Room Brooms: The Top 5 SMGs in Movies

A while back, we talked about the best boomsticks in film, and today, we are going to take a look at the best room brooms in film. Room brooms are what I’m calling submachine guns. Submachine guns are pistol-caliber weapons designed for close-range combat. They really came to be during World War 1 when warfare was constrained to trenches.

In these cases, the room broom was a trench broom. Over time they developed more into close-quarters combat weapons and have slipped into a bit of a niche these days. However, over the years, Hollywood has given us some seriously awesome movies featuring some seriously awesome room brooms, and we’ve gathered the top five.

1. Road to Perdition — The Thompson

The Thompson isn’t the first of the room brooms, but it’s pretty close. It’s certainly one of the OGs of the SMG design. It was used by Marines in the Banana Wars, gangsters at home, and by the military as a whole during World War 2. In “Road to Perdition,” we follow Tom Hanks as Michael Sullivan, a mobster’s enforcer, and his favorite long gun is the Thompson SMG.

Tom Hanks holding a Thompson submachine gun in Road to Perdition
The Thompson is a legendary SMG, and it serves our hero well. (Photo: Dreamworks Pictures)

Specifically the more expensive and fanciful M1921 Thompson. This gun is complete with the gangster grip, the cooling fins, and finely made wooden furniture. Sullivan wears a Cutt’s Compensator, and he tends to prefer the fifty-round drums over the stick magazines. He carries it in a very nice case as well.

He’s a master of the gun and mows down entire groups of bad guys when necessary. He doesn’t seem to aim much, and short controlled bursts aren’t his skill, but he makes music with room brooms.

2. The Dogs of War — The Uzi

“The Dogs of War” is a good film but an amazing novel. Read the novel and watch the film. In the film, Christopher Walken leads a mercenary group in an attempted coup in Africa. “The Dogs of War” is a manual for mercenaries, and it features a number of weapons, including a gas gun posing as an early multiple grenade launcher.

The Dogs of War, Christopher Walket with Uzi
Uzis and Christopher Walken….what could be cooler? (Photo: United Artists)

That’s not the gun we are talking about, we are talking about room brooms, and Christopher Walken carries a full-sized Uzi. Walken’s Uzi also wears a Sionics suppressor which was a premier option for 1980 and would make the gun quite quiet if combined with subsonic 9mm ammo.

His Uzi also wears a Starlight scope which was high speed for the era. It was an early night vision optic, and a suppressed, optically enhanced Uzi would be quite high speed for the era. It would certainly work for commandos on an operation to take down sentries silently and launch their attack.

3. Big Trouble In Little China — TEC-9

Remember what Jack Burton always says…. Well, he says a lot of things. Arguably he’s the perfect example of talk is cheap, and that’s why you should do it often. I love Jack Burton and the film “Big Trouble in Little China.” It’s an over-the-top, crazy movie that would never get made today.

TEC-9 in Big Trouble in Little China
The TEC-9 fits our bumbling hero well. (Photo: 20th Century Fox)

Out loud mouth ‘hero’ is in a magical world of demons, monsters, and wizards wielding both his mouth and a TEC-9 at the same rate and volume. He often shoots, wildly missing, and proves himself largely ineffective. He might not be smart or good at much, but he tries, and we love him for it.

The same could be said about the TEC-9. This blowback-operated gun came from the mind of George Kellgren, who was an early adopter of polymer frames. They were notoriously hated by the anti-gun lobby and not super useful for much more than plinking. The gun is a handful, and as the owner of a semi-auto version, I will tell you to stay away.

4. Cobra — Jatimatic SMG

“Cobra” is such a weird movie that it leaves me asking more questions than the film has answers for. Who is the Zombie Squad? Why does he cut pizza with scissors? Why is his first name Marion? Why do the bad guys bang axes? I can’t answer you there, but I can say that “Cobra” likes room brooms, specifically the Jatimatic SMG.

Sylvester Stallone in Cobra with Jatimatic SMG
This movie left me with a lot of questions…but I loved the SMG and laser sight. (Photo: Warner Bros.)

Throughout the film, the character of Cobra faces off with a cult of axe-wielding psychos. Their mistake was bringing axes to a Jatimatic fight. The Jatimatic is a Finnish SMG developed in the early 1980s. It’s an open bolt blowback operated SMG with an odd bolt guide that has it going up a seven-degree inclined plane. This supposedly reduced recoil and enhanced control.

As far as room brooms go, it’s pretty unique and not something you see every day. It stands out and looks cool, and looking cool is half the battle. Cobretti tossed a huge laser sight on the top from a little company called Laser Products Corp, which went on to be Surefire. Also, the shoulder rig Cobretti has for the Jatimatic is top-tier awesome.

5. Die Hard — MP5

Yippie kai yay, and you know the rest. Bruce Willis had a bad day in one of the best Christmas movies of all time. This movie is full of legendary weapons from the late 1980s and early 1990s. We got the Beretta 92, the HK P7M13, and of course, the MP5. Well, to be fair, it’s an HK 94 that was chopped and converted to full auto.

Bruce Willis in Die Hard with MP5
I think Die Hard is for sure the reason why the MP5 was ever so famous. (Photo: 20th Century Fox)

The end result is an MP5A3 wannabe with the collapsing stock and all. It does admittedly lack the lugs, But we can still love it. At this time period, the MP5 was the premier SMG, and in the hands of the high-tech terrorists led by Hans Gruber, it absolutely fits. Our hero commandeers one of these room brooms from a bad guy named Tony, and honestly, it’s the best Christmas gift he could have ever gotten.

Actually, McClane gets his hands on three different MP5s throughout the movie. One of the coolest scenes establishes McClane as the badass he is by writing, “Now I have a machine gun. Ho, ho, ho.”

Rooms Brooms For All

Submachine guns work well in movies. They are bigger than handguns but smaller than rifles. The stock is almost always optional, and the smaller a gun is, the easier it is to fit on camera with the hero present. Add in the easy availability of 9mm blanks and the crazy muzzle flash, and it makes sense that they pop up so often in films.

What’s your favorite appearance? Share with us below!

Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine Gunner and a lifelong firearms enthusiast. Now that his days of working a 240B like Charlie Parker on the sax are over he's a regular guy who likes to shoot, write, and find ways to combine the two. He holds an NRA certification as a Basic Pistol Instructor and is probably most likely the world's Okayest firearm instructor. He is a simplicisist when it comes to talking about himself in the 3rd person and a self-professed tactical hipster. Hit him up on Instagram, @travis.l.pike, with story ideas.

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