Geek Guns Part 12: Malcolm Reynolds’ Sidearm from Firefly


Whether one looks at comic books, fiction or film, firearms play a huge part in geek culture.  In fact, there’s an entire web site dedicated to document who carried what.


This feature takes a look at some of these weapons – focusing on their real-world performance rather than in-universe function.  If there’s something you want to know more about, be sure to mention it in the comments.


Today we’re going to look at Malcom Reynolds’ trusty sidearm from Firefly and Serenity.


Old West Meets Distant Future

The genius of Firefly was that it hit the sweet spot between a classic Western and space opera.  The casting was perfect and the stories interesting, and it’s curious how a proven hit-maker was undermined to the point of getting a mid-season cancellation.
Of course, we now know that the show’s creator, self-proclaimed super-feminist Joss Whedon, was a heavy user of the proverbial casting couch
All the time, in fact.  As far as I can tell the list of those what didn’t is much shorter than those what did.  Perhaps this might have explained Fox’s desire to cut bait.
In any event, Firefly (and Serenity) achieved a perfect fusion of old and new, mirroring Star Wars’ decision to take old-school guns and modify them just enough to make them fit into a futuristic setting.

Wait, Mal Used a Taurus 85???

One of the classic tricks of the trade in sci-fi props is to take something very cheap and very familiar and add just enough junk to it so that it’s different but still relatable.
The classic example of this (and our first feature) was the way Han Solo’s blaster – the epitome of cool – was created using the venerable Mauser C96 “Broomhandle.”  It’s a contrast so striking (and our feature was so compelling) that even Forgotten Weapons is now desperately trying to keep up with our cutting-edge commentary.
 Similarly, given a tight budget and Old West theme, it made perfect sense for Malcom Reynolds to end up with one of the cheapest revolvers on the market: the Taurus Model 85.
Since revolvers retain spent casings until the cylinder is opened, they are particularly suitable for prop use.  All one has to do is add a futuristic shell to the front half and you are in business!

Available and Affordable

Taurus is a Brazilian company, and they specialize in producing Smith and Wesson knockoffs (I believe they were licensees at one point, but it’s a little vague).  In any event, while the quality of their auto-loaders is often debated, their revolvers generally enjoy a much higher reputation.
The Taurus 85 is a five-shot double-action revolver.  It is noteworthy primarily because it is far less expensive than similar offerings from Colt, Smith & Wesson, or even Ruger. 
This may make them seem like a cheap knock-off, but in my experience, Taurus wheel-guns are first rate.  I’ve had much experience with Model 85s and in a particularly memorable range session achieved such a tight group that the range officer asked to have a try.  It’s pretty impressive for its price point.
It’s perhaps appropriate that one of the most available and affordable working props is the signature weapon of an unrepentant Browncoat who aims to misbehave. 

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A.H. Lloyd

Obscure author and curmudgeon. Read my other ravings at and buy my brilliant books.