Guns of the Silver Screen: V22N6

By Kyle Shea

Hollywood Loves Miniguns

It is no secret that the bulk of Hollywood actors and actresses are not fond of the 2nd Amendment. Many celebrities have been in a number of anti-NRA and anti-2nd Amendment commercials. Yet, not a single year goes by without Hollywood producing a large number of films where both good guys and bad guys battle it out with, you guessed it, guns. Whether they admit it or not, Hollywood could not survive without action movies where guns are used.

From “Terminator 2” to “Predator” to “The Matrix,” the M134 Minigun is one of Hollywood’s favorite firearms, as well as that of most movie goers. In a few movies, we see men walking around with a special mount, carrying a Minigun on it, which is impossible in real life. The Minigun is too heavy, and the recoil would send the shooter backward and torque the gun sideways. That is not even taking into account the weight from the backpack case that holds the ammo and the ammo itself and the need for a battery to power the gun. Most of the time when the Minigun is fired like this, it is with blanks, which have very little recoil, and the rate of fire is slowed down so the gun can shoot longer.

Designed by General Electric in 1960, the Minigun first saw action in the Vietnam War and has served in the armed forces ever since. When these guns first saw service, they were usually mounted on helicopters. Today, they have been put on Humvees in the War on Terror and other conflicts around the world. There are a number of variants of Miniguns, but the one seen the most is the M134.

The Minigun is the descendent of the Gatling gun. The concept is the same, where the barrels spin around and shoot the cartridges through each barrel at a set position. The difference is that the Gatling gun is crank-operated, where you turn the hand crank on the side to turn the barrels. With the Minigun, the barrels are turned thanks to an electric motor. It fired 7.62x51mm NATO at a rate of 2,000 or 4000 rounds per minute, while today’s version is around 3,000 rpm. In short, you could shoot 100 rounds in less than 10 seconds.

In “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” a Minigun is seen on the S.H.I.E.L.D. transports that are being used to evacuate citizens from a war zone. In the movie “Expendables 3” Hale Caesar, played by Terry Crews, carries an M134 Minigun into a fight between the Expendables team and the main villain. Later, a helicopter flown by Harrison Ford’s character has a Minigun mounted underneath. In reality, this is actually a 1919A4 with a Minigun movie shell. Six barrels hide the real one and with the flash hider system it looks like it is firing normally. An electric motor spins the six fake barrels and a special trigger linkage fires the real barrel.

I have already talked about “Avengers: Age of Ultron” and “Expendables” in previous articles, so I will recommend another movie that uses a Minigun: “Predator.” A movie with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers and Jesse Ventura, it is the story of a Special Forces unit sent to Latin America to take out a group of revolutionaries. However, they soon find themselves being hunted by an unknown creature. I enjoyed this movie, even if it drags at times. The cast is good, especially Arnold Schwarzenegger. Jesse Ventura is the one using the Minigun, though Bill Duke does use it once. The predator itself is now a legendary movie monster and is also famous for its battles with the Xenomorph in the “Aliens vs. Predator” film franchise.

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V22N6 (June 2018)
and was posted online on April 20, 2018


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