When my team and I were making my first short film, BROKEN, we really wanted to have functional and professional-looking guns for the project. Obviously, we weren’t going to use real guns, and getting our hands on working prop guns was too cost-prohibited. We also wanted to ensure that everyone on set was safe, which was our main priority.
We knew we could create some badass muzzle flashes in visual effects, but I wanted to have some realistic-looking guns on-set that had blowback to enhance the VFX and ultimately make the gunfights look real.
After doing a ton of research, we discovered Airsoft Guns or “Air Guns”(our prop guns). These are basically jacked-up BB guns. They range in price from $12-$50 for good-looking plastic replica pistols (excellent for wide shots) and $20-$95 for metal replica pistols with realistic blowback (great for close-ups).
These Airsoft guns added so much realism to the film. The combination of practical blowback with high-end visual effects was a great combo.
When using Airsoft guns or any firearm prop on set, you MUST assign someone to be responsible for all the weaponry. These guns might not be real, but they can hurt people. By law, if you use professional prop guns, you need an armorer on set at all times. Everyone on a film crew must act professionally, even if you are using Airsoft weapons on a low-budget independent film.
The late actor Brandon Lee was infamously killed on the set of The Crow by a misfiring prop gun. (Brandon Lee Death)
More recently, a terrible incident on a professional film set in New Mexico occurred where actor Alec Baldwin accidentally killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injured director Joel Souza with a misfiring prop gun. Prop guns, even Airsoft BB guns, are no joke and NEED to be respected as if they were real.
Also, please check your local state and city laws in regard to owning or using Airsoft guns. Always be careful, responsible, and above all, safe. Getting some cool shots in an indie film is not worth getting people hurt or worse.
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Where to Find the Guns?
This is the way to go if you want to have real-looking guns in your film. We purchased most of our guns through a local Airsoft or Air Gun reseller, Amazon.com.
We even asked the local reseller if he had any broken Airsoft guns in the back. He gave most of them to us for FREE and charged $5-$10 for $100 pistols. They didn’t work, but they look great on camera.
Click on any of the links below to get some examples of Airsoft weapons.
Airsoft Prop Gun – Pistols Metal Pistols (with Blow Back):
- Desert Eagle Full Auto Airsoft Pistol (Best Air Gun Option)
- 500 FPS WG AIRSOFT METAL M9 BERETTA BLOWBACK GAS CO2 HAND GUN PISTOL
- No6 Desert Eagle 50AE silver model Replica Gun
- M757B 200 FPS Spring Airsoft Gun M9 92 6MM FS Beretta Tactical Hand Gun
- Crosman PRO77 Kit Air Gun Replica Pistol
- Colt 100th Anniversary 1911 Co2 Full Metal Air Gun Replica Pistol, 6mm
Airsoft Green Gas (Fuel for Blow Back)
Airsoft Prop Gun – Pistols (Non-Blow Back):
Good for background and nonfiring shots
- Crosman Stinger P311 Air Gun Replica Pistol (Black) (Best Option)
- Firepower .45 Metal Slide Air Gun Replica Pistol, 6mm
- Umarex 2276008 Combat Zone Enforce Air Gun Replica Pistol
- Soft Air Taurus PT24/7 Spring Powered Air Gun Replica Pistol, Black
Airsoft Prop Gun – Shotguns:
- TM M870 GBB Shotgun (Best Option)
- UTG Everblast CQB Special Ops Airsoft Replica Shotgun
- UTG Multi-Shot Combat Tactical Airsoft Replica Shotgun – Full Stock Version
- Airsoft M500 Tactical Full Stock Pump Action Spring Replica Shotgun
Airsoft Prop Gun – Rifles:
- BBTac BT-6808 AK47 “Beta” CQB Fully Automatic Polymer Body Airsoft Electric Gun
- KP5 CM023 Airsoft Electric Replica Gun Full Size LOADED
- G36C (AEG write professional 10 years of age or older) (Best Option)
- Double Eagle M82 fully automatic Electric Replica Rifle
Airsoft Prop Gun – Grenade Launcher:
Airsoft Prop Gun – Sniper Rifle:
BONUS: Realistic Prop Knives & Prop Weapons
- Seasons Deluxe Aged Machete
- Seasons Realistic Knife
- Seasons Ninja Sword
- Seasons Pipe Wrench Zombie Weapon
If I may quote one of my favorite Christmas films:
“You’ll shoot your eye out kid.” – A Christmas Story
It may be funny, but it’s true. Have fun and be very careful. Good luck and happy filming.