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Guns of the Silver Screen: V20N10

By Kyle Shea

Rubber Prop Guns

Action movies can be intensely physical for many actors. The need to excite the movie-going public sometimes calls for creative and over the top stunts that people will remember and enjoy. Whether it is jumping over a car or running from an explosion, the characters of the movie must be seen as accomplishing a nearly impossible feat. Many actors and actresses are not physically capable enough to do these things, so stunt doubles are sometimes called in to take their place. When there are violent death scenes, rubber, mechanical, and other props are used instead of the actors themselves (For good reason).

The same can be said of firearms. There are instances where a gun needs to be dropped or thrown or even destroyed in a movie or television show. Instead of using very expensive guns in these cases, “rubber” guns take their place. From a distance, most moviegoers can’t tell the differences between the real guns and their movie prop doubles. They are usually much lighter than the guns that they stand in for. While made of rubber or plastic, they frequently can have metal frames and sometimes there are a few metal parts on the outside.

Most rubber prop guns are designed after real guns, but there are rubber guns that are modeled after guns made for specific movies. Theatrical gun rental companies do this not only because guns get dropped, but sometimes directors and movie makers do destructive things to them. One particular story Syd Stembridge told me about was about a director who wanted a gun to fall apart in a certain manner during the filming, so, without telling the rental company, he had a real gun cut in two with a chop saw and temporarily stuck back together. When a psychic character pointed at it during the filming, the front half fell off on cue.

Movie prop guns are generally made of rubber with other products mixed in. Others are made of thick foam that is carved into a gun, with a metal frame inside. Others are made of...

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