Last Samurai, The

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The Last Samurai (2003)

The Last Samurai is a 2003 historical war film that stars Tom Cruise as Nathan Algren, a disillusioned Civil War veteran who travels to Japan to take a job training soldiers in modern weaponry in order to help wipe out the Samurai. When he is captured by the Samurai, Algren comes to learn their ancient warrior ways. The film was directed by Edward Zwick (Glory, The Siege), who later direct Cruise in 2016's Jack Reacher: Never Go Back.

The following weapons were used in the film The Last Samurai:



Colt 1860 Army Richards-Mason Conversion

Nathan Algren (Tom Cruise) uses a Colt 1860 Army revolver, converted for use with metallic cartridges, while training Japan's army. One memorable scene with this gun is when Nathan Algren draws his Colt to scare a training soldier into shooting him and proving that the soldiers are not ready to battle the Samurai. Algren is later seen packing away the revolver.

Colt 1860 Army Richards-Mason Conversion.
"Tell this man that if he does not shoot me, I will kill him."
Algren draws his Colt.
Algren is seen packing away his Colt.

Colt Single Action Army

Colonel Bagley (Tony Goldwyn) also uses a Colt Single Action Army during the final charge scene.

Colt Single Action Army w/ 7 1/2" barrel known as the "Cavalry" model - .45 Long Colt
Colonel Bagley (Tony Goldwyn) draws his Colt SAA.
Colonel Bagley fires his Colt SAA at the approaching samurai.

Smith & Wesson Schofield

Algren uses a Smith & Wesson Schofield during his first battle with the samurai.

Smith & Wesson Schofield Model 3 with blued finish - .45 Schofield. (right side)
Nathan Algren fires a Smith & Wesson Schofield during his first encounter with the samurai.

Rifles / Carbines

Winchester 1873 "Trapper" Model

In the beginning of the film, Nathan Algren (Tom Cruise) shows off and fires a Trapper model of the Winchester Model 1873 at a trade show. His Winchester is fitted with a large lever loop and Algren states it is a '73 trapper, which could hold 6 + 1 in the chamber. Algren is seen using the large lever loop to do a one-handed reload of the rifle, a move often seen performed by John Wayne in several of his Westerns.

Winchester 1873 "Trapper" Carbine.
Nathan Algren (Tom Cruise) takes aim with the Winchester 1873 "Trapper".
TLS 402.jpg

Winchester Model 1873

Zebulon Gant (Billy Connolly) uses a full size Winchester Model 1873 in the first engagement with the Samurai.

Winchester Model 1873 carbine - 1st generation rifle - 44-40 Cal.
Zebulon Gant (Billy Connolly) is armed with a Winchester rifle.

Springfield Model 1861

The Imperial Army of Japan uses Springfield 1861 muzzle-loading rifles as their standard issued weapons during the first half of the movie. Unlike many muzzle-loaders, some of these guns appear to be able to fire two shots before having to reload, all though this could be incorrect. But this could be a trick of the camera where the line of soldiers reloaded, and fired again, or a another line assembled off camera.

Springfield Model 1861 - .58 caliber Minie ball
The Imperial Army trains with their Springfield 1861s.

Enfield 1853

Along with the Springfield Model 1861, Japanese troops were also equipped with British 1853 Enfield rifles during their training with Algren.

British 1853 Enfield - .577 Ball
LastSa 009.jpg

Mauser M1871/84

In the second half of the movie, the Japanese Imperial Army carries German bolt-action Mauser Rifles, in spite of the fact they were supposedly being armed by the US (In actual history it was the Prussians who did arm the Japanese with Mausers). The rifles used on screen are Mauser M1871/84 models converted in appearance to appear as the earlier period appropriate (1877) single-shot Mauser Model 1871's.

Mauser M1871/84 - 11.15x60mmR
The Imperial Army fire their Mausers at the samurai.

Mauser M1871

In addition to the Mauser M1871/84, the standard, period correct, single shot, Mauser M1871 rifles are also seen. Primarily in the scenes taking place in Tokyo later in the film. It can be distinguished from the later M1871/84 by the different shaped and sized trigger guard, a cleaning rod instead of a stacking rod, and overall slimmer appearance due to the lack of a magazine tube underneath the barrel. It appears the single shot rifles were used for non-firing scenes while firing scenes were done by the later repeating models.

Mauser M1871 - 11x60mmR
Imperial Army soldiers point their Mauser M1871 rifles at Algren in a promotional still.



The Imperial Army is shown training with Howitzers after Nathan Algren (Tom Cruise) comes back from being with the samurai for a few months. The Howitzers are later used in the final battle scene. Both the Mountain Howitzer and the Field Howitzer are the same caliber projectile, but require different powder charges. The movie utilized the Field Howitzer as shown in the screen shots below.

An old fashioned Civil War Mountain Howitzer.
The Imperial Army train with their Field Howitzers.
The Imperial Army open fire.

Gatling Gun

The Imperial Army uses Gatling Guns to slaughter the remaining samurai in the final charge scene. According to Colonel Bagley (Tony Goldwyn), "These guns can fire two hundred rounds a minute, and their new cartridges have cut down on jamming." These particular guns were heavily repaired by Master Armorer, Gary Harper, onsite, prior to shooting.

Colt Gatling Gun with Bruce Feed Guide - .45-70
A 1874 Gatling Gun on a carriage made by Master Armorer, Gary Harper, as seen in the film.
Master Armorer, Gary Harper, oversees the Imperial soldiers as they prepare to fire their Gatlings.
The 1874 Gatling Guns are unleashed upon the Samurai.

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