The Weird Truth About James Bond's First Gun

If you've ever read Casino Royale, the first in Ian Fleming's series of James Bond novels, you'll have noticed a few marked differences between the 007 you know and the one that's presented on the page. Early-days Bond spends roughly a whole minute explaining to a bartender how he'd like his drink mixed. He spends an entire chapter explaining baccarat to a female coworker. He is described, on more than one occasion, as looking like Hoagy Carmichael.

But when the going gets dangerous, at least MI6's highest-functioning sociopath can still be counted on to lock and load, utilizing that classic firearm that we've all come to associate with James Bond: a .25 ACP Beretta with a skeleton grip.

It's true – the iconic Walther PPK which, if the movie posters are any indication, Bond can't put down long enough to get his picture taken, didn't show up until the series was already six books deep. The story of how it came to be 007's weapon of choice is one steeped in sass, machismo, and Fleming's distaste for being called girly.

Just enough firepower to shake a martini

The .25 ACP Beretta, if you're not familiar, is tiny. It's a fun-sized firearm. If there were roller coasters for guns, it wouldn't meet the height requirement for any of them. That was sort of the point – in Casino Royale, Bond carries it in an underarm holster, where the weapon is completely concealed once he puts on his jacket.

The Daily Telegraph reports that around the time From Russia, With Love was published, Ian Fleming was contacted by a firearms enthusiast named Geoffrey Boothroyd. In his letter, Boothroyd stated that "a man in James Bond's position would never consider using a .25 Beretta. It's really a lady's gun -– and not a very nice lady at that! Dare I suggest that Bond should be armed with a .38 or a nine millimetre -– let's say a German Walther PPK? That's far more appropriate."

This, apparently, was back when writing a letter really meant something. Fleming wrote back, thanking his critic for the well-informed advice. In Dr. No, he introduced a new character, an MI6 armorer by the name of Boothroyd, who chastised Bond for using a girly gun and replaced it with something, uh, more in keeping with traditional gender roles? Maybe? Gun culture is a labyrinth.