Time to tackle one of the great action flick debates: Is “Die Hard” a Christmas movie? Answer: Heck yes! That’s our opinion here at Guns.com, and nothing is going to change our minds. Debate over. But more than that, this action-packed classic is loaded with some of the coolest guns that 1980s Hollywood could muster for the silver screen.
So, putting the debate about what kind of movie “Die Hard” is behind us, let’s take some time this holiday season to appreciate the firearms that helped make this blockbuster so great and the one-liners that can still pull a laugh today. Yippee-ki-yay, let’s get this gun list rolling.
Karl’s Walther PPK
Evil movie henchmen are notorious for fighting dirty, and that brings us to one of the first guns to appear in “Die Hard” – Karl’s suppressed Walther PPK. As Hans Gruber’s band of greedy fake terrorists infiltrate the Nakatomi Plaza during the office Christmas party, Karl uses this small gun originally designed in the late 1920s to neutralize the buildings security guard.
The PPK has a long history of service both in law enforcement, world militaries, and Hollywood. While James Bond might have been able to rock the Walther PPK through multiple movies, Karl’s fate didn’t leave any room for an appearance in the 1990 sequel “Die Hard 2.”
Hans Gruber’s H&K P7
Don’t negotiate with terrorists, especially if you’re a cocaine fiend like the character Ellis who says things like, “Hans, buddy, I’m your white knight,” shortly before meeting Hans Gruber’s H&K P7. It’s pretty fitting that our German villain carries a very German pistol that itself made its historical debut after a terrorist attack during the 1972 Munich Summer Olympics. The H&K P7 is a classic pistol for a classic bad guy.
The P7 has since entered the realm of sought-after collectible, but it still has some serious chops for range shooting or even concealed carry. The unique operating system and safety/striker cocker make this a very accurate shooter. But, “Sorry, Hans,” this sweet gun can’t help you beat gravity.
Sgt. Al Powell entered the movie severally outmatched in firepower, with just his S&W Model 15 .38 Special revolver up against some very well-funded criminals who packed machine guns and anti-tank missiles. But this lovable character made do, and that old revolver came in handy at the end of the movie when our crazed henchman Karl magically reappeared after “hanging out” for a bit. Still, some thought seems to have gone into this prop choice since the Model 15 was the standard-issue revolver for LAPD for many years.
As the second terrorist to fall to John McClane, Heinrich and his Walther P5 didn’t get much screen time. Nein, Heinrich was not destined for a starring role, which made the Walther P5 a fitting choice. This single-stack 9mm was modeled on the classic Walther P38, but it never really caught on and became a bit of a forgotten firearm. It’s still a pretty cool and interesting gun for any Walther collection regardless.
John McClane’s Beretta 92F
“Thanks for the advice,” quipped John McClane as he used his Beretta 92F to shoot through a table and kill a mouthy bad guy who foolishly told him he shouldn’t hesitate to shoot. I mean, where would John McClane be without his trusty Beretta? While he may have been a New York City police officer, the city of New York never actually issued out the Beretta 92F. So, I guess that would make our rogue hero just a little bit extra in the rogue department.
Unlike Sgt. Powell’s revolver, the semi-auto Beretta 92F put John McClane on a more even footing with his thieving foes. Interestingly, and this is news to many people, this rather heavy metal pistol is compatible with packaging tape for concealed carry and allows you to stick it on your sweaty back with no help whatsoever.
“Does it sound like I’m ordering a pizza?” I can only imagine how frustrating it was when John McClane called for help only to be ignored. At least he had an H&K MP5 to bring some comfort to his situation. The first lesson for taking over Nakatomi Tower is simple. Don’t give John McClane a machine gun. He was already a thorn in Hans Gruber’s side with his police Beretta 92F and no shoes. But McClane could work some serious miracles with a H&K MP5, like using it to repel down air ducts.
“Die Hard” is filled with some enjoyable gunfights, and, like most Hollywood action flicks, no one seems to care too much about actually hitting anything. I mean, why bother having machine guns if you’re not going to just shoot them from the hip anyway. Right?
Karl’s Back With a Steyr AUG A1
“If this is their idea of Christmas, I gotta be here for New Year’s.” McClane’s limo driver may not have been the most helpful sidekick, but that line is how a lot of us felt when we saw the Steyr AUG A1 make its first appearance. Hans Gruber’s No. 2 henchman sure loved to make a scene on screen, and the AUG was his weapon of choice during a vengeance-fueled rage after the death of his brother. This early bullpup rifle had a very futuristic look in 1988, and it really stood out among all the other guns in the movie.
Unfortunately for Karl, like many Hollywood bad guys, aiming wasn’t apparently part of his terrorist training. Karl and his Steyr AUG finally fell to Sgt. Powell’s revolver at the end of the movie as he took one last shot at revenge against John McClane, proving diligent marksmanship still wins the day.
Special Agent Johnson’s Steyr SSG 69
“We’re gonna need some more FBI guys, I guess.” Hollywood portrayals of FBI agents don’t get much more stereotypical than Special Agent Johnson. I mean, just the name should tell you that. This overly cocky agent must really have trusted his marksmanship skills when he pulled out a bolt-action Steyr SSG 69 rifle in a helicopter.
Chambered in .308, the SSG 69 is a great precision shooter, but it’s still not easy to accurately shoot it from a helicopter. Other than constantly being wrong and causing John McClane nothing but headaches, Agent Johnson also had his hopes of hitting anything from a moving helicopter permanently dashed when Hans Gruber got a little trigger happy with explosives on the roof of the Nakatomi Tower.