The Rifleman..... "Welcome to The McCain Ranch"
"How many shots did Lucas McCain fire in the opening scene of The Rifleman?
I would be interested in hearing just what you came up with, just shoot me an e-mail
This question has been asked numerous times and each time we get a different answer.
*Please note.....Newest postings start at the bottom.
At the beginning of each show, Lucas McCain would stride down the main street of North Fork and fire eleven shots at an imaginary enemy, as the voice-over announcer would introduce Chuck Connors starring as "The Rifleman." In an 1991 interview with Roy Firestone, Chuck explained that, "What you see and hear on the screen are eleven shots; what the weapon actually holds are eight shot. That was a camera trick so that the shooting would match the music—called dramatic license."
This was taken from Chuck Connors..... "The Man Behind the Rifle" by David Fury, Artist's Press and from 1991 interview with Roy Firestone.
Now available on Kindle..... Chuck Connors.....The Man Behind the Rifle by David Fury
Edited version of the 1997 book, with lots of new photos, and also a complete Rifleman episode/plot synopsis guide.
Here is Pete's Theory on "How many shots were fired in the opening scene of The Rifleman?"
The next time you watch the Rifleman, pay close attention to the opening scene when Lucas is walking down the street firing his rifle. I know a lot has been said on how many shots that he fired during that opening scene. Now look real close at the very first shot. When he brings the lever down to put a bullet in the chamber listen and see if you hear a shot while the lever is wide open and than another shot when he closes the lever (as it should be). Now look at the very last shot and you will hear one shot when he closes the lever and another one while he is holding onto the rifle walking...just before he flips it. See if you can't spot those two shots. If I am right, they are the two shots that were dubbed in to make it sound good.
Do you remember awhile back when I asked you to ask Arnold Laven about the rifle that John Wayne used in Stagecoach and That I felt that it could have been the same one that Chuck made famous in the Rifleman and Arnold agreed with me that it could have been the same rifle? Some people say there ain't no way this is the same rifle. And Pat Wayne says that his dads rifle is in the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma on display.
I have enclosed some pictures that I have taken over the years of both rifles. Wayne's rifle that is on display in Oklahoma and Chucks and John Wayne's rifle that was on display at the NRA museum in Virginia a few years ago. I do not have a picture of John Wayne holding the rifle in Stagecoach, but all you have to do is go to the Eagle Squadron Productions website to look Wayne's rifle.
On Leverguns.com this topic has been discussed and everyone feels that John Wayne's rifle is on display in Oklahoma because of what Pat Wayne has said. This I do agree on. John Wayne's rifle is on display in Oklahoma but the one used in Stagecoach. However John Wayne used rifles with 3 or 4 different levers. He never used that rifle again that he used in Stagecoach...why? because Chuck Connors made it famous in the Rifleman. Compare the pictures on Eagle Squadron's website as the well as the pictures that I have attached and you will see that the rifle on display in Oklahoma has the teardrop lever while the rifle in Stagecoach had the round lever like the one Chuck used. I have attached a picture of both rifles as they were displayed in the NRA museum. Wayne's rifles had the teardrop lever and Chucks has the round lever (stagecoach). The only thing that Chuck had to do was have the set screw installed so he could rapid fire the rifle so that he would damage his finger.
As far as I'm concerned, case closed. Pat Wayne's is correct, his father's rifle is on display in Oklahoma, but not the one used in Stagecoach. Others believe Chuck did not use the original stagecoach rifle is wrong. I believe the pictures prove it and I know Robert of Eagle Squadron. He is very accurate in what he does. His replicas coincide with my pictures and I believe that it proves what I have been saying all along.
Chuck's rifle on display at the NRA Museum located in Fairfax, VA.
Be sure and check out Pete's rifle pages & scroll pages. Pete is a big fan of The Rifleman and a master at scroll sawing.
The next comments were taken from The McCain Ranch messageboard.....
What say you? We'd love to hear your opinion, either on The McCain Ranch messageboard or you can e-mail any comments to
I slowed down my DVR, turned the sound down (so it would not interfere in the count) and determined that Lucas fires 5 shots up close (you can see his hand working the lever action five times) then the camera pulls back and you can see the muzzle with an additional five muzzle flashes. Total shots: 10. Renewed Fan!
Love those shotguns almost as much as Lucas' magic rifle itself. I don't know if it fires 8, 11, 12, or even 13 times at the opening (lol) but I swear Chuck shot off 14-16 bullets at times without reloading at least a couple of times during the show's run.
I can't think of which episodes right now but I will look for them. Anyone else ever notice this? —Sweeney
The Executioner —Ok, Lucas does the single most sustained shooting with his trick rifle in this episode that I have seen in the whole series, I think - - 21 shots by my count in the gunfight.
At least 12 of those shots in high speed - Lucas shoots several times out the window, turns and shoots the Indian several times who is slipping up behind him, then turns and shoots again out the window.
No evidence of Lucas reloading at any point, of course. Renewed Fan!
Yep Renewed Fan, I counted 21 shots too. Did not record it so I could not be sure. The camera DID show the Indian reloading but at no point did it indicate Lucas might have reloaded. I did NOT realize this gunfight would be on so soon after my recent post. I don't think it was the only time they lost count of Lucas' shots fired.
So you see 10 shots fired in the opening scene? I will slow down my DVD player and see if we can agreement on a count there (lol). —Sweeney
I ran the opening a couple of times at about 1/8th or 1/10th speed (my DVD player does not specify). I counted 12 shots, 7 in the close up and 5 in the long shot. Chuck's hand was moving so fast in the close up that it was a blur even at slowed speed. One of the shots looked like he did catch his hand in the lever...but, that said, my best estimate is 12 shots. —Sweeney
Pete's piddlin' stuff.....It makes no difference if you are right handed or left handed, the rifle works the same. You work the lever to load the bullet and pull the trigger to shoot the rifle. You can use either hand to do that. The tricky part is if you spin the rifle like Chuck did you probably could spin it easier and more accurately with your strong hand. Notice how he tossed the rifle to his left hand in the opening scene. That is because the loading gate is on the right and he would have had to hold the rifle upside down to load it with his left hand.
In one of the one of Outlaw Shoes, Chuck was shot and left for dead. The bad guy changed clothes with him and left Chuck his gun and holster. Chuck wore the holster on his right side during the show. Near the end of the show, during a shoot out, Chuck was still wearing the holster on the right but holding the gun in his left hand. In one of the videos that Chuck made late in life, he stated that he was left handed. I believe the video might have been titled The Best of The West.—Pete S.
I had this reporter write me from the The Fayetteville Observer, Fayetteville, North Carolina write to me a few weeks ago asking me....."How many times in the opening scene of The Rifleman credits does Chuck Connors fire that rifle?"
I do a daily question-answer column at The Fayetteville Observer in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and I'm trying to help a reader who is arguing with her husband over how many shots are fired in the opening credits of The Rifleman. I've watched/listened to the credits over and over and... I can't decide and I see conflicting reports all over the Web. Just wondered if you have an opinion on this since you seem to be extremely well-versed in the show.
I had told her it would depend on who she ask. I told her I really couldn't answer her question, but I did give her what information I had from some expert's of the rifle along with some links within The McCain Ranch. Also, I did have some info from The Producer Corner, Arnold Laven to give her.
Margie, that's fantastic! Thanks so much. I'll send you a copy of the Q&A item after it runs.
Here is what her column said.....Originally published on Wednesday, September 12, 2007 in the Local & State category.
Rifle sounds spur a debate
By Catherine Pritchard
Q: How many times in the opening scene of The Rifleman credits does Chuck Connors fire that rifle?
This is a hot debate between my husband and me. — C.S., Roseboro
A: Did you say 11?
Some other number entirely?
Loads of them have been tossed out there over the years, though, in the way back times, Connors himself put the number at 11.
But what did he know? Sure, he was shooting the gun but he wasn’t shooting the film — or editing it.
Arnold Laven, who produced the TV series, told a fan site that he didn’t care how many shots were fired in the opening sequence when it was originally filmed, just that a bunch were and that it looked — and sounded — cool.
Then, though, the whole how-many-shots-did-he-fire turned into a source of hot fan debate.
So Laven looked at the tape, which in those pre-digital days, recorded sound and, along with it, striations on the tape showing where the sound was, and he counted the striations.
“To the best of my memory, the number was ELEVEN, as per Chuck’s book,” Laven wrote the fan site last year. “But that was about 45 years ago, so I wouldn’t testify to that in court.
Just as Connors’ words didn’t settle the debate, Laven’s are not likely to, either. He noted the argument by some fans that Connors’ rifle held only eight shots. Maybe so, he said, but the sound editor may well have added in more shots to make it sound good.
We listened to the clip several times and came up with three different numbers.
So just tell your husband that you’re right — and so is he.
I've discovered when you watch the opening scene for the series for the shows in 1958-59 and maybe some other years, it shows Lucas firing his rifle. Oddly, if you count the shots you hear while you WATCH the scene, you usually will count 10 or 11 shots. However, if you CLOSE your EYES and just LISTEN and count the shots, it's always 13.
I think this phenomenon is due to a change in the middle of the scene that throws off your count if you watch it visually.
I notice nobody seems to have only LISTENED to the shots, without watching the scene. I've done it about 50 times (the show is in reruns right now twice every evening), and that's important. If you WATCH the scene while
counting how many shots you hear, it's always less than 13. If you CLOSE your yes and count while listening ONLY, it's 13.—John Whalen
So.....how many shots did Lucas McCain fire in the opening scene of The Rifleman
More fans opinions
Chuck Connors Draws His Rifle with "A Western Twist"
This new hero pulls a rifle instead of a pistol
John Wayne's Stagecoach rifle
The Rifle Index page
around The McCain Ranch