The HBO series, Westworld is based on a classic 1973 sci-fi movie of the same name about a theme park populated by humanlike robot inhabitants that help guests immerse themselves in themed “worlds.” There’s a Roman World and a Medieval World—the Old West themed park is called Westworld—and guests can do anything they want to the robots, because, heck, they’re robots.
As you may have guessed, the synthetic humans end up developing pesky things like thoughts and emotions, and turning on the abusive guests they’ve been forced to serve.
Gunplay is a big theme of the new adaptation of Westworld. In episode 2 we follow William (Jimmi Simpson) as he prepares to enter the park for the first time (in this version, the entire park, so far, is just the Old West themed world) and, after being clothed, is brought to a glass case of varying types of pistols from the era from which he could choose, along with various styles of pistol belts and holsters. But the rules of the world are stacked in favor of the guests—by a lot. They can shoot the synthetic humans, or hosts, but guests can’t be harmed by the hosts’ bullets. How this works isn’t exactly spelled out—robots are prevented from harming people by their programming, and when bullets from guns in the park do hit guests, they have the effect of training rounds or Simunition, but when they hit the robots, they do the damage of real bullets.
Colt Single Action Army
It’s the Old West and we’re talking pistols, so you know we’ll see the ubiquitous-in-every-western Colt Single Action Army revolver. A number of characters predictably carry a SAA, including one of the main host characters, Teddy Flood (James Marsden).
Production of the SAA began in 1873 as one of the first, and most successful, revolvers that was designed for metallic cartridges, and not a cap-and-ball design modified to be cartridge guns.
One of the most mysterious and interesting characters so far is Ed Harris’ villainous Man In Black. Most guests seem to visit the park to indulge their primal urges and to feel like they’ve traveled through time, without any of the risks—but The Man in Black has a deeper agenda. He plans to kill his way to a strange maze that he believes is at the center of the park.
And to do it, he carries some decidedly old fashioned hardware: a LeMat 1861 pistol.
The LeMat was something of an oddity, being a .42 or .36 caliber cap & ball blackpowder revolver invented by Alexandre LeMat of New Orleans. In the center of it’s nine-round cylinder was an unusual 20-gauge smoothbore barrel that could fire buckshot from an additional barrel below the pistol barrel. The pistol had only one trigger, but a switch was located on the hammer that allowed the user to activate the cap on the buckshot barrel.
It saw service with the armed forces of the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War and during the Franco-Prussian War.
In the show’s second episode, we get a good look at The Man in Black’s LeMat as he takes it apart to load it on a table in good daylight. We see that, while the real LeMat was a blackpowder gun, the pistol in the show has a cartridge cylinder, chambered for what appear to be .38 Short Colt ammunition and what looks like a 20-gauge brass shotgun shell.
The gun is likely a modern one produced by a company like Uberti, which makes replicas of many historic revolver models chambered for more easily found, modern ammo. Since the show takes place in the future in a theme park based on the Old West, it’s not technically a mistake.
As the Internet Movie Firearms Database points out, it looks like The Man in Black carries a whole additional barrel and cylinder assembly in another holster behind his primary holster. We haven’t seen him use it yet, but the logical assumption is that he uses it for faster reloads.
Remington 1866 Derringer
We see Maeve Millay use a slick Remington 1866 Derringer in the climactic town massacre shootout at the end of the first episode. The park’s writers had a problem to overcome: About 200 characters in the park had to be removed from the the storyline for software maintenance, so the writers just had most of the town wiped out in a bloody shootout. (Those are going to be some angry synthetic humans.)
CARBINES AND SUBMACHINE GUNS
We do get a glimpse of some modern weaponry in the hands of the Westworld security force—sort of a SWAT team working for the company that runs the park. They exist in the near future, and seem to prefer the P90 submachine gun as their firearm of choice.
The ones in the show are tricked out with rails, a tac light, and the lowers are sporting a bright red paint job, presumably to indicate they fire real ammunition and not the programmed ammo used by hosts and guests in the park.
Winchester Model 1873
We see a few Winchester 73 lever-action guns used throughout the show, notably by Terry who fires one from the hip to take out some marauders at a farm.
The guns in the park don’t function like real-world firearms. Pistols hit impossible targets and lever guns can be rapid fired from the hip and hit every target, because it serves the storyline. Would it be that much fun for most guests if they could only shoot as well as they can in real life?
Winchester Model 1873 Mare’s Leg
The Mare’s Leg is a purely Hollywood invention that was created for Steve McQueen’s character on the TV show Wanted: Dead or Alive (1958-1961). The original Mare’s Leg was made by cutting down the barrel and magazine tube of a .44-40 caliber Winchester Model 1892 and most of the stock was removed so it could fit in a leg holster and be fired one-handed. It was also fitted with a duck-bill hammer and enlarged lever loop at McQueen’s request.
In Westworld we see the desperado Hector Escaton (Rodrigo Santoro) carrying a Mare’s Leg in a scabbard on his back as a backup to his full-sized Winchester.
Versions of the gun have been seen in many films and TV shows since then, and replicas are made today by Eagle Squadron Productions, which starts with a Winchester 1892 carbine in .44-40 cut down, just like the originals were made. Since the barrel is shorter than 16 inches, owning one requires a $200 NFA tax stamp for a short-barreled rifle.
In 2005, J.B. Custom began marketing a “1892 Mares Leg Lever Action Pistol” that was made from scratch to size as pistols and are sold subject to handgun regulations, since they aren’t cut-down rifles.
In 2008 Legacy Sports International began selling their version, made by Chiappa in Italy and sold as the Puma 92 pistol chambered in several calibers. In 2010, Rossi Firearms began offering a Mare’s Leg under the name Ranch Hand chambered in .45 Colt, .44 Magnum, and .357 Magnum/.38 Special. The gun is manufactured by Taurus in Brazil.
We see a few Colt Model 1878 shotguns with coach-gun length, side-by-side barrels carried here and there, but the only shotgun that really has gotten any attention yet is a Winchester Model 1901 10-gauge lever-action shotgun used by one of the female raiders in the big shootout.
The hefty shotgun has made a number of screen appearances—most notably it was used by Paul Newman in The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean, Nicholas Cage in Ghostrider, and by Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator 2: Judgement Day.
We also briefly see a Winchester 1897 Riot Gun, an early 12-gauge pump-action shotgun, being unrolled from a bundle of other long-guns.
That’s a lot of hardware for just two episodes, so we hope to see a lot more guns and many more levels to HBO’s Westworld unfold. It airs on Sundays at 9 p.m. Check out the trailer for the original Westworld movie below: