Guest Writer: Kenzie Fitzpatrick There’s a brutal difference between fact and fiction. The things we see in the…
Anyone who has watched the original Die Hard film from 1988 has to get a chuckle from seeing it on a list of classic Christmas movies. After all, it has little in common with A Christmas Carol with its theme of redemption, It’s a Wonderful Life (appreciating what we have), or Christmas Vacation, a hilarious look at a family gathering gone wrong. That being said, it’s the perfect time of year to have some eggnog, put your feet up, and check out the Die Hard guns.
Plot Summary of Die Hard
Instead, Die Hard is a first-rate action movie that coincidentally occurs at a corporate party on Christmas Eve. The story revolves around John McClane (Bruce Willis), a New York City policeman. He’s visiting his estranged wife, Holly (Bonnie Bedelia), joining her at a holiday party at Nakatomi Corporation headquarters in Los Angeles. Holly is an executive for the company, and John has a backlog of cases back east, explaining why they split.
While John washes up to join the party, Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) and a dozen armed terrorists invade the party and take over the building. Soon, it becomes apparent that these are not terrorists supporting a cause. They’re high-tech robbers there to steal the $640 million in bearer bonds stored in the building’s vault.
Since he cannot escape, McClane must oppose the robbers and try to save Holly, whom he still loves. He sets out barefoot with his detective sidearm (a Beretta 92F) and law enforcement training. Even though the odds pitch heavily against him, John proves one highly-motivated cop can quickly level the field against a dozen bad guys.
Here’s a look at six of the guns from this better-than-average action flick, starting with McClane’s Beretta:
Die Hard Guns
The Beretta plays a leading role in the movies. It appears when a passenger sees it in McClane’s shoulder holster as the plane lands in Los Angeles. It also stars when McClane blows smoke from its barrel near the movie’s finale. In between, he fires enough rounds to cause him to replace the 15-round magazine.
The semi-automatic Beretta chambers 9x19mm rounds, weighs 2.1 pounds, and has a 5” barrel. The Beretta came about in 1984 as the 92SB-F. It became the US military’s official sidearm (now called the M9) after winning a Small Arms Program competition. Renamed the 92F and released for civilian sales in 1987, it often features in films today.
Heckler & Koch P7M13
Hans Gruber carries the hard-chromed P7M13, initially killing CEO Joseph Takagi after removing a suppressor from its barrel. Later, he uses it to threaten Holly as he holds her hostage. Gruber is still grasping it and firing rounds as he falls backward from the 30th floor of the Nakatomi Building.
Gruber’s Heckler & Koch is a 9x19mm Parabellum semi-automatic with a 13-round double-stack magazine. The pistol has a 4.13”-long barrel and weighs 1.87 lbs. Its slanted handle design is because of an extension underneath the trigger (handle cocker) that allows cocking the gun without pulling the slide or hammer back.
During the initial takeover of the Nakatomi Building, Karl (Alexander Godunov) brandishes a suppressed Walther PPK. He shoots two security guards – one at the front desk and another at the elevators. Later, with the suppressor removed, he holds the PPK as he investigates the sound of McClane leaving after witnessing Takagi’s death.
Karl’s PPK chambers .380 ACP ammo and holds six in its magazine. A smaller version of the Walther PP, the PPK, was designed primarily for police detectives needing a smaller gun for undercover work. One of the most popular firearms since its manufacture in 1931, the PPK was the weapon of choice for the fictional 007 James Bond character. It also gained infamy as Adolf Hitler’s alleged suicide pistol.
Die Hard Guns: Heckler & Koch HK94
As the terrorists burst onto the scene at the Nakatomi party, many of them carry a Heckler & Koch HK94. Considered the Rolls Royce of submachine guns when it came out in the late 1970s, the Die Hard guns were chopped and converted to look like MP5A3s. In one of the most iconic scenes in the movie, McClane seizes an HK94 from one of the terrorists. He sends his corpse to the others with a note:
“Now I have a machine gun. Ho Ho Ho.” – John McClane (Bruce Willis)
The HK94 is a lightweight (6.43 pounds) and reliable semi-automatic recoil-operated submachine gun using 15- and 30-round box-type magazines. It’s the civilian semiautomatic version of the MP5 submachine gun with a 16″ carbine barrel and a sturdy retractable stock.
Karl’s brother is among the terrorists McClane dispatches during the action, resulting in Karl being hell-bent on getting revenge throughout the movie. One of the weapons he uses is the Steyr AUG assault rifle, a somewhat surprising choice since it contrasts with most of the other terrorists’ weapons. In one of the film’s final scenes, a suddenly revived Karl emerges from a body bag, ready to take one last shot at McClane with his AUG. Fortunately, an observant police officer fires first and finishes Karl for good this time.
The Steyr AUG is an Austrian-made bullpup assault rifle made of high-grade plastics and chambered for 5.56x45mm NATO rounds. It’s currently serving with the Austrian, Australian, and Irish armed forces. Weighing 7.9 pounds, the AUG has three fire modes: safe, semi-auto, and fully automatic.
McClane throws one of the dead terrorists out of a window and onto the hood of Sgt. Al Powell (Reginald VelJohnson)’s police car. This prompts one of the bad guys to unleash his M60E3 and turn the vehicle into “Swiss cheese” at 600 rounds per minute. It also shoots out spotlights during the failed SWAT raid on the Nakatomi building.
The M60 is a belt-fed 7.62x51mm general-purpose machine gun. The US military adopted it in 1957 to replace the Browning Automatic Rifle. The M60E3 is a lightweight version developed for the US Marine Corps. The Marines adopted it in 1986 to replace their inventory of original production M60s. They used a bipod mounted to the handguard rather than the barrel and a front pistol grip. However, the lesser weight reduced reliability and created heating problems, and the M240 replaced the E3 in service.
A Christmas Movie With Firepower
One of the best all-time action movies, Die Hard has held up over the last thirty-five years, offering a new generation of moviegoers an opportunity to enjoy two hours of entertainment even without the technological advancements available in modern filmmaking.
Bruce Willis gives his usual sterling performance as the hero, and Alan Rickman is compelling as the villain. The choice of supporting cast members is brilliant, as are the Die Hard guns that create all that chaos and destruction.
As for Die Hard being a Christmas movie? Well, there is a holiday party, Christmas trees, Santa hats, and a few Christmas songs. Is that enough to qualify it? Does it matter? You decide. Ho, Ho, Ho!