John McClane Costume Guide

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!

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.

How to Dress Like John McClane from Die Hard

Die Hard is a movie that has stood the test of time as one of the greatest action films ever made. From the badass music to the tough guy antics, it’s easy to see why McClane is everyone’s favorite cop or action hero.

This guide will show you how to make a John McClane costume that captures the spirit of the character from Die Hard but leaves out the cheesy one-liners.

Hair & Face

You’ll want to have a short cut with some volume for the hair. Think of it as if he just got out of bed – there’s definitely some volume, but it’s messy.

Use whatever hair product you usually use to make your hair look like that. If you don’t already have this haircut style, see if you can find a photo online of Bruce Willis in the Die Hard era and take it to your barber or stylist to show them what you’re trying to replicate.

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

The tank top is the most essential part of a John McClane costume. It’s what he wore in all three Die Hard movies, and it’s easily recognizable as being the same garment.

You can order an official one from Amazon or just buy a white tank top at your local store. If you’re looking for something more authentic, you can always order a used faded one from eBay.

There are a lot of different styles – plain white, black, grey with distressed “holes.” Choose whatever kind you want and go with it to round out the character.


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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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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