Is John Wick 4’s Dragon’s Breath Ammo Real?


  • John Wick: Chapter 4 showcases the use of the Dragon’s Breath shotgun, an over-the-top weapon that shoots explosive bullets.
  • The Dragon’s Breath ammunition used in the scene is a real-life thing, but it is mostly custom-made and banned in many U.S. states.
  • The realistic portrayal of the Dragon’s Breath ammo in the film was achieved through the use of mostly practical effects, with stunt performers being set on fire using propane pellets.



John Wick: Chapter 4 offered yet another opportunity for its titular protagonist to wreak havoc, this time with a particularly terrifying weapon: the Dragon’s Breath shotgun. Ejecting explosive bursts of light in a spectacular apartment shootout, the titular assassin played by Keanu Reeves takes down his assailants by not just firing at them but setting them on fire. Throughout the hyperviolent franchise, John Wick has managed to make weapons out of even mundane objects around him. There’s the wooden pencil soaked in blood in John Wick: Chapter 2 and also the hardbound book sandwiched between the teeth of Serbian basketballer Boban Marjanović’s character in John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum.

When it comes to guns, John Wick is smooth with his kills. After wreaking havoc on the roads of Paris in John Wick: Chapter 4, he is cornered in an abandoned apartment where his assailants unravel a rain of bullets on him. But John successfully manages to save his own ammo by quickly picking up the guns of each slain enemy. This is how he gets his hands on a hitman’s aptly nicknamed Dragon’s Breath shotgun. With director Chad Stahelski overseeing the scene from a voyeuristic top-down angle, John brutally burns down his enemies with this iconic weapon that instantly became the 2023 blockbuster’s talking point.

John Wick 4’s Dragon’s Breath Ammo Is A Real-Life Thing

John Wick shooting a Dragon's Breath round in John Wick: Chapter 4.

Apart from his fists, the Dragon’s Breath shotgun and its explosive shells definitely rank among John Wick’s top weapons. While the shotgun used in the John Wick: Chapter 4 scene is a conventional model, the ammo is what seems extravagantly over-the-top. Interestingly, these explosive bullets, which leave a flash of fire when released, are very real and mostly used illegally in different parts of the world. Instead of being manufactured in a factory, the Dragon’s Breath ammo is mostly custom-made. With that being said, Chad Stahelski’s crew didn’t use real bullets on set (via Vulture) and some visual tricks were used instead.

Dragon’s Breath ammunition is banned in many U.S. states and shipping is also restricted due to it being a fire hazard.

How John Wick 4 Created Its Dragon’s Breath Scene

John Wick firing Dragon's Breath ammo at a man in John Wick Chapter 4

Considering its illegal nature and how explosive the real-life Dragon’s Breath ammo could have been while filming, it’s obvious why the stunt team refrained from sticking to authenticity. Still, the scene came out as realistically as possible thanks to the efforts of John Wick: Chapter 4 cinematographer Dan Lausten and the VFX team. As reported by Vulture, Lausten and his assistant cinematographers used a flame gun in the apartment shootout to create a color reference for post-production work. The VFX team was quick to hop on with extra flares and sparks to make the Dragon’s Breath ammo live up to its name.

As for the unfortunate stunt performers who are set on fire with the Dragon’s Breath rounds, Chad Stahelski shared how that was done in an interview with IndieWire. He revealed that the stunt actors were covered in combustible fuel and the bullets fired at them were propane pellets. So, when each pellet touched a stunt performer’s body, he hit a squib on his body and got engulfed in flames. The fact that the impact of Dragon’s Breath ammo was conducted practically by the stunt team is fascinating and goes to show the immense work that went into crafting the sharply edited chaos of John Wick: Chapter 4.

  • John Wick Chapter 4 Poster

    John Wick: Chapter 4

    Release Date:

    Chad Stahelski

    Hiroyuki Sanada, Clancy Brown, Scott Adkins, Keanu Reeves, Ian McShane, Bill Skarsgard, Laurence Fishburne, Rina Sawayama, Donnie Yen, Lance Reddick, Shamier Anderson


    169 minutes

    Thriller, Crime, Action

    Shay Hatten, Michael Finch

    Distributor :


    John Wick, John Wick: Chapter 2, John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

    John Wick


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