I thought it would be helpful to summarize information from several sources (most especially Movie Gun Services LLC, which offers a great deal of resourceful information) in regards to the types and categories of prop guns used in film and television productions.
Hard Rubber Guns/Hard Stunt Guns
Prop guns, cast from real firearms in a hard and durable, high-density urethane rubber. These prop stunt guns are characterized by their durability, inflexiblity, and detailing. As a rubber casting, there are no moving parts but appear real from a distance. These hard rubber guns are used in scenes that don’t require a firing or functioning prop and that are not shot in close-up.
Soft Rubber Guns/Soft Stunt Guns
Prop guns, cast from real firearms in a significantly softer rubber. These prop stunt guns are characterized by their flexibility and softer detailing. As a rubber casting, again, there are no moving parts but can act as a substitute for a real firearm under specific filming conditions. Typically, these soft rubber guns are used in scenes that involve possible injury to the subject while filming. These are most often used in true “stunt” scenes.
Prop guns, constructed of metal, with moving parts. These typically feature a working slide, trigger, and hammer, and allow insertion of magazines. These prop guns have no chamber and cannot be modified to fire real “live” ammunition. These function guns are used in scenes in which a gun is manipulated by an actor during filming, but not fired. These are also used by actors not legally capable of using a true firearm.
Blank Fire Non Guns
Prop guns, constructed of metal, with moving parts, capable of firing blank cartridges. These typically feature a working slide, trigger, and hammer. These are designed to use proprietary, uniquely-sized blank cartridges (real “live” ammunition cannot be chambered or fired). These are characterized by a solid barrel so that no flash or blast or projectile can be fired through the muzzle. Gas pressures are vented through a slot in the slide. The prop gun will fire and the slide will cycle; the expended cartridge ejects similar to a real live firearm.
Blank Fire Live Guns
Real, live fire firearms subsequently converted to fire blank ammunition. As real firearms, they are imprinted with unique serial numbers at the time of manufacture. The firearm is modified in a variety of ways (dependent on the make and model of the weapon) to fire blank ammunition, which is sized to match the real ammunition.
The terms and definitions above have also been added to the Original Prop Lexicon.
Jason De Bord