Since I had two different people ask me recently why anybody would buy a gun that didn’t fire and couldn’t be made to fire, I figured it was a fair question that deserved an answer. Here are four reasons why:
(1) There are many legal restrictions on the sale of real guns.
You simply can’t buy a “real” gun, or can’t buy the one you want in many instances, because there are restrictions on purchasing them in many countries, and even some states or municipalities in the United States. Non-firing replica guns are legal to buy and own without any restriction in most of the United States and in many countries of the world, and don’t require any sort of license or permit. If you want a firearm to protect life and property or to use for hunting and target shooting, obviously the non-firing type doesn’t make sense. But what if you just wanted a classic .357 Magnum with an 8-inch barrel to display as part of a collection, or maybe the sleek Walther PPK, like James Bond uses in the movies? Except for relatively few places where replicas of “modern” firearms are banned due to their realistic appearance, you would be able to buy a totally realistic, non-firing replica of either of those classic handguns.
(2) Non-firing replicas can be safely displayed in your home or office.
Non-firing replicas do not fire, and cannot be adapted to do so. Their barrels have metal plugs inside, and while they are made of metal that approximates the weight and heft of a real gun, they are not made of the kind of high-tensile steel required to withstand the pressure and hot gases of a gunpowder charge. Moreover, the chambers and clips are made a non-standard size so that real bullets won’t fit them, as an added safety measure.
So long as they are handled sensibly by responsible adults who display them as collectibles or use them in reenactments, living history performance or film productions, they are completely safe. “Safe” means if you want to practice your western quick-draw in front of a mirror, you won’t accidentally shoot yourself in the foot with a replica Colt .45! If you really want to unleash your inner Wyatt Earp, get yourself a frock coat, brocade vest and a replica of a Tombstone Marshal’s badge, and join one of the many quick-draw groups in the U.S. and other countries and test your draw against other would-be “gunslingers.”
“Handled sensibly” means because they look so authentic, you don’t take them out in public and wave them around where a cop or somebody might mistake it for the real thing and shoot you. Of course they should be kept out of the hands of children, too, for the same reason–and also because loading mechanisms and other metal moving parts in a quality replica can pinch or mash little fingers.