One of my all-time favorite action flicks is Heat. It has realistic firefights, which is something Hollywood doesn’t seem to care much about. It features a remarkable cast of talented actors who took the time to train with firearms and learn tactics from experts…something else unusual in Hollywood. And the guns? The movie has many classics, some of which arguably became classics because of the movie, particularly the iconic Heat shootout scene. One of the latter, in my opinion, is Lt. Hanna’s (AL Pacino) FN FNC.
In tonight’s Friday Night Gunfights.
Lt. Hanna’s FN FNC-80: HEAT
Spoiler Alert: the movie’s over twenty years old, so I’m not too worried about spoiling anything for anyone. If you still haven’t seen it, it’s definitely one to put at the top of your watch list!
In this badass flick, some very iconic firearms are used. Today we’ll take a look at the carbine Al Pacino’s character, LAPD Robbery & Homicide Lt. Vincent Hanna, used during the heist shootout. When I watched it the first few times, I had no idea what the make/model it was, other than the fact that it was obviously not an AR-15-type rifle.
I was very curious, and back then, Google was still new, so I hit the books and finally solved the mystery: it’s the FN FNC-80 (Fabrique Nationale Carabine) from FN Herstal.
The FNC is an assault rifle that has been in service since 1979 with countries all over the globe. It’s chambered in 5.56×45. Although compatible with AR15/M4 mags, it initially fed from a proprietary magazine that lacked a bolt-hold-open tab. Original FNC magazines can still be found, but they won’t lock the bolt to the rear in an AR/M4.
To find out more about the FNC, I first went to imfdb.org. It’s a great resource if you want to know every type of firearm you see in movies and TV Shows. The database is thorough and has fun facts about particular firearms in each movie. That was my first stop; then it was on to some others (Small Arms Review, et al).
Lt. Hanna’s FNC was modified with a shorter barrel, chopped by an armorer, and an A2 birdcage was attached. All the LAPD officers were only allowed to fire in semi-auto to limit collateral damage, while all of McCauley’s (Robert Deniro) crew went full auto during the firefight.
Kudos to Director Michael Mann for the realism aspect, which made it more enjoyable for people like me who appreciate accurate portrayals of weapons and tactics on the big screen. And Val Kilmer does an excellent combat reload during the shootout.
But back to Lt. Hanna’s FNC. Toward the end of the street battle, Michael Cheritto (Tom Sizemore) gets desperate after being separated from the crew. He grabs a young girl and uses her as a hostage/human shield. Hanna flanks Cheritto and lines up his sights, waiting for the right moment.
As Cheritto turns around towards Hanna, Hanna takes the shot, and the firefight ends with Cheritto’s body dropping to the ground. The shocked but unharmed hostage gets picked up by Hanna.
With its rotating sling swivel up front, ribbed barrel just behind the muzzle device, and stamped-metal-to-plastic handguard, the FNC adds a bespoke firearm to the film. It’s not a firearm you see much in movies, especially used by a main character.
Heat is an excellent movie that the 2A community can watch and enjoy without being nitpicky at what the actors are doing wrong, something my wife has to get used to. She often reminds me my expectations are too high for a non-serious TV show we’re watching. But Heat doesn’t disappoint, and that’s why it’s one of my favorites.
-Fifty Shades of FDE
FN FNC in use irl.
Appendix 1: FN FNC Specs and Disassembly
The FN FNC is an interesting Cold War-era long gun. It is manufactured in both semi-auto and burst/full-auto versions; the latter were manufactured in large numbers, but many more were converted. It’s a (long stroke) piston-driven 5.56 gun with a unique, 2-position gas regulator located at the back of the barrel and forward of the receiver. It also has an interesting spring-loaded dust cover on the upper receiver, similar to the one later used by the Galil ACE. Its folding stock hinges much like the FN FAL, and disassembly is extremely easy.
- Type: Assault Rifle
- Caliber: 5.56x45mm NATO
- Weight: 8.47 lbs.
- Length: 39.3 in. (stock extended)
- Barrel length: 17.7 in. (with muzzle device); 16 in. (without)
- Barrel twist: 1/12 in.
- Muzzle device: flash suppressor (rifle grenade adapter)
- Feeding: STANAG Magazines and their successors
- Operating system: long stroke piston with rotating bolt
- Gas system: encapsulated (with spring-loaded dust cover)
- Gas block: adjustable; flipping up the launcher sight cuts off gas flow through the block to launch rifle grenades
- Firing pin: floating, with firing pin spring to eliminate accidental inertia impact
- Extractor: welded
- Front sight: fixed/winged blade front sight (elevation adjustable) with grenade launcher site behind
- Rear sight: welded peep rear sight with 200m and 400m adjustments
- Cocking handle: reciprocating charging handle on the right side
- Upper receiver: stamped and riveted
Appendix 2: More on the FN FNC-80 from Gun Jesus.
The FNC was developed in the mid to late-70s in answer to NATO competition and standardization trials. This was partly due to a desire for something less expensive than the M16 rifle. The weapon performed poorly in its initial form, reportedly due to rushed development, but later saw some commercial success in export (primarily for law enforcement and infantry units) to Indonesia (manufactured under license by PT Bindad), Sweden (manufactured under license by Bofors Ordnance), El Salvador, Tonga, and at least a dozen others.
But we’re not going to bore you with our history notes. We’ll let Ian astound and amaze you with his astonishing erudition.
*Shoot move communicate: “…fire and movement consist of individuals or fire teams providing covering fire while other individuals or fire teams advance toward the enemy or assault the enemy position.” MCWP 3-11.2 Marine Rifle Squad UNCLASS 27 NOV 02
Additional FN FNC-80 Resources:
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