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‘The Hunger Games’ actually got these rifles right

The Hunger Games' dystopia features advanced technology like cloaked hovercrafts and genetically-optimized animals. However, armed conflict still relies on conventional firearms that we know.
Miguel Ortiz Avatar


The Hunger Games, its sequel books, and associated movies are extremely popular with over 100 million copies of the trilogy sold globally and the movies grossing nearly $3 billion. Building on the fictional world that she created, author Suzanne Collins followed the original trilogy up with a prequel titled The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes. The film adaption maintains great continuity with the first four movies…at least with the firearms depicted.

The Hunger Games takes place in a near-future, post-apocalyptic North America called Panem. This dystopia features advanced technology like cloaked hovercrafts and genetically-optimized animals. However, armed conflict between the Capitol and rebelling districts still relies on conventional firearms that we know in our world. In fact, underneath the paint from the prop department, the guns used in The Hunger Games can all be found in the real world.

1. Heckler & Koch G3

Capitol soldiers carry H&K G3s during the war with the districts (Lionsgate)

The first firearm shown in The Hunger Games, and the only one that appears in the first film, is the G3. In a propaganda film, the rifle is shown in the hands of Capitol soldiers fighting the rebellion. Fought decades before the events of The Hunger Games, the appearance of the Cold War-era G3 is fitting. In a welcome show of continuity, Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes depicts the German-made battle rifle still in use by Capitol forces 10 years after the end of the war. Following the end of the conflict, it’s unlikely that the Capitol would invest in researching and developing a new standard-issue weapon, choosing instead to pour funds into the gruesome spectacle of adolescent combat that is the Hunger Games.

2. FN P90

Peacekeepers armed with P90 PDWs for an operation with low probability of combat (Lionsgate)

In The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Capitol Peacekeepers are armed, possibly in response to Katniss’ antics during the Hunger Games, but more likely a reflection of an increased film budget like their improved uniforms and armor. Their standard-issue weapon appears to be the P90. Made by FN Herstal in Belgium, the 5.7x28mm-chambered bullpup PDW is a popular choice for sci-fi productions for its unique and futuristic appearance, despite having been designed in the late 1980s. Especially in white, the P90 fits the near-future setting of The Hunger Games. In real life, the P90 was designed to arm rear-echelon forces who are less likely to see frontline combat with a weapon more effective than a handgun but lighter and more compact than a service rifle.

3. FN F2000

Especially in white, the F2000 fits the aesthetic of the Capitol (Lionsgate)

Another entry from FN Herstal, the F2000 is also seen in the hands of Capitol Peacekeepers. Possibly issued as a combat weapon compared to the policing role of the P90, the F2000 is an assault rifle chambered in 5.56x45mm. Larger than the P90, it retains the sci-fi bullpup configuration and white color scheme. Designed in the late 1990s, the F2000 did not see widespread adoption. Its lack of use by militaries and law enforcement lends to its unique on-screen appearance for the majority of viewers.

4. IWI Tavor CTAR-21

Look closely and you can spot Tavors amongst the F2000s (Lionsgate)

Possibly used as a stand-in for the F2000, the Israeli-made CTAR-21 is seen in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1. With the rebellion in full swing, Peacekeepers are armed almost exclusively with F2000s. However, the CTAR-21 can be seen in use during a few scenes. It shares a bullpup layout with the F2000 and can be mistaken for the Belgian rifle by the unfamiliar viewer.

5. M1 carbine & M14

The M14 is the shortest-serving standard issue rifle in U.S. military history (Lionsgte)

In Mockingjay Part 1, District 8 rebels against the Capitol with the weapons available to them. This includes an M1 carbine carried by rebel leader Commander Paylor and an M14 rifle carried by a child soldier. With wood stocks, these 20th-century weapons reflect the desperation and hardship of the District’s uprising in contrast to the sleek and futuristic bullpups fielded by Peacekeepers. Built by the U.S. and distributed as military aid, these weapons have appeared in third-world conflicts around the globe.

6. Heckler & Koch G36

District 13 soldiers wield G36Ks with M203s (Lionsgte)

Fielded by District 13, whose primary industry was military arms production, the G36 represents an advancement over the older G3 while still offering audiences a less familiar firearm. Previously the primary infantry rifle of the German Army, the G36 is not very common in the United States. Notably, the G36 in Panem is depicted with an M203 40mm grenade launcher rather than the AG36 40mm grenade launcher that was designed for it. Both the G36K and G36C variants are seen in Mockingjay.