Monday, 11 May 2015

Artificer's Almanac Episode 3: Firefly

Firefly. It’s a cult classic.

In all honesty, I could finish the post here, publish it and feel no shame as it is the truth.
What does Firefly have in abundance; apart from great actors, great plotlines, huge numbers of fans? SHINIES! Lots of them.

So yes this Artificer’s Almanac will be focusing on the Firearms found in Firefly. When I was planning this post I was tempted to do it as mini-series focusing on each character, however in Firefly there is a wide variety of regular firearms as well as fantasy ones, so this post is going to be a tad different.

The Layout
We are going to focus on each crew member of the Serenity and then look at the weapons that they have utilised in this short but sweet series.
I will provide some info on each firearm, regardless of whether it is a fantasy firearm or not.
It’s going to be a long post, so let’s get comfy and be like a leaf on the breeze.

Malcolm ‘Mal’ Reynolds
Mal’s (Nathan Fillion) first pistol is his go-to sidearm, the Moses Brothers Self-Defence
Engine Frontier Model B…yes that’s its name. By all appearances it looks like the love child between a semi-automatic handgun and the classic revolvers found in the wild-west.
In all honesty, it is not too far off, the base of the revolver is actually a Taurus 85 (usually chambered in .38 Special) with a lot of stylings based on the Volcanic Pistols that were becoming popular at that time as well. I am unaware of what calibre the Moses is chambered in, assuming it is chambered in a regular calibre.
The pistol was used in all the episodes of Firefly and Serenity, the pistol also made a Cameo in Castle, where Nathan Fillion dressed as a Space Cowboy.

Mal is seen with a Colt Government Model 380 on a table while he is cleaning the Moses, Inara picks it up and makes a quip about it. More information on the Colt Government Model 380 will be provided later.
Mal during his war time flash backs is seen carrying a Heckler & Koch UMP .45, this is one of the few .45 Sub Machine Guns out there, along with the Thompson Machine Gun and the Kriss Vektor. Also in my opinion Mal delivers a line that makes me roar.
"They really don't like it when you shoot at them! I worked that out myself."

In "Serenity" (S1E01), the FAMAS-223 is seen in the hands of Malcom during the battle of Serenity valley. He then drops it and picks up a G36K to capture an AA gun. Zoë in a scene also carried a FAMAS but it changed to a G36K when she started shooting. The rifle is the Civilian version of the FAMAS, imported briefly into the U.S. as the Semiautomatic FAMAS-223. It is virtually identical to the military FAMAS except for the lack of a full auto switch position and the barrel is not ridged (to take rifle grenades). The smooth outer barrel was an ATF requirement to be imported into the country. Soon after, the ATF declared all foreign "bullpup" rifles to be unsporting and banned their import. This was done years prior to the 1989 import ban.

Mal is seen in Episode 5 carrying a Nickel Plated Winchester 1300 12 Bore shotgun. This shotgun, made by Winchester was designed as a cheap utilitarian model for the masses, it came chambered in 20, 28 and 12 bore.

Zoe Washburne
Zoe’s (Gina Torres), first firearm is not actually her most commonly used firearm, but it features as a back-up pistol for her. It appears to be a customised Colt 1860 Army revolver (chambered in .44). It looks like she has taken a standard 6” variant and necked the barrel and charging handle to 2” and reinforced it. The real life variant was a cap and ball black powder pistol but it Firefly it is used as a centrefire firearm.

Zoe moves from revolvers to semi-auto pistols in Episode 10 where she has not one, but two Jericho 941 pistols, and yep, she dual wields them. Why? Cause Zoe is awesome. The Jericho 941 is a double action/single action semi-automatic pistol developed by Israel Military Industries (now: Israel Weapon Industries) that was launched in 1990. It is also known as the Baby Eagle, because of its visual resemblance to the Desert Eagle. The Jericho has been chambered in 9x19mm, .357, .40 S&W and .45 ACP, it is unknown what calibre Zoe’s guns are chambered in.

Zoe and Mal were in the same company during the war together, and as Mal favours the UMP, Zoe favours the (also German) Heckler and Koch G36 Rifle, chambered in 5.56x45mm. designed in the early 1990s by Heckler & Koch (H&K) in Germany as a replacement for the heavier 7.62mm G3 battle rifle. It was accepted into service with the Bundeswehr in 1995, replacing the G3. The G36 is gas-operated and feeds from a 30-round detachable box magazine or 100-round C-Mag drum magazine. It’s noted that Zoe prefers to fire from the Hip, than from the shoulder. Mal can be seen utilising one also.

Finally Zoe’s go-to firearm. It is the Winchester Model 1892, known as the “Mare’s Leg”. This is a carbine (a short rifle) cut down to pistol length. This is a lever action firearm and utilises the large loop made famous by Steve McQueen in Wanted: Dead or Alive. I don’t know why but I adore this gun, I think it eponymises the Western Genre.
Zoe is also seen with the Winchester Model 1873 Carbine (this is what the Mare’s Leg is made from), both are chambered in .44-40, a now obsolete calibre.

Hoban ‘Wash’ Washburne

Wash’s (Alan Tudyk) sidearm is not a fantasy firearm, it is one of the few real world counterpart guns that you see in the series.
It is a .357 Colt Python. The Python was manufactured in Hartford Connecticut and was released in 1955 the same year as the Smith & Wesson Model 29 (Dirty Harry’s revolver). The now discontinued Colt Python targeted the premium revolver market segment. Some firearm collectors and writers such as Jeff Cooper, Ian V. Hogg, Chuck Hawks, Leroy Thompson, Renee Smeets and Martin Dougherty have described the Python as the finest production revolver ever made. Tudyk also shows his great taste in firearms as he has commented on how he adored it.

Wash is also seen briefly in Episode 10 holding a Nickel plated Colt Government Model 380

(chambered in .380 ACP). The Colt Government is essentially the micro version of the Colt 1911, the Government was in production for 13 years and was fairly popular with the US population, and it was not as popular as the full sized edition. Wash is obviously using it as a backup firearm. It should also be noted that Shepherd is seen carrying a holstered one in Episode 10 as well

Also in Episode 10 Wash can be spotted wielding a Mossberg 590 Mariner in Nickel Plate, this compact shotgun is highly similar to the 590 cruiser that Jayne is seen within a few episodes. Wash’s shotgun features an aftermarket top folding stock, which in subsequent shoot out’s he fails to utilise. Like Zoe he prefers to fire from the hip.

Inara Serra

Inarra (Morena Baccarin) is seen with a Ruger MK II chambered in .22LR. Although very briefly. It is nickel plated and carries a Laser module and what appears to be a suppressor. You can also see Mal readying one on this same episode (Episode 11).

Jayne Cobb
Jayne’s (Adam Baldwin) first revolver unfortunately has no real name but appears to be based off a LeMat Revolver. The LeMat saw service in the US Civil war and was favoured by the Confederates as opposed to the Union, so it would make sense to have a Browncoat utilise it in the series. The LeMat revolver was usually chambered in .42 or .36 and featured a 20 bore barrel which could be used as a secondary. Jayne’s revolver does not feature this. Also interestingly the LeMat originally was a cap and ball black powder revolver, meaning that each barrel had to be primed with gunpowder and a firing cap, later models were then manufactured to take pinfire and then centrefire ammunition, which is the most common type of ammo seen today. It also seems that Jayne’s revolver is a centre fire revolver.

Later in the series, you can see Jayne loading a 6” Dan Wesson Supermag (usually

chambered in .455 Super Magnum {note that is one hell of a cartridge}) with a red-dot reflex sight. However you never see him use it. In case you are wondering, Daniel B. Wesson II is the grandson of Daniel Wesson, one of the founders of the Smith & Wesson company. Dan Wesson is currently part of the CZ-USA Group. 

This is a bit of the cheap one, in Episode 1, a character uses a SIG P220 Sport to threaten
the crew and in Episode 3 an exact double can be seen in Jaynes cabin, which says that either Jayne owns the same type of firearm or he ‘relinquished’ the other firearm from the first episode. The SIG is swiss made, chambered in .45 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol) and features a compensator (a device used to vent gas, allowing greater control of the firearm).
Jayne is also seen carrying a SIG-Sauer P229 in Episode 10, with stainless-steel slide during the assault on the Skyplex in "War Stories" (S1E10). An interesting note: SIG-Sauer P229 similarly customized was also the weapon of choice for John Casey, Adam Baldwin's character in the series Chuck.

Jayne’s Armoury, keeps on going and going. Also seen in his bunk is a Kimel AP9, now this
looks like a submachine gun but it is a 9mm Pistol modelled after a TEC-9. It also appears that the one featured in Jayne’s bunk is a rubber stunt copy as it seems to have no finish to it and it appears as if there is no muzzle.

In Episode 1, Jayne is seen with a Blaser R93 LRS2 Sniper rifle (though referred to R54’s in the show). He acquires this rifle from another sniper after he has knocked him out and uses it to cover Mal and Zoe during a trade off.


Also in Jayne’s bunk (WHERE DOES THIS MAN SLEEP), is a Heckler & Koch SL8. The Heckler
& Koch SL8 is a semi-automatic rifle manufactured by Heckler & Koch. It is the civilian version of the Heckler & Koch G36. The rifle fires the .223 Remington or 5.56x45mm NATO cartridge and feeds from a 10-, 20- or 30-round detachable magazine (depending on the variant of the rifle). Unlike earlier types of HK rifles, it is not a roller lock bolt but rather a lug-type rotating bolt system as seen on the AR-18. 

Jayne can be seen with a heavily modified Heckler & Koch HK770 in "Heart of Gold" (S1E13). The rifle is in a Choate Super Sniper stock (this stock is not available for the HK770 so must be customised), has been modified to feed from 20 round G3 style magazines rather than the proprietary HK770 3 or 10 round magazine and has a ribbed barrel shroud, and is fitted with a telescopic sight on an HK05 claw mount and a bipod. This is the same rifle used in the final season of Burn Notice in the episode "Down Range" (S7E03).

Back to Jayne’s bunk we can see a Claridge LEC9, this is a long barrelled Carbine edition of
the pistol variant. Designed by Ex LAPD office Joe Claridge in 1990, this unique firearm uses a telescopic bolt design encased in a tubular upper receiver with a forged steel frame, button rifled match barrels, and 16 round magazines standard. 

Jayne, also has a nickel plated Mossberg 590 Cruiser shotgun, 12 bore. The regular police variety is blued. Jayne’s is nickel plated, also has a high capacity magazine tube and also appears in later episodes to have a side folding stock and a laser pointer. Jayne in a later episode uses a stockless blued version as well.

The pinnacle of Jayne’s personal armoury is the Callahan Fullbore Autolock.
According to Jayne: 

‘Six men came to kill me one time. And the best of 'em carried this. It's a Callahan full-bore auto-lock. Customized trigger, double cartridge thorough gauge. It is my very favourite gun ... This is the best gun made by man. It has *extreme* sentimental value ... I Call Her Vera’. 

Vera is in fact a highly customised Saiga 12 Shotgun. This Semi Auto Box magazine fed shotgun has become one of America’s favourite personal defence shotguns. The weapon was originally built by gunsmiths Larry Zanoff and the late Jim Boland for the film Showtime. It is capable of folding into compact form and still be fireable. Technically it's a shotgun, but in the show, it is a rifle that fires big bullets. Also according to Jayne, Vera needs oxygen to fire which implies that the ammunition is in fact caseless. However I do not believe this to be the case, excuse the play on the words.

Jayne in episode one can also be seen loading a shell into a Tru-Flite 37mm Gas Gun. The Tru Flite 37mm Super Long Range Gas Gun was built at the Lake Erie Chemical Company (Cleveland, Ohio U.S.A.) in the 1930s-1940s. It was designed for launching 37mm CS gas or Smoke grenades during police standoffs. Distress and illumination flares were also sold for this launcher.

Kaylee Frye
Episode 10 is a good episode for guns. In this episode Kaylee (Jewel Staite) is given a Star

Firestar M-45 with Custom Longslide, the M-45 is named as such, due to it being chambered in .45 ACP. All Firestars are compact, steel-framed semi-automatic pistols. Firestar pistols are recoil operated, with Browning cam locking and short barrel recoil. Star is a Spanish company who based their firearms on the 1911 series manufactured by Colt. As mentioned the Star that Kaylee is handling (rather dubiously) features a customised long slide.
Later in this Episode you see River Tam using it with much more proficiency than Kaylee. She’s a lovely character but she is not a gunslinger at heart.

Simon Tam

Another cheap one, also in Episode 1, the same character who had the SIG also has a Vector CP1 on him, later in the same episode Simon Tam (Sean Maher) gets his hands on it. It is unknown whether it is later kept by Simon or not. The Vektor is South-African in origin, chambered in 9x19mm and was supplied to civilians and law enforcement, and used as a carry pistol. Although popular the Vektor did have a bump where there was a product recall, however the company bought back the pistols to keep customers happy. It is a rare pistol in the States but common in South Africa.

Simon, like Kaylee is not big on the guns but in Episode 10, (yes that episode again) you see him packing a Glock 17L (which designates it has a long slide) chambered in 9x19mm and for some reason carries a nickel plated Picatinny Rail for a sight and a under barrel laser module. It is also interesting to note that Simon has excellent firearms handling skills as he never has his finger on the trigger until it’s needed.

River Tam
River (Summer Glau) in Episode 14 manages to get hold of a Desert Eagle MKVII chambered in .44 Magnum, a very large gun for such a small lady. However she doesn’t remember where she got it from.

Derrial ‘Shepherd’ Book
Shepherd (Ron Glass) is seeing utilising Jayne’s Claridge LEC9 in Episode 10, also made notable with the great lines:

“Zoë: Preacher, don't the Bible have some pretty specific things to say about killin'?
Book: Quite specific. It is, however, somewhat fuzzier on the subject of kneecaps.”

Special Mentions
The Marlin Model 1895 Lever Action Rifle (.44-40) is used by Mal, Jayne  and Zoe in Episode 13, however as this rifle does not belong to any of them, it will reside here in the special mention category.

Jayne in Episode 7 is seen taping a holdout pistol onto his abdomen, however as Mal order’s him to take it off, the whole gun is never seen.

Inara in Episode 11 is seen holding the ‘Lassiter’ the universe’s first Laser pistol, a relic of it’s time and clunky to boot. It makes the original Star War’s blasters look streamlined.

Jayne’s Full Cache

Throughout the series, you see Jayne’s entire cache of weapons, rather than give you info on all of them (as there are a few) I’ll list them here so you can go and review them for yourselves:

  1. AKMSU
  2. Colt Dragoon
  3. American Derringer Model 1
  4. Heckler & Koch SL8,
  5. Tru Flite 37mm Super Long Range Gas Gun,
  6. LaserAim Series III
  7. Single Action Army "Quick-Draw"
  8. Magnum Research Lone Eagle w/ custom barrel shroud
  9. Claridge Hi-Tec w/ barrel extension
  10. COP 357 Derringer, from "Serenity" (S01E01)
  11. Nickel Plated Winchester 1300
  12. Heckler & Koch Fabarm FP6
  13. Nickel Plated Ruger MK II
  14. Stainless Steel Jericho 941R
  15. Browning BDA
  16. Desert Eagle MK VII
  17. Wildey Magnu
  18. Smith & Wesson Model 629 Performance Center
  19. Ruger 10/22 with custom stock
  20. Smith & Wesson 945
Character Gun Count:
Mal: 5
Zoe: 5
Wash: 2
Inara: 1
Jayne: 21
Kaylee: 1
Simon: 2
River: 2
Shepherd: 2

I think Jayne Wins.

1 comment:

  1. Wuh duh ma huh tah duh fong kwong duh wai shung!

    Awesome post as always Matt, I think it's safe to say I GeekGasmed a little bit


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