Saturday, July 31, 2010
Greatest guns of Fiction- Plastic Gun
This one is the gun used by rogue CIA agent Mitch "Booth " Leary in the 1993 film In the Line of Fire. In the film, Leary, played by John Malkovich at his least irritating, plots to assassinate the President of the United States and plays a cat and mouse game with Clint Eastwood's character, a disgraced Secret Service agent who failed to save JFK. Spoilers are ahead for those who haven't seen the movie. It is pretty good, so watch it and come back. Leary constructs an elaborate plan to defeat the layers of Secret Service protection, including posing as a rich businessman with thousands of dollars to give to the President's reelection campaign. Genius.
But we are here to talk about guns, so lets get to it. Malkovich's character is said to be a former CIA assassin who is skilled in model making. It is this model making skill that allows him to build a unique weapon to use for the job. The gun is a double barrel, single action weapon. From the size of the bore and what I remember from the movie, it seems like it would be chambered in 9mm NATO or .380 ACP. Each barrel is manually cocked by the levers at the top of the weapon. . As near as I can tell the weapon is almost completely constructed out of some type of composite material in order to let Booth sneak it past the metal detectors. You would likely still need several metal parts, namely springs for the trigger and bolts, and a firing pin. The firing pin could be an off the shelf titanium firing pin, used in many weapons today. If I recall high school chemistry correctly, titanium is paramagnetic and would therefore not set off most metal detectors.
Could you make a weapon out of non-metallic composites? Well, maybe. If you did not plan on firing it more than a few times, used low pressure ammunition and perhaps did some engineering and computer modeling work to understand the forces and materials involved, it just might work. Then again, it might mangle your fingers. let me put it this way, I wouldn't try it. One of the biggest hurdles would be the barrel. We know that you can certainly make a great deal of a gun out of plastics, but the barrel and chamber would be pretty difficult to engineer. They are both subject to very high temperatures and intense pressure. Carbon fiber or some type of non magnetic alloy could be used but that is probably beyond the home workshop, especially in the early 90s. Since the weapon was intended to be used at point blank range, you could probably get away with an non rifled barrel, but it would likely cause the bullet to fail to reach its maximum velocity, impeding its effectiveness.
The weapon also breaks down into several sections and he stores the ammunition in a hollow key chain. Pretty clever, and it might just escape the notice of security personnel. The film also has references to three of the four historical Presidential assassinations. Clint Eastwood's character was a Secret Service Agent protecting JFK the day he was assassinated. Leary refers to himself as "Booth" for much of the film, referencing John Wilkes Booth, Lincoln's killer. In the end of the movie, Leary attempts to shoot the President through a napkin, which is what Leon Czolgosz did when he killed William McKinley.
Fun fact, the makers of the film were worried enough about the legality of the PROP that they had it cut into sections after filming. I suppose to prevent it being modified to fire.
(I would let you shoot it first)