Gunfire: 1940s Hollywood Style

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posted on July 31, 2012
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While working on the September issue (available in mid August), which includes a story by Rick Hacker on “Sequels: Replica Guns of the Hollywood West,” American Rifleman’s Associate Art Director David Labrozzi brought an article to my attention that he found while working on an unrelated project.

Called “Tricks of the Movie Marksmen” and written by Powell Clark for the November 1947 issue, thanks to Labrozzi, you can see it on AmericanRifleman.org. In reading how Hollywood simulated bullet impact, I came across a material with which I was unfamiliar: “[Roy Wade] has designed a powerful compressed-air gun that shoots medical capsules, loaded with fuller's earth.”

This is great time capsule story, but what exactly is fuller’s earth? I had to resort to Merriam Webster’s: “an earthy substance that consists chiefly of clay mineral but lacks plasticity and that is used as an adsorbent, a filter medium, and a carrier for catalysts.”

Now when I go back and watch the 1950’s television shows Hacker listed in his story, I will be on the lookout for fuller’s earth.

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