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David Hines [userpic]

a gun for Terminator

May 19th, 2008 (07:03 pm)
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"Can you stop it?"

"I don't know. With these weapons, I don't know."

-- Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese, THE TERMINATOR


"These are brand new. We just got them in. That's a good gun. Just touch the trigger, the beam comes on, and you put the red dot where you want the bullet to go. You can't miss. Anything else?"

"Phased Plasma Rifle in the 40-watt range."

"Hey, just what you see, pal."

-- T-800 and gun shop owner, THE TERMINATOR


The pilot of TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES was out-and-out terrible. The later episodes have picked up, and I think the show has potential.

At the same time, I think Sarah and Co. desperately need to rethink their weapons strategy.

I haven't seen every episode of THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES, but based on what I have seen, Sarah Connor has a limited weapon supply. That's quite understandable, especially after the last time jump, and it's good for drama. But the contents of the Connors' weapons locker doesn't really suit their needs. Based on what I've seen, Sarah and company have 1) a bunch of Glocks 2) at least one AR-15 and 3) assorted random handguns (I think I saw Derek Reese checking out a 1911 at one point). These are effective for dealing with humans, sure. But humans aren't Sarah's major problem, and these weapons are down near the bottom of the barrel for dealing with Terminators.

What makes me say this? Well, consider something that happens in pretty much every freaking episode:

  1. Terminator shows up.


  2. Sarah or whoever fires off a magazine at the Terminator.


  3. Terminator shrugs off the damage.


This sequence of events is designed to create tension, but its formulaic status dissipates that. It's like criminals shooting at Superman: what, the dumbasses think something *different* is going to happen this time? A Terminator has a hyperalloy combat chassis made of a proprietary material related to unobtanium. Any weapon capable of seriously damaging them must be able to penetrate the unobtanium. Lesser weapons can damage the Terminator's soft tissue cover, limiting its ability to pass as human, but as we've seen from the show and movies, they don't do much actual damage, particularly if our heroes are shooting center mass.

Shooting center mass is effective against humans, because the torso 1) is a big target and 2) contains lots of blood vessels and vital organs. But Terminators don't have organs. Well, they *might* (I personally think they should have some, because the tissue that's surrounding the endoskeleton needs nourishment and occasional waste removal); but even if you completely destroy them it will not prevent the Terminator from ruining your day. Blood loss will not stop a Terminator. Shock will not stop a Terminator. Pain will not stop a Terminator. To stop a Terminator, you must *physically stop the Terminator.* I can think of three ways to do this.

  1. Stop the Terminator from moving (damage load-bearing structures and joints).


  2. Stop the Terminator from seeing you (damage its visual sensors).


  3. Stop the Terminator from functioning (damage/destroy the central processor in the Terminator's head).


Counter-Terminator tactics should focus on these objectives.

Most of Sarah's weaponry is just wrong for the job. Consider the AR. The nice thing about the AR platform is that it's modular, and the lower receiver is the only part that's actually regulated as a firearm. This means that you can buy a new upper receiver and barrel, swap 'em out, and you've got a firearm shooting an entirely new caliber. You can just order those parts online, since they're not firearms on their own. Much cheaper than getting an entirely new gun, with less hassle -- a good thing if you're on the run with a bunch of fake identities in a post 9/11 world; the receivers are the only hard parts to get. So, depending on how Sarah's set up, her AR could suit her needs if she gets, say, an .50 BMG or .50 Beowulf upper and the corresponding magazines. But if it's shooting .223, our standard military round, I will go out on a limb and call that drastically inadequate for Terminators.

The Glocks have a similar problem. You can get 'em in a variety of calibers: 9mm, .45 ACP, .357 SIG, .45 GAP, all that stuff. The 9mm are the most common. I am a .45 ACP aficionado, so a 9 mm cartridge is on the low end of what I'd feel comfortable using as a defensive round from a pistol, but with an expanding hollowpoint round it is just fine for humans, particularly if you've got seventeen of 'em in your magazine. Again, though, they're not effective against Terminators. The .45 ACP 1911, while Col. Jeff Cooper-approved, has the same problem.

So let's rethink the weapons locker, and the uses thereof. Here's what I'd put in my armory, if Terminators were coming after me:

  1. Big-ass rifle. Something with oomph and authoritah, but hand-portable and capable of putting out a reasonable number of shots pretty quickly. .45-70 Government, maybe, or Bushmaster .450. The Bushmaster has the disadvantage of being less likely to have ammunition available at the local Wal-Mart, but it's a magazine-fed semi-auto, so you can go for quick reloads. Put an Aimpoint or EOTech optical sight on it. Headshots, headshots, headshots.

    For style points, though, you can't go wrong with the Wild West Guns Alaskan Co-Pilot, a takedown Marlin lever-action in .45-70 Gov't. And for serious (but less readily portable) firepower, you can *never* go wrong with a Barrett rifle in .50 BMG.


  2. 12 gauge pump-action shotgun. Load it with breaching rounds. If anything would stun a Terminator, that would. Target weight-bearing joints, the pelvis, and the head. You might even do some damage shooting center mass.


  3. Very powerful hunting revolver (say, .454 Casull or Smith & Wesson's .500 Magnum). Again, go for head shots. This is sort of a last-ditch thing. I would never use a handgun against a Terminator if a rifle or shotgun were available.

    (Again, for style points I'd go for a Wild West custom -- say, their Wolverine, but Smith & Wesson's .500 Magnum is readily replaced in any good gun shop, often used because people tend to buy it, fire a few rounds, and realize they've picked up a fun but painful and expensive boat anchor.)


That's what I'd do, anyway. Folks who've seen more of the show than I have, feel free to point out things I missed.

Comments

(Deleted comment)
Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: May 20th, 2008 04:42 am (UTC)

Well, thanks. I think it's just that dorks tend to focus on the things that interest or puzzle them. As a gun nut, naturally I'd focus on the weird shit. :)

Posted by: unix_jedi (unix_jedi)
Posted at: May 19th, 2008 11:46 pm (UTC)

feel free to point out things I missed.

How about that Sarah and co have a Terminator with them who supposedly is non emotional, unable to panic, and has a aimbot built in.

Why does "she" open up with 9mm for Center of Mass whenever there's another robot around?

She, at least ought to be able to map out knees and the like (and according to the 2nd movie, they can aim with that precision).


Or at the very least, why aren't we seeing them trying to run Terminators into electrical mains/tasering the heads?

"Hey, this worked like a champ! Ok, let's forget it until the writers need another plot point!"

Posted by: The Weasel King (theweaselking)
Posted at: May 20th, 2008 12:15 am (UTC)

Anything with Summer Glau in it is going to have really bad writing, I find.

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: May 20th, 2008 04:45 am (UTC)

I would think that Terminators are pretty well insulated against electricity, but your points about Cameron's targeting capabilities are well-taken. Take out both knees on a Terminator, or damage the femoral-pelvic joint, and you'll do some good damage. Cameron could do that better than anyone, and she could handle the weapons necessary for doing it.

Posted by: unix_jedi (unix_jedi)
Posted at: May 21st, 2008 04:11 am (UTC)

I would think that Terminators are pretty well insulated against electricity,

Well, according to the show, a regular 115V 15A circuit is enough to cause one to shut down for (60? 120?) seconds.

(Of course, I'm really reminded of the MST3k theme: "If you're wondering how he eats and breathes and other science facts, just repeat to yourself it's just a show, I should really just relax."

After all, this is the same show where they're using thermite to destroy the remnants of the Terminators.... and that heat (which would leave behind some.... odd results) doesn't destroy the shed... among the most obvious.)

Posted by: Sinanju (sinanju)
Posted at: May 19th, 2008 11:50 pm (UTC)

At the local full-auto shoot, I've seen a .50 handheld weapon, about the size of an SMG. I didn't fire it, but it would probably do some significant damage to a Terminator...if you can hit it.

But overall, yeah, they don't use nearly enough firepower as a rule. They could get nearly as much dramatic tension out of their inability to easily CARRY heavy enough weapons in public (without being noticed) as by carrying and using weapons that can't do the job.

Imagine that Our Heroes HAVE to be out in public but they know there's a Terminator on their trail. They can't very well walk around with a shotgun or a Barrett, but nothing less is likely to do the job. So they're out and about and they feel (quite rightly) nearly naked. Especially if/when they realize the Terminator is Right. Over. There.

On the other hand, grenades, pipe bombs and other explosives (improvised or otherwise) are more readily concealable and are proven Terminator stoppers--if only briefly. But thirty seconds to run like hell (or steal a car) while it reboots in a gift beyond measure....

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: May 20th, 2008 04:50 am (UTC)

Yeah, Sarah's lack of resources since Enrique flipped on her makes for a problem. Time to make creative use of what you can get legally.

On the subject of explosives, might be worth trying Tannerite or similar items...

Posted by: __marcelo (__marcelo)
Posted at: May 19th, 2008 11:56 pm (UTC)

As they have extensively trained Connor to fight against machines, one'd think they'd have thought the whole issue better.

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: May 20th, 2008 04:50 am (UTC)

Well, to be fair, he *is* still learning. But it'd be a great way to show his development as a Great Military Leader^TM, if he were actually thinking about this stuff.

Posted by: The Weasel King (theweaselking)
Posted at: May 20th, 2008 12:14 am (UTC)

A friend of mine, who is Canadian Forces infantry, describes all pistols as "what you use to fight your way back to the rifle that you never should have put down in the first place".

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: May 20th, 2008 04:51 am (UTC)

Very true.

Posted by: trinfaneb (trinfaneb)
Posted at: May 20th, 2008 12:55 am (UTC)

Good points. I love the show too, but this issue bugs me. In his T2 follow-up novels, S.M. Stirling gave the Connors effective weapons like .50 cal Barretts, which John uses to smash the Terminator braincase by shooting through the eyesocket. I'm sure if John Ringo were writing the show, he'd give them some BFGs :)

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: May 20th, 2008 04:52 am (UTC)

Stirling's T2 novels were really good tie-ins. I liked the idea of the environmentalist wackos who supported the machines on the grounds of Negative Population Growth, although I couldn't help but think they'd've noticed at some point that the machines were strip-mining the planet.

Posted by: trinfaneb (trinfaneb)
Posted at: May 21st, 2008 12:36 am (UTC)

Yeah the Stirling novels were pretty good. For awhile I was mad that the Connors weren't able to stop Skynet, but I got over it. I guess that helped prepare me to like T3 :)

I find it interesting that Agent Ellison on the show is very similar to Dyson's FBI Agent brother from the Stirling books. I wonder if the show writers were inspired by the books or not. But in any case, I'm glad he's there.

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: May 20th, 2008 04:08 am (UTC)

David! Long time no see. My partner and I wrote the 1st season episode "Dungeons and Dragons," in which you saw in the future war period some heavier weapons getting used against Terminators, including the M79 grenade launcher fired by Cameron (the same one used by Arnold in T2-- we picked it out from the prop house) and the .50 Caliber Desert Eagle pistol used by Derek Reese to less effect.

In the present timeframe, the main problems faced by the Connors are availability (especially in California) and concealability (tough to stick a huge pistol or big game rifle in a coat or down the back of your trousers.) But without getting into spoilers too heavily, in season two you'll see the Connors arming up more heavily on certain missions...

Best wishes,
Zack Stentz

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: May 20th, 2008 04:39 am (UTC)

Zack! Dude, I've been looking for you a while. Drop me an email or something -- I'm at (my username here) at gmail.

As for concealability: well, it's a little harder to get, being an AOW weapon, but for concealable 12 gauge, a Serbu super shorty would be pretty sweet. Yeah, only three shots, but they're three REALLY FUN shots.

Good to hear from you, man. Keep in touch.




Edited at 2008-05-20 04:41 am (UTC)

Posted by: pokeyburro (pokeyburro)
Posted at: May 20th, 2008 05:09 pm (UTC)

Holy freaking crap I didn't know you and the writer of SCC knew each other.

This cool LJ just went even further up the cool-o-meter.

Posted by: trinfaneb (trinfaneb)
Posted at: May 21st, 2008 12:42 am (UTC)

Cool info about the T2 grenade launcher! I really like that episode you wrote. Hopefully it won't take too long to find out what really happened in that basement :)

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