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April 05, 2007

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The Gun Nut Takes Aim At Shooter

The movie, that is. Starring Mark Wahlberg as retired Marine Gunnery Sergeant and scout/sniper Bob Lee Swagger.  Since the non-shooting public gets most of its information on guns from films like this, I figured why not go see it and look for all its little glitches and miscues.

Before Shooter came onscreen, I was forced to sit through trailers for six new films that seemed to consist mostly of car crashes. I remember a time when trailers were mostly Indians being shot off horses, or closeups of Clark Gable trying to get his tongue around Lana Turner’s tonsils. But now it’s car crashes. Anyway…

*In the first scene, Gunny Swagger and his spotter are about to shoot at bad guys and the spotter is calling off distances in yards. The military has been metric since the 1960s.

*A few minutes later, Gunny Swagger shoots down a helicopter with a .50 BMG rifle, cranking off a dozen shots or so with no hearing protection. In real life, he would never hear anything again. Ever.

*Gunny Bob Lee (now Ret.) takes a shot at a can of Dinty Moore Beef Stew at 2000 yards with his .50 BMG bolt-action. He is now wearing earmuffs, but his massive, beer-drinking dog is lying alongside the rifle only a few yards away. In real life, at the pull of the trigger, the dog would run off in 50-foot bounds, emitting howls of agony at every leap. What the Gunny has against Dinty Moore is not explained.

* To save the life of an FBI agent, the Gunny shoots four bad guys in the head with a .22 rimfire at 200 yards from offhand while standing in a rowboat on a river.

* The FBI agent had been fitted with a prosthetic device—an arm brace--designed to force him to shoot himself in the head. There might be a market for something like this in the real world.

* Kate Mara, an extremely hot babe who plays Sarah Fenn, the heroine of the film, shoots one of the bad guys with a Beretta M92 which has been taken, unfired, from another villain. The slide locks open after only 4 shots. Why did the bad guy load only 4 rounds in a magazine that holds 17?

* At the end of the film, Ret. Gunny Bob Lee proves his innocence by revealing that he has swapped the firing pins in all his rifles, rendering them inert. Do I have to comment on this?

Best line in the film: Bob Lee says, “I’m just a redneck peckerwood who lives alone with too many guns.”

Go see it.  It’s a lot of fun and, as I said, Kate Mara is some hottie.


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Is there much difference between a 17 rnd mag that has 4 rnds loaded and a 6 shot peacemaker that fires 9 or 10 rnds between reloads? I too remember the classic westerns of yesteryear!


Watched "Open Range" last night for about the tenth time. Love the scene where Robert Duvall, with his back against the wall fires his double-barreled shotgun through a building at a bad guy who files across the street and crumples up against the side of the building...all without that pesky recoil problem!

Let's face it, its a movie.Take it for what its worth (hot babes and guns).

Charles Henderson

David, you are too kind. When I see films that make me cringe at the errors, such as those you pointed out in Shooter, I remind myself, "It's Hollywood!" What they know about real Scout Snipers, marksmanship and firearms could fill a thimble, possibly and possibly not. So I try my best to cut them some slack and enjoy the carnage. Glad you like Shooter, because when the DVD comes out, there are a bunch of us Marine Corps trigger pullers who appear in a documentary on Scout Snipers and Bob Lee Swagger's inspiration, Carlos Hathcock, that is included as "Bonus Material" with the movie. Many Marines will be buying the DVD not so much for the movie, but for the bonus documentary that includes interviews with yours truly as well as Carlos Hathcock III, Jim Land, Jack Cuddy and a few other notable folks from the real Scout Sniper world. Semper Fi, Charles Henderson, Author of Marine Sniper

Dave M

I saw "Shooter" this weekend with my son David, a disabled vet who served as a scout/sniper in Iraq with the 3rd Infantry in 2003. Afterward, we compared our own "glitch and miscue" lists over hot wings and a libation. My list was a bit shorter than Dave P's; David's was about 3 times as long and included tactical as well as weapons related items. Our conclusion? Hot babes, neat weapons, and lots of shooting action scenes trump details everytime. My son's only real complaint was that none of the army nurses that took care of him bore the slightest resemblance to Kate Mara.

See the movie-3 gun nuts named Dave can't be wrong.

Lee Woiteshek

Did they do the book justice? I hate to go if Hollywood destroyed this the way they've destroyed Clancy's novels.


I remember one of two military comics growing up. One title I definitely recall, "Sarg'nt Fury and his Howling Commandos". These guys could shoot the prop off a German M109 with a 45 Auto. :-)

Ya gotta love this stuff.


The movie is based on the Stephen Hunter book "Point of Impact", which is much more technically correct (the author went to pretty good lengths to get the shooting science and firearm technical stuff right) than the movie. As you can imagine most of the book's plot has been dramatically changed in the film. If you are a firearms aficianado, this book and the rest in the series are great reads.


these guys are pretty much right dave, hollywood people don't know anything about the real world.they just make it up as they go. It's cheap entertainment for the uninformed public. "HW" doesn't understand,that to take a human life is the ultimate. I can't imange that feeling but these men and women are doing what needs to be done to ensure our freedom.I salute each and every one,and pray they come home soon.

Skip Rood

Dave - Got the first belly laugh of the week over your comment re the prosthetic arm. You may be right re their being a market for it. Good comments re the movie - haven;t seen it but will. I'm a big Hunter fan and have read all his stuff and understand that Lollywood (the "L" is for Liberal) has to do their thing.

Dave Petzal

To Charles Henderson: An honor to have you on this blog, and eternal thanks for the book on Gunny Hathcock, whose bravery is almost beyond comprehension.

And yes, I worry constantly about being too kind.


I just remember Wahlberg saying that Charlton Heston was evil for being the voice of the NRA because guns were destroying American society. Funny that he now did a movie about them.


Gary Busey was quoted as saying "Why listen to us actors, we lie for a living" during a recent interview. There are of course exceptions to every rule(i.e. Heston, and Seleck come to mind). Just as Wahlberg now disowns his "Mark Mark" days because he's now a "serious actor" which really means seriously overpaid. Maybe its time the Democrats in Congress should hold hearings on the pay of its Hollywood buddies.

Peter C

Hollywood has always been fantasyland. Remember the old Westerns with the 20-shot Colt Single Action revolvers? It might be interesting to put together a list of screen actors who have made a living portraying gun-toting characters, but support anti-gun causes in real life (if you can call their existence real life).


I agree with Dave concerning the movie but would like to add that all of Stephen Hunter's books make for excellent reading plus you get to meet the entire Swagger family. Almost as good as Dave's rantings...I mean writings.

Mike O.

Hollywood is the business of make believe period. Unfortunately most of the actors that work there have been in the business for so long that their "real life" views can be as dillusional as some of the plots in their movies. Actors are paid to lie. So why should we believe a single thing that comes out of their mouths. Most have a hidden agenda and are trying to pawn it off on the American public. They don't care if they make anti gun comments one day and then turn around and blow away countless bad dudes on the big screen the next, all the while using the same guns they so fervently oppose. The sad part is that a lot of these movies are seen by kids with lazy parents that leave teaching gun safety to characters in movies.

Jim Kiser

Read this while watching Mythbusters on the discovery channel show how fake hooeywood is when it comes to Firearms. Using all varieties including high powered hunting guns they could not get the dummy to move more than sevral inches and that when shot at point blank range. Considering that some of the best politicians were actors tells us alot about how they "sell their". Jim

Another bogus Hollywood sniper movie..I can't wait to see it!
"Enemy at the Gates" was one movie done right for a change;including the hot babe; you know she's hot when she looks good a WWII soviet uniform!


Well if he shot a dinty moore can at 1800 meters, he must have been using HE ammo

Roger Reeves

Who has time to go to the Movie these days with so much good hollywood stuff on this Blog. Tis a shame no good Wester movies such as Open Range being produced in Hollywood these stressful days. Appears we to busy bashing what some writers think, or comment about a certain gun . Sure not a free-press world now. If all don;t agree with your comments, you dead meat.RER


Lets not forget the greasted exception to the all actors are commies list. Reagan!!! It just doesnt get any better and dave are you saying you cant hit four targets with a .22 rimfire at 200 yards from offhand while standing in a rowboat on a river? ive must have done that atleast 15 times.


that was surprisingly kind for a petzal review

JA Demko

I think I'll pass on this flick. Hardware porn bores me, whether it's gunporn like this movie, or carporn like the Fast and Furious movies or jetporn or ...well, you get the idea.
No matter what a given movie is about, if it has anything of a technical nature in it, people who know about that field will immediately start carping about the errors. The readers of this blog are gun enthusiasts so you key in on gun errors. Movies are laden with plenty of other errors you don't notice because you aren't an entomologist or an Egyptologist or an electrical engineer. Script writers can't have an encyclopedic knowledge of every field and, though they can and should do some fact checking, their primary goal is to write a commercially viable and entertaining script. Even if the script started out technically perfect, by the time it went through umpteen re-writes and several committees of writers, errors would surely creep in. Expecting realism in a Mark Wahlberg action movie is like expecting realism in a Peter North action movie.
So, I avoid movies where the hero's gun becomes the focus.


To JA: But if the movie is expressly ABOUT guns and shooting, shouldn't they get the facts right? I haven't seen too many movies about entomology in which the directors get their bugs wrong ....

JA Demko

The movie isn't about guns and shooting. The movie, from what I've read about the plot, is a fairly standard paranoid thriller. The main character could just as easily be a code breaker, or a computer expert, or other technoid and_with only minor tweaking of the script_ get caught up in the exact same series of conspiracy-driven events. Truckloads of similar crappy novels and scripts are written every year. The main character's mad skillz are no more than a reasonably plausible way to put him afoul of the conspirators.

Have you noted how the more the hardware becomes the focus, the more sucktastic the movie gets? Look at the Dirty Harry movies. The first is a simply outstanding movie and the fabled .44 magnum is actually of pretty minor importance. Each sequel focused more on Harry's weaponry and each sucked more than the last. The Death Wish series is an even more egregious example.
Skip the gunporn. Look for movies that develop characters through something more than what a big gun he carries.



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