The Animators of "Archer" Get Guns Right

Archer's animation is close to the cell-shading style
Archer's animation is close to the cell-shading style, which doesn't usually have much detail though the animators make sure the firearms in the show look like real guns.photo from fx.com

The animated cast of FX's "Archer" is returning for the spy spoof show's seventh season. At its heart, Archer began as a pretty solid James Bond spoof, with a lot of bizarre humor to fold over main character Sterling Archer's destructive habits, mother issues, rampant drinking, numerous sexual encounters, uncanny combat prowess, and the uncanny ability to always come out smelling like a rose.

After seven seasons, any show has to shake up the formula a bit. At the end of Season 6, which was itself a direct parody of “Fantastic Voyage” (1966), it seemed almost certain that Archer and friends' spying days were officially over. So what’s next? This trailer, modeled after the intro to Magnum P.I., might be a hint as to the show’s new direction.

No matter what, it looks like there will be plenty of action to go with the laughs, and that means more guns. Archer's animators have always made an effort to model the firearms they include (one of the show's running themes is a bevy of anachronisms, including Walthers and Mauser Broomhandle pistols being features alongside Tech-9s and Desert Eagles) after real guns. And most of the time, they get it right.

We’ll put the first season aside for now, as the animation all-around was less than stellar. Once the show took off and got some funding, the quality of the animation grew by leaps and bounds, and one of the big changes for season 2 was that the guns started looking like real guns instead of generic gun-shaped objects, and the slides on the semi-autos actually moved when the guns were fired. These days, the guns are spot-on to extent that serial numbers and gunmaker stamps are often visible.

Below are some of the staple arms featured regularly on the show. Season 7 premiers on March 31 and past seasons can be streamed through various services like Netflix.

First up is Sterling Mallory Archer’s constant companion, the very 007 Walther PPK pistol. Though these days the little SA/DA pistol is chambered in .22LR or .380 ACP, but Archer’s is vintage, chambered in the old-school .32 ACP.

Sterling Archer firing his Walther PPK in .32 ACP.
Sterling Archer firing his Walther PPK in .32 ACP.photo from imfdb.org

Lana Kane, the only other capable secret agent in the group, is a big fan of the TEC-9 full auto pistol. She’s often seen carrying two TEC-9s in a shoulder rig and, according to rumors, her nickname in training was “Ol’ Spray and Pray.”

Lana Kane and her twin TEC-9 machine pistols.
Lana Kane and her twin TEC-9 machine pistols.photo from imfdb.org

Though most of the characters are seen using a lot of different firearms throughout the series, each character has their favorites. The materfamilias, Mallory Archer, gravitates toward something a little more traditional, with a lot of modern features. She often packs a Smith & Wesson Model 629 in .44 magnum outfitted with Hogue grips, a matching stainless-steel scope, and a laser sight.

Mallory Archer and her Smith & Wesson Model 629.
Mallory Archer and her Smith & Wesson Model 629.photo from imfdb.org

The animators even take the time to make sure Dr. Krieger's healthy arsenal of tranquilizer guns are drawn to spec. They're based on the Palmer Cap-Chur Short Range Projector. Sometimes, Krieger uses a modified version that feeds from a magazine. Neat fact: It's the same tranq gun Will Ferrell accidentally shoots himself with as Frank the Tank in "Old School."

Dr. Krieger and his tranquilizer gun.
Dr. Krieger and his tranquilizer gun.photo from imfdb.org

Archer's gotten around, using everything from a reproduction of Steve McQueen's Mare's Leg cut-down rifle to an homage to Ripley's M41A Pulse Rifle from Aliens, renamed the M41 Mark 2 Plasma Pulse Rifle for the show. But he's got to start opening his eyes when he shoots.

Archer with a version of the M41A pulse rifle from *Aliens*.
Archer with a version of the M41A pulse rifle from Aliens.photo from imfdb.org
Archer's version of Steve McQueen's Mare's Leg cut-down rifle.
Archer's version of Steve McQueen's Mare's Leg cut-down rifle.photo from imfdb.org

To see more of the massive arsenal of Archer, check out the Internet Movie Firearms Database here.