Shopping Spree: Bannerman (1927)

Few are the sights that Gotham has to offer

Of greater interest and instructive aid,

Than the rare contents of this famous coffer

From all the earth’s ransacked corners here displayed.

Francis Bannerman Sons Military Goods Catalogue (1927)

 

Between 1865 and 1959, Francis Bannerman Military Goods ‒ from 1918, Francis Bannerman Sons Military Goods ‒ was probably the largest and certainly the most important military surplus store in the entire USA. From 1905, it had its primary outlet at 501 Broadway in New York, New York (GURPS High-Tech: Pulp Guns 1, p. 5; GURPS High-Tech: Pulp Guns 2, p. 24; Investigator Weapons 1, p. 25).

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Tactical Shooting: The Way of the Gun

One’s backfire, three is gunplay.

– Joe Sarno in The Way of the Gun (2000)

Christopher McQuarrie’s The Way of the Gun (2000) is an imperfect cult movie. Its main characters “Mr Longabaugh” (Benicio del Toro) and “Mr Parker” (Ryan Philippe) are of course named after the famous Hole in the Wall Gang members “Butch Cassidy” (née Robert Parker) and “The Sundance Kid” (née Harry Longabaugh), and there are several references to George Hill’s Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), including the location where the showdown was shot. Unlike that brilliant Western, the story about two drifters who decide to finally pull a major score by kidnapping a surrogate pregnant woman suffers from plot holes, is irregularly paced, and has a good deal of forced dialogue. However, I have no issue with the dubious moralities displayed; the main characters are criminals and no more reprehensible than other fiction criminals ‒ or indeed, many nominally good guys. On the plus side, the film boasts first-class acting performances by the likes of Benicio del Toro, James Caan, and Geoffrey Lewis, an ace score, and, unsurprisingly given its title, some very cool shootouts.

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Gun Fu: Die Hard

Happy trails, Hans!

‒ John McClane in Die Hard (1988)

John McTiernan’s Die Hard (1988) is the ultimate action movie for the festive days. Like most such films made in the 1980s, it ticks many boxes of the genres covered by GURPS Gun Fu. NYPD Detective John McClane (Bruce Willis) is the ultimate badass in both body and spirit, and the shooting shown is in the same vein ‒ “Yippee ki-yay, motherfucker!

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Ultra-Tech: Amtrak Federation Air Rifle

A three-barrelled high-velocity .25 calibre air rifle that could be switched from triple volley to full auto, hung from the flexible mounting above the cockpit. A ground-crewman checked the two racks inside the cockpit filled with 180-round magazines … With a comparatively high rate of fire of one hundred and eighty rounds a minute, they were able to direct an almost continuous rain of nickel-coated lead …

‒ Patrick Tilley, The Amtrak Wars 1: Cloud Warrior (1983)

 

Patrick Tilley’s The Amtrak Wars (1983-1990) is a six-part epic chronicling the events in 2989/2994 AD prior to the fulfilment of the “Talisman Prophecy.” It is set in a devastated and substantially changed North America, with several factions involved in a deadly struggle for supremacy. These include various tribes of Mutes, the Iron Masters, and the Amtrak Federation ‒ inexplicably changed to the Lone Star Confederation in the later reissue, making the many train connections obsolete. It is perfect as a setting for a GURPS After the End campaign.

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Tactical Shooting: Street Kings

You want to be a gunfighter, huh?

– LAPD Detective Tom Ludlow in Street Kings (2008)

 

Street Kings (2008) is about LAPD Detective Tom Ludlow (Keanu Reeves), a member of the Vice Special unit that seems to be inspired by the real LAPD’s controversial Special Investigations Section (SIS), a unit that got a reputation as a “gunfighting” outfit in the late 1980s. Ludlow is a renegade “gunfighter” caught up both in his own post-traumatic stress disorder and in larger issues having to do with in-service corruption and power struggles.

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Ultra-Tech: Armat M41A

OK, I wanna introduce you to a personal friend of mine: This is an M41A pulse rifle, 10mm, with an over-and-under 30mm pump-action grenade launcher.

‒ CPL Dwayne Hicks, 1st Platoon, A Company, 2/9 USCM, in Aliens (1986)

The Armat M41A is the famous weapon arming the US Colonial Marines in Aliens (1986) and the Weyland-Yutani Corporation security forces in Alien 3 (1992) ‒ also, for some obscure reasons, the bank robbers in The Simpsons #13.12 (2002) … It accounts for a lot of the pseudo-realistic setting of Aliens, giving the main characters a mean-looking yet functional weapon to combat the dangerous Xenomorph XX121. Ultimately, the powerful, effective carbine ‒ and all the other ultra-tech gear of the year 2179, from nukes to sharp sticks ‒ does not mean much against the swarm intelligence, evolutionary perfection, and insidious breeding habits of Internecivus raptus, giving the Alien saga a distinct, rather desperate Lovecraft-esque vibe.

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Shopping Spree: Peter von Frantzius (1927)

Between 1925 and 1968, Peter von Frantzius Sporting Goods was a famous sporting goods store on the North Side of Chicago, Illinois, at 608 Diversey Parkway (GURPS High-Tech: Pulp Guns 1, p. 5; Investigator Weapons 1, p. 25). His Sport Manual from 1927 has 97 pages and describes a marvellous selection of kit useful to the investigator.

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Tactical Shooting: Predator

Contact!

‒ Mac Eliot in Predator (1987)

John McTiernan’s Predator (1987) is a superb classic that combines science fiction, horror, and military action. While Predator fulfils many action movie tropes and is hence overall better suited to GURPS Gun Fu, some details merit discussion in context with GURPS Tactical Shooting. The team’s response to the first sighting of the Predator is almost a textbook counterattack manoeuvre (Tactical Shooting, p. 22) following the advice in the US Army’s field manual FM 90-5 Jungle Operations (1982): “Once contact with the enemy is made, the unit’s first action is to build up a large volume of fire.”

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Tactical Shooting: Breaking Bad

Glock 22. That’s my daily carry, OK. I mean unless you’re talking, what, +P+ slugs, you forget the 9-mil, alright. Shit, I’ve seen one of those bounce off of a windshield one time … If you’re gonna bring a gun, baby, you gotta bring enough gun.

– “Hank” Schrader in Breaking Bad #1.1 (2008)

Breaking Bad (2008-2013) is another one of those recent series that redefined modern television. It centres on Walter White (Bryan Cranston), a chemistry teacher who becomes a meth cook and, eventually, crime lord. The viewer watches with morbid fascination as White gets deeper and deeper into trouble and has to come up with increasingly outlandish ways to extricate himself from problems he created himself, losing his morals, family, and even humanity in the process.

There are a number of well-done altercations throughout the five seasons. The one I want to examine here in GURPS terms is the shootout between DEA Special Agent Henry “Hank” Schrader, White’s brother-in-law, and Juárez Cartel distributor Tuco Salamanca in Breaking Bad #2.2 “Grilled” (2010).

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