Are guns really so difficult?

I’ve done a ton of reading in my life. When I was a kid, I’d go to the library and bring stacks home, sometimes as high as my chin, and have them read by the next day or the day after that. I’d read anything at all, except for romance (couldn’t get those past my dad’s veto) but I did sneak a few peaks there at the library, when I thought no one was looking. Most of what I read were along the lines of action, adventure, and old west. Which brings me to the meat of this post: guns.

Guns are everywhere. And by that, I mean in books. Everyone’s got a nine millimeter jammed in their pants somewhere, or in a shoulder holster, or in a boot. A shotgun in the trunk or backseat, or front seat. Some sort of high powered rifle perhaps. There is more information on the net on how to shoot a gun, aim a gun, load a gun. Terminology such as clip, or magazine. So why is it so hard to get the small details correct?

I can understand why some people call a magazine a clip, most people don’t know the difference and just go with it. That could be forgiven. There’s a few things though, that irritate me to no end, and break my suspension of belief while reading.

  • Revolvers don’t use clips or magazines.

I’m not sure why this one is so difficult, and I’ve run into this one several times in some recent indy novels. There are only two ways to reload a revolver quickly. The first one is learning how to do it fast, loading each bullet individually. The second, is called a speed loader. It’s a small round device that holds the rounds. You open the cylinder, pull out a speed loader, an insert bullets. twist the nob or push the button, and your bullets are in. snap the cylinder closed, and you’re ready to go. easy peasy.

  • Clips are different than magazines.

I will clarify this one just for the sake of doing it. As I said before, I can overlook this to a point, lots of old books, including a lot of the ones I like, use the term clip over magazine. Here’s the main difference though. A clip is a strip of plastic or metal that holds rounds for quick loading. Sort of like a speed loader for automatic or semi-automatic guns, usually for rifles. Clips are used to load magazines. That’s right. If you tried to jam a clip into a gun it probably wouldn’t work the same way. No spring to move the ammunition upwards. A magazine is what you “slap into the gun” or whatever terminology you want to use. On an off note, to check a gun to see if it’s loaded, you can generally look at the side where the ejection port is. There’s a small open spot where you can see brass. also, most modern guns have an indicator on the side that is color coded, usually red, that sticks out when a round is chambered, so if it’s dark you can feel it.


After all the movies we’ve seen where someone sneaks up, shoots someone with a “silenced” weapon and sneaks away, we’ve all been conditioned to think that “silencers” really do make the gun so quiet as to only hear some kind of a puff, or high pitched whine.

“Silencers” are actually “suppressors”.  What’s the difference? Well, a silencer doesn’t exist, for one. There isn’t anything that will completely silence a gun. The closest you can get to silence is a .22. Those are, in fact, very quiet, but still would be loud in an enclosed room.  Anything larger than a .22 is most likely going to go bang regardless, and you’re gonna hear it. Maybe you won’t think it’s a gunshot. Maybe someone dropped a refrigerator. maybe a television fell off the wall. If you fired a 9 millimeter in an enclosed room though, its going to be loud. period. not as loud as an unsuppressed shot, but loud enough for you to go WTF just happened?

If you put a suppressor on a rifle, you’re still going to get a bang, followed by the ammunition echoing for miles. It will be a quieter bang, but it will still be a bang.What happens is while it might quiet the exit of the round from the barrel, once that bullet hits max velocity it will break the sound barrier. And no matter where you’re standing, if you’re within earshot you’re going to hear it.

EDIT: I’m adding this because of some strange results that are bringing people to this post. There’s  HUGE reason why silencers don’t “silence” revolvers (aside from the fact that they don’t really “silence” anything). Revolvers have an open chamber. The chamber isn’t enclosed. Gasses escape out from the cylinder. They don’t make revolvers to be used with suppressors for that reason. You know what you’d get if you put a suppressor on a revolver? A stupid looking revolver.

  • Bullets do not penetrate very deep into water.

I saved this one for last. It’s not so much of a book thing, more of a movie one, but I thought I’d include it. In movies, particularly one I’ve seen recently called MI:4, Tom cruise and another guy were probably six to eight feet underwater, their car having gone off a bridge. They were crouched by the car, and men on the bridge were shooting into the water. Of course, they were all shooting rifles, and the bullets were whizzing by them into the ground. A pistol I could understand, but a rifle doing that Is unforgivable. Why?

Lets look at a rifle. A rifle shoots a high velocity round. What happens when you shoot a rifle into something like, say, a brick wall? the bullet flattens on impact. When you shoot a rifle into water, the effect is the same. A rifle’s bullet will only penetrate a couple feet into water at most, even if a .50 cal was being used.

A pistol round, on the other hand, has less velocity. It can penetrate perhaps 4-6 feet underwater.  So while tom and his buddy would be completely safe from the rifle rounds as they crouched six to eight feet underwater, if pistol rounds were used they could possibly take damage.

Why are guns really so difficult? is it because writers continue to take Hollywood effects as fact? Are writers just lazy?  Who knows. The information I’ve provided here is from experience, but it’s easy enough to Google or YouTube any of this information.

A few more facts in the writing, please. Is that too much to ask?


11 thoughts on “Are guns really so difficult?

  1. Hey Drew, you’re obviously a bit of a gun nut…which is cool with me. And I like all of your points–accurate. The only thing I would like to expound upon is that a .22 short catridge–illegal in most or maybe even all states now–with a suppressor would be nearly silent. And I say this because when I say nearly silent, I mean next to pin-drop quiet.

    This isn’t from experience, I will admit. However it comes from a reliable source, or at least reliable to me; my father. The man who taught me pretty much everything I know about guns and, who for the sake of argument, knows what he is talking about.

    1. I have no experience with the .22 short, I know the .22 long is pretty quiet, although not completely, so it stands to reason that a short might be that quiet. How many people though, do you see write “He fired his silenced .22 short”? 😀

      1. That wouldn’t surprise me. I might have to run that one by my father-in-law. he doesn’t have much experience with suppressors, but he knows a lot of history of the different rounds, not to mention load data. He has a ton of rare stuff in his collection. I’ll let you know what he says.

  2. This is great, Drew. I got guns all over the place in my story. I’ve had limited experience with guns and have had to do a ton of research on them. Every now and then I get little nuggets like this. Didn’t know the suppressor was still really loud. Will have to take that into account. Awesome and thanks!

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