HARRISVILLE, Utah (AP) — An array of BB-shooting air pistols looks exactly like real handguns, and they're a worry for police who have only a split second to try to tell which they are.

The replicas include Clint Eastwood's .44 caliber "hogleg" from his "Dirty Harry" films, a number of Colt .45 semiautomatics and James Bond's Walther PPK.

It was the Walther look-alike that a shoplifter confronted police with on Jan. 28 inside the Harrisville Wal-Mart.

He was shot four times by a Pleasant View officer after ignoring orders to drop his weapon.

He survived and on Thursday was discharged from the hospital and booked into jail on charges of aggravated assault.

"It's been a huge concern ever since they started making the look-alikes 20 years ago or so," said Harrisville Police Chief Max Jackson. "Unless you had a micrometer out, you couldn't tell it's not a real gun."

Typically, once an assailant produces a gun, he can fire in about one-eighth of a second. "And you as an officer have three-eighths of a second at best, it takes that long to react. So you're playing catch-up — especially if you're still holstered," Jackson said.

The air pistols are uniformly .177 caliber bores, not significantly different from the .22 caliber dimension of many real weapons, Jackson said. Jackson and his cousin, Pleasant View Police Chief Scott Jackson, said their departments' most common encounters with the replicas involve older teenagers brandishing them while driving, provoking passers-by to call 911 to report a road-rage incident.

"Then we have to do a full-blown 'felony stop' on them," Max Jackson said. "Pull them over, approach them at gunpoint and order them out of the car and on the ground."

"It puts people in great danger from the police response," Scott Jackson said. "We have to approach them with our guns drawn. We have to respond as though it is a real weapon until we learn otherwise."

"Hopefully, they walk away from that thinking, 'I learned something today,' " said Weber County Sheriff's Lt. Doug Coleman. "The problem is stupid people who point (replica handguns) at other people."

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Requiring manufacturers to alter the replicas or mark them prominently would not make a difference, he said.

"We've had (BB guns) around for 30 years now," he said. What has changed, Coleman said, is people. "People in our society that want to shoot at us, or pretend to shoot at us, so we'll shoot at them," he said.

Meanwhile, Scott Jackson is anxious about the next armed confrontation for his officer involved in the Wal-Mart shooting.

"It was obviously a traumatic incident, and it affects anyone involved. I worry that maybe he will hesitate in a real incident next time," he said. "That thought's going to be there in the back of his mind. That's a big concern in the future, and we want him to come home at the end of the day."

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