National Geographic’s Family Guns

Next week National Geographic will begin airing a nine-part series about a father and son who run a antique weapons business. The trailer looks good …

From the press release …

Meet the Indiana Joneses of historical weaponry: father-son duo Christian and Alex Cranmer, whose quests for military antiquities have taken them as far as a remote Nepalese palace filled with more than 55,000 rifles and muskets hidden away for more than a century. “We sell history,” Alex says, and that doesn’t mean books, it means priceless weapons like a $40,000 pistol from the Battle of Trafalgar; a $50,000, one-of-a-kind prototype for Confederate Civil War revolvers; and scores of rare-make World War I and World War II rifles and machine guns.

In the new nine-part series Family Guns, premiering Wednesday, September 12, at 10 p.m. ET/PT and airing weekly Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on National Geographic Channel, every day is a live-fire exercise for Christian and Alex, who buy, sell, trade and restore some of the world’s rarest firearms. But with two experts in the family and under one warehouse roof, theoffice politics can be as explosive as the weapons being sold. Family dynamics take on a unique flavor at the Cranmers’ International Military Antiques (IMA), where the questions of the day include whether or not to buy a $250,000 Korean War-era tank; or if it is better to unload a $25,000 British colonial cannon now or let it gain value for later. Figuring out the road to take is no job for the paper-pushers, especially when the only place to learn the real worth of the goods is on the firing range.

But blasting a beat-up coupe with a 200-year-old artillery piece is easier said than done — especially when 250-year-old cannons have a nasty habit of exploding like pipe bombs. It is a game of risk and reward: Can Christian, Alex and the IMA team make the old gun fire? If they can, they know it could be worth double what it was just a second before; if they can’t, they’re standing in the kill box.

The scope of IMA’s business spans centuries of warfare, touching on all strands of history, and is literally built on legend. Their weapons are some of the rarest on the planet and can fetch tens of thousands of dollars from the right customers. To find the collectors who can buy them, Alex and Christian will travel the world to meet buyers and to participate in re-enactments of westerns, world wars and gentlemen’s duels. Pieces from their collection have found their way into museums, store shelves and even movie sets, including “Saving Private Ryan.”

From palm-sized pistols to Cold War tanks and walking sticks turned shotguns, Family Guns has it all. If it’s been fired or if it can fire, Alex and Christian will find it, shoot it and sell it.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • bbmg

    The idea didn’t go over too well at forgotten weapons:

  • RickH

    Might be interesting, but I’ll have to see how much made for the camera “conflict” occurs. It’ll be “American Guns” without the hot daughter. It would be nice if they could showcase the firearms and not the personalities.

  • Steve

    @RickH – you nailed it! I’ve grown so weary of so-called “reality” shows on TV due to that very issue. I happen to know the inside scoop of a reality show near where I live and the producers take over soon after they launch. They end up scripting these “personal conflicts” to spice up the drama. So predictable. Bring back the true documentary and spare us the drama!

  • When it came to “Sons of Guns,” the half-brained gunsmithing ideas got me screaming at the TV and changing the channel long before I ever noticed the drama. For the first season or two of “American Guns,” I actually rather enjoyed it. The drama was minimal, and didn’t seem all that over-the-top. The first episode of the most recent season, though (I forget if it was 2 or 3) just killed it for me. The overly scripted drama of the build teams just became too much. I also tried giving “Cajun Pawn Stars” a chance when I saw they were in the firearms business. I promptly swore off that show when some poor guy comes in looking to put his Glock 17 and WWI (Yes, World War ONE) era M1911 back together (he had field stripped them both then got confused). All he asks for is for help in putting them back together. The guy behind the counter mentions he has a gun expert coming in to check in on another deal, and he’d stop by to help. The guy inevitably stops by, quickly reassembles the two pistols, then proceeds to essentially work with the guy behind the counter to pressure the poor customer into selling his WWI M1911 right there. He offers the guy I think $1000, and regrettably the customer takes the offer. It was such a shameless display of trying to hound a poor guy out of his great grandfather’s war trophy, and while the customer isn’t totally blameless for not valuing the pistol more, it still didn’t make it right.

    Frankly, the first of these types of shows, “Pawn Stars,” got it right. The conflicts seem realistic, none of them are overbearing, many of them become quite humorous, and the show always ends on a high-note. Furthermore, the focus of the show *IS* on the items being bought, sold, and traded. History has proven that a reality show like that can survive without using drama as the sole or primary motivator of the program, and I have yet to see almost anyone else take hold of that idea, save Spike’s “Auction Hunters.” I really hope we can see a show in our lifetimes that gets the hint.

    • Spot on. What I respect about the Harrises as well is their willingness to offer MORE than a seller is asking when it’s clear the seller doesn’t know the real value of what they have.

  • gunslinger

    back when i had cable, SoG was fun to watch yet sad at the same time. as an engineer it’s cool to see the “inner workings” of guns… but some of the crap on there really painted gun owners in a bad light.

    as with any “reality” there has to be scripting. not enough “action” happens in the course of a week (heck, maybe a month). so a show where a bunch of guys make ar 15 lowers and siaga shotguns that are all identical is pretty boring.

    but a show that will go through the history and actually provide some real education about their items, i’d be waiting to watch.

    just that…i don’t have cable 🙁

  • إبليس

    Or you could stop watching cable and feel a mental fog drift away. Cable is poison.

  • Zermoid

    Seen Combat Pawn?
    Pretty good so far, not alot of the BS drama.

    • Ryan

      Are you freakin’ serious?! That show is ridiculous at besy

      • Ryan


  • Mike Knox

    What is it with these reality gun shows these days?

    • Eric

      Great to see Americans exercising their 2nd amendment rights for a change isn’t it. I get tired of seeing politicians and journalists abuse our 1st amend. all the time.

  • Steve

    This show is amazing. These folks walk around the Peoples Republic of New Jersey with tanks and flame throwers and I need to be fingerprinted to buy a BB gun? They must be big contributors to their local politician. Burying grenades on jersey beach? I’m not buying it

  • Ron

    So friggin sick of all these fake reality shows and all the contrived man-drama BS that goes with them… Especially when they mix “guns” into the mix. They make everyone who is a gun enthusiast look like idiots.

  • Smkitdown

    The company, IMA, and where the show is filmed is down the street from me. They actually are nice people.

  • gio

    was another show about guns really needed?

  • Bruce

    Another scripted “reality” show. They must think the viewers are blind. The bronze cannon with the ball stuck inside was NOT the same gun they later fired, even though they claimed it was. The barrel had different bands and the broken recoil rope loop was missing from the rear. It was really hard NOT to miss the deception. The drama is so phony that it’s laughable. And the day that Charlie Kaplan sells them those two sniper rifles like that for the price he did on the first show, Hell would freeze over and the Messiah would return!

    • markinjames

      That Alexander is in movie 43 too