The first of a two-part series spotlighting firearms from war movies spans the 1900s and includes some of the all-time silver screen greats. Look for classic guns found in the hands of Gary Cooper, William Holden, Candice Bergen, Sean Connery and more.
When the U.S. entered WWI in 1917, Hollywood rushed to enlist in the war effort. Director Cecil B. DeMille formed the Paramount Home Guard to train and equip stage hands, crew and actors. The Paramount costume department furnished uniforms, and John S. Stembridge supplied rifles and this Colt belt-fed machine—a Colt Model 1895 “Potato Digger” of .30-40 Krag caliber.
Springfield “trapdoor” arms were workhorses of the film industry as they were cheap, readily available and could be converted easily to represent most any long arm from flintlocks to Civil War muskets. This Springfield Model 1873 .45-70-caliber was one of hundreds of rifles rented to William “Wild Bill” Wellman’s production of “Beau Geste” staring Gary Cooper.
Originally from the venerable J.S. Stembridge Gun Rentals at Paramount Studios, this Colt .45-70-caliber Gatling gun was used in numerous films, including the 1939 classic “Gunga Din” starring Cary Grant, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., and Sam Jaffe as the indomitable water bearer originally made famous by Rudyard Kipling.
The final shootout in 1969’s “The Wild Bunch” was unlike that of any movie preceding it. Receiving considerable screen time in this scene was a 1917 A1 Browning machine gun. The water-cooled firearm—a .30-06 from Rock Island Armory—was used by various cast members including Emilio Fernandez, who portrayed Mapache.
One of the replica firearms used in “The Wild Bunch” was this rubber copy of a Star Model B 9 mm. Film producers chose this particular gun because it closely resembled the Colt Model 1911, but was easier to blank adapt than the classic .45 ACP. This pistol was used by William Holden, who portrayed Pike Bishop.
NRA Board member John Milius wrote and directed the 1975 screen classic, “The Wind and the Lion,” which told the story of an American national being held for ransom in North Africa. The shotgun shown here—a Winchester Model 1897 12-gauge—was used by both Candice Bergen and Steve Kanaly with telling effect in the final climactic scene.
Loosely based on a real-life kidnapping, “The Wind and the Lion” starred Sean Connery, Candice Bergen, Brian Keith and John Huston. In a scene where a military intervention is used to force a negotiation, Steve Kanaly (as U.S. Marine Captain Jerome) leads the landing party, and this U.S. Model 1898 Krag Jorgensen Rifle .30-40 caliber is used by various members of the Marine Corps.