Sunday, February 21, 2010


The top photo features a picture of the MARE'S LEG (Sometimes spelled MARE'S LAIG) pistol as adapted from a full size rifle by a fellow known as JB CUSTOMS. The middle two photos show El Stevo McQueen from his famous series, THE BOUNTY HUNTER, where he used a cut down lever action carbine instead of the requiste Colt six-shooter.
The bottom photo shows an Italian made product called THE BOUNTY HUNTER MODEL 92 made by the Puma Gun Company. Perusing the Puma site, one can't help but notice their cheap prices, which might or might not be a good thing. I've owned some inexpensive guns that were good guns, and I've owned some inexpensive guns that were junk. The Puma Bounty Hunter pistols that I've seen have been pretty good quality, although I have not gotten to shoot one.
Both the JB CUSTOM version and the Puma version are expensive. The Puma version has a street price of about $1200, which is about the cheapest price that I have seen in the last twenty years or so that various folks have been making versions of this gun.
The thing is, everywhere else in the Western World, lever action rifles sell for anywhere from about $350 to $600 made by such companies as Marlin and Winchester. Winchester even has a model that chambers pistol ammunition with a large loop lever and a 16" barrel. Other makers have similar guns that sell in this price range.
So why is it that no marketing genius from Winchester or Marlin or another American gun company has not figured out that making their own Mare's Leg would be profitable, particularly if they sold it at a reasonable price, like $500 or $600? Here's another brainbuster of an idea, marketing folks: Make it in a .22 caliber so that it could be shot cheaply and frequently.
It begs the question why a great gun company like Henry Repeating Arms Company, which sells a .22 rifle with a 16" barrel and large loop level for $300 new can't make one of these guns and sell it for the same price or just a bit more? There may be another posting following this one with an open letter to the Henry Repeating Arms Company.
After all, as long as the receivers have not previously been used with a rifle barrel, it's a pistol being made and not a Short Barreled firearm, which requires the payment of the $200 tax. All of the receivers used by any rifle company are new prior to fitting them with a rifle barrel, and thus would be eligible to turn into a pistol if a manufacturer were so inclined.
JB CUSTOM now is apparently selling a model made by the same company that owns Puma, but this is a takedown model that does not appear on the Puma/Legacy Arms website. Here's the JB CUSTOM link to the takedown model, which is another $700 more than the already too-expensive Model 92:
JB CUSTOM also apparently sells the standard Model 92 as well, but tacks on their profit of another $495 to the already outrageous price of the Model 92 through more reasonably priced online dealers. As I said above, you can find the Model 92 very easily for $1200, so why would you want to buy the same gun from JB CUSTOM for an extra $495?
Once upon a time, I believe that JB CUSTOM made their own Mare's Leg pistols out of cut down full size carbines. This alteration requires the payment of a $200 tax to the Federal Government for creating a SBF, or short barreled firearm, meaning a short barreled rifle. JB CUSTOM originally used a previously unused pre-safety cut down Winchester Model 94 to make their Mare's Leg pistol.
Here's what one site has to say about the parent company of PUMA and the BOUNTY HUNTER MODEL 92:
Puma Rifles - Based on the gun that cowboy character Josh Randall carried in the 1950’s television series by the same name, Legacy Sports International announces the release of the Bounty Hunter Model 92 under their popular Puma brand.
Manufactured in Italy by Chiappa Firerms,the Bounty Hunter is considered by Federal Law a handgun, not a rifle. It’s 12 inch barrel and 24 inch overall length make it ideal as a pack gun or a nostalgia collectible.
With a six round magazine, the Bounty Hunter also features a large, ¾ loop lever and the same beautiful wood and metal finish as the new line of full sized Model 92’s.
Available in .45 Colt, .44-40 or .44 Magnum.
Caliber Catalog Number Finish Barrel/Receiver Barrel MSRP.45 LC PCH-920185 Case Hardened/Blued 12” $1,250.00.44/40 PCH-920186 Case Hardened/Blued 12” $1,250.00.44MAG PCH-920207 Case Hardened/Blued 12” $1,250.00
About:Armisport Chiappa was founded in Brescia, Italy in 1958 by Ezechiele Chiappa and specialized in replica Black powder and muzzle loading firearms. Over the past 50 years the company has evolved into what is known today as “The Chiappa Group” and is chaired by Ezechiele’s son Rino Chiappa. The Chiappa Group has established a reputation of providing quality firearms and services in a worldwide market through experience and a commitment to its customers to uniquely blend old world hand craftsmanship with the most modern of machining technology. This blend of craftsmanship and technology has yielded treasures of the past which are truly antique art in the form of arms. Today, the Chiappa Firearms group is a solid and fluent reality, with a commitment to shooting enthusiasts offering a wide variety of high quality products worldwide. Chiappa Firearms is proud to be involved in the evolution of the Puma 92 series of lever action rifles and Legacy Sports International’s desire to make available the highest quality product that modern manufacturing techniques can allow, while maintaining a commitment to historical accuracy and traditional values.
Here's what Wiki says about the Mare's Laig/Leg pistol:
The Mare’s Leg (aka Mare’s Laig; both sometimes spelled without the apostrophe) was the name given to a customized shortened rifle by Steve McQueen’s character on the television series Wanted: Dead or Alive (1958–1961). McQueen’s character was named Josh Randall, and the gun has also been referred to as a Winchester Randall, or a Randall Special.
The original Mare’s Leg was made by cutting down a .44-40 caliber Winchester Model 1892 rifle to a size that could be worn in a large leg holster and used with one hand. The barrel was cut down to a length of twelve (or possibly nine) inches,[1] and much of the butt-stock was removed.
For filming three guns were actually made, each with an enlarged loop on the cocking lever. The first gun differed in the size of its lever enlargement, and the last gun had an octagonal barrel instead of a round one. The actual gun being used could sometimes change from shot to shot in a given scene. While the guns were chambered for the .44-40 round, McQueen wore more impressive looking .45-70 rounds in the loops of his gun belt.
In the United States, under the National Firearms Act, to cut any weapon originally built as a rifle to a barrel length less than 16 inches one must pay a $200 tax and obtain approval from the BATFE.[2] However, such a permit is not required to make an exact copy from scratch as a “lever action pistol”.[3]
As of the 1980s, one of the original guns was on display at the Fort Spaghetti Restaurant and Museum (999 Ball Road, Anaheim, California).[4] Another one was bought by French singer/songwriter Gilbert B├ęcaud.
Other appearances
The gun makes an appearance as the favorite weapon of key characters in a film sequel to the McQueen series, and later series, that use the weapon as a homage.

Wanted: Dead or Alive (1987 film) starred Rutger Hauer as Nick Randall, the grandson of Josh Randall. Nick keeps his grandfather’s Mare’s Leg in a display case in his office.

The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. (1993–1994 television series) featured a Mare’s Leg wielding character named Crystal Hawks.

The Magnificent Seven (1998–2000 television series) featured Eric Close as Mare’s Leg wielding Vin Tanner, reminiscent of McQueen's character Vin in the original film.

Firefly (2002 television series) and Serenity (2005 film) starred Gina Torres as Zoe Alleyne Washburne, who used the same Mare’s Leg prop created for Brisco County, Jr.

Similar shortened rifles have appeared in:
Once Upon a Time in the West (1968 film) used by Woody Strode in a cameo, when sent to kill Charles Bronson's character "Harmonica".
Boss ****** (1975 blaxploitation film) used by the main character.
Zombieland (2009 film) used by Woody Harrelson throughout the film.
There have been a number of toys based on the Mare’s Leg, from small cap guns to larger detailed toys complete with a holster.
A number of companies have marketed functional reproductions of the Mare’s Leg, making them the same way as the original, by cutting down Winchester rifles. These reproductions also have the same legal restrictions as the original: a rifle may not have a barrel length less than 16 inches without obtaining a tax stamp from the ATF, in accordance with the National Firearms Act.
Because of the legal problems, non-functional prop-quality replicas have also been produced by the same companies that make functional copies.

1892 Mares Leg Lever Action Pistol
Lever action pistol
Place of origin
United States
Production history
Jim Buchanan
J.B. Custom
Number built
24 inches
Barrel length
12 inches
.45 Colt,.44-40 Winchester,.38-40 Winchester,.44 Magnum, or.357 Magnum
Feed system
6-round Tubular magazine
Since 2005, J.B. Custom has been marketing an "1892 Mares Leg Lever Action Pistol". This weapon is a fully functional copy of Randall’s weapon, available in a number of calibers. Since they are newly manufactured as pistols and sold subject to handgun regulations, rather than cut down rifles, they avoid the aforementioned legal difficulties. Just like the original weapon, the J.B. Custom version has a 12 inch barrel, and an overall length of two feet.
The gun was available in .45 Colt, .44-40 Winchester, and .38-40 Winchester. Early promotional material specified a limited production run of 50 units based on the number of available 1892 actions that could be used legally.
Currently produced weapons use a slightly different action that while not exactly like the 1892 model, cycles more reliably, and is commercially available. This version is also available in .44 Magnum, and .357 Magnum.
In 2008, Legacy Sports International introduced a Mare's Leg. It is made by Chiappa in Italy, imported for Legacy, and sold under the brand name Puma. This Puma 92 is named the Bounty Hunter. It is available in several calibers including; .44 magnum, .45 Colt, and .44-40. With a 12 inch barrel, no shoulder stock, and a receiver that has never been built into a rifle, it is considered a pistol by the ATF.


  1. how do i find out if it is legal in california?

  2. I'll see if I can find out and post a link tonight or tomorrow. I know it's legal in Texas,, but Cali and Mass certainly do have restrictive laws. My guess is that it's california ok because it is large, and it is made as a pistol. The italian company might know. Google some of the sellers and look at gunbroker and gunsamerica and one of the ads should probably tell. If you find out, be sure to post it here and let us know. Glad to know there's at least one other right minded person likes me who thinks this gun kicks ass!

  3. Lucy, here's a link. It is California approved, according to these experts. You might have to cut and paste this link.

  4. have you made a comparison between the Puma vs AWA lightning? Both pretty much priced the same, except AWA can be ordered in stainless with octagon barrel...Rick