The 80s were the golden age for action movies. We had Harrison Ford giving boys unrealistic expectations for how good they themselves would one day look in fedora hats. We had Arnold in his peak bulginess fighting aliens, wizards, and his evil fake wife from Mars. And we had Kurt Russell provide us with a realistic glimpse into New York City’s future.
As a parting gift the 80s finally gave us Die Hard. This is the story of a charismatic and determined foreigner immigrating to America in search of his fortune, only to be tragically gunned down by a cop who wasn’t even working in his jurisdiction.
This perfect movie is the seminal work of Bruce Willis’ career, and we can thank it for future masterpieces such as Die Hard 2, Pulp Fiction, Cop Out, and The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part. Lego Bruce Willis was People magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive” of 2019!
The Die Hard franchise has got a lot of guns and actors who know how to pretend to use them. Keeping track of the guns used in movies is how we like to unwind here at AmmoForSale.com. It lets us take our minds off of ammunition for a little while. Here are our favorites that John McClane used in the original Die Hard trilogy.
Guns of Die Hard: Beretta 92 (1975-present)
This is McClane’s sidearm that he brought to the party in the first Die Hard. Beretta made his model, the 92F, for the U.S. Government. It had 100 percent interchangeable parts to keep government gun smiths from losing their minds. Beretta adapted the 92F from the 92SB. The Italian company designed that pistol to win at the USAF trials — and it did.
A close inspection of McClane’s pistol reveals its extended magazine and slide releases. These were custom made at Willis’ request. Beretta currently offers this pistol as the 92FS, which McClane carries in the sequels, but only hard-boiled New York City cops may use it now. New recruits must choose between the Glock 17, Glock 19, and the SIG Sauer P226. Had he bought a revolver before 1994, McClane would have still been allowed to carry it up until 2018!
Die Hard Guns: Heckler & Koch HK94 (1966-present)
“Now I have a machine gun. Ho Ho Ho.”
The HK submachine gun that McClane helped himself to (but not before politely leaving a note) was a civilian model imported to America from 1983 until 1989. Gunsmiths or prop makers chopped and modified the HK94 in the movie to resemble the MP5, because it wouldn’t have made sense for elite German crooks to buy their weapons after landing here.
The “4” in the HK94’s suffix indicates that it is a semi-automatic sporting rifle, and the “9” means it is chambered for 9mm. McClane might have asked for something with a little more stopping power, but then again the needy cop probably would have asked for shoes as well.
Heckler & Koch MP5A3 (1966-present)
McClane takes an MP5A3 off a bad guy who doesn’t need it anymore in Die Hard 2. During the movie the hijackers swap out their live ammunition for blank rounds, although doing so would be more complicated than simply swapping magazines. Such a semi-automatic weapon could not fire blanks without an adapter that would shrink its barrel by as much as three quarters. At one point in the movie McClane demonstrates the submachine gun is loaded with blanks by firing it point blank at the chief of police. In real life those blanks could easily singe the chief of police. Blanks still expel a lot of hot propellant gas.
It seems a safe bet this would have caused the chief to become even more upset with McClane. Oh, Hollywood!
Smith & Wesson Model 36 (1950-present)
This is the revolver that McClane taped to his back before conducting a certain social experiment in Harlem in Die Hard with a Vengeance. (He later uses a non-nickel plated model in the final shootout.) The Model 36 went into production just after WWII, when S&W found a lot more time to make weapons that wouldn’t immediately ship to Europe and the South Pacific. It is a lightweight J-frame with an exposed hammer chambered for 38 Special, and still a good little everyday carry.
S&W made a gift of an engraved Model 36 to J. Edgar Hoover. Unfortunately it wasn’t Smith & Wessons’ 2005 Texas Hold ‘Em variant with 24 karat gold plated cards on the frame. It seems like just his style.
McClane takes this machine pistol from yet another dead bad guy in Die Hard with a Vengeance. Once described as “fit only for combat in a phone booth” by IACP researcher David Steele, the MAC-10 was difficult to control when fired on full automatic. A two-stage suppressor was specially designed for the pistol that somewhat improves its handling, and furthermore does its job so well that you can hear the bolt cycling over the sound of the reports (when chambered in 45 ACP).
Demand for the American MAC-10 plummeted worldwide in the 70s when the government restricted the export of the very suppressor that so improved its performance.
Die Hard’s firearms ensure it’ll always have a place in the hearts of shooters. From mock remembrances of the tragedy at Nakotami Tower to endless debate about if the film is the greatest Christmas movie of all time, the trilogy and many of the firearms are legendary.