Firefly and Western Literature
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Zoe and Lord Bowler

Inspired by Neil’s note that Zoe’s gun in Firefly is a descendant of one used in The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., I’ve been looking around to see if I can discover which gun has made its way from Briscoe‘s late-nineteenth-century West to Firefly‘s space frontier. Zoe’s gun is definitely not Brisco’s pearl-handled pistol, but it may be based on the odd pistol that Lord Bowler carries in a holster strapped to his back.

This is not the most academic of investigations, but if Zoe’s gun is based on Lord Bowler’s, it does suggest an appropriate homage to Julius Carry and the character Lord Bowler that he created, one of the rare examples of an African American in a major continuing role on a television western.

The homage seems all the more appropriate given the untimely death of Julius Carry just a few weeks ago.


3 Responses to “Zoe and Lord Bowler”

  1. here is a more accurate discription of where zoe’s gun came from. the one on carry’s back is a double barrel shot gun. The Mare’s Leg (aka Mare’s Laig; both sometimes spelled without the apostrophe) was the name given to a customized shortened rifle by Steve McQueen’s character on the television series Wanted: Dead or Alive (1958–1961). McQueen’s character was named Josh Randall, and the gun has also been referred to as a Winchester Randall, or a Randall Special.

    The original Mare’s Leg was made by cutting down a .44-40 caliber Winchester Model 1892 rifle to a size that could be worn in a large leg holster and used with one hand. The barrel was cut down to a length of twelve (or possibly nine) inches,[1] and much of the butt-stock was removed. For filming three guns were actually made, each with an enlarged loop on the cocking lever. The first gun differed in the size of its lever enlargement, and the last gun had an octagonal barrel instead of a round one. The actual gun being used could sometimes change from shot to shot in a given scene. While the guns were chambered for the .44-40 round, McQueen wore more impressive looking .45-70 rounds in the loops of his gun belt

  2. Mare’s leg is seen also in the opening scene of “Once Upon a Time in the West.” One of Frank’s three gunman (played by Woody Strode) carries the same rifle/pistol. Both Zoe’s use of a modified leg and the use in OUATITW are a homage to the silver age of westerns in film and to the character of Josh Randall specifically.
    Whether this modified Winchester was actually used as its is in these films is best guess, but it was probably as good a choice as any for close quarters combat.

  3. The Mare’s Leg that Zoe uses is actually the same prop used in Brisco County Jr., carried by Crystal Hawkes when she captures Brisco.,_Jr.

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