So you’re watching your favorite action movie and the lead hero is putting shots on target like it’s going out of style. He’s using and swinging those guns around like they are part of his own body. The way he is doing this, it might seem the guns he is wielding are light.
To me, it seems like anyone can just take ahold of these weapons and use them easily. Of course, with a bit of firearm experience under my belt, I can tell you that most firearms are not easy use and can be quite heavy with – especially long rifles.
Now this makes me curious and got me asking myself so questions: Do prop guns weigh the same as real guns? What are prop guns made out of? How different are prop guns than real guns?
What are prop guns?
Prop guns are fake firearms used as theatrical movie properties and used by actors or set decorators in a movie or film. So yes, all guns in movies are props. Granted, there have been some accidents in the past. Great safety measures go into play when making sure the set is safe from actual firing weapons.
Prop guns are different from real guns for the most part and they can be classified in 3 different categories:
Blank firing Guns
Blank firing guns are in a sense real guns. They are regulated the same way as real guns and come with the same laws. These guns just do not fire a real round. They fire blanks only. They look and feel the same as real guns. This is a good thing and a bad thing because many people could mistake these blank guns for real guns. The the accuracy of these props are on point which cause the confusion.
Replica guns a look-a-like guns that are not actually guns at all. They don’t shoot or mimic shooting at all. Some might have moving some moving parts but for the most part, just resemble the gun they are replicate. Replica guns can be made with various materials including plastic, metal, resin, and/or rubber. This would also equate to the lightweight handling for many prop gun seen in movies.
These are very similar to replica guns. The thing that makes these prop guns different are that they are manufactured with artificial shooting mechanisms to look AND function like the real thing. Some have blowback mechanics charged with CO2 to simulate firing the gun to make the scene seem real. Some of these special prop guns even simulate muzzle flash and have adequate sound coming from the prop.
Are prop guns less expensive than real guns?
The cost of prop guns depend on what kind of prop gun it is and the work that has gone into making it. Many prop guns are made custom since real gun manufactures don’t make fake guns. On average, most prop guns are priced much lower than their real counterpart. But, again, this is all based on what you want the prop to do and who it is made by.
Is it possible to buy prop guns?
Yes. Since prop guns are not real guns (except blank guns), replica guns can be purchased pretty easy online. Amazon has a number airsoft and other replica guns for purchase. Since these are not real firearms, you do not need a background check or things like that. Granted, some states do have some limitations on how you can use and or get the replica shipped to you but generally you will not have to go through many hoops to get them.
Here is a comparison table on prop gun vs the real counterpart:
Real AK-47Century Arms RI3284-N
- Capacity: 30 rounds of 7.62x39mm
- Muzzle velocity: 715 m/s
- Manufacturer: Kalashnikov Concern and various others including Norinco
- Produced: 1948–present
- Barrel length: Overall length: 415 mm (16.3 in); Rifled bore length: 369 mm (14.5 in)
- Rate of fire: 600 rds/min
Custom Ak-47 ReplicaResin AK-47 Replica
- Resin is less flexible than rubber, but more durable.
- Scaled and detailed exactly like the real life counterpart
- Solid cast resin replicas are accurate, highly detailed, steel reinforced, and impact resistant.
- Emulate the feel, weight, and balance of the actual weapon.
- Specs: Height: 9.75″, Length: 35.5″, Weight: 6 lb
Airsoft AK-47Double Eagle AK 47 Airsoft Gun
- Full Metal Body, Extraordinary Realistic Feeling! No others is better than this!
- Magazine hold 45 Rounds
- Adjustable Hop Up Technology for Best Accuracy
- Shoot 220 fps w/ 0.12gBB, Very Fast Shooting 400 rounds per minute
- This product is restricted from shipment into the state of New York
Getting a good sense of prop guns
Getting a better sense of what prop guns are and how to tell the difference between them is much easier to determine if you see them in action. I did some research and came across a number of videos that explained the different types, how they are made, and how movie producers generally use them in their films.
Check out these prop gun videos:
Since real firearms come at a tremendous cost to film and movie producers, these guys produce working airguns to fit the needs of the action movie without the cost. They sell a large assortment of very realistic looking guns that do not require a firearms license to transport or use on set, many of which function and look exactly like the actual firearm they replicate.
Using Gun Props on Set
Airguns have their purpose but sometimes there needs to be a variety of different types of prop guns to achieve what is desired for the film and for the film budget. This video talks about using all the different types including spring guns and air/gas blowback guns. Informing the authorities before filming is a must.
Prop guns have been around for a long time. The film industry has been using prop guns of all types for many years. Blank guns were more common back-in-the-day but have been changed out for the replica mechanical or gas blowback airsoft types because of safety concerns.
Feel free to get yourself one if you want to see one for yourself. They are generally cheaper and are not regulated the way normal firearms are. Just be careful where you take it. Most people will not realize that it is a prop gun and not a real gun. The police will not know either.
Have fun and remember, Practice Makes Proficient.