Geek Guns

Those 70s movies: Charles Bronson in Breakout and The Stone Killer

I'm not the only one building up a DVD library based on discount-bin multi-packs.  A friend of mine recently acquired four Charles Bronson movies from the mid-70s .  So far, we've seen two:  The Stone Killer and Breakout.

The 70s were breakout years for Bronson, and he was machining out multiple films a year.  None of them became what we think of as blockbusters, but they were cheap, quick to film and brought in a steady income for the studios.

Most never reached the societal impact of the original Death Wish, which along with Dirty Harry, created a new genre of tough-guy vigilante/rogue cop films.

In The Stone Killer, Bronson plays a rogue detective and it is very similar to other films of the genre.

Breakout is a little off the beaten path.  In that film Bronson is a low-rent pilot/schemer who is hired to break a wealthy American out of a Mexican prison where he's been confined on the orders of his corrupt and evil grandfather.  The reason for this is never made clear, but of course complications ensue.

In The Stone Killer, we once again learn that it's super dangerous to be Bronson's movie girlfriend.

Breakout is fun because once again, Spain serves as a proxy for Mexico.  I particularly appreciated the Federales having Spanish Mauser rifles.

Neither of these are classics in any sense.  Still, as someone who grew up in the age of movie rentals, being able to buy 4 films for $10 is quite a deal.

Geek Guns ain't dead yet

While I don't normally do "link posts" to my work over at, some of my readers might be interested to know that I added a new installment to the Geek Guns series, this one centering on Dirty Harry's .44 Magnum (Smith and Wesson Model 29).

The feature ran for 23 straight weeks before I took a break, and while I don't have a follow-up series planned, I will continue to add new installments as the opportunities present themselves.

The primary challenge is of course access to iconic weapons.  For example, I'd love to do a feature on the Colonial Marine weapons from Aliens, but I don't know anyone with a Thompson submachinegun (which is what those were).  I guess I need to hang out with a wealthier crowd.


Clueless civilians talking about military firearms

A few months ago I vented my spleen over Youtubers who purport to know military history but - because they haven't even the slightest hint of military service - get things badly wrong.

As I wrote then, I'm no Audie Murphy.  I went years without so much as a weapons qualification, let alone experiencing a real firefight.

Still, even the most decorated operators will spend the bulk of their careers in garrison, dealing with paperwork and all the other myriad torments that make military life what it is.  It is something that truly has to be experienced - either as an active participant, or their family member - to be fully understood.

Today I ran into an example of a different kind of ignorance, and once again it comes down to those who actually went through Basic Training vs those who haven't.

I should note that I generally enjoy the videos at, but I also enjoy watching the proprietor get dragged in the comments.

Sling swivels are weird and stupid things - until the ground is covered in mud or snow and you'd like to put your rifle down for a moment.  Then they are pretty nifty.  It's not super-common, but sometimes there's a field feed and one can't just leave them lying around.

Similarly, when you are playing on the range, mishaps and misfeeds are annoying, maybe even a distraction, but overall you're having a good time.  If, however, you get the same repeat stoppages and there are actual stakes involved, it's an entirely different situation.  This is why weapons such as the Chauchat can't ever be rehabilitated.

I should clarify once again that military service does not by itself convey firearms expertise, merely that having it in addition to research and personal experience provides a clear analytical advantage.


For a Few Dollars More is an uncomfortable movie to watch

Over at my extended meditation on the perils of prequels is now live and I give pride of place to the Man with No Name "trilogy" of films:  A Fistful of Dollars, For A Few Dollars More and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

Today I want to talk about the second film in the series, which clearly builds on the first.

One of the best parts of the film is the rivalry between Clint Eastwood's "Manco" and Lee Van Cleef's "Colonel Mortimer."  During the late 1950s and early 1960s, there were a lot of films that featured a pair of protagonists pulling dirty tricks on each other.  Charade is a great example of this.

As one would expect of the author of a column on movie firearms, For A Few Dollars More is a drool-fest of vintage Geek Guns. 

However, these pleasures are greatly offset by the extremely painful scenes where the villiain (Gian Maria Volonte's "El Indio) demonstrates his cruelty and depravity.  The way in which these sequences are extended goes beyond any storytelling necessity and is clearly a moment of satisfaction for the director.

One thing I've learned over the years is that while there are some happy coincidences in movies, most of the time the things that end up in them are meant to be there.  This is particularly true in extended sequences that create discomfort.  It's now come to light that many controversial scenes were imposed upon the actors and far from being high art, these sequences were really just the directors getting their jollies.

That cuts into the otherwise enjoyable spectacle of Eastwood and Van Cleef double-crossing each other while making improbable shots with beautifully-crafted prop guns.

Some "think pieces" at Bleeding Fool

So far, I haven't gotten much in the way of complaints about abandoning (temporarily?) the Geek Guns project.  I found having a weekly deadline really restricted me creatively, and since I wanted to start doing another book, I needed to clear some space for that.

At the same time, I also wanted to clear out some of the drafts I'd left lingering around the place, and so I've put a new (and somewhat long) piece at the other site about the role of fear in making brave characters.

Having written that article, I was inspired to do another, and I foresee at least one more musing on the elements of good writing and compelling storytelling.

Of course, I'm not exactly a smashing success myself (although I am technically a best-selling author, if only for a day), but most of my negative reviews deal with poor editing, not the actual content.  Alas, I fear that as grammar and spelling continue to be condemned by the educational establishment, things will only get worse in those respects.

I think a good story can overcome those defects - even if it takes multiple post-publication revisions.

To put it another way, the craptastic character development of Anakin Skywalker wasn't the result of a typo.



Geek Guns on hiatus

After 23 consecutive installments, I've decided to take a break from Geek Guns over at  The decision is based on a thinning of material to work with and also declining feedback.  People used to comment on the articles and now they're not.

I'm not writing this stuff for my health, so I figure I'll take a break, recharge, and maybe write more later.

There's also a sense that in trying to sustain a weekly column, I'm siphoning off creative energy that could be used for bigger projects.   When I was writing Long Live Death, I basically abandoned that site, and I started writing again only after the book was published.

So I'm going to take a break and see what happens.  I've got some ideas for a book and I know I'm being horribly indecisive, vacillating back and forth between projects.  My hope is that if I dam up the creative energy for a bit, it will cut a new channel and I can roll with the flood.

No Love for the Luger at Bleedingfool

My 20th Geek Guns column is now live and it's interesting to see what draws interest and what doesn't.  Older movies don't get much commentary, nor do classic weapons - unless they have a contemporary tie-in, like Captain America.

Even something I figured would surely get interest given all the attention The Mandalorian has been getting - Boba Fett's Blaster - was largely ignored.

This isn't a particularly profound observation, but it does show something of a generational shift.  The demographics at Bleedingfool lean strongly to the newest hardware, so anything used by John Wick is likely to draw interest.

And since the first rule of being an author is knowing one's audience, that's probably the direction I need to go.



Geek Guns at

Over the past couple of months I've been doing a new feature at on firearms featured in various pop culture media like comics, movies and television.

Unlike the Internet Movie Firearms Database, I also provide a review of the firearm in question - what it's like to shoot as well as how much they run for people who want one of their own.

This post will be my ongoing archive of those articles and updated as they appear.

Geek Guns Part I: Han Solo’s Blaster

Geek Guns Part 2: El Mariachi’s Twin Ruger KP90s in Desperado

Geek Guns Part 3: The Desert Eagle

Geek Guns Part 4: Deckard’s Blaster from Blade Runner

Geek Guns Part 5: Hellboy’s Hand Cannon

Geek Guns Part 6: Sean Connery’s Guns – Walther PPK, Webley-Fosbery

Geek Guns Part 7: Battlestar Galactica’s Beretta CX4 Storm

Geek Guns Part 8: Army of Darkness – Ash’s Double-Barreled “Boomstick”

Geek Guns Part 9: “Welcome to the Party Pal!” John McClane’s Beretta 92F

Geek Guns Part 10: The Rollerball “Incinerator”

Geek Guns Part 11: Indiana Jones’ Revolvers

Geek Guns Part 12: Malcolm Reynolds’ Sidearm from Firefly

Geek Guns 13: DEATH WISH – Paul Kersey’s Colt Police Positive

Geek Guns Part 14: Rambo’s M-60 Machine Gun

Geek Guns Part 15: John Wick’s Glocks

Geek Guns Part 16: Kate Beckinsale’s Walther P99 from Underworld

Geek Guns Part 17: Boba Fett’s Blaster Carbine

Geek Guns Part 18: Captain America’s Colt 1911A1

Geek Guns Part 19: Burt Gummer’s Remington 870 from ‘Tremors’

Geek Guns Part 20: The Sleek and Sinister Luger P08

Geek Guns Part 21: John Wick’s Heckler and Koch P30L

Geek Guns Part 22: Rifles of ‘1917’ & ‘Enemy at the Gates’

Geek Guns Part 23: Deadpool’s Mark XIX Desert Eagle

Geek Guns Part 24: Dirty Harry’s .44 Magnum

Geek Guns Part 25: Gun Safety and the Movies

Geek Guns Part 26: Examining Alec Baldwin’s Colt Single Action Army