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"You know, when you twirl your gun like that, you kinda look like a dick."
—Forum Roleplay, IC
A character spins a gun by the trigger around the finger. Breaks pretty much every rule of gun safety at once, but at least it looks cool.
This trope, like several other Guns and Gunplay Tropes, originated in Westerns. Back in the Old West, the single-action revolver and the lever-action rifle were the weapons of choice, and they had to have their hammers cocked (in the case of revolvers) or levers pulled (in the case of rifles) to load a round before they could fire, unlike modern guns which only need to have the trigger pulled in order to shoot. In addition, modern gun safety rules did not exist in this period, let alone mechanical safeties for firearms, so men either carried their revolvers around with one chamber empty or occasionally ended up shooting themselves in the foot.
In Real Life, this is an excellent case of Don't Try This At Home (or anywhere, for that matter) — triggers are designed to fire weapons, and twirling a gun around by the trigger means you have no control over where the barrel is going to be pointing when the gun goes off, meaning that you run the risk of accidentally shooting yourself or someone else.
A frequent comedy version is for a gunslinger to do this, and then have some hapless sap try it, only for something to go wrong.
Subtrope of Weapon Twirling.
- Braham of One Piece seemed fond of doing this whenever he had an excuse to do so.
- Justice from Afro Samurai does this before holstering one of his revolvers, which apparently results in a Diagonal Cut Off with His Head for Afro's father. He used a sword wielded by his hidden third arm, but we don't learn that till later.
- Yusei does this with a revolver-shaped duel disk. It happened during a western-themed filler arc.
- It's a favorite skill of Vash the Stampede in Trigun. Despite the monumental size (and possibly weight) of the gun in question.
- Mami Tomoe of Puella Magi Madoka Magica does this in episode 3 of the anime.
- In one Lucky Luke album, one guy tries this — and shoots himself in the hand.
- In the album The Klondike, Soapy Smith had the habit of doing this. One gag involved Smith trying to shoot a Mountie only for Luke to shoot his gun, causing it to start twirling.
- In the same album, Luke and Waldo like to make an enemy do this at gunpoint. Especially Smith, whose finger eventually swells up to the point of making him unable to shoot.
- Vengeance features rookie hero the Ultimate Nullifier, who wields dual hip-holstered pistols that temporarily depower anyone hit by their bullets. He likes to spin them when he's bored, when he's trying to make a point, or when he just wants to look cool.
- Bret Maverick demonstrates this ability in the Maverick movie.
- Taken to a logical extreme in Tombstone, where Doc Holliday and Johnny Ringo "duel" entirely by seeing who can do the most elaborate Gun Spin. Doc wins by using a tin cup to mirror all of Johnny's tricks.
- Also the scene on the street when Doc is called a Drunken Piano player and told he's probably seeing double, he pulls his second pistol and spins them in opposite directions with his tin cup still in his hand (a very difficult trick), accompanied by a Pre-Ass-Kicking One-Liner that sadly doesn't quite pan out. seen here(start at 0:45).
- A fancy spinning draw is how Anne realized RoboCop was really her old partner, Murphy: Murphy had copied the trick from his son's favorite TV show.
- Also applied later as a Tear Jerker when Murphy/Robocop has a flashback to his son asking him to perform said trick.
- The gun safety issue is averted by the fact that Murphy only does that trick after unloading the gun (The first time he does it, he is seen reloading the gun afterwords, the second time, he had just emptied the clip at the firing range).
- The eponymous hero of the Trinity Spaghetti Western movies absolutely loves doing this.
- An almost-Throw It In moment in The Mexican has Brad Pitt's character drop his gun when he tries to do it. (He actually did do it by accident on set, but that wasn't the take they used in the film — just the inspiration.)
- Most famously in the Rooster Cogburn movies, John Wayne used a Winchester lever-action rifle with an enlarged cocking lever, allowing him to recock by spinning the gun one-handed.
- In an Homage to the above, the Terminator used the same kind of gun in Terminator 2. The armorer provided a regular Winchester and a modified one; when Arnold grabbed the wrong one to do some flip-cocking, he nearly broke three fingers.
- In one western Kirk Douglas shows off his fancy gun twirling and shooting skills for a young cowboy. Impressed, he asks if Kirk can teach him to do that. Kirk replies, "Hell no! All that fancy twirling never saved anyone!"
- Jango Fett does this before holstering his blaster in Attack of the Clones
- Clint Eastwood's Man With No Name does this every time he holsters his weapon. Also a Shout-Out to this was done at the end of the last Dirty Harry film.
- In Planet Terror, El Wray demonstrates his skills by twirling a pair of revolvers in various ways. Considering that the film is a throwback to 80s Grindhouse action films, it's pretty much justified.
- Buford "Mad Dog" Tannen from Back to The Future Part III enjoys this little bit of showboating before his climatic Showdown At
High NoonEight O'Clock with Clint Eastwood, twirling his revolver forward, then twirling it back to smoothly replace it in its holster.
- Whenever The Three Stooges find themselves in the old West, expect them to have ... issues with handling their guns this way.
- Used in Silverado to establish characters as being skilled with guns.
- Used as a gag in House, when a bat-winged skeletal monster seizes Roger's shotgun and flies off with it. Rather than claw his face off as expected for such a bestial-looking critter, the creature performs a Gun Twirl with it and then Shoots The Rope from which Roger is suspended.
- EVE twirls her Arm Cannon before "holstering" it the first time she fires at poor WALL-E (and never does it again for the rest of the movie).
- Helga actually does this in Atlantis the Lost Empire just right before the submarine gets attacked by the Levithan.
- In The Black Hole, S.T.A.R. twirls his laser gun after beating Old B.O.B. at target shooting.
- Most of the characters in Versus doing this at least once after pulling a gun or before holstering it, just because it adds to the Rule of Cool.
- The Quick and the Dead features an entire cast of gunfighters who twirl their guns in varying degrees of fanciness.
- In an effort to subvert this trope, Western writer Louis L'amour had one of this characters twirling his gun and accidentally killing a man. When he's hung the townspeople put a sign around his neck saying "This was no accident".
- Parodied in The Colour Of Magic, as the head of the Assassins' Guild does this trick with a short blowpipe after firing off a poisoned dart.
- Sylar does this in an episode of Heroes... for bonus points, it's after he's just stolen Bob's ability and he turns the gun to gold while he spins it.
- Chuck Connors in The Rifleman was another example of the 'twirl a lever action gun to cock it' variety.
- Ronon Dex of Stargate Atlantis is quite fond of this.
- Batman had one of the villains entertain a kid by teaching how to properly twirl a pistol.
- A M*A*S*H episode has Frank Burns attempting this in a very clumsy fashion; he then hands the gun to Radar, who does it expertly.
- Daiki Kaitou loves doing this, in an especially strange example since his gun is the Transformation Trinket that lets him become Kamen Rider Diend.
- Square One TV had one segment of Mathnet set in an abandoned Southwest town - one episode began with George Frankly twirling his calculator.
- The one episode on Red Dwarf where the crew get trapped in a Western virtual reality game, the Cat does this - with a gun in each hand.
- The (first) Doctor does this in the Doctor Who serial The Gunfighters. Steven attempts to copy him and drops the gun.
- Like everything else to do with guns, Brisco County Jr. is an expert at this.
- The Office (US): When Dwight is told that he can't wear a gun in a holster in the office, he twirls the gun and it discharges putting a hole in the floor and deafening Andy in one ear.
- Sammy Davis Jr. could spin two guns while singing. Danny John-Jules references this as an inspiration for the Red Dwarf example above.
- Sledge Hammer! has the title character do this a lot, including once after giving a kid a lecture on playing with guns.
- Frank Gallop's The Ballad of Irving has the eponymous character meeting his end this way.
Well, finally Irving got three slugs in the belly
- Brian Johnson of AC/DC fame does this with his microphone.
- The Malta Group Gunslingers in City of Heroes twirl their guns before they use their special attacks. This is a particularly Egregious example of someone who should know better, because, despite the name, the Gunslingers are Badass Normal special forces soldiers, not Wild West vigilantes.
- In Persona 3, the Protagonist and Mitsuru spin their Evokers when they draw them. Seeing as how they are planning to shoot themselves in the head with them, gun safety isn't that big an issue.
- Balthier from Final Fantasy XII does this, with a predictably suave and gentlemanly manner.
- The idle animation for the revolver is this in Half Life 2.
- Revolver Ocelot of Metal Gear Solid does this, seeing as how his weapon of choice is a single action revolver. He does it during his entire introductory speech in Metal Gear Solid game, and in MGS3 he's seen twirling his original service pistol, and a crossbow at one point, and then with three pistols at the same time in some crazy Up to Eleven variant of Russian Roulette. Before his boss battle he does a complicated series of tricks with a revolver in each hand.
- In The Twin Snakes remake, Ocelot twirls his weapon with his off hand after his other hand gets sliced off by the Ninja. However, he ends up dropping the gun — then picking it up quickly and pointing it at Snake.
- In Metal Gear Solid 3 Snake Eater, Ocelot uses his twirling guns for a practical purpose: to protect himself from a swarm of hornets. He spins them as they fly at him and they fall down dead.
- Snake can do it also, but only with the Single Action Army revolver, and not to the same impressive extent as Ocelot.
- If you do that in first person view while fighting Ocelot, depending on how well you did it, he will either mock you you, or be impressed. Either way, he'll start doing it, leaving him open to attack.
- In Spyro 3. Certain cowboy-themed enemies spin and flip their weapons... which serves no purpose but to give the player an opportunity to attack.
- One very common enemy (a cowboy themed semi-Elite Mook) in Viewtiful Joe does this, as does recurring Miniboss the Joker.
- In Knights of the Old Republic, and the sequel, pressing the x key (PC default) or Y button (xbox) outside of combat with a pistol causes the character to do this. Equipped akimbo too, but with a different animation.
- In Final Fantasy VII, Vincent's Victory Pose contains this.
- Vincent's attack animation with pistol's also contains this. Justified, in that he needs to spin the gun to re-arm the hammer mechanism since his claw like left hand is too bulky. It works fine for handling the pump action on his shotguns however.
- There's also the final flourish in the synchronized marching mini game, where Cloud's sword twirl is recreated with a Mook rifle.
- Rebecca's idle animation.
- Rubi Malone in Wet does this all the time, often when going into an arena battle.
- The main character of Shogo: Mobile Armor Division does this every time he draws his dual pistols, as well as after reloading them.
- The Heavy Weapons Guy in Team Fortress 2 does it with a shotgun.
- Although to him a shotgun is practically the size of a handgun.
- There's also a popular glitch that allows him to twirl his Gatling gun. Makes you wonder what they put in that sandvich...
- The Scout does this in reverse when reloading his pistol, pointing the barrel downwards before removing the magazine and then twirling it the rest of the way after he's replaced it.
- In both of the Gungrave games, leaving Beyond the Grave idle for a bit and he'll twirl his dual-handguns as an idle animation. He also does it at the start of each level ("KICK THEIR ASS!") as he draws them.
- Devil May Cry 4 features Dante twirling his dual pistols Ebony & Ivory prior to some rapid-fire action with a move called "Honeycomb."
- Dante also does this as his Idle Animation in the first game.
- The two main characters that use pistols as their default weapons in the western themed third person shooter Red Dead Revolver twirl their guns dramatically during the loading screens.
- One of these characters is a professional shootist and sharpshooter in a circus and the other is a well-written version of the classic western hero archetype. The characters actually perform complicated gun-twirling routines (the hero with a single, large colt and the shootist with two smaller revolvers) during these loading "screens", and the routines change as you progress through the game. Red Dead Revolvers, as a result, had arguably the single best and most entertaining load screens in the history of video games.
- For the sawed-off shotguns in the Marathon series, this is the standard method of reloading. The exact mechanism for this is Handwaved as being "too complex for [the player's] mind to understand".
- Fox McCloud does this when finishing up his B special in Super Smash Bros. Melee, whether after one or more shots. Don't most blasters lack even a trigger guard (which might be useful)?
- One of Sly Cooper's ancestors, Tennessee "Kid" Cooper, does this in one of the game series' Cutscenes.
- In Advent Rising, this is how the character reloads his guns. All his guns. Yes, even the rocket launchers.
- Tanya Adam's Idle Animation in Command and Conquer: Red Alert 2 has her spinning and juggling her .45 Colt pistols.
- Asagi can occasionally be seen spinning both her guns before holstering them in Soul Nomad and The World Eaters.
- Model 1887 shotguns used akimbo in Modern Warfare 2 are flip-cocked after each shot.
- In an homage to the motorcycle ride in Terminator 2, Alex Mason flip-cocks an 1887 Winchester during the escape from Vorkuta. He manages to fire two shots from the single-shot weapon before he has to reload.
- Twirling is an idle animation for the protagonist of Saints Row, and how he reloads akimbo firearms.
- Done in the first two Fallout games whenever a character holsters a handgun - or an SMG, in some cases.
- In Fallout: New Vegas, you meet Joshua Graham (the Burned man) in the Honest Hearts expansion with him doing this while preparing some Colt M1911s. Oddly, his twirling of the guns is done in a very safe way - he ejects the magazine and locks the slide before giving the gun a half-twirl to check the barrel, then twirls it back and reloads the gun once he's satisfied. Have a look.
- Manosuke Naitou of Ace Attorney Investigations 2 is a master of this.
- Princess Eruca can be seen doing this in combat in Radiant Historia.
- Amita of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha As Portable: The Gears of Destiny does with her pair of Variant Zappers during her Full Drive Burst as she switches them from their gun form to sword form and back.
- Used in Gears of War on two weapons. The first is the Gnasher shotgun where after a non-active reload animation they spin it by the lever. In the active reload however they forgo the flair entirely to get back to shooting faster. The second one is the Boltok revolver in Gears 2 and onward with the weapon specific execution. The character grabs the gun by the barrel, whacks the victim across the back of the skull, then spins it on their finger to return it to shooting position. More forgivable since executions are intended to be Awesome but Impractical.
- In Tales of Vesperia, Patty Fleur does this before using her Variable Trigger arte. You can delay the attack by making her twirl her pistol longer, which also makes it stronger.
- In Survival of the Fittest, Harold Fisher tries this before killing Maxwell Lombardi. Naturally, he drops the gun, which Maxwell puts to much better use.
- "My Little Duckaroo": Daffy Duck twirls his gun and ends up shooting himself in the head, showing why this is a bad idea.
- Being a cowboy-themed superhero, Vigilante of the Justice League naturally does this.
- Quick Draw McGraw has done this a few times.
- Hank in The Venture Brothers twirls a stapler in this fashion while helping Brock put up Christmas decorations.
- In the King of the Hill episode "Soldier of Misfortune" Dale talks about a phony story about how he supposedly performed a hit on a man to his gun club, upon finishing his story he twirls his pistol he had used to tell the story he ends up dropping the gun and it discharges hitting a cash register.