Guns of Pop Culture: “Heat” & Colt Model 733

The best part about watching Michael Mann flicks is the guns.

I could do an entire article on Heat and the various firearms used, but that’d get way too long, way too fast. Instead, I’m going to focus on the rifle that seemed to get the most amount of play, the Colt 733. 

Shiherlis fires Model 733 over top of car
Val Kilmer’s Shiherlis fires Model the 733 in Heat (1995)

Heat is a movie about cops and robbers, but it’s much more dramatic, and a bit of a slow burn between the action scenes. 

The criminals are sophisticated, well-armed, and intelligent. They plan their robberies to a T and utilize the best equipment they can get their hands on.

In this case, two characters wielded Colt 733 carbines in the final bank robbery scene in the 1995 flick. 

Modern For the Time 

While it might be considered old school these days, the Colt 733 was a very modern rifle for the time.

Colt Model 733 SMG
Colt Model 733 SMG

This gun served as an extension to the many CAR-15 models of the M16 rifle. The Colt 733 rocked an 11.5-inch barrel, making it an extremely lightweight and compact rifle

It weighed less than 6 pounds empty — short and sweet for those close quarters battle scenarios. The barrel profile fits the pencil moniker and helps keep the rifle light and balanced. 

McCauley muzzle flash Heat 3
Robert De Niro’s McCauley fires his Colt Model 733

The collapsing stock predated the M4, making the weapon fairly compact.

Colt used parts from the A1 and A2 series to build the gun, and it’s a bit of a mutt. The upper is an A1 with a shell deflector. Not to mention, we get an A2 flash hider, pistol grip, and a forward assist. 

Model 733 during bank heist scene
Colt Model 733 during the bank heist scene

The Colt 733 is also known as the Commando because it was intended as a close-quarters use weapon by special operations forces.

Famously, the Delta Force commandos in Mogadishu carried the weapon and favored it for its light and short design. 

US Navy Seal with Colt Commando
US Navy Seal with Colt Commando

At the time, it was as light and compact as a rifle could get.

The 733 reportedly ran well for such a short carbine and helped replace SMGs as the go-to weapon for Special Operations and Counter-Terrorism forces. 

The main downside to such a rifle was a loss of velocity for the 5.56 rounds and a massive increase in muzzle flash, concussion, and noise.

.223 Remington and 5.56 were both designed for a 20-inch barrel.

Shiherlis muzzle flash heat
Heat showed that muzzle flash quite authentically

As the barrel gets shorter, we see an increase in muzzle flash, concussion, and the like. For close quarters and urban environments, the loss of velocity isn’t a big deal but notable. 

Rock and Roll at the Drop of a Hat 

In the film Heat, Shiherlis and McCauley carry the Colt 733, making use of its specific design.

First, they use the short nature of the weapon to conceal under suit jackets for a low profile. 

As they rob the bank, they make an almost clean escape before the cops show up.

Inside the escape vehicle, they fire out the front and rear windows with little issue. The short size of the carbines makes that possible. 

McCauley aims Model 733 from car
McCauley aims his Model 733 from the car

As the situation gets worse, the two men abandon the car and engage police.

First, the tactics and use of cover, covering fire, bounding, and communication are outstanding. I almost want to cheer for bad guys.

These short little guns are lightweight and easy to maneuver around vehicles and cover. 

Plus, I’m sure the users appreciate a lightweight rifle when carrying pounds of money.

The baddies engage their rifles in full auto, firing short, relatively controlled bursts as they make their escape.

Val Kilmer makes his famed reload. I’ll give it to Mann, he captured the increased muzzle flash well in the film. 

Val Kilmer reload Heat
Val Kilmer’s famous reload

Final Thoughts

The Colt 733 was a fantastic rifle for its time — lightweight, short, and super handy. Without a doubt, these are a realistic and smart picks for the bank robbers in Heat.

McCauley muzzle flash Heat
Another shot of that muzzle flash, this time with McCauley

Rarely are the guns in films so well chosen and their features so accommodating to the user’s mission.

Mann knocked it out of the park, and the Colt 733 was likely the best choice possible for the year Heat was filmed. 

What’s your take on the Colt 733? Let us know in the comments below. For more on your favorite movie guns, check out “John Wick” & the HK P30L

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