Who doesn’t love a good action movie? From John Woo to the Wachowskis, Hollywood has delivered some of the best gun action the world has ever seen. But gun inaccuracies in movies are actually super common and it drives gun owners crazy. So, what are all the ways movies get guns wrong?
There are numerous problems with gunfights across hundreds of movies, but most of folks don’t really think about them because they don’t know how guns work in real life.
Well, get ready to be educated. Every trope and cliché that action movies use is based on common misunderstandings of gun buzzwords regarding proper gun usage. Let’s explore everything from what a bullet does to you at the point of impact to the proper way to hold a gun. Sit down and get to know just how wrong your favorite movie characters have been treating firearms.
You Don’t Need To Cock A Pistol’s Hammer Back To Fire
Movies are about the build up of drama, and drama is made out of little moments of emotion. Thus, when you have a character pointing a weapon at another character, you don’t want them both just standing around chatting. You need to give them things to do that escalate the tension of the scene. So, in a movie, when one character wants the other to know they mean business they pull back the hammer of their pistol.
In real-life most guns are already good to fire, just pull the trigger, unless you’re carrying a bolt rifle without one in the chamber. If its an auto-type of handguns, once you racked the slide with live ammo, then you got one in the chamber ready to go.
Guns Don’t Just Go Off When You Drop Them
Bet you’ve heard this one before: a gun gets deliberately drop and it goes off, taking out a bad guy and giving our hero the distraction to escape.
The thing is, that would never happen, Unless its a Sig P230, oh I forgot they go that fixed. Guns over the past few decades, with the exception of some longer rifles, are built well enough to safety standards that dropping them doesn’t make them go off.
Getting Shot In The Shoulder Isn’t Something You Can Shrug Off
Often in movies, in order to artificially increase the stakes, we’ll see the main character take a bullet. The filmmakers, smart as they are, usually keep it to the shoulder, so the character is injured but still able to function, because its the hero (or heroine).
Well, the problem with that is that getting shot in the shoulder would be completely debilitating. Sure, there’s plenty of soft tissue to harm, but if a joint, artery, or nerve gets hit you’re in a lot of trouble. You may lose the blood supply to your arm, or not be able to support yourself because your collar bone is shattered. In short, you’re not going to be doing any glock-fu anytime soon.
A Gunshot Cannot Knock You Back
You see this trope in practically every action movie that comes out. There’s a big gunfight, someone gets hit, and they go flying backwards through the air. That, of course, is not true.
More than likely most high velocity caliber will pass through you. If its a .45acp from a pistol, it can momentarily give you an shocking impact as the bullet hits you.
Gunfights Don’t Last Very Long
According to the FBI, gunfights aren’t nearly as drawn out as they look in the movies. So, every long shootout you’ve seen in the movies is all about fun and entertainment.
In fact, the general rule is that gunfights occur in three seconds, over three shots, at three yards apart. So, chances are you’re almost never going to reload during a fight.
There’s Always An Insane Lack Of Regard For Surroundings
Responsible gun owners are trained to always be aware of who and what is going on around them. After all, one misfired round can mean you’ve killed a random pedestrian, or a passing puppy.
One of the first things you’re taught is to pay attention to your surroundings. You’ll notice most characters in movies, however, just fixate on their target. Its all about suspense and drama in the movies.
You Never Want To Point The Gun At Everything
Every watch a movie where a character is waving a gun around like it’s a baton? Well, that is incredibly unrealistic — at least with practiced gun owners.
There’s a little something called “muzzle discipline,” which basically means you should always have your gun pointed in a safe direction. It’s something that a gun-owner must always be aware of, but it tends to happen very little in films. So I’ll defend our hero, they are pointing their weapons at things that may be a threat.
They Usually Finger The Gun Wrong
True pros know that you never, ever keep your finger on your gun’s trigger. Yet, every action hero tends to go running around with their twitchy fingers resting on the trigger of whatever gun they’re holding. (Cuz, they ready to rock n’ roll)
In reality taught by all gun institutes in the U.S., keep your trigger finger extended, running along the gun above the trigger. This is just another safety function should you choose to shoot or not.
Guns Can Run Out Of Ammo
You’ve probably seen this one, most heroes tend to fire guns that never need to be reloaded. (Rambo) It’s gotten to the point where it’s surprising to see a film where the hero runs out of ammo. If they do, it’s usually a plot point.
There are some movies that have put in the intricacy of reloading to good dramatic effect. John Wick, for example, would often showcase some rather stylish reloading mixed in with its hand-to-hand combat. Another good example was the first Jack Reacher film.
One shot, One Kill
If anything, gun shot wounds usually result in an incredibly slow and painful death. In the films, however, when a bad guy is shot they’re instantly dead. Convenient, but not true to life.
You Will Never Dual Wield Pistols
It may be one of the coolest things you can see in a movie: when the hero breaks out double pistols, you know it’s on. The unfortunate truth is that all those awesome scenes you’ve seen in John Woo movies aren’t physically possible for most.
There are a few like Jerry Miculek that have wielded two pistols and can rain serious lead down range with accuracies. But that’s Jerry, most of us Joe average can’t do that.
Bullet Proof Vests Won’t Necessarily Save Your Life
There are lots of movies that show a hero seemingly get gunned down, only for them to survive the gunshot because they were wearing a secret bullet proof vest. While that may work some of the time, it’s by no means a sure thing.
It’s true that a level IIIA bullet resistant vest will stop most handgun rounds. However, a stronger weapon or higher caliber bullet may still tear through the vest.