Gun Gaffes: Firearm Mistakes in Fiction

If you write fiction, there’s a good chance that firearms will be involved in your story, at least occasionally. If you write in the action, crime, or mystery genres… well, probably more than occasionally.


A lot of our gun knowledge, however, comes from things we’ve seen countless times in movies and television—things that are often incorrect. If your readers happen to be gun enthusiasts, one of the easiest ways to break their suspension of disbelief and damage your credibility is to make a basic, avoidable mistake when discussing guns.


Today, AuthorHouse presents five common firearm mistakes made by self-publishing writers. One you’re aware of them, you’ll be able to avoid them!


1. Silencers: A silenced gun doesn’t sound like a cough or sneeze. It sounds like… well, a gun. An unsilenced gunshot is roughly 140-160 decibels, while a silenced one is around 120-130 decibels—still pretty loud. And by the way, you can’t use a silencer on a revolver!


sniper2. Scopes: From a short distance, it really can be as simple as placing the crosshairs over the target. From longer distances, however, this just won’t work; bullets lose altitude, meaning the crosshair would have to be above the target when the trigger is pulled. Snipers also consider the wind, barometric pressure, and elevation, and numerous other factors when making a shot. After all, if it was as easy as centering those crosshairs, anyone could do it!


3. Clips and magazines: Clips are small metal devices that assisted in loading a magazine (the clip is discarded after the magazine is loaded). I say “assisted” because very few pistols use one nowadays. This means it’s unlikely your shooter would “empty his clip” into his target. The magazine (the term you probably intended to use) is a detachable metal case that holds the bullets, and is inserted into the pistol.


4. “Magic” Kevlar: The type of bullet-proof vest that a law enforcement officer is likely to wear under his clothes is relatively effective against handguns. But assault rifles and larger weapons? Not so much. If a gang of thugs peppers him with their Uzis, headshot or not, he’s not getting up.


handgun5. Unnecessary gun-cocking: Cocking back the hammer on a pistol (or pumping a shotgun, if you happen to be the Terminator)—just so you can show that you mean business—is usually unnecessary. In the case of handguns, they’re almost all made so that the hammer automatically cocks back after the previous shot. And when your hero pumps that shotgun? He probably just ejected a perfectly usable shell from the weapon.


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