Help for a beginning buyer?

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Help for a beginning buyer?

Post  CoreyIG on Sun Apr 06, 2008 4:03 pm

Hi, my name is Corey and I'm a filmmaker from Cincinnati. I've been making movies for a very small audience for the past four years or so, but now that I've got a group of about 20 dedicated, weathered people, I've put a fair bit of money down on equipment and we're trying to make a film that, if we're lucky, could attract SOMEone's attention. I was trying to research blank-firing guns, since none of our crew have the proper licenses to own real guns, and I stumbled on this forum. You guys seem to be more knowledgeable than anyone else I could find, so I was hoping that you could give me some answers the rest of the internet can't (and I apologize if these have been asked before, I couldn't seem to find them, but I may just bee looking in the wrong place)

For the main gun in the film I've been looking at the Ekol Viper with the 4.5 inch barrel, it seems to be reasonably priced and I've seen some videos of it fired that look good. But does anyone here know the average lifespan of that gun? I keep reading lots of people saying that BFONGs are made of weaker material and don't last as long as actual gun, but no one seems to quantify that with some kind of general lifespan. I'd like the main gun to be a revolver, are there any others that you'd recommend before the viper?

I also am looking at, for two scenes, the 1894 rifle that seems to be ubiquitous. Basically the same questions on this gun, how long does it last, would you recommend something else instead?

I'm also trying to find at least four handgun BFONGs, two identical and fairly generic, and then two other ones, different at least in plating, just to show a difference in character. My price range is anything under or around $130 each (U.S.D.) Are there any models anyone has used that you'd strongly advise others to try?

Thanks so much for any help anyone can offer!

CoreyIG

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Re: Help for a beginning buyer?

Post  Fight Designer on Sun Apr 06, 2008 11:34 pm

First question I'd ask is 'why do you want it to fire blanks?'

This is not to discourage you, just suss out what exactly you're after. The blank firing guns readily available in this country are mostly top-venting, so if you're after muzzle flash, you won't get it. Might as well just use an airsoft gas blowback and edit in muzzle flash and shell casings digitally.

If you're after shell casings, you can get that, although in some cases you can tell that the casings are from blanks- for example, revolvers using crimp blanks only (which can show in closeups from the front, or when loading/unloading), blank firing desert eagles or that Winchester rifle ejecting 8mm casings instead of larger, or if you are seeing the green plastic tip of the blanks.

If you're after noise... well, I have to wonder about that as well, since that's the easiest thing to do in post, and for many indie film-makers, the noise of gunshots makes logistics harder (can't shoot guerrilla-style on the sly, can't just rent a hotel room or use an apartment without checking with neighbors, etc). Might need earplugs if working indoors. Insurance isn't happy to hear about them, either.

However, it can be quite satisfying for the actors to have an actual BOOM to work with, and the shell casings are a plus... as is the heft when compared to lightweight airsoft guns and the like.

The only blank firing semi-auto I've had that hasn't jammed regularly is the Jackal by Voltran, and I haven't really used that enough yet to give it a proper test. In terms of durability, that is more of an issue with revolvers, although at least they jam less (and when they do, you can often just go on to the next round by continuing to pull the trigger, unlike a semi-auto which needs to be cleared first). The Eckols viper is a relatively new model- I have one, but have only fired it a couple times to test it. Using half load or primer only blanks will help them last longer. I've worn out several of the Colt Pythons and 'Competitive' starter pistol revolvers, either because the parts just wore out or because the barrel blockage just forward of the cylinder has been blasted away over time.

If you're investing the money and time into your own props (and presumably the knowledge of how to properly use and maintain them) you may also want to look into 'modelguns'. mp40modelguns.com/forum2 can tell you tons about those. They have the advantage of open barrels generally (so potentially muzzle flash). They're more fragile, harder to get, harder to maintain, and generally less convenient... but safer, quieter, and sometimes more realistic (more likely to have trademarks, for example- only the Umarex blank firing guns I've found have trademarks of real firearms companies).

For what it's worth, in most parts of this country at least (don't know about Cincie, and perhaps it's like DC, San Francisco, New York, etc) you don't need any permit to buy a real revolver, and real revolvers can fire blanks just fine. You probably do need to be over 18, not have any felonies on record, not carry it concealed without a permit in most states, etc (check out Packing.org for local regulations). Pump shotguns, revolvers, lever or bolt action rifles, all these are great ways to fire blanks without needing specialized equipment if you can get the real firearms... AND HAVE THE KNOWLEDGE OF HOW TO USE THEM SAFELY ON SET! Cannot over-stress that last point.

I do have the blank firing Winchester as well, but so far it's only been rented by people not firing it, and I've had it less than a year, so I can't speak to durability. It's got a chip in the stock that it had when I bought it, and the action was a little rough when I test fired it, but it works. There's a piece on the adjustable sight that isn't well attached at all and could be easily lost- that's my main design complaint so far.
Anyway, hope that's been somewhat helpful. If you want to 'test drive' some blank firing guns, check out my rental site at www.fightdesigner.com . I think I haven't updated it since I got the Eckols viper- I have the 2.5" black model... a new version of the website is coming out soon, so I haven't been bothering to update this one much.



Good luck, and let me know if you have further questions!

-Kevin
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Open barrel bfongs

Post  Rick on Mon Apr 07, 2008 8:37 am

Kevin
Maybe you've actually answered this Q's...
Are there any open barrel bfongs available to us collectors? Muzzle flash is very cool if you can get it.

Rick

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Re: Help for a beginning buyer?

Post  Fight Designer on Mon Apr 07, 2008 3:48 pm

Occasionally, rarely and more expensively, yes. They aren't explicitly banned, but as many of them as sold in Europe can potentially be used to launch flares, rubber bullets, etc (through a screw-on attachment, using the blank as propellant) they are much harder to get past the BATF, much harder to sell (as opposed to plugged barrel bfgs which are available through ebay, amazon, etc), and probably carry a higher liability risk as they can more readily hurt someone if they're just goofing around (as they should NEVER do) and point it at someone.

They tend to have a divider in the barrel still- one that I own has a three-pronged divider that's visible if you're looking straight down the barrel... which is its own drawback when thinking about film use.

Generally on Hollywood productions with a real budget, they've got actual firearms that have been modified with a restrictor, etc to allow them to cycle when firing blanks. Blank fire only guns seem mostly of interest/use for live theatre, low budget indie film, and collectors, most of which are fine with the top-venting versions.

To be honest, in daylight conditions you usually don't see much if any flash anyway... but it sure can be nice to have for night shots.
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Re: Help for a beginning buyer?

Post  CoreyIG on Mon Apr 07, 2008 4:34 pm

You somewhat hit on all the reasons that I have been looking at Blanks as my medium - first and foremost, for the actors. In the last two shoots I've done, most of my actors, even those who were used to working with real guns, didn't quite act/react well enough to the subtle airsoft "click." (though I plan on using my airsoft armory for extras and set dressing, as most of them look realistic enough to pass in the background.) We'll be filming on a rather secluded farm so noise isn't a problem at all. In fact, the owner has a hunting stand set up twenty feet away from the house, so gunshots in the area are a fairly regular occurrence. And while I would love to use real guns for the shoot, they make me jittery in terms of liability. While something could go wrong with anything that goes boom, I just don't quite trust some members of my team with the real things yet. As for modelguns, I'll be honest and admit I didn't know they existed. I've just spent the past few hours going through the information on that forum, and while they're very tempting, they might be just a bit too expensive, and just a bit too difficult to get ahold of. At least with Blank guns it seems that most companies that sell them in the U.S. are reputable (I checked out the thread on this forum about that, too) and easily contacted.

Thank you for the advice, though! As for jamming issues, my propmaster is fairly experienced with real guns, and though he doesn't own any, he's the third generation in a gun-loving family, and so can take care of a jam in a real gun with relative ease. Will this be what he needs to know to un-jam a blank firing gun?

Too bad you haven't had a large amount of experience with those two, but as long as they haven't utterly fallen apart on you then thats a good enough reputation for me.

again, thanks for helping out a beginner!

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Re: Help for a beginning buyer?

Post  Fight Designer on Tue Apr 08, 2008 4:56 pm

The most common problem I've had with semi-auto blank guns is the 'stovepipe' jam, where the spent round doesn't quite clear the slide before it goes forward again, trapping the casing and preventing the slide from going back all the way forward and chambering the next round. In most guns, this is just a matter of racking the slide while holding it so the round drops free. Sometimes you have to drop the mag first. Not a big deal, just means you didn't get a good take on film. If you've got plenty of cutaways, then there's no problem. Get a couple good shots off, insert reaction shot while the sound of firing continues, cut back to view of a few more shots going off (between jams), etc.

Also worth mentioning, and surprised I forgot earlier- blank firing guns don't really have any recoil. When you think of that whole 'equal and opposite reaction' thing, there isn't much mass exiting the gun even if the barrel isn't blocked, just hot air and powder residue... so recoil still needs to be faked if they can do it properly or well. My theory is that recoil is like accents- if you can do them well, it'll make the scene better. If you can't do them well, you're better off not even trying.
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Re: Help for a beginning buyer?

Post  Fight Designer on Fri Jul 18, 2008 2:27 pm

As a follow-up: I now own the Eckols Viper in 2" barrel, in both black and brushed steel. Pretty happy with 'em, but yeah, they are top venting.

They have a hole in the top of the barrel- this is what Umarex and Eckols are doing, and it seems a better system than the Bruni or Kimar style of just having a blockage just forward of the cylinder that all the gas slams in to.

I suppose since the pressure isn't required for the gun to function, in theory you could drill through the barrel on one of these, but I imagine it'd be a pain in the butt to do so.

You might also look into the pfc cap firing 'modelgun' revolvers- they'll give you some bang and some muzzle flash in a quieter, safer package. Bonus is that they often have real trademarks, but they are often lighter weight, don't feel as real in the hand, and are more fragile.
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