Leon's Gun: Mother's Defender
The COP .357 Magnum
By Phil Steinschneider


Holden: The tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun beating its legs trying to turn itself over but it can't, not without your help, but you're not helping.

Leon: What do you mean I'm not helping?


Holden: I mean you're not helping. Why is that Leon?


They're just questions, Leon. In answer to your query, they're written down for me. It's a test, designed to provoke an emotional response.


Shall we continue? Describe in single words, only the good things that come in to your mind about.. your mother.


Leon: My mother?


Holden: Yeah.


Leon: Let me tell you about my mother…BLAM

These are the unforgettable lines that introduce us to Leon's gun in the classic science fiction movie Blade Runner. Unfortunately, and for unknown reasons, the armaments in Blade Runner have almost never officially been discussed. Instead, a cult following has evolved around the movie's props and weaponry (as well as the film itself). Hopefully, this article will clarify many questions about what has until now been a very mysterious prop - Leon's gun.

Assistant Art Director Stephen Dane produced several preliminary sketches during pre-production of a gun that Deckard (Harrison Ford) was to use throughout the movie. The drawings all appear to depict a COP .357 or a derivation of it. In the end, probably at the direction of Ridley Scott, the COP was dropped as the gun to be used by Rick Deckard. Instead, the COP, in completely unaltered form, was employed as the weapon Leon uses to maim the Blade Runner Holden in the famous opening scene of the film (see fig. 1).

fig. 1

History and Critique

The now defunct COP Inc. of Torrance, California, originally produced the COP, or Compact Off-Duty Police. Here is an excerpt from the user manual describing the purpose behind the gun's commercial manufacture:

"The COP was specifically designed as a police off-duty or back-up handgun. It combines the flatness of the automatic with the instant readiness of the revolver. Many special features not available in any other handgun are built into the COP to make it a highly specialized personal defense weapon."

A fascinating weapon in appearance, the COP has some very interesting features: First, it provides the ability to fire four quick, successive shots. Second, it can safely be carried in the loaded and firing position with almost no chance of accidental discharge due to its very hard trigger pull. Third, it is virtually indestructible because of its stainless steel manufacture. Nevertheless, some of the COP's primary features also act as some of its major distractions. The trigger pull, as mentioned earlier, is extremely long and hard. Furthermore, the weapon's stainless steel construction makes it a small but relatively heavy weapon to carry. At a hefty 28 oz. unloaded, the COP is certainly very noticeable when it is strapped to your calf or other back-up weapon location.


The COP has a very interesting and unusual firing mechanism. The weapon is loaded by releasing a catch on the top of the pistol and tilting down the four barrels, which pivot on a pin inserted through the frame, to expose the breech. Once open, four bullets can be placed into the available chambers. One then reengages the barrel into the frame until a click is heard. The gun is now ready to fire. As the trigger is pulled, an internal ratchet is actuated that lines up to a cocking hammer and one of the four firing pins. After the trigger has traveled to the end of its stroke, the internal hammer is released, exerting force on the ratchet which in turn pushes one of the firing pins forward, igniting the primer, and firing the bullet. Each subsequent pull of the trigger causes the ratchet to line up with the next firing pin in the sequence and firing the bullet in that chamber, until the gun is out of ammunition or the shooter stops pulling the trigger (see fig. 2).

fig. 2

Made entirely of stainless steel, except for the grips, which are made of checkered wood, the COP is comprised of over 50 separate parts (see fig. 3). Although the gun can be taken apart, it is not easily field stripped and requires that one screw and several pins be removed for disassembly.



1. Frame
2. Backstrap
3. Mounting Pin
4. Hammer Strut Bearing Pin
5. Hand
7. Hand Spring
9. Hammer
10. Barrel Pin
11. Hammer Spring
12. Strut
13. Bearing
15. Sear
16. Sear Pin
18. Extractor Stop Pin
19. Ratchet
20. Ratchet Plunger (2)
21. Ratchet Retaining Ring
22. Trigger
23. Trigger Spring
24. Trigger Spring Guide Rod
25. Latch
26. Latch Stop Pin
28. Extractor
29. Extractor Guide
30. Extractor Push Rod
31. Firing Pin (4)
32. Firing Pin Washer Retaining Screw
33. Firing Pin Retaining Screw
34. Left Grip
35. Right Grip
36. Grip Screw
37. Barrel
39. Ratchet Plunger Spring
45. Hand Pivot Pin
46. Hand Pivot & Mounting Pin (2)
47. Latch Spring
49. Ratchet Retainer Ball
51. Front Sight
52. Ratchet Bal Springl
54. Pivot Pin Retaining Ring

fig. 3


Caliber 38 special & .357 Magnum
Number of Shots 4
Construction All Stainless Steel
Length 5.6 inches
Width 1.062 inches
Height 4.1 inches
Weight empty 28 oz.
Finish Semi-matte
Type of Action Double

In the Movie

No one describes the gun used by the replicant Leon Kowalski better than the man who played him in Blade Runner, recently deceased Brion James:

"The gun I fired at Holden was real weapon that's made in Compton, California. It looks space-age, but it's real. And it has four barrels on it. That way you can shoot four shots one right after the other; it's sort of like a quadruple-barrel gun."

Excellent background information is available on Leon's gun and its creation, as well as the above quote from Mr. James, in Paul Sammon's book Future Noir: The Making of Blade Runner on pages 109 and 239.

Additionally, there is one important detail which will now be revealed for the first time: According to Art Shippee, Jr., the property master responsible for the weapons in the movie, the COP .357 used in Blade Runner had been altered to fire two barrels simultaneously. This modification helped create the greater than expected flash that is visible in the movie (see fig. 4).

fig. 4

Price and Availability

The COP .357 has been out of production for many years and is relatively difficult to locate. Nevertheless, with a little luck, good examples of COPs can still be found and purchased for a reasonable price. According to the fourteenth edition of the Blue Book of Gun Values, depending on condition, a COP should retail for between $200 and $350 with $200 representing a gun in 60% condition and $350 being the price for a pistol in 100% or mint condition. The following places are excellent sources for those looking to acquire a COP handgun:

The Gun List
The Shotgun News

It has been this author's experience that although the suggested price for a mint COP is $350, in general, the usual cost for a NIB (New In Box) version will run as high as $495 to $550.

COP Prop Reproductions

There is anecdotal evidence that some replicas of the COP have been produced by the Japanese. Although this has never been confirmed, this author recently stumbled upon photographs of what appear to be replicas of a Stephan Dane design prototype and the COP pistol in Spinner Dokuhon Final Plus 44 (see fig. 5).

fig. 5

The COP Used in the Movie

The actual COP used in the movie Blade Runner was supplied by the legendary but now bankrupt Sembridge Gun Rentals, Inc. of Los Angles, California. For many years Stembridge was Hollywood's  supplier of choice for movie weapons. Unfortunately, due to the increasing number of productions going to Canada and overseas, Stembridge was forced to close their doors in the middle of 1999. According to a representative, a very wealthy individual purchased the entire collection, including Leon's gun from Blade Runner.

The Blade Runner COP pistol is well documented and will probably show up at a Christie's or Sotheby's auction one day. However, if you accidentally stumble on a COP .357 that has been legally altered to fire two barrels at once, you may have found the original COP used during the filming of Blade Runner.

In Conclusion

Blade Runner has been a science fiction fan favorite for many years. Since the release of the Director's Cut in 1992 the Blade Runner cult has grown immensely. In 1996 Westwood released the Blade Runner game and a new generation was introduced to the movie's story, concepts, props, and social commentary. Thanks to its legions of loyal fans, a movie that was unsuccessful during its original release, is now considered one of the top five science fiction films ever produced.

Hopefully, this article will shed a little light on one of the two mysterious Blade Runner guns. It is about time that the hand props of this classic film were given the coverage they deserve.

Additional Photographs and the Owner's Manual

Click here for additional "precious" photos. Click here to download the owner's manual in Adobe Acrobat format (please be patient as the file is 2.2 Megs in size).

Bibliography and References

Sammon, Paul M., Future Noire: The Making of Blade Runner: HarperPaperbacks, 1996.

Fjestad, S.P., Fourteenth Edition Blue Book of Gun Values: Blue Book Publications, Inc., 1993 -  [Online] http://www.bluebookinc.com.

Spinner Dokuhon Final Plus 44: TVC-15 Publishing, 1999.

The Blade Runner Sketchbook: Dolphin Publishing, 1982.

Gun List: Krause Publications, Inc., 1999 -- [Online] http://www.Gunlist.net.

Shotgun News: Primedia, 1999 -- [Online] http://www.shotgunnews.com.

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