A great deal of effort went into selecting the correct weapons for the people of Rejection Nevada to use in their 1889 struggle against Dirt Dragons. In making one of the few monster movie westerns we had a unique opportunity to showcase the legendary weapons of the old West in a new and exciting way. We went for historical accuracy and you’ll see it followed through when you play our exciting Tremors 4 game Dirt Dragons. We made every effort to correctly represent the actual effective ranges and reload times of the weapons so you can really get a feel for what it would be like to face off against Dirt Dragons in the old West.
- Henry 1860
- Smith And Wesson Model No. 3 top break
- Sharps Pepperbox
- Remington Mark III
- Remington 1875
- Colt Single Action Army (Peacemaker)
- Winchester 1873
- Winchester 1886
- L.C. Smith Shotgun
- Sharps 1874 Buffalo Gun
- Remington No. 1 Rolling block
- Harrington and Richards single shot
- Colt Gatling Gun
- Punt Gun
In 1860 Winchester plant superintendent Benjamin Tyler Henry patented this lever-action rifle which used self-contained metallic cartridges of his design. The tubular magazine mounted under the 24 inch barrel held fifteen cartridges but if a round was chambered before loading the magazine the Henry held 16 rounds and was aptly referred to with its common nickname of “sixteen-shooter”. In practiced hands the Henry could fire one shot per second because working the lever loaded a fresh cartridge and cocked the rifle in one operation. The Henry was viewed as being difficult to load under battle conditions and susceptible to chambering problems when dirt got into the mechanism. If the user needed more than 15 shots quickly, other weapons were often recommended. In Tremors 4 Christine uses this weapon in the final battle.
Smith And Wesson
Model No. 3 top break
Old Fred’s handgun is the Smith and Wesson top break .44 caliber single action revolver most commonly known as First Model American. It was called a top break because it had a latch just in front of the hammer. When the latch is released the Barrel and cylinder tip down and an automatic extractor expels the shells. This makes the weapon fast to load but wasteful if all rounds were not fired since any unspent shells are ejected along with the used ones, which one would then have to pick up and dust off. This is the main reason the US army picked the slower loading Colt Single Action Army as their primary weapon.Buffalo Bill Cody purchased an American in 1874 and Wyatt Earp was said to carry one at the Shootout at the O.K. Corral.Smith and Wesson also made the top break in.45 caliber Schofield. This handgun was considered to be one of the most accurate target pistols of the 19th century.
Gun maker Christian Sharps patented the basic design for the Sharps Pepperbox in 1859. It used 4 barrels arranged in a square pattern. The barrels slid forward on the frame for loading and were then locked into place for firing. The gun is unusual in that the barrels did not rotate. Instead, the firing pin on the hammer face was rotates by the use of a pawl on the side of the hammer, firing a different barrel each time the gun is cocked.. This design was somewhat more reliable than conventional revolvers of the era and gave rise to many imitations. Hiram fires the smallest Sharps, a .22 caliber, in the muling station sequence.
For more information on the Sharps Pepperbox please visit this site.
Remington Mark III
Remington Mark III Single shot 10 gauge pistol. This is Lu Wan’s huge handgun. Hiram calls it a “derringer” when he hands it to her, but this is meant as a joke. She uses it to blow off the tentacle head when she and Fu Yien are attacked in the wagon. This is an impressive looking weapon but in reality its only purpose was to fire a special shell which would propel a signal flare into the air. This gun is also slightly out of period because it was actually manufactured from 1915-1918. But S. S. Wilson and Michael Gross loved it so much they decided to use it anyway, theorizing that such a pistol could have been made by any competent gun maker of the period.
Tecopa’s handguns are Remington 1875 Single Action Army revolvers. They are six shot, 45 caliber, with 7.5″ barrels. Remington intended this weapon to compete with the Colt Single Action Army but it was never widely used by any branch of the military.
Colt Single Action Army
This handgun was first issued to the U.S. cavalry in 1873 with a 7.5″ barrel chambered for a 45 caliber cartage. The civilian version of the weapon was released in the mid 1870’s as the Peacemaker and quickly became the sidearm of choice in the west. The cylinder held six rounds but one chamber was typically left empty because there was no safety. If the gun were dropped, or anything (like a tree branch) accidentally struck the hammer, the pistol easily could go off, even in its holster! Leaving an empty chamber under the hammer was the safest alternative.
Many of the most famous/infamous characters of the era used the Colt SA, including Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday and the Dalton gang. Later issues of the gun offered different barrel lengths and several smaller calibers. The single action design of this gun limited the firing speed compared to some other weapons of the era but it delivered rounds with deadly accuracy and a hefty punch. Otherwise referred to as a “Frontier,” “Equalizer”, “Six Shooter,” or “Hogleg” this weapon is arguably the most popular handgun ever made. In our movie, it’s Black Hand Kelly’s weapon of choice, and he gives one to Hiram for target practice. Juan also packs the Peacemaker in the film.
The Winchester 1873 is perhaps the most popular lever action rifle of the era. Over 720,000 were manufactured over a period of 50 years in a range of calibers and barrel lengths. The standard 24″ barrel made the 1873 a very popular saddle gun for cowboys. This weapon was immortalized by James Stewart in the film “Winchester ’73”. Big Horse Johnson fires a .44 caliber Winchester 1873 at the mini-Graboids in the camp scene.
John Moses Browning (of machine gun and auto-pistol fame) designed this highly improved and powerful weapon. Unlike the weak toggle-link actions of preceding Winchesters, the ’86 incorporated two solid steel locking lugs that slid up on either side of the bolt when the lever was closed, thus making a rock-solid arrangement for the longer-cased big-bore cartridges that were gaining in popularity, specifically the .45-70 Government. An added benefit of Browning’s design was the action, said to be, “smooth as warm butter and faster to cycle than any other Winchester before it”. The 86’s admirers included such people as Admiral Perry (who took one to the South Pole), William Chandler (who took one to Africa), and Theodore Roosevelt (who took one everywhere). Juan and Black Hand both fire this big bore rifle in the muling station.
L.C. Smith Shotgun
Our L.C. Smith stub twist 10 gauge coach gun (photo approximate), is one of many short, big bore, double-barreled guns favored by the men who job was to protect passengers and cargo on the West’s overland stagecoaches (hence the term, “riding shotgun.”) This heavy-hitter is used by Tecopa in the final battle.
Sharps 1874 Buffalo Gun
Sharps 1874 Buffalo Gun unofficially accounted for more one-shot kills than any other weapon known. Buffalo and other large game hunters routinely reported nearly a 100% kill rate per cartridge fired. Many gunfighters were former buffalo hunters and carried this weapon for their long range needs. Buffalo hunter Billy Dixon made a famous 1500 yard shot which wounded an attacking Indian at the battle of Adobe Walls using a .50 caliber Sharps. The weapon became known as “Old Reliable” and the company itself began stamping the barrels with this popular nickname. The Sharps is a single shot breach loader. Opening the breach would eject the spent shell in preparation for the next round. The Sharps also had a double set trigger. Pulling the rear trigger set the front “hair” trigger to discharge the weapon at the slightest touch, an advantage when holding the rifle steady for a long-distance shot.
Before the advent of the Sharps rifle, buffalo hunting often meant riding along side a running buffalo and firing repeatedly at the animal until it dropped. This was not only dangerous but also stampeded the herd, which greatly limited the number of kills. The great accuracy and stopping power of the Sharps allowed hunters to quietly drop buffalo at a distance of hundreds of yards without alarming the herd. Skilled hunters could often kill 50 or more animals before wounding one and causing a stampede.
This is the rifle Juan uses in the final battle. In reality it was 45-70 caliber but we called it .52 caliber in the film because it sounded cooler, and could still have been a custom loading.
Remington No. 1 Rolling block
The Remington Rolling Block was made to compete with the likes of the Sharps 1874. This rifle came in several different calibers and configurations including Sporting No 1. (pictured), Long Range Creedmoor and Mid-range Target. This is the gun Pyong Chang fires from the back of the steam traction engine during the final battle. It fired 45-70 blanks, but we called it a 45-120 in the film, which was another Western era big bore cartridge for which the rifle could have been made.
Harrington and Richards single shot
The Harrington and Richards single shot shotgun is Lu Wan’s behind-the-counter gun. It is also seen when Fu Yien runs out of the store carrying it, hoping to join the battle.
Colt Gatling Gun
The first Gatling gun was invented and built by R.J. Gatling in 1862 and patented in 1865. Colt’s Armory in Hartford, Connecticut then produced the weapon for the military. The gun has 10 barrels which revolve inside of a supporting frame. As the barrels revolve, an ingenious mechanism automatically loads cartridges , cocks the hammers, fires each barrel in turn, and ejects the empty shells in one continuous motion, all powered by simple hand-crank turned by the gunner. The Gatling gun used in the film was a genuine antique 45-70 caliber Colt made before 1900 — and it worked flawlessly.
In the early 1800’s the mass hunting of waterfowl to supply commercial markets with meat became a widely accepted practice. In addition to the market for food, women’s fashion in the mid 1800’s added a major demand for feathers to adorn hats. To meet the demand, professional hunters developed custom built extremely large shotguns (bore diameters up to 2″) for the task. These weapons were so cumbersome that they were most often mounted on long square-ended flat-hulled boats called punts. Hunters would typically use a long pole to quietly push their punt into range of a flock of waterfowl resting on the lake and, POW. A single shot from one of these huge guns could kill as many as 50 birds. To increase efficiency even further, punt hunters would often work in groups of 8-10 boats. By lining up their boats and coordinating the firing of their single shot weapons, entire flocks of birds could be “harvested” with a single volley. It was not unusual for such a band of hunters to acquire as many as 500 birds in a single day. Because of the custom nature of these weapons and the lack of support by the weapons industry, they were often rather crude in design. Most were sturdy hand-built muzzle loaders fired with percussion caps.
Market waterfowling quickly depleted bird populations in the United States and many states banned the practice by the late 1860’s. Public outcry and the persistence of the Audubon Society led to the ratification of the Lacey Act in 1889 which prohibited the shipment of wild game or feathers across state lines. The federal government eventually stepped in with another series of laws to completely outlaw market hunting in 1918.
There are few working punt guns in existence so the one used in Tremors 4 was custom built for the show. It had a two inch bore which according to the Gun Barrel Proof Act of 1868 is calcified as an, “A Gauge”, the largest size on record. Prop master Bill Davis had our gun designed around a real H&R 12 gage shotgun. The entire trigger assembly of the punt gun dropped down to allow the loading of the internal shotgun with triple load 12 gauge black powder blanks. This design made the gun much simpler and safer to use on the set than a real muzzle loader. The total weight of the gun is 94 pounds and the overall length is 8 feet 4 inches. For more authenticity, WD-40 was sprayed into the barrel before firing to create extra smoke.