Front venting guns- UPDATE

It does appear that the BATF has gotten more specific on what is permitted and not… which has opened the way for commercial importation of front venting blank guns that are in compliance.  I’ve got a second Zoraki/ATAK 995 coming in the net day or two, to be shipped out immediately for rental along with the other one.  The client was hoping for twin Mac 10s or 11s, like el Mariachi, but didn’t want the hassle of modelguns or the post-production load of adding flash & casings digitally.  I’ve been doing phone and email checks so far, but this might prompt me to have to develop a more default system of making sure productions have a qualified gun wrangler/armorer on set; I previously wouldn’t rent front venting guns for productions I wasn’t personally working on, but now that they’re more commonplace/commercially available/easier to replace, I feel I have to step up and be willing to work with production companies who want to rent these- provided they have liability insurance, a qualified gun wrangler, etc.

Not surprisingly, now that they’ve got a channel open, Maxsell is bringing in more models.  They sold well on the first batch (they were backordered on several models for a while), they’ve canceled their initial sale (free cheapie holster and 25 blanks) and added a couple more models.  One is a funky little compact that looks more like some of the modern tasers than like any firearms I’m currently familiar with.  It’s also their first front firing semi-auto:

The other new addition is interesting in that it’s by a different (I think? More on that in a second) company, and that it’s modeled after a more iconic handgun, the Beretta 92.  It’s the Jackal, a select fire handgun I already own a couple of in top-venting, and which Maxsell was one of the original importers of.  I’ll probably try to pick one of those up when I get some positive cash flow again for the business, as the Berettas are standard issue for US military, many police departments and federal agencies, and also a popular civilian model.  Not immediately relevant, but the Jackal is also the internals on the Asi, a sort of Uzi-esque blank gun that’s just a plastic housing put around the Jackal.

I put a question on the “separate companies” earlier, because I’m honestly not sure how they’re all related.  The Jackal is made by Eckols & Voltran (a different company than Voltran, another Turkish blank gun company).  I also have several top venting revolvers by Eckols, and now one front venting one from ATAK/Zoraki (both names appear on some of the packaging), and honestly they’re identical.

I got them in different finishes, but the frame, hardware, internals all appear to be identical except for the vent and the text on the side:

I’ve been happy with the Eckols revolvers so far, having been using them in stage productions for a few years now.  The top vent gives much more specific aim for the danger area than the old style spray from many of the starter pistols and blank revolvers used, which either just have a flat solid block forward of the cylinder or have a wedge to split the spray to the sides.  That “aim” allowed me to stage things better and more closely and more safely- plus so far they’ve held up better than the old Bruni or Kimar revolvers did, several of which have had to be retired due to the metal being slowly blasted away at the blockage.  Incidentally, the Jackal also accepts the same extended magazines as the Zoraki 925- further evidence they might be related companies.  Voltran M92 magazines and Eckols & Voltran M92 magazines are not compatible, by contrast.

So- interesting developments.  We’ll see if it lasts- I imagine it won’t be too long before someone purchases one and does something stupid to get themselves or their friends hurt, thinking (ala Jon Hexum) “they’re just blanks, right?”.  Famous last words in the making.  Never can tell in our society when someone doing something stupid and getting hurt will change the laws and when it won’t, though, and in the meantime the best the rest of us can do is make sure we lead by example, and always insist on safe (but effective), appropriate, professional use.

And make sure we don’t spend too much on this exciting new development.

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One Comment

  1. Posted May 17, 2012 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

    Since this seems to be one of the most commonly read entries even years later, I figured I’d update it with a link to the odd little short that rented the two front venting Zoraki machine pistols: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eMVNjMF1Suo

    Not work or kid safe; it’s the folks from Die Antwerp, for those who know what that entails.


One Trackback

  1. By Bonzuko » It’s okay, they’re just blanks. on October 26, 2010 at 3:04 am

    […] Enjoyable article by fellow stage combat blog Them’s Fightin’ Words (did I mention I like that title?) on theatrical firearms, in particular a new design of front-venting guns. I love this closing statement:   ~Jenn “I imagine it won’t be too long before someone purchases one and does something stupid to get themselves or their friends hurt, thinking (ala Jon Hexum) “they’re just blanks, right?”.  Famous last words in the making.  Never can tell in our society when someone doing something stupid and getting hurt will change the laws and when it won’t, though, and in the meantime the best the rest of us can do is make sure we lead by example, and always insist on safe (but effective), appropriate, professional use.” […]

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