Miculek Channels Arnold and Flip-Cocks a Lever Action

It’s always a bright day when shooting champ and speed shooter Jerry Miculek comes out with a new spoof video.

Last time, he was hunting raptors in Jurassic Park and before that he was taking headshots like the characters in AMC's "The Walking Dead."

This time he’s stepping into Arnold’s shoes as the T-800 from “Terminator 2: Judgement Day” and letting us know if you can really “flip cock” a lever-action Winchester Model 1887/1901 shotgun as in the movie.

The way Arnold used his shotgun became the standard cool way to cock a lever-action, and is even the default animation for the gun in the “Call of Duty” video game series. But can it be practically done by a normal human?

Well, many shooters feel that Miculek isn't your average human, but he'll do. And we always suspected that he really was that shredded under his shooting shirt. Fans of the movie will dig the send-up of the gun counter scene from the first "Terminator," complete with a replica of the AMT Hardballer. 45 Longslide with the first laser sight made by the company that would become SureFire. And if you can pick up the "Back to the Future" reference in their exchange, you get double points.

If you’re not familiar with the scene, here’s the evil T-800 doing his thing.

According to the Internet Movie Firearms Database, there were three Model 1887s on the film's set. One was a sawed off, stockless shotgun with a normal-sized lever loop and the trigger guard cut out (this is the infamous Rosebox Shotgun from the hallways scene). The second was the same, but with a large lever loop so it could be flip-cocked. The guns actually switch back and forth, making a bit of a continuity error. The third was a rubber prop gun for stunts. IMFDB says Arnold accidentally picked up the shotgun with the small lever loop on the set and almost broke three fingers trying to flip-cock it.

When you see Jerry do it in the video above, you’ll notice he keeps his trigger finger extended through the entire motion. The trigger guard is removed so that when the gun returns to the firing position, the shooter doesn’t have to wiggle his trigger finger back into the guard and instead can just curl it onto the trigger.

Miculek, unlike the Terminator, is careful to keep his body to the side, so he doesn’t muzzle his shoulder and torso as the gun comes around, though anyone behind him should get out the way post haste.

Extra kudos to Miculek’s team for using what looks like silver clay to replicate the liquid-metal T-1000’s head. Jerry pulls off the flip-cock with aplomb, but can he do it from atop a motorcycle going 40 mph?

The Shotgun

The original Winchester Model 1887 was only produced for four years. It originally came chambered in 12-gauge with a 5+2 round tubular magazine. It was designed for old blackpowder shotshells and couldn’t handle the pressures of the earliest smokeless propellants. Consequently it was redesigned as the beefed-up Model 1901, but was offered in 10 gauge only, before it was discontinued. The gun was quickly eclipsed by the more popular pump-action shotguns of the time.

So here's the rub. Most people, literature, and behind-the-scenes content refer to the shotgun used in "Terminator 2" as a Winchester 1887 including IMFDB. But, if the 1887 could only handle low-power, paper-hulled, black powder shotshells, then it's not exactly a great choice for a main weapon in the 1990s.

However, if the guns in the movie were indeed 1901 models, the choice would make a bit more sense. And that would also mean the screen gun is a 10 gauge, as those are the only shells the short-lived 1901 could chamber. From this photo below, I could buy that is a 10-gauge bore.

In a special-effects good, the T-1000's liquid metal head starts coming apart before Arnold fires his Winchester, proof it was a practical effect and not early CG.

But, as keen-eyed Internet observers have noted, characters are seen loading what are obviously 12-gauge shells into the shotgun at various points in the film. Was one gun an 1887 and the other a 1901? It looks like the production crew was certainly looking high and low for this particular gun during pre-production, including 1901s.

An interesting story from a blogger says James Cameron's people came calling about his Winchester 1901 as his wife was in the process of purchasing it for him as a gift. The gun dealer opted to sell it to her instead of to the production crew because "she wasn't going to cut it up," he says.

So what’s the answer? The two models are identical in outward appearance, though they have different markings and the 1901 has a two-piece lever, but I couldn’t find any photos from the movie that were clear enough to tell what's what. But, if it is in fact a 10-gauge, it can’t be an 1887. And what about the 12 gauge shells?

More than likely, the gun Arnold uses is a Model 1901, 10-gauge shotgun, not an 1887, 12-gauge. Its is very rare that shooting a scene would require an actor to load blank shells that would then actually be fired, and if they are called on to do it (like in Michael Mann’s “Heat”), it is in highly rehearsed and controlled. The 12-gauge shells seen being loaded are likely dummies, just used as generic shotgun shells. After all, 12-gauge shells wouldn’t have a problem fitting in a 10-gauge mag tube.

Currently, the gun companies, Chiappa and Norinco, manufacture modern reproductions of the 1887 series shotguns, including a Terminator-esque cut-down model, with different barrel lengths (and a rifled barrel option) and different grips.