Justified is really the story of two men from Harlan County, Kentucky who grew up amidst gun thugs and the criminal enterprises of their fathers, both less than reputable men.
They both dug coal together out of high school, until a cave in nearly claimed both their lives.
After, one went on to college and later to become a Deputy U.S. Marshal—the other joined the Army and came back to Kentucky to fill his father’s shoes after he is incarcerated.
When it comes to firearms, the show had to run the gambit from old rifles and shotguns likely kept in rural homes for generations, to modern sidearms issued by police and other LE agencies. First, let’s start with the “good” guys.
For Part 2 of Guns of Justified, click here
Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens
Raylan Givens, played by Timothy Olyphant, is a lawman in the tradition of Doc Holiday or Wild Bill Hickok—more of a modern-day gunslinger than a traditional lawman. He packs a semi instead of a Peacemaker, but he has the same sense of justice that drove the sheriffs of the Old West—and the same quickness on the trigger and a reputation for hardly ever missing his target.
At some point in his career, he was a firearms instructor at the U.S. Marshals training academy in Glynco, Georgia, further attesting to his skills with a firearm.
His career criminal father, Arlo, and stepmother raised him in Harlan County, Kentucky after his mother’s untimely death.
After a questionable on-the-job shooting in Miami, he is reassigned to the Marshals field office in Lexington, Kentucky. Once back in Harlan, our protagonist is haunted by the specters of his past. This includes his criminal dad, ex-wife, and an old friend that now heads a white supremacist gang, thus setting the stage for one of the best TV shows in recent memory.
In the opening scene of the first episode we find the series’ hero (antihero?) Deputy Marshal Raylan Givens sitting across the table from gunrunner Tommy “The Zip” Bucks, whom he had given 24 hours to get out of town the day prior. Raylan pumps a round from his Sig P226 from a seated quick-draw into his chest as soon as Tommy’s Glock 19, which he had on his lap during their terse conversation, clears the table.
A hint at the protagonist’s skills with a shooting iron, Raylin gets off three rounds before Tommy can squeeze the trigger. Even though the shooting was ruled “justified,” Raylan is sent back to his birthplace in the heart of coal country as punishment: Harlan, Kentucky.
We learn later that during Tommy and Raylan’s first run-in together, Raylan was forced to witness Bucks’ brutal murder of an innocent man with a stick of dynamite, just to prove a point. When Raylan next saw him in Miami, he issued the ultimatum, which Bucks should have taken more seriously.
The use of a Sig-Sauer here not only differs from the rest of the series, but also differs from what you would expect to find in the holster of a U.S. Marshal, as they are typically issued Glocks in .40 S&W.
Any time there is an officer-involved shooting, the firearm is taken for ballistic testing. Perhaps this is why, for the rest of the episode, Raylan carries a Colt Officer’s Enhanced Mark IV in his holster—possibly a personal handgun he’s using until he can get a new service weapon.
We see Raylan perform a one-handed brass-check on the Colt before heading out to save Ava Crowder, one of the show’s recurring female characters that goes from damsel in distress to gangster as the series progresses. You can tell Raylan appreciates fine firearms, having customized it wit a three-hole combat trigger, beveled mag well, and Novak sights.
As a Federal Marshal, the firearm that Raylan packs must fall in line with Government-issue guidelines. So it’s no surprise that Austria’s preeminent polymer pistol finds its way into his holster more often than not, but his choice of caliber is unusual.
Marshals Service guidelines stipulate a .40 S&W sidearm, though his everyday carry seems to be a Glock 17 (9mm) that he keeps at the ready in a strong-side draw position—a move he accomplishes quite quickly. For the show to be strictly accurate, we would see a Glock 22, 23, or 27 on his belt. Further confusing the issue, Raylan tells a judge in one episode that he carries a “.45 Glock,” which would mean he totes a G21, but the Glock 17 and 9mm markings can be seen clearly throughout the series.
He also keeps a Glock 26 holstered in the small of his back as a backup gun. This decision is no doubt driven by the 17’s and 26’s ability to share not only ammunition, but magazines.
The Berretta 92FS has seen plenty of service in the military, as well as law enforcement. It was the weapon of choice for Hunter Mosley, Harlan’s Sheriff. Unfortunately, Sheriff Mosley made a deal with Tommy Bucks’ cartel for Raylan’s head. Raylan settles the score by breaking Mosley’s wrist and taking his 92SF.
Raylan gets his hands on another 92SF in the season four finale, this time an Inox model carried by a Detroit Mafia thug. Raylan’s ex-wife is being being held as collateral until he takes them to Drew Thompson, a former member of their outfit that had been hiding out in Harlan under the name Shelby Parlow for decades.
Nearly every cruiser’s trunk houses a scattergun, and Raylan’s is no different. He grabs a Remington 870 with black plastic furniture to help dissuade a couple of hit men with designs on his and his ex-wife’s lives. The 870 has been issued to nearly every law enforcement agency in the States, as well as several branches of the military since it’s introduction in 1950.
In season four, Raylan is given a Mossberg 590 Mariner, loaded with beanbag rounds, by Deputy Marshal Rachel Brooks to incapacitate a bare-knuckle brawler that robbed him earlier. The shotgun is used during one of the series’ more humorous exchanges, as Raylan incapacitates the boxer and petty criminal with a beanbag, only to have his girlfriend take the gun and put a beanbag into Raylan’s back, before she puts a few more into the boxer’s chest, finally putting him down with a strike with the butt of the gun. The Mossberg 500 series has a long relationship with law enforcement agencies, though the Remington 870 is typically issued to Deputy Marshals.
What would a Western be without wheelguns? The third season sees Raylan removing a couple from bad guys. He grabs a Smith & Wesson Model 36-10 from a federal fugitive that he links to a series of robberies, and ultimately the Dixie Mafia.
Raylan also takes a Smith & Wesson Model 30 away from Wynn Duffy, a ranking member of the Dixie Mafia. In an effort to extract info from the mobster, Raylan empties all but one chamber of the S&W and threatens him with a game of “Harlan Roulette,” a deadly game created by a corrupt pawnbroker, which is a twisted version of Russian Roulette.
In season 3, the Dixie Mafia tries to turn the law against Raylan, attempting to frame him for the murder of his ex-wife’s newly-ex-husband. It would seem that Raylan has switched trunk guns, as the local homicide detectives pull out a Mossberg 500 when they toss his Town Car.
Some vintage iron does make an appearance, in the form of a Colt Dragoon. According to the pistol’s current owner, a mob accountant with expensive tastes, the pistol was a “3rd Model” that was owned by a Confederate general.
Much like most of America, the Mossberg 500 can be found in nearly every gun rack in Harlan County. Raylan is seen here with his Aunt’s shotgun, an AT model, when he cleans out his father’s house. She was holding the gun attempting to defend herself when she was gunned down by Dickie Bennet in Season 2.
The season one finale is aptly named Bulletville after the location of the Crowder family’s hunting cabin—true to the name there is no shortage of lead is thrown in this episode. During a heavy shootout at the episode’s climax, Raylan utilizes a H&K P2000 he has taken off a deceased thug, shooting both the compact and his service Glock in unison at times.
Chief Deputy Art Mullen
Art Mullen, played by Nick Searcy, is the Chief Deputy of the U.S. Marshals Field Office in Lexington, Kentucky. For more about how the U.S. Marshals Service is organized (it’s a bit different from other LEO agencies) go here.
Art first met Raylan when they served as firearms instructors at the Marshals’ Academy in Glynco, Georgia. Art’s leadership style when it comes to Raylan is definitively hands-off, thinking Givens will do his best to get out of Kentucky as soon as possible. After that doesn’t turn out to be the case, he resigns himself to the fact that, with the way Raylan behaves, he’ll likely be killed in the line of duty. This causes Art to separate himself from Raylan a bit, but he never doubts his skills with a handgun.
Art is a big shooter himself, often talking about his love for the range. At one point in the final season he has an exchange with a bartender who brandishes a bat at him and Raylan when they start asking questions.
Art: “You a ballplayer?”
Bartender: “No, I never really cared much for baseball.”
Art: “Me neither. The only sport I ever really cared about is target shooting…”
Because of his role as a federal law enforcement officer, a lot of Art’s firearm-related decisions are all but made for him by department policy and he packs a Glock 17 most of the time, like his fellow Deputy Marshals, though he prefers to carry his sidearm in a Galco shoulder holster—which, him being the Chief and all (and one with bad knees at that), it is usually draped over the back of his office chair or hung from the coat rack in his off near the Tombstone poster on his wall.
The Sig P226 was exceptionally popular with many federal agencies at one point in time. That was reflected in the choice of firearm for most of the Deputies in the pilot episode (which is pretty much the short story “Fire in the Hole” with a different ending), including Art. Deputy Rachel Brooks carries either a SIG P226 or a Smith & Wesson 5906 in the pilot. We see her using both at the episode’s climax, but more on that later.
Art has found himself around a revolver or two, like this Colt Python he taken from a mob hit man in season three. First introduced in 1955, Jeff Cooper thought of the Python as one of the finest production revolvers ever made. Also know as the “Combat Magnum,” the .44 Magnum revolver was discontinued in 2005.
In “Shot All To Hell,” Art and Raylan find themselves on the wrong end of a hitman with some serious firepower, namely an AA-12, which is a fully automatic 12-gauge shotgun.
After Art and Raylan use some skillful cover and movement maneuvers to get the drop on the hitman, Art takes a minute to admire his AA-12. Developed in 1972 by Maxwell Atchinson, the shotgun fires full-auto only at a rate of 300 rounds per minute, slow enough to allow for single shots with a brief trigger pull. The gun is currently produced by Military Police Systems, Inc. after they purchased the patent in 2005, and was prominently featured in The Expendables movies.
Deputy Marshal Tim Gutterson
Tim Gutterson (Jacob Pitts) is a former U.S. Army Ranger sniper who joined the U.S. Marshal Service after leaving the service. As a Ranger, he served as a sniper in both Afghanistan and Iraq. As a law enforcement officer, he continues in that role. If the situation arises, Tim can be found squirreling himself away in a hide with a bolt action, ensuring the team’s safety from a distance. His knowledge of tactics and IEDs also come in handy more than once.
While Tim got some trigger time and a few good lines in the pilot, he was kind of back-burnered through the rest of the first season, until the main characters could be established. In later seasons, he got some cool subplots and his character was revealed to have a wonderfully wry sense of humor that complimented Raylan’s really well. It’s also hinted that Deputy Gutterson has some emotional issues from his time at war and might drink a bit too much, though this never makes its way into his professional life.
He proves to be a deadly shot with a rifle or handgun and is often the man in the Marshals office Raylan turns to when he needs someone to trust—and to keep his mouth shut.
As a sniper in American law enforcement, it should come as no surprise that Tim often works with a Remington 700 bolt action rifle. He uses a 700 PSS to end the hostage situation in season one’s Riverbrook episode.
In season four, he uses a similar Remington, a 700 SPS, to punch holes in an abandoned car to create a diversion. Colton Rhodes (Ron Eldard), also an Iraq War vet who is working for Boyd Crowder, ambushed the Marshals’ convoy with a move similar to one he saw while in the Sandbox. A few well-placed shots and a Molotov cocktail start a blaze and blow a boobytrapped car, foiling the thug’s plans.
However, like most of the characters, he used something different in the pilot episode. His rifle, which he breaks out to deal with the Boyd’s very large Neo-Nazi thugs, who hold down the Deputies with full-auto fire while Raylan heads off to confront Boyd at Ava’s house, is a semi-auto Bushmaster XM15 “V-Match” fitted with an Aimpoint M68 Sight and a rear night vision scope.
Gutterson: “You want me to kill ’em or wing ’em.”
Art: “Let’s start with wingin'”
Gutterson then proceeds to wound both men in the truck, giving Deputy Rachel Brooks time to flank them with two pistols, forcing the thugs to surrender.
When it comes to handguns, like the rest of the Deputies, Tim packs a Glock 17, which is apparently the standard issue firearm for deputies in this universe. There is probably a practical purpose to using a 9mm instead of a .40 S&W for the TV show—armorers have long opted for 9mm pistols over larger calibers, as they are easier to make function and cycle with blanks, and easier for actors to handle as well.
In season four, we see Tim shift from the G17 to the more compact Glock 19, though the change is never addressed.
Tim is also at home shouldering a shotgun as he is with any other long gun. In Where’s Waldo, from season four, Tim keeps the peace with a Remington 870 Police outfitted a pistol grip and a weaponlight in the dedicated foreend.
Deputy Marshal Rachel Brooks
Rachel Brooks (Erica Tazel) grew up in Hendersonville, Tennessee with her sister and mother. The eldest of the two, Rachel was always left in charge of her sister, contributing to her sense of duty at a young age. After high school she went on to the University of Mississippi, landing at the Marshals Service shortly thereafter (in reality, most Deputy Marshals serve in some other law enforcement capacity before being accepted into the Marshals Service). She remains levelheaded and always exhibits grace under fire, especially when compared to the rest of her trigger-happy team.
In another departure from Marshals’ policy, Rachel packs a Glock 26. I can only guess that the reduced size of the subcompact model fits her smaller hands better. The 26 is also chambered in 9mm, so she can swap magazines with the rest of the team if needed.
Toward the end of the premier episode, we see Brooks wielding both a Smith & Wesson 55906 and Sig P226, though she never uses either handgun again on the show. The team of Deputies are on their way to protect, Ava Crowder, when they are intercepted by two white supremacists from the Crowder gang. Art, Rachel, and Tim engage in a firefight with the Nazis, while Raylan rushes off to save the lady and apprehend Boyd.
The season two finale is titled Bloody Harlan for good reason. All of the bad blood between the Crowders and the Bennetts comes to a head, two families that have been doing their best Hatfield and McCoy impression for generations.
Rachel is on scene; keeping things cool with a Colt Model 733 Commando. The 733 was is a transitional model with an 11.5″ barrel. The original Commandos were assembled from whatever components were available, including A2 or A2 style uppers.
Rachel’s has a short, pencil-profile barrel and a M16A1 upper receiver with a shell deflector. The upper is unique in that it has M16A1 sights and the forward assist and shell deflector from the A2 series.
Arlo Givens (Raymond J. Barry) is Raylan’s estranged father. It’s revealed later in the series that Arlo suffers from PTSD from the Vietnam War, and is bipolar, but has been an alcoholic and criminal for most of his life. He was abusive during Raylan’s childhood, and his son harbors some deep feelings of anger and hostility toward his father.
Arlo takes medicine to help control his mental condition as he gets older, but is prone to going off them—and the deep end. As a younger man, Arlo and Bo Crowder, Boyd’s old man, ran drugs through Harlan and coordinated other nefarious activities. After his long-time companion, Helen (Raylan’s aunt) is murdered, Arlo winds up working for Boyd Crowder, whom he begins to treat as surrogate son, which infuriates Raylan even more.
Arlo is an opportunist when it comes to weapons, using whatever is handy. This isn’t a problem in Coal Country, where every pick up has a deer rifle tucked behind the seat and a revolver in the glove box. In Bulletville (season one), he’s given a Smith & Wesson 586.
We once again see Arlo with a revolver in Coalition, season three. But this time it’s a starting pistol playing the part of the real thing. The gun in question seems to a Kimar Competitive, only capable of firing blanks.
Arlo uses a Remington 870 shotgun to help Boyd during a holdup, during which they relieve a rival family of their marijuana crop.
In the S2E8, a sniper opens fire on Arlo’s home. Helen tosses him what appears to be a Steyr SSG9 from the gun cabinet. However, aiming it would prove difficult, as the Picatinny rail is empty and no sights can be seen. The rifle is likely an airsoft replica, chosen by the prop department out of convenience.