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Over the past few days, I’ve seen references to The Dark Tower and firearms popping up in my social media feeds. They’ve been talking about the epic reload of a cartridge conversion Remington New Model Army/ Screenshots from the trailer and official promotional stills show how Idris Elba (a.k.a., The Gunslinger) reloads his handgun.

An up-close screenshot of the reload shows six speedloaders on Elba’s belt, in addition to six cartridge loops on his belt. The gun is a solid frame revolver with a swing-out cylinder.

As the revolver in question is a .44 caliber Army, the cartridges in view are most likely to be .44 Magnum centerfire rounds. By swinging out the cylinder and running the gun along the tips of the bullets, he’s able to magically release the cartridges from their loops and reload in the blink of an eye.

It makes for an awesome movie magic moment, but let’s explore the reality of what’s happening. Or rather, the lack of reality. (This is where being a gun guy and a history buff gets in the way of enjoying a work of fiction.)

Historically, Remington did indeed offer cartridge conversions of their percussion cap-and-ball revolvers. A bored-through cylinder – the use of which they licensed from Smith & Wesson, who held the Rollin White patent on the design – replaced the percussion cylinder.  This changed the gun from a six-shot .44 caliber revolver to a five-shot .46 Short rimfire revolver. Loading and unloading were accomplished by a cut-out modification on the recoil shield’s right side.

Back to Elba’s guns . . .

First off, if the guns were traditional .46 Short conversions, then he’s carrying the wrong ammo and the wrong speedloaders. His cartridges are clearly centerfire, and each speedloader holds six rounds instead of five.

An official promotional photo shows Elba with a pair of pistols. Conveniently enough, the image gives us a look at both sides of the guns. It’s obvious that there’s no break in the frame to allow the cylinder to swing out to the side. Yet it clearly does in the video clip above.

Examination of the recoil shield on the gun’s right side shows no alteration to allow the insertion and extraction of self-contained metallic cartridges. It retains the original percussion-based profile. Because of the solid frame and lack of recoil shield alteration, it’s a physical impossibility to both load and unload the gun — unless you know the magic words that allow the cylinder to swing out of a solid frame.

Now let’s talk about the cartridges themselves . . .

It would be really cool if you could reload from belt loops like Elba does. But then that would defeat the concept of the loop. Because the cartridges are rimmed, they cannot pass through the loop completely. The rim holds the cartridge in place. Unless the loops temporarily expand for a fraction of a second, the cartridges cannot pass through and fall into the chambers.

So, there you have it: the Gunslinger’s Remington New Model Army cartridge conversion revolver is pure Hollywood fantasy. It shoots six .44 Magnum centerfire cartridges from a cylinder designed to hold five .46 Short rimfire cartridges, that can be loaded and unloaded from a swing-out cylinder mounted in a solid frame with a percussion-based recoil shield profile, using a cartridge loop belt that is designed to prevent pass-through of the cartridges.

On a more serious note: the movie looks good and I plan on seeing it with the hopes that the overall production is enough to allow me to overlook the glaring firearm errors.

Logan Metesh is a firearms historian and consultant who runs High Caliber History LLC. Click here for a free 3-page download with tips about caring for your antique and collectible firearms.

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  1. Singular problem with the complaints about the Remington having a swing out cylinder it’s not a Remington it quite literally wasn’t built in this reality

        • Chuck Norris doesn’t fight. Saying that Chuck Norris fights implies that there is someone who would actually have the ability to fight Chuck Norris. No such individual exists. Chuck Norris kicks and punches people, they get kicked and punched. End of story.

        • Chuck is an iteration of the Eternal Champion for this Earth at this time.
          We’ve had a Roland before.The last brave Frank. The one that didn’t run away.

    • Yup, if I recall they’re completely custom made, like a medieval sword (I only read a few chapters because eff Stephen King and his smarmy writing). Could have near seamless cranes, on the left of one gun and the right of the other.

      Scooping cartridges out of loops though, lol, no.

      • i dont see how King’s books are even scary. i read several that were supposed to be his best; poe and crichton are far scarier.

        • Indeed. I think there was a shock-value arms-race in pop lit in the 70’s – figure before the internet word of mouth meant more, and the sensibilities of adults at the time were up for it. Not just in horror, it’s evident in the Lambdin/Alan Lewrie age-of-sail fiction for instance.

          To his credit King paid lip service to Lovecraft, but I think he just took the local-color + cosmic-horror formula, and dumbed it down and made it colorful, thus making it marketable.

        • Oh yeah, one trick pony, and even that was borrowed heavily from, yanno, Miskatonic University, Class of 1925.

      • You missed a good series then. I’ve read thousands of books in my lifetime, and the Dark Tower series ranks among the best.

    • Exactly this.

      The swing out, six shot, cylinder can be solved by the gun NOT BEING A REMINGTON; what you think you see is not what it is.

      If we, for some reason, assume that it does use our reality’s ammunition, it would be a .45 LC, not a .44 Magnum. But I think that is a very unsafe assumption. Given that he slides them through loops (and that the resolution is low enough to be unsure), we COULD give the benefit of the doubt and assume they are rimless cartridges with some sort of catch mechanism in the cylinder so that as they slide in the groove gets caught so they don’t slide any more forward; way more complex than real revolvers, but still physically possible. For that matter he may have some sort of mechanism on his belt that loosens the loops enough to let the rounds slide through.

      Trust me, total lack of realism bugs me sometimes too. Every hacking scene in every movie ever is so divorced from reality that, sometimes, it is difficult to continue watching the movie. Gun gaffs in all kinds of movies (that are set in, ostensibly, this world), abound everywhere. But when someone/something comes from a totally different dimension, realism no longer applies. For all we know, the laws of physics, as we understand them, do not work the same with matter from there as they do with matter from here.

      • In the movie he gets resupplied with “.45 caliber bullets” while in our world. No, he didn’t pull out a reloader and some old brass; he meant and got factory loaded cartridges. Fun enough movie anyway.

    • I happen to love the dark tower series, and to hate serious gun blunders in movies (the author of this one has had some dooseys, and knows next to nothing about guns).

      That said, Alexander nailed it, these guns are not of our world, even if it’s influence can be seen in them. I have no problem with them looking like one gun but operating like another, so long as it’s possible to do so, since that sort of mixed up crossover is very much in keeping with the story.

      That said though, how does one reload the revolvers pictured? They seem a mishmash of functional designs, combined in such a way as to be non functioning, and if that is the case, it’s going to ruin this film for me.

      As an aside; many years ago I owned a gun belt with cartridge loops that would both hold a cartridge and allow it to pass through, behind the belt, the leather loops were sewn to elastic, which made this, and single handed reloads, possible.

      Keep in mind, Roland’s equipment would have started out absolutely top of the line, for his reality at least, and may have been adapted heavily along his journey and as the world moved on. It’s also noteworthy that Roland, even among gunslingers, who were supposed to be the best of the best, was well known for having freaky dexterity, and to have been flatly the baddest thing walking his reality.

      SPOILER ALERT: Further, given that may have been practicing now for…well, far, far longer than an ordinary human lifespan, and the fact he’s not really a human, may have some bearing on his abilities.

      I’m really hoping that there is a rational explanation for the function of his revolvers, because if not, I’m going to hate the damn movie, and be forever sorry I pirated it, because I sure wouldn’t risk giving the liberty hating author, or Hollywood any money.

      • You have to kinda set that aside, kind of how I do with gun realism in regards to videogames and such. Shotguns in games, especially, never found one with realistic shotgun range.

        With regards to the physics thing, that would be the one thing that would have to be a constant in all worlds, for reasons way too complex to explain here.

  2. It goes much deeper than this how poorly these films will represent the books.

    But, for starters, the pistols were never Remington made – they’re supppsed to have been made from melting down the sword of Arthur Eld. So they’re not comparable to anything in this reality.

    I also think that in book 2 – The Wasteland, it’s mentioned that they are 45 long Colt. And Roland didn’t carry speed loaders but a typical cartridge belt.

    In the end, though, there are actually numerous misrepresentations of firearms in the Dark Tower books. This is largely due to the fact that they were written over a period of 35 years, and Stephen King has never truly been that fond of firearms.

    • Hi Craigan, Yep! You are dead center. King went to length to describe the gun used by the “gun fighter” and I frequently wondered how he was able to reload so quickly. I envisioned the schofield break action as the solution.

    • The Wasteland is the third book in the series. The Drawing of Three is second. but you are right about the mention in book two about them being 45 long colt. Another thing worth mentioning is in the second book, the revolvers are described as top break like old Smith and Wesson revolvers.

    • I’m a King fan (except for his worship of government and rampant Hoplophobia) and really enjoyed the Dark Tower series and at first was really disappointed about how different it looks like it will be compared to the books BUT I saw someone offer an explanation that made a sense: This isn’t the story from the books, it is a different rotation on the great wheel/Ka. Just like there are different worlds with different choices in the books.

      Of course, If we don’t get Blaine the Mono, I will be pissed.

    • Thank you ! In Drawing of the Three when Roland goes into the gun shop as Jack Mort he actually goes thru an entire Shooter’s Bible trying to find ammunition for his revolvers, he actually picks out Winchester .45. Since the only .45 Winchester is actually the .45 Win Mag……it’s apparent that King wasn’t real concerned about the physics of a rimless cartridge in a revolver. And in The Gunslinger during the fight in Tull it makes no mention of swing out cylinder. Let’s just enjoy the movie and not try to make Hollywood make sense

  3. I don’t care that it doesn’t follow the books loop of the story. I don’t care that the guns are impossible to reload. I don’t care that care that Roland is now black instead of a mishmashed King/Eastwood composite. Idris Elba is rocking what I imaged him to sound like. The dropping loose bullets into the spinning cylinder was like how I saw his reloading trick in the book. People complain about Matt as Flagg, but he fits too since he reminds me of The Stand version. I can’t wait, it’s gonna be a ride.

  4. Pale Rider. Very good showing of Eastwood using loaded cylinders as speed reloads for his Remington.

    And not anti gun like these King books and movies.

    • True BUT they are not swing out cylinders. Instead, one pulls the cylinder pin and replaces the entire cylinder. Which is how the Remington was actually built.

  5. In a movie like this, I don’t hold them to reality. It’s all in fun.

    I’ll get pissy about “real” movies where they take liberties with guns and physics.

    One of favorites is The Mummy. I wish I could reload a Chamelot-Devine that fast. I’d carry one. Ha

  6. Haven’t been very keen on Mr. King since his yapping about gun control and him publicly helping to try and pass “mandatory” background checks here in Maine (and if failed). Hes sucked since that green mile crap.

  7. I am usually very anal about realism, but the more the story tilts to fantasy the more I loosen up on issues such as this and the Dark Tower is pretty darned fantastical.

  8. And now some California pol is going to insist on micro stamping for revolvers since they can be reloaded so fast.

  9. The thing that really gets me if you watch the whole trailer, is how the writer admits Roland doesn’t kill with his gun but with his heart. Metaphorically he is admitting what the people of the gun have been saying for ages; it’s not the gun, it’s the person.

  10. I don’t expect to see realistic gun play in a movie unless it’s based on history. What bothers me is the amount of ignorant people that believe these are real, and will associate any “badass” revolver with what they’ve seen in the film. I can’t tell you how many times some young douche bag I’ve met, that sees my SAA, or my 629, and says, “whoa badass gun man. That’s like some walking dead shit!”

  11. They used M-48A5s for German tanks and M-41 Walker tanks for US tanks in Patton. It was still a great movie.

    It’s movie get over it.

    • And Oddball had a M4A3E4 and the Tigers where vismods. But they at least made a reasonable attempt The Patton folks were just lazy/cheapass.

      • Cheap ass? The hired the Spanish Army.

        It’s easy to do singles. A lot harder to do even a company let alone battalion strength formations.

      • As far as authenticity goes and an AP round from a 76.2 on the rear of a PKVIA was a kill shot. The Tiger I was poorly armored in the rear.

        • During the Battle of the Bulge an m8 Greyhound, armed with a main gun of 37mm, left it’s position and stalked a Tiger they had spotted. At 25 yards they put 3 rounds in the ass of the Tiger and watched it go up in flames.

          The English described infantry tactics for killing tanks as being not unlike big game hunting. The Brits were not always panty wetters as they are today.

        • The Tiger I only had 1″ of armor in the rear and a max of 3″ on the sides. Easy prey for a 3″ AP round. The M-26 was all around better protected than the Tiger I

  12. I was a big fan of The Dark Tower series and read The Gunslinger short stories before they were combined into the original book. They are goofy good fun. “Lobstrosities?” And an homage to Keflex? Really?

    But anyone who hasn’t read Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came should check it out. Browning may have been stoned when he wrote it. It’s even creepier than the King books.

  13. WOW! Not sure who’s nerdier, the gun-nerd author of this piece or the comic book nerds that know all about this character. I may stop reading this page.

      • Nothing wrong with ignoring things that hold no interest for you.

        There is a decent amount of work that goes into those though. I’m currently discussing arguing with Bungie (Destiny 2), Bethesda (Prey), Square Enix Holdings (Battalion 1944) and CI Games (Sniper 3 Ghost Warrior) over pre-releases so I can review those games before they actually get released so that for those people who are interested they can have an in depth review before release day and know if the game is worth $60-$100.

        The argument with CI Games involves a lot of translations in and out of Polish. That’s great fun. I email them in English, they use something like Google Translate to put it into Polish, formulate a response and send it to me and then I use Google Translate to get it out of Polish and into English. Using Rosetta Stone to just learn Polish might actually be faster than trying to decipher the emails.

        Strangely ID Software has been the easiest company to deal…

    • It’s a comic book?
      Considering the novels make up many thousands of pages, that would be one long series.

  14. It’s a movie-nothing more. BTW just saw Gaurdians of the Galaxy II. Great! But complete fantasy. And at least 2 of the stars are pro-gun. Oh no “no guns” signs at the theater!

  15. On the movie’s imfdb discussion page, a user claims to have built the pistols for the movie

    I have been watching various threads about these revolvers since the pics first came onto the net and have been waiting for the trailer to come out before I could say anything. I built these revolvers from scratch for the movie, they are indeed based on a Remington 1858 but that is where it ends. There are no original working parts in them. We had to redesign them externally to be 25% bigger, with swing out cylinders and internally for the double action. They are, for reason which I will talk about once the movie has been released, chambered in .38 special. The opposing cylinder swing on the pair was an idea that I had while we were coming up with cool ways for the guns to be reloaded. The rest will have to wait until the movie is released in August.Lance Peters (talk) 16:56, 4 May 2017 (EDT),_The

  16. I thought the trailer was cool as hell, and that the reloading scenes were inspired. Of course they’re not close to reality, that’s kind of the point in a fantasy movie.

  17. I found that there are three types of people in the IC when it came to watching spy movies and TV series. There were people who did not watch because it is he job and they wanted entertainment that took them away from the job. Then there are those who would nitpick the story to death, like Fi, Mike and Sam would have been dead by episode 3. Then there are people who can suspend disbelief and enjoy a good story with good characters.

    You make the call on where Mr. Metesh fits.

  18. When I saw the trailer, I couldn’t figure out what the gun was, since it looked like a Remington, but sure didn’t act like one. That front lever under the barrel is completely useless in this creation. Now I know it is merely a dream gun, and that’s fine. there are movies full of such things..

    • Pure fantasy, exactly. A movie or a book of fiction, entertainment, suspension of reality. Enjoy the movie, buy the chick a take out from McD’s, take her home and get laid.

  19. so. a conversion cylinder allowed a six shot to become a five shot. is there hope for dg in his quest for a six shot .44special based on a model 69? i was willing to accept that it couldn’t be done.

    had to check the author after a few lines in. i sensed someone with firearm knowledge.

  20. Smith #3/Schofield types would be neat, Ben Foster/Charlie Prince in the newer 3:10 to Yuma does some manipulations with dual Schofields – the effect is quite visceral, one can believe he’s an especially dangerous outlaw with no suspension of disbelief.

  21. Considering he had a character steal a pump shotgun that magically turned into a double-barrel boxlock in time for him to kill someone with it (In the short story “Nona” from Skeleton Crew), I guess we should be giving Stephen King a little credit for knowing enough to not show Roland reloading his guns by topping off their gas tanks.

  22. It’s a series of novels I don’t really remember very well because I mainly read them as a child, but since it’s mainly about a kid who gets transported from NYC around various dimensions and times… I’m not going to hold them to ultra realism on the trans-dimensional firearms front.

    Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was badass but I don’t imagine people will critique the weaponry for realism.

  23. Yeah, the Gunslinger’s “catechism” as I think it’s referred to a couple times in the books when it’s up to other characters he has trained to recite it… pretty contrary to the central assumption of all gun control fanatics (like King himself, I think), and I gotta think it’s something that makes it in the picture just because no matter how abstract an adaptation this is, it’s just not Roland if that kind of iconic stuff from the novels isn’t there.

    FWIW, in the novels his guns are unmistakably single action, him fanning his hammer is common imagery when the shooting starts. Probably at some point for movie making they decided double action would let them do more interesting things visually. Also looks like he’ll have two working hands with a full set of digits in the movie, so…

  24. Damn near all movies have historically inaccurate devices in them. My wife gets tired of me saying ‘that wasn’t invented yet’, that the thing never existed, etc. Guess I should treat it for what it is, semi entertaining.

  25. Roland’s guns are made from Excalibur when his ancestor Arthur Eld melted it and went from sword to gun. They’re customade fantasy anyway. And they’re .50 caliber in the books. Hand cannons.

  26. Wait ! He’s from another dimension/reality right! So, as to quote Wesley Snipes in the Demolition man….”If this 200 years in the future….Then where are all the phasers, and ray guns at !!!!!”

  27. Pretty sure the books mention Roland opening a loading gate to load his revolvers and them being single action, but who cares. It looks like it will be a decent movie.

  28. You seem to forget the gunslinger is not from our world. This is a dark fantasy written by Stephen King . Enjoy the movie when it comes out for what it is, fantasy. Personally I’m looking forward to it. It has taken 32 years to get from page to screen.

  29. To try and inject reality into what Roland can do in terms of firearms and shooting is a fools errand. He is supposed to be able to do the impossible. Like make a cartridge dance along the back of his knuckles and hypnotize people. As well as just about all other aspects of the is fantasy.
    Im not sure about Elba as Roland..but we shall see. So much for his blue bombadeirs

  30. Wait, there are actual guns in this book? I only read 1/3 of the first book and then gave up cause it was so boring. I assumed the series was just a dude wandering through the desert while saying no lines and having no character development.

    • They are really good. One of the best series of books I’ve read, and I’ve read a lot over the years.

  31. Lol lol!!! Well since there are other worlds than this it’s obviously from another world. Fiction is fiction so just enjoy a great movie besides we’ve never been to these other worlds so who is to say this type of gun doesn’t exist.

  32. A different gun is from a universe with MAGIC and what not. Nitpicking Roland’s gun like bitchin’ about Luke’s Hunting rifle not being legit in Star Wars IV. Don’t make me release the nerd on this one.

  33. At least Hollywood has accepted that a reload is necessary. The good news is that it is just a movie and movies almost never get anything to do with history or firearms correct. So the gang bangers learn from the movies which means the honest people win gunfights.

  34. You have one thing wrong here. The 1858 .44 Remington New Army actually has a bore of .452 allowing it to fire a .45 LC not a .44 Magnum.


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