Hollywood Guns | SHOT 2017

Not everything at shot is some new sexy product (or some new variant of something common). This year Brownells hosted a very under-attended event at their booth that showcased a number of guns that were used in movies and TV shows.

Larry Zanoff, of Independent Studio Services (the largest and most flexible prop house in the world), brought some examples of their work that has seen the “big screen”.

Mal's Sidearm, the Moses Brothers Self-Defense Engine Frontier Model B, is actually a modified Taurus 85 completely covered by brass castings.

Mal’s Sidearm, the Moses Brothers Self-Defense Engine Frontier Model B, is actually a modified Taurus 85 completely covered by brass castings.

One of my favorite shows, Firefly (and Serenity), was well represented, showcasing the custom pistol that the main character Mal Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) carried. I also got exclusive access to see one of Jayne’s (Adam Baldwin) pistols. I promise I didn’t creep too much, but I did get to fondle both pistols (probably longer than was appropriate).

Jayne's Futuristic 1911 is just that at the base--a 1911 with custom grips and some modifications to the front and rear of the slide.

Jayne’s Futuristic 1911 is just that at the base–a 1911 with custom grips and some modifications to the front and rear of the slide.

Other guns represented included the LeMat Revolver (along with a customized replica with better ergonomics) used by the “Man in Black” (played by Ed Harris) on the recent show Westworld.

The Man in Black's LeMat 1861 used for close ups. Next to it is a custom built "replica" that was more comfortable to shoot and operate.

The Man in Black’s LeMat 1861 used for close ups. Next to it is a custom built “replica” that was more comfortable to shoot and operate.

One thing I learned about these prop guns is that they are not inert. They are fully functioning firearms that have basically been retrofitted with blank firing adapters.

Larry referred me to a resource which basically ruined several days of my life and will share with you readers, in hopes of also sucking away your time further: The Internet Movie Firearms Database.

Tom is a former Navy Corpsman that spent some time bumbling around the deserts of Iraq with a Marine Recon unit, kicking in tent flaps and harassing sheep. Prior to that he was a paramedic somewhere in DFW, also doing some Executive Protection work between shifts. Now that those exciting days are behind him, he has embraced his inner “Warrior Hippie” and assaults 14er in his sandals and beard, or engages in rucking adventure challenges while consuming craft beer. To fund these adventures, he writes medical software and builds websites and mobile apps. His latest venture is as one of the founders of IronSights.com; a search engine for all things gun related. He hopes that his posts will help you find solid gear that will survive whatever you can throw at it–he is known (in certain circles) for his curse…ahem, ability…to find the breaking point of anything.


  • Skipper Lee

    ah, the IMFDB. just that it’s wasted more than just ‘several days’ of my life, haha.

    it’s a wonderful resource looking at how Hollywood armourers customise their guns for the big screen, and it’s a nice touch that most, if not, all of the entries have a clean profile image accompanied by the screenshots of its appearing instances in the film.

  • Arie Heath

    I can’t believe you got to hold Mal’s pistol, I probably would have wet myself with excitement.

    • Doc Rader

      I may have… I got a pic with me holding it and I have the dumbest expression on my face (which is why it will never be released).

      And I was ultimately more excited about Jayne’s 1911 from Serenity… 🙂

      • gusto

        No Vera?

        • Doc Rader

          I know, right? Vera is technically an SBR, and not allowed in that location at SHOT. (Don’t ask, the rules are, ahem, odd)..

          • some other joe

            Vera? The show version is a Saiga 12, and she looks to be 18 inches, at least with the compensator. The movie Lewis Gun custom MP5, maybe not.

          • BrotherLazarus

            I had to look again myself, and she’s actually probably three or four inches shy even with that compensator.

            Disappointing, but not world-ending. One of the projects I have my eye on is building Vera myself, just means I’ll have to make sure she’s long enough.

  • wake me when they release them as production guns.

  • Rock Island Auction

    That’s my kind of booth. Is Mal’s revolver on loan from the NRA Museum in Fairfax? I know it was housed there for some time, I believe on loan from Mike Papick (sp?) at Cinema Weaponry.

    • Doc Rader

      No. This was the actual prop gun from ISS.

      • Rock Island Auction

        Is there a difference? Is it the same gun that has changed hands? Was there more than one “actual prop gun” used on the set because the NRA Museum one was also supposed to be “the actual gun.”

        Granted, the “Hollywood Guns” exhibit at the NRA Museum does rotate, so it’s time housed there may be up.

        • some other joe

          There may actually be two hero guns. Firefly and Serenity were produced by different entities, which probably explains why Jayne’s LeMat and Vera weren’t in the movie. I guess you could argue that they aren’t as distinctive as Mal’s pistol and Zoe’s mare’s leg.

          • Doc Rader

            I believe ISS was the prop house for both. They are independent of the producers.

        • Doc Rader

          Fair enough! There were two props I believe, so it is likely that one of them was. I know Larry said they will sometimes produce a rubber ducky version that goes out for displays.

          • .45

            As a geek… I mean fan, I can confirm with a galance that the two guns shown above are from the movie, and yes, they were remade from scratch for the movie instead of reusing the props from the show. There are two hero pistols for Mal. (And as an aside, in the show Jayne used a modified Le Mat, so it is kind of funny and possibly deliberate that they put the Serenity guns next to the Westworld ones.)

          • Doc Rader

            And the nerd award goes to… 🙂

            True fact about the LeMat. Wouldn’t surprise me if Larry did some meta insider details like that.

          • .45

            And a real geek would fact check first, brag later. I just looked it up and guess what? I lied. Mal’s gun from the show was simply modified for the movie. I am fail.

  • Harry’s Holsters

    I saw a great video one time talking about the prop guns used in old westerns. Most of them were from the actual time period and didn’t have the fiscal value they have today. It was really cool to learn about that. I wish I could remember where I say it. They still use guns from the period in some cases. Clint Eastwood’s Starr Revolver in unforgiven and the Webley Bulldog in the new magnificent 7.

    • Doc Rader

      Exactly! ISS has something like 16,000 guns in their aresensl, including black powder matchlock stuff. I’m trying to weasel my way into an invite out there for an article series.

      • Harry’s Holsters

        I’d love to read that and look at all the pictures.

        • B-Sabre

          “If you need me, I’ll be in my bunk…”

  • TheNotoriousIUD

    If they are basically functional I wonder why they dont go ahead and release limited runs for insane prices.

    • Doc Rader

      Good point!

  • some other joe

    I assume “replica” in reference to the LeMat is meant to be translated as “another gun completely dressed up to look like a LeMat.”

    • Doc Rader

      Lol. Yep.

    • jcitizen

      More than likely – however the LeMat is still being manufactured by an Italian firm, if my memory serves me well.

  • Robert Sweeney

    Bruce Willis used a LeMat in 12 Monkeys. First time I ever saw one. Was so surprised when I found out it was a real gun and not something dreamed up in a Hollywood prop shop.

  • Christian Hedegaard-Schou

    What the… Is that “other LeMat” a Ruger Blackhawk in disguise?

  • Mr Mxyzptlk

    I think that the LeMat is not actually the one used by “The Man in Black”. The one that you see him using throughout the series is a custom cartridge conversion gun chambered in .38 Short Colt. A LeMat with this exact same style of conversion was the base revolver for Jayne’s sidearm in firefly as well.

    A standard percussion LeMat does appear in the show, but only in the final episode being picked up by William.

  • Baggy270


  • JoshCalle

    Cimarron does reproduction movie guns, right? Why haven’t they done a run of Mal’s gun?

    • BrotherLazarus

      Cost, probably. I’ve been looking into building Vera for a while now and it ain’t cheap, even doing it entirely myself.

  • Dennis Santiago

    You want a real treat? If you ever get the chance to, visit the ISS warehouse.