Whether one looks at comic books, fiction or film, firearms play a huge part in geek culture. In fact, there’s an entire web site dedicated to document who carried what.
Geek Guns takes a look at some of these weapons – focusing on their real-world performance rather than in-universe function. If there’s something you want to know more about, be sure to mention it in the comments.
This week we’re going to look at a cartoonish depiction of a cartoonish weapon: Deadpool’s Twin Mark XIX Desert Eagles
Before we begin, a riddle: What’s more powerful than a .50 caliber Desert Eagle?
Two .50 caliber Desert Eagles.
Arguably the best part of Deadpool is the title credit sequence. This is not to say the rest of the movie is bad, it’s just that I found this particular part to be very well done.
When the origin story backfill is finished and the plot gets back to the opening shootout, there is an interesting complication: Deadpool is short on ammunition. The film is clearly making fun of movies where people (particularly the continuity folks) can’t keep track of how many rounds have been expended, so each casing is numbered to drive home the point and build some dramatic tension.
The weird thing is that he only has 12 rounds. The Desert Eagle Mark XIX in .50 Action Express has a magazine capacity of seven rounds, plus one in the chamber so with two guns he should have 16 rounds. Was there an off-camera firefight? Why didn’t he top off in the cab?
One might also observe that if he simply carried similar-sized pistols in .40 S&W he’d double his ammo supply and in 9mm he’d triple it. Of course, the .50 AE has vastly superior ballistic performance boasting roughly three times the energy of the .40 S&W and almost five times the energy of the 9mm.
Still, he’s not fighting super-human cyborgs or man-ape hybrids, just routine goons and making frequent use of head shots. Seems like more bullets would be better.
Are Two Guns Worse Than One?
Twin-gun shooting is popular in Hollywood, likely a holdover from Westerns where it actually made some sense. In the age of revolvers (particularly the earlier cap and ball ones), the big advantage of a revolver was that you got several consecutive shots before having to reload. Reloading either involved loose powder and separate bullets or (with cartridge guns) inpidually ejecting each casing before inserting a new bullet. This requires a few minutes of peace and quiet, so having a second (or third) loaded gun was the only way to take on greater numbers with confidence.
Box magazines changed this equation, since you can reload in a matter of seconds. If you count your bullets (like Deadpool does), you can do this slick tactical reload thing where you drop the mag while there is still a round in the chamber and pop in a new one, meaning the pistol won’t even lock open when it runs empty but will seamlessly feed the new ammunition.
This is in contrast to Antonio Banderas in Desperado or Kate Beckinsale in Underworld. While they have both guns operational, they can put a storm of lead downrange, but after the guns run dry, they either have to pause and reload (say out of a guitar case) or draw a second set of pistols, which is pretty inefficient in terms of weight and space.
Another wrinkle is that the dual-wielding isn’t particularly accurate, something both Desperado and Underworld get right. Yes, the bad guys fall, but only because bullets are flying like pellets out of a shotgun. Something has to get hit and the bad guys happen to be in the way. Precision marksman John Wick goes a different route, and his body count vindicates his decision.
Yes, it’s a superhero movie, but it strains credulity that one can dual wield hand-cannons while also boasting flawless accuracy.
About That Recoil
This is of course a classic Hollywood thing we’ve looked at many times before. The problem with really big guns is they jump around a lot and it takes time for them to recover so that one can get off an accurate second shot. It is true that there are some professional shooters who can shave that time pretty close, but I haven’t seen them doing it single-handed with .50 caliber Desert Eagles. These things jump around a lot. Deadpool is an aficionado of self-abuse, so maybe his wrists are like tree trunks, but anyone else who doesn’t set aside hours a day for Onanism exercises is likely going to struggle.
I should note that there are in fact handguns with which one can perform a magazine dump with reasonable accuracy, but these are much smaller calibers like .32 Auto or .380 ACP.
The Mark XIX – Many Guns in One
Getting back to Deadpool’s weapon of choice, the Desert Eagle Mark XIX is a modular weapon that can be converted to one of the other calibers offered by IMI. Thus, one can buy a .50 AE and then get a parts kit to convert it into .357 Magnum or .44 Magnum. In an age of ammo scarcity, it’s not a bad idea.
The Mark XIX is still a white elephant, but folks with money to burn can find them for sale without too much trouble.
As for dual-wielding – make sure your health insurance is up to date before trying it.