John McClane DIY Costume Guide for Cosplay

If you’re a fan of the Die Hard movie franchise, then you know that one of the critical elements to any good McClane costume is making it look like he’s been through the wringer. And what’s more wringer-y than a good ol’ fashioned gunfight?

This guide will show you how to make your own John McClane costume that will have everyone at the party thinking you’re an action hero. Let’s get started!

How to Dress Like John McClane from Die Hard

Die Hard is a film that endures as a pinnacle of the action genre. The pulse-pounding score, coupled with Bruce Willis’ rugged portrayal of John McClane, cement the film’s place in cinematic history.

If you’re looking to pay homage to the iconic character at your next holiday gathering, this guide will show you how to craft a McClane costume that captures the essence of the character without descending into cheesy cliche.

While there is still a rabid debate about whether Die Hard can legitimately be considered a Christmas movie, there are many people that view it as a holiday classic. This costume is sure to generate more than a few laughs at a holiday party.

Yippee-Ki-Yay, cosplayer!

Hair & Face

The key to getting John McClane’s famous hairstyle is to cut your hair short and give it a lot of volume. Think of it as if McClane has just rolled out of bed – there’s a distinct tousled quality to the look.

Use your usual hair styling products to achieve this effect, or, if you’re looking to replicate the style precisely, find a photo of Bruce Willis from the era of “Die Hard” and bring it to your barber or stylist as a reference.

Mehron Texas Dirt Special Effects Makeup Powder (0.75 oz), Medium

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Tank Top

The tank top is an integral component of any John McClane costume. It serves as a defining characteristic of the character in all three “Die Hard” films, and its instantly recognizable.

You can opt for an official replica from Amazon or acquire a white tank top from your local store. For a more authentic touch, consider purchasing a gently worn, faded version from eBay.

The options available run the gamut from plain white to black, and even grey with distressed holes. Choose whichever style you prefer, but don’t overlook the importance of this garment in capturing the essence of John McClane.


For that McClane beat-up look, the jeans should be ripped up at the knees and thighs.

As for the fit of the jeans, they should definitely be tighter than your standard everyday jeans. They shouldn’t feel like you can barely squeeze into them – but they shouldn’t be so loose that they’re baggy and falling off. Remember, McClane is a tough guy, and he’s not wearing his best jeans for this fight!

Dickies mens 874 Flex Work Pants, Dark Navy, 36W x 32L US

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Gun Holster

Every good John McClane costume needs a gun holster. They’re very easy to find and use. He uses a shoulder rig in the movies.

Just pick the one you like, strap it on, and you’ll be ready for action!


The handgun of choice for John McClane is his trusty Beretta 92FS. It’s the pistol he carried in Die Hard, Die Hard 2, and Live Free or Die Hard.

John McClane’s Beretta is a 9mm with a 15-round magazine. For costume purposes, you should use an airsoft version of this gun.

Rhode Island Novelty 6.75 inch Cap Pistol, One per Order

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Shirt & Jacket

The shirt should have short sleeves (no wife-beaters). On the front of it, you should wear a bulletproof vest.

Blood Splatter

If you’re going to be involved in a big gunfight, there are bound to be some casualties. To really sell the idea that you’ve been through hell, consider spraying your clothes with fake blood or getting some small red spatters on them via makeup. It’s not too difficult to do, and it makes for a fantastic effect.

Walkie Talkie

Zippo Lighter

Zippo 218 Classic Black Matte Pocket Lighter

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Cosplay Examples

About John McClane in Die Hard

John McClane, played by Bruce Willis, is a New York City detective. He’s on vacation back in his hometown of Los Angeles when he gets involved in a hostage situation during the Nakatomi company Christmas party.

The first movie was an origin story detailing how John acquired his signature style – ripped-up jeans, beaten leather jacket, and a big ol’ automatic pistol.

Wrapping Up

It’s not easy to be John McClane. He’s a complicated, nuanced character that doesn’t always make the best decisions. But his tenacity and willingness to fight for what he believes in makes him one of the most popular action heroes of all time.

So how do you go about cosplaying as this iconic figure? While there is no one-size-fits-all answer, we hope our tips have given you a good starting point for creating your own McClane look. Have fun and stay safe!

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