The Guns of Starship Troopers

The unprecedented success of Helldivers 2 has reawakened the popularity of the film Starship Troopers. Sadly, it’s also reawakened a group of people who think they have IQs because they remark, “It’s a satire….” and then complain about media literacy. Yeah, we all know it’s satire, but that doesn’t make it not cool. Outside of the fart sniffers, we’ve also seen a weird group of folks say the bugs are the good guy. 

Regardless, the 1997 film Starship Troopers is likely a core memory for many millennial males, not just because of the co-ed shower scene but because it’s a fun action flick. While it’s supposedly based on the book by Robert Heinlen, it’s a bit of a stretch to find much in common between the two stories. 

There are some, but one of the biggest differences is the weaponry. The book had power armor and the common use of nuclear weapons, but the movie had the Morita Mk 1 Rifle. Today, we are going to tackle the guns of the film Starship Troopers

The Guns of Starship Troopers 

Like most 1990s sci-fi action flicks, Starship Troopers used real guns, but they were dressed up to be sci-fi-infused. The film isn’t necessarily famous for its gun handling, but throughout the film, over 300,000 blanks were used. There is a fair bit of gunplay, and one thing the film got right was the commonality of one weapon platform rather than several. 

In the film Starship Troopers, the main rifle is the Morita Mk 1. It’s the most common weapon platform we see. The Morita Mk 1 Rifle is a full auto assault rifle in a bullpup format. It has a carry handle that seemingly provides both a front and rear sight. In the film, they are seemingly fired almost exclusively in full auto. The full auto fire rips the limbs off of bugs. 

When the gun runs dry or when close-quarter combat demands it, the user can swap to a bottom-mounted shotgun. This pump action design is used by our hero, Rico, as he takes literal chunks out of the bug when he’s cornered during the initial invasion. 

Throughout the movie, we see two other variants of the Morita. Next, we see a Morita Mk 1 Sniper rifle, which is identical to the rifle variant, but it features a fairly large, almost comically sized scope. We only see the weapon used once by one soldier.

We have a Morita carbine used by Jean Rasczak and most officers of the Federation. The leader of Rasczak’s Roughnecks carries a shorter version of the Morita and uses it quite a bit. It’s not uncommon for leadership billets to carry shorter, lighter rifles. The Morita Carbine and rifle have the same relationship as the M4 and M16. The carbine version lacks the shotgun attachment. 

The Real Morita Carbine 

The Morita Mk 1 Carbine is a custom shell built around the AC-556. The AC-556 is the select fire assault rifle variant of the Ruger Mini-14. The shell is composed of the old-school Muzzlelite Bullpup stock kits that were around for Ruger rifles. 

They seemed to cut the Muzzlelite kit in half about mid-way through the carry handle. They then extended the shell of the gun to make it a bit bigger. The barrels are tipped with M60 flash suppressors.

The shotguns mounted to the rifles are Ithaca 37s. If you look closely, there are two triggers: one for the shotgun and one for the rifle. The magazines also have a sleeve mounted to make them look a little more futuristic. 

Even though the film is tongue-in-cheek satire, the use of one gun as the rifle, carbine, and sniper rifle was clever. It is realistic for a military force. The guns themselves are a bit comically oversized, but it works for the cheesy nature of the movie. It’s easy to see why the film has a cult following, and if you have some time to spare, give it a watch and check out the Morita Mk 1 in action. 

Travis Pike
Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record setting 11 months at sea. He’s trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines and the Afghan National Army. He serves as an NRA certified pistol instructor and teaches concealed carry classes.