Guns in Movies.


January 3, 2003, 08:18 PM
How many of you watch movies and find yourself trying to identify the firearms? Which movie(s) do you especially like to watch when it comes to guns?

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January 3, 2003, 08:40 PM
Yeah, I do that. Not just guns but planes cars tanks etc..

January 3, 2003, 08:43 PM
Yes, and since I am far from a gun expert it's not easy- but these movie threads always help. I learn alot.:D

Really like good WWII movies- last I watched was Band of Brothers. The best I've seen in a while. For some reason I REALLY enjoy watching Nazi's get the bejesus kicked out of em.:neener:

January 3, 2003, 08:48 PM
I'm the one that my friends ask "What kind of gun is that?" when watching movies like "Heat", "Matrix", and "Ronin."

January 3, 2003, 08:50 PM
I always do that with my Hong Kong flicks, trying to see what Anita Mui is carrying in Jet Li's LETTER TO PAPA, or John Woo films since he always uses Berettas or look at the gun in Simon Yam's KILLER'S ROMANCE. I gazed at the firearms with Gena Rowland's GLORIA, Pam Grier's JACKIE BROWN and Brigitte Lin's CHUNGKING EXPRESS. I'm hooked...:D

January 3, 2003, 08:52 PM
My wife gets really annoyed with me when I tell her what kind of gun the actor's using... I don't know why...

January 3, 2003, 08:52 PM
I do it everytime I see a gun in a movie and my wife REALLY enjoys it when I tell her about it. ;)

January 3, 2003, 08:55 PM
Speaking of movie and guns, what kind of ammo they use in the movie?. I'm sure they are not real rounds but I have no clue what they're using or just a sound effect?.

January 3, 2003, 08:56 PM
I think I scare people when I talk about the guns I see in the films. I end up getting into detail about the cost, who makes it, flaws, advantages, etc. Why does it freak people out to hear women talk about guns? I don't have tattoos, body piercings, bikes, beer -- it's my only vice? :D

January 3, 2003, 08:59 PM
Yep! Any movie that has a gun in it..

When I rent a DVD, I find myself stopping it alot and trying to identify any and all guns in the background..

Heat is my all-time favorite gun movie..:D

January 3, 2003, 09:01 PM
They use blanks in the movies. Unfortunately, for Brandon Lee, someone didn't check the guns on the set well enough. One still had a real bullet in the chamber which ended up killing him during the making of THE CROW -- only two weeks shy of his wedding day.:(

The actor Jon-Erick Hexum from the 80's show COVER UP was handling a gun with blanks. He was playing with it in his dressing room and must have foolishly put it to his temple thinking it wasn't a real bullet. It pushed a fragment of his skull into his brain. He was taken off life support three days later and his organs were donated to other patients in need.

January 3, 2003, 09:04 PM

I don't mean to troll, but wasn't Brandon Lee killed due to a casing which had failed to eject, which killed him much in the same was as Jon-Erick Hexum? I thought most guns use adapters and are incapable of firing a live round. Just asking


January 3, 2003, 09:27 PM
No, Brandon Lee was killed by a bullet, not a casing that failed to eject. Somehow it got mixed up with what should have been blanks. Sadly, as Chuck Norris has pointed out, even with prop guns you should never aim them directly at the actor in case the gun was not properly checked. It was actually Brandon's friend, Jeff Imada, who was in charge of the stunts and failed to check the gun that killed Brandon. He didn't realize that there was a bullet still in the chamber. As for the actor/model Jon-Erik (I spelled the name wrong), he assumed that a gun with blanks wasn't dangerous and was joking around. Putting the gun to his temple and pulling the trigger caused a force that shattered his skull. He didn't realize that guns were guns whether props or not and should be respected; it was ruled an accidental shooting. As for Jeff, it too was ruled a horrible accident.:(

January 3, 2003, 09:33 PM
Incidently, there are no such adapters on guns used in the films. If there's a bullet still in the chamber, it will go off and that's why they are checked constantly. Still Christopher Walkens doesn't trust the prop guns and hates doing movies with them for this very reason. They are still weapons. They removed the bullet which had landed at the base of Brandon's spine. He lost too much blood and died as a result. Had he lived, it might have been just as tragic as I doubt he would have had full function of this body. By the way, did you know that with fight scenes in Hong Kong films, unlike here, when they fight -- they're really hitting each other? Food for thought! :cool:

January 3, 2003, 09:47 PM
Hong Kong stuntmen are all certifiably insane. That's why HK action movies are so cool.

In movies, most guns that are self-loading have to be modified in order to cycle blanks. As I understand it, this involves closing off most of the barrel, except for a small hole through which gas escapes so that the camera can catch the muzzle flash.

In the case of guns that are manually operated like revolvers, pump-action shotguns, or lever-action rifles, you wouldn't need the block in the barrel and an unmodified firearm would probably function just fine with blanks.
(As I recall, Lee was shot with a revolver?)

Also, the sound of gunfire in a movie is rarely the sound that was recorded on set. In post-production the audio crew usually inserts gunshot sounds.

January 3, 2003, 09:50 PM
I think it was a handgun that was aimed at Brandon but I don't recall which. Obviously, as with all sound effects -- it's prerecorded. It wouldn't be loud enough otherwise..:cool:

January 3, 2003, 10:24 PM
I always TRY to identify guns in movies. Just yesterday I was watching We Were Soldiers with some friends. During the whole movie I was just watching the guns going off and imagining how much fun it would be to shoot them.

Kahr carrier
January 3, 2003, 10:36 PM
Yep I try to identify guns I see in movie especially the JOHN WOO movies.:)

January 3, 2003, 10:39 PM
For those that are interested, I found my Karate International magazine July/August 1993. It states:

"Mr. Lee died on March 31 after being wounded in the abdomen by a .44 caliber bullet from a gun supposedly loaded with blanks. One theory is that a slug from a dummy round remained in the revolver, and when the blank was inserted and shot, the slug fired as lethally as a live round."

Again for Jon-Erik, blanks were involved in his death but nevertheless, a gun put near the temple, the force of the firing was responsible for his injury. It was said that he screamed in agony and looked "blank" as he hit the floor. It was as if a bullet hit him. Hopefully, people will learn from these deaths. To be honest, in martial art films, I much prefer seeing hands and feet doing the action, much more skill and more incrediable to watch! Have you seen the Cantonese version of Drunken Master II? Better than the U.S. release!:D

January 3, 2003, 10:57 PM
I'm the one that my friends ask "What kind of gun is that?" when watching movies
Heh-Heh! Me too! Some of them don't know squat about weapons, so they wind up thinking I'm all smart, spooky, and dangerous! :cool:

Who am I to tell them any different? :p

January 3, 2003, 11:23 PM
How many of you pick out the "wrong ways" or "no ways" to hold guns, shoot guns, etc and comment when watching movies?

Does knowing too much about gun handling take away from enjoying an entertaining movie that is not claiming to be a display of proper gun handling?

January 4, 2003, 12:42 AM
There was a television program a few years ago that explained in detail what happened to Brandon Lee.

The production was using the same .44 Magnum revolver throughout filming. I'll try and recap what I remember from the program.

The first scenes shot with the .44 were by the second unit crew that was shooting close-ups of the pistol. Those closeups were of the pistol being fired (muzzle blast close-ups) and also views from the muzzle end to show the point of view of Brandon's character before being shot.

The stunt coordinator had made his own blanks and dummy rounds for these close-up shots. The dummy rounds (with a bullet seated in a brass case so that the cylinder would not be empty for the close-up) had been made from real rounds where the stunt coordinator pulled the bullet, dumped the powder and then shot off the primer. The bullet was then reseated on the empty case.

What apparently happened is that one of those primers was either missed, or did not detonate, and a bullet was still seated in the case. When filming the close-up, and pulling the trigger, that one case with a live primer pushed the bullet out enough to clear the cylinder and lodge in the barrel.

When filming the scene where Lee's character is shot the stunt crew loaded up blanks in that same .44 revolver without knowing there was a bullet lodged in the barrel. The blank round was fired and Lee was hit by the formerly lodged bullet.

Regarding the other actor, Jon-Erick Hexum, I heard he was making a bet or dare on the set. He was apparently not too knowledgable about firearms because he thought that blanks were harmless.

January 4, 2003, 01:28 AM
I'm the one always ID'ing the weaps and the one always yelling, "No freak'n way could he/she have fired that (insert make of gun here) like that!!" I always enjoy movies where they fire guns inside elevators and then hear people sneaking up on them when they get out. Blackhawk Down got it right when the SAW gunner fired his weap by the 60 gunner and the guy couldn't hear cuz his bells got rung. I guess that's why they call it movie magic.

Mike Irwin
January 4, 2003, 01:32 AM
The Mummy.

Did a VERY good job of using firearms that actually would have been in use at the time by the individuals in question.

Brendan Fraiser's character, as a French Foreign Legionary, used Mle 1873 revolvers and in the opening scenes his troops were armed with Lebel 1886 rifles.

Pretty damned impressive when you consider that these weapons are pretty much unknown to any other than wonks like us. :)

January 4, 2003, 01:53 AM
Way of the Gun and Heat

Heat and Way of the Gun


January 4, 2003, 01:56 AM
what was the belt fed auto used by John T in Swordfish? When he hosed down the SUV's on a city street?

ed dixon
January 4, 2003, 03:19 AM
I think I remember that Hexum was merely making a joke about what a long day it'd been or repeating takes or something, and put the gun to his head feigning exasperation. I believe he knew it was loaded with blanks but must've equated blank with children's cap. Very stupid and very sad.

January 4, 2003, 10:11 AM
Actually, Hexum wasn't doing a dare or doing something on a bet. He just wasn't educated by the prop folks that a prop gun is still a gun and blanks if treated incorrectly are just as deadly as bullets. His lady co-star was angry with him for clowning around with the gun and at one point told him to stop it because he was scaring her with his antics. He just didn't realize. He was trying to be funny and said with a smile on his face "let's see if I can do myself in with this one." He pulled the trigger close to the temple and he succeeded, much to his own suprise as well. A sad loss of life. He was a gifted musician, devoted to his family and a genuinely good person. In one of the interviews where he talked about his exercise routine, he mentioned that he took good care of himself "because I want to live forever." If ever there was an arguement about why the public needs to be educated about guns, it's these two examples. I think if people understand how to use them safely, they'd develop an appreciation for firearms instead of thinking they should be banished. Antis seems to base all their assumptions about guns from movies and these sad cases. What they don't realize is education and proper respect could have prevented both these tragedies.

12 Volt Man
January 4, 2003, 02:00 PM
Ok, this happened to me last night and I am stumped. I rented Triple X (no not a porno). It is the Secret agent movie with Vin Diesel. The main girl, I think her name was Irena was seen using to different auto pistols. One was all black -I think it was a Mak, the other was duotone. Anyone catch what those guns were?
By the way........this movie had a number of cool guns in it.

January 4, 2003, 04:31 PM
I cant watch a movie with gunplay without commenting on them. The make and model. The amount of shots fired. I will be the only one sometimes in a group of people saying - Oh cmon man, he just fired 12 bullets from a revolver that carries only 6!!! (group turns to me then looks back to screen). :uhoh:

I dont want to be a "killjoy" but I cant help it. Its gotta be sincere in order for me to appreciate it or else its just another Hollywood action flic. ;)

Dean Speir
January 4, 2003, 06:11 PM
Actually, Hexum wasn't doing a dare or doing something on a bet. He just wasn't educated by the prop folks that a prop gun is still a gun and blanks if treated incorrectly are just as deadly as bullets. His lady co-star was angry with him for clowning around with the gun and at one point told him to stop it because he was scaring her with his antics. Hexum once said: "One of my strongest traits is confidence; at times I'm amazed at my confidence, even when it doesn't make sense that I should be." Right! He was a total maroon, thought he knew it all, and on 18 October 1984, killed his foolself.

His "lady co-star," was worst… Jennifer O'Neill! Long an outspoken anti-gunner (one of her eight [8!] ex-husbands, Chippendale dance choreographer Nick De Noia, was shot to death with a handgun in April 1987) and she shot her own fool self in the stomach 20 years ago in her Westchester (NY) home while "fooling around with" a pistol.

• Dean, jus' visitin' from The Gun Zone (…

January 4, 2003, 08:48 PM
I didn't catch the guns in the XXX movie. I was too distracted by the unbelieveable bad acting to notice. The girl in the film that you're refering to wasn't Irena but Yelena -- and she was played by the actress(?) Asia Argento. Her Italian name is pronounced Ah-sha. She is the daughter of the Horror cult film director of Italy, Dario Argento. Incidently, Vin's tattoos aren't real. He doesn't have even one. Asia though has several.

Regarding Hexum, I can't speak for his costar but I think it's a little insensitive to call him a moran. Most people new to guns are morans. In fact, some people who own guns are also morans. If you've seen some of the stupid things that people do with them at the range and how little they respect them, I'm sure you'd agree. Hexum was just ignorant about the dangers of handling firearms. The people of "Cover Up" should have had the common sense to instruct the actors on how to treat them regardless of them being used as a promp. Moreover, no person should have been permitted to keep the guns to play with between takes or after.

January 5, 2003, 12:09 AM
John T's gun in Swordfish was an FN mini mi, or an M249 (same gun different trim package)


January 5, 2003, 02:56 AM
I think I scare people when I talk about the guns I see in the films. I end up getting into detail about the cost, who makes it, flaws, advantages, etc. Why does it freak people out to hear women talk about guns? I don't have tattoos, body piercings, bikes, beer -- it's my only vice?

Whats wrong with bikes, tattoos, and beer?:confused:

January 5, 2003, 08:52 AM
My two cents are tattooing and body piercing aren't an attractive quality in a person. I'm not a drinker and I don't smoke so I wouldn't date someone that was tattooed, pierced, a drinker, a smoker and a biker. I'm sure my brother wouldn't have dated a girl that did either. PEOPLE WILL DISAGREE. I'm sure I'll hear about it but this is just MY preference. If you like to do any of this, to each his own....

Just doesn't fit the image of a nice Sicilian girl from the neighborhood. That's why my Berettas are my only vice. Cheers to you.:D

January 5, 2003, 09:07 AM
See? And here all along I thought guns were a virtue, which is why I pursued them so avidly.

PS: I gotta agree with Dean. Anybody who points a gun (real, fake, airsoft, squirt, whatever) at their head and pulls the trigger comes under strong suspicion of moronitude. :eek:

January 5, 2003, 09:39 AM
I do agree, Tamara! But life knows how to manage the morons :D



January 5, 2003, 09:45 AM
Kind of a cold attitude. You remind me of a martial art teacher that said if you get caught in a head lock, you deserve whatever happens to you. Dumped his sorry ass...

January 5, 2003, 09:48 AM
There is a big difference between being caught (by somebody else) in a headlock and pointing (under your own volition) a gun at your head and pulling the trigger.

Do you think that people who step off cliffs are just tragically mis-instructed in the law of gravity? ;)

January 5, 2003, 09:55 AM
No, I call them accidents. I don't think wow, there's an idiot that got what he deserved for being stupid...

January 5, 2003, 10:17 AM
So, what you're saying then is that he "accidentally" pointed the gun at his head and "accidentally" pulled the trigger? I'd submit that both actions were quite intentional.

I ain't saying he "got what he deserved", I'm saying that what he did wasn't too durn bright...

January 5, 2003, 10:23 AM
Putting the gun to his head in a joke wasn't a smart thing to do, but given that he didn't realize that a gun with blanks is sitll dangerous, I call it ignorance -- not God what a real idiot. I blame the studio people for being idiots since they didn't think educating the actors on how to use the props was important. Also the fact that they were able to keep the guns in between takes instead of having them taken away after a scene was done is yet another act of neglience on their part.

Dean Speir
January 5, 2003, 04:30 PM
Regarding Hexum, I can't speak for his costar but I think it's a little insensitive to call him a moran. Sorry, Mastrogiacomo, but I'm of the school that thinks there's no such thing as an accidental shooting, only Criminal Negligence.

I think you're fighting a rear-guard action with me 'n' Tamara (Hi!, Tam) here, but we do agree on one aspect of that event… and it's a rather shocking one at that: that Hexum even had access to his prop weapon off-screen. This is unforgivable in a major studio (20th Century Fox Television) production… Brandon Lee's sad finale was an indy production which was using local crews and generally non-union personnel (and no!, I'm not making any brief for unions!). No less excusable, of course, but things like that happen in such companies… they just don't where union labor contracts specify all areas of responsibility: property personnel handles props except when talent is using them on camera, etc. I suspect that there was some sort of major censure involved with Hexum's death.

And on an aesthetic note, I quite pointedly called Hexum "a maroon," not a "moran," whatever that is.

January 5, 2003, 11:17 PM
Well you'll just have to forgive my poor spelling then, won't you? I've look at computers too much during the week as well. I never thought actors were supposed to be experts. Most of the people on this forum are fairly expert with gun safety so I guess someone like Hexum would be a dolt. I'm sure in some of my lessons with my NRA teacher, I've done things to make him wonder what planet I came from, but Hell, I'm learning so sue me.

When people do foolish things it's because they're ignorant, not an idiot. If the studio did their job, this incident may not have happened. Yes, I know about the other theories but they've never held much weight. It's possible if Hexum had known about gun safety he wouldn't have been so careless. If I was his sister, I would have sued the studios for neglience and I'm more than a little suprised his family didn't. Maybe they were dolts too? Sorry again about the spelling. I'm one of those former students of Special Education John Silber considers stupid....:scrutiny:

To each his own Dean:)

January 5, 2003, 11:34 PM
Three pieces of advice I'd previously never considered giving to an adult human being:

1) "Don't stick your hand into the middle of that campfire."

2) "Don't step off that roof."

3) "Don't put that gun to your head and pull the trigger."


As an experiment, I asked my downstairs neighbor's 12-year old daughter, who was with us when we were discharging .223 blanks from my Daewoo on New Year's Eve, if she would have considered putting her hand in front of the muzzle a safe thing to do, given all the noise and flame that comes out. She looked at me as though I'd taken leave of my senses. Now, she's awful bright for a 12 year-old, but still, what does that say about the deceased in question? ;)

(PS: Hi, Dean! :) )

January 6, 2003, 12:45 AM
It's not the studios job to babysit the actors. They are grown adults(in theory) and should know the difference between smart and not smart. It was a sad thing that happened, but the fault can't be placed on anyone but himself.

Nobody ever told me not to drive a car into a wall. They didn't have to, i just kinda knew it was a dumb idea. Same thing with putting a gun to my head and pulling the trigger. Granted he probably thought it was just a toy, but he also had seen the muzzle flashes that come out of the end of the barrel on that "toy".

January 6, 2003, 12:48 AM
When I first got "into" guns, I used to point out gun models to people who were with me.. then I learned that these folks only cared about .44 magnums and Desert Eagles.. Oh well.

The gun handling in most movies is so poor it's almost sickening. The NRA could have a cottage industry just pointing out all the "wrong" techniques they show in the movies and on TV.

So now I just sit back and enjoy movies for what they are (usually).. creative fiction.


Average Guy
January 6, 2003, 12:55 AM
I do! I do! I try to keep it to myself mostly, after one friend vowed he'd never see another movie with me.

The Way of the Gun is my favorite "gun" movie, hands down (I like it so much I bought a copy in German), followed closely by John Woo's Hard-Boiled (which I think is THE paragon of HK bullet ballet).

Looking forward to the DVD release of Equilibrium, too.

January 6, 2003, 01:51 AM
Sometimes I pay so much attention to the guns on the screen that I lose track of the plot! Anyone else notice the authentic guns portayed in "The Rough Riders"?

January 6, 2003, 03:44 AM
i do! i do! by the way, growing up watching the rifleman..i still don't know what brand of rifle he used.:banghead:

January 6, 2003, 06:39 AM
Can't win:banghead: . Thought there would be some sensitivity for someone that did a foolish thing, but I guess not. Actually, it's not "baby-sitting," but doing your jobs as a studio to ensure that the actors know what the Hell they're doing. How crazy is that -they did it for the Matrix? I didn't realize the Matrix was so out there...and "Alias," and "La Femme Nikita."

I must be as stupid as Hexum then since I too have done that with my toy guns as a kid, PLAYING AROUND which is EXACTLY what Hexum was doing when he mistook the prop gun for a toy especially since no one took the time to explain it. I suppose even the twelve year olds beat me out too. :( I suppose his act was as dumb as skating on thin ice. You fall through I guess that makes you a stuid ass:cuss: as well. Christ, glad my teacher's a tad more understanding.

January 6, 2003, 07:35 AM
Ever since I purchased my first gun, and visiting TFL, and now here, I have paid really close attention to the guns used in movies. If I see one I don't recognize, I'm searching the net trying to figure out what it was. It's pretty fun though.

Oh, now this is my .02 worth, but anyone who puts a gun to his/her head and pulls the trigger is doing something really dumb. What happened with Hexum is a tragedy, surely, but it does not make it any less stupid of an act.

January 6, 2003, 08:54 AM
I must be as stupid as Hexum then since I too have done that with my toy guns as a kid, PLAYING AROUND which is EXACTLY what Hexum was doing when he mistook the prop gun for a toy especially since no one took the time to explain it.

People did take the time to explain it. He'd already seen two people on the set get smacked by the wads from blanks he'd fired. He knew that in scenes where he fired the blanks towards the camera, there was a clear plastic shield over the lens, and the camera man wore goggles. Yet he still took out all the blanks but one, spun the cylinder, said "Let's see what happens", put it to his head and pulled the trigger. That's just dense.

I suppose his act was as dumb as skating on thin ice. You fall through I guess that makes you a stuid ass

When it's visibly thin ice in thin ice weather and things are falling through the ice all over, yeah, that would be stupid.

Flying V
January 6, 2003, 02:35 PM
Given the element of risk involved from muzzle blast, wadding, etc, I wonder if the time has arrived to cease using blanks on sets, instead CGI-ing in appropriate gunfire effects.

January 6, 2003, 02:55 PM
1) Don't mess with Mr. Murphy.

2) Most folks don't realize that Mr. Murphy exists until after he's walked up to 'em and pinned a big "kick me" sign to their backs...

There are too many folks out there who've learned about guns from Bugs Bunny and similar sources.

Carlos Cabeza
January 6, 2003, 03:16 PM
OK I am aware of the ignorance of improper handling and of Mr. Murphy's "bite you in the @$$" hindsight............But would someone care to help me put a face to the "Mr. Hexum" guy????
I was aware of Brandon Lee. The Crow is a cool movie, But who is Hexum.?????

January 6, 2003, 05:15 PM
Copyright 2003 CanWest Interactive, a division of
CanWest Global Communications Corp.
All Rights Reserved
The Vancouver Province

January 5, 2003 Sunday Final Edition

SECTION: News; Pg. A12

LENGTH: 1587 words

HEADLINE: 'Stand by! Weapon going off!': Cameron Smith supplies guns for movies -- and makes sure things are done right when their triggers are pulled. Especially by nervous reporters

SOURCE: The Province

BYLINE: Lee Bacchus

Uneasiness is a warm gun.

The reporter with the clammy palms is clutching a loaded semi-automatic Colt 1911 -- the 45mm firearm used by U.S. Army soldiers in both World Wars, and the American gangster's weapon of choice in the '20s and '30s.

Actually, it's a replica of a Colt 1911, and it's loaded with blanks. But even blanks can kill. It happened to Jon-Erik Hexum on the set of Fox's Cover Up TV series in the mid-'80s, when the young actor held a blank-loaded gun to his head, declared "Let's see what would happen," and then pulled the trigger.


Bad things can happen with replicas, as well. Two weeks ago, Vancouver police shot a man on East Pender, believing his handgun was real. It wasn't. Theirs was. He died. And a little over a decade ago, Vancouver stuntman Lauro Chartrand took a point-blank shot from a blank-loaded handgun during the filming of the Vancouver-made Chuck Norris vehicle The Hitman.

The blast sent a fragment from the gun into his abdomen, leaving him in critical condition. Fortunately, Chartrand survived and now is the fight co-ordinator for Tom Cruise in the in-production feature The Last Samurai.


The loud warning issued to the other people in the large Burnaby warehouse where the reporter is taking aim with the Colt comes from Cameron Smith, lead armourer for KMS FX -- one of several Lower Mainland companies that supplies real guns and gun lookalikes to film and TV companies.

Smith, a burly 36-year-old native of North Battleford, Sask., has allowed the visiting reporter to play with some of his toys.

Instead of interrogating phantom prey ("Are you feeling lucky, punk?" "You talkin' to me?"), the reporter only questions himself: Will the blank fail and the gun explode in his hand? Will the concussion from the blast snap his wrist like a dry twig? Will the noise penetrate his ear-protectors and leave him forever unable to enjoy his John Tesh collection?

Fortunately, his fears are unfounded. Although he has trouble merely switching the safety off, the reporter finally pulls the trigger. The Colt fires with more of a thuddish pop than a bang (only slightly louder than Smith's warning), and the concussive wave ripples up his arm rather than snapping it in two. Despite the fact he is notoriously anti-gun (he loved Michael Moore's National Rifle Asssociation-mocking Bowling for Columbine and winces every time his seven-year-old son begs for a pellet gun), he finds squeezing off six or seven fast rounds from the Colt, well, kind of exhilarating.

Smith's acting experience (he was the sheriff in Fox's Millennium series, among other small background roles) and a stint as an infantry soldier in the Canadian Armed Forces make him a perfect fit for his current job. As an armourer, Smith goes to film and TV sets, and for a fee ranging from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars, supplies requisite real or replicated weapons.

That could be anything from a vintage .38 revolver to an Austrian-made Heckler & Koch MP5 9mm submachine-gun wielded by Keanu Reeves in The Matrix -- and he coaches actors on how to handle the guns for both safety and credibility.

Smith didn't work with Reeves but he has advised Wesley Snipes, Marc Singer, Ian Tracy, Lou Diamond Phillips, Dennis Hopper and Kiefer Sutherland when they've done film and TV action work in Vancouver. Smith says Snipes, in particular, was a very keen and attentive student when the subject was weapons.

"Wesley puts a lot of background research into every role he's doing," he says.

Smith says Sutherland is very, very cautious about handling guns. He recalls working with the 24 star on a 2002 film called Dead Heat, in which Sutherland did a "suicide contemplation" scene that required him to load a .357 Magnum and hold it to his head.

Even though the bullets in fact were "pea rounds," non-firing cartridges, Sutherland balked. Looking down the barrel of a .357 Magnum -- even loaded with duds -- requires a long leap of faith. Smith says the problem was solved by breaking the scene into separate shots -- one for the loading and after a cut, another for when the gun is pointed at his head (now with an empty chamber).

"We will do whatever is necessary to make an actor feel confident and secure," Smith says. He adds that his respect and safety concerns around guns have led some people in the industry to describe him as a "zealot."

"And that's fine, because as far as I'm concerned there is absolutely no room for arrogance or ego on a film set. If anyone has ever had the misfortune to see what happens when a bullet hits a human body, then they'll understand."

Jim Dunn, a 47-year-old Vancouver stunt co-ordinator and stuntman for the last 19 years, says that when he started in the business, "actors, extras, stuntpeople, everyone was running around pointing guns at one another, just playing.

"The armourers came along and changed all that. They made safety a priority. They also made getting the shot more efficient. Ten years ago guns were always jamming, holding up the production."

Tom Adair, executive director for the B.C. Council of Film Unions, says armourers are a crucial part of the filmmaking business. Adair says armourers are highly regulated, uniquely licensed professionals who are allowed to amass caches of weapons that would otherwise arouse suspicion in this terror-sensitive era.

"If Iraq had what some of the armourers had, they'd be attacked," Adair says.

Smith is standing in his office boardroom, where there are enough guns to make NRA President Charlton Heston blush. You have your Smith & Wesson 45mm sidearms (standard issue for RCMP officers), your M-16 assault weapons, your Glock 9mms (preferred by Vancouver police) and your Cobray M-11s submachine-guns (favoured by "gang-bangers and drive-by shooters," says Smith).

Oh, and let's not forget the military-issue rocket launcher -- deactivated, naturally. Some on display are eerily accurate rubber replicas that are cast from real guns and can cost anywhere between $300 and $600.

As recently as the 1960s, live ammunition was used in Hollywood filmmaking. For instance, Smith says Steve McQueen fired off some real bullets in the 1960 classic The Magnificent Seven.

"Hollywood would actually bring in real sharpshooters for some of the scenes," Smith says. "You still find instances of filmmakers wanting to use live ammo."

As both the need for safety and the craving for realism increased, Hollywood turned to replicas and blanks for firepower, and something called a "squib" -- a small explosive charge taped to a blood-filled bag (often a condom) on the actor's body and detonated electronically -- to mimic the bullet's effect.

"The first squibs actually were used back in the 1950s on the TV series The Untouchables," Smith says.

If you really want to get Smith going, ask him about the authenticity of gun handling in many of today's Hollywood shoot-'em-ups. Smith says he "burned out" on the over-the-top action films that arose with the Lethal Weapon series in the late '80s.

He recalls watching one recent Hollywood feature (forgettable enough that he's forgotten the title) and wincing at the preposterous gun play -- for instance, shooters never having to pause and reload.

"I was so disgusted I actually said 'Bull----!' out loud and walked out," says Smith.

Another pet peeve of Smith's are the obligatory close-ups of tense soldiers or police SWAT members with their eyes glaring and fingers poised on the trigger.

"Law enforcement and military personnel are trained again and again and again to never, ever put your finger on the trigger unless there is an imminent threat to life and limb," he says.

Smith says director John Woo kept things real during his Hong Kong heyday -- "He was very accurate when it came to weapons use. However, his recent spate of Hollywood film efforts [Face/Off, for example] leaves a lot to be desired."

Smith cites such directors as Andrew Davis (Die Hard), Michael Mann (Heat), John Frankenheimer (Ronin) and Ridley Scott (Black Hawk Down) as directors who can blend a good story with accurate and credible gun play.

As far as actors go, Smith says Americans, steeped in their own much-publicized gun culture, generally are "well schooled" in the practice of gun handling.

"But for Canadians it's the total flipside," he says. "They have little to no experience with guns."

To remedy this, Smith holds classes for actors and background performers, instructing them in weapons and tactics. A one-day basic course costs about $90. A two-day "intermediate" course, which includes training in blood and squib effects, costs $230.

In the course, as always, Smith stresses the difference between the real world and the film world. To underscore that distinction, Smith says he always begins his classes with a demonstration. He props up an apple, then fires a blank at it from about 10 feet away. The apple is now applesauce.

"They get the message real quick," he says.

As he handles the guns -- perhaps just a few notches this side of "fondling" -- Smith reveals his passion for things that go bang. But he also takes care not "to come across as a giggling gun nut."

Smith's vocabulary is well- armed with words like "respect" and "safety." And he reserves a kind of morbid awe for these lethal chunks of technology.

"It's amazing how much creative thought and energy goes into killing another human being," he says.

January 6, 2003, 10:46 PM
John Hexum is the poster boy for why we should never point guns at ourselves!

Dean Speir
January 7, 2003, 12:27 AM
Intellectual Property issues aside (you don't seem to care that you are putting Oleg and THR at risk, Drizzt), it would seem that some artistic license was afforded the writer; check these (authoritative) reference sites for Lauro Chartrand (,+Lauro), The Hitman (, Cameron Smith (,+Cameron+K.) and Jim Dunn (,+Jim+(I)), not to mention Millennium ( Notice anything missing?

Average Guy
January 7, 2003, 12:37 AM
You have your Smith & Wesson 45mm sidearms (standard issue for RCMP officers),

Forty-five freakin' MILLIMETER!? Cheese-n-rice, Canada--how do you still have crime with ordnance like that?


January 9, 2003, 10:27 AM
Dean Speir wrote

"not a "moran," whatever that is."

Dean... :rolleyes:

Might I remind you of the last Gunstock and my "alternative" weapon. It looks like the next time we get together for one I'll have to show up in approprate Samburu Moran ( garb just to make a lasting impression. Then, you will see what a (want-a-be) Moran is. :scrutiny:

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