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Which do you prefer


Alpo
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If a book has a gun in it, would you prefer they specify which gun it is, or just kind of leave it generic?


Louis L'amour is always very specific.

 

Robert Parker and his Spenser books. Spenser first carries a five shot 38, with a 357 in his desk drawer as backup. Later he morphs to a Browning 9 mm. Hawk either has a 357 or a 44 - it seems to change from book to book, but it is always large and nickel plated.

 

Heinlein is very generic. In Stranger in a Strange Land Jubal takes "an old police special" out of the desk. In Rocket Ship Galileo, the Nazi has a Mauser pistol, which could be one of several. The good guys have a Garand and a 38 on a 44 frame, which could either be a Smith & Wesson Heavy Duty or a Colt New Service. In one of his novellas, where the world is coming to an end, the good guy has a 30/06 which he uses to shoot a deer, and he gave his girlfriend a 32 automatic would she uses to shoot a mutant zombie biker. In Farnham's Freehold, Hugh has both a 45 and two scope sighted 22 magnum rifles. He also has a Tommy Gun, but in the early sixties Tommy Gun was pretty much a generic term for any submachine gun.

 

I think I would prefer a generic description. That way if the author screws it up, it doesn't bother me so much. If Spenser fires the first shot from his Browning Hi Power double action, that would bother me. But if he just pulled his 9 mm automatic and shot it double action - no problem. Lots of double action 9 mms out there.

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I just finished reading the entire Jack Reacher series for the 2nd time.
The author does get specific with his firearm models, which I appreciate even if I have no personal experience with them.

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I prefer specifics.  But generalized terms are fine as long as they aren't grossly wrong.  Nothing ruins an authors credibility with me more than having their hero pull a revolver and take the safety off, or even better when they pull their Glock and click off the safety.  Can't remember the book, but the good guy pulled his Glock quietly while sneaking up on the bad guy, but the bad guy heard the good guy click off the safety on his Glock which allowed the bad guy to get off the first shot and get away.  At that point, to me, the book steps far enough out of reality to seem more like a Wile E Coyote cartoon than a serious action novel.

 

 

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I appreciate solid firearms knowledge, especially if it is relevant to the story, like an older private investigator who carries a J-frame.

 

I get distracted and can lose interest if the writer is specific but writes errors.  A suppressor on a revolver or a 25mm pocket pistol will take my mind off the tale.

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I really don't care as long as they aren't stupid with it. By that I mean inaccurately describe the gun, it's capabilities or even naming a  gun that wouldn't be available, like: Winchester 92's in the War Between the States, or showing all enlisted men wearing 1911s on their hips, or something like that.

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I like when they’re specific and correct! I think adds to the story.

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Either get the details right or be generic.  Detailed errors tend to annoy me.

 

However keep in mind the editors may have made the change in an attempt to "correct" what they think is an error.

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well there are revolvers that have external saftys , Glocks can be fitted with thumb saftys , and the nigant revolver can be fitted with a suppressor , 

 

 due to it using the Gasser system , (the cylinder , move over the barrel extention , creating a gas seal ) 

 

  Chickasaw Bill 

Edited by Chickasaw Bill SASS #70001
wrong gun , typed Mosien , insted of Nigant
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A very good British mystery writer lost me toward the end when the inexperienced gunman held the heroine at gunpoint for about a half hour. He had a revolver, which he got from the manor house. She was terrified. 

 

In the meantime, the hero (a great character by the way), had time to find her and break in to save the day. Whereupon the miscreant pulled the trigger- click, click-- the revolver was empty.

 

Problem is, you can just barely get away with this with a semi-auto pistol. But a revolver? Even a tyro will check the cylinder. And the damsel in distress, after a full half-hour at gunpoint, would notice that there are no rounds in the cylinder.

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The frustration arises in mysteries, police procedurals, and such because the people who write them shoud get firearms stuff right, inasmuch they are such an integral part of the genre.

 

In movies, it always seems all bets are off....

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I thought you literally meant a book ( cut out ) with a gun concealed in it !!!! 

I'm always a stickler in books and movies when they indicate it takes place in "1868 just after the civil war" and everyone is packing peacemakers, and model 1892 winchester without fore stocks only with no bullet loops on their belts ! Bonanza is a prime example. Drives me crazy!

My wife says I just complain to much!

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Vague and generic works just as well as specificity, as far as I'm concerned.

 

BUT

 

If you choose to go into specifics about firearms (or cars, airplanes, or anything else real life), then them details and specifics better be right

 

Somebody mentioned L'Amour.  He would pull oddball guns like Colt revolving shotguns and Ferguson rifles out on occasion but he also did the generic '.44 pistol' on occasion- leaving the details up to the reader to imagine- as well.  Both worked

 

I've heard of 'suspension of disbelief' (I practice it regularly when reading and listening to what passes for the news these days) and I realize that fiction writers get to just make stuff up. 

 

(Fiction writers are also always right.  The universe the story takes place in is found solely in their imagination, so don't try to correct one unless you're wearing your mind reading glasses.) 

 

That's why Richard Sharp, Horatio Hornblower, Jack Aubrey and a plethora of other fictional characters can all be at the Battle of Trafalgar right along with the real folks that were there.  (I've gotta admit, Sharp was a stretch for me.)  Cornwell and numerous other authors have made a good living taking historical facts and giving credit for making them come to pass to one fictional character or another.  Folks make up entire regiments or ships and placed them at key places in some of the most researched battles in world history.  Even the history buffs didn't raise a stink too badly about it because most do their homework so they get other details right and the history buff understand that they are trying to tell a story.

 

The thing is, irritating your readership by just  being sloppy with simple details like safeties on revolvers isn't a great way to retain readers.

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Dirk whats-his-name (Clive Cussler) is a classic car buff, and I don't know enough about classic cars to know if they get the details right or not. But in one of the books he's in Hawaii, and he's driving along and someone in another car tries to shoot him. Not a problem - he has a Mauser schnellfeur. A fully automatic broomhandle Mauser with a 50 round magazine. No. I know they made the gun, but it had a 20 round magazine. That was annoying.

 

And when he gets where he's going, he leaves this illegal-in-Hawaii machine gun lying on the backseat of his open convertible while he goes in the building. That wasn't technically wrong, but it was sure hell stupid.

 

I read this back in the '70s.

JW-Iron_Shirt.jpg.5424a605c3aa38caa536156cbbea2e00.jpg

Not a bad book. As you can see by the cover art, the hero carries a Winchester lever action cut down to a 12-inch barrel. That was fine, except that it still held 13 rounds like a 24 inch gun.

 

Edited by Alpo
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I just watched Gunga Din again (for maybe the fiftieth time) and again enjoyed the Brits unloading and assembling light field cannons and Gatling gun with Accles drums and wooden field carriages.  They aren't even mentioned, just unloaded, assembled, and fired.

 

I did notice, however (and don't know why I never spotted it before) that the officers that go in to rescue Cary Grant have EMPTY bandoliers slung over their shoulders and across their chests.

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Specifics for me...being a "gun person". 

I'd kinda like to know some details. I appreciate authenticity, for a that era and period of time that the book represents. That tells me the author did his/her homework, and research.

That then causes me to perhaps better trust the rest of the book, and the details he/she puts in.

Anybody can leave out details. 

Putting in some details requires work, and effort. 

L'Amour did not go into extreme details, but just enough to tell you what they were using a: Colt, Winchester, Sharps, Spencer, etc. 

Sometimes he even revealed the caliber...such as...he/she had a Sharps 50...which denoted it could have been a 50-70, or a 50-90, for the period the book was supposed to be written about. He wrote one book, that I can recall now, about the Ferguson Rifle, and that is what the title to the book was. 

He wrote a book in which he talked at length about an obscure percussion revolver, in .36 caliber. 

I have to believe that those that appreciate firearms, will also really appreciate some firearm details in a story. 

 

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My niece had me fact check her latest novel regarding firearms. 

I would assume anyone ignorant of any topic they put in their efforts would have someone check their work whether it's a book, movie or article.

 

 

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