunfights against enemies due to the limitation of carrying just a single round (similar to derringers and other early firearms) and it must be reloaded every time it is fired, making the Golden Gun a high risk-reward type of weapon; Despite being capable of inflicting incredible damage far beyond normal weapons, the splendor handgun is explicitly designed for assassinations, not outright military combat. Therefore, because of this disadvantage, the Golden Gun is not available in single player mode (except for N64 GoldenEye 007 and Everything or Nothing) and thus exclusively found in multiplayer mode. However, golden variants of the game's standard weapon(s) in homage to the actual Golden Gun are usually available for the former in two games (as a golden Walther PPK or P99), sharing the lethal damage and likely to prevent constant reloading, but this is only the case for the original GoldenEye 007, with the weapon named "Gold PP7"; the other game with this feature, Agent Under Fire, is simply an upgraded version of its regular "P2K" counterpart (despite being named "Golden Gun" in-game). The golden "P2K" has a faster fire rate, inflicts more damage, carries more ammunition, and is equipped with a suppressor, but it lacks the Golden Gun's trademark instant kill ability.

Everything or Nothing has an unusual variant called the "Platinum Gun" (itself known to be extremely difficult to unlock), which uses the model of the Golden Gun but is platinum-plated instead of gold and ironically does instant kill damage, serving as the superior version of the game's inaccurate Golden Gun depiction where it is nothing more than an alternate P99, the default weapon, and is easily unlocked in that particular title, a stark contrast to the weapon's ideal purpose by Scaramanaga (and is heavily criticized by fans).

Golden Gun QOS

The Golden Gun as seen in Quantum of Solace, the only game where the novel design is used.

In the one game where the novel appearance is used, Quantum of Solace, the same rules apply to that of the film counterpart, but instead fires up to six rounds before reloading, similar to the golden versions of the standard weapons.

Trivia[]

  • During the development of The Man with the Golden Gun, three Golden Gun props were created for the film; a solid piece, one that could be fired with a percussion cap, and one that could be fully assembled/dissembled (known as the "gimmick gun"). According to Scaramanga's late actor, Christopher Lee, the process of putting the prop together and taking it apart was "extremely difficult". In October 10 2008, one of the props used in the film was missing (suspected to be stolen) from Elstree Props and to this day remains yet to be found. It was estimated to worth around £80,000 ($85,226.40). The company Factory Entertainment created official limited edition scaled 18-24K gold-plated replicas of the original Golden Gun props for sale, which are currently rare and come in very high prices.
    • Interestingly, when signing his name on a replica prop for a fan, Lee himself also said the item is much lighter in weight than the original versions used in the film.
  • In The Man with the Golden Gun film, Scaramanga at one point uses a Colt Single Action Army revolver, ironically the same kind of weapon used for the Golden Gun in Ian Fleming's novel, to shoot the cork off of a champagne bottle on his island before meeting James Bond. Unlike in the book, however, Scaramanga only uses it as part of a practical joke, which he himself admits to be "a vulgar display", before discarding the magnum, calling it "a harmless toy".
  • The Golden Gun itself is one of, if not the most popular weapon in the James Bond series as a whole and its cult-following on the community is on-par with the Aston Martin DB5.
  • The belt Scaramanga wears to carry the ammunition of his Golden Gun in the film only carries two bullets, therefore giving himself a spare round in case he misses during his assassinations. But given the hitman's tremendous marksmanship skills of always hitting his mark, this is very likely only the case if he has to quickly kill more than one target in the same location.
  • Although the Golden Gun is famously known as a very powerful weapon in offical media, considering the film version's caliber is extremely small - .165 (4.2mm), due to its bullet chamber and barrel were constructed from a cigarette lighter and fountain pen, respectively, the firearm, would not be practical in realistic combat. Such a low caliber smaller than the .22LR would have a remarkably weak stopping power and fare poorly in self-defense, unless the user is exceptionally skilled in aiming at vital organs. The weapon itself is also likely heavy, as it is entirely gold-plated, which would further diminish the chance of a lethal shot. However, since the Golden Gun's custom bullets are specially designed for assassinations and Scaramanga himself is a master marksman (all his kills were aimed at the head or heart), this drawback is negated.
    • It is worth noting that in each of Scaramanga's assassinations in the film, the Golden Gun does not have any recoil when fired (as the prop obviously cannot shoot blank rounds), suggesting it has a very little amount of joule energy. In the video games, however, the weapon has a noticeable backfire.
    • Interestingly, real-world guns in even smaller calibers exist; The smallest commercial pistol in the world is the rare 2mm Kolibri, which fires tiny 2.7mm 3gr bullets. The firearm itself is approximately one-third the size of a Walther PPK, is inaccurate, and its muzzle energy is only 4 joules, making it a clearly unreliable weapon.
  • In a 2008 poll by 20th Century Fox, the Golden Gun was ranked 6th of the most popular weapons in all of cinema, which surveyed approximately two thousand fans.
  • In the movie, Scaramanga's Golden Gun is famously shown to instantly kill targets with a single shot, leading to its eponymous ability of one-hit-kills in the video games. However, in the original novel, the purpose of the assassin's weapon apparently seems to be the complete opposite; while the golden revolver itself is obviously designed to be lethal, Scaramaga used his Colt. 45 to actually torture his targets by shooting them in their knees or elbows, wanting his enemies to die slowly rather than at once, showing his arrogant nature seen in the posthumous literature. In all video game media, the Golden Gun (or similar weapons), no matter what depiction of the weapon based on the novel or film, kills targets instantaneously regardless of any shots within the body.
  • Although most James Bond video games featuring the Golden Gun require the player to preserve ammunition for the weapon, in GoldenEye 007 (2010) and 007 Legends, the reserve is infinite, likely to balance its limitation of itself carrying one bullet at a time, which often leaves the user especially vulnerable had they search for ammo in multiplayer matches.
  • Despite being a weapon entirely made for fiction, a likely explanation for the Golden Gun's infamous instant kill ability, aside from Scaramanga's extreme aiming skills, is that gold, although clearly impractical to use in real-world firearm ammunition due to immensely high cost and is soft and fragile, it is actually a very heavy metal and nearly twice as dense as lead. For the film version of the weapon alone, its 23K gold-plated 4.2mm 20gr dum-dum rounds specifically for the gun are over one cubic centimeter of the valuable element, making it over twice as heavy as an M80 7.62x51mm NATO 147gr rifle bullet in weight. A hefty expanding round like this for any handgun in reality, though not impossible to build today, requires a particularly advanced type of propellant with special high-pressure casings to fire at supersonic velocity (which will cause extreme recoil) and would result in a devastating effect against human victims. As the original novel counterpart uses the .45 Colt caliber under the same dum-dum principle, a much larger bullet of 11.5mm with up to 335gr and is pure gold, it is certain its 24K rounds are significantly heavier and have even more stopping power in comparison. Unsurprisingly, dum-dum bullets in general are more dangerous than standard rounds, as they are known to produce gruesome wounds, and are even banned in international warfare as early as 1899 (though allowed in other cases like hunting or police use). The prop bullets shown in the movie are actually .25 or .32 ACP cases fitted with pointed rifle bullets.
    • In addition to being one of the heaviest, gold is also undoubtedly one of the world's most expensive metals due to its rarity. When inflationed to today's currency, for the film Golden Gun's bullets, considering their small size and relatively little use of the precious element, would cost over $80 per shot. The original revolver's rounds from Ian Fleming's novel, on the other hand, as its large bullets are instead solid gold with silver tips, would be prohibitively expensive to shoot at all - as it would cost a staggering $24,760 per shot. This extraordinary ammunition price very likely explains why Scaramanga charges the exorbitant sum of $1 million for each assassination (in the film). For perspective, the most expensive real-life commercial bullet, the rare 17.8mm 1000gr .700 Nitro Express (which is made of brass and is .70 caliber), costs up to $150 per shot, while the .50 BMG is $3.00 and the common 9mm round is only $0.50, on average.
  • Ironically, in The Man with the Golden Gun film, during the final duel, Bond kills Scaramanga with a single shot, very similar to how the infamous killer himself assassinates his targets with the Golden Gun, and also the only time Bond successfully shoots anyone in the movie. However, this shot from the Walther PPK was onto the villain's heart, a fatal blow; in the original novel, Bond, after being struck by Scaramanga's backup Derringer, fired 5 rounds of its 6 magazine capacity, coincidentally into the heart, to kill the assassin. It should be noted that in the film, Bond was pretending to be Scaramanga's replica mannequin before catching him by surprise and therefore the villain fails to shoot at Bond first.
  • Auric Goldfinger, the main antagonist of Goldfinger, was also seen seemingly carrying a golden gun before the final fight against James Bond. However, Goldfinger's firearm is not the actual weapon in any way, but simply an ordinary revolver - a Colt Army Special, in gold plating, while Scaramanga's own was assembled from several gold-made daily items that could fire only a single bullet, though it bares a close resemblance to the original version of the Golden Gun seen in The Man with the Golden Gun novel, as it shares the Colt manufacturer. Interestingly, the film predates Ian Fleming's final book by one year, as Goldfinger was released in 1964 (its novel was six years earlier, in 1959).
  • Only three out of the eight video games of the James Bond series featuring the Golden Gun has its owner Francisco Scaramanga actually present. They are The World is Not Enough, GoldenEye: Rouge Agent, and GoldenEye 007 (2010 remake). In The World is Not Enough's multiplayer mode, it is possible to ironically use the legendary weapon against the notorious assassin himself. Although mentioned in the original GoldenEye 007's bonus "Egyptain" level, Scaramanga is absent from the game altogether.
  • Due to the Golden Gun's extreme power of 1-hit-kills in virtually all of the games that features the special firearm, it is often considered one of the most overpowered weapons in First-Person Shooter games as a whole.
  • The scenes in The Man with the Golden Gun film where Scaramanga separately uses each of the Golden Gun's parts as regular items are not actual pieces of the props during filming. The cigarette case and lighter are replaced with commercially available equivalents based on Colibri products. The case's body was blocked shut by a loading mechanism and the lighter's internal parts were removed to make room for the sliding section and is also elongated as the stock version isn't long enough to cover the top of the cigarette case. The cufflink trigger does not work as an actual cufflink, and Christopher Lee wore a set of real cufflinks on his costume that are made to look like the prop gun's version. The pen barrel is clearly useless for writing, and is therefore replaced with a real Waterman fountain pen.
  • In the 1997 GoldenEye 007 game, the Golden Gun's model has the cufflink trigger and part of the cigarette case meant to hold said piece missing. This is due to the graphical limitations of the Nintendo 64. This is fixed in the Xbox Live Arcade remaster of the game released in 2023.
  • Being a world-class hitman with skills possibly superior to even that of James Bond's, Scaramanga in the 1974 film charges $1 million (equivalent to over $6.1 million as of 2023) every shot in his assassinations. Therefore, he has killed only four targets with his Golden Gun throughout the movie. In Ian Fleming's 1965 novel, however, the main antagonist has a much greater count of murders, as he claimed to Bond during the climax that he has shot down as many as fifty people in his career.
  • Scaramanga's golden Derringer - his backup weapon seen in the original novel, could possibly be an inspiration for the Golden Gun's film design, as it shares the limitation of holding only a single bullet in its magazine. This particular weapon, however, is not a "Golden Gun" by itself; it never instantly killed Bond when he was suddenly shot by the professional assassin, and it was more likely designed for torture by letting its target succumb by poisoning (its bullet was coated with venom).
    • Coincidentally, although designed for concealed carrying like the Walther PPK, derringers, because of their small size, do have an infamous reputation for being the type of weapon that was used by assassins during the 19th Century, the most well-known example being the assassination of late U.S. President Abraham Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth in 1865, the first of such in American history, by shooting him once at the back of his head with a .44-caliber model. Booth carried a knife as a backup weapon, which Scaramanga in the novel also attempted to use to finish off Bond after shooting his own derringer, before 007 ultimately returned fire.
  • In GoldenEye 007, specifically in the "Egyptian" bonus stage, Francisco Scaramanga's Golden Gun was reportedly stolen by another villain - Baron Samedi, similarly known as "The Man Who Cannot Die", as a motive to lure Bond into a trap, before the MI6 agent recovers it in a booby-trapped location within a mysterious Egyptian temple to ultimately use the powerful golden weapon against the voodoo assassin. In the same game, it is possible to wield two of it at once via cheats for deadly effect.
    Perfect Dark Golden Gun

    The DY357-LX in Perfect Dark, which strongly resembles the original novel Golden Gun and is its closest depiction in any video game so far, despite the N64 FPS game itself being unrelated to James Bond.

  • Interestingly, a different First-Person Shooter game in the Nintendo 64 unrelated to the James Bond franchise (despite being developed by the same company that produced GoldenEye 007 - Rareware, as a spiritual successor), Perfect Dark, released in 2000, featured a customized, gold-plated Colt Python revolver, belonging to one of its antagonists named Trent Easton (though Easton himself is not an assassin like Scaramanga but rather a rogue director of the NSA). The weapon itself is known as the DY357-LX, intended as a homage to the Golden Gun's film counterpart used in its predecessor. By coincidence, it is heavily based on the Golden Gun's original depiction from Ian Fleming's novel, as not only it can instantly destroy any enemy with a single shot, its rounds will penetrate through them as well, killing yet more in the line of fire. Like GoldenEye, the DY357-LX, although rare, is available in singleplayer mode and it is also possible to wield two of the weapon at once by cheats. It remains the most accurate depiction of the novel Golden Gun in any video game to date.
    • Similar to the Perfect Dark game, Quantum of Solace features the Golden Gun as a revolver based on the novel rather than the design used in the film, and is so far the only video game of the James Bond franchise to do so. The weapon appears to be a Smith & Wesson Model 686. However, unlike Rare's First-Person Shooter or in the novel itself, this Golden Gun is equipped with a gold-plated scope and oddly fires explosive rounds.
  • Another video game unrelated to the James Bond series, The Showdown Effect, released in 2013, features the film version of the Golden Gun as a special DLC weapon. Interestingly, it could also be used as a throwable object. Since the Steam game itself is delisted in 2018, it is no longer available.
  • In GoldenEye 007, when used in singleplayer mode, the Golden Gun, as well as the Gold PP7 in-game, is capable of not only killing any enemy with one shot, but it can also destroy breakable objects instantly as well, though this is just a gameplay mechanic of its tremendous damage. This effect carried onto Perfect Dark, its spiritual successor, with the DY357-LX.
  • Everything or Nothing is a rare exception in the video games where the Golden Gun does not have its trademark one-hit-kill ability. In this game, it inaccurately uses the same weaponry data as the Walther P99 (having same damage and high accuracy) and is surpassed by the very difficult-to-unlock "Platinum Gun", where this particular gun shares the model of the Golden Gun with a platinum scheme and has explosive rounds, similar to Quantum of Solace. This was met with significant backlash by fans.
    GoldenEye Gold PP7

    The Gold PP7 in GoldenEye 007, itself a unique fusion of Scaramanga's Golden Gun and Bond's Walther PPK.

  • The Gold PP7 seen in the original GoldenEye 007 is the most well known example of a Golden Gun-like version of James Bond's standard weapons in any video game based on the series. Ironically, this cheat-exclusive pistol by technical means is Scaramanga and Bond's signature weapons from The Man with Golden Gun film combined into one weapon, as it is a gold-plated Walther PPK with the raw power of the former. Since it holds 7 rounds, it also matches 007's line to the professional assassin of "Six bullets to your one?".
  • In the N64 release of The World is Not Enough video game, the Golden Gun must be assembled from the pen, lighter, and cigarette case pieces (but not the cufflink) before it can be used, and, strangely, it has a 5-round magazine rather than just one, likely an oversight by the game's development team. It remains the only game where the Golden Gun can be put together from its component parts.
  • In video game pop culture, aside from Perfect Dark, other series such as Mutate 4 Ever, Valorant, Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege, Killer7, Arsenal, Strikes Forces Heroes, and more, featured golden firearms capable of instant kill damage and in some cases carry a single round. Although clearly inspired by the Golden Gun due to its notoriety, as they are also named as such, those weapons have no resemblance to the James Bond novel or film's weapon (despite Killer7 having a revolver). However, Arsenal actually initially featured the film Golden Gun, but was quickly changed to a Tanfoglio Thor pistol from an update to avoid legal issues.
  • The Golden Gun makes a cameo appearance in one of the early spin-off IDW Publishing comics based on the popular My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic TV series.

Gallery[]

See Also[]

References[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 (2002) 007 Spy Files #10 (Magazine), 007 Spy Files (in En-UK), London: GE Fabbri Ltd., pp.06-07. 
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