Replica guns, especially airsofts are increasingly being used in movies and television. Partly this is due to the reduced cost and ready availability of these weapons, but also because of insurance and safety issues around real weapons and blank firers. Brandon Lee was killed during filming of The Crow in 1993 in an accident involving a real pistol firing blank rounds and there have been a number of lesser injuries involving blank firers. When replicas are used, modern special effects technology allows muzzle flashes, ejected rounds, bangs and gore to be added during post-production editing to keep things looking realistic.
This isn’t intended to be an exhaustive list and isn’t in any particular order. It’s just a listing of some films and a television series I have seen which prominently feature replica weapons. I hope it will encourage you to play “spot-the-replica” next time you watch an action movie or TV feature. A word of warning from personal experience though – your better half may be less than delighted if you interrupt some vital scene to excitedly point out the use of a replica, so some viewer discretion may be required.
The Raid (2011), known as The Raid – Redemption in the US
This low budget Indonesian action movie features the little-known martial art of Silat. It’s a cracking movie which makes most action/martial arts films look wimpy or unrealistic or both. The plot features a SWAT style police team who become trapped in a semi-derelict apartment block controlled by a ruthless gangster. The first half of the film features lots of gunfire, though in the second half the SWAT members are forced to defend themselves with knives, fists, feet and random items of furniture as they run short of ammunition.
Ruthless gangster, police officer and (I think) Tanaka Smith & Wesson M37.
All the weapons used in The Raid are airsoft replicas, and in a few scenes you’ll notice the brass inner barrels, particularly on some of the pistols.
Green Zone (2010)
Green Zone is a Matt Damon action movie which sees him star as a US Army officer who goes rogue as he searches for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. It isn’t a bad movie, and is certainly more thoughtful than most in this genre. It’s mentioned here because many of the weapons used are clearly airsofts. In some scenes the CAR-15s used by the US special forces clearly show a white Armalite trademark, indicating that these guns are produced by Classic Army, a Hong Kong based airsoft manufacturer. The same markings can be seen on an M24 sniper rifle and an M16A4/M203 indicating that these too come from Classic Army.
Scene from Green Zone – trooper on the right is carrying a Classic Army CAR-15
28 Weeks Later (2007)
28 Weeks Later is a sort of sequel to the 2002 Danny Boyle zombie movie 28 Days Later, though it features very few of the original characters. It’s OK if you like fairly mindless zombie shoot-em-ups, but doesn’t really have anything new to say. The movie features a number of airsoft replicas, notably M4A1s. These are easily identifiable as Classic Army products because of the white Armalite trademarks on the side and in some shots the winding wheel on the base of the high capacity magazines is also clearly visible.
Scene from 28 weeks later showing Classic Army M4s
Sherlock (TV series, 2010 -)
In this wonderful BBC TV series, Watson (Martin Freemen) owns a SIG-Sauer P226R, which it is hinted, is retained from his time in the army (presumably it’s meant to represent a SIG-Sauer L105A2, which was the British Army’s standard issue sidearm when the series began). Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) borrows the pistol on a number of occasions, notably using it on one occasion to shoot holes in the walls of his flat when he is bored. The actual pistol used is an airsoft Tokyo Marui P226R.
Sherlock uses Watson’s pistol to simultaneously break every known gun safety rule and UK firearm law. Lucky then that it’s just a TM airsoft pistol with added special effect muzzle flash.
Pedants have also noticed that Watson’s pistol has a missing upper left grip screw and wear on the paint on the de-cocking lever. Which makes it easy to spot the same pistol appearing as a prop on several occasion as supposedly different pistols used by various “baddies” in the series. You’d imagine that the BBC could afford more than one airsoft for a whole series!
Watson’s Tokyo Marui P226R with missing grip screw.
Salt is a routine action thriller featuring Angelina Jolie as a CIA agent who is forced to go on the run after a Russian defector accuses her of being a spy. It’s a run-of-the-mill affair, and I only mention it here because several airsoft replicas are used throughout and late in the film Angelina’s boss, Agent Winter (Liv Schreiber) produces what is identifiably a KJ Works SIG-Sauer P229.
Agent Winter and KJW P229
Right, that’ll do for now. I hope this has inspired you to look out for replica guns in movies and TV. It shouldn’t be difficult because these are becoming so common that it will soon be more difficult to spot real weapons in movies!