So last time we covered the historical context of John Carpenter’s Escape From New York and took a little trip down data analysis lane to see how crime statistics compare between then and now. Today we’ll see how the guns of the film are portrayed and get some information about them for the curious.
First up is the mighty MAC-10 issued to Snake by his friends in the USPF in order to rescue the President from the Manhattan Island Prison. It was designed by Gordon Ingram in 1964 to be a cheap, compact weapon capable of suppressed full-auto fire for use by the US military under the designation M-10. Chambered for either .45 cal ACP or 9x19mm parabellum, it was the .45 that garnered interest due to its subsonic nature and ability to be suppressed more effectively.
This pairing of silencer and submachine gun happened in 1967 when Gordon partnered with Mitchell WerBell III and his Sionics M14SS-1 suppressor to create what they tried to market to the military as the “Whispering Death” for use in the Vietnam War. Allegedly a small quantity of the units were sent to the US Army 9th Infantry Division in 1969 for evaluation but the package was never adopted by the military as a standard issue weapon.
Firing 230gr full metal jacketed [FMJ] rounds at 290m/s, the MAC-10 had a muzzle velocity of approximately 630 joules from its 4-1/2″ barrel. A 30 round box magazine coupled with a cyclic fire rate of 1000 rounds per minute meant the user could empty the weapon in under two seconds. In the film Snake decides to use this ability, and a lot of ammunition, to create a bullet door in order to escape a pack of crazies hot on his heels in an apartment building.
In an obvious use of the Rule of Cool, Snake’s MAC-10 is equipped with a suppressor mounted scope. While I appreciate the nod towards trying to improve the accuracy of a weapon once described by weapons researcher David Steele, as “fit only for combat in a phone booth“, there is only one scene in the film where anyone appears to attempt to aim the MAC-10, and it isn’t even our anti-hero but his rival, the Duke.
I assume from looking at the scope that it is a rifle scope, and not a pistol scope, which means the normal eye relief is about 3-5 inches, not two and half feet as demonstrated above by our villain, the Duke, during his hobby time using the President as target practice. Just how quiet is the “Whispering Death”, well this short video will give you an impression of both single and auto fire performance. In short, pretty impressive, though the silencer in the video is a modern one and not the original Sionics model, it still sounds better than the movie effects.
Speaking of scopes, next up is the Smith & Wesson Model 15 that is also a parting gift from the USPF before Snake makes his glider approach to the World Trade Center. Recognizable as a Model 67 variant, due its stainless steel finish, the gun is not the .357 magnum, Model 66 variant, people may believe it to be due to the ejector rod for the cylinder not being shrouded as it is on the higher powered weapons.
Unlike the scope on the MAC-10, which is mounted where no other scope has ever been-or should be-mounted, at least the S&W looks like an appropriate pistol scope properly mounted. There is a holster and belt shown as well which means we have all the makings of an accurate portrayal of the S&W Model 67 and scope in the film.
Unless our ill-fated heroine is using some sort of Jedi mind trick, or has a third eye tucked under those lovely curls, we are going to have to assume the 147gr FMJ .38 special rounds coming out of that barrel are going to be putting their 350 joules of energy into something besides her target.
Continuing down our firearm foray we end with the gun of choice of the USPF themselves, the M16A1 with the forward hand grip removed. I suppose it is to make the weapon look more futuristic for the film but removal of the grip is going to make some people’s hands a tad toasty if they actually fire the thing. Perhaps thats way they are shown holding the 20 round box magazine with gloves instead?
Of all the guns in the film that could really benefit from the inclusion of a scope, the 20 inch barreled M16A1 doesn’t get one. With iron sights adequate out to maybe 100-150 meters, the lack of optics doesn’t allow the capable 5.56×45 NATO round to reach it’s real potential to put holes in people at nearly 1000m/s out to 300-400 meters. Considering much of their time is spent shooting from a helicopter or atop a 20 meter wall at escaping prisoners the weapon would really benefit from the extra accuracy.
So there we have it, the three primary guns from the film Escape From New York. I did leave out one other that is shown but never used, a Smith & Wesson Model 10 snub nose carried by Bob Hauk, the USPF leader. Of course, perhaps after leaving the President with a tape of big band music instead of the cold-fusion explanation he was expecting, Hauk may be sent running after Snake during the credits and we just don’t get to see it.