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Buffalo Soldiers (2001)

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Buffalo Soldiers
Buffalo Soldiers film poster.jpg
Country Flag of the United States.jpg USA
Directed by Gregor Jordan
Release Date 2001
Studio FilmFour
Good Machine
Grosvenor Park Productions
Distributor Miramax Films
Main Cast
Character Actor
Specialist Ray Elwood Joaquin Phoenix
Colonel Berman Ed Harris
First Sergeant Robert Lee Scott Glenn
Robyn Lee Anna Paquin
Garcia Michael Peña
Mrs. Berman Elizabeth McGovern
Stoney Leon Robinson

Buffalo Soldiers is a 2001 black comedy starring Joaquin Phoenix as Specialist Ray Elwood, a U.S. Army soldier stationed in West Germany who runs a black market empire from within his barracks at Stuttgart, just prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. In addition to Phoenix, the film also starred Ed Harris, Scott Glenn, and Anna Paquin. The film, based on a novel by Robert O'Connor, was controversial due to its unflattering depiction of U.S. military personnel involved in criminal activity. The controversy plagued the film's release, which was, coincidentally, scheduled for roughly the same time frame as the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. After 9/11, the film's release was delayed a further two years, and it had a short theatrical run in 2003 before landing on DVD.

The following weapons were used in the film Buffalo Soldiers (2001):



Beretta 92FS

The Beretta 92FS (standing in for the military-issue M9) is used by U.S. Army personnel in the film, including the Military Police officers led by Staff Sergeant Saad (Shiek Mahmud-Bey). PFC Brian Knoll (Gabriel Mann) uses Berettas twice in the film. While technically not anachronistic for the time in which the film is set (October 1989), the Beretta’s use by Army MPs during that time is unlikely; while it was adopted in 1985, it did not enter Army service widely until 1990. In 1989, its use would have been limited mostly to Special Operations forces and Airborne infantry.

Beretta 92FS - 9x19mm
SSG Saad draws his Beretta 92FS (standing in for an M9) during the confrontation at the bar.
Saad whirls around holding his Beretta after being startled by gunfire from Elwood. Note that the safety seems to be engaged.
Saad, high on fumes from the meth lab, points his Beretta at Special Forces who come to arrest him at the end of the film.
Knoll holds his Beretta at the end of the film.

Beretta 92FS Inox

Prior to meeting Staff Sergeant Saad (Shiek Mahmud-Bey) at a bar, Specialist Ray Elwood (Joaquin Phoenix) is seen loading up a Beretta 92FS Inox. He then uses the Beretta to intimidate Saad during a confrontation. The appearance of the Beretta 92FS Inox is (slightly) anachronistic, since the movie takes place in October 1989, and the Inox variation of the 92FS was not introduced until the following year (1990).

Beretta 92FS Inox - 9x19mm
SPC Elwood loads up his Beretta 92FS Inox prior to confronting the crooked MP officers led by SSG Saad at a bar.
Elwood loads in the magazine...
...but oddly, never chambers the gun.
Elwood aims his Beretta at SSG Saad at the bar during a confrontation.


Norinco Model 311 (CQ)

Norinco Model 311 (or CQ) rifles are commonly seen in the film in the hands of U.S. Army personnel. The rifles are clearly intended to be stand-ins for the M16A2, but they are recognizable as CQ rifles due to their stock design, distinctive hand guards and pistol grips, and M16A1-style receivers.

Norinco Model 311 (CQ 5.56) - 5.56x45mm NATO
Elwood and his men discover a crate full of Norinco CQ rifles, standing in for M16A2s.
Stoney inspects one of the CQ rifles.
A soldier hikes up a hill with his CQ rifle during an exercise.
Soldiers with M16-pattern rifles (including a couple CQs) get into firing position.
The soldiers go prone with their weapons. The soldier in the immediate foreground has a CQ rifle, as does one of the soldiers in the background near the right of the frame.
During a wargame, several soldiers are seen with rifles that have MILES gear attached. The soldier on the left has a CQ.


M16A1 rifles (most fitted with 20-round magazines) are seen throughout the film in the hands of U.S. Army personnel.

M16A1 - 5.56x45mm
Soldiers get into firing positions during an exercise. The soldier near the center clearly has an M16A1.
A soldier fires his M16A1 during the exercise.


Early M16 (SP1) rifles are used by U.S. Army personnel in the film, in addition to the Norinco Model 311s and M16A1s. Most are fitted with M16A1-style flash hiders to pass for actual M16A1s. During a scene in the armory, Spc. Ray Elwood (Joaquin Phoenix) is seen with an M16 (with original 3-prong flash hider) slung across his back prior to an exercise, before First Sergeant Lee (Scott Glenn) orders him to hand over his rifle and instead carry the M60.

M16 aka SP1 (flat "slab side receiver") with an A1 "birdcage" Flash hider, used to resemble the M16A1 in many Vietnam era movies. This version has a 20 round magazine - 5.56x45mm
In the armory, SPC Elwood hands over his M16 after being ordered by Lee to use an M60.
Soldiers load up their M16s during a live-fire exercise. The soldier nearest to the camera has an original M16.
Soldiers go into prone firing positions; note M16 in the center.
Soldiers prepare to fire. The soldier on the far left has an M16.

Submachine Guns

Heckler & Koch MP5A2

Special Forces soldiers who raid the drug lab at the end of the film are armed with Heckler & Koch MP5A2 submachine guns.

Heckler & Koch MP5A2 w/ "tropical" Wide forearm - 9x19mm
Two Special Forces soldiers point H&K MP5A2s at SSG Saad and his men. Trivia: The soldier on the right is played by then-unknown Idris Elba; according to the credits, his character's name is Kimborough.
The Special Forces advance, firing their MP5s.
SGT Kimborough (Idris Elba), high on meth fumes, staggers along holding his MP5A2.

Heckler & Koch MP5K (with PDW stock)

One of the Special Forces involved in drug raid at the end of the film carries a Heckler & Koch MP5K. Though not seen clearly, the weapon appears to be fitted with a PDW folding stock. While the MP5K would have been available during the timeframe of the movie (1989), the PDW folding stock is anachronistic; it was not introduced until 1991.

Heckler & Koch MP5K with the PDW-style folding stock attached, commonly used in films to emulate the PDW - 9x19mm
The Special Forces soldier on the left has an H&K MP5K; the PDW stock is barely visible in this image.
The Special Forces soldier with the MP5K is visible on the right; his weapon barely visible.

Machine Guns


During a live fire exercise, Spc. Ray Elwood (Joaquin Phoenix) is ordered by First Sergeant Lee (Scott Glenn) to use an M60 machine gun. He is later ordered to fire the M60 at his prized Mercedes.

M60 machine gun - 7.62x51mm NATO
Elwood is issued the M60 at the armory.
Elwood hikes up a hill while lugging the M60 along.
Elwood and his platoon mate load up the M60 and prepare to fire.
After learning what he is being ordered to shoot, Elwood fires away.
Continuing firing.


When Spc. Ray Elwood (Joaquin Phoenix) and his crew unpack the hijacked weapons in the de-commissioned missile facility, a variety of different weapons are seen.

Elwood and Stoney remove weapons from packing crates and load them into medical crates. The weapons include Norinco CQ rifles (left and center), what appear to be MGC replicas of the XM177 (also left), FIM-92 Stinger missile launchers, and what appear to be M29 mortar tubes (center, back and right).

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