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Guns in books


McCandless
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It's kind of a given that many movies and TV shows will mess up with anachronisms or when depicting firearm usage.

But, when writing a book, the authors have the time to consult on subjects they know nothing about.   Obvious errors really take me out of the flow when as I'm reading and I come across them.  So do passages in parentheses, but that's another subject.

 

I was reading a "Repairman Jack" novel, when the protagonist takes out his revolver, which he describes as a .357 Magnum Ruger Security Six.   He then carefully loads it with 5 rounds, hammer down on an empty chamber, in preparation for confrontation with the bad guy.   Okay, but the Security Six has a transfer bar safety, and was made so you could carry 6.  It was, and is, a big selling point.

Then he goes on to describe it as a double action, "because you have to cock the hammer before you can pull the trigger"  

Aaurgh!  

Sounds like the writer had a "gun friend" give him some tips and got the whole thing wrong, or the author took terrible notes.  

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Spenser - Robert Parker - in his early books carried a J-frame Smith & Wesson 38. Five shot. Kept an empty under the hammer for safety.

 

Before he started writing Appaloosa and its prequels and sequels he had another western. In this western the hero carried a 45 revolver and a 45 Winchester carbine. My immediate thought was "moron, that did not exist", but then I thought he could have a 76 or an 86 - both of which came in 45 caliber cartridges. Just because he said it was a 45 did not mean that he meant 45 Colt. Then a page or so later he explains that he carried the 45 Winchester carbine so he could use the same ammunition in his rifle and his pistol. Also his pistol had a swing out cylinder.

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In the early days of my LE career, when all cops carried wheel guns, I knew three or four old timers who only carried 5 rounds in a revolver.  No amount of explaining the safety devices on a modern S&W double action gun would convince them this wasn't necessary.  

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Episode of Police Story. Lloyd Bridges was the old experienced cop teaching Ryan O'Neal, his new young partner. Told him to keep her NOT HER, OTTO, AN empty in his "six inch" (he carried a 6-inch python, so of course his new young partner full of hero worship did the same). Not at 12:00 where you would suspect. At 10:00, where it would be the first shot up.

 

"You need to shoot someone, you know that first one is empty, so you just pull through it - click, bang. But if anyone ever gets your gun and tries to shoot you with it, it will just go click, which will startle and puzzle them long enough to give you time to pull your 2-inch and pop 'em."

 

 

That made sense to me when I was 17. B)

Edited by Alpo
so far I have had to edit this three times because otto keeps changing my changes
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Stephen King is usually horrible when it comes to gun info in his books.

 

And, if I had a dollar for everytime somebody clicked off the safety on their Glock in the book I have read I might be able to afford primers.  :D  That is bad enough, but (and I forget which book it was in) when the good guy clicked off his Glock safety and the bad guy heard it allowing him to pinpoint the good guy in the dark and shoot him I swore to myself I would never engage the safety on my Glock for fear of the same thing happening!!

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3 minutes ago, Crazy Gun Barney, SASS #2428 said:

Stephen King is usually horrible when it comes to gun info in his books.

 

And, if I had a dollar for everytime somebody clicked off the safety on their Glock in the book I have read I might be able to afford primers.  :D  That is bad enough, but (and I forget which book it was in) when the good guy clicked off his Glock safety and the bad guy heard it allowing him to pinpoint the good guy in the dark and shoot him I swore to myself I would never engage the safety on my Glock for fear of the same thing happening!!

The guy is a fine writer but a hard core lefty.  Can't expect them to know much about objects they detest.

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Sometimes, I think that there is "over-explanation" of things when it comes to books and movies. I think that some details should be left to the reader's/viewer's imagination. After all, that's what makes it interesting.

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I was reading a western novel, last year, and the main character said he like the smell of cordite after firing his revolver. 

The novel was set in the American west in the 1870's. 

At that time period, he would have been smelling black powder, not cordite. 

Only a glaring error, I suppose, to someone like me, and not someone who is not involved in the sport. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Waxahachie Kid #17017 L
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52 minutes ago, Cypress Sun said:

Sometimes, I think that there is "over-explanation" of things when it comes to books and movies. I think that some details should be left to the reader's/viewer's imagination. After all, that's what makes it interesting.

At times, I agree with this. But when the author gets something just plain wrong, (safety on a Glock, having to cock the hammer on a double action, for instance), that's not a detail, that's an error.

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What amazes me is when movies get it wrong, and obviously gun-savvy actors have to say it anyway. In Under Siege 2 Steven Seagal gave a Glock .45 to another character... this being years before Glock actually made a .45 version of their pistol. I'm quite sure Seagal knew that, but he had to say what was in the script.

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41 minutes ago, Waxahachie Kid #17017 L said:

I was reading a western novel, last year, and the main character said he like the smell of cordite after firing his revolver. 

The novel was set in the American west in the 1870's. 

At that time period, he would have been smelling black powder, not cordite. 

Only a glaring error, I suppose, to someone like me, and not someone who is not involved in the sport. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Going slightly the other way, television episode. These two guys - steampunks - had a duel with flintlock dueling pistols. The dead guy was left in the park. The medical examiner tells the homicide cop that on the dead guy's hand they found traces of sulfur and potassium nitrate, and the cop says, "GUNSHOT RESIDUE??!?!????"

 

I don't believe either sulfur nor potassium nitrate has been used in regular gunpowder (smokeless) for 100 years or more, so why would the cop immediately recognize those two chemical compounds as gunshot residue?

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Knowing that someone who was shot had gunshot residue on their hands doesn't bother me in the least.

 

Knowing that sulfur and saltpeter were gunshot residue - that's something else. Current day gunshot residue would be nitroglycerin and nitrocellulose, not saltpeter or sulfur or charcoal. They don't use that anymore. Have not for a long long time.

 

If the cop is so clueless, and she was, that she did not know what a round ball was - "What kind of a bullet is that??" - why would she recognize black powder compounds?

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3 hours ago, Cypress Sun said:

Sometimes, I think that there is "over-explanation" of things when it comes to books and movies. I think that some details should be left to the reader's/viewer's imagination. After all, that's what makes it interesting.

Absolutely correct!

A reader's imagination -- if reading a well written book -- will project the action in Technicolor on a big wide screen, with surround sound that shivers the deck underfoot!

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saw a movie a week or two ago, first scene words pop up on the screen "Nevada 1870" the hero then rides in with a pair of 1873 colts on, a couple scenes later he starts a gun fight with 1860 colt armies and finishes with his 1873 colts, a few of the rifle scenes look like 1894 Winchesters, its not just books they cant get right 

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My favorite screw up is the guy or guys are getting ready to go into action and they keep racking the actions on their pump or lever action longs, yet when the shooting starts they still have a couple of dozen rounds in the magazine..... even on Firefly.

 

That, and the sound of a slide being racked on a revolver.

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One of my favorite lines regarding guns from a movie.

From the Untouchables - The team is getting ready to go on a raid and are going over their guns - the Andy Garcia character is repeatedly opening and closing the cylinder on his revolver and Sean Connery says, "Have you checked it?  Now leave it alone."

 

Never understood the walking into a firefight with an empty gun; and dramatically cycling the action to load it right before I need it to protect myself.

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21 minutes ago, Forty Rod SASS 3935 said:

My favorite screw up is the guy or guys are getting ready to go into action and they keep racking the actions on their pump or lever action longs, yet when the shooting starts they still have a couple of dozen rounds in the magazine..... even on Firefly.

 

That, and the sound of a slide being racked on a revolver.

I've mentioned this before, and I'll mention it every time it comes up: Somebody pulls ANY handgun, semi auto, revolver, striker OR hammer fired, and you hear the Click, Click, Click, Click of an SAA being cocked.:angry:

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There was an episode of Leverage. Timothy Hutton's character had a two and a half inch Model 19. He brings it up and points it at the other guy, and you hear the hammer go back. Not the four click single action hammer. The one click correct sound for that gun hammer. But the hammer is still forward. And then as he's talking to the other guy he lowers the gun. Then he brings it up again to make a point, and again you hear the click of the hammer going back. Hammer is still forward. He does this three or four times during the scene. He will lower the gun while talking, and then dramatically snatch it back up and point it the other guy, and every time he brings it up you hear that hammer go back. But he never cocked the gun.

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I've given up worrying about the movies. If you do, you'll never be satisfied. So, for the most usual example, you've just got to accept Winchester 1892s as the generic lever action of the Old West. Only when they put them in or before the Civil War can you get peeved. When they use an 1873, they get extra points with me.

 

Somehow, the movies seem never to have heard of the Spencer, apart from a couple of rare examples. Westerns should be full of Spencers in the first decade or two after the War.

 

But books are different. If you are writing mysteries and cop books, then you have to do basic research and some gun-handling yourself. Otherwise, why are you even doing it? It's all pretty simple, as we all know. To me, it really mars the story when they get it wrong. No excuses there.

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Some authors do good research. Many do not.

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10 hours ago, Creeker, SASS #43022 said:

One of my favorite lines regarding guns from a movie.

From the Untouchables - The team is getting ready to go on a raid and are going over their guns - the Andy Garcia character is repeatedly opening and closing the cylinder on his revolver and Sean Connery says, "Have you checked it?  Now leave it alone."

 

Never understood the walking into a firefight with an empty gun; and dramatically cycling the action to load it right before I need it to protect myself.

I roll my eyes every time i watch "The Fugitive" with Tommy Lee Jones, and he works the slide on his glock when he draws it.

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1 hour ago, LawMan Mark, SASS #57095L said:

I roll my eyes every time i watch "The Fugitive" with Tommy Lee Jones, and he works the slide on his glock when he draws it.

I was reading another board. The poster said that he carried his Glock in a chest rig, while in the woods. But he worried about holstering it, so carried it with an empty chamber. Did not want to accidentally shoot himself. But knowing that this would slow him drastically if he needed his gun in a hurry (having to chamber a round), he also carries an SP101 on his hip. :rolleyes::wacko:

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Remember watching a modern western where one of the good guys is threatening the bad guy he captured with his SXS in an attempt to get him to talk. When he shoved it into the bad guys face you heard the very distinct sound of the action of a pump shotgun being racked.

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Our school librarian must have been a great fan of detective novels.

The school library was almost over stocked with paperback detective works and I read every last one of 'em.

A shocking number were poor written by British authors, who set their action in the US, either New York or Chicago: their firearms discussions were invariably excessive, and inaccurate.

One had James Bond shooting a .357 Blackhawk through a letter-slot beneath his dash and scoring fifty yard bingoes, driving with one hand, half leaned over to shove the muzzle "under the dash" ... even as a beardless youth, I knew there was something called an "engine" in the way.

The rest of the novel, as I recall, was equally ... poor.

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