Guns of Pop Culture: “First Blood” & Rambo’s M60 By: Travis Pike

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Do you know what’s crazy about Rambo?

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Watch the first movie, then watch the other four, five, or however many. There is a crazy difference between the films.

Stallone in First Blood
Stallone in First Blood

The first movie tells the tale of a down-and-out, PTSD-ridden Vietnam Special Forces veteran who fights a local sheriff who treats Rambo harshly. 

In First Blood, Rambo isn’t a murder machine. In fact, he doesn’t kill anyone.

Well, you might be able to blame him for the man falling from the helicopter after Rambo throws a rock at it, but even that’s dubious.

Still, Rambo is a legit action movie, just not in the ways that the subsequent films in the series devolve into. 

Rambo with the M60
Rambo with the M60

And the film helped to popularize a few things in 1980s action flicks. One being the belt-fed machine gun fired from the hip, the other being the awesome use of a headband. Oh, and giant knives!

However, we aren’t Headband Tactical, and while we like knives, we’re really more gun people.

So today, we are looking at Rambo’s M60. 

The M60 Machine Gun 

In a post-World War II world, everyone and their mom wanted a general-purpose machine gun, but existing guns were heavy and difficult to maneuver and designed to only be fired from a tripod. 

Automatic rifles like the BAR were great but not a replacement for belt-fed firepower.

The United States began producing the M60 in the late 1940s. They took plenty of influence from German machine guns like the FG 42 and the MG series of weapons, but they also innovated in their design. 

M60
M60

By 1957 the Army adopted the M60. This belt-fed weapon fired the 7.62 NATO rounds at a rate of fire between 550 and 650 rounds per minute.

It would serve as a general-purpose machine gun that could act as a squad support weapon, a truck-mounted machine gun, and be mounted to helicopters, tanks, and more. 

The M60 weighed 23 pounds, making it fairly heavy but light for the time. Soldiers had an integrated bipod, but they could also attach a tripod to it or even fire the M60 while standing. The weapon saw its first action in the Vietnam war. 

M60 used in Vietnam
M60 used in Vietnam

The M60 is classified as a medium machine gun and eventually served with all four branches of the military. Throughout the Vietnam war, the M60 served the users well, but it wasn’t perfect. 

Soldiers, Marines, and Sailors eventually figured out that the M60 had reliability issues and was prone to malfunctions when dirty. There were also durability issues and some rather weak parts that fell apart rather quickly. 

A sailor fires a M-60 machine gun during a live-fire exercise in 2003
A sailor fires an M-60 machine gun during a live-fire exercise in 2003 (Photo: Chief Petty Officer John F. Williams)

Yet the M60 served for over 30 years before the FN MAG replaced it.

Redesignated the M240, the FN MAG continues to serve as the military’s general-purpose machine gun. 

The Gun of Rambo 

Rambo gets his M60 by stealing it from the National Guard.

Rambo stealing the M60 from a National Guard Truck
Rambo stealing the M60 from a National Guard truck

Some poor PFC is gonna get fried for leaving his M60 behind since a good portion of the town got shot by Rambo firing from the hip.

With the world’s longest explosion distracting the police, Rambo runs rampant. 

He fires the M60 from the hip, destroying windows, signs, and a power line to turn the town dark. He wears two ammo belts across his chest and another around his waist. He’s prepared and has plenty of extra ammo…although he never reloads.

He also never shoots anyone with the M60, but he does use it to destroy windows, shut off the power and even ignite gunpowder to cause another explosion.

Rambo firing the M60
Rambo fires the M60.

This wasn’t Rambo’s first time with an M60, that’s clear…and it’s not his last.

We see him wield an M60E3 in Rambo: First Blood Part II, but in that one, he kills a fair number of people.

There is also a piece of cover image art where someone put an RPG at the end of the barrel of an M60 for whatever reason. 

Rambo First Blood Part II poster
Rambo: First Blood Part II poster

If you’ve never seen the original First Blood, give it a watch. Don’t let the cheesy action of the sequels turn you away. 

What do you think of the M60? Let us know below. For more Guns of Pop Culture, head to our Fun Category!