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“Terminator 2: Judgment Day” Custom Winchester Shotgun

March 29, 2009 by  

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This is a comprehensive profile of the hero custom 1887 Winchester 12 gauge shotgun from the James Cameron  film “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” staring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton.

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Hero Custom 1887 Winchester Shotgun

Note: Most images throughout the article can be clicked on for higher resolution versions

Background: Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Terminator 2: Judgment Day was released in 1991 as the sequel to Jim Cameron’s original film, Terminator, released 7 years earlier in 1984.

With the original film, the Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger), an unstoppable cyborg made to look human, was sent back in time to kill Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton). As Connor plays a significant role in the future by giving birth to the future leader of the resistance movement with their war against Skynet, Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) is also sent back to 1984 to help protect Connor from the Terminator.

In the sequel, a second T-800 that resembles the Terminator destroyed in the original film again comes from the future, but in this installment is sent to protect both Sarah Connor and son John Connor (Edward Furlong) against the more advanced T-1000 Terminator (Robert Patrick). With this reversal, Schwarzenegger’s Terminator played the role of hero rather than villain.

Terminator 2 (“T2″), the second and last film in the series written and directed by creator Jim Cameron, is notable for a variety of reasons. In addition to being a hugely successful Academy Award-winning film with critics and at the box office, the film was a pioneer with CGI/visual and special effects supplied by Industrial Light & Magic and Stan Winston Studios.

Though the most expensive movie ever made at the time of release (with a budget of $100,000,000), it was the highest-grossing film of the year earning over $500,000,000 worldwide.

It has maintained a classic status in the action and science fiction genres and is arguably Arnold Schwarzenegger’s most memorable role in his career.

Background: Stembridge Gun Rentals

Stembridge Gun Rentals of Hollywood, California, was founded in 1916 by James Syndey Stembridge in conjunction with Cecil B. DeMille. This business was founded to provide firearms and specialist weapons handlers (or “armorers”) to the motion picture industry for use in film and later, television.

At its height at the end of World War I, the armory included more than 10,000 firearms.

In addition to renting firearms (which were eventually converted to fire blanks), Stembridge also produced custom weapons for use in film and television.

Stembridge Gun Rentals supplied all of the firearms to T2 Productions for the film, many custom made for the movie, along with armorer Harry Lu (at the request of Arnold Schwarzenegger).

Circa 1999, Stembridge closed its operations and a significant portion of the collection was purchased by Robert Petersen of Petersen Publishing. He intended to create a firearms museum in Los Angeles, but the project did not reach fruition. Following his death, the collection was made available for sale at public auction by Little John’s Auction Service in 2007 (see related articles).

Stembridge Gun Rentals is still in existence in different form and owned and operated by Syd Stembridge, grand-nephew of the founder.

Hero Custom 1887 Winchester Shotgun Used By Arnold Schwarzenegger as The Terminator (T-800)

There is an extraordinary number and variety of weapons used in T2. Arguably the most recognizable is the highly customized 12 gauge 1887 Winchester lever action shotgun carried by Arnold Schwarzenneger as the Terminator in much of the film. The character is seen holding this weapon (atop his Harley Davidson motorcycle) on the one-sheet posters and key publicity material.

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In the context of the film, upon arriving in 1995, the T-800 Terminator goes into a biker bar and acquires this shotgun as well as a pistol sidearm (see Custom Colt/Detonics below), along with his Harley.

There are several key scenes in the film in which the shotgun is used – in the shopping mall (out of the rose box) in saving John Connor, in the motorcycle-Semi chase through the L.A. storm drain channels (in which the “flip-cocking” technique is used for one-handed use of the weapon, in rescuing Sarah Connor from the metal hospital and the chase that ensues.

This is one of four 1887 Winchester shotguns custom made for and used the film.

It is a highly customized piece, as can been seen from the comparison photos below of a vintage Winchester of the same model and the prop as customized for use in the film:

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There are additional customizations which are not visible in the photo above. Also, the piece has been converted to fire specially produced blank cartridges.

It has been explained to me that of the four shotguns produced for and rented to the film, all were used and the weapons were regularly disassembled for cleaning throughout filming and reassembled without ensuring continuity of parts being rejoined with the same pieces; so in viewing the film, one part may screen-match while another part on the same weapon as it exists today may not match the same still image.

There is also a variety of styles of lever handles used – some standard (as seen in the “rosebox” scenes) and others with the loop style for “swing-cocking” on the Harley Davidson.

Of the four hero shotguns made for and used in the film, one is as seen in this feature article, two were sold in the Little John’s auction in 2007, and one has not been made available for sale publicly (it may be in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s personal collection). Below are photos of the two hero shotguns sold at auction at the Little John’s event in 2007, one of each style lever:

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Below are photos of the shotgun that is part of this collection (acquired prior to the Little John’s event):

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Below are some still screencaptures from scenes in the film in which the shotguns were featured:

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Provenance & Authenticity

Provenance includes copies of the original Stembridge rental agreements to “T2 Productions” as well as an assortment of other documents including an inventory list produced at the time of the sale of “The Stembridge Collection” to Robert Peterson of Peterson Publishing, a detailed letter for each weapon about the March 1999 inventory of the weapons and details specific to the history of each piece from J.R. La Rue (Chief Consultant, Carter Mountain Consulting Agency). The Winchester shotgun also includes a Prop Store of London COA.

The Winchester shotgun can also be screen-matched to scenes of the film, with the front stock barrel panel marks and wood grain matching shots in the motorcycle scenes in the L.A. storm drain chase:

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