Although The Rifleman wasn't entirely accurate in its portrayal of the guns used throughout the TV series, people loved it enough for it to last 168 episodes.
The first thing that experienced gun enthusiasts noticed was the main character Lucas McCain's Winchester rifle. The Rifleman took place in the 1870s and 1880s, yet McCain carried a modified 1892 Winchester rifle with a large ring lever.
No way could McCain realistically do the memorable handgun spinning on a gun that couldn't exist during the time period in which The Rifleman is set. This annoyed gun and history fans, but it's not the first time they've had to forgive their favorite characters for such discrepancies.
Other Guns Used
According to the show’s producer, this 1892 .44-40 Winchester model rifle McCain used was the same one John Wayne used in the film Stagecoach. Or one of several that may or may not have been used during the filming of 'Stagecoach.' It wasn’t uncommon to have duplicate rifles on the set in case the rifle malfunctioned during a scene.
This Winchester rifle appeared in every single episode of The Rifleman. McCain would spin it around his hand to cock the rifle, thanks to the modified large ring lever addition, as well as fire it rapidly. It's claimed that the famous opening credits feature this rifle being fired 12 times.
The first seven shots were a close up firing, with the rest of the five shots being heard in the background. To this day, if people from the '50s and '60s were to hear this iconic rhythm, they would know straight away a classic western series was about to start.
Three guns were used in the filming of The Rifleman. There were two identical 1892 Winchester rifles, one used on the show and another for backup. The third gun was a Spanish version, called an El Tigre used in the saddle holster.
Two guns never used on the show were made for Chuck Conners by a fan, Maurice "Moe" Hunt. He created the guns for the actor playing McCain, Chuck Connors. Connors gave one of these guns to golfer Arnold Palmer, who displayed it at the World Golf Hall of Fame.
The Rifleman is another piece of American history showing our love for lever-action rifles. This love is part of the driving force behind Ranger Point Precision.