Guns of the Silver Screen: V20N6

By Kyle Shea

“Speed” (1994)

In 1994, “Mad Bomber” Howard Payne took an elevator full of people hostage with a bomb, and then demanded a large amount of money. Two police officers, Jack Tavern and Harry Temple, manage to save the hostages on the elevator, but learn that Payne is not far away, in another elevator. They attempt to get to him by climbing down the elevator shaft above him, but Payne hears them and starts shooting his Mossberg 500 shotgun at them. He soon runs out of ammo, but manages to escape, where he plays a sick extortion game with a bus full of innocent people.

This is the plot to “Speed,” a 1994 movie that is considered one of the best movies from the nineties. Jack Tavern is played by Keanu Reeves and Harry Temple is played by Jeff Daniels. Howard Payne is played by Dennis Hopper, and Sandra Bullock plays a passenger on the bus. It’s a great movie and was a financial and critical success, even getting a sequel a few years later, though nowhere near as good as the original.

One of the prominent guns in the movie is a Mossberg 500. It was designed by Oscar Fredrick Mossberg and was put into production in 1960. It is currently being used in eleven countries and is popular for home defense or camping. It is a pump action shotgun, where the handgrip is used to pump back and forth to both eject spent cartridges and load fresh ones in. O. F. Mossberg and Sons has other models of the Mossberg 500, including the Model 505, Model 535, and the Model 590.

The Mossberg 500 used in the movie has a factory pistol grip. Traditionally, it is used as a riot control gun, and is called a Mossberg 500 Mariner. Its weight is 5.2 pounds and is close to 26 inches long, with a 16 inch barrel, so it is a registered Short Barreled Shotgun. It was made by Ellis Mercantile in 1993, along with the second gun (Backup). The safety is on top and it lacks a front sight. It has 5 shells in the tube magazine and one in the chamber for a total of 6) 12 gauge shotgun shells, despite the fact that in the movie, Dennis Hopper shoots 8 at the police
without reloading.

Other firearms in the movie include the HK94A3 and HK94A2, both of which were chopped and converted to look like other guns. Later in the movie, Dennis Hopper uses an HK SP89, mocked up as an MP5K in satin nickel finish. The two MP5K clones that Hopper used were serial numbers 2117134 with Fleming sear number H0569, and 211735 with Fleming sear number H0570. Ellis Mercantile obtained these in 1991.

Keanu Reeves uses both an M1911A1 and a Smith & Wesson 6904. A passenger on the bus at one point pulls out a Smith & Wesson Model 36, and LAPD Snipers are seen using Pre-1964 Winchester Model 70s. We don’t have a record of the serial numbers on these handguns or rifles, if we find this we’ll add it online later at www.smallarmsreview.com

As mentioned before, “Speed” was a big success in 1994. It truly launched Sandra Bullock’s and Keanu Reeves’s careers and made 350 million dollars worldwide. Both have great performances and are wonderful to watch. Dennis Hopper is excellent as the villain, in which he is shown to take vengeful joy in his victim’s agony. It is definitely a film worth watching.

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V20N6 (July 2016)
and was posted online on May 20, 2016


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