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Shooting in The Wild Bunch Movie; M1917 Browning Machine Gun, Sharps Rifle, Webley Revolver & More

After the turn of the century there was a transition to smokeless powder, jacketed bullets and the death of the Wild West. Well many may think that’s the way it went. In the southwestern states the wild west was alive and well with border shootouts, and Poncho Villa raiding into the north. Bad guy hold overs from the 19th century to be followed by the gangs and organized crime of the twenties, after Bonnie and Clyde met their ends at the hands of a Texas Ranger. Our man, Sam Peckinpah made a movie, the Wild Bunch that depicted the transitional time from single action colts to Browning 1917 belt fed machineguns, lever actions to bolt actions.

M1917 Browning Machine Gun

The movie opens with a bank robbery near our border with Mexico. 1903’s, combat shotguns and 1911 all mixed together. As there is a Browning 1917 water cooled machine gun it should be after the 1st World War, the gun is an anachronism as the movie took place during Pershing’s time in Mexico (Mar 14,1916 to Feb 07,1917) prior to the guns development. The gun was chambered in 30-06 Springfield, and had a rate of fire of 450 rpm with the later m1917A1 going to 650 rpm and served as late as the Vietnam War. The US adopted the gun in April 1917 with about 1,200 seeing service is the last 2½ months of the war, a total of 2,500 built by Westinghouse, with another 1,600 made by Remington. Great movie, just not entirely accurate.

Winchester Model 12 Trench Gun, Sharps Rifle & More

Both Winchester Model 1897 and Model 12 pump shotguns where used in the movie. The Model 12 was produced from 1912 to 1964. The Model 1897 had an exposed hammer, and was made from 1897 to 1957. Both models were used in WW1 in the Trench Models used in that war. Today the Chinese firm Norinco, produces a copy of this gun. H&R single shot and Stevens double barreled shotguns where used as well. Mauser 1912 Short Rifles was carried by Mapache’s solders and they were imported into Mexico during this period. These were a short version of the Mauser K98 rifle that served Germany through two wars. One interesting weapon used by the character Freddy Sykes played by Edmond O’Brien was a Sharps 1874 rifle. Not expected this late into the 20th century but very possible. Probably in 45-70 caliber.

Winchester 1892

Various Winchester 1892’s was used in numbers by both protagonists. The 1892 was the go-to lever-action for Hollywood, and the studio armories were full of these thing during the cowboy movie era. The lever-action was the 19th centuries assault rifle. Most were chambered for cartridges used also in handguns. They had high capacity magazines with capacities of 10 to 15 rounds depending on barrel length. Hollywood used Winchester 1892’s as surrogates for Henrys and Winchester 1873. Some may have been brass plated to depict 1866 Yellowboy rifles.
The M1903A3 Springfield was used throughout the movie. Of course, this model, the A3 was a WWII manufactured weapon not around at the time though the 1903 was in use, it was an earlier model.

Colts, Smith & Wesson’s & Webley Revolver

The Colts where depicted as well. The 1911 auto, Single Action Army and New Service Double Action, introduced and produced from 1898 to 1946, in .45 Colt, .455 Webley, .476 Enfield, .45 ACP, .44-40, .44 Special, .38-40, .38 Special and .357 Magnum. Colts competitor, Smith & Wesson used by at least a single ‘bad guy’ a Model 10. The Model 10 started in 1899 and still going. Had in .38 Long Colt, .38 Special and .38/200 aka the .38 S&W.
A English Webley appears as well. This double action, break top revolver served the English forces from 1887 to 1963 in .455 Webley. Mapache’s German advisor and the prostitute the shots Pike where carrying a German P08 Luger. The Wild Bunch presents a smorgasbord of shooters, though not necessarily accurate. A great movie still.

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