BY KYLE SHEA
Sergeant Roger Murtaugh is a well-liked police detective from Los Angeles with a loving wife and three children. Martin Riggs is a suicidal narcotics officer and former Special Forces soldier who is still in mourning over the death of his wife three years before. After Riggs almost kills a criminal on a drug sting, he is transferred over to homicide and is partnered up with Murtaugh. The two men do not get along, but they are forced to put aside their differences to solve a murder of a close friend.
This is the story of “Lethal Weapon,” a movie that came out in 1987 and was an instant hit. It stars Mel Gibson as Martin Riggs, Danny Glover as Roger Murtaugh, and Gary Busey as the evil Mr. Joshua, a thug working for the villains. The movie did well at the box office and was well liked by critics. It was so successful that it spawned three sequels. The quality of these sequels varies depending on who you ask. (The author of this article has not seen the first two sequels yet, but barely remembers “Lethal Weapon 4”)
In one part of the movie, someone close to the two detectives is kidnapped and the two are forced to meet the perpetrators in the middle of a desert. Before they arrive at the destination, Riggs leaves the car and runs through the desert carrying an HK PSG-1 sniper rifle. He sets up at a good position and covers Murtaugh as he meets with the kidnappers. Riggs manages to take out a decent number of the crooks before he himself is captured from behind.
The 7.62x51mm Heckler & Koch PSG-1 was first produced in 1972. It has been used by German and other military and police all over the world. It was created in the aftermath of the Munich Massacre, where a group of Israeli coaches and athletes were held hostage and later killed after a failed rescue attempt. Among the many criticisms leveled at the authorities, one was that the sniper rifles used were not up to the job. In response, the German government turned to Heckler & Koch for a new sniper rifle and the PSG-1 was created.
The PSG-1 is a great sniper rifle. It was not developed as a military rifle but solely made for special police task forces like the GSG-9 and other such groups. However, a few militaries do use it and it has seen combat in a small number of conflicts. It is very expensive and very rare, with only a few hundred in the United States.
It was modeled after the G3 rifle but has a number of internal modifications that separate it from the infantry gun. The sniper rifle has a longer barrel than the G3 rifle and it comes with an adjustable buttstock. Another interesting item of note, is that there are no iron sights. Each PSG-1 rifle comes with a Hensoldt ZF 6×42 sniper scope. The scope has a range of over 1,900 feet and has a button on the left side that allows the reticle to light up for a couple minutes. The rifle could be used on a small special tripod or a bipod, depending on the choice of the shooter. It shoots 7.62mm NATO from either a five round or a twenty round magazine.
There is a funny story about the rifle from the movie. A certain individual who will not be named was working for the gun rental company as a secretary and was a huge Mel Gibson Fan. When the person found out the rifle was used by Mel Gibson, the individual swapped the trigger shoe for a different one and kept the one from the movie for him or herself. For those who don’t know what a trigger shoe is, it is a device put on the trigger to widen the surface for the shooter’s finger. This makes the trigger feel lighter and makes the gun easier to shoot.
Other guns used in “Lethal Weapon” include Rigg’s personal sidearm, a Beretta 92F. Murtaugh himself uses a Smith & Wesson Model 19, for which Riggs jokes that it is old school. Mr. Joshua is seen using a Colt XM177 Commando from a helicopter and uses a Beretta 950 Jetfire when confronting Murtaugh.
“Lethal Weapon” is a great movie and is considered one of the best buddy-cop films of all time. Mel Gibson and Danny Glover are great at their roles and have good chemistry on screen. The other actors are also good, including Gary Busey, and Darlene Love as Roger Murtaugh’s wife. The comedy is good and there are some great action scenes. The only real problem is the villains are a bit forgettable except for Mr. Joshua. Aside from this, “Lethal Weapon” is defiantly worth a watch.
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V25N4 (April 2021)|