Die Hard (1988)
Beretta 92F • MP5A3 • Heckler & Koch P7M13 • Steyr AUG
Before it was a somewhat odd Christmas movie staple, the original Die Hard set a lot of bars in the action movie world. It’s one of those movies that came up with so many things that became genre tropes later on that it’s almost hard to find the original movie in there.
At it’s core, the movie is a fish out of water story, and it’s also a solid underdog story. And, you could classify it as an army-of-one story but McClane gets so busted up he doesn’t quite fit into the unstoppable superhero mold. John McClane is an everyman.
He’s not a a super cop or one of the best FBI agents in the country…he’s just a New York City detective who is armed when nobody else is and has the street smarts to hide from a group of terrorists when they take over a skyscraper in Los Angeles.
McClane gets to town on Christmas Eve to surprise visit his estranged wife, Holly, at her high-power corporate job at the Nakatomi Corporation, hoping to patch things up for the holidays.
When the terrorists strike, John isn’t exactly prepared. He runs out of Holly’s office with his Beretta 92F, his pants, and undershirt, and not much else, not even his shoes. His shoulder holster and extra ammo (presumably) is left in the office as he runs up the stairwells, hoping to find a way to evade the well armed bad guys.
He doesn’t go looking for trouble. He hides out in upper floors that are under construction and finally manages to set off a fire alarm, hoping it will bring the authorities (oh how easy it was to write a script before cell phones).
When the alarm is cancelled and the bad guys come looking for him, he does what he has to do, and it’s far from some expert Krav Maga hand-to-hand takedown from a Jason Bourne movie—it’s a nasty fight that ends with a tumble down a flight of stairs.
But that allows him to get his hands on some ammunition, a lighter, a pack of cigarettes, and an MP5A3 (which is actually a chopped and modified HK94 made for the civilian market), but still no shoes. “Nine million terrorists in the world and I have to kill one with feet smaller than my sister.”
“Now I have a machine gun. Ho. Ho. Ho.”
He adds the submachine gun to his Beretta 92F, which has been modified with an extended and reversed slide stop, and a reversed magazine release to accommodate Willis, who is left handed. We do see him reload his pistol once in the film, so he must have grabbed the extra mag out of his holster when he grabbed the handgun, and put it in his pocket.
The group of terrorists, led by Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) now number 11. Most of them are armed with HK94s standing in for MP5A3 submachine guns. The film’s armorer converted the civilian firearms to fire in full auto and look like their military counterparts. The easiest way to tell when a movie does this is by looking for a magazine release lever behind the magwell. An HK94 has a button magazine release on the side of the receiver.
If you notice, everything McClane does is either to get the attention of the authorities or in self defense. The first time he actually attacks the terrorists is when he blows up the pair firing rockets at the police armored vehicle.
The fact that the bad guys’ MP5s also fire 9mm rounds allows McClane to replenish his Beretta magazines whenever he picks up gear from a downed bad guy, but in the end, it all comes down to his last two 9mm rounds in the pistol taped to his bloody back with a roll of “Happy Holidays” packing tape.
After performing a ruse with the empty MP5, he puts one round in the last remaining henchman, who has been pretending to be a security guard at the front desk through the movie, and the other goes into Hans, sending him out a shattered window, but not before he grabs Holly’s arm.
John unclasps Holly’s watch, sending Gruber plummeting to his death. Funny story: when they filmed this scene, they told Alan Rickman they would let him go on a 5 count, and then dropped him at the count of 2, hence his legendary surprised expression.
Some other notable guns from Die Hard: the terrorists are extremely well armed, including Karl’s (Alexander Godunov) Steyr AUG bullpup assault rifle, likely chosen because of it’s high-tech, modern looks that would contrast against the LAPD’s M16s and revolvers.
Gruber, in keeping with the European-made hardware theme, carried a hard chromed Heckler & Koch P7M13 as his main sidearm, which he uses only once with a matching suppressor and once without. The stubby 9mm is unique in that it includes a large grip safety integrated into the pistol’s front strap.
Gruber uses it to shoot execute Takagi and then later to shoot into the air to scare the hostages after killing Ellis.
An interesting note: if you’ve ever thought the gun shots in Die Hard sounded different than in other movies, they did. Director John McTiernan purposely requested louder blanks to give the gunfights more intensity. In fact, Bruce Willis suffered hearing damage from the scene in which he fires his Beretta while under a table at one of the terrorists, Marco, standing on top.
Die Hard 2: Die Harder (1990)
Beretta 92FS • Glock 17 • Heckler & Koch MP5
Filmmakers tried to get lightning to strike twice by recreating the formula of the first Die Hard by setting the sequel in an airport and again having the action take place at Christmas. It wasn’t quite up to par with the first one, but it was a foul-mouthed, big budget, big explosion roller coaster with tons of fake snow that was still pretty fun.
While the movie’s theatrical title was simply Die Hard 2, by the time it got to home video, it had been amended with the oft mocked subtitle Die Harder.
John McClane is now a lieutenant with the Los Angeles Police Department instead of the NYPD (we assume he moved to LA with his family after the first movie), but that doesn’t matter since the whole movie takes place at Washington D.C.’s Dulles International Airport. Why? Well, they’re in town to be with Holly’s parents for Christmas, but John got there first and Holly is flying in from somewhere else—the script sets it up so Holly (Bonnie Bedelia) is in a plane circling over Dulles and John inside waiting for when terrorist take control of the airport’s instrument landing system during a heavy snow storm.
They then hold the planes that are circling in the air hostage until a deposed military dictator is allowed to be freed when he lands at Dulles. The movie came under fire in the press after its release because of its incorrect characterization of a Glock pistol, which we’re get to later.
In the first film, McClane carried a Beretta 92F pistol, but in the sequel, he carries the improved Beretta 92FS as his sidearm in a brown leather shoulder holster. The Dulles Airport Police also carry the same pistol, along with U.S. Army Major Grant (John Amos).
In the first film, McClane’s Beretta had an extended slide release and a reversed magazine release to accommodate Willis, who is left handed. This pistol has a stock slide release, but a reversed mag release.
According to imfdb.org, the Beretta 92FS used by Willis in this movie was purchased by Cinema Weaponry for Lethal Weapon 2. After that, it appeared in the next four Die Hard movies.
Now we get to it, the infamous Glock pistols of Die Hard 2. Col. Stuart (William Sadler) and the mercenaries he employs (who pose as terrorists taking over the airport) carry Glock 17 pistols as their sidearms. Marking one of the earliest appearances of the handgun in a Hollywood movie, having just been released a few years prior. It’s also one of its most infamous.
When McClane encounters two mercenaries planting gear in a luggage room at the airport, he gets into a shootout with them, killing both. He takes one of their guns and informs Chief Lorenzo that it’s a “Glock 7” and proceeds to use a string of innacuracies to describe the gun, saying it’s a “porcelain gun made in Germany that doesn’t show up on your airport metal detectors and costs more than you make in a month.”
Of course, the Glock 17, which is made in Austria, is not porcelain. While the frame is made of polymer, 83 percent of the gun by weight is made of ordnance steel. The entirety of the gun are visible in x-ray machines. Nobody has ever made a porcelain, ceramic, or entirely plastic firearm that can’t be detected by security screening devices. Even if there were such a gun, the ammo inside is still brass and lead.
The quote from the movie built on fear at the time of Glocks being plastic, and people thinking therefore they could be concealed from metal detectors.
“I remember when we did that scene, I tried to talk them out of it. There’s no such thing as a gun invisible to metal detectors, and there shouldn’t be, but they wouldn’t budge. They had it written into the script and that was that.”Armorer Mike Papac, who worked on the movie, said according to imfdb.org.
Garber (Don Harvey) carries a Heckler & Koch MP5A3 fitted with a scope and a number of Stuart’s men carried MP5 variants with two magazines taped together with colored tape. The ones with blue are loaded with blanks (that apparently cycle in the MP5s without blank adapters) and the ones with red are live ammo.
McClane gets his hands on Garber’s MP5A3 and “shows” Lorenzo it’s loaded with blanks.
He also uses MP5s taken from bad guys at various points in the movie.
Die Hard With a Vengeance (1995)
Beretta 92FS • Glock 17 • Makarov PM • S&W Model 36 • H&K SP89 • MAC-10
After trying basically the same formula, but more violent, and a five year hiatus filmmakers went a different way for the third installment. Instead of John McClane being trapped in a building of some kind, he’s trapped in New York City, which can become kind of claustrophobic when travel is inhibited by a terror attack.
This is also the first time we get to see John in his own city, so the fish out of water theme has pretty much been abandoned. Instead, the plot leans on John’s street smarts and knowledge of the city more than anything else, as he tracks down a terrorist who set off a bomb in a downtown department store and planted a bomb in an unidentified school somewhere in the city.
While John has had a sort of sidekick in the past two films, they’ve most only helped him out with information or talked to him on the radio. This time he gets a literal sidekick in Zeus (Samuel L. Jackson), who is with him through most of the run time, and he acts as the sort of fish out of water this time, asking all the dumb questions so the audience can get some exposition.
Despite going from the NYPD to the LAPD and back to the NYPD in 1995, McClane still carries his Beretta 92FS in a leather shoulder holster—specifically a Galco harness system with a double magazine carrier opposite the holster.
Only this time, he actually keeps and uses the holster through most of the movie instead of stuffing the gun in his belt.
McClane has two spare magazines with him, and he reloads the pistol a few times on screen, but not nearly enough for the number of shots he fires, and he never picks up any new ammo or mags throughout the movie, which takes him all over the city and ends somewhere near the Canadian border.
When the terrorist, Simon, forces John to walk down a street in Harlem wearing a sandwich board with a racial slur written on it…naked…John pulls out a trick from his youth and duct tapes a nickel-plated Smith & Wesson Model 10 to his back. When he’s hit in the head with a bottle and doubles over, Zeus pulls the revolver from his back and defends him from a group of men on the street, not wanting a white cop to get killed in his neighborhood.
Just before the remarkable train crash scene in the subway, Zeus is confronted by a twitchy, nervous NYPD officer with a Glock 17, which had become one of the standard carry pistols for the department by 1995.
Zeus talks him out of shooting him by the pay phone bank, at least long enough for the train with a bomb on it to come crashing into the station.
Simon, the leader of the “terrorists” turns out to be Hans Gruber’s brother, who is getting revenge on McClane while executing his plan to steal millions in gold—a plot that is meant to be concealed by the fake terror attacks he carries out—much the way his brother used a terrorist hostage siege to cover up his theft of bearer bonds in the first movie.
Simon uses a number of firearms, but is first seen with a Makarov PM in the bank, just after the subway explosion.
When John finally gets to the ship in the harbor with all the bad guys, and what he thinks are the containers of gold, John picks up a bad guy’s MAC-10 after a brutal hand to hand fight, though he doesn’t get to use it for long.
When assaulting the ship with John, Zeus picks up what is supposed to be a bad guy’s Heckler & Koch MP5K from John, which quickly shows him how to use it before they split up.
The gun is actually a Heckler & Koch SP80 fitted with the vertical MP5K foregrip and converted to full auto to pass as an MP5K. You can see there is no paddle magazine release, letting you know it’s not a real MP5. Converted SP89s are used by several of Simon’s henchmen.
At the climax of the film, McClane tracks Simon and his remaining men to a facility near the Canadian border. He ends up facing off against Simon in a helicopter, who is armed with an M60 machine gun, with only a S&W Model 10 and only a couple good rounds.
Instead of shooting at the chopper, John fires at a nearby wire on a pole with the little snub-nosed revolver, which falls into the helicopter’s rotors, bringing it down in a fireball.
The ending to the film always felt a little tacked on and a little too neat and clean. Also, there’s no reason whatsoever that Zeus—a civilian with a bullet wound to the shoulder—would be allowed to accompany McClane on the police helicopter. None. He’s only there to yell, “McClane!” and to panic when he gets trapped in the downed police helicopter, and then to make sure John can engage in a last bit of witty banter about calling his wife before the credits roll.
The reason the ending feels a little of is that there was an alternate ending to the movie that’s quite a bit different. Originally, Simon gets away, leaving his terrorist buddies to take all the blame and the authorities believing the stolen gold is all at the bottom of the harbor. John even took a bit of the blame, saying the feds ultimately thought he was in on the robbery somehow and that he’d been fired from the NYPD, his former captain fighting for him to keep his pension.
He discloses all this to Simon after tracking him to Europe and confronting him in a bar before forcing him to answer a series of riddles like the kind he made John answer during his terror spree—only this time there’s a catch. Simon and John are actually playing Russian Roulette with a “Chinese” rocket launcher. While the launcher is completely fictional, it’s meant to be a knock-off of the single use LAW rocket, with the trigger being a button on top of the tube. However, the rocket launcher John brought has had all its markings removed, meaning neither man can tell which end will eject the backblast and which end will fire the rocket.
The launcher is on the table between them. Every time Simon guesses the answer to a riddle, he spins the launcher. If he gets on wrong he has to press the trigger.
You can watch the alternate ending below. Yes, they actually filmed it.
It’s obvious that, if it were a real rocket, no matter which end it comes out, both men would be blown to pieces, but there’s no explosion after the rocket is fired, so its plausible it could be training rocket. Still, John is unfazed and definitely uninjured by the backblast coming straight at him.
This ending is cool for another reason. Behind John we can see a decorated Christmas tree, and he has a line of dialogue where he says that after he’s done with Simon, he plans to spend Christmas with his kids. This provides a nice connection to the first two films and brings a bit of Christmas into the second Die Hard sequel.
Live Free Or Die Hard (2007)
SIG-Sauer P220R • Beretta Px4 Storm • Jericho 941 R • Glock 22 • Mk 12 Mod 0 SPR
After more than 10 years, John McClane returned for a new sequel that bears very little resemblance to the previous films, other than the face that it includes a character named John McClane played by Bruce Willis, who has a shaved head in the role for the first time.
John is still single, his kids grown, and still working for the NYPD, having apparently quit drinking and made it to the rank of Detective Lieutenant. He’s given a late night task to accompany a high value hacker suspect from Newark, NJ to Washington D.C., and all hell breaks look when a hacker mastermind begins an all out assault on the country.
if anything, the film is more reminiscent of DHWAV than the first two movies, with John pairing up with Matt Farrrell (Justin Long), a wisecracking young hacker who John saves from being assassinated for his unknowing involvement with the attack. The pair then bounce around from Newark to D.C. to a records storage facility in Virginia.
When the film opens, we see John has ditched his Beretta for a SIG-Sauer P220R, still carried in a shoulder holster.
The pistol choice is more in line with what the NYPD approved for carry in 2007, though the model approved by the department is the P226 DAO.
McClane uses the SIG during the shootout at Matt’s apartment, changing mags while behind cover several times.
During the confrontation with Mai Linh (Maggie Q) in the power plant, she takes the P220 and holds it on Matthew Farrell (Justin Long).
After McClane hits her with an SUV, she loses the gun and it is never seen again.
After he loses his SIG, McClane begins carrying another Beretta (which was the company’s newest pistol at the time), a Px4 Storm which he gets from Russo (Yorgo Constantine). McClane carries the pistol for the rest of the movie.
At one point, McClane briefly uses a Glock 22 tha the takes off a terrorist disguised as an FBI agent.
Other FBI agents, including Director Miguel Bowman (Cliff Curtis) and some of the D.C. police officers also carry Gen3 Glock 22s.
When McClane finally confronts the main bad guy Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant), he’s taken hostage after Gabriel uses a Jericho 941 R to shoot Matt in the leg and threaten to kill John’s daughter Lucy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead).
Gabriel presses the muzzle of the pistol into a gunshot wound in John’s shoulder while holding him hostage from behind. However, John cowboys up, drops his signature catch phrase, and presses the trigger, putting another bullet through his original wound and into Gabrial, killing him.
A Good Day To Die Hard (2013)
Makarov PM • SIG-Sauer P220 Combat • S&W M&P • Beretta 92FS • Beretta Px4 Storm Sub-Compact • Remington 870 Police Entry • FN SCAR-H CQC • AK-104 • FN M249 SAW Paratrooper
This movie was…pretty bad. There’s no getting around it. Even for a run-of-the-mill action movie, it’s simply not great.
This movie sees John heading off to Eastern Europe to find his son, John, who is accused of being a terrorist but is actually some kind of CIA super agent…yeah, that’s where we’re going with the story. They piled on the CG explosions and aresenals of firearms, but the story is…well I dare you to tell me the plot. Double dare.
We’re just going to run through this one quickly.
John starts off the movie at a gun range, shooting his old standby pistol, the Beretta 92FS. This is the only time we see him use the handgun.
At one point, McClane’s son, Jack (Jai Courtney) carries a Beretta 92FS with tan synthetic grips in a holster mounted to a tactical vest. He uses it through the films final act.
When we first meet him, Jack uses a Makarov PM as his sidearm. We don’t see it again after the sequence where he runs into his father on the street, whom he calls “John.”
A SIG-Sauer P220 Combat is among the weapons in the trunk of the car the McClanes steal from the nightclub.
McClane takes the tan-framed P220 Combat in Chernobyl…yes, they go to Chernobyl…and uses it aboard the helicopter to shoot into the cockpit.
McClane takes a first generation Smith & Wesson M&P pistol from the CIA safehouse after the attack. He carries it for a little while, before giving the gun to Jack.
In one scene, which generated a lot of promotional photos, Jack gives John a Remington 870 Police Entry pump action shotgun with an M4-style stock and pistol grip, a Shurefire dedicated forend weaponlight, and a receiver-mounted side saddle shell holder.
John loads the gun in the elevator to the ballroom and uses it through the next shootout.
Jack is armed with an AK-104 assault rifle that he took of one of Alik’s henchmen. John also uses an AK-104 with tac light and vertical foregrip during the ballroom shootout.
McClane grabs an FN SCAR-H CQC battle rifle from the car trunk of guns and uses it in Chernobyl. The gun is topped with an EOTech holographic sight, a weapon light, a Magpul RVG vertical foregrip, and an AN/PEQ-15 ATPIAL.
McClane grabs an M249 SAW Paratrooper belt-fed machine gun with an EOTech sight when the safehouse is attacked. He uses it to kill several of Alik’s henchmen, firing it from the hip while holding one of the bipod legs with his support hand.
There is another Beretta in the film, a Beretta Px4 Storm Sub-Compact carried by Irina Komarov (Yuliya Snigir), who pulls it on her father, Yuri Komarov in the ballroom.