I’m just annoying enough to overanalyze TV shows and movies. I keep it to myself, but I notice when things make sense with guns and when they don’t. HBO’s The Last of Us just ended, and I watched it weekly. I enjoyed the game immensely, and I enjoyed the show. I think the game was better, just for the record. The Last of Us game and TV show are not gun-heavy games like Ghost Recon or The Division. Yet, after watching the show, I was pleasantly surprised by 95% of the Last of Us when it came to firearms. Just so you know, there will be some light spoilers, so deal with it or click Back.
The Setting and Timeline of the Last of Us
The game takes place in 2023, but the world ‘ended’ in 2003, as far as the story goes. The guns and gear are locked into the world of 2003, and I think it’s important we realize 2003 was a very different time for gun owners. Gun culture was much smaller and much different. The Assault Weapon Ban was still in effect, and the world of firearms was AR-centric.
Heck, it wasn’t necessarily Glock-centric. Glock was big, but not like they are today. Hell, PMAGs didn’t exist at the time! I think this is wisely reflected by the guns used in the show. People like the survivalist we know as Bill isn’t carrying an AR or AK. He’s a bit of a fudd who seems to prefer his pump action 870 and his 1911.
When we do see soldiers and freedom fighters, they carry M4A1s, AKs, and even the Mini 14. The Mini 14, in particular, is a smart choice as it was quite popular in this era. The M4A1s are adorned with period-correct optics like the ACOG, but most are just using carry handle sights. The guns and gear all may sense.
The Weapons of the Last of Us
We know the bad guys carry assault rifles, which are period correct. The aforementioned M4A1 and AK pop up, as do the M16A4. Rarely do they have accessories, but some have KAC grips and Surefire lights. I’m not enough of a light nerd to know if they are, period correct. There are Knight’s quad rails, and no M-LOK or keymod makes an appearance. There is also a healthy amount of wear and tear on the guns to look realistic.
Finishes are beaten to hell, and we see things like duct tape helping keep parts together. It’s neat to see, and it’s a smart move from the armorer. There is also a scene where Joel breaks his dominant hand, beating a man to death, and can’t shoot worth a damn. It’s a smart and realistic way to disable our hero and explain the mistakes he makes.
Throughout the Last of Us, Joel carries a revolver which is a Taurus Model 66. Funny enough, that’s the same revolver he carries in the game. He also seems to prefer bolt action rifles, and there is some good reasoning why when you apply some critical thought.
It’s been 20 years since the world ended and 20 years since the last factory round of ammo was loaded. Ammo is old, or likely some reloaded. Who knows the quality of the ammo of the era? Semi-autos require a certain degree of quality ammo to correctly cycle and function.
It makes sense that revolvers and bolt action rifles would be the weapons of choice if you are forced to scavenge ammunition. You can manually cycle the weapon easily, and revolvers can be underloaded and still function easily.
What It Gets Wrong
As I said, it gets 95% of it right. There is some really dumb stuff. First, Joel gets an M4 that clearly functions fine. Later he ditches it. His reasoning is that it’s tough to find ammo to use with it. That’s just wrong, but let’s say only FEDRA has the right ammo, and he’s not planning to fight FEDRA. Okay, fine, but he still has ammo for the gun and doesn’t have a better option anyway.
A much better excuse would be to explain that it would make them a target, and FEDRA soldiers they encounter might rightfully assume they killed a FEDRA soldier to take it.
Another scene has Bill getting shot while fighting raiders because he’s just standing in the middle of a street fighting. He isn’t taking cover, and there is plenty of cover to take. Later on, Joel is using a Mini 14 and kills a man with an M4. He takes an M4 mag to reload his Mini 14, but we all know that’s not how that works.
While Last of Us isn’t perfect, it gets a few things right, and I appreciate that it seems like the show was made with love and appreciation. You can always tell when people care, and it’s clear that the creators of The Last of Us cared, even when it came to the guns.