Guns Explained for Non-Gun Owners


I remember my mom once saying she wanted a book that would tell what kind of injury resulted from what kind of gun. There were a lot less ammo sizes back then, so I could kind of run down the list.

Today there’s a lot more. I’ll just sy, I know guns. I know the peculiarities of certain ones. I know for instance, the Glock pistol causes most people to shoot slightly off center – because the grip is rounded. So you curl your fingers more than slightly off.

Hand guns come in two types, revolvers and semi-automatic. Revolvers take from 5 rounds (Charter Arms – the quintessential Saturday Night Special), and 12 rounds (.22 LR pistols).

Semi-automatics come with a magazine that ejects, and is refillable, rather than a cylinder that pops out like revolvers. THey hold usually from 8 rounds to 17 rounds. When dealing with semi-autos, the capacity always is described with a plus sign. For instance, the venerable Colt Government model pistol (called a 1911) is a 7+1 or 8+1, depending on which one. A Glock 17 is a 17+1. WHat does that mean? You load seventeen rounds in the magazine, rack the slide, and put one more bullet into the magazine.

Why? Because there’s one in the chamber.

Many pistols do not have safeties. Some do. Glock claims to have three safeties, but in reality, the only thing stopping it from going off is a finger on the trigger… or not on it. A Glock CANNOT go off if dropped or slammed on a tabletop or a floor.

A 1911 CANNOT go off unless it is gripped by a hand. In addition, there is a trigger safety that must be disengaged. In one movie blooper that stayed in the final print, an Army Sargeant pulls his 1911 and points it at a doctor, ordering him to operate on his near dead Captain.

The safety was still on. Nobody noticed it. But when I watch the movie, clear as day… you can see it.

It makes no sense to show someone buy a Smith and Wesson Model 27 (you can always spot the newbies – they get a catalog and just put in the model number), and then say, “slowly he attached the silencer…”

Um… can’t really silence a revolver. You can try, but there’s a big gap in the frame where the cylinder is.

Revolvers do not eject shell casings. Semi-autos do. If they don’t, you have a problem.

You CANNOT arm your hero with a .44 magnum, and have them shoot an elevator button and have it open the elevator. In reality, the round will hit close to the button. If they’re good, they’ll hit the button and blow a hole in the wall.

There is a difference between an SKS, an AR-15, and an AK-47. If you’re a writer and you’re going to write about any kind of guns, you need to take a safety course, rent one from the range, and put TOT – time on trigger.

There’s no other way. I can spot when I’m reading a book by people who don’t shoot, people who only casually shoot (once or twice a year – Jerry Jenkins!), and people who shot a lot (Tom Clancy).

Here’s the quick and simple explanation – the higher the caliber (you can get caliber charts online), the more damage – sort of. People do laugh at .22 LR, but something you don’t know about them… they won’t go through you. The old rounds from the 90’s would go in, get stuck in a muscle, and hurt. The newer .22LR will bounce around inside a person. That’s never good on your insides.

.40 S&W does a lot of hurt. .45 ACP does more. .45 GAP does LESS damage.

The bigger the round, the more traumatic the wound. The LONGER the shell casing, the more traumatic the impact.

Magnum rounds are described by a trauma doctor as “Pretty memorable”. .22LR’s are described as “Bee stings.”

Bottom line: The only way to WRITE about guns is to BUY and SHOOT them.

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