Guns of the Silver Screen: V20N7

By Kyle Shea

Firearms of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Part I: The Extraordinary Winchester.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen hit the theatres in 2003 and was hardly a success. It did well enough at the box office, but received terrible reviews from critics. It was based on a comic book of the same name, written by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill. The movie starred Sean Connery as Allan Quatermain and Naseeruddin Shah as Captain Nemo.

In the movie, Allan Quatermain is an old man who is retired and mourning the death of his son. He is recruited by a shadowy government organization, along with Captain Nemo, Mina Harker from Dracula, Tom Sawyer, the Invisible Man, and Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde, in order to hunt down a man called the Fantom. This is sort of an Avengers tale, only with 19th century popular book characters instead of the comic book super heroes of today.

In the film, Tom Sawyer, played by Shane West, carries a Winchester Model 1873. The gun is beautifully engraved, with a silver dollar on the right side of the buttstock. Under the receiver is a plate with the words, “Engraved by Shaun A. Banks for the film The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen,” carved on it.

The Winchester Model 1873 is often called the “Gun that Won the West.” It was one of the most successful of all the Winchester rifles and was produced from 1873 to 1919. It had a 15-round tube magazine that loaded the cartridges into the barrel when one cycled the lever action. It was made in several calibers- .44-40, .38-40, and .32-20 cartridges. These were also the cartridges used by handguns of the day, which allowed most of the customers who bought the guns to use only one type of ammo. The rifle was so successful in the West, Winchester created a special One-of-One Thousand Grade. They were the rifles that had barrels with the best groupings and were fitted a special finish. They cost a total of 100 dollars, which was a lot of money back then.

Over 720,000 model 1873 rifles were produced. In 2013, an ammunition company started to produce the rifle again, faithful to the original design, with the exception of a new safety and a better ejection system for the spent casings.

There were other Winchester model rifles produced. The model 1866 was used in the Franco-Prussian war and in the 1877 Russo-Turkish war. The model 1876 was used by both the North-West Mounted Police, (A precursor to the Mounties) and the Texas Rangers, and was used by Theodore Roosevelt himself. John Moses Browning designed quite a few rifles for Winchester, including the model 1894, which became one of the greatest hunting rifles of all time, selling over 7 million units and staying in production till 2006.

As for The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, it is not considered to be a great movie. Most of the actors do a decent job, but the story doesn’t work well and most of the effects aren’t quite “special.” It is a poor man’s Avengers, though it did well at the box office, coming in second to the first of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies which it opened against. Simply put, it is a onetime movie to enjoy.

In a special note, the Winchester 1873 one-of-one thousand rifles were even given their own movie, 1950’s Winchester 73. In the film James Stewart’s character hunts down an outlaw who steals his rifle. It’s a good classic Western and worth the watch.

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V20N7 (September 2016)
and was posted online on July 22, 2016


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