The lock of hair hung perfectly, suspended jauntily in space above the hero’s left eye in silent wispy tribute to the laborious attentions of his hairdresser. A modest cut on his right cheek oozed just enough blood to add a spot of crimson contrast to his otherwise perfect visage. He grasped matching black Heckler & Koch MP7A1 submachine guns, their exotic character meticulously selected for the way they played in the dim light.
The woman’s epic figure was a perambulating billboard attesting to the breathtaking skill of her plastic surgeon. Her T-shirt was two sizes too small and strategically torn so as not to threaten a coveted PG-13 rating. The look in her wide eyes was a combination of fear, anger and admiration.
“Never forget the times we had in Budapest,” the man said grimly. “Tell young Miguel and the triplets that they will forever live in my heart.”
This conjured the tiniest quiver from her perfect chin.
The man dove from behind the heavy counter, firing his weapons in bursts alternately, left arm outstretched with the right pulled in tight. He held both weapons sideways throughout while screaming the name of his recently martyred aunt. After liberally spraying the cavernous interior of the warehouse with bullets, he crumpled into a heap, the bolts locked back on both of his smoking guns.
The Colombian cartel sicarios were professionals exquisitely trained by ex-SAS mercenaries and well versed in the inimitable benefits of tactical cover. Therefore, they subsequently emerged unscathed. The largest of the lot stepped over to the panting hero and knocked his brains out with a lamp.
Why did this happen? Because in the real world, everybody knows that you cannot go flying through the air shooting two guns simultaneously and actually hit anything. Or can you?
Life Imitates Art
I love a good action movie. The good guys are very good, the bad guys are very bad, and the gunplay is stylized, fast and frenetic. Whether the protagonist is a desperate soldier, a good cop doing his best to protect and serve, or a pitiless cyborg from the future, the local cineplex serves up heaping dishes of gratuitous violence any evening. To paraphrase the Terminator, it’s in our nature to destroy ourselves. At the movies, we simply get to live out our primal urges vicariously.
Some movies are spot on with their gunmanship. Michael Mann’s 1995 classic “Heat” is a timeless example in which magazine changes are done properly and well, muzzles never sweep comrades and the actors handle their weapons like they have done it all their lives. The creators of both “John Wick” movies went to great lengths to train Keanu Reeves in the storied art of 3-Gun shooting. Punch up his training on YouTube. Neo really can run a gun.
Most movie stars, however, couldn’t mow their own grass without printed instructions and a coach. Matt Damon, cool Treadstone operator Jason Bourne, admitted, “I actually hate guns. They kind of freak me out.” What a stud.
Most Hollywood filmmakers view firearms as a necessary evil—something to which they should have ready access while other less enlightened folk should not. As a result, the tactics in some movies can be patently laughable. Few techniques will land a film in the ludicrous category faster than having a protagonist run weapons sideways or leap through the air firing two guns at once.
Back when dinosaurs roamed the plains, we had some epic toy guns. Political correctness wasn’t real, and most anything of consequence was made in America. Little boys invariably played war, and the local toy store was our arms room.
Nowadays, combat has been sanitized from our children’s childhoods, and real-world violence seems veritably ubiquitous. Go figure. I once read that if you forbade your male children from playing with toy guns, they would inevitably chew their toast into the shape of a pistol and shoot you with it. My experience with my boys bore that out. However, the contemporary world of airsoft guns has brought unprecedented levels of realism to the universe of faux weapons.
The airsoft hobby has quite an adult following nowadays. Google it. Enthusiasts get together for massive operations with dozens of players, live military vehicles, realistic training areas and killer gear. This means serious stuff that is seriously cool.
Airsoft guns fire 6mm plastic BBs and can be had in various guises. These guns fire their plastic ammo with sufficient vigor to sting mightily without causing lasting damage. You obviously need to wear eye protection, but such stuff can be great fun, even for a crusty old gunman like me. And airsoft guns made it much easier to see if we could run two guns at once.
Among the producers of airsoft weaponry, Umarex is at the top of the heap. The company offers airsoft versions of a wide array of tactical hardware at a fraction of the price of the real steel. Want to own your own HK416, MP7, G36 or Beretta ARX160? Good luck landing one of those for real. However, you can have the airsoft versions shipped right to your door. High-end models look, feel and function just like the real deal.
Umarex airsoft guns come in three broad categories. The simplest use a manual spring for power and fire one round per trigger pull. You typically jack the slide or work the action manually to get the gun into action. Electric versions run via onboard rechargeable batteries and can offer select-fire functions. Gas-powered guns typically incorporate reciprocating actions and are the closest to their real centerfire brethren.
Gas guns run on something called “green gas.” This is propane mixed with a little silicone lubricating oil. Green gas is not terribly expensive. However, if you live in a small town where green gas is not available, you can order an inexpensive adapter online that will let you use standard camping propane cylinders. These adapters spritz a little lubricant into the gas with each fill.
I have been squeezing triggers for fun and money for a half-century, and high-end Umarex HK MP7A1 gas guns—two for our testing purposes—still got my heart thumping. The bolt cycles to provide a hint of recoil and locks back after the last round is fired. The manual of arms is identical to the live weapon down to the fire controls, charging handle and bolt release. The guns launch their 28-grain plastic BBs at around 400 feet per second and will handily chew a paper target to pieces. The guns are plenty accurate for close-quarters work, and the full-auto function pegs the awesometer. The gas reservoir and the BBs are contained in the magazine, so reloads mimic those of the originals. Trust me, you will want a spare magazine or two as well as a speedloader.
Nothing can ever take the place of live fire on a proper range, but, as is the case with an aircraft simulator, airsoft guns offer some things the real weapons can’t. I set up a heavy cardboard box as a bullet trap and plastered a standard silhouette across its front. I then donned my eye protection and practiced in my home, shooting from around corners and from behind cover. This lets you train on the same terrain that you might be called upon to fight in the event of a home invasion in the dead of night.
These guns shoot hard. I had to put an old pillow in my ad hoc bullet trap to keep from shooting all the way through it. You could easily terminate a squirrel or similar pest at close range with the things. Chasing bugs in your garage in the summer months with an airsoft gas gun will reliably cure what ails you.
A top-end gas gun from Umarex will set you back a fraction of what a typical combat handgun might. It will also offer some unique training opportunities while remaining simply great fun. And now for the real fun.
Hollywood Gun Fun
There was no science to our assessment. This study was not subjected to even the most esoteric academic rigor. We just stepped out to our outdoor firing range with the pair of Umarex airsoft guns and cut loose.
Holding your weapon sideways at or above eye level is colloquially referred to as shooting “gangsta style.” A brief perusal of security camera footage on YouTube shows that real-life thugs actually use the technique. Such tactical prowess negates a gun’s sights but presents a minimal target for return fire when cowering behind cover.
They say enough monkeys on enough typewriters could produce the works of Shakespeare. In the cases of haute literature and street tactics, you just need to make sure you have enough monkeys or, in this case, enough ammo. That’s the remarkable power of random.
When running a weapon sideways, I connected periodically with a standard silhouette at 15 meters. I got better with practice. I found that I performed about as well as I do when shooting from the hip. With a proper beat thumping in the background, running a gun gangsta style becomes part exercise in lethal intent and part dance move. Real-life practitioners seem to like to squeeze the trigger on the downbeat while simultaneously shoving the weapon in the general direction of the target.
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Dual wielding inevitably boils down to whether you will fire both weapons simultaneously or alternate one followed by the other. Alternating rounds inevitably yields the impression of more continuous fire.
Firing each gun simultaneously yields slightly better accuracy. Unless your eyes are mounted on the sides of your head like a carp, you won’t be using your sights while wielding a brace of firearms. Make it a full-auto subgun and none of that matters. I found that it was safer to stack the sideways subguns one slightly over the other. Otherwise, I not infrequently shot myself with a plastic BB when I got rushed.
Accuracy plummets when you start moving regardless of technique. Shooting well while in motion is graduate-level gunmanship that takes hours of practice and zillions of rounds to master. Speed and precision are typically mutually exclusive attributes. However, at the end of the day, to my surprise, I had liberally ventilated my target.
Hollywood gun handling here in the real world with live weapons is indescribably dangerous. If you want to try such stuff, pick up some Umarex airsoft guns and mind your eye protection. The guns are relatively cheap, safe if wielded responsibly and incredibly cool. Should you inadvertently shoot yourself, the damage is limited to a bit of foul language and a welt or three.
After a busy afternoon spent throwing plastic BBs downrange, I found I could actually connect with the target more frequently than I had expected even while running, holding the guns sideways and adopting the cool tactical trapezoid of one gun out and the other tucked in or some combination. My accuracy was worse than the same exercise launched from a stationary platform, but that was no great shock. By the end of the day, I had shot myself several times. Yes, it stung something fierce, but you readers are well worth the trouble.
This article was originally published in “Ballistic” Fall 2017. To order a copy, visit outdoorgroupstore.com.