When it comes to weird-looking guns, few can beat FN’s P90 bullpup. Most rifles and personal defense weapons have a fairly traditional layout: magazine up front, grip behind that, with the stock bringing up the rear. The P90 not only departs from that in just about every way possible, but it just looks like something an alien would carry (assuming they can’t shoot lasers out of their eyes or something).
But, the P90 isn’t the only weird gun out there. Plenty of other strange guns, like FN’s F2000, the Chiappa Rhino and the Vektor CP1 have made their way onto the big screen, but none have become the sci-fi hits that the P90 has.
Now, thanks to GateWorld, we know why. (article continues after embedded video)
The P90’s acting career started in 1997, appearing in the James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies. But, its first starring role came when it appeared in Stargate SG-1, a TV show that continued the story of the movie Stargate. The show’s designers had to start with the MP5 and other guns that appeared in the movie, but they wanted to make their own unique mark on the show over time in much the same way Daniel Shanks started acting like James Spader’s Daniel Jackson but personalized the character over time as the show evolved.
But, the show’s armorer, Rob Fournier, knew that the MP5 didn’t make a lot of sense for military units taking a portal to other planets. The MP5 is more of a close-quarters personal defense weapon, and obviously isn’t a fantastic choice for people far from help against powerful enemies with terrifying staff weapons (spear-like sticks that fire blasts of plasma). So, he was pretty eager to get guns on the show that made more sense.
Sadly, it took several seasons to get everyone on board, and it only happened when he brought a cased-up P90 to a production meeting to show it to the rest of the show’s staff. When one of the show’s producers asked him, “What’s in the case?” he brought it out and explained (on top of the gun’s looks) why it was a better fit for the story. Another producer then asked him, “Do they have real ones that we can use?”, not knowing that the P90 was a real firearm.
So, this scene actually makes a lot of sense, because the show’s armorer actually wanted a gun that was a realistic fit for the story:
From then on, it was a big hit. Obviously, the show had many other guns over its 10 season run, plus five seasons of Stargate Atlantis and two seasons of Stargate Universe, along with two more direct-to-DVD movies. The P90 not only made its big mark on the show, but also became popular on many other shows and movies in the following years. Everything from I, Robot to Westworld featured the gun for various reasons.
In reality, it’s not a fantastic gun for most uses. If you asked most knowledgeable people what they’d take with them on a visit to another planet, you’d get all sorts of answers, but you’d probably see a lot of people choosing an AR-15 or AR-10 for more flexibility and power. But, the exotic look alone helps give all sorts of fiction involving aliens, robots and stargates an alien and futuristic look that most guns just can’t bring to the table.