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Guns of Pop Culture: “Miami Vice” & the Bren Ten

In this Guns of Pop Culture, we take a look at an iconic cop show of the '80s..."Miami Vice" and the Bren Ten seen in the hands of Crockett.

Michael Mann produced Miami Vice, and Mann has long had an affinity for firearms — aiming to show realistic firearm use in his films and television shows.

In Miami Vice, we saw the main characters utilize a variety of modern weapons, especially the lead character Sonny Crockett. 

Miami Vice Title Card
Iconic ’80s

Throughout the show, he changes weapons three times, and each time it was a conscious choice by the showrunners to keep him carrying a modern firearm.

But in the first two seasons, he carried the famed Bren Ten in the new (for the time) 10mm Automatic. 

Miami Vice Kinda Rules

Miami Vice is an interesting show offering up a sunny, seemingly paradisiacal environment, but the themes were dark and often brutal.

The plot centered on the violent underground that popped up in Miami during the glory days of the cocaine cowboys. 

And the show followed Crockett and Tubbs — a pair of vice cops who would often go deep undercover to infiltrate an underworld of drugs and human trafficking.

Most episodes had some big shootouts featuring a variety of guns. 

Crockett and Tubbs from Miami Vice
Crockett and Tubbs

Miami Vice brought a modern look and feel beyond the firearms, extending into music and fashion. The world felt mostly real, outside of the giant, daily shootout and the fact investigations took an hour to clear up. 

It stood apart then and stands apart now from the normal police serial. Law & Order just seems plain and boring compared to the style of Miami Vice

The Bren Ten

The 10mm Automatic promised to be the best fighting caliber ever created in the realm of handguns.

10mm Round
10mm Round

Big names like Jeff Cooper and Norma were attached to its development and the first gun to chamber this high-speed round was the Bren Ten. 

The Bren Ten took the CZ 75 and beefed it up into a beastly big gun. This gun provided Sonny Crockett with an extremely modern handgun and cartridge.

Plus, it looked extremely distinctive. 

Miami Vice Bren Ten 6
A closeup of the Bren Ten in Season 2’s “One Way Ticket”

The Bren Ten used in Miami Vice was hard-chromed, which made it more distinctive and allowed it to show up a bit better during night shoots.

The chrome often reflected the neon lights of the city around it and provided a very cool ambiance in the form of a sidearm. 

The Bren Ten pistols could’ve been incredibly successful, but the company producing the guns, Dornaus and Dixon, weren’t up to snuff.

Bren Tens lacked decent quality control, often shipped without magazines, broke, and not working. They were produced for three years before Dornaus and Dixon filed for bankruptcy. 

Miami Vice Bren Ten 2
A closeup of the Bren Ten in “Heart of Darkness” in Season 1

Bren Ten & Miami Vice

You gotta give it up to Michael Mann…the dude knows gun handling.

Crockett and his Bren Ten are prominently displayed throughout the first two seasons with Crockett using two hands and a Weaver stance.

Miami Vice Bren Ten 3
Crockett aims his Bren Ten in the Season 1 episode “Glades”

He shoots with both eyes opened, opts for a high grip, and looks confident with his Bren Ten.

The guns are reloaded often or as often as needed anyway. Granted, the gun handling is dated now but it was top tier for the 1980s. 

In one scene, he even does a tactical reload with retention of a partially depleted magazine. He pops the partially emptied magazine in his mouth, reloads, and uses the partially empty mag as a distraction. 

There is clear respect for the basics of gun handling, and the actors learned how to use their handguns.

Miami Vice Bren Ten 1
Crockett aims his Bren Ten in the Season 1 episode “Smuggler’s Blues”

Crockett famously carried the gun in a shoulder rig which changed a few times before settling on the Galco Miami Classic, which is still produced to this day.

It’s a suitable option for such a massive gun, especially since Crockett didn’t seem to appreciate belts. 

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Final Thoughts

The Bren Ten was too cool to stick around for long. As a fan of the 10mm and the CZ series platform, I can’t help but covet one.

Sadly, I refuse to pay that much money for a used gun that might not work. 

Miami Vice Bren Ten 7
Crockett fires his Bren Ten in the Season 2 episode “One Way Ticket”

However, the gun seemed to serve Sonny Crockett well…until he replaced it with a Smith & Wesson 645 anyway. 

This is part of a weekly series on Pew Pew Tactical dedicated to the guns of TV and film. If you’d like more of this content, drop us a comment below. In the meantime, check out last week’s pop culture dive with “End of Days” & the MP5.

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6 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar

    For some nostalgia (and a bit of cringe), you can watch a lot of the Miami Vice episodes on the Peacock streaming app. I binged through a few seasons once I found them. The cars, guns, outfits, music and dialogue were amazing TV for the time.

    April 11, 2022 6:45 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      Beautiful women, fast cars, big guns.
      Beautiful guns, fast women, big cars.
      Beautiful cars, fast guns, big women.
      We had it made back then.

      April 11, 2022 11:56 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    Ok what about Tubbs and his double barrel shotgun?

    April 9, 2022 6:57 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Thanks for the flashback!

    April 8, 2022 1:58 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Spencer Hays

    Sonny Crockett's Bren Ten was replaced in season three with a Detonics Mark VI .45 acp which he carried in an ankle holster. Don't know where that S&W came in but the first four seasons were Bren Ten and Detonics. I bought the Detonics after verifying the Miami Vice connection. Detonics is the first all steel compact .45 acp. Unfortunately, the Detonics company followed Dornaus and Dixon into bankruptcy. Reincarnated several times and may still be around with new owners. You should shoot a Mark VI. Has a little kick.

    April 8, 2022 7:12 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      He carried the Detonics .45 in the ankle holster as a backup to the Bren 10mm. In "Prodigal Son," the public relations girl hired to keep an eye on him steals his Bren 10 as a souvenir of their night together. Later when Our Heroes are attacked in the bar, you see him reach for the Bren in the Galco before he remembers it isn't there and desperately starts tugging up his pants leg to get his Detonics.

      April 8, 2022 9:31 am
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