Top 10 Most Iconic Guns in FPS Games

By George Wood Jr.

If you live your virtual life by the gun, you will undoubtedly die by it too, likely in a horrible, ego-squashing way. However, if your gun is the most kickass weapon in that universe, you can bet that your lifespan will increase tenfold, just as your opponent’s longevity will be tragically shortened.

Every FPS shooter has that one firearm that trounces the competition, makes enemies scatter in hasty retreat for fear of their lives. In multiplayer settings, this is the weapon that makes the wielder feel steadily more invincible as the bodies pile, and makes those on the receiving end throw their controllers in frustration. In campaign modes, this is the weapon that usually triggers the internal pump up soundtrack, driving the player to rush headlong into the fray with no care for their own mortality.

Make sure to have your trigger finger primed as we go through a full clip of the most iconic guns in the history of FPS games.

10. Railgun - Quake

Top 10 Most Iconic Guns in FPS Games - Railgun
(© Bethesda Softworks and id Software)

When this high-velocity uranium laser beam is spotted screaming through the air, crawl into the nearest rathole and pray for salvation. The Quake Railgun resembles a small nuclear reactor, and for unarmored opponents this firearm is just as volatile. One hit guarantees a frag and an “impressive” compliment from the announcer as the victim is instantaneously vaporized.

The tiny aiming reticle for this gun requires pinpoint accuracy from the shooter, but this is a small counterbalance when paired with the killing capabilities of this juggernaut ray gun.

9. M16A4 – COD4

Top 10 Most Iconic Guns in FPS Games - M16A4
(© Activison and Infinity Ward)
The M16A4 was first introduced during the Vietnam war as a weapon with sustained and semiautomatic fire that was designed to withstand the harsh conditions accompanying ferocious jungle warfare. Since then, this gun is arguably the most iconic gun used by American military today. What isn’t arguable is the M16A4’s standing as the most iconic gun available in Call of Duty 4. This firearm excels at mid-range combat, but with a sharp eye and trained reflexes it kills just as cleanly at short and long ranges. The M16A4 features a three-round spit that forgives an initial headshot miss, unlike snipers, while reducing the sight climb of fully automatic rifles. Besides the standard issue versatility of this gun, the M16A4 also features a grenade pump attachment perfect for crowd control or clearing a sniper perched in a window. If you’re a current COD player trying to get the jump on the best loadouts available in Infinity Ward’s latest installment, check out our list of the best COD Warzone weapons here.

8. Flak cannon – Unreal Tournament

Top 10 Most Iconic Guns in FPS Games - Flak Cannon
(© Epic Games)

Respect for the Flak Cannon for being the only shotgun-style weapon that made it onto this list. Red hot scattershot blown in random constellations of flak likely divines’ death for any victim unfortunate enough to meet it face to face. The unpredictable nature of the flak pattern leads to a tense millisecond of uncertainty before the shot connects, and this feeling is further bolstered by the lethal “bounce” of the flak shot. This bounce trait is perfect for the 90-degree hallway turns ever present in the Unreal Tournament arenas, and killing a retreating opponent with a flak ricochet is a testament to the discipline of triggernometry.

The alternative option for this gun is explosively delightful. Each connection with a Flak rocket celebrated with gory confetti burst from your enemy’s chestpiece. Dangerous at midrange for your assailant, but dangerous for all at short range. Send it anyway.

7. Rocket Launcher - Quake

Top 10 Most Iconic Guns in FPS Games - Rocket Launcher
(© Bethesda Softworks and id Software)

The dubstep bass boom of this firearm complements the smoky comet-tail and gorgeous shrapnel fire produced by its rocket nicely. All in all, a full clip from the original Quake Rocket Launcher is a more dazzling sensory experience than even the most illegal of reservation fireworks.

It’s a given that any game’s rocket launcher will dutifully shred any unfortunate enough to be sucked into the blast radius. What sets the Quake launcher apart is the tactical maneuvering the rocket offers its wielder. In Quake, explosive commandos can “rocket jump,” which is when a combatant jumps, fires downward, and is propelled upward to either dodge enemy fire or get a beat on enemies dashing helplessly below. Rocket jumping, when used correctly, is a confirmed strategy for creating space and then immediately blotting out the sun for the quivering victim on the ground.

6. Portal Gun - Portal

Top 10 Most Iconic Guns in FPS Games - Portal Gun
(© Valve Corporation)

The Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device, or Portal Gun for short, is the only weapon on this list whose purpose is not solely intended for killing. This firearm was developed in the Aperture Science experimentation facility that was initially constructed for the production of shower curtains. After that business venture flopped, Aperture Science then decided to focus its energy on producing a quantum space manipulating portal gun, to the delight of millions of players across the world.

This porcelain bright miracle of science fires blue and orange portals to be used for navigation through a series of puzzles, constantly guided by the stinging commentary of the malevolent AI GLaDOS.

The creative approaches to completing challenges in the facility are varied, often involving the protagonist flinging themselves over obstacles, bashing turret guns with the lovable Companion Cube, and dodging rapid incineration from the facility furnace.

5. Golden Gun – Goldeneye 007

(© Rare)
Goldeneye 007 is the blocky godfather of all console FPS shooters, and the Golden Gun is the game’s glimmering crown jewel. The Golden Gun was first introduced in the Bond series as the firearm of the most dangerous assassin of all time, Francisco Scaramanga, in the film The Man with the Golden Gun. While you are not ever going to be as dangerous as Christopher Lee in the film, you can at least try to emulate this level of murdery with the tricky one-shot pistol. Like the Railgun in Quake, this firearm requires needlepoint accuracy to thread a kill, but the stakes are even higher because of the single shot magazine. Still, the hectic joy of a game of Golden Guns is the precursor to all zany alternative FPS matches on modern consoles, and for that the Golden Gun remains a historic hallmark.

4. AWP – Counter Strike

(© Valve Corporation)

AWP: Both the name of this gun and the sound squeaked out by players the moment before getting smoked by it.

This weapon is virtually useless for beginner Counter Strike players because of the obscene amount of training it requires to become fluent with this weapon. The AWP’s fire rate and reload speed are sluggish, its bulk restricts movement speed, and the accuracy requirement is punishing.

This weapon ain’t no casual killer, but this is appropriate because Counter Strike isn’t a casual FPS. In the hands of a Chris Kyle level sharpshooter, the damage inflicted by this sniper is unmatched. Veteran Counter Strike players swear by the AWP, because one shot is all they need in this steady, tactical FPS.

3. Battle Rifle - Halo

Top 10 Most Iconic Guns in FPS Games - Battle Rifle
(© Microsoft Game Studios and 343 Industries)

Once the magnum pistol got nerfed after Halo: Combat Evolved, the Battle Rifle took its place as the most iconic, deadly versatile weapon that remained a consistent killer throughout the series, (let’s be honest, the DMR is essentially the Battle Rifle with a staccatoed rate of fire).

The signature brrrraap of the Battle Rifle’s burst fire generally heralds the death of a combatant, and may be the most recognizable sound of the series. The beauty of the Battle Rifle is how easy it is to pick up for novice Spartans, while still requiring mountains of practice to master. At short and medium ranges, the crosshatched crosshairs are perfect for dome-ing enemies, and the 2x sight is just right for longer range dispatches.

2. BFG - Doom

(© id Software)

For a game that takes place in the fires of Hell, this weapon is the firearm equivalent of the Holy Trinity mixed with an ocean of holy water.

The most game breaking elements of the BFG make themselves apparent in the single player mode, where one shot from this gun releases a solar flare of crackling nuclear energy that immediately fries any nearby enemies with an ungodly zap. In single player, it requires zero accuracy to use because of the far reaching, lethal arcs that punch out from the BFG’s shot.

This weapon is still ferocious in multiplayer, though its world-ending offensive capabilities are toned down to prevent an unfair ownership of the match.

1. Gravity Gun – Half Life 2

(© Valve Corporation)

Judith Mossman may have sternly proclaimed that the Zero Point Energy Field Manipulator isn’t a toy, but I challenge you to find a more fun piece of equipment to blast foes with than the Gravity Gun. The world is your weapon with the Gravity Gun, and while flung pallets and plastic cones don’t do much damage, find an explosive propane tank or a concrete barrier and foes will find themselves obliterated into the next universe.

The G Gun has two different settings: a tractor beam that lifts objects and an energy spike that repulses targets with tremendous force across the map. Punting Headcrabs into the horizon is a sheer delight, as is thwacking Combine cronies with a high velocity metal barrel. The Gravity Gun wins points for creativity as a utilitarian tool and an imaginative lethal weapon. It should come as no surprise the Half Life 2’s Gravity Gun was designed by the same team that created the Portal Gun.

Conclusion

The guns listed here are more of a nostalgic walk down a bullet-ridden memory lane, but we also have top-tier weapon lists for Valorant and Escape from Tarkov!

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