Remember the TV series the Rifleman? The gun, actually five of them were modified Winchester Model 1892, originally chambered for handgun calibers or small rifle calibers. High volume and short range, kind of like a lever action submachine gun. Of course, the Rifleman’s gun was tricked out to fire after the breach locked by a screw that pressed the trigger as the lever was worked, allowing for a high fire rate. In the series Wanted Dead or Alive, Steve McQueen sported a cut down model 1892, the design is referred as a “Mares Leg”. Chambered in .44-40 with a shortened stock in an open sided holster. Most modern ‘mares leg’ are built on a Marlin action in 44 Magnum.
Quigley Sharps Rifle
Quigley Down Under has Tom Selleck packing Sharps 1874 in .45-110. Remember that the dash ### is weight of black powder in grains. The Sharps had a reputation for long range accuracy. Billy Dixon at the second battle of Adobe Walls, the remains of an old Spanish mission gained fame in 1874, made a confirmed kill of a Kiowa warrior at 1538 yards, that’s 9/10th of a mile, a long way for any gun, let alone a black powder rifle with round nosed bullets. The gun was a 50-90 (or .50-70 according some sources) Sharps. Story was that Dixon, who considered himself a good shot being an active buffalo hunter and competitive marksman considered it a ‘scratch’ shot, as much luck and expertise. The Sharps line of rifles have a deserved reputation for long range accuracy with a tang peep sight, an excellent choice for Quigley.
Lee Speed Sporting Rifle
The Ghost and the Darkness has a smorgasbord of interesting shooters. The Birmingham Small Arms Lee-Speed Rifle carried by Val Kilmer was a sports/hunting version of the British Lee Enfield in .303 British a popular and readily available round in the British African Colonies. It has a long and distinguished movie carrier going back to the 1933 version of King Kong to ‘I Declare War’ in 2012. It was the shooter wielded by Rachel Wiess in the Mummy Returns. Bernard Hill’s Dr. Hawthorne character lends his Farquharson falling block (like the Ruger No. 1 Series of Rifles) and a popular 19th century African hunter’s gun. It was chambered among other things in .400 Nitro Express a far more capable lion caliber than the .303 British.
King’s African Rifles
The King of African rifles were the expensive but powerful double rifles made by Wesley-Richards, Purdey, Rigby or Holland & Holland. Primary calibers were either the 3 ¼ inch long 450 Nitro Express or the 500/450 (500 Nitro Express necked down to .45 caliber) a superior African game rifle carried by Michael Douglas’ character Remington, who was a professional hunter. The character Angus Starling, Kilmer’s assistant was sporting a Martini-Henry (Zulu wars rifle) in 577/450, a 577 Snider cartridge necked to .45 caliber. Samuel (John Kani) sports a Snider Enfield Mark II Artillery Carbine, in 577 Snider, a surplus, readily available single shot, and the .577 Snider has a powerful reputation, on both ends, high recoil, but powerful black powder caliber. Or course he carries a 12-gauge double side by side as well. Unknown model, and paper shot shells where the norm with occasional brass hauls.
In India they hunt tigers from elephants. The carrier that people sit in is the Howdah. As tigers are known to climb up the elephant and take people from their backs, the need arose for a short, close in, heavy caliber Howdah Pistol. Remington carries one, an over and under cap lock. It may have been a ‘movie weapon’ but obviously a heavy caliber, may even be a smooth bore, as the short ranges would not require rifling. Some had up to four barrels, but most where side-side or stacked barrel doubles.
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We may visit even more movie gun legends in the future. From mild to wild. Remember, shoot straight and shoot often! Shooting Range Industries offers custom portable shooting ranges for your convenience. Contact us to learn more!