The Ultimate Firearms Destination for the Gun Lifestyle

Preview – Guns of the ’80s

Illustration by Ced Nocon

Pull Up Your Hammer Pants, Pop Open a Bartles & Jaymes, and Reminisce About the Classics

What makes some guns special? Modern guns are pretty much all the same in terms of what they do as machines. Whether large or small, made of blued steel or polymer, all they do is contain an explosion in such a controlled manner that a metal projectile can be launched with some accuracy at an intended target. So why are some guns just way cooler than others? A Makarov is just a PPK made in Russia, but why would so many of us choose the latter over the former? Perhaps something to do with Commander Bond?

This shooter came of “gun age” in the 1980s. As the offspring of a man who had escaped from a Communist prison during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, I was pretty much taught to shoot as soon as I could pick up a gun — just in case the brown stuff hit the ventilating system once again. Growing up in England, it was the weapons of the ’80s that worked their way into my heart — guns I couldn’t afford and could only dream about.


Now in my 40s and with a little more disposable income than I had as a teenager, I have inexorably returned to the glory guns of my youth, not just to covet, but to own and shoot. Safe queen collectors should probably read no further, but if a smile cracks your face when you hear the opening bars of the Miami Vice theme tune, or you once thought Mel Gibson’s hairdo in Lethal Weapon was cool, then read on. This is about some of the guns that defined the ’80s and even influenced the ’90s — weapons that were rare and very often associated with the coolest dudes with the flashiest cars and biggest shoulder pads.

Time Travelers and the T-Rex
Perhaps the biggest movie star of the lot is the Franchi SPAS-12. This has to be the most recognizable shotgun in the world, thanks in part to its use in blockbuster movies — from the original Terminator movie in which Arnie wreaks utter devastation in the police station to Jurassic Park, where the excellent Bob Peck uses the smoothbore as the gamekeeper. Oh, and if you’re having unexplained flashbacks of Xenomorphs and Chestbursters, that’s completely OK. The U.S. Colonial Marines’ Pulse Rifle of Aliens fame was built using the unique fore-end of the SPAS-12 and the lower receiver of a Thompson SMG!

Having read a surprisingly positive review of the Franchi-made behemoth, I managed to convince my dad that there was a SPAS-shaped hole in our gun safe that needed filling. That specific gun has long ago disappeared, a victim of the unconstitutional disarming of the British people. But, even though the SPAS hasn’t been made in over a decade, you can still find them online in good condition. So, as soon as this correspondent moved across the pond and became a citizen, it was time for a reunion with my ole buddy. I bought a pristine version here in the United States.


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