Thursday, January 5, 2012

Mal Reynold's Pistol

Here is an old project from a few years ago which really shows the versatility of cardboard and wood filler.  Unfortunately I did not photograph the process of creating the pistol.  I just have images of the pistol after it was all assembled and the painting and priming began.
Here we see Mal Reynolds from the series Firefly, and below is a picture of his pistol.

At the behest of my best friend Mike, I began to make this pistol for him.  At the time I made this I was working on several Star Trek resin phasers and tricorders, and Mike so wanted a Mal Pistol.  So I googled images of his pistol, made scaled layouts and drawings and began.

This pistol is primarily made out of cardboard.  Cardboard is wonderful to work with, but you need to use the right kind.  Corrugated boxes and Cereal boxes aren't quite good enough. What I use is cardboard that usually can be found on the backs of lined paper pads.  Fortunately for me, my job has a ton of this cardboard which they usually throw out - and they can throw out about 25-50 sheets of it per day.  So I always have an ample supply.  If you can not get a hold of this cardboard, I think cereal boxes can be alright - you just need to collect a lot of them.

After making my templates on paper, I cut them out and outlined it on the cardboard.  I  made a few dozen of these cardboard silhouettes to get the right thickness.  Once I achieved that, I glued them all together and held them together with rubber bands.  I let it dry overnight. 

The whole body of the gun is card board, except the trigger guard and the barrel - but I will get to those later.  Once the cardboard was all dry, I took off the rubber bands and broke out my dremmel tool.  I put on the large rotary sander and began shaping the cardboard.  Several hours later, I more or less had the exact shape I wanted.  

Next step was the barrel.  I used a piece of PVC tubing I had left over from one of my other projects.  I used PVC tubing heavily in making prop light sabers that my friend Mike and I would usually choreograph duels with. 
Click on image to see us in action!

Anyway, I shaved the sides of the PVC tube so that it was angular.  Once that was done, I glued it to the cardboard gun.  Once that was dried I coated the whole thing in wood filler.  Oh how I love wood filler!

Once that was dried, I sanded it down - added more filler where needed, sanded again and so on.
For the last part of the construction I added the trigger guard.  This was tricky at first because nothing I was trying to use worked.  Finally I bought a PVC wall mount for PVC tubing.  I cut it to the size I needed and believe it or not, I lit a candle and held the PVC over it to warm it and shape it how I needed.  Once I got that shape, I glued it to the rest of the gun.  Then more filler and sanding.
Finally I primed it.

At this point Mike was peeing himself.
Once all the priming and sanding was done, I gave it a good cleaning and then applied Gold Spray paint.
And then got some other paints to give it all the necessary details.

Finally done!  This was a fun project for me.  It only took a few days to make, and was very inexpensive.  most of all it made my friend Mike very happy.  And even though it's several years old already, and that my friend Mike is a minimalists,  it makes me happy that he still has it.


  1. You are amazing!! I now have an idea of how to make my Killjoys laser gun (See My Chemical Romance's Na Na Na video)

  2. Thank you HmHinkle. I have a newer posting for my Mal pistol which shows the steps in which I made it. It's not complete yet, but I'm sure it will be helpful. Here is the link:

  3. Thank you for that! Do you by chance take requests?

  4. What's your request? If its something i think i can manage I'd be happy to give it a shot.

  5. Hmmm.. The Killjoy gun would be awesome, but I think I can replicate this tutorial and adjust it accordingly. What about Loki's helmet/armor? I was thinking of going as Lady Loki for Halloween :)

  6. The Loki helmet and armor might be difficult for me to do before Halloween (today being October 1st). If you are able to work around the clock I would suggests making the helmet itself using the featherweight technique as seen in my featherweight/Astronaut helmet posting from January 2012. For the horns, I would make them out of some nice, lightweight insulation foam - I made similar horns in my project Boba Fett posting also in January of 2012. As for armor, you can always try making out of sheets of foam that you can buy at an arts and crafts store. They come in a variety of colors and should hold some paint fairly well if you want to paint it. I used this kind of foam in my Foam Iron Man helmet posting from April 2012. The easiest way to do it would be using a pepakura file, but I do not have one. You might be able to find one on or a similar website. If there is any other help I can be please let me know! I would also love to see your progress during your project!

  7. Hey HmHinkle - I've decided to try out your request for the Loki helmet. Check my blog in a few days!

  8. And you can call me Hallena :)

  9. Hello Hallena.
    The blog posting is up!
    You can see it here:

    I've only been working on it 2 days now, so it's not quite close to finish, but already it's beginning to take shape.
    I hope it is helpful in your task of making your own helmet.