Mal's gun

UPDATED: Tuesday, September 1, 2009 13:13
VIEWED: 34922
PAGE 2 of 2

Saturday, June 13, 2009 3:03 PM


Kind of a cool thread...I am another "gun&knife" guy;and I used to wonder WHAT Mal's sidearm actually was.When I first saw the show,I initially though tit was a dressed up LeMat(interesting Civil War Confederate piece-unique in having a cap&ball cylinder AND an approximately 20 gauge shotgun barrel.Then I saw the magazine in addition to a cylinder and was REALLY confused).
What I always liked about the show was the idea that 20th and 21st cenyury firearms would fit right in and be practical-it was kind of cool to see Badger's guys with M203's,MP38/40's;AK pattern rifles ...not to mention Zoe's levergun.
Ruger may still have the Blackhawk (single action revolver) available in .30 carbine-you think that could be the basis for a build?


Sunday, June 14, 2009 4:02 AM



Originally posted by gripper:
Ruger may still have the Blackhawk (single action revolver) available in .30 carbine-you think that could be the basis for a build?

Buy the first Official Firefly Companion book.
There are some excellent photos of the Mal pistol including showing how a Taurus 85 revolver is mounted inside to facilitate blank-firing for filming.


Sunday, June 14, 2009 9:35 AM


Taurus 85? that's their verison of a J frame snubby in .38 special.
It WOULD be interesting to build a working rendition of his sidearm...ssort of "futuristic meets retro(post American Civil War) cool;with modern metallurgy and ammo technology.
Hey,you might recall that the fed Mal domed after he shot Kaylee was using some type of Astra 400 cool is that?Either a9x19 or 9mm Largo( sort of an early attempt at a rimless .38 Super,Spanish).
Still, I wonder if the "Mal's Sidearm " project COULD be doable....standard/major caliber cylinder ...AND some type of alternate magazine arrangement.
LeMat meets the Webley-Fosberry ( or the Mateba) anyone???


Tuesday, August 25, 2009 8:16 PM


I'm working on a CAD model of Mal's pistol. This is what I have so far. It's completely done from screenshots and pics of peoples kits. I'm thinking about buying a kit to take measurements from, but I can't find any sidkits and don't like the movie one so much. Has anyone determined whether or not the wilco is cast from the actual tv prop?

Oh, and don't pay any attention to the hammer or trigger, they're just there to take up the space, those arent the permanent ones.

I plan on making it into either a cap gun or a starter pistol, depending on the complexity and legality. Anyway, can you guys point out any errors I've made?


Wednesday, August 26, 2009 5:59 AM


The Wilco is not an accurate replica of Mal's pistol.

This is the most accurate cast out there, the phillipes resin cast.

The metal sidkit molds were probably made by re-engineering the phillipes cast to allow for mold shrinkage and the production of a multi-part, working replica.
(Picture of a disassembled sidkit Mal pistol to be found near the top of the thread.)

Here are the two sidkit Mals I'm working on.

The two spare magazines are of my own design and construction, shown in this thread:

There is also a thread on the RPF about people making their own Mal pistols from scratch:

Your 3-D modeling is off to a good start;
have fun!



Thursday, August 27, 2009 3:27 PM


Hi Mike
You seem to be the resident expert on Mal's gun here, so I hope you (or anyone else who wants to chime in) won't mind helping a novice out. I am not usually into firearms, but I always loved Mal's gun. So I went ahead and bought a partially finished sidkit version (from Italy). Unfortunately I'm such a novice, I don't know how to finish putting together the few last bits that didn't come assembled. In fact, I don't even know what the names of the parts are! (feel free to clue me in on that as well).

Here is a pix of my gun.

-I think I read earlier that the sight at the end had to be removed in order to remove the red plug?

-Once the red plug is removed, does that round part indicated by the arrow on my photo fit into the end? Do you glue it into place?

-How to you attach the pieces shown above and below the gun, and the 2 little 'thumbscrew' bits, also with glue? What kind of glue do you use?

-I assume the two little black screws are used to fit the extended barrel on, did you also glue it for stability?
What kind of tool do you use to screw in those little black screws?

-What is the extra moving part that is the same as the one already in place (above right of the trigger). I'm guessing that part is for left/right handed preference, or are there supposed to be two of them on the gun?

-If I wanted to darken the metal a bit and make the 'wood' look more realistic, how do you recommend doing that, and where do I get the products? For instance, I don't know what a 'blacking agent' is.




Friday, August 28, 2009 5:17 AM



Do you have or do you know anyone who has, a phillip cast mal pistol in any stage of completion that I could borrow to get accurate dimensions, shapes and features? I would be happy to give the loaner a reproduction of mine once finished. I would only need it for a few days in order to get dimensions and high res photos.

The taurus 85 that the gun is based on is very similar to a smith & wesson snub nose 38 special of mine and I took the cover plate off to get a look at the internal mechanics. I then spoke with a jeweler friend of mine that is fairly certain he can reproduce all the parts needed to make a single/double action working replica. I've also got an idea in design phase to make the magazine functional. The parts of the magazine that are hidden by the gun's frame will not be screen accurate, but will be screen accurate with the magazine in the gun.

Since we don't know for sure what the parts of the prop gun actually do, does anyone have a problem with using the parts, loosely referred to as the return springs, as a magazine release? Doing this would eliminate having a button that isn't screen accurate.

You can feel free to email me at:

if you have any questions or suggestions.



Friday, August 28, 2009 6:24 AM


I attached all the final pieces except the top four screws and applied the antique gold Rub & Buff.
Which I promptly wore off handling it.
Applied R&B a second time; looked like garbage.
Wore that off on purpose and, third times the charm.
I now need to seal the whole pistol in a clear coat.
I don't know how that's going to work, so I need to make a test piece to see how the R&B takes to the clear.

Not a particularly good photo, but the best at this time.

Marilynn, I have more detailed pics of how I built my Sidkit Mal at this sight.
about half-way down the page.
I have a lot of info about how to assemble the Sidkit to be a little more durable, because the pewter/white-metal casting are pretty soft.
The Sidkit's original instructions have been archived here:

It's a zip file you have to download, but it shows exactly how Sidero originally intended the Mal pistol to be built.
To your specific questions:
1: I don't think you need to remove the front sight, but at most you should only need to remove the front screw.

2: Yes, the "donut" gets glued into the muzzle end.

3: The thumbscrews are supposed to be glued into the dimples, but that method does not work well.
The slightest bump and they are breaking off.
In my builders thread, I show where I drilled and tapped the thumbscrews for 4-40 set screws.
And then also glued them.

4: The little screws thread into the underside of the barrel.
But you need to glue the barrel in the pocket first, ensuring it is straight, then the metric buttonhead screws can be put in.
You need a small metric "Allen wrench" (common name for a "hex key" or "internal hex wrench") to screw the buttonhead screws in.
I felt the barrel mount is one of several poor design features of the Sidkit and I supported mine with a bolt from behind.
I talk about that in my build thread, also.

5: The extra part is just that, extra.
I'm not sure why Sid included them.

6: I chose to paint my Sidkit.
"Bluing", Browning" and "Blackening" agents are all controlled corrosion processes.
Fine on high quality gun steel, but I'm concerned they will continue to eat away at the soft "pot-metal" that the Sidkits are made of.
For nearly all my dummy gun building, I use Dupli-Color DAP 1698 Black Primer followed by
Dupli-Color DA 1603 Semi-Gloss Black.
The grips I scratched with a 24 grit piece of abrasive cloth to make fake grain, coated in a black wash, streak-brushed red mahoganey stain and then clear coat.

Read all the posted info and Good Luck!



Saturday, August 29, 2009 7:36 PM


Thanks so much for sharing the detailed info on how you finished your Mal gun, and the links! - I'd heard the sidkit instructions had been archived, but I hadn't been able to find them before.

I hope I can get my gun to look half as shiny-good as yours does!

I'll post a pic of mine after I finish it, if I don't embarass myself.




Sunday, August 30, 2009 5:31 AM


To Auntigravity/Marilynn, I'm sure you'll do fine.
And remember, do your best and however your pistol comes out,
it'll be a reflection of your work and learning/growing experience.
There is a place to say, "I built this" rather than, "I bought this".
Also, hand skills only develop with practice for most people.
The more practice, the greater the skills.
Don't ever fail to be happy with each stage of development.
A concrete foundation isn't a "pretty" thing, but the whole house falls without it.
Your first efforts are the foundation for any later improvement you experience.


Originally posted by tobybirch007:
Do you have or do you know anyone who has,
a phillip cast mal pistol in any stage of completion that I could borrow to get accurate dimensions, shapes and features?

I then spoke with a jeweler friend of mine that is fairly certain he can reproduce all the parts needed to make a single/double action working replica. I've also got an idea in design phase to make the magazine functional.


I wish you luck with your project,
but there are a few important skills you will need and problems to overcome.

The phillipes castings are pretty rare now.
I just sold one for $125 and it will be tough to find one that a person is willing to loan.

Second will be your personal, mechanical skill level and industry style connections.
There is a Mal pistol project going on now that involves a gentleman with CAD, foundry and machining connections
who will be doing much if not all of the final finishing and assembly work himself.
A final price of $700 is the current figure, amortized across a 25 to 30 piece run.
Building a high-end Mal pistol is too major a project to give to a few people as a "casual time" fill-in job.

I'm not trying to discourage you.
If you haven't done a metal-working project of this scale before,
I'm just suggesting that you educate yourself as to the processes and steps involved so that your goals and expectations are realistic and attainable.
If you look at the projects on this RPF thread,
you can see skill levels all over the scale; from tin-knocker-novice to CAD generated plastic pieces.
Lotsa dimensions, too.

Your CAD images are nice, but it is a long and expensive road from the computer image to the final product.
Last time I worked in a CNC shop, (over a decade ago, JEEZ! coming up on TWO decades ago )
CNC mill time was $95 per hour.
If your background and current job status place you in the job-shop manufacturing community in your area,
and you have a few thousand dollars to invest in your project,
your goal of building a metal Mal with functioning features is realistic.
If not, you probably need to gear your work toward home workshop type tools and materials.

As a final note on the magazine, the studio original was held in with magnets.
Like many aspects of building a real-world Mal from such a fanciful design,
a complete re-engineering of the magazine holding system would be necessary.
That would be a mini-engineering project in its own right.
For what it's worth, I'd mimic the WWII German G-43 magazine catch system.
It is a style that would fit between the back of the mag and the front of the triggerguard.

Good Luck,


Sunday, August 30, 2009 5:58 AM


Thanks for your words of advice. I have a degree in mechanical engineering technology, and took the manufacturing route. I've built several different devices that are similar on scale and complexity and don't believe this will be a problem.

I'm currently trying to find the right small milling machine and lathe to convert to cnc for my home shop use, and also have a small home foundry set up. I only mentioned using a jeweler to make the internal parts because they would be difficult to make due to their small features.

I wasn't planning on using the foundry for my project because it wasn't going to be worth the time to make patterns for 2 or 3 guns, I planned on machining everything. Is there a market for screen accurate metal guns?


Sunday, August 30, 2009 6:07 AM


Link to the gun? I'd like to buy one.

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009 12:10 PM


The only guns that are currently being sold (that I know of) can be found:

(TV show version, not accurate)


(movie version, currently out of stock)

I can't find any info on the above mentioned metal version for $700ish.

There's usuall something on ebay, but I'm not sure what exactly those are.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009 1:05 PM


Found a really cheap price on a Black Powder revolver that looks much like Mal's Gun...

It SHOOTS ! And it is under $200 !

Anyone interested . send me a PM , I'll hook you up with the particulars...


Tuesday, September 1, 2009 1:13 PM


My dad has a version of that is all steel except the trigger guard and and backstrap are brass. It shoots .44cal balls with black powder and percussion caps. It's really awesome to see, smoke goes everywhere.

I'm pretty sure that's the gun they modeled the Mal pistol to look like, due to its heavy use in the U.S. civil war, but don't quote me on that.

The blackpowder it uses is less powerful than the modern smokeless powder, and if you use smokeless in it (with the same amount of powder, I reckon) it will not be pretty. Plus, the smoke and smell of the black powder is what makes it fun!






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