The Guns of ‘Mile 22’
A look at the hardware used in the latest action collaboration between Mark Wahlberg and Peter Berg.
Mile 22 is a new big budget action movie in theaters now and it’s also the fourth collaboration between director Peter Berg and producer/star Mark Wahlberg, following on the heels of such successful films as Lone Survivor, Deepwater Horizon and Patriots Day and also features Lauren Cohan of The Walking Dead. Unlike the duo’s previous works, Mile 22 details a fictional event instead of some real life harrowing circumstances. Wahlberg stars as James Silva, an operative of the CIA’s most covert and least understood unit—Overwatch. He leads a team of operatives on a mission to retrieve and transport an asset who holds life-threatening information to an extraction point 22 miles away before the enemy closes in—hence the title. Mile 22 hasn’t exactly receive acclaim for its plot, but there’s one thing all of the critics agreed on: the action was intense, and non-stop. Of course, there was plenty of firepower behind those high-octane scenes. Here are some of the guns that starred alongside the cast in this tour de force. Glock 17
Glock manufactures the ubiquitous polymer-framed, short recoil-operated, locked-breech semi-automatic pistols that can be found on the duty belts of innumerable police departments throughout the United States and the world. Armed forces and police agencies in at least 48 countries carry the so-called “plastic pistol,” with countless others relying on the guns for concealed carry and home defense. Gaston Glock’s first production pistol, the G17, entered service with the Austrian military and police after beating out the field in extensive reliability and safety tests held in 1982.
Gaston Glock’s strong suite is with synthetic polymers, but he also introduced the gun world to ferritic nitrocarburizing for corrosion protection of metal parts, which is now a staple of the industry. Though he had no experience with firearms, he was able to obtain 17 patents by the time he entered the Glock 17 in the Austrian Army’s testing. The G17, named because of those 17 patents, outperformed offerings from Heckler & Koch, SIG Sauer, FN Herstal, and Austria’s own Steyr Mannlicher. After successes in Austria, worldwide interest piqued in the first successful production polymer pistol and orders rolled in. As a result, the G17 became a standard NATO-classified sidearm, worn by countless Allied soldiers.
The original Glock has stood the test of time, with the G17 now on its fifth generation, with improvements taking place with each evolution. With so many out in the world, it’s no wonder that the Austrian pistol has found its way into popular culture, in the hands of on-screen good and bad guys alike.
In Mile 22, Silva, wields a Glock 17, which appears to be a 4th Gen model. The movie’s other protagonist, Li Noo (Iko Uwais), also uses a G17 in one particularly tense action scene.
Developed by Eugene Stoner to replace the .308 caliber M14, the gas-operated, select-fire M16 utilized composite furniture that made the rifle stand out when compared to the more tradition wooden stocks on previous battle rifles. The round itself, 5.56mm, also represented a serious departure form the larger bullets previously employed by U.S. forces.
First issued to U.S. troops in 1965, the gun initially experienced some troubles in the jungles of Vietnam. Some of those issues were related to gunpowder that didn’t burn as cleanly as it should have, and lack of maintenance in the field. Despite the early stumbles, the M16 went on to become the longest-lived service rifle in American history, spawning several variants in the process.
In recent years, the M16 has largely been replaced with a shorter, lighter version dubbed the M4. A collapsible stock and a 14-inch barrel are hallmarks of the M4, but the gun remains chambered for the 5.56 round. The smaller size is more suitable to the building-to-building fighting and convoy transport that characterize the conflict in the Afghanistan and Iraq theaters.
The M4 has three-round-burst and semi-auto firing modes, but the Colt M4A1 has a fully automatic firing mode instead of the burst. Predictably, the Marines guarding the American embassy in Mile 22 are armed with M4A1 carbines, and they are also seen inside the escort team’s vehicles.
If the military-issue M4A1 is the Miller High Life of the M-platform, then the Daniel Defense DDM4 MK18 is the Pappy Van Winkle. We see this high-end carbine in the hands of Alice (Cohan) in the film’s trailer. The receiver is CNC-machined to precise tolerances from 7075-T6 aluminum, and houses a chrome-lined bolt carrier group. The 10.3-inch barrel is cold-hammer forged for accuracy and durability.
The handguard is machined from 6061-T6 aluminum, featuring a rail system designed hand-in-hand with SOCOM to meet the demands of its elite troops. For the above reasons both of Mile 22‘s leading ladies, Lauren Cohan and Rhonda Rousey, seem to be fond of the MK18.
Heckler & Koch HK416
Outwardly resembling an M4-platform rifle, the HK416 uses a proprietary Heckler & Koch short-stroke gas piston system originally used in the G36 family of rifles, derived from the ArmaLite AR-18. Testing by the Delta Force revealed that this piston system significantly reduced malfunctions while increasing the life of parts when compared to the M4, resulting in the unit issuing the HK416 to its members in 2004.
The gun is in use in other countries, serving as the standard rifle of the Norwegian Armed Forces since 2008 and the French Armed Forces, who adopted it last year. Numerous elite units also use the firearm globally. Additionally, a modified version of the HK416 is in service with the U.S. Marine Corps as the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle. But perhaps the gun’s biggest claim to fame is that it was used by SEAL Team Six to kill Osama Bin Laden in 2011.
In the movie, Mark Wahlberg wields one with a 10-inch barrel and pretty standard spec-ops accessories like a Trijicon MRO red dot sight, AN/PEQ-15 ATPIAL Advanced Target Pointer/Illuminator/Aiming Laser, and a flashlight.
Designed and manufactured by SIG Sauer, the MCX series of firearms uses the same short-stroke gas piston system found on the SIG MPX submachine gun. The platform is versatile, with both semi- and selective-fire receivers available in rifle, carbine, short-barreled rifle, and pistol configurations.
The versatility extends to the ammo the weapons system can utilize, firing 5.56x45mm NATO, .300 AAC Blackout and 7.62×39mm ammunition after a simple conversion. Standard STANAG-pattern magazines feed 5.56 and Blackout rounds, with custom mags supplying 7.62. Despite the outward appearance, an adapter is required to use the upper receiver with M16 and AR-15-platform lower receivers.
The Sig MCX is tailor-made for dark ops, excelling with .300 AAC Blackout, a short barrel and a suppressor. An aluminum forend with integrated KeyMod system allows the gun to be easily outfitted with necessary gear for each mission.
In this case, one of the good guys, Douglas, fires a MCX wearing an EOTech sight and what is likely an IR illuminator of sorts
Heckler & Koch USP
In the late 1980s, the U.S. Special Operations Command put out a proposal for entries in its Offensive Handgun Weapon System (OHWS) program. Seeking approval from SOCOM, and hopefully a large share in the United States law enforcement marketplace, Heckler & Koch created prototypes that would later become the Universal Self-loading Pistol (USP) or Universelle Selbstladepistole in H&K’s native German tongue. These early models were further refined in 1992, using feedback from the OHWS trials, and the commercial version of the USP in .40 S&W was introduced in the beginning of 1993. Later models would be chambered in 9x19mm Parabellum and .45 ACP.
In many ways, the USP is similar to the time-proven 1911, using a similar mechanically locked breech and short recoil operation. But there are some improvements over John Moses Browning’s design, like the recoil reduction system. A heavy, captive coil spring over the guide rod buffers the slide and barrel to reduce the effects of recoil on the pistol components, with a claimed 30 percent reduction in felt recoil. This system allows the USP to withstand substantial abuse, with more than 20,000 rounds of .40 S&W fired without a component failure in testing.
Abuse testing also included operation in extreme temperatures, aquatic environments, and exposure to salt spray. In perhaps the most remarkable test of all, a round was fired to clear a bullet deliberately stuck in the barrel with no ill effects, with the gun continuing to produce consistent groups afterward.
With this impressive pedigree, it’s no surprise that these pistols have found their way into special operations groups the world over—and onto the big screen. The clandestine warriors of Mile 22 seem to appreciate the reliability and rugged durability of the USP, having some at the ready in their arsenal. It’s hard for me to guess the caliber, but I would venture that they would prefer the knock-down power of the .45.
Heckler & Koch MP5
The H&K MP5 is the world’s preeminent submachine gun. Heckler & Koch designed the 9x19mm Parabellum subgun, known in its native land of Germany as the Maschinenpistole 5, in 1964. A testament to its usefulness and longevity, there are currently over 100 variants of the MP5, including a full-auto model that can be fired from inside a briefcase to be used in executive protection roles where being discrete and packing ample firepower is of the utmost importance. There are even semi-auto versions for those without the necessary NFA paperwork.
The MP5 was thrust into the world’s consciousness in 1980, when SAS commandos used it to storm the Iranian Embassy in London, rescuing hostages and killing five terrorists on live television during Operation Nimrod. Currently, the MP5 is in use by some 40 countries in both military and law enforcement roles. Domestically many SWAT and special operations units are outfitted with the MP5, though the limitations of the 9mm round showed themselves against the two heavily armed gunmen wearing body armor in the infamous 1997 North Hollywood shootout. The AR-platform has largely replaced the subgun in many roles.
A shortened version of the MP5 was created in 1976, dubbed the MP5K, taking the “K” from the German word Kurz meaning short. This smaller gun was designed to be easily concealed by special operations units that would find themselves engaged in close quarters combat. This MP5K configuration didn’t feature a buttstock, but later models were outfitted as such and called the MP5K-PDW (Personal Defense Weapon) like the ones wielded by the motorcycle gunmen in Mile 22. The barrels were also slightly extended to allow fitment of a suppressor or other barrel device.
The MP5A3 is a later iteration of the iconic submachine gun, featuring a retractable buttstock. The earliest examples of these had a slim foreends, but future incarnations had wider forearms that users said made the gun even easier to control. The gunmen in Mile 22 have more than a couple of such weapons.
Brügger & Thomet MP9
The Brügger & Thomet MP9 is a Swiss pistol with a German name, Maschinenpistole 9mm. Somewhere between a full-sized Glock and Mac 10 in size, this selective-fire 9x19mm Parabellum handgun is based off of the Steyr TMP, which was discontinued in 2001. Improvements over the TMP include a new trigger safety, side-folding stock, and an integrated Picatinny rail. All told, Brügger & Thomet made some 19 changes to the Austrian design before bringing it to market in 2004.
The blowback operated, full-auto capable weapon feeds from 15, 20, 25, and 30 round transparent polymer detachable box magazines with an ambidextrous three-position safety/fire selector choosing the rate of fire. The MP9 can be fired single-handedly, but the folding stock and integral front grip makes taming full-auto fire much easier. There’s even a .45 caliber version, the MP45, available for those seeking more knockdown power, though the lightweight nature of the gun makes controlling the larger rounds more difficult.
The Brügger & Thomet MP9 is currently in service with Swiss Army and law enforcement agencies, though it reportedly has been exported to the Netherlands, Bulgaria, India, Malaysia, Portugal, Russia, Thailand, and Indonesia, the setting of Mile 22. Here we see a gunman firing the MP9 using a single-point sling in lieu of the folding stock with his hand firmly clamped on the foregrip.