Since we were dangerously close to a friendly hijacking of a thread....decided to do this one proper for all you Browncoats out there. Did research and also hit some of the production sites of the weapons designers from Buffy (many of whom worked on Firefly as well) and found some awesome specs and actual designer notes. I'd personally kill to do THIS instead of playing around with non-profit theaters...*sigh*:
Jayne's "Vera" (that's what he called it, since like most arms in the story concept it was a piecemeal from whatever parts were available). The creator, Joss Whedon, said that this was based off of a Saiga 12 semi-auto and just "prettied" up a bit.
Mare's leg (Zoe Washburne, Firefly/Serenity)
Zoe's sidearm, a lever action Winchester 1892 rifle in .44 40with an enlarged hand-guard (which makes a handy knuckleduster in the close quarters of the combat she is usually engaged in) and a cut down stock an barrel
Jayne's pistol (Jayne Cobb, Firefly/Serenity)
Jaynes weapon is a LeMat Revolver with the underbarrel shotgun (yes, you heard right, super-duper borg-dropper pistols were invented in the 19th century) removed and meaningless flash added by the prop department. (which was common for this series, in "War Stories" Simon Tam is seen using a glock with a scope mount, but no scope)
Mal's pistol (Malcolm Reynolds, Firefly/Serenity)
This antique styled weapon is the favourite of Mal Reynolds, captain of the "Serenity". It features a magazine of unknown capacity placed forward of the triggerguard, and the frame is based on an anitque revolver.
While the weapon features in a series set around 500years in the future, the weapon is seen to be loaded with ammunition of convention type, but the the firing sound (like all in the series)is substantialy different from normal gunshots, perhaps the result of a new kind of propellant?
Interesting fact: The pilot "Wash" never carried a gun except in 3 episodes, but there was also never one designed into his costuming. While nothing was stated by the production company about the obvious difference, there are rumors that the actor who played Wash was actually under charges from a potential felony during the production and was prohibited from handling a weapon until much later in production, although this hasn't been confirmed yet. (still researching this bit)
Inara's Pistol (Firefly/Serenity)
A finely-made 'dress' pistol, probably modified for accuracy... and quiet. Seen in Trash.
The prop for the pistol Inara held on Saffron was actually a stainless steel Ruger Mk. II .22 auto pistol. It has what looks like a Cutts compensator on the barrel and an item attached to look like a laser sight and/or scope.
(No picture available)
Independent Faction Assault Rifles
1. A bull-pup configuration rifle used by Sgt. Malcolm Reynolds at the Battle of Serenity Valley. (Seen in the hands of Mal during the opening credits of all episodes of Firefly as well as during the opening scene of the Serenity Pilot, Part 1. (The prop of this weapon is a FAMAS assault rifle, a weapon in service with the French military.)
2. Mal switches this weapon out at the base camp - he retrives a more conventional rifle of the same make as that carried by Zoe. It would seem that the Independents make use of a number of weapons. (The prop for this weapon is the Heckler and Koch G36, a weapon system currently in service with the German Forces as well as the NATO Rapid Reaction Force. It is also the basis, with the addition a magazine adapter and a snap on 25mm cannon, of the next generation US weapon... the OICW - Objective Individual Combat Weapon)
3. During the wartime flashback of the episode The Message we see Mal using a smaller submachinegun with a folding or collapsable stock. (The prop for this weapon is the Heckler and Koch UMP-45. A .45 caliber submachinegun that fires the .45 ACP round from a 25 round magazine.)
Why are the guns so much antique in a show set 500 years in the future???
There is speculation that the seemingly archaic gun designs that exist within the Firefly universe come from a similarly archaic gun law. The theory goes that there was a gun law devised to reduce the number of guns available to the public. From the initiation of the law, no new guns were to be sold--however a provision was made that allowed "pre-ban" weapons to be exempt from the controls in place. This law has presumably been in effect for many hundreds of years by now, grandfathered into law by the Alliance and its territories. Nowadays guns that would be nothing but antiques and curiousities are the only things everyday folks are allowed to arm themselves with. There's doubtless a lot of couterfeit antique guns, some with actual faked serial numbers and the like to pass cursory checks, which is why so many of these "antique" guns exist (and why the cost for one isn't astronomical!). Likewise it's possible that the same legislation that allows pre-ban guns to be sold likewise covers guns remanufactured using old pre-ban parts--which would go a long way to explain the firearms that have obvious similarities to weapons from bygone eras, but with a more modern sci-fi look. Obviously the Alliance government has no such restrictions, which is why their weapons are so dramatically more futuristic. This is just a theory, no canon here, but it does seem to fit the facts nicely; certainly better than the unsavory idea that people are terraforming planets and traveling in spaceships but Barrettas and civil war revolvers are somehow state of the art...