Tesla Electric Gun Prop

(as seen in the Warehouse 13 TV series)

Another of the frequently seen gadgets used by the agents from Warehouse 13 is a gun that uses an electrical discharge to stun (or kill). Like the Farnsworth it is named after the inventer who supposedly created it. This time it's the "Tesla", named after Hungarian born genius Nikola Tesla.

The Replica Prop Forum began a thread for the Tesla after it was mentioned elsewhere. People searched hard for "found parts" but we were told later by the original prop builder that almost all of this prop has been fabricated except for the vacuum tubes and possibly the setting knob.


A few RPF members have made some attempts at this one and have produced a couple of nice results. timelordd has built a fantastic replica and I am jealous of his skills and machinery. iamthenight's LED lit Tesla is also a really nice piece of work.

I've searched exhaustively for the correct radio valves or something very similar and managed to find some that will look really close. The original prop maker, Ken Palkow, visits the forum now and then and told us that we don't have the exact ones. He can't tell us a lot about the prop due to his agreements with the show and his work with QMx who now supplies the licensed replica, but he has told us that all of the rest of the prop was fabricated by him.

For anyone who is interetsed the tubes I'm using are a PL500 or PL504 for the main larger tube. I even one which has a "Tesla" brand on it. For the rear tubes a few would work. For the short fat tube on the left I have a 5HA7 (a 6AG11 would work too). For the thinner one on the right I have a few similar looking ones like a 6CM7, an 8FQ7 and an 8CG7.

Thanks to timelordd's wonderful efforts I now also have some fantastic milled metalwork and I found a nice VU meter which is very close to the original for the "charging" box. I mau have to print a new legend for it though. In fact I have everything I need except for a suitable box. The box is based on an antique Victorian writing or sewing box but was made by the prop maker. Woodworking is about my second worst skill after gardening but I may have to try with some help.

I was hoping to fit this prop with blue LEDs and/or a xenon flash tube to simulate the blue electrical discharge. Also a couple of dim red LEDs for effect and a rechargeable battery. All of this is highly dependent on space and not wanting to damage the hard-to-find tubes and making them unusable, though I have a couple of spares. The glass tubes need to be cut or drilled using diamond burrs or cutters. Some people have used plastic tubes to avoid this issue but I like the look of real glass.

Since looking into this one, the show has come up with a few more "Tesla" weapons. We have seen H.G. Wells' version of the gun (it seems she helped Tesla design his version), Tesla Rifles, Tesla Grenades (made by Claudia) and Claudia's mini-Tesla Pistol based on a Deringer style .41 cal pistol (I have to build that one), as well as the pistol she made for Jinksy. It seems she figured out how they work. I also built a micro-Tesla based on a mini-sized Deringer toy.

During the process of researching this and doing some work on one, Quantum Mechanix (QMx) became the licensee for the props from the show as well as supplying props for use in the show. The QMx Tesla (shown below) is made by the original prop maker, so it is absolutely perfect, but is just far too expensive for me to buy.


More soon including some progress photos.

Thanks go to the members of the Replica Prop Forum who are so willing to share their time and skills with others. Thanks to Jorge and thanks to Ken Palkow of Kenney’s Custom Props LLC for designing such a cool prop and for being such a supporter of the fans and prop collectors.

Last modified: 6th August 2014