There are two huge perks with this job: I get to meet a lot of great people and I get to shoot a lot of cool, unique and exotic guns.
Over the years, thanks to the generosity of some great friends, my bucket list has shrunk considerably.
Škorpion vz. 61? Loved it! Škorpion is Czech for “ass-kicker.”
Glock 18c? A bullet hose that’s hard to control despite the compensator cuts, but it’s fun to shoot as long as someone else is paying for the ammo.
Sten Mk. II? Clunky but very controllable for an open-bolt sub-gun.
Still, there are a few guns — 10 to be exact — that I’m dying to take to the range.
Here’s my bucket list, in no particular order:
Heckler & Koch G11 — To be clear, the H&K G11 never went into production. It’s merely a prototype, albeit a unique one. It fired a one-of-a-kind 4.73x33mm caseless round. The G11 looked like something straight out of a sci-fi movie. Unfortunately, the caseless ammo concept never caught on, despite the fact it would have saved a lot of weight for the Bundeswehr infantryman. Only 1,000 G11s were ever made.
AN-94 — Using a complex system of counter-weights, cables and pulleys, the Russian AN-94 (5,45-мм автомат Никонова обр. 1994 г.) can damn near put two rounds in the same hole with one pull of the trigger. In two-shot burst mode, the rifle has a cyclic rate of more than 1,800 rounds-per-minute. As you can imagine, the operating system proved a bit too complex for the Soviet and Russian Federation soldiers accustomed to the ruggedness of the AK platform. Subsequently, the AN-94 never caught on.
Quad .50 — What’s the only thing better than firing one Ma Deuce? Well, firing four at once. The “Quad 50,” which is more correctly known as the M45 Quadmount, electronically controlled four .50 caliber M2 machine guns. I know only one man who was lucky enough to have sat “in the can.” It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for him — “loud and orgasmic” I recall him saying.
AR-18/AR-180 — Although it was featured prominently in many films and featured a short-stroke gas piston, Eugene Stoner’s “other rifle” never really caught on. The AR-15/M-16 dominated the military and police marketplace. Both the select-fire AR-18 and the semi-auto AR-180 fizzled — one of Stoner’s few failures.
M2 Carbine — The M2 Carbine, a select-fire version of the venerable M1 Carbine, is the only firearm on this list I’ve actually shot before. However, it’s so controllable and fun to shoot I’m dying to shoot one again. Some critics have suggested the .30 Cal. Carbine round lacks sufficient punch when compared to today’s offerings. I disagree. The M1 Carbine makes a very handy personal defense weapon (PDW).
De Lisle Carbine — The World War II-era De Lisle Carbine was a mish-mash of parts — a 1911 mag and a reconfigured SMLE action — fitted to an internal suppressor. The result was one of the quietest rifles ever made. I have fired a reproduction at a range alongside suppressed AKs. While the AKs were quiet, the De Lisle was whisper-quiet. Can’t wait to get my hands on an original.
Suppressed M3 — The “Grease Gun” is an American classic. It entered service during World War II and there were still some serving in tanks up until the 1990s. Some special operations units have used (still use?) the M3 fitted with a suppressor. The hard-hitting .45 ACP round is sub-sonic and perfect in this role.
Stoner 63 — America’s most prolific modern weapons designer decided to produce a “modular” weapon system — a system that included a rifle, carbine and light-machine gun variants. Thus, the Stoner 63 was born. The flexible system could be magazine or belt fed. The few guys I’ve spoken to who carried them into harm’s way swear by them.
Gyrojet — What can you say about a 1960 design rifle and pistol combo that fired .50-caliber mini-rockets. The last time I saw Gyrojet ammunition, at a gun show in Pennsylvania, the dealer wanted $150 per round. Still, it would be fun.
Heckler & Koch P11 — For those of us constantly imperiled by enemy frogmen, H&K came up with a solution about 40 years ago — the P11. It was loaded with five .30 darts that were each propelled by solid-fuel rockets, which gave it a range, underwater, of approximately 20 yards. The darts were held in a sealed plastic unit that could be replaced quickly in case the operator faced multiple sub-aqua threats. I’ve yet to meet anyone who has ever fired one, much less anyone who has ever fired one in anger.