6 Hilariously Wrong Hollywood Gun Tropes
The use of guns in movies and tv shows have always gone hand in hand with each other. From dramas to action flicks, guns are used so often in Hollywood that it blows the mind how they can still get it wrong. The depiction of firearms use in movies is often inaccurate and misleading. From the way firearms are handled to the sound effects and the way they are portrayed, the use of guns in movies is often far from reality. In this article, we will explore some of the common mistakes that Hollywood makes when it comes to firearms.
1. The ultra, mega, super, duper, beyond capacity magazines.
We have all seen it, the actor on the big screen has a side-by-side shotgun with a capacity of 50. Never once do they have to take time to reload. Especially when shooting full auto these firefights go on for ever and ever. Do they realize how heavy ammo is? In literal seconds you can empty a mag and then do it again and again. You can go through hundreds of rounds, but the actor is in shorts and a t-shirt. Where the hell did they store all this ammo?
That’s not to mention the heat from sustained fire. I once tried to shoot 1000 rounds through a Springfield Armory Prodigy pistol as fast as I could. After three mags, the pistol was so hot I had to put gloves on.
2. The sound of B.S.
This leads into the next annoying mistake that Foley (sound) engineers love to make. When the big plot point is an empty gun, it is like movie law that they have to do that toy gun click click click sound. I am not even going to mention that the slide or bolt should have locked back, but hey, that never happens either.
Speaking of Foley work, how about when you have to cock the hammer on all movie guns—even striker-fired ones? It’s not enough to just point a gun at an intended target. Every on-screen gun has to make that cocking noise so everyone knows you now really mean business. But wait … that bad guy has a Glock, why did he cock it like a revolver? Damn it, you and your common sense!
Suppressors aren’t called silencers for nothing. In LALA land, suppressors are the realm of the assassin, so they can take others out on a whim with no one being the wiser. I am a big proponent of suppressors and own multiple versions for different purposes. I would not say any of them are quiet.
In fact, shooting a rifle caliber like a 223/5.56 you should still probably wear hearing protection. Most bullets including 9mm break the sound barrier. That means that as soon as the bullet leaves the suppressor it breaks the sound barrier and makes a cracking sound that everyone can hear. Even with some premium subsonic 300 Blackout, you still have a crack that is identifiable as a gunshot.
3. Everybody’s got a fun switch.
In the alternate universe of movie land, everything is full auto. Hollywood does not acknowledge the National Firearms Act. Everyone has a machine gun, and they just spray rounds with impunity. In the real world, that’s not going to happen. Not only has the ATF stopped the manufacture of new machine guns for private use, they have done so since 1986. So that full auto Kriss, nope not unless they are for manufacture, police or law enforcement use. A legal fully transferable machine gun can cost more than a car, and take you about a year or effort to get.
4. Nobody ever fills out form 4473.
Have you ever seen anyone do a background check in a movie? I am starting to get the suspicion that maybe Hollywood is purposely trying to spread misinformation propaganda. Even in Congress there are members who believe that just like in the movies you can just order guns off the internet. In reality the firearms industry is one of the most regulated industries there is. If an unscrupulous dealer just sells firearms out of the back door, they will be caught. Firearms are tracked and documented at every level. When a firearm is found at a crime, the ATF will ask the manufacturer when it was made and what distributor it was shipped to. Then moving on to the distributor they will know what dealer it was sold to, and then the dealer better know who they sold it to. Those records never go away.
5. You’ll shoot your eye out (or your buddy’s spinal cord).
Bad form is rampant throughout productions. One of the first things you learn in any firearms safety class: don’t point a gun at something you are not willing to destroy. Ohhh boy, how about police officers on screen pointing the rifle directly at the spine of the officer in front of them.
The next bad shooting habit has to be shooting from the hip or unaimed fire. Indiscriminately firing everywhere like I mentioned earlier. This breaks even the most basic of firearms safety. You must be sure of your target and your skill to make the shot. If you miss the target, that bullet will continue on its path until it hits something. I absolutely hate when Hollywood tries to make spray and pray cool. You can really tell which actors have never held a firearm before, look at their grip and stance. It is almost like the firearms training provided for actors include the saucer and tea cup method, or the thumb behind the slide hold. I have personally seen someone break a thumb having it behind the slide when they pulled the trigger.
6. PUMP IT UP!
Last and not least is the old trope of the shotgun pump. This one is so ingrained in popular culture that even some firearms enthusiasts believe in it. I can’t even count the times I have heard “oh all you got to do is pump that scattergun, the bad guys go running”. Usually from the Fudd Husband who is trying to buy the wife a pump super magnum shotgun.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to give away my position. Secondly you are literally saying keep a firearm that is for self defense with empty chamber. Right, you never practice with the damn thing and you will have enough wits about you to be able to make ready? Watch—this one is so controversial someone will reply about how this is a great idea.
Sometimes you have to take cinema as cinema and nothing more. That said, my pet conspiracy theory is that Hollywood is so anti-gun that they just purposely keep perpetuating firearms bad habits and don’t care. What are your thoughts on this, and what do you hate about TV/Movie gun use?
—James the “XDMAN” Nicholas Mr. UnPewFessional himself.
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May 8, 2023 at 10:45 am
Was watching “Safe House”… Car chase, crashes, people firing automatic weapons out car windows… the lead assassin takes the time to thread on a suppressor to take a kill shot from the passenger seat.
At that point they decided to inject a bit of realism and the report was the typical “thppt, thppt” but a more realistic suppressor sound.
May 8, 2023 at 1:38 pm
I want toe ones with no recoil. Much easier to chute.
May 8, 2023 at 10:45 pm
Kel Tec makes the perfect Hollywood gun. The PMR-30. Thirty rounds loud and flashy before reloading. But the biggest complaint? Using the same old sound effect for every gun in all the old westerns and gangster movies. Every pistol and every rifle sounded the same, and they all made that same ricochet noise. Ridiculous!
May 8, 2023 at 11:16 am
There are so many insane examples of bad form in the movies, it is hard to pick…. The one that really drives me nuts, is the guy holding three or four people at gunpoint and five minutes into the scene, they “rack” the gun & actually put a round in the chamber!!! Lever action rifles & pump shotguns seem to be the leading offenders. Really, you were holding all of those people & NOW you put a round in the chamber!!!!!
May 8, 2023 at 12:06 pm
Don’t forget the 24 shot six guns from the old westerns. Or some pretender firing a belt fed machine gun like it’s a small caliber hand gun. Or the fools shooting with silencers in a crowded area where the sound would be noticed and cause panic, and the spent brass magically evaporates.
And lastly, the mentioned issue of spending huge amounts of ammo with not an ammo can, or in some cases a truck in sight. Where did all the ammo come from?
May 8, 2023 at 12:41 pm
An example of “silly silencer” is the movie(s) “John Wick.” Watch the silenced gunfight in the subway where no one around them hear, either, shots or empty shells hitting the floor.
May 15, 2023 at 12:02 pm
Or the near-ubiquitous revolver with attached suppressor? Lol
May 8, 2023 at 12:23 pm
I’m particularly fond of all these non-recoiling firearms in movies and TV dramas.
I wonder where I can find just one?
May 9, 2023 at 10:05 am
How much are you looking to spend? Might be able to accommodate you!!!
May 8, 2023 at 12:35 pm
Hollywood is filled with libtards who hate guns, but realize that gun violence SELLS! They refuse to learn ANYTHING to do with safe gun handling, prefering to pander to sensationalist movie antics. This is also why, many times, I have seen an actor working with a revolver at the start of a scene only to end up with a semi-auto later in the same scene. Another example is the character that can’t make up his mind which firearm is his EDC. Example: the TV show “Bones,” Special Agent Seeley Boothe carries, at various times, a 1911, a Glock, a S&W 686, a S&W Chief’s Special .38 and often changing WHERE he carries them. Sometime his strong-side hip, cross-draw, shoulder holster, even middle-of-the-back (MOB). Any cop I’ve ever known, and having retired from law enforcement myself, MOSTLY carries the same gun they’ve trained with and in the same position they’ve once chosen for comfort and concealment. Their choice of gun and position may change depending on circumstances OFF-DUTY, but not everyday.
May 8, 2023 at 12:37 pm
A single round from a single action 45 knocks the bad guy (stunt man) across the room or even across the street and often he flips all the way head over heels.
And the saloon scenes where the blast from a coach gun picks the bad guy up off the ground and through the saloon’s plate glass window.
May 8, 2023 at 12:39 pm
The “pump the shotgun and they will run” comment was famously said by nine other tgan the current occupant of the White House when he was the VP. Just as wrong then as he is now.
May 8, 2023 at 2:17 pm
GOtta admit, the silencer thing is hilarious. Only weapons I have that I would get a can for is my .45 and my .308, since both are subsonic thanks to ammo.
As for ammo capacity, at least films have gotten better on that in recent years.
I remember once seeing a tough on Spenser for Hire with a double barrel shotgun and the foley guys added a pump action racking noise to the gun…
As for lack of recoil, there are pistols and rifles that have that. The 9mm pit viper from Teran Tactical has almost no recoil and my .416 ruger guide gun has almost none, though it has a massive muzzle break.
May 8, 2023 at 3:45 pm
Owen’s (Chris Pratt’s) Marlin lever action in Jurassic World, he never works the lever but it fires like a semi auto. Watch the scene near the end of the movie where he’s using the souvenir stand for cover.
May 8, 2023 at 3:29 pm
Haven’t any of you all ever heard of the magical “clips that never empty”?!?!??!! I have been hankering after at least one for years! So magical!
May 8, 2023 at 3:48 pm
My pet peeve is the western set in 1865. The War has just ended and the hero is arms with a Colt “Peacemaker” and a 1873 Winchester with an ammo belt full of cartridges. I guess they got them from Aliens. But wait, the Cartridge Belt he’s wearing only has one caliber of ammo. Or, the band of Mexicans with bandoleers full of cartridges that won’t fit any of the guns they are carrying. Duh!!
May 8, 2023 at 6:46 pm
“But wait, the Cartridge Belt he’s wearing only has one caliber of ammo.” Well, that’s accurate, since both of them were available chambered in 44-40. That combo was pretty smart back then.
I do agree with you on Peacemakers and ’73s somehow showing up right after the Civil War. One of my favorite John Wayne movies is guilty of that
May 11, 2023 at 9:37 am
I’ll go you one better. Most of the Winchesters used in Hollywood are actually model 94, originally made in, you guessed it, 1894.
May 8, 2023 at 4:15 pm
The racking of a shotgun will make a difference IF the perpetrator hears and sees that the weapon is charged and the officer is at least visually proficient. I had a building check one time. No backup available. As I checked I heard the distinctive sound of shotgun rack. I moved to cover as I swept my shotgun towards the area of the sound. Nothing there, I asked dispatch if anybody had been sent. Our area had State and two other counties not on my frequency. We often assisted each other, but we had to coordinate through dispatches. We also had UHF, VHF, and low band frequencies. Then I noticed the TIME CLOCK on the wall…every ten minutes it cycled loudly. The honest truth is I almost spun and fired on the sound. My load of choice for building checks was a 12 gauge #4 buck. I generally staggered my load 2-#4 buck, 2- #00 buck, and 1 slug. On the stock were 5 slugs. Fortunately, I never had to utilize deadly force.
May 8, 2023 at 4:56 pm
You left out two very relevant words in this article: Alec Baldwin.
That is all…
May 8, 2023 at 7:59 pm
Don’t forget about the machine gun ammo belts that “rejuvenate” themselves and grow in length every time you turn around (the Rambo films and way too many others to name).
Nobody can say that Hollywood ever let facts get in the way of telling a story.
May 9, 2023 at 3:14 am
The one I got the biggest laugh out a was when a bunch of Indians are circling the wagon train and some joker takes a shot at ’em and 5 guys fall of their horses. Where can I get me one of those?
May 9, 2023 at 8:29 am
It’s not just the racking of the pump shotgun or slide on a handgun ‘to show they mean business’ that bothers me the most. It’s when the actors do it three times before a single shot is fired. Of course, no cartridges are ever ejected on the second or third rack of the action.
May 9, 2023 at 10:31 am
The two things that bother me are, (1) The sparks that fly when the bullet hits anything except the human target. (2) The ricochet sound the bullet makes in Westerns.
May 9, 2023 at 11:37 am
But . . . The movie “Shoot ‘em Up” uses all these “errors”. I believe intentionally, to enhance the title. A 380 that rips skulls apart and shoots through file cabinet drawers full of paper and STILL makes a through and through head shot on the guy behind the cabinet! Awesome !!! It’s a good exercise in “suspension of disbelief”.
May 11, 2023 at 9:37 am
007 taking down a Helicopter with his PPK, from hundreds of feet away, has got to be one of the biggest FUBAR gun mistakes ever to Grace the screen
May 11, 2023 at 1:32 pm
You do realize Bond is a make-believer in a Make-Believe World…. 🙂 🙂 🙂 Collected all the James Bond movies (1967 Casino Royal spoof featuring David Niven awaiting pickup at 1/2 Price Books) as part of DVD collection to draw from when traveling in my motor coach. Fun watching earlier episodes for story line glitches and shabby special effects. In first 1962 “Dr. NO” car chase, Bond literally drives around the same curve three times. Couple movies later, he switches hands holding bad guy’s shirt and punching hand as the camera angle switches from behind Bond to Bond face shot. Bond car crashes down stone stairway only to be scratch free in subsequent scenes. Yellow car does the “NASCAR paint swapping” in a chase only to be perfect finish shortly thereafter. Many of the “high tech” equipment shots appear as if a grade-schooler colored corrugated paper boxes for the cabinets, switches, lights, et el. Has become more fun looking for glitches than following movie plot.
May 9, 2023 at 1:14 pm
Pet peeve is full-automatic guns being referred to as “semi-automatic” misinformation tactic.
Also, lead, even copper clad lead does NOT spark when striking ANY object.
May 9, 2023 at 1:26 pm
One of my favorites is when the zombie movies and shows depict the newbie who has never fired a gun before, getting taught how to use a gun, and then making head-shots on moving targets at over 50 yards over and over again. That is some really good training!!!
May 10, 2023 at 7:52 am
How about the one shot instant kills. Take one to the stomach and it’s lights out, not a peep
May 10, 2023 at 12:39 pm
One peeve is when actors.use any sort of furniture as cover. A desk that wouldn’t stop a .22 saves them from an M16 barrage.
The one that really irks me happens on CSI: Miami. As far as I know, there is no gun registration in the Sunshine (gunshine) State. Their magical computers tell them within seconds that a suspect has the same caliber gun used a crime registered in their name. Those fancifully animated computers can also tell them which address in a neighborhood has a certain gun registered. Never mind the fact that the vast majority of criminals use illegally obtained guns or that tracing by serial number can take days only to determine who the gun was stolen from.
May 11, 2023 at 9:43 am
While I’m not an instructor, I am a dealer and fairly knowledgeable, so I get a lot of questions. My advice to anyone starting out and serious about training is always, “stop watching movies and TV for the next two months. Half of what you see is flat out wrong and will get you killed, most of the other half will get you prosecuted.”
May 11, 2023 at 9:49 am
So many inane firearm goofs in movies and TV. I hate to be a nit-picker, but yeah seeing 1892 Winchesters in films set in the 1870’s drives me nuts. Also, the “laser guided” bullets that hit exactly where the red dot is–everytime. I do love lasers though. I have a nice collection of almost 250 guns and many folks are aware of it. I’m not paranoid, but I do realize it is a very enticing target. Live on a farm with a long driveway. One winter night a rickety old Ford van came up our drive and parked by walkout basement door. I was 3 stories above looking out the window. I thought it would be a little iffy to go out and ask if they were lost. I didn’t want the sheriff coming out and waking up the neighbors either. Best idea I ever had was to flash laser pointer all around their dashboard. Holy poop, those doofusses had no idea what was on the other end of that laser, but they couldn’t burn rubber any faster getting off of my property. Back to Hollywood idiocy, the worst is when 6 bad guys are behind cover with full auto weapons and the “good guy” with a snubnose 38, out in the open, can run right through the open and fire off 25 rounds, avoid being hit by any of the hundreds of rounds flying all around them, and then take out every one of the shooters.
I’m also amazed at those hand grenades that blow with the fire and force of a 1/2 kiloton nuke.
May 11, 2023 at 11:05 am
The real sad part is that these are the only guns many people ever see and they believe what they see.
May 11, 2023 at 1:16 pm
“ou’ll shoot your eye out….” Found a Tee at Buckeye Gun Shop, Murfreesboro, TN while enjoying training at Barrett Firearms, that has a face pic of Slo Joey in a full hot pink bunny outfit with caption…”Come on, Man. you’ll blow you lung out!!”
May 11, 2023 at 5:51 pm
what about the open cylinder spin on a revolver that makes the buzzing sound before they wrist flip it closed. none of my revolvers make ANY noise when the cylinder is spun when it is in the bout of battery position to load or unload the weapon.
May 15, 2023 at 10:23 am
But then you have producers like Micheal Mann and movies like Heat that get it right. The sounds and techniques from that movie are as spot on as Hollyweird could possibly get, and that movie was released in 1995.