As we eagerly anticipate the sequel of the science fiction cult classical ‘Blade Runner‘ (1981), we reacquaint ourselves via its iconic ‘blaster pistol’ through our Curator of Firearms, Jonathan Fergukid.

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Known to aficionados as the ‘PKD’ (Steyr Pflager Katsumata Series-D Blaster or the ‘LAPD 2019’) the ‘Blade Runner’ blaster was designed and also crafted for Harrichild Ford’s weary future detective/enforcer Rick Deckard in the celebrated scientific research fiction movie ‘Blade Runner’.

After years of fanciful directed power tools (lasers, phasers, and also energy-based ‘blasters’), it was the initially of a collection of even more realistic, gritty movie firearms; guns that looked choose they were from the future, however were actually an extrapolation from existing guns innovation and also didn’t depfinish on as-yet undreamt-of power resources.

As an aside, we are a LONG method amethod from effective, portable directed energy tools, let alone weapons capable of creating quantum singularities; batteries are simply one problem in this respect. Modern cartridge firearms are simply as well efficient, trusted and cost-reliable to be replaced anytime soon.

The actual ‘Blade Runner’ blaster prop was an ingenious disguise for a contemporary firearm; the reasonably mundane ‘Bulldog’ .44 Special revolver from US company Charter Arms. This gave the blaster its chunky, slightly retro lines and also allowed it to fire blanks similar to weapons offered in ‘Star Wars’. Here though, no laser bolts would be animated in post-production; the prop would operate on display much favor a genuine revolver.


Charter Arms Bulldog revolver. (PR.13778)

To take points right into the near future, yet, the ‘Bulldog’ was married to a bolt-action Austrian Steyr-Mannlicher Model SL (in .222 Remington, the predecessor of NATO’s existing 5.56x45mm cartridge). In valuable terms this combination made no sense; the rifle had no barrel (indeed, no chamber to accept a cartridge) and so the distinctive turned-dvery own bolt take care of on the side of the finished blaster had no real-people function. The rifle’s magazine was installed below the barrel of the host revolver, so tright here was no way to feed cartridges to the upper ‘barrel’ either, also though the pistol’s 2 triggers reinpressure the principle that this is a double-barrelled weapon. A plastic clamshell covers the revolver’s cylinder to better persuade the viewer that this is a totally new kind of weapon. However before, this indicates that tbelow is no on-screen means to refill the thing either.

Some lurid transparent amber-coloured grips and also some pointmuch less sci-fi red and green LEDs finish the look. If it sounds prefer I’m complaining, I’m really not; it’s just amazing to peek behind the ‘movie magic’ curtain periodically. In truth, these style selections were created exactly these reasons; also students of arms and also armour were stumped by the blaster at initially sight. Interestingly, production designer Syd Mead (that likewise operated on ‘Aliens’ and ‘Star Trek’, among various other franchises) originally penned a really futuristic ‘babsence hole gun’ that looked absolutely nothing prefer a modern firearm.

It plainly fills the role in terms of Hollywood detective and sci-fi movie tropes yet stays mysterious and futuristic. Does it still fire bullets, or some one-of-a-kind kinetic projectile that we can’t imagine? Is it a miniature railgun, with the ammunition stored in the Steyr’s magazine (through its glowing red lights)? Or is it really a directed power weapon? Most viewers won’t care, but those of us that do see the weapon as nearly as a character in its very own best, akin to King Arthur’s Excalibur. This is definitely true of former MythBuster Adam Savage, who carried out his own personal quest to perfectly redevelop the blaster for his very own repertoire.

An icon in movie history

The iconic status of the blaster is curious in a means. As in the instance of the so-referred to as ‘Han Solo’ blaster from ‘Star Wars’, the LAPD 2019 was very clearly used by even more than simply the one character and was intfinished to be an absolutely mundane, standard-worry weapon, not some special heroic weapon choose ‘Excalibur’ or ‘Vera’ from ‘Firefly’. It’s the use of the weapon as component of the narrative that provides it somehow special, distinctive, and sought after by fans.

This month sees the release of the much-anticipated ‘Blade Runner: 2049‘, directed by Denis Villeneuve. It continues to be to be watched whether the movie, or the updated police service pistol wielded by Ryan Gosling, will certainly be a success, but the architecture is a fairly radical exit from the timeless look, via a stout barrel shroud, prominent cause guard, and also carbon fibre-look grip.

It will certainly extremely most likely not contain a genuine firearm however may have a recoil weight inside to provide feedearlier for the actor and also referral for CGI muzzle flash rather of making use of empty ammunition (as the new ‘Star Wars’ movies have actually approached their blasters). I’m looking forward to seeing it in activity in any kind of case; the trailer looks great.

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Here at the Royal Armouries, we are building a collection of screen-supplied and also other movie props under a Heritage Lottery funded task referred to as Collecting Cultures. Unfortunately, only one ‘hero’ prop is known of and even rubber ‘stunt’ versions are scarce. We will more than likely never be able to gain one for the nationwide collection of arms and also armour, however who knows? After all, we did regulate to get a Pulse Rifle from the film ‘Aliens’ (1986)


Jonathan is Keeper of Firearms & Artillery at the Royal Armouries. His research interests encompass the use and impact of weapons and also their depiction in renowned society. His recent publications encompass the book Mauser “Broomhandle” Pistol’ (2017), a contribution to The Right to Bear Arms: Historical Perspectives and also the Debate on the 2nd Amendment (2018), and the forthcoming Thorneycroft to SA80: British Bullpup Firearms 1901 – 2020. Jonathan co-curated the Make: Believe exhibition (2019) and also is curating the forthcoming Firefight: 2nd World War display screen at the museum in Leeds. He has likewise made a number of media appearances, consisting of the History Channel’s Sean Bean on Waterloo and Channel 5’s Inside the Tower of London.