How do prop guns work?

ALEC Baldwin accidentally shot and killed a cinematographer while leaving its director in a critical condition after shooting a prop gun on set of his new movie, Rust.

But what exactly is a prop gun – here's all you need to know…

What is a prop gun? 

A prop gun can refer to a toy gun that fire caps to produce smoke – but can also mean a real gun that is used as a prop.

Lots of films use real guns as it adds authenticity to close up shots. 

This is because a real gun looks, weighs and handles differently from a toy gun.

Does a prop gun have bullets in it?

Prop guns work by being loaded with blanks – which means blank cartridges are used.

A cartridge is a unit of ammunition fed into the barrel of a gun that comprises of several parts: 

  • The casing (sometimes called a shell)
  • Propellant material (gunpowder) inside the shell
  • A firing pin on the bottom of the cartridge
  • The actual projectile (bullet) itself

The bullet is the part of the cartridge that flies out of the gun towards the target.

A blank cartridge is when you have all of the above except the projectile (bullet), which is often replaced with paper, wood, or plastic plug called a wad.

How do prop guns work?

Prop guns work the same as real guns.

How you shoot is dependent on what type of gun it is, as an AK47 will be shot differently than a pistol.

Although not using bullets, prop guns must be used with the utmost of safety and film crews usually have an armourer, a safety officer, and a stunt coordinator at the scene.

Fatal accidents have been known to happen with prop guns and blanks.

In 1984, actor Jon-Erik Hexums put a gun filled with blanks to his head, and, jokingly pulled the trigger.

The force of the cartridge was enough to kill him after three days in hospital.

In 1993, Brandon Lee was fatally wounded by a prop gun on the set of movie Crow. 

On Thursday, October 21, 2021, Halyna Hutchins was killed and Joel Souza injured in a prop gun incident on the film set of Rust.

In a statement first given to The Sun, Santa Fe County Sheriff Juan Rios revealed: “The sheriff’s office confirms that two individuals were shot on the set of Rust.

"Halyna Hutchins, 42, director of photography and Joel Souza, 48, director, were shot when a prop firearm was discharged by Alec Baldwin, 63, producer and actor."

The officer also confirmed that no charges have been filed yet relating to the incident however, the investigation remains ongoing as witness' are being interviewed.

Alec was filming a scene on the set of his new Western movie, Rust, that required him to fire a gun that was supposed to be loaded with blanks.

However, tragedy struck when the gun discharged either shrapnel or a bullet, which hit two people on set including director of photography, Halyna.

Shortly after the incident took place, Halyna was airlifted to a hospital where she died from her injuries.

The other person to be shot was film director and writer Souza – who was transported by an ambulance to Christus St. Vincent’s hospital.

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