Need to make noise without firing a bullet


August 29, 2005, 05:40 PM
In October, I will be part of a performance at my church. Basically what happens is there's a teenager party and two people come in with guns and kill some people (exhausted yet? Here's the fun part, I was elected to be the shooter). Anyway, I need to find a type of gun that will fire and make a lot of noise without actually firing a bullet (then I go down for murder at 15). We'd prefer it to blow a slide back (pistols only, no rifles) and it needs to be a "cool teenager weapon." A gun that would appeal to a teenager. Right now we have Glocks or the Beretta M9 in mind, but really almost anything would work. The idea of blanks is still up in the air, the people in authority haven't decided yet, but it's not sounding likely. Any ideas?

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R.H. Lee
August 29, 2005, 05:43 PM
In October, I will be part of a performance at my church. Basically what happens is there's a teenager party and two people come in with guns and kill some people This in church??? Not a 'traditional' denomination, is it? Use a cap gun. Get one at the toy store.

August 29, 2005, 05:46 PM
But it has to be fairly realistic. Part of the point is to scare the audience.

And just for the record, last year my church did the same kind of thing, but it was a car accident. They showed the teenage crash victim in a hospital room soaked in blood, head to toe. So my church has tolerance for this kinda thing. Also, they're warned ahead of time and kids under 13 can't come in without an adult.

August 29, 2005, 05:46 PM
Well, my dealer has some of these cheapo Jimenez pistols. They have a "gansta" look/feel without going to a Glock's pricetag. 9mm blanks... IIRC, if you need a blank to cycle the slide, you'll need a blank firing adaptor.

The problem with blanks is there's two or three kinds. I don't know about so-called "stage blanks", but I've seen "safety blanks" demonstrated at Mule Camp and I remember they broke a balloon at 15'. Bill Oglesby said "if that's a safety blank, I don't want to see the other kind". He said more people are injured by blanks than by any other cartridge because they think it's safe because it's not firing a bullet.

August 29, 2005, 05:49 PM
you could get one of those blank fireing guns there like 70 bucks for a full size 1911 in sportsmans guide i think it was.

August 29, 2005, 05:51 PM
Wal-mart sells some Airsoft type pistols with blowback slide action or somesuch. Try firing one of these empty and see if the slide goes back (can't think of any reason why it shouldn't). I seem to recall them being ~$20.

another okie
August 29, 2005, 05:52 PM
Performances designed to scare people with fake guns are a bad idea.

1. Cops come, arrest everyone; or
2. Someone has a heart attack; or
3. Someone thinks it's real and pulls a CCW.

Greg L
August 29, 2005, 05:53 PM
So is this performance going to be something along the lines of "thugs are bad, let's do something about them" or "guns are bad, let's do something about them"?

If it was the latter I would show up the day of the performance with a squirt gun & yell "bang" :rolleyes: .

August 29, 2005, 05:54 PM
Green Gas Airsoft. They make SOME noise and it will Cycle. Might have to hold down the slide release.....OR load up with your favorite 6mm plastic BB's and make em jump when they get shot. Mucho Stingo.

August 29, 2005, 05:57 PM
If it was the latter I would show up the day of the performance with a squirt gun & yell "bang" :rolleyes: .

In that case, I gotta a better idea. Get one of those old toys- the ones where you pull the trigger and the flag pops out and reads "BANG" in, IIRC, big red letters. Yeah, that oughta fix 'em.

August 29, 2005, 05:58 PM
First off about the airsoft thing, I have a GBB (gas blow back) M9 already, and they decided it didn't make enough noise. So airsoft is out.

1. Cops come, arrest everyone; or
2. Someone has a heart attack; or
3. Someone thinks it's real and pulls a CCW.

1.It's a large scale thing, and everyone in the area and probably the police themselves will know about it
2.We are going to be warning them
3. It's happening in the PRK. No CCW worries.

The performance is based on "this is what heaven is like, this is what hell is like." The guns are going to be a small detail of it. The only job I have is to get people to heaven/hell.

August 29, 2005, 06:09 PM
Cap gun seconded.

You do know that blanks can be deadly at close range, right? And that anything as loud as a real gun may cause real hearing damage too, right? Hopefully the "people in authority" will display some sense! :D

August 29, 2005, 06:31 PM
The blank firing guns you can get from Sportman's Guide or ebay have plugged barrels- there's just a little flash out of the ejection port and some holes up there, but nothing out the barrel.

Thing is, a full load 9mm or 8mm blank (those Kimar guns use 8mm blanks), as required to cycle even one of those plugged barrel blank guns, is incredibly loud in an enclosed space. My suggestion is to find a revolver and use crimp blanks- you can get those in different loads, down to the little .22 acorn blanks that might as well just be a primer. If you use a real revolver this is still dangerous, and the gun needs to be super-clean and not pointed at anyone. If you use a plugged barrel revolver, you'll be fine, and you can get these in .22 through .38.

Check for examples.

A chrome Colt Python replica might just fit the bill.

I do prop weapons rentals for theatre/film, so I work with these things all the time.


August 29, 2005, 06:33 PM
Another thing- if you really want a semi-auto, I'd go with one of the replicas made by Model Gun Co (MGC) of Japan, or Marushin, or Hudson- they fire these 5 or 7mm caps that go inside reuseable brass cartridge... they get spendy though!

August 29, 2005, 06:33 PM
Just what is a "cool teenager weapon"?

Why does "probably the police themselves will know about it" bother me so much? Could it be the "probably" part?

California does issue ccw's. Maybe not alot but they do issue them.

If the church elders still insist on pulling off such a stupid stunt they better be absolutely sure every one (EVERY ONE) knows it's just church skit.

Car Knocker
August 29, 2005, 06:33 PM
It's happening in the PRK. No CCW worries.

Last I heard, there were something like 45,000 CCW permits in CA.

August 29, 2005, 06:44 PM
Cap gun sounds reasonable. Put some electrical tape over the orange muzzle and the audience shouldn't be able to notice.

August 29, 2005, 06:52 PM
More tips, of the sort I usually give indie filmmakers- call the switchboard op shortly before you do the scene. Calling the local precinct is nice, and a non-emergency way to do it, but if the call gets routed to the state patrol, county SO, feds, or some other agency your local PD may not be involved... switchboard is the way to go- just let 'em know you're on private property, not publicly visible, and using only non-guns (assuming that's the case).

Post signs on the doors- something along the lines of "dramatic presentation in progress- please disregard any loud noises you may be hearing".

Warn anyone with sensitive ears, PTSD issues, or twitchy trigger fingers and a CCW if possible.

Don't let the prop be visible from the street if at all possible- transport it in a secure and legal manner, don't stand in front of the church playing with it while waiting for your cue, etc. Should go without saying, but hey, some people's kids, ya know?

Observe the four rules as much as possible, even though the gun may not be real.

August 29, 2005, 06:54 PM
3. Someone thinks it's real and pulls a CCW.

3. It's happening in the PRK. No CCW worries.
Are you sure? There are God fearing people who carry even though the state requires them not to.

The whole idea makes me cringe. Why the fear? Fear belongs in amusement parks where everyone knows darned well that it's for fun. Why the fake gun? Pick something that can't be mistaken for a reason to use deadly force.

August 29, 2005, 07:02 PM
2nded on 8 and 9mm blanks being way too loud for an enclosed space, people will be swearing at you in a very unservice like way if you're going to fire more than 1 shot.. Why does your church care whether its a semi or a revolver ?
Try something like this....

Some of these companies may be leary of importing guns into Kali tho....

August 29, 2005, 07:23 PM
it really does sound like people there dont realize just how loud a real blank will be, and since for the acting you probably want to point it at your "victim",

be safe.

as far as anyone shooting form the crowd- what ? come on , people know they asre entering a play with some idea of the plot, how paranoid are you guys that you might shoot an actor?

August 29, 2005, 07:23 PM
3. Someone thinks it's real and pulls a CCW

If someone is suprised when a gun is used in a performance, to the point where they will pull a CCW, I question their carrying one.

August 29, 2005, 07:43 PM
Not sure where you are in Cali, but you might try one of these locations....

August 29, 2005, 07:54 PM
I know you're looking for a roomful of BOOM!, but anything with enough energy to do that is inherently dangerous.

Stage armorer's rule zero:

Extreme caution is called for. Always.

You'd be surprised how far the muzzle blast goes, and how much "smutz" is spat out. Prove it to yourself by firing your intended blank gun at a large piece of white paper at the range you intend to use it. That'll probably convince you not to point it directly at your fellow actors.

August 29, 2005, 07:55 PM
I'd say the play might reinforce bad notions about guns. Maybe just tell them that this is Cali, and guns are bad, so you're going to beat them to death with a nerf baseball bat instead.

August 29, 2005, 08:04 PM
I'm in the bad idea camp. Negative portrayal of firearms and actors have been killed and injured by blank firing guns.

August 29, 2005, 08:11 PM
how about one of those dog training pistols?

August 29, 2005, 10:46 PM
Part of the point is to scare the audience.Man, that is SUCH a bad idea.

The fact that you're doing it where CCW is illegal is absolutely no guarantee that no one is carrying.

You know for a fact that no police officers attend or will be visiting?

You know for a fact that no one carries illegally?

Then there's the generally bad idea of scaring people when you don't know about their heart conditions, etc.

You sure no one in the audience has lost a family member in a similar incident?

Sure there is no one in the audience with Post-traumatic Stress issues?

When you say they are warned, they are warned that someone will be shooting a fake gun? Or merely that there will be something unexpected happening.

Sure that everyone is briefed sufficiently? That no one could come in late and miss the brief?

Ok, if you go ahead with it, be very sure that everything is legal.

August 30, 2005, 07:40 AM
Assuming everyone in the "audience" is briefed properly...

I recommend getting a revolver, and having someone who reloads make you some primer-only cases. They'll make a loud "pop" and a small flash, but won't be loud enough to cause permanent hearing damage from a reasonable distance, nor throw a ton of powder out like a mini-shotgun. Blanks are way too dangerous and way too loud.

August 30, 2005, 07:54 AM
If you don't know what you are doing. Don't mess with blanks. Seriously, they are more dangerous then you realize.

Do you know the standard theatrical safety precautions for using firearms, prop firearms, or blanks?

Do you have anyone involved who is trained to use firearms, prop firearms, or blanks on stage.

Are you aware of the possibility of hearing damage to the actors or the audience involved with using blanks?

If the answers are "No," don't use blanks.

I'd reccomend a non-firing replica gun. For the noise, use a sound effects CD. Cue the CD up to an appropriate gunshot sound. Either play it through the sound system (check the levels ahead of time) or play it out of a boom box just off stage. The actor's movements will cue the sound guy to play the cut. The actor then mimics the recoil. Reheares it a few times and it will be very convincing.

Btw, did I mention, don't use blanks?

August 30, 2005, 07:55 AM
sounds like the best idea yet to me. i would suggest aiming well upstage of your "victims" that way it will appear to the audience that you are on target but reduce the risk of flying bits even with just a primer. also, if possible, try to shoot your "victims" in the back and make sure they are the closest people to you and they themselves are as far as possible. might have to rework the plot a hair, but that would pretty much preclude the risk of eye injury. i'm sure i don't need to tell you how important it would be to maintain positive control of the gun at all times if you use a real one and to check it several times for the presence of live ammo. make sure that there is NO live ammo in that caliber anywhere even remotely nearby.
as far as notifying people, it sounds like you have that under control. i've been to several "shocker" type church presentations in the past. people know what they're in for, that's half the fun.

finally, PLEASE refuse to take part in anything that could even remotely encourage an anti-gun world view.

August 30, 2005, 10:01 AM
Why not just knife the guy to death complete with big VISIBLE jets of arterial blood?

August 30, 2005, 10:13 AM
It's my understanding that discharging any true firearm with blanks or primed cases in public is considered the same as firing real cartridges, which is illegal. Secondly, pointing a real gun at someone is a very dangerous, and I for one would in no way shape or form allow you to point any gun capable of firing a projectile at me. Even if it was loaded with blanks. It is a violation of gun safety and it should not be done.

After saying that, I will point out that there are special props availiable for plays and movies. If you are truely serious and responsible about this you will seek out professional help and use proper professional equipment. If you cannot afford it, then you need to stick to airsoft, a toy gun, or a track pistol.

August 30, 2005, 10:29 AM
At the risk of being obvious how about a starter pistol? They are built to make noise without loosing any dangerous particles (that DOESNT mean its safe, just safer). They fire .22 blanks (usually primer only), have a solid (plugged) barrel, and are really cheap. Just watch to make sure noone is close to the Cylinder/Barrel gap, and it should be perfectly OK.

1911 guy
August 30, 2005, 10:36 AM
Everyone here is giving good advice. Go to the local toy store and buy a cheap plastic cap gun, the revolver type that takes the ringed caps. Go into your church and pull the trigger. I guarantee it will be sufficiently loud to get your point across. Don't rely on the gunshot for surprise, use quick and dramatic presentation of the cap gun to acheive that. Oh, did I mention DON'T USE BLANKS?

August 30, 2005, 10:57 AM
At the risk of being obvious how about a starter pistol? They are built to make noise without loosing any dangerous particles (that DOESNT mean its safe, just safer). They fire .22 blanks (usually primer only), have a solid (plugged) barrel, and are really cheap. Just watch to make sure noone is close to the Cylinder/Barrel gap, and it should be perfectly OK.

Farther back than I care to divulge, I was in a college production of West Side Story. I played Chino, so I got to shoot Tony. Hey, let's face it, my part was rather small in the scheme of things, but this shooting was gonna be my 15 minutes of fame.

The plan was for me come out from the curtain at the front of the stage, hold a fake handgun and the drummer in the orchestra to whack his snare drum. Exciting, huh? So, I went to the Penn State athletic office, borrowed a starter pistol from the Track coach, and on opening night scared the BaJeezees out of the audience. I mean really, the entire audience jumped out of their seats. Best 15 minutes of my otherwise humdrum life. :D

On a serious note, what I'm saying is that starter pistols are VERY LOUD! Not good.

August 30, 2005, 11:07 AM
Please listen to the advice about blanks. They are dangerous. Actors have been killed due to "just blanks". Don't mess with them.

If you are dead set on being as realistic as possible, contact some professionals. California has prop experts. Check into it.

If you can settle for less noise and more safety, get some cap guns, some enamle paints, and go about making the guns look more realistic. Another option that may work are the Gamo CO2 airguns. You may be able to "fire" the CO2 with no projectile, creating a noise with no danger. Plus, after its over, you have a nice airgun for use.

August 30, 2005, 11:17 AM
Just one more voice suggesting that you choose carefully. I am also concerned about the idea of blanks. The 8mm blank automatics are designed to produce as big a bang as a real gun, and that's going to be much too loud for your purpose. Starter pistols are almost as loud -- after all, they are designed to be heard outdoors, over the sound of a cheering crowd. Cap guns sounds like a great idea, but the cap guns we had when I was a kid (shortly after the signing of the Magna Carta) weren't reliable enough for a stage performance. Maybe they are today.

I'm going to suggest a different variety of prop gun. I believe they are only available as revolvers, which may defeat your "cool" factor, but they use shotgun primers to make the bang. No projectile, not even paper or plastic wadding.

Unfortunately, I don't remember where I have seen them. It actually may have been the Sportsmans Guide catalog.

August 30, 2005, 11:25 AM
Get some full power blanks like they used in Collateral. Then issue flame-retardant clothing to all the actors and earplugs to everyone in the room.


This whole thing is just a really bad idea. I would have nothing to do with it and would encourage everyone involved to scrap the whole thing.

August 30, 2005, 11:33 AM
The idea of a toy gun and a sound effects CD, or some other not-pointing-a-real-handgun-at-someone-even-if-you-think-it's-safe method is really, really, really the best way to go here...


August 30, 2005, 11:35 AM
What Church is this. Besides the obvious danger issues with useing blanks... Thats How Brandon Lee was killed I believe.
Generally speaking my Churchs haven't been anti gun but there are always people that are. Personally I feel that portraying "cool teen guns" is a setup for an agenda. That may just be my agenda and all but the whole thing sounds fishy to me. Make it a slasher make some fake switchblades or something.

The Whole thing stinks of highschool Drama nerds who know nothing of what they are doing btw. I not to long ago hung out with that crowd.

Taurus 66
August 30, 2005, 11:50 AM
Some cap guns at your local toy store are realistic enough and don't have real barrels. The caps are plenty of noise for a stage act, but not deafening to the shooter, actors, actresses, or audience. Walking out onstage with a real gun firing blanks ... "Paging Mr. Darwin. Paging Mr. Darwin ...".

HI express
August 30, 2005, 02:04 PM
Starter pistols...that's my suggestion, and I'm sticking to it. :neener:

August 30, 2005, 05:44 PM
What about a CO2 PPK? They come in .177 pellet form, and the screw-on endcap should make it impossible to mistake it for a real one, at least for the people handling it.

OTOH, starter pistol plus primer-only loads seems like a good choice.

Randy in Arizona
August 30, 2005, 09:00 PM

A little feedback -

This last Saturday evening I went to a performance of a historical play at my church. The scene was of a mob killing, the only real gun was an old external hammered double barreled shotgun. I would not be surprised if it was Damascus barreled. The rest were crude prop mockups of muzzle loading percussion rifles, EMT tubing on 2X4 stocks spray painted black.

Towards the end of the play, the mob is heard approaching from the rear of the audience, KERBLAM!! :what: :what: A loud blank is fired; the mob ascends to the stage where shortly another blank is fired. All of the other 'shots' were obviously capguns, but the boom from the scattergun made up for it, and greatly added to the realism.

From the smoke cloud, and the drifting odor, the blank was a black powder load. Almost made me want to go out and buy a 1858 Remington replica or a Ruger Old Army.

There were plenty of kids in the audience, but none were frightened enough by the blank to cry. Most people watching a play will have the presence of mind to know it is an act and refrain from offing any of the actors unless the play really stinks. :neener:

Now if this is being performed as a stunt or practical joke type scenario rather than as part of a play, an excitable bystander, not aware that it is an act might do something regrettable. Plan accordingly. :uhoh:

August 31, 2005, 01:01 AM
Be VERY careful with shotgun blanks... those can be extremely dangerous at close range, and are extremely loud, unless you make your own or take all the powder out.

August 31, 2005, 04:23 AM
Another option that may work are the Gamo CO2 airguns. You may be able to "fire" the CO2 with no projectile, creating a noise with no danger.

I'll second or third this idea. I had a Crossman airgun when I was younger. I liked to shoot it indoors without pellets in it from time to time. It made a decent amount of noise and was relatively safe (shot out some cold CO2 a short distance, but no projectile/debris). If you want to be sure it is loud enough, maybe put a mike in your sleeve or something to mike the airgun.

Short of that, Randy in Arizona gave me an idea. It won't be a "cool teenager gun", but use a blackpowder revolver with a very reduced powder load and no projectile or wadding. You'll have to carry it carefully to be sure the powder doesn't spill with nothing in front of it to keep it from spilling, and even with nothing else in there you'll have to be sure to not point it at anyone (use angles that make it look to the audience that you are pointing it at the other actors when you actually aren't). Blackpowder doesn't seem to put out as sharp a noise as modern gunpowder so it shouldn't be as likely to cause hearing damage (the reduced loadings should help as well), yet the fire and smoke they throw out will be quite impressive.

August 31, 2005, 05:03 AM
A CO2 gun is SIGNIFICANTLY worse than a blank firing gun. The CO2 gun has an unobstructed barrel that is designed to fire a projectile, a blank-firing gun or starter pistol has a solid barrel that is designed to NOT fire a projectile. Which one do you think is more likely to result in an accident?

On a realated note, the Seafair Pirates (a popular group of local drunkards/charity volunteers) used to fire blank shotgun shells off the back end of their float during parades, we all (even the children!!) managed to escape death every time.

August 31, 2005, 07:16 AM
The option TheBigC offered was what came to my mind as well while reading your post. Of course you'll pay for that realism... but let's hope only monetarily.

Replica 1911 and 92F with reciprocating slides. (

August 31, 2005, 10:37 AM
c_yeager, I've bought the same blanks the SeaFaire Pirates use once, when I was in urgent need of some for a film gig. They sound decently loud on a crowded outdoor street, or across the water- same as a shotgun would- but inside an enclosed space, you're talking hearing damage if you don't have any protection. I've also used those to blow holes through sheetrock (at just a couple feet away) when we needed the effect of shotgun blasts coming through a wall- doesn't matter that there wasn't any shot in there.

I haven't asked any of the pirates yes (but probably will, now) about their cannons, but I suspect that if nothing else there's some sort of partial blockage in the barrel.

August 31, 2005, 10:55 AM
1. Actors have been killed by blanks. John Eric-Hexum put a blank loaded revolver to his head and pulled the trigger - the blast punched a quarter-size piece of his skull deep into what passed for his brain.

2. Even crimp blanks fired from some starter pistols will put out some particles. If someone gets one in their eye, YOU will be liable.

3. Movie scenes using blanks are set up VERY carefully. (I've learned this from people who've served as armorers on major movies like Secondhand Lions) I doubt an amateur church production will be set up as well.

4. A friend made up some shotgun blanks with ordinary fiber wads. The "harmless" wads blew a hole in his basement door from a good 30 feet away. Don't do this.

5. In a sue-happy place with laws like Kali, I wouldn't want to use anything too loud or too realistic. A REAL firearm of any type is out of the question.

Finally, and most importantly,

6. Under NO circumstances would I have anything to do with a production that IN ANY WAY portrays guns or gun ownership in a bad light.

August 31, 2005, 11:04 AM
As others have said, this sounds like an awful idea.
First of all, this scenario absolutely stinks of an anti-gun agenda.
Secondly, there are serious chances of someone being hurt if there are any close or semi-close quarters shots. Remember, most blank guns throw a sand-consistancy particulate in any direction the flash vents. I worked as a gun wrangler for my high-school drama department. I ended up buying an 8mm 1911. It was exceedingly loud, but it worked out because we were using it in a very large auditorium. The model I had vented out the top of the barrel and the ejection port and would have been very dangerous to use if anyone were standing to the right of the shooter.

I say go the cap-gun route.

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