Top 14 Best Anime Gunslingers & Gunmen: Our Favorite Characters

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Anime allows for some epic battles. But fights don’t always have to be about energy beams and vibrant magical waves.

More often than not, guns (whether realistic or infused with magic) give fights much-needed variety. And guns have always been an effective tool for suspense.

But which gun-wielding anime characters stand at the top in terms of uniqueness, appeal, and acclaim?

I’ve always wondered who my favorite anime gunslingers would be — and I’ve finally ranked them in this piece.

Warning: Spoilers ahead.


14. Shino Asada

Shino Asada from Sword Art Online anime

Anime: Sword Art Online

Shino Asada looks like your typical timid classmate in real life, but inside the game (whether that’s Gun Gale Online or ALfheim Online) she’s a badass.

When Shino becomes Sinon, she becomes your ideal long-range party member. With her light blue hair and military jacket, she may as well be the cutest gunslinger in anime.

But as much as I can praise her character design all day, I love her backstory even more.

Sinon didn’t play GGO just because she wanted to. In truth, Sinon wanted to recover from her trauma of using guns.

Sinon wasn’t in the wrong to defend herself from an armed robber. But death and murder aren’t things a teenager should witness.

So whenever I see Sinon with her sniper rifle, I see bravery and a desire to move forward.


13. Angelo Lagusa

Angelo Lagusa 91 Days anime screenshot

Anime: 91 Days

Shino Asada and Angelo Lagusa share a similar trauma involving guns.

But while Sinon chose to play a game to deal with her trauma, Angelo made it his life’s mission to get revenge on the people who killed his little brother and his parents.

Thus, it’s easy to sense why Angelo grew up the way he did: cynical, serious, and monotonous. He lost the joy he had as a kid.

Now with his impeccable manipulation skills and other cerebral strengths, Angelo is ready to kill anyone who gets in the way. He only has an M1911 pistol (and a knife), but that’s all he needs to be a terrifying foe.


12. Coyote Starrk

Coyote Starrk from Bleach anime

Anime: Bleach

Coyote Starrk isn’t your traditional gunman… because he’s a supernatural entity from a beloved shounen franchise.

As an Arrancar and the highest-ranking Espada, you don’t want to mess with him. Sure, his hair looks like it never got the care it needed — and he’s more likely to sleep and laze around than be an actual leader.

But when he does need to be on the battlefield, Coyote Starrk will unleash his analytical prowess to find the best skill to use against his enemies.

A whole gang can take him on at the same time. But he can accurately fire his pistols, unleashing Ceros with seemingly no end in sight.

Lastly, his Cero Metralleta is awe-inspiring.


11. Re-L Mayer

Re-L Mayer in Ergo Proxy anime

Anime: Ergo Proxy

Way before Studio Manglobe went bankrupt, it released an original anime called Ergo Proxy.

And it’s still one of the best original series today.

I love the character designs of many gunslingers on my list, but Re-L MAYER remains uniquely cool and beautiful. From her blue (or violet-ish) eyeshadow to her dark hair and an outfit reminiscent of Gothic Lolitas, Re-L Mayer exudes mystery.

She’s got a high degree of curiosity, and she will break every law if it means uncovering a secret.

Thanks to her paramilitary experience, she also likes keeping track of her daily routine, from her meals to her waking hours. And this training compensates for her lack of proxy abilities, giving her an edge with gun use.

Yet she’s not an emotionless, perfectionist gunslinger throughout the series. Re-L Mayer eventually becomes more approachable and empathetic, at least towards a few individuals.


10. Death the Kid

Death the Kid from Soul Eater anime

Anime: Soul Eater

Death the Kid is the most adorable little guy on my list.

Which is funny, since he’s the son of Death.

He doesn’t have to collect souls, yet he strives to collect twice the usual number of souls (200, to be exact) for his Demon Twin Guns, composed of sisters Patricia and Elizabeth Thompson.

If he’s not troubled by asymmetrical design (he’s a bit of a perfectionist), he’s a mad lad.

Death the Kid has ultra-powerful bullets that can decimate even the Wrath of the Pharaoh. And viewers all loved it when he juggled Crona in the air with his blazing fast and precise shooting.

Lastly, how can he not dominate as a gunslinger when he can use his guns in close-range fights as well? What a beast.


9. Kino

Kino Kino’s Journey anime screenshot

Anime: Kino’s Journey

Kino is far from a ruthless killing machine.

But she deserves this spot because of how good she is with her survival weapon set.

Within the context of Kino’s Journey, I can’t help but admire (or at least acknowledge) Kino. She’s this young, stoic teenager traveling from one country to another in the hopes of learning different cultures and sociopolitical systems.

Kino could interfere and “improve” the situation. But Kino’s Journey is about cultural relativism, moral complexity, and learning when to accept or tolerate the behavior.

Even if she often shoots without intending to execute any human or beast, she’s still a top-tier gun user. She can bring down anyone with her Colt Woodsman, the revolver Canon, and the sniper Flute — plus her assortment of knives.


8. Revy

Revy from Black Lagoon anime

Anime: Black Lagoon

Otherwise known as Rebecca Lee, this Chinese-American MC has a style that screams “I don’t care what you think!”

From the crop top to her unbuttoned short jeans (very short, if I may add) and jungle boots, Revy is all about feeling comfortable.

Still, even her seemingly tough exterior can’t hide her deep emotional & psychological scars.

Revy gives off edgy vibes. But her tendency to kill without care (including unarmed civilians), plus her vulgarity, racism, and her vices such as drinking and smoking, are all part of a coping mechanism.

I hope she completely recovers from all that abuse and trauma.

But until then, Revy remains to be an unpredictable ambidextrous killing machine.

She’s fast, can navigate herself in a crowded area, can elude bullets, and is superior with weapons like the Beretta 92F, grenade launcher, and the PM-63 submachine gun. What a lass.


7. Yoko Littner

Yoko Littner in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann

Anime: Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann

As one of the most outrageously fun anime of all time, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann is home to many iconic sakuga scenes and cool, flashy characters — and Yoko Littner is easily one of them.

Sure, the 14-year-old girl doesn’t have Kamina’s pointy shades or Simon’s goggles (that also become his sunglasses). But you know what she does have?

A very long and powerful Barrett M82-esque sniper.

It doesn’t make sense that someone like her can easily run while holding her huge weapon. But realism is far from what TTGL goes for anyway.

Yoko is an amazing gunslinger and a highly valuable part of the Dai-Gurren Bridge.

She can just recklessly enter the battlefield with her top-tier marksmanship. But Yoko’s a thinker as well, identifying her foes’ weak points to better protect herself and her beloved allies.


6. Kiritsugu Emiya

Kiritsugu Emiya from Fate/stay night

Anime: Fate/stay night

Kiritsugu Emiya may look like his soul already left his body years ago — as if he’s just going through life with the least amount of energy required.

But how could anyone blame him? He’s already disillusioned with the idea of being a hero to everyone, even if that inspired his adopted son Shirou to improve himself.

I’m thankful for the critically acclaimed Fate/Zero, which gave Kiritsugu his much-deserved spotlight.

Similarly, I love that he’s a gun-toting killer of magi. Everyone else sticks to their mythical magic and fantastical skills, but Kiritsugu capitalized on modern technology.

If you’re a magus and you see him with his Thompson Contender, Walther WA2000 semi-automatic sniper rifle, and Calico M950, it’s time to run fast.


5. Brandon Heat/Beyond the Grave

Brandon Heat/Beyond the Grave in Gungrave anime

Anime: Gungrave

Of course, I have to include the MC of the anime called Gungrave.

I know there’s a theme going on with how earlier entries (and now Brandon) all have gun-related personal tragedies, but it’s only a coincidence.

Brandon knew he had the skill to kill more effectively than others. Which meant he could rise to the top of the mafia syndicate… but he chose not to.

He loves his friends more (and his love, Maria Asagi). If that meant not biting the hand that feeds them, he’ll happily oblige.

But as Gungrave eventually shows, life doesn’t always work out the way you want it to. People rise and fall, and love and betrayal are always around the corner.

Thus, the only way to live is to accept change: and change is the only constant in this world.


4. Riza Hawkeye

Riza Hawkeye in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

Anime: Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

If Edward Elric and Roy Mustang weren’t around, Riza Hawkeye would easily take the crown as the fan favorite of FMA: B (and the earlier FMA adaptation).

Lieutenant Riza Hawkeye of the Amestrian State Military knows what she’s capable of doing with her weapons, which vary from sniper rifles and bolt-action rifles to pistols and dual handguns.

I don’t even have to question her physical ability to excel in battle. Her character design shows a slightly muscular build, and her usually serious expression makes you think that she’s always a step ahead.

Riza isn’t a cold individual (especially when Black Hayate is around). But she has a complex past due to what she saw and during the civil war in Ishval, so I understand why she’s more stoic than expressive.

It’s difficult to be in her position: one in which she doesn’t want others to witness and carry the horrors of war. But it’s her skill in using guns that allows her to protect others.


3. Alucard

Alucard from Hellsing Ultimate anime

Anime: Hellsing Ultimate

If you’ve seen Hellsing Ultimate, you know that Alucard is a guy you don’t want to irritate for even half a second.

The Hellsing Organization is already composed of cunning and formidable individuals ready to defeat evil threats — and Alucard sits at the top in terms of sheer power.

Consider this fact:

Alucard can quickly kill his opponents even if he has no weapons. His supernatural strength and skills are sometimes all he needs for lethal damage.

So imagine if he utilizes his insane endurance, long-distance sight, flawless accuracy, and insane reflexes (i.e. he can catch and dodge bullets) with weapons ranging from machine guns and swords to his favorite pair of handguns: The Jackal and Casull.

An ordinary human is physically incapable of handling his handguns, because The Jackal is huge and was precisely made for Alucard, while Casull weighs six kilograms — without bullets.

In fact, the Casull is so powerful that Alucard only needs to use one bullet to kill the average vampire.

So if you’re only human, run away from his guns immediately.


2. Spike Spiegel

Spike Spiegel from Cowboy Bebop

Anime: Cowboy Bebop

How can this man not be one of the best gunmen in anime history when “Bang!” is his most iconic line?

Look, when I think about my favorite gunslingers, it’s not always about sheer power.

But to be fair, Spike is undoubtedly skilled in marksmanship because of his time with the Red Dragon Crime Syndicate. Combined with his tall and lean appearance, he’s amazingly perceptive, sharp-witted, and even knows martial arts and hand-to-hand combat.

But I love his overall character and how Shinichiro Watanabe (and the rest of his team) presented him with each passing episode, slowly but surely telling viewers he’s one of the best-designed characters in all of anime.

Spike is a bounty hunter that seemingly prefers sleeping and being a lazy bum than looking for the next target — and he’s fairly impatient.

Yet he’s a good man.

He says he dislikes dogs, kids, and certain women. But the Bebop welcomes Ein, Edward, and Faye. And Spike eventually learns that they aren’t so bad after all.

He also says that people shouldn’t get stuck in the past — even though he has trouble letting go of his own. And I love that dilemma about Spike.

He doesn’t have to continue living a life of chasing and shooting. But the seemingly inconsequential events throughout his life have led to where he is and the way he is now:

He’s someone who must face his past for one last time, with guns blazing, ready to conquer not just Vicious, but perhaps Death as well.

In doing so, perhaps he’ll feel alive again. Fully in the present for once.


1. Vash the Stampede

Vash the Stampede Trigun anime screenshot

Anime: Trigun

Here’s the man who has a bounty on his head worth $$60,000,000,000. You read that right: there are two dollar signs.

Sixty billion double dollars.

So how can a single man’s capture be worth sixty billion double dollars? Well, let’s just say that Vash the Stampede destroyed the entire city of July.

No one died because of that catastrophe caused by his top weapon called the Angel Arm, which only has to release one blast to bring about destruction. But that doesn’t change the fact that he erased the city from existence.

Yet Vash the Stampede yearns for love and peace more than anything else (thanks to Rem Saverem). So why does destruction always tag along with him?

It’s a horrible thing for someone to have a notorious past (and persisting negative image) and has since been doing his best to heal, only for life to remind him that some things are beyond control.

No matter how much he wants to be a pacifist, Vash keeps on experiencing loss, betrayal, and depression. And that’s aside from all the bounty hunters over the years raring to bring him down.

When he says that “this world is made of love and peace”, it’s a desperate wish rather than a statement of fact.

So when you see his iconic final battle with his own brother Knives Millions, you understand the weight of it all… of his traumatic past and present clashing with his ideals, and his need to no longer be in sheer isolation.

Yes, his cybernetic arm with a built-in machine gun is heavy. And it’s the same case for Wolfwood’s cross-shaped Punisher, a machine gun and rocket launcher all at once. It’s only the .45 Long Colt that isn’t hefty.

But physical weight isn’t a problem for Vash.

It’s the emotional burden and moral crises that he’s been carrying for decades that make the final gunfight so timeless, thrilling, and rewarding.

In a world where people wanted him dead, Vash chose to save a life. His victory in battle is a win not just for him, but also for his brother, whom he gave a second chance to.

That fight wasn’t just about determining the stronger gunman — it was about challenging Vash’s own lifelong principles and reconciling with his past, of learning to move forward with a new perspective in life.

Vash knew he was a god with his guns. But more importantly, he was aware of the horrors they bring about to humankind, and of the consequences you must face for having such power.

He can always pull the trigger. But a good gunman knows that forgoing to do so is sometimes the wisest decision for everyone.

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R. Romero

Millennial introvert on the lookout for slice-of-life anime, world cinema, and European music. Follow on Twitter @notspencer08