Guns of the Silver Screen: V21N6

By Kyle Shea

Eraser: Congratulations, You've Just Been Erased

The Calico Rifle is one of the most futuristic-looking weapons on the market. Manufactured by Calico Light Weapons Inc. (CLWS), it looks like a prop gun from Star Wars. In fact, in the parody of that film, Space Balls, the enemy soldiers are equipped with Calico 100s. They have been used in other films as well, including the Robocop series, Star Trek: First Contact, The Running Man, Tango & Cash and Total Recall. In 1991, some M951 Calico 9x19mm rifles were used in the opening battle scene of Terminator 2: Judgment Day. They were covered with a movie prop clamshell to make them look more futuristic. Calico 9mm pistols and some SMGs were also used.

Five years later, the same Calico rifles were used in another movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. The film is called Eraser. It also stars James Caan, Vanessa L. Williams and the late Robert Pastorelli. In the film, Schwarzenegger plays John Kruger, a U.S. Marshal who works on faking the deaths of important witnesses, then giving them new identities to keep them safe. In short, he erases them. His job in the film is to protect Vanessa Williams’ character from a corrupt weapons company that plans on making black market sales of futuristic railguns that can be used by individual gunmen.

The Calico M951 guns were used by security guards that were sent after John Kruger when he snuck into the manufacturer’s office to learn the company’s plan. The guns are equipped with Aimpoint 3000 optics, as well as lasers, though we don’t see them used in the movie. The scene becomes very entertaining when an elevator full of guards starts shooting at John Kruger. John quickly grabs another guard and uses him as a shield. He then straps a grenade to the guard, pulls the pin and pushes him into the elevator, causing an explosion that takes out the other guards.

CLWS first opened its doors in 1982 and produced its first firearms in 1985. The company is currently located in Oregon and produces both carbines and pistols, most of which are available for private ownership. The most interesting thing about the Calico rifles is the magazine. It is a large, long drum that is located on the top of the gun at the back on the receiver. Unlike the Thompson and PPSh 41 drums, the Calico drums are a helical. The Calico drums hold from 50 to 100 rounds of 9x19mm ammunition. The Calico itself is a very good, lightweight gun with light recoil and very little muzzle climb.

A little side note on the optics: they are the product of Aimpoint AB, which specializes in red dot sights for both government and civilian use. The Aimpoint 3000 was actually their best product at the time and was used in the first Gulf War. It was so well received that it won the optical product of the year award in both France and the USA. It has been discontinued in production for some time but is still in use by some U.S. forces.

The movie Eraser is another enjoyable movie. Schwarzenegger and most of the other actors do a good job, especially Robert Pastorelli, who is great as a former gangster. It has some good lines, and the action and humor are wonderful. The story does have some problems, though—mostly small stuff. The idea of mini railguns being used by common soldiers is an interesting idea. And the scene in which Schwarzenegger carries and shoots two of them is a great one.

Far from being consigned to action and science fiction movies, railguns are actually being built by the United States Armed Forces. Simply put, railguns can shoot a round up to 100 miles using electronic energy without gunpowder or a case. They are quite powerful but are still in testing. There is talk of having one on a warship, but it will still be a while before we see warships or even tanks equipped with these futuristic weapons.

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V21N6 (July 2017)
and was posted online on May 19, 2017


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