Many customers ask, "can a prop gun actually hurt someone?" The answer, of course, is yes.
In theatrical terms, a "prop" is any movable item used by actors on stage or screen. Accordingly, a prop gun is any firearm that appears in film, television, or other theatrical production. A prop gun could be an authentic firearm, or it could be a non-firing or blank-firing replica.
Many larger-budget productions hire a firearms safety consultant known as an armorer to provide firearms for the film. These firearms are often real (i.e., capable of firing live rounds), though they are sometimes modified to fire only blank cartridges. These prop guns are loaded with blank ammunition or inert dummy "bullets" that look real but lack the explosive charge of live ammo. In addition, armorers require strict safety protocols on set to prevent actors or crew members from firearms-related injuries.
In contrast, a blank-firing gun is designed only to fire blank cartridges. Blank-firing guns cannot fire live ammunition and do not require a background check to purchase. Blank-firing guns are frequently used as film and theatrical props because they are safer and easier to use than real firearms and do not require a firearms safety expert like an armorer.
If you are considering using prop firearms for a theatrical project, following some common sense safety guidelines is essential. Never use an actual firearm for a theatrical project without an experienced armorer on set. Remember, even blank-firing guns are capable of causing injury and even death when misused. Never point directly at another person or animal. Contact your local police if you are filming in a public setting. Law enforcement officers have become confused by actors brandishing prop firearms. Having all appropriate paperwork and permits in place will avoid such misunderstandings.