The Guns of the New X-Files
UPDATE 1/3/18: At the dawn of 2018, we have had three, count them, three new Star Wars movies and now...
UPDATE 1/3/18: At the dawn of 2018, we have had three, count them, three new Star Wars movies and now a second “new” season of the ’90s supernatural TV series. Feelings are mixed on the show’s revived Season 10 with some hailing it as the return of their favorite show, while others were left perplexed by the loose overarching plot and the often bizarre, uneven standalone episodes.
But there was enough love for the new season that Fox ordered a Season 11, which premiers tonight at 8 p.m. EST. Check out the guns used by now-former FBI agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) throughout the show’s original run and the revival as well. After all, this may be the last time we see the duo on-screen, as Anderson said this will be the last time she steps back into Scully’s skin.
Five years ago, few of us would have thought that by February of 2016 we’d have a new Star Wars movie and a new incarnation of the 1990s TV juggernaut “The X-Files,” the TV series about FBI agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) who are the titular curators of the section of FBI cases deemed too bizarre to solve.
They made 90s-era brick-like cell phones and bad neckties an official part of TV history and nerd-dom, while paving the way for many of today’s TV procedurals. The X-Files are coming back to TV this month as a mini-series on Fox.
The 90s were a bumpy time for the FBI when it comes to firearms, and the show’s armorer actually reflected that in the weapon selections made for the main characters. From what we’ve seen, the agents are staying conventional when it comes to their firearms in the new limited series, opting for the currently issued Glocks, though the actors carry the 9mm versions instead of the .40 S&W versions really used by the Bureau.
At the beginning of the original series back in 1993, it was pretty clear the show was using whatever guns were available and most appropriate. Mulder carries a Taurus PT92 (a Beretta 92FS clone) until episode four. He only fires it once in the third episode, to chase away a pack of wolves. Several characters throughout the first season carry the Taurus as a stand-in for the government’s M9 pistol.
As of episode 5, Mulder switches to a Glock 19 GEN 2 for the rest of the first season, which is somewhat prophetic, as he is an FBI agent, but we’ll get to that later.
So when was the first time Mulder lost his gun (he’s not a bad shot, he just drops his gun. All. The. Time.)? Season 1, Episode 20, “Tooms” was the first time butterfingers let his pistol slide form his grasp in a narrow escalator maintenance tunnel while battling the uber-creepy bile-feeder Eugene Tooms, for the second time.
Agent Scully initially carried a somewhat odd sidearm, a Bernardelli Model 60 pocket pistol chambered in .32 ACP, which rides in her holster until the sixth episode of the first season.
After that, Scully also changed guns, not to a Glock but to a Manurhin PPK, a French clone of the German Walther PPK made under license from Walther.
The first time we see the PPK with brown grips is in episode 7, “Ice.” In episode 9, you can see the Manurhin with an obvious misfeed, pictured below, a common occurrence when using blanks on set.
Season 2 began the SIG-Sauer era on The X-Files.
Mulder begins carrying a SIG P226 in the first episode. This is actually almost the right gun for him to be carrying. Around 1988, the FBI adopted the P226 in 9mm for SWAT teams.
The SIG P228, also in 9mm, was then selected for general agent use, according to this article from americanrifleman.com.
Around the same time, the Bureau’s Hostage Rescue Team (HRT) adopted customized Browning Hi-Power pistols, which were later replaced with .45 ACP 1911 style pistols from Springfield Armory.
So, for the season airing in 1994-95, the SIG P226 is pretty darn close to accurate. By the end of Season 2, Scully switches to the SIG P228.
Reflecting the FBI’s flip-flopping on handguns and calibers during the decade, Mulder and Scully switch sidearms yet again a few episodes into Season 3, and for the first and only time, both carry the same handgun.
Mulder, Scully, and Assistant FBI Director Walter Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) all switch to the Smith & Wesson 5906 chambered in 9mm for this season.
Later, we see some S&W 5906s models with the rounded trigger guard as well. Both pistols got some heavy screen time in Quentin Tarantino’s “Reservoir Dogs.”
They were chosen because of their visual similarity to the Smith & Wesson 1076. The biggest difference is the Model 5906 pistols have a double-stack frame, while the larger, 10mm Model 1076 has a single-stack frame.
Interestingly, during two episodes of Season 3, Scully switches to the Manurhin PPK she carried in the first season when the FBI confiscates her duty pistol.
We also find out that Mulder sometimes carries a Walther PPK as a backup pistol in an ankle holster. (He must have gotten tired of losing his gun.)
Around the same time, in the real world, the FBI wanted to move away from the 9mm to a “more effective” caliber in the aftermath of the 1986 FBI Miami shootout, and opted for a .40 cal. handgun, but the only thing available back then in .40 cal. in terms of factory ammo was the 10mm, a pretty hot load for the average agent.
Still, the FBI began issuing the S&W Model 1076 loaded with downloaded 10mm cartridges with 180-grain jacketed hollow-point bullets.
The Bureau ordered 10,000 Model 1076 pistols for its agents, however, problems developed and the FBI received only 2,400 pistols before the contract was cancelled.
While they were busy doing all this, S&W and Winchester were busy collaborating on a super-secret project, the .40 S&W cartridge, but it would still take a few years to come to market. The 10mm ultimately proved too powerful and unwieldy for every-day FBI use, plus it required agents to carry large-frame, single-stack pistols.
The 10mm pisols were soon swapped out for SIG 226s in 9mm—SIG 228s were also issued, making the X-Files previous choice of handguns a bit prophetic.
In May, 1997, the FBI officially adopted Glock pistols chambered in the new .40 S&W round for general agent use.
Initially, G22 and G23 pistols were issued. The Model 23 GEN3 is the FBI’s current sidearm, which includes a rail that allows agents to attach a weapon light or laser. The only additional, personally-owned handguns now on the approved list for agents are the Glock 21 (full-size in .45 ACP) the Glock 26 (a sub-compact in 9mm) and the Glock 27 (a sub-compact in .40 S&W).
UPDATE 1/3/18: The FBI has since chosen a modified version of the G19 called the Glock 19M in 9mm for its agents that features a rounded muzzle, pebble-grain grip flats, finger slot for forced magazine extraction if necessary, an enlarged magazine base pad, and exchangeable beavertail backstraps for a more custom fit. The pistol also nixes the Gen4 finger grooves on the grip like the Gen5 Glocks we’ve seen so far.
Back to the show—in Season 4, the X-Files decided to settle down with all the armory changes and gave its characters the same SIG-Sauer models they carried in Season 2. Mulder put a P226 back in his holster and Scully got her P228 back, though for a few episodes that season, she inexplicably uses a P225. Both characters carry their SIGs until the end of the original run of the series.
They also carried their SIGs for the first X-Files movie, Fight the Future released in 1998 between the show’s fifth and sixth seasons, though they get very little trigger time.
By the time the second X-Files movie, I Want to Believe, came out in 2008, Mulder and Scully got even less trigger time in a film that was more of a terrestrial-based mystery. All the FBI agents in the film were appropriately carrying Glocks.
Now, the newest incarnation of the supernatural series will return to Fox for a six-episode mini-series event, simply being called The X-Files, like the original show. From the little footage that has been teased, we see Mulder and Scully are carrying the Glock 17 GEN 3 and the compact Glock 19, but are they reinstated in the FBI? Are they still partners? There are so many questions… and once again, the truth is out there.
The X-Files premiers on Sunday, January 24 at 10 p.m. on Fox after the NFC Championship game.
UPDATE: Now we know that Season 10 picked up right after the events of the X-Files movies, with Scully having returned to medicine and working as a surgeon, and Mulder becoming a hermit before being drawn back into the world of government conspiracies and creepy crawlers.
Mulder carries a Glock 17 9mm pistol while Scully carries the smaller Glock 19, which is closer to the bureau’s current real-life carry gun.
As far as Mulder and Scully being back in the FBI…yeah sorta? Scully is a full-time surgeon and Mulder is a full-time hermit at the beginning of the season, but by the second episode, they’re rocking suits and pistols again and working for Assistant Director Skinner, but it’s not clear if they’ve been reinstated or if they’re special consultants of some kind.
The first episode of Season 11 of The X-Files premiers tonight on Fox at 8 p.m. EST.
Check out the trailer for the new season below: