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The Dogs of War: Slow Boat to Zangaro

Sunday, October 24th, 2021

Movies, guns, some tactics, some snark, and lots of nostalgia. Those are a few of the things you’ll find in the Saturday Night at the Movies film reviews from GunMag Warehouse. Interested in an example? Remember Dogs of War (book not movie)? Come take the…

Slow Boat to Zangaro

The Dogs of War

by Scott Waters

Carrying on with the idea of a period film that started when I reviewed The Way of the Gun sometime back, I took a spin through my DVD collection (yeah, I still have one). There it was, that classic of Bush War post-colonial havoc, The Dogs of War.


Set principally in the fictional country of Zangaro (played handily by Belize), this 1980 film, based on the Frederick Forsythe novel, revolves around a small group of mercenaries who set out to lead the overthrow of that country’s despotic leader. Starring Christopher Walken, Tom Berenger, and Colin Blakely, the film also has worthwhile supporting roles by JoBeth Williams and Ed O’Neill.

If you’ll forgive me a small indulgence here, I’ve often through that Walken, in his youth, looks almost translucent (see The Dead Zone or the second half of The Deer Hunter). In The Dogs of War, you get the sense that looking through his skin and seeing into his soul, you’d feel troubled indeed.


While the film is ostensibly about a team of mercenaries developing and executing a mission, it’s perhaps more accurately about morality and errant compasses, centering on Walken’s character, Jamie Shannon. I say this based on many watchings of the “European” version, which adds about 14 minutes of character development over the so-called “U.S.” version. Early on, Shannon attends a baptism for a fallen comrade’s newborn — he is the Godfather. The widow, however, explains that he will be allowed nothing to do with his Godson’s life.

There you have the central tension for the very stoic Shannon: he’s a man who wants some facsimile of domesticity but can’t find a way to it. Shortly thereafter, fate and a job offer intervene, forcing him to revert to the hard skills and harder stares of his profession.

Here’s a more off-the-cuff reading of what this film is about: it’s a love letter to the fictional XM-18. Many are the scenes of the team firing from what is essentially a rotary magazine shotgun. It’s all gleaming chrome and stubby purpose. Based on the Manville Gas Gun that first appeared in 1935 and was designed for crowd control purposes, the movie version was modified by the film’s armourers.

In one fun scene, an arms dealer extols its virtues, including the variable-load possibilities that he refers to as a “mixed-fruit pudding”. In that same scene, Shannon pops out a zinger when he asks the dealer if he’s ever been in combat, to which the dealer replies, “no, I’m Canadian.”


There are folks out there who hate this film, and one podcast in particular (it shall remain nameless but you can search for “Christopher Walken podcast” on YouTube) seemed to not know what to make of it at all. Is it an action film? Is it a drama? Is it a thriller?

Well, I submit that it’s all of those genres and none. It does fit nicely within the genre of 70s military procedurals that Fredrick Forsythe (author of the original novel) is known for. If you enjoy Forsythe’s The Day of The Jackal or The Fourth Protocol, you’ll likely enjoy this film.

In another memorable scene, the team has gathered in a hotel room to plan the mission. They talk about who to source their materiél from and the need to drive hard bargains; they drink beer and order food: pizza and maybe “drinking pudding”. The French team member, played with a certain charm by Jean-François Stévenin, then offers a very memorable toast,

Vive la mort, vive la guerre, vive le sacre mercenaire.

This translates to: “Long live death, long live war, long live the cursed mercenary.”

Much film time is spent on logistics: hiring a ship and crew, transporting Uzis across European land borders, negotiating the sky-high prices for 9mm quad (a term I never bothered to research until right now). For me, this stuff is a real pleasure. The film slows down, and the viewer is forced into the back-end of warfighting. But this is what will make or break the operation. What’s that quote?

Amateurs talk about tactics, but professionals study logistics.

But the main reason I come back to The Dogs of War, again and again, is that it’s a period piece. I’m not referring so much to post-colonial exploits in Africa, but more that of a pacing style in action/thrillers that is hard to come by these days. There are pleasantly long periods where little excitement occurs, but the film is immensely watchable for just those reasons. The same can be said for The Day of The Jackal or more recently, the George Clooney vehicle, The American.


By the time we reach the climactic assault we’ve watched the guerilla army that Shannon’s team will lead demonstrate their military discipline, as well as their proficiency with Uzis. There’s also a subplot involving a journalist (played with great verve by Colin Blakely) that winds its way through the first two acts. All these elements lead to the final assault.

The approach onto objective by the force is a quietly tense pleasure, and then, finally, all hell breaks loose, including many a loving shot of the XM-18 being reloaded and firing off all of its 18 rounds. Having said all that, it’s the slow build-up – like the boat that carries them from Europe to Africa – that remains the most worthwhile aspect of this film.

Check out the entire Saturday Night at the Movies series, from GunMag Warehouse.

About the Author: Scott Waters escaped the North of England as a child and has lived in the occasionally frozen/occasionally fecund land of Canada since then. An epigrammatically jocose former Canadian Infantry soldier who got himself some “higher education”, he became an artist and writer. These days he does some work with aid groups, dips his toes in the Army while continuing to dip his toes in art and writing. As you can see, there is a general “toe-dipping” theme. @militaryart_swaters

AUSA 21 – Logo Mat Central

Tuesday, October 12th, 2021

If your unit needs a new logo rug, Logo Mat Central is where you go. They are s GSA approved vendor for a full range of Custom Made Logo Floormats.

They also offer desk nameplates, coins and coin racks.

General Services Administration Contract Numbers – GS-27F-0020V & GS-03F-116AA.

OpEx 21 – Grayman & Company

Monday, October 4th, 2021

Parabellum Prime hosted a Grayman & Company mannequin during OpEx which gave a good idea of the quality of their custom tailored suits for low viz ops and protective detail personnel.

Standard features include such necessities as cut resistant sleeves and hidden ID panels, Action back and quick draw front button.

Wreaths Across America Invites All Americans to Join in National Flag Waving Effort Prior to September 11

Sunday, August 29th, 2021

This LIVE event will include stories from Gold Star Families, Veterans, First Responders and their families, whose service, courage, and sacrifice we honor.

COLUMBIA FALLS, ME – August 24, 2021 – National nonprofit Wreaths Across America (WAA) urges all Americans to join together on Tuesday, September 7, 2021, in waving the American flag in remembrance of the 20th Anniversary of September 11th. The event will be hosted LIVE on its official Facebook page and broadcast over Wreaths Across America Radio. It will include Gold Star Families, whose loved ones answered the call to serve after 9/11, Veterans, and First Responders and their families. Now more than ever, it is so important that we come together as Americans to show support for those whose service, courage, and sacrifice, help keep America free.

WAA gathers every Tuesday morning from 9-10 am ET to raise the American flag and say the Pledge of Allegiance from the Freeport Flag Ladies Monument in Jonesboro, Maine, near the ‘tip lands’ where the balsam is harvested to make veterans’ wreaths for placement on National Wreaths Across America Day each December. The monument, located on Route 1, was built by Wreaths Across America and Worcester Wreath Company in September 2019, after the Freeport Flag Ladies retired following 18 years of waving the American Flag in Freeport, Maine, each Tuesday since Sept. 11, 2001.

“Now, more than ever, it is so critical for communities to come together to Remember all those who served, and Honor their service and their family’s service, especially those who volunteered during the War on Terror following the events of September 11, 2001,” said WAA Executive Director, Karen Worcester. “But more than anything, we must Teach our children about these men and women, and the courage and commitment it takes to be a part of the small number of Americans who protect all our freedoms. Please join me on Sept. 7th, as we wave the flag across America, like we do each Tuesday morning, and never forget that Freedom isn’t free, and it must be protected.”

The flag-waving event will begin at 8:45 am ET and conclude at 10:05 am ET. In addition to the National Anthem, Pledge of Allegiance and sharing of stories, the event will include four moments of silence, as listed below.

• At 8:46 am, on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001, five hijackers took control of American Airlines Flight 11 and flew it into the heart of New York City and the northern facade of the World Trade Center’s North Tower (1 WTC).

• At 9:03 am, five other hijackers flew United Airlines Flight 175 into the southern facade of the South Tower (2 WTC).

• At 9:37 am, another five hijackers flew American Airlines flight 77 into the western facade of the Pentagon in Arlington County, Virginia.

• At 10:03 am, four hijackers crashed United Airlines Flight 93 into a field in Stonycreek Township near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Wreaths Across America is the nonprofit organization best known for placing veterans’ wreaths on the headstones of our nation’s fallen at Arlington National Cemetery. However, the organization, in total, places more than 2 million sponsored veterans’ wreaths at over 2,750 participating locations nationwide and offers year-round programs in support of its mission to Remember, Honor, Teach. These programs include The Mobile Education Exhibit which will be visiting New Jersey, Maine, Delaware, and Maryland in September and Wreaths Across America Radio. Morning Show host Michael W. Hale will conduct live interviews and on-air tributes on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, during a special edition broadcast of his morning show from 8-10 AM eastern.

This year, National Wreaths Across America Day will be held on Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021, at more than 2,750 participating locations across the country. To sponsor a $15 wreath for an American hero, or to learn more about how to volunteer, please visit

Kitfox Design Group Releases The Vietnam Throw Blanket

Friday, July 30th, 2021

IRON MOUNTAIN, Mich. – (July 30, 2021) Kitfox Design Group is proud to launch their latest and most exciting product yet, The Vietnam Throw blanket. A concerted effort to recognize our military’s history, and a humble nod and a thank you to the servicemen and women who fought in Vietnam.

The Vietnam Throw is woven in a small family-owned mill located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The throw features a Colt XM177E1, Huey helicopters, and a selection of other items and foliage reminiscent of the Vietnam War. The throw blankets are made on European Jacquard looms with roughly eight miles of American made, 100% cotton yarn.

“I had a very rough draft of the pattern tucked away for a few years. My grandfather is a Vietnam Veteran, and because of him, the Vietnam War has always intrigued me, but especially so with his silence on the matter,” said Sara Westman, the owner and illustrator at Kitfox Design Group. “But I never could figure out what to do with the artwork. The idea finally came to me on a beach in Pensacola when I couldn’t stop thinking about how inconveniently small my beach towel was. I thought to myself that I’d rather be laying out on a blanket – and here we are. I am hoping that both military history fans and Vietnam Veterans enjoy this project as much as I have enjoyed learning about the Vietnam War and creating the art.”

Pre-orders open July 30th at 9am Central and will close at 11:59pm Central on August 9th. The orders will begin shipping roughly 4-6 weeks after pre-orders close.

The throw will retail at $125 + shipping, and will ship worldwide. All orders placed on July 30th will receive an early bird gift. In addition to the throw blanket, Kitfox will also be launching a small collection of other items within the Vietnam War theme.

“Items in the collection will include the enamel pins and stickers that our fans are used to seeing from us, but we are also pretty excited about some custom apparel and lifestyle items that we have been working on.”

The throw blanket and other items in The Vietnam Collection are available for purchase on the Kitfox website.

Kitfox Design Group is a marketing and illustration company located in the beautiful Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Kitfox Design Group specializes in marketing goods for the firearm, automotive, and aerospace industries. Pre-order The Vietnam Throw on their website at

Platatac Stable Belt Dog Collar and Lead Combo

Monday, July 19th, 2021

Festooned with your favorite Regimental Stable Belt colors, this collar and lead combo is made from sturdy nylon with metal hardware for years of service.

Made in Australia, the collar and lead combinations are offered in the following Regiment / Unit colors:

RAR – Royal Australian Regiment (Red/Olive)
SASR- Australian Special Air Service Regiment / 22 Special Air Service (Royal Blue)
RAAMC – Royal Australian Army Medical Corps / RAMC Royal Army Medical Corps (Red/Dark Blue/Yellow)
RAEME – Royal Australian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers / REME Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (Dark Blue/Red/Yellow)
RAE – Royal Australian Engineers / RE Royal Engineers (Red/Dark Blue)
RVR – Royal Victoria Regiment (Red/Black/White)
Pilbara (Black/Brown)
Norforce (Khaki/Green/Orange)

For an additional fee, Platatac will embroider your dog’s name on the collar and / or lead.

Sneak Peek – Vietnam Throw from Kitfox Design Group

Wednesday, July 14th, 2021

Kitfox Design Group will be launching the pre-order for their Vietnam Throw project. You can see some of the design in these photos.

This 62″x84″ woven blanket is made in a small family-owned mill located in the foothills of the blue ridge mountains from about eight miles of American made 100% Cotton yarn.

Pre-order opens July 30th at 9am Central and will close at 11:59 Central August 9th. The throw will retail at $125.

Sign up here for a $10 off coupon and a gift if you pre-order on launch day.

FirstSpear Friday Focus: Battle of San Juan 123rd Anniversary and Rough Rider T-Shirt

Friday, July 2nd, 2021

On July 1, 2021, the 123rd anniversary of the epic battle of San Juan Hill, Cuba. FirstSpear pays tribute the Rough Riders and the gallant charge made that day to secure the critical heights. This charge ultimately led to freeing the oppressed peoples of Cuba to pursue their own destiny.

This iconic photo was taken that day after the successful charge. Legendary famous Law Man and Troop CO “Buckey” O’Neil once said, “War is argument, best way to settle it is to kill the other fella.” This emboldened the Rough Riders to continue forward to victory even though he was killed in the assault.

FirstSpear has created an iconic, limited edition commemorative T-shirt with this photo and quote.

For more information, check out: