The Guns of Fargo (Movie and TV Show)
Prep for the 4th Season of the hit show by taking a tour through the guns of the original movie and the first three seasons
The Fargo universe began with the Coen Brothers’ Academy Award winning film released in 1996. Set in Minnesota, it was a sort of an off-kilter hard boiled crime story about a kidnapping gone wrong and $920,000 in a briefcase. Its tone was unique and a little twisted—but nobody could have known that 20 years later it would make for a great anthology style TV show. Let’s take a quick look at the guns from the original movie before we get into the series:
SIG Sauer P226
During the entire movie, the kidnappers, Gaear Grimsrud (Peter Stormare) and Carl Showalter (Steve Buscemi) use one gun, a nickel-plated SIG Sauer P226 pistol. We see a good closeup of it in the glovebox of their car before Gaear shoots the state trooper who pulls them over, and while Gaear is driving with it in his hand against the wheel. Carl uses the gun to kill Wade Gustofsen with a close shot to the torso when he meets him to pickup the ransom money for his daughter.
P226 Non Gun
Whenever the P226 is shown being fired at someone in the movie, it changes to a dummy flashpaper gun, likely due to the fact that every time the gun is fired it’s almost right up against an actor. Flashpaper guns were used for scenes like this to keep everyone on set safe. These days, they just add the muzzle flash and sound in post production—sometimes they even bother to animate the slide moving.
Smith & Wesson Model 36
In a role that nabbed her the Best Actress Oscar, Frances McDormand plays the very pregnant Brainerd Chief of Police Marge Gunderson. Because of her pregnancy, she carries her sidearm, a Smith & Wesson Model 36 revolver, in a shoulder holsters instead of on a gunbelt.
We only see her use to to shoot and wound a fleeing Gaear after she catches him feeding the remains of his buddy Carl into a woodchipper at the lakehouse.
Smith & Wesson Model 19
Strangely, after Marge fires the shot that wounds Gaear, she lowers the revolver and it has magically become a similar gun with a longer barrel. It looks like it could be the same S&W Model 19 that Wade Gustafson uses to shoot Carl in the face during the botched ransom money handoff.
Fargo – Season 1
The first season of Fargo feels a lot like the film. It’s set 10 years later, in 2006, in Bemiji, near the setting of the film. The plot is not directly related to the movie, though the Stavros Milos side plot does fill us in on what happened to the big bag of money from the movie that Carl buried in the snow by the barbed wire fence marked with the red ice scraper.
The story mainly concerns the repercussions of a double murder, with one of the victims being the chief of police, and a vicious assassin named Lorne Malvo, who ends up weaving himself into the narrative of a small town.
Both Bill Oswalt (Bob Odenkirk) and Chief Vern Thurman (Shawn Doyle) are seen wielding Colt Python revolvers as their sidearms. From what we see, it’s a standard, if not common, revolver carried by the Bemidji Police Department. At least, they all carry revolvers—in 2006, that’s a bit behind the times, even for a small department. The nearby Duluth PD, which is albeit larger, carries Glock 17s.
The only times we see the guns drawn are when Chief Thurman confronts Lester in his home and finds his murdered wife in the basement, and later when Oswalt and Molly are investigating the crime scene in Lester’s house.
Smith & Wesson Model 13
While the other deputies carry Pythons, Molly carries a Smith & Wesson Model 13. This is not to be confused with the S&W M13, which is a completely different gun. The Model 13 is simply a Model 10 with a thicker barrel and chambered in .357 Magnum. So, perhaps the department merely requires a sidearm be a .357 Mag and not much else.
She draws it several times throughout the season, and most notably uses it in the blizzard gunfight with Malvo, during which she is accidentally shot.
Officer Gus Grimly (Colin Hanks) of the Duluth Police Department carries a Glock 17 as his sidearm, as does the rest of the department. Gus isn’t really into being a cop, having wanted to be a mailman initially, but there were no openings, so he joined the police force. After accidentally shooting Molly during a blizzard with his Glock, Grimly decides its time to hang it up. He quits the force and ends up becoming a mailman.
The two ill-fated FBI agents who come in after much of the carnage started by Malvo and Lester is underway also carry Glock 17 pistols as their sidearms. This is correct for the time period.
Smith & Wesson Model 29
Gus gets a bit of redemption by the end of the season. Malvo returns to Bemiji to finish off Lester, but ends up getting his leg broken by a bear trap Lester sets for him. He makes it back to the house where he’s staying, but Gus is there, waiting, with an S&W Model 29 revolver in .44 Magnum that he found in Malvo’s things.
They talk a minute, calling back to a riddle about predators that Malvo told him when the first met, before Gus puts a full cylinder into him.
Double Barrel SxS Shotgun
The timid Lester uses a few guns in the show. At the beginning of the series, he owns a simple side-by-side 12 gauge double-barrel shotgun that we see him buy on a whim in a flashback at an Army Navy store on a trip to pick up some discount socks. His wife jabs him about shooting his foot off. He places the shotgun and the box of shells he bought with it on top of a hutch in the living room, and there they sit, until the night Lester murders his wife with a hammer.
He retrieves the gun, calls the mysterious Malvo who he met in the ER, and plans to kill him with the shotgun. His story will presumably be that he came home, found Malvo there having murdered his wife, and then shot Malvo.
Well, it doesn’t go to plan. The police chief shows up first on an unrelated matter, sees Lester is acting weird, looks down the basement steps to see his dead wife. He pulls his Colt Python on Lester, but Malvo has entered the house through the back door and picked up Lester’s shotgun that he left leaning in the corner. He shoots the chief once in the back, and then again in the chest when he turns around, killing him. A single shot pellet travels through the chief and enters the fleshy part of Lester’s right hand.
The wound later becomes badly infected with the pellet and a piece of cloth still in it, and is one of the main things that tips Molly off to Lester’s guilt and involvement in not only his wife’s murder, but also the chief’s.
Smith & Wesson Model 66
Once Lester commits to getting out of the jam he seems to be in, he really goes for it, sacrificing his brother and his family to do so.
His plan is fairly simple. First he breaks into his brother, Chazz’s, gun cabinet and takes one of his revolvers, a Smith & Wesson Model 66. After making sure its not loaded, Lester hides it in his young nephew’s backpack. Gordo unknowingly brings it to school, and the gun goes clattering across the classroom floor when he pulls his books out. Gordo is arrested, but worse for Chazz, the police come to search his home.
Daewoo K3 as an M249 SAW
Lester’s brother, Chazz, is as much of a jerk as Lester is a wuss. He makes a good living and has a bunch of toys, one of which is an illegal machine gun that he keeps hidden behind the main compartment of his gun cabinet housing his legal firearms. While it’s possible to own such a firearm legally, that’s not the case here, and Chazz makes it obvious, saying he bought it from a guy he knows in the National Guard at Camp Ripley. Chazz and Lester head out to the middle of nowhere one night to waste some ammo and Lester gets a good case of Full Auto Face.
The gun proves to be part of his brother’s undoing. When police search his gun cabinet, they find the secret compartment and the illegal machine gun. They also find a little cache of evidence planted by Lester when he took Chazz’s revolver. It includes items that indicate Chazz and Pearl were having an affair, as well as the hammer Lester used to kill her.
So Chazz is arrested, Gordo is in jail, and Lester seems to be free from blame. Of course, Molly doesn’t buy it.
At the end of the season, Lester has been expecting Malvo’s return for some time. In a particularly cowardly act, when he thinks Malvo might be waiting for him in his office, he sends his new wife in to open the safe and get their passports for a trip to the Bahamas wearing his red coat. Malvo shoots her in the head, thinking she’s lester.
When Malvo later comes for Lester again at his home, he’s prepared with a nickel plated SIG P226 and a freakin’ bear trap. He comes very close to actually killing Malvo, but merely severely wounds him.
So lets talk about the vicious hitman murderer who is Lorne Malvo. He’s kind of like another character from a Coen Brothers movie, Anton Chigur from No Country for Old Men, though he’s a bit more talkative and has more of a talent for blending in.
His violent whim gets the entire ball of the story rolling and results in a number of deaths that could have been prevented if he’d just never talked to Lester in the ER that day and started butting into his sad life.
At the end of the season, after a year passes off screen, a somewhat transformed Lester sees a somewhat changed Malvo in Las Vegas while he’s there to receive a sales award. Malvo is undercover as a dentist, a role he’s been playing for six months, even going so far as to propose to the woman who is with him.
When Lester confronts him in an elevator, Malvo uses a suppressed stainless Taurus PT911 pistol to kill his fake fiancé, and the couple they were hanging out with. Turns out the man was his target all along. Why he had to pretend to be a dentist for six months to kill this guy is a mystery, or maybe he had another goal in mind. Either way, Lester blowing his cover led him to the split decision to kill everyone present. He gets pissed when Lester runs off instead of helping him with the bodies.
When Malvo later returns to Bemiji to finish Lester off, he’s still using the Taurus.
Beretta 92FS Inox
When he smells the ambush by Mr. Wrench and Mr. Numbers, Malvo puts a Beretta 92FS Inox pistol on the passenger seat of the car, but it flies out of his reach when another car rams him. We never see the gun again.
Remington 870 Shotgun
One of Malvo’s more diabolical plans is how he decides to get rid of his stooge, Don Chumph (Glen Howerton). Malvo knocks him out and then thoroughly tapes him to a chair while he’s unconscious. Don wakes up and Malvo is finishing taping his hands to a stockless Remington 870 shotgun with the muzzle aimed at the front door.
Don, in a moment of uncharacteristic gutsiness, pulls the trigger when Malvo is in front of the gun, but it’s not loaded.
M4A1 Carbine Taped to a Chair
Malvo then goes over to an M4A1 carbine that he has taped to the top of a chair with the muzzle pointing out a partially open window in the front of the house. All the other windows have been covered with newspaper.
Then the plan becomes clear. Malvo fires a few shots from the M4 out the window at neighbors’ houses and cars, causing them to call the police reporting a nut shooting at random targets out their front window. Then he simply leaves. The SWAT team busts in and sees the silhouette of Gus holding a shotgun, and pepper him with 9mm rounds from their MP5s. No more Gus.
Heckler & Koch UMP
When Mr. Hammer and Mr. Numbers ambush Malvo during the blizzard, they are both armed with H&K UMP submachine guns with full-sized magazines.
Malvo gets the better of the hitmen, killing one, and taking one of the UMPs. He later uses it to carry out the crime syndicate massacre under the FBI’s nose before he splits town.
Fargo – Season 2
This season may actually be more violent than the second season. There are assassinations, massacres, crimes of passion—and a bunch of guns that had to be period specific for 1979, and the show does a great job of doing just that. Much like the first season, the plot is kickstarted by a triple murder in a diner and a suspect, who has mysteriously gone missing.
Colt Detective Special
The whole ball of wax really gets rolling when Rye Gerhardt (Kieran Culkin) the youngest brother of a criminal family in Minnesota, who is working with an underhanded typewriter store owner in a grift that is being held up by a court case regarding back taxes. Gerhardt tries to intimidate the judge overseeing the case at a roadside diner, and he fails miserably. The confrontation ends with the judge spraying him with an industrial sized can of mace, which flips a switch in young Rye. He pulls a nickel plated Colt Detective Special revolver that he was flashing around earlier and shoots everyone in the diner, including the judge, a cook, and a waitress.
The waitress is initially only wounded and staggers out into the snow, where Rye follows her and finishes her off. He sees something bizarre in the sky, and then is promptly hit by a car as he’s standing in the road.
There are quite a few lawmen in this season, but there are two primary cops State Trooper Lou Solverson, with Patrick Wilson playing the younger version of the character from Season 1, who was played by Keith Carradine. As a trooper, he carries a Colt Python .357 Magnum revolver, which he uses several times.
Smith & Wesson M&P Revolver
The other main cop in the story is Sheriff Hank Larsson (Ted Danson), who also happens to be Lou’s father-in-law. While Lou is a Vietnam War veteran, the older Larsson is a WWII vet—a contrast and similarity that comes up more than once.
Larsson carries a Smith & Wesson M&P revolver in .38 Special, and only draws it during the Massacre of Sioux Falls in the motel attack.
Bear Gerhardt, the oldest of the Gerhardt brothers, has a Walther P38 pistol when he’s not toting a shotgun. He most notably uses it when he takes Simone (Rachel Keller) for a ride out into the country when he finds out she’s been helping the Kansas City mob working against their family, like she’s Adriana from The Sopranos.
Remington 870 Shotgun and Colt AR-15 SP-1 Rifle
Bear likes to carry a shotgun usually, and he has a short-barreled Remington 870 pump gun in hand when he and his gang show up at the motel in Sioux Falls. You have to give Bear credit, he made it almost to the end of that massive gunfight.
Hanzee Dent (Zahn McClarnon), the Native American soldier for the Gerhardt clan who strikes out on his own and orchestrates the destruction of pretty much everyone involved in the conflict, uses a number of weapons throughout the season. He always has a fixed blade knife in a sheath on his belt, and in the second half of the season, while he’s on the road searching for the Blumquists, he’s armed with a slab-sided Colt AR-15 SP-1 rifle. This would have been a commercially available semi-auto version of the M16 in 1979, and, as a Vietnam vet, it would have been a rifle with which Hanzee was intimately familiar.
We also learn that he gets his skills with a knife from dispatching enemy soldiers with a blade while working as a tunnel rat in the jungle.
Smith & Wesson Model 10
Hanzee also keeps a Smith & Wesson Model 10 revolver on him at all times, a gun he may have used as a tunnel rat in the war.
In a memorable scene, and the beginning of a swath of violence, Hanzee pulls the revolver to shoot the two men who harass him outside of the little alley-way bar in the knees. He then walks back into the bar and kills the bartender with the revolver. On his way out, two state troopers pull up, responding very quickly to the first shots. Hanzee pulls the SP-1 from his truck and kills them both with one shot each, and simply drives away. He leaves the two men he shot in the knees alive.
Heckler & Koch P9S
Dodd Gerhardt (Jeffrey Donovan), the leader of the brothers, always carries a Heckler & Koch P9S pistol in a brown leather shoulder holster.
While its lines are quite futuristic and ahead of its time, the gun was actually first produced in the early 1970s, and by the time the season is set, it had already ceased production (1978). But, the gun’s looks have caused it to be in many movies and TV shows since.
Bear’s son, Charlie Gerhardt (Allan Dobrescu), shows Dodd he can shoot and reload even with his disabled hand, using the P9S in a field. Dodd uses the pistol on numerous occasions, but loses it in the basement magazine maze when he’s subdued and kidnapped by the Blumquists wielding a cattle prod.
SIG Sauer P225
In an ill advised move, Charlie tries to prove himself to his uncle and his family by killing “The Butcher” after the Gerhardts find out he’s ultimately responsible for Rye’s death. He walks into the back room after hesitating and talking to the woman at the counter for way too long, and pulls a suppressed SIG P225 pistol from his waistband. This is accurate, as the P225 was introduced in the mid 1970s.
He hesitates again while aiming at Ed, until the woman comes through the door and calls his name. Charlie fires a shot that misses and hits an electrical box on the wall. A shower of sparks ignites a barrel of something flammable beneath it and soon half the shop is ablaze. Charlie tries to fire another shot, but the gun has jammed, and with the use of only one hand, plus panic, he struggles to get it running again.
The Gerhardt gang member, Virgil (Greg Bryk), who drove Charlie comes through the back door with a CZ75 pistol. He fires one shot that ricochets and grazes Charlie on the head, putting him down. Virgil drops the gun when Ed slams him against a wall. The two fight until Ed hits him with a hammer and Virgil crawls through the smoke on the floor to his pistol. And then…Ed hits him with a cleaver.
Mike Milligan (Bokeem Woodbine) is the mouthpiece for the Kansas City mob after Joe Bullo (Matthew Garrett) is killed during the massacre in the woods. So, he does a lot more talking than shooting, which is why he has the Kitchen Brothers with him all the time.
But when he does need to pull the trigger on his own, he keeps a small double-barrel derringer pistol on a Travis Bickle type spring rig in his sleeve. He uses it to shoot a witness during the “false hit” on Otto Gerhardt outside his doctor’s office, and later to dispatch a Kansas City assassin known as The Undertaker when he arrives to replace him.
Heckler & Koch HK91 Rifle
When Milligan is gearing up for a big confrontation in Episode 6, he carries a Heckler & Koch HK91 rifle. The same gun is seen in Milligan’s hotel room, along with spare magazines, in the next episode, but we never actually see him use the gun.
An HK91 is also aimed by a Gerhardt gang member during the massacre in the woods in the fifth episode, but he doesn’t get a chance to fire it, taking a shotgun blast to the head from one of the Kitchen Brothers.
Ithaca 37 Shotguns
Before one of the worst hunting scenes ever depicted on TV, the gangsters and local officials lay out an array of firearms on a folding table near the trucks before heading out into the woods, which even includes a couple 1911s and a Beretta pistol. Apparently, when you go deer hunting, you just pick a random firearm, or a bow in one guy’s case, off a table and trudge off into the woods. The Kitchen Brothers choose two stockless, cutdown 12 gauge Ithaca 37 shotguns, which they use for the rest of the season.
We never once see the brothers reload their shotguns, and hardly ever see them cycle the pump action either. But they just keep shooting, despite the fact that those Ithacas only hold four shells in the tube. The guns are also shockingly destructive. A blast from one, at a decent distance, blows a man’s lower leg clean off.
I don’t know if that’s more offensive, or the method of deer hunting on display, which apparently involves walking in groups through the woods while having full conversations at normal volume, until you come to a clearing where you spot a doe and then draw and hold a recurve bow like it’s a compound bow for a shot that’s at least 60 yards. Luckily, in this case, the deer survive.
Winchester Model 70 Rifle
A couple of the ill-fated gang members on the “hunting” trip chose scoped Winchester Model 70 bolt action rifles from the gun table. The guys attacking them are all armed with what seem to be semi-auto firearms, putting them at a bit of a disadvantage.
Remington Model 700 Rifle
Joe Bullo ends up with a Remington Model 700 rifle with a scope, but considering his head ends up in a box, it must not do him much good.
Karl Weathers (Nick Offerman) carries a self defense pistol on his left hip in a crossdraw holster. He shows it to Hanzee when he finds him interrogating one of his mechanics with a straight razor about the Blumquists’ car. If you take a close look at the grip, it appears to be a German Luger P08 pistol, which is somehow fitting for Weathers, another veteran with progressive political ideals. He’s also an attorney.
The biggest shame is that there’s no Apollo Creed jokes made in the show about a dude named Karl Weathers. After all, Rocky came out in 1976 and Rocky II came out the year the season takes place.
Fargo – Season 3
Compared to the bloodbath that was Season 2, the third season of the show seems pretty tame in comparison. While the number of firearms is down, there are still a few memorable guns and there’s a good bit of violence. Instead of a double or triple murder, this time things get rolling with a simple case of mistaken identity—and one murder.
Shortened Remington 870 Field Model
In the ninth episode, we see the barrel of a Remington 870 Field Gun, with a ribbed barrel, being sawed off by hand. In the next episode, the same gun is being wielded by Nikki Swango (Mary Elizabeth Winstead).
Nikki and Mr. Wrench, a returning character from Season 1, use a quad-rail AR in full auto with a Magpul fixed stock during the theft of the semi-truck. We see the rifle again laid out on the bed of the motel room as the duo prepare for their big confrontation, along with the newly sawed-off shotgun and four handguns.
Officers of the Eden Valley Police Department carry Glock 17 pistols as their sidearms, including Chief Gloria Burgle (Carrie Coon). The County Sherrif Moe Dammik (Shea Whigham) also carries a Glock 17 as his duty sidearm.
In the sixth episode, we see Ray Stussy (Ewan McGregor) with a Beretta 92FS pistol when someone is at his door.
“We’re in trouble here. This is uh….the enemies are at the gates! Inside the gates. Fornicating with our cookware!”
Remington 870 with Surefire Weaponlight Forend
In the first episode, when Chief Gloria Burgle (Carrie Coon) finds Ennis’ dead body and hears a creak upstairs, she goes outside and grabs a Remington 870 from her car. The shotgun has a dedicated Surefire weaponlight handguard.
Smith & Wesson Model 36
In the first episode, a drunk Maurice LeFay (Scoot McNairy) pulls a Smith & Wesson Model 36 when he confronts Ray Stussy in Nikki’s bathroom after he robs the wrong house.
Fargo – Season 4
Fargo, Season 4 premiers on September 26 starring Chris Rock and Jason Schwartzman, among others. From what we’ve seen, it’s set in Kansas City back in 1950. The plot centers around two warring crime syndicates, one made up black migrants fleeing the Jim Crow South, and the other is the Italian Kansas City mafia. It looks like the law is represented by none other than Rayland Givens himself, Timothy Olyphant, playing Dick “Deafy” Wickware, though it’s not completely clear from the trailers.