Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Guns of KILLER INSTINCTS Part 1: William's Arsenal

So if you've been reading this blog for any amount of time, you know I'm something of a gun guy. Although I live in one of the most gun-unfriendly states in the U.S. right now (Massachusetts), I'm from Maine and born in Alaska, two states packed chock-full of guns. I've been shooting since I was about five years old, and firearms of all shapes, sizes, and types fascinate me.

Because of this, it should come as no surprise that my novel KILLER INSTINCTS is loaded with a bunch of gun-related goodness.  I've never actually calculated out a complete body count, but "several dozen" is pretty close. And when you've got a lot of bodies being perforated by bullets, you've got a lot of guns helping those bullets get where they need to go. So, I thought it would be a nice exercise to provide some photos and commentary about the various guns that appear in the novel.

First up, I'm going to walk through the guns used by William, the main character. I'm going to try and avoid spoilers, so if I seem vague, it's so I don't ruin anything for future readers.

Uzi 9mm Submachine Gun with Sionics Suppressor
For starters, the Uzi 9mm SMG. This is William's main weapon from the first chapter all the way to the climactic final battle. Although more than half a century old, the Uzi is a rugged, simple, dependable weapon that can be found all over the world, used by dozens of military and law enforcement entities. Although eclipsed these days by more sophisticated systems like the H&K MP-5, for many years the Uzi was the submachine gun. As KILLER INSTINCTS is, in part, an homage to men's adventure fiction and 80's action movies, I felt that giving the main character the gun that epitomized that era of action entertainment was very fitting. I've never handled or fired an Uzi, but there is a gun range in New Hampshire that has automatic weapons you can use on their range, so I hope to rectify that some day.

Ruger MK II .22 Automatic with Integral Suppressor
Next up we have the suppressed Ruger .22 automatic. William uses one of these in the opening pages of the book to kill someone with a triple-tap to the base of the skull. What a charmer, right? This weapon is very similar to the old Hi-Standard .22 automatic with suppressor made famous by the OSS in World War Two, and later used by the SOG teams in Vietnam for killing dogs and sentries. What it'll lack in stopping power, it'll make up for in incredibly quiet operation. While I've never fired a suppressed Ruger, my father owned a Ruger MK II for many years, and it was a very handy, easy-shooting pistol, perfect as a "plinking" pistol, target shooting, or other light duties.

Glock Model 19 9mm Automatic
Later on in the novel, William's primary pistol becomes the Glock 19 9mm automatic. I've fired a Glock 19 several times, and its compact size, light weight, and overall ease of operation, combined with the magazine capacity and performance of the 9mm round, made it an excellent choice for a beginner's "combat pistol".

When I write about guns and the people who carry them, I try to make sure the personality of the weapon matches the personality of the user. When we meet William in the beginning of the novel, he's a veteran mercenary who has killed more men than he cares to think about. Because of this, I wanted him to have a somewhat exotic, specialized weapon like the Ruger. On the other hand, when we see William as a complete newbie to using guns, a simple, easy to operate pistol like the Glock fitted his personality much better.

Beretta Model 84 .32 ACP Automatic
The Beretta 84 Cheetah .32 automatic is somewhat more specialized than the Glock, but the .32 ACP cartridge and the weapon's small, compact size make it easy to handle and shoot. Fitted with a suppressor, this would give a shooter a more powerful cartridge than the Ruger and slightly higher magazine capacity (12 vs. 10), but with a somewhat louder report. As Richard tells William, the Beretta is a blend between firepower and silence. I've never used the Model 84 myself, although I've fired a Beretta 92 Compact. For a number of years, the 92 C was the carry pistol of the Maine State Police force, and I knew (and had the opportunity to shoot with) several Maine State Troopers.

Smith & Wesson Model 36 "Chief's Special" .38 Revolver
The last handgun William uses in the novel is the S&W Model 36, a snubnose .38 Special revolver he carries as a backup pistol. Although it has limited range and only a five shot capacity, as Richard puts it to William, "If you can't punch the ticket on some knuckle-dragging goombah with five shots after I'm done with you, I'll eat my cowboy boots."

I've never fired a snub .38 myself, although I've fired a similarly-framed Smith & Wesson .32 revolver. While the grip might be small, the gun sits easily in the hand, and you can see why they were (and still are) so popular as carry pistols. 

DeLisle Commando Carbine .45 ACP with Integral Suppressor
The DeLisle .45 carbine is a weapon I found while doing research for another project involving weapons from World War Two. A highly specialized, but surprisingly simple idea to create a bolt-action carbine chambering the effective (and at the time, subsonic) .45 ACP pistol cartridge, then giving the weapon a large and extremely efficient suppressor. While still using pistol ammunition, this would make for a very quiet, very accurate weapon capable of making kills far beyond the range at which anyone would hear the weapon's suppressed report. Although supposedly only 139 of these weapons were ever made, I have seen that modern gunsmiths have re-created the weapon using modern methods and materials. Richard picks this for William's "urban sniping operations" because it is accurate, quiet, and simple to use. William's version has a folding stock, a bipod, and a low-light scope for night shooting.

Cut-Down Remington Model 1100 12-Gauge Shotgun
Finally, the last weapon William uses in the novel is a chopped down Remington 1100 semi-automatic 12-gauge shotgun. As pointed out to him by Richard, this is a highly specialized weapon, best for emptying very quickly into an enclosed space, such as an automobile. Loaded with double-ought buckshot, the 1100 fired fast will put more individual shots downrange than a submachine gun in the same amount of time.  I've never fired a semi-automatic 12-gauge before, but I've handled a number of pump-guns. Firing a cut-down 1100 would be quite the experience (assuming I used one with a legal barrel length, of course).

So, that's that for part one. As you can see, some very cool guns, and I hope to have more for you in parts two and three!

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