M*A*S*H episode
“The Gun”
MASH episode-4x15 The Gun - Frank and Rader
Radar and Major Burns both examine the Colt 45 Revolver which the wounded Colonel Chaffey has left in Radar's charge in the Season 4 M*A*S*H episode "The Gun".
Season 4, Episode # 14
Number (#86) in series (256 episodes)
Guest star(s) Warren Stevens
Network: CBS-TV
Production code: G-517
Writer(s) Larry Gelbart and Gene Reynolds
Director Burt Metcalfe
Original airdate December 2, 1975
IMDb logo IMDB The Gun
Episode chronology
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Season 4 episodes
List of all M*A*S*H episodes


The Gun was the 86th episode of the CBS-TV series M*A*S*H, and, also the 14th episode of the fourth season of the series. Written by Larry Gelbart and Gene Reynolds, and directed by Burt Metcalfe, it first aired on December 2, 1975.


A vintage Colt Revolver is stolen from the camp's gun locker and Radar is accused as the thief.

Full episode summaryEdit

Wounded arrive at the 4077th, including a Colonel Chaffey (Warren Stevens), who is carrying a rare, antique pistol as a side-arm. Radar takes it and locks it up in the gun bin--Standard Operating Procedure--but not before Frank takes a few moments to drool all over it, in a display of machismo.

Later, when Radar returns to the gun bin, he sees that the Colonel's gun is missing, so tells Col. Potter, who starts an investigation to find it--otherwise, Radar could go to jail for years. Radar is paralyzed with fear: "I won't get out until I'm thirty--that's almost dead!"

Potter fails to find the gun and has to break the bad news to Col. Chaffey. Chaffey is enraged and wants Radar. Not the whole of him.  Just his head. 

Meanwhile, Frank shows Hot Lips an antique gun that he "got from home." He asked it to be sent because he "missed his old pal."

Hawkeye and B.J. confront Frank, insinuating he took the gun, and now that its gotten Radar in trouble, he should give it back. Frank, not giving an inch, notices how everyone is entitled to be innocent until proven guilty, except for him. Hawkeye and B.J., annoyed that Frank is actually right for once, back off.

Radar gets drunk, sure is he is going to the stockade. In the middle of the night, he staggers over to visit Col. Chaffey, to protest his innocence. While there, they both hear a gun go off, causing everyone to run outside.

In the confusion, Frank makes his way to Hot Lips' tent, with a gun shot wound to his foot. He at first tells a tall tale about getting into a fight with someone he saw lurking in the Supply Shed, but Hot Lips forces him to tell the truth--that gun isn't his, it never was. While he was trying to return it, it accidentally went off.

Hot Lips is mad at Frank for stealing and lying, but Frank has learned his lesson: "Yep--when you steal something, don't ever try to return it."

The gun now returned, all of the charges against Radar are dropped. Col. Chaffey apologizes to Radar, and Col. Potter suggests the gun is more trouble than its worth, maybe he should think about donating it to a museum. Col. Chaffey will have none of that, insisting he'll keep it until the day he dies. He rides off.

The next day, Hawkeye and B.J. see Frank limping and hint they know the true source of the wound. Some powder burns?  Just a guess, really--a "shot in the dark."

Research notes/Fun factsEdit

  • Col. Potter tells a story about a time when he almost got crushed by a runaway portable latrine. Another instalment of The Young Col. Potter Adventures!
  • One of Radar's best John Wayne impersonations: "You better believe it, mister, or you're dead where you stand." In fact John Wayne didn't say this in any movie.
  • When Radar, drunk, points his teddy bear at Col. Chaffey, we hear a gunshot from outside.Radar, shocked, stares at his teddy bear and exclaims, "My bear went off!"
  • The ME-TV version of this episode has the ending where Hawkeye makes the "a Shot in the dark" remark but doesn't have the part where Frank claims he should be treated as innocent until proven guilty and Hawkeye admits Frank is right!
  • "A shot in the dark" is an old English idiomatic expression meaning exactly what Hawkeye implies: a guess. There is also a 1964 comedy film with this phrase as its title.
  • Anachronisms.
    • The Colonel's gun is described as a Colt 45, chrome with bone grips. When examining it, Margaret reads off the inscription "1884". This is an anachronism. The gun is a Colt New Service which only came out in 1898. Hawkeye calls it the kind of gun they signed Indian Treaties with. There were no Indian Treaties after the 1870s. But Hawkeye was probably only making a joke. What does he know about guns anyway.
    • Perhaps it was unwise to have a full frame of Potter holding up his Stars and Stripes newspaper. From the headlines "Nationalists Reject Red Ultimatum" we can see that it is an anachronism: the Pacific edition 20 April 1949. But of course they were filming in the days before viewers had freeze frame and slow motion playback.
  • Timeline fix.
    • The P.A. announces the movie for the night which is "Kansas City Confidential". This came out in November 11, 1952. So we are in late 1952. This is on track and consistent with the last fix in "Dear Peggy" but we are hurtling towards the last few months of the Korean War with 7 more seasons to go. The timeline will have to be reset soon.
    • The mention of Eisenhower and Nixon is correct as the Presidential Elections was in November 1952.
    • Potter reading about 80 cadets being expelled from West Point. The actual scandal was in August 1951 when 83 West Point cadets were dismissed for cheating in their exams. So Potter is a year late here. But they probably needed this reference for a bit of deliberate irony. We have just seen Frank show off the stolen gun.
  • Continuity issues.
    • Radar has a sister in this episode--he is usually refered to as an only child!
    • Chopper pilot Smilin' Jack Mitchell can be seen in the Officers Club and later by the camp bulletin board. He will be grounded and sent home 8 episodes later in the episode "Smilin' Jack". No problem if you watch in broadcast order. But there will be a discontinuity if Watched in production order because "Smilin' Jack" was produced very early in Season 4, 8 episodes before "The Gun". Episodes with a lot of outdoor scenes like "Smilin' Jack" were usually produced early in the Season to take advantage of longer hours of daylight.

Guest stars/Recurring castEdit


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