The first three films in the Death Wish series, starring Charles Bronson, generated a significant cultural conversation upon…
Mel Gibson has quite the acting range. He played a vengeful highway patrolman in Mad Max, a plantation owner’s son joining the Continental Army in The Patriot, and a jaded pastor in Signs. Indeed, Mel made these and other parts seem like the perfect fit for him. Some could argue the guns in his films co-star with him, that seems to be the case with the Lethal Weapon guns.
And yet, the role in which he least looks like he’s playacting is Martin Riggs. He’s an unhinged, suicidal police detective whose idea of a good time is watching The Three Stooges on TV with a lady of the evening. He’s received much praise as an actor and director, but I’ll best remember him for his unpredictable character in the Lethal Weapon franchise.
Riggs & Murtaugh
Veteran Los Angeles police sergeant Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover) is a family man. He just turned 50 and wants to glide into retirement as peacefully as possible. Unfortunately for him, the force has just partnered him with Riggs. Detective Riggs recently lost his wife in a car accident, along with some of his will to live.
I’m too old for this sh*t!”
-Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover)
The first assignment for this odd couple involves the murder of a banker’s daughter. This case leads them to discover a dangerous drug smuggling ring called Shadow Company that hires ex-military mercenaries from the Vietnam War. After that, it doesn’t take long before their investigation has placed a price on their head. One cruel group member, Mr. Joshua (Gary Busey), has taken it upon himself to exact revenge against the duo.
We’re going to talk about some of the firearms in this action-packed thrill ride.
Lethal Weapon Guns: Smith & Wesson Model 19
Murtaugh carries a Model 19, and you see him using it at the range. Later, in a disturbing scene, he challenges Riggs to prove he’s suicidal by handing him the revolver. After placing the barrel under his chin, Riggs slowly squeezes the trigger. Realizing his partner is serious, Murtaugh blocks the hammer with his hand before it’s too late.
The Smith & Wesson Model 19 is an enhanced version of the Model 15 and accepts a .357 Magnum round. Murtaugh’s revolver has a four-inch barrel (he refers to it as his “four-inch Smith”) and is 9.875” in total length. It’s a single-double action (SA/DA) revolver with a six-round capacity. At 37 oz., it’s the ideal police weapon.
Beretta 950 Jetfire
Mr. Joshua carries a Beretta 950 Jetfire and also fires it in a few scenes throughout the movie. Most notably, he wields it during a standoff in the desert with Murtaugh.
A weapon of choice for filmmakers for many years, this pistol that fires .25 ACP is an Italian import. It arrived in 1952 and first debuted in film in 1964. It usually appears in movies hidden under a sleeve or strapped to an ankle – the perfect role for a pistol that’s 4.5 inches long and 3.3 inches high, weighing 9.8 ounces.
The 950 Jetfire was Beretta’s first entry into the market for compact, lightweight, and small-caliber pocket pistols. One feature some people appreciate in the Jetfire is its ‘tip-up’ barrel, allowing users to load it and confirm that it’s loaded without operating the slide. This feature makes the pistol user-friendly for the elderly, disabled, or anyone with weak grip strength.
The Beretta 950 Jetfire is a semi-automatic pistol with an 8-round capacity and a 4.5” barrel. Since it’s not particularly powerful, it seems like an odd choice of weapon for a highly violent man like Mr. Joshua.
Lethal Weapon Guns: Beretta 92F
The Beretta 92F should get top-billing among all the guns of Lethal Weapon. After all, it sees the most screen time and plays in the heaviest scenes. It first appears when Riggs loads a hollow-point round into the chamber and contemplates suicide as he looks at his dead wife’s picture. Heavy stuff, indeed!
Later Riggs uses the pistol to shoot a smiley face into the target at the police range. After that, he fires the 92F at Mr. Joshua’s helicopter and uses it to kill a sniper.
The Beretta 92F is another well-used pistol on movie sets. In addition to Gibson in Lethal Weapon, Bruce Willis used the 9x19mm semi-automatic in Die Hard. It was designed in 1972 in Italy and remained in service for 40 countries, primarily used by the military and law enforcement. One of its variants is a standard issue sidearm in the U.S. military.
The 92 has a reputation for accuracy, even at relatively long distances. It has a double-action trigger that can also be fired in single-action mode. The pistol feeds from a double-stack magazine holding 15 rounds. Some observant moviegoers report that Riggs killed that sniper with 19 rounds from his Beretta 92. That’s the magic of Hollywood!
No action movie would be complete without a shotgun to spread a bit of mayhem, and the Remington 870 does that with the best of them. Mr. Joshua wields the 870, one of the most popular 12-gauge pump shotguns of all time, as he tries to take out Riggs. Also, one of the bad guys holds one as he guards Murtaugh’s daughter in the desert standoff.
Though gun aficionados see the Remington 870 as a 12-gauge shotgun, it’s also available in .410 and 20-gauge models and four- to seven-round capacities. Known for its smooth action and incredible reliability, the 870 is ideal for deer and small game hunters, sportsmen, home defenders, and movie thugs!
Heckler & Koch PSG-1
Look for Riggs carrying an H&K PSG-1 rifle with a folding bipod and 20-round magazine as he and Murtaugh try to rescue Rianne (Murtaugh’s kidnapped daughter) in the desert. Many weapons experts consider the most accurate semi-automatic sniper rifle, but the PSG-1 is a favorite of police and counter-terrorism units.
The H&K PSG-1 went into development on the heels of the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre. At the time, the West German police didn’t have a precision weapon to neutralize the terrorists. They commissioned Heckler & Koch to design an accurate high-capacity semi-automatic rifle for the military and law enforcement.
The H&K designers developed the PSG-1, a 7.62x51mm sniper rifle capable of holding a 20-round box or 50-round drum. Although the current price for these accurate but heavy (nearly 18 pounds) weapons is also weighty ($10,000 for law enforcement), many insist it’s reasonable for the world’s most accurate semi-automatic rifle.
Lethal Weapon Guns
Six pistols, five revolvers, two submachine guns, four rifles, and four shotguns appear in the movie – enough to delight any gun enthusiast. Still, Lethal Weapon is not merely another mindless blood bath.
Thanks to the excellent acting talents of Gibson, Glover, and Busey, there’s plenty of humor, lots of action, and a story of opposites who become close buddies. It’s well worth the two-hour investment of your time!