Father and son antique arms dealers Christian and Alex own some weapons that have changed the course of history. The only problem is, they also have a mortgage to pay...
Join this entertaining pair and their fellow traders as Family Guns reveals the treasures of conflicts gone by. And as you'll see from our trailer, there are more than a few surprises in store.
You can find the best of each day's viewing on Sky at Showcase.
An obsession with guns is not something that your average father willfully instills in his son. But Christian Cranmer is not your average father, as he's one half of the father-son team behind International Military Antiques (IMA) - the world's leading dealers in unusual wartime artefacts and the stars of Family Guns.
We spoke to Christian's son Alex, to find out if an infatuation with historical weaponry was at all healthy, and to ask what it's like to have a camera crew in your face at 9am on a Monday morning.
Tell us about National Geographic's explosive new show, Family Guns.
Family Guns is really about history. My father Christian and I run a business and we sell antique guns that range in date from about 1640 to 1945, and not only do we sell these guns but we actually take them out and test them. This means we travel all over the world to find the best material and then we bring it back to our place in the United States.
You've been described as the Indiana Joneses of historical weaponry; I'm guessing from your hold music (we've just spent five minutes listening to the Indiana Jones soundtrack) that you like the comparison?
(Laughs) That's actually true. My dad's been doing this for forty years and I think he's very much like Indiana Jones except that he's shaped like a pear! He really has travelled to the ends of the earth to find things that most people wouldn't think existed anymore. It's a unique business and because of that we're able to continue to grow.
What would you say is Christian's most cherished item?
I think it's probably a pair of French flintlock naval pistols that are known as 'turnover pistols' or 'over under pistols'. That means that when you fire one, you can squeeze the trigger guard and rotate the second barrel up and have another shot. Those are from 1640 and he loves them dearly. I barely get to see them, let alone touch them!
We're guessing that's one item that he definitely won't let you sell…
Well, we struggle with it. I put them on our website and he didn't like that a whole lot! He's asking me to take them down. I just want to see if anybody's interested in them because I think he overvalues them.
Speaking of value, what's the most valuable item that you guys have in stock at IMA?
At the current time, those pistols are valued at around $100,000. In our inventory, we have anywhere between 55,000 guns ranging across the last 300 years. But we also have some vehicles - I just bought a German World War Two motorcycle from 1942 and I just sold an American World War 2 GPW Jeep. We have everything in between from helmets to swords…
Is that the Jeep that features in the episode titled 'I Wanna Jeep', by any chance?
That's right! It was a great purchase for us. I loved that Jeep so much. I'm actually looking to get another Jeep because it was such a good purchase. We actually put it on our website to tie-in with the airing of the episode in which it features and it sold within five minutes. I'm considering moving into the Jeep business.
So the show's been good for business?
The show has been very good for business. Any time your company is viewed by millions and millions of people, that's typically good for business!
What was it like letting the cameras into your office?
We were approached to do the filming and the producer said, "Oh, it'll just be a couple of months." It wound up being closer to ten months. And every day having the camera in your office, it gets taxing and tiring because you're always being viewed and you don't really have any time alone.
Did the process raise tensions in the office? Did it put a strain on the relationship between you and your father?
There are lots of criticisms about reality TV and just how realistic it is. I don't know many people in the world who could work with their fathers on a day-to-day basis.
I love my dad, but think about working with your father, or any family member for that matter, on a day-to-day basis. There is conflict - it's just a natural progression of life. My father and I are also very different people, in both our attitudes and our priorities for our business.
How are you different?
At his core my dad is a collector. Therefore he wants to keep stuff. At my core I'm a businessman. Therefore I want to sell stuff.
This doesn't mean that I don't appreciate the stuff, but we're in business and I want to feed my family and succeed. So that creates a natural dynamic of conflict so we didn't need to ham it up whatsoever, because we really do disagree quite often, but respectfully so.
Most people can't even sit through a meal with their parents once they get into their thirties, so we're doing pretty good!
These disagreements sound tiny compared some of the hairy moments in the series. Can you tell us about the incident involving Paul, the warehouse manager, who puts his life on the line to defuse a cannon?
(Roars with laughter) We purchased about 150 bronze cannons from the kingdom of Nepal. Now most of these cannons were of European origin, but they had been given to Nepal over the course of many centuries.
When we imported them, many of them had been left in the ground and were filled with mud. We put them outside because nothing much can happen to bronze - the elements can't damage them and they're too heavy to steal. When we were looking for cannons to fire for the television show, it looked to us like one was still loaded.
Now that was a scary moment because black powder could potentially explode if it hasn't been inundated with water, even if it's a couple of hundred years old. And if a cannon ball is still stuck in there…
Crikey, rather Paul than us!
Well, fortunately Paul was able to successfully unload it. But let's just say that it wasn't our finest hour (Laughs).
But seriously, if anybody is interested in history, and any of the major conflicts throughout history - from the American Revolution to the Napoleonic Wars, and all the way through to D-Day, then you should tune in because we do things that nobody's done before on television. Not only do we showcase the weaponry from these battles, but we actually take them out and fire them.
By Bill Beattie
Not only do we showcase historical weapons, we actually take them out and fire them.