By Kyle Shea
During the holiday season, family members decorate their homes together and listen to Christmas music. The promise of presents and the smell of cookies bring out a nostalgic feeling and give birth to new memories alike. If there are fights, it is usually over politics or religion or something really petty; or it is over whether “Die Hard” is an actual Christmas movie.
“Die Hard” came out in 1988 and was an instant classic. The story takes place on Christmas when Detective Lt. John McClane (Bruce Willis) visits his estranged wife in Los Angeles. He arrives right in the middle of a Christmas party in a partially built building. While he is getting changed into fresh clothes, a group of terrorists led by Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) take the whole party hostage. McClane manages to escape into the building and spends the rest of the night picking off the terrorists one by one.
The main villain of the movie is Hans Gruber, who is played brilliantly by the late Alan Rickman. Hans Gruber is both cultured and a ruthless man who would enjoy a civilized conversation before killing anyone who gets in his way. He is considered one of the greatest movie villains of all time, up there with Darth Vader and Hannibal Lecter. He is also one of the smartest, as he easily outsmarts the police, the FBI and even John McClane.
Hans Gruber’s weapon of choice is an HK P7 M13 pistol, a variant of the P7 series. These guns were made for the German police forces to replace the Walther PP. They went against other pistols in a test and dominated most of the challenges. However, they were expensive, and only a few agencies accepted them. They also saw service in France, Norway and a few other countries. In the United States, the gun is rare and expensive but very popular. The front of the grip squeeze-cocking is disconcerting until you practice with it, but the gun becomes a favorite of almost all who shoot it.
The gun in the film is hard-chromed making it quite good looking. It shoots 9x19mm Parabellum from a 13-round magazine, making it the P7 variant that can hold the most ammo. The safety on P7 pistols is a cocking lever on the forward grip of the gun. To fire the gun, you have to squeeze the lever when you hold the grip. The Die Hard gun has a silencer, but it is a fake. On the top of the gun on one side it is stamped, “HECKLER & KOCH GMBH, OBERNDORF/N MADE IN W-GERMANY,” and below that, “HK T&E ONLY.” On the other side near the front of the gun are the words “M13” and “HK CHANTILLY VA.” On the pistol grip near the bottom are the logo of the company and the model of the gun, P7 M13.
Other guns used in the movie include a Beretta 92F used by John McClane and a Steyr AUG used by the villain Karl, who was played by Alexander Godunov. (Sidenote on Godunov: He was a famous ballet dancer who defected from the USSR in 1979 and was the inspiration for a movie, “Flight 222.”) Most of the terrorists in the film carry HK MP5s, one of which McClane manages to get his hands on. Police officers are seen carrying M-16s and one of the best characters of the movie, Sergeant Al Powell, uses an old school Smith & Wesson Model 15.
“Die Hard” is one of the greatest “man movies” ever made. It had a mixed reaction from critics but was loved by audiences. It launched the film careers of Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman. It also stars Reginald VelJohnson from “Family Matters” as Sergeant Al Powell, Bonnie Bedelia (Culkin) from “Salem’s Lot” as McClane’s ex-wife Holly and Paul Gleason from the “Breakfast Club” as LAPD Deputy Chief Dwayne Robinson. The film is filled with iconic action scenes and many great movie lines. It is a great movie worth owning and watching on Christmas or any other day of the year.
“Hans Gruber’s” P7 M13 Serial Number: 73169We’d like to thank Mike Papac of Cinema Weaponry for sharing the great Hans Gruber’s pistol with SAR’s readers!
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V24N10 (December 2020)|