Leon's Gun: Mother's Defender
The COP .357 Magnum
By Phil Steinschneider
Holden: The tortoise lays on its back, its
belly baking in the hot sun beating its legs trying to turn itself over
but it can't, not without your help, but you're not helping.
Leon: What do you mean I'm not helping?
Holden: I mean you're not helping. Why is that
They're just questions, Leon. In answer to your
query, they're written down for me. It's a test, designed to provoke an
Shall we continue? Describe in single words, only the
good things that come in to your mind about.. your mother.
Leon: My mother?
Leon: Let me tell you about my
are the unforgettable lines that introduce us to Leon's gun in the classic
science fiction movie Blade Runner. Unfortunately, and for unknown
reasons, the armaments in Blade Runner have almost never officially been
discussed. Instead, a cult following has evolved around the movie's props
and weaponry (as well as the film itself). Hopefully, this article will
clarify many questions about what has until now been a very mysterious
prop - Leon's gun.
Assistant Art Director Stephen Dane produced several preliminary
sketches during pre-production of a gun that Deckard (Harrison Ford) was
to use throughout the movie. The drawings all appear to depict a COP .357
or a derivation of it. In the end, probably at the direction of Ridley
Scott, the COP was dropped as the gun to be used by Rick Deckard. Instead,
the COP, in completely unaltered form, was employed as the weapon Leon
uses to maim the Blade Runner Holden in the famous opening scene of the
film (see fig. 1).
now defunct COP Inc. of Torrance, California, originally produced the COP,
or Compact Off-Duty Police. Here is an excerpt from the user manual
describing the purpose behind the gun's commercial manufacture:
COP was specifically designed as a police off-duty or back-up handgun. It
combines the flatness of the automatic with the instant readiness of the
revolver. Many special features not available in any other handgun are
built into the COP to make it a highly specialized personal defense
fascinating weapon in appearance, the COP has some very interesting
features: First, it provides the ability to fire four quick, successive
shots. Second, it can safely be carried in the loaded and firing position
with almost no chance of accidental discharge due to its very hard trigger
pull. Third, it is virtually indestructible because of its stainless steel
Nevertheless, some of the COP's primary features also act as
some of its major distractions. The trigger pull, as mentioned earlier, is
extremely long and hard. Furthermore, the weapon's stainless steel
construction makes it a small but relatively heavy weapon to carry. At a
hefty 28 oz. unloaded, the COP is certainly very noticeable when it is
strapped to your calf or other back-up weapon location.
COP has a very interesting and unusual firing mechanism. The weapon is
loaded by releasing a catch on the top of the pistol and tilting down the
four unified barrels, which pivot on a pin inserted through the frame to expose
the breech. Once open, four bullets can be placed into the available
chambers. One then reengages the barrel into the frame until a click is
heard. The gun is now ready to fire. As the trigger is pulled, an internal
ratchet (see fig. 3 - part 19), which is always centrally struck by a cocking hammer
(see fig. 3 - part 9), lines up to one of the four
firing pins (see fig. 3 - part 31). Once the trigger has traveled to the end of its stroke, the
internal hammer is released, exerting force on the ratchet, which in turn
pushes one of the firing pins forward, igniting the primer, and firing the
bullet. Each subsequent pull of the trigger causes the ratchet to line up
with the next firing pin in the sequence, firing the bullet in that
chamber, until the gun is out of ammunition or the shooter stops pulling
the trigger (see fig. 2).
entirely of stainless steel, except for the grips, which are fabricated
checkered wood, the COP is comprised of over 50 separate parts (see fig.
3). Although the gun can be taken apart, it is not easily field stripped
and requires that one screw and several pins be removed for
||Firing Pin Washer
||Hand Pivot &
Mounting Pin (2)|
special & .357 Magnum|
No one describes the gun used by the replicant Leon Kowalski
better than the man who played him in Blade Runner, deceased actor Brion James:
gun I fired at Holden was real weapon that's made in Compton, California.
It looks space-age, but it's real. And it has four barrels on it. That way
you can shoot four shots one right after the other; it's sort of like a
background information is available on Leon's gun and its creation, as
well as the above quote from Mr. James, in Paul Sammon's book Future
Noir: The Making of Blade Runner on pages 109 and 239.
there is one important detail which will now be revealed for the first
time: According to Art Shippee, Jr., the property master responsible for
the weapons in the movie, the COP .357 used in Blade Runner had been
altered to fire two barrels simultaneously. This modification helped
create the greater than expected flash that is visible in the movie (see
COP .357 has been out of production for many years and is relatively
difficult to locate. Nevertheless, with a little luck, good examples of
COPs can still be found and purchased for a reasonable price. According to
the fourteenth edition of the Blue Book of Gun Values, depending on
condition, a COP should retail for between $200 and $350 with $200
representing a gun in 60% condition and $350 being the price for a pistol
in 100% or mint condition. The following places are excellent sources for
those looking to acquire a COP handgun:
The Shotgun News
It has been this author's experience that although the
suggested price for a mint COP is $350, in general, the usual cost for a
NIB (New In Box) version will run as high as $495 to $550.
is anecdotal evidence that some replicas of the COP have been produced by
the Japanese. Although this has never been confirmed, this author recently
stumbled upon photographs of what appear to be replicas of a Stephan Dane
design prototype and the COP pistol in Spinner Dokuhon Final Plus
44 (see fig. 5).
COP Used in the Movie
actual COP used in the movie Blade Runner was supplied by the legendary
but now bankrupt Stembridge Gun Rentals, Inc. of Los Angles, California.
For many years Stembridge was Hollywood's supplier of choice for
movie weapons. Unfortunately, due to the increasing number of productions
going to Canada and overseas, Stembridge was forced to close their doors
in the middle of 1999. According to a representative, a very wealthy
individual purchased the entire collection, including Leon's gun from
Blade Runner COP pistol is well documented and will probably show up at a
Christie's or Sotheby's auction one day. However, if you accidentally
stumble on a COP .357 that has been altered to fire two barrels at
once, you may have found the original COP used during the filming of Blade
Blade Runner has been a science fiction fan favorite for
many years. Since the release of the Director's Cut in 1992, the Blade
Runner cult has grown immensely. In 1996 Westwood released the Blade
Runner game and a new generation was introduced to the movie's story,
concepts, props, and social commentary. Thanks to its legions of loyal
fans, a movie that was unsuccessful during its original release is now
considered one of the top five science fiction films ever produced.
Hopefully, this article will shed a little light on one of
the two mysterious Blade Runner guns. It is about time that the hand props
of this classic film were given the coverage they deserve.
Photographs and the Owner's Manual
Click here for
additional "precious" photos.
Click here to
download the owner's manual in Adobe Acrobat format (please be patient as
the file is 2.2 Megs in size).
Paul M., Future Noire: The Making of Blade Runner: Harper Paperbacks, 1996.
Edition Blue Book of Gun Values: Blue Book Publications, Inc., 1993
- [Online] http://www.bluebookinc.com/.
Dokuhon Final Plus 44: TVC-15 Publishing, 1999.
Blade Runner Sketchbook: Dolphin Publishing, 1982.
Gun List: Krause Publications, Inc., 1999 -- [Online] http://www.gunlist.net/.
Shotgun News: Primedia, 1999 -- [Online] http://www.shotgunnews.com/.