Boiling Point: Filming Firearms

Its pretty evident that Hollywood loves its guns. If you live here, its also pretty evident California hates guns, or at least doesn’t trust anyone other than the police to have them for fear of the rampant killing rampages that are so epidemic across America. Wait a minute….

Anywho, despite the film makers love of firearms, it is readily apparent to anyone who has ever handled a gun that Hollywood, in general, has no fucking clue what is going on. I thought they hired experts for this kind of thing? Geeze.

First off, there are apparently only about 6 kinds of guns in the entire world. FBI agents carry Glocks and rogue cops carry the Beretta 92FS. Bad guys carry two-tone guns or Uzis and MP5s. Of course a generic shotgun pops up here and there, or if he’s a bad guy the big ol’ SPAS-12. Let us not forget that any villain can hold a Desert Eagle, which fires a large .50 bullet, and shoot it with one hand. Heck, might as well shoot two!

Everyone is also a marksman. People whip off one handed shots and place bullets between eyes at amazing distances. Heh. Past 15 yards and the average person barely touches paper, and even cops only have to shoot within a 5 inch circle or so.

And guns in Hollywood are noisy. No, not loud. Noisy. Every time someone draws a gun you hear it. Cha-Chik. Click. Slink. Slip. What the hell is going on? Guns don’t have that many moving parts. I could jump up and down on a trampoline bouncing a basket full of handguns, and the only sound they’ll make is bouncing off each other. Guns don’t make many noises.

Now, one noise they do make is the sound of being cocked, or having the slide racked. This is a very essential part of loading a gun. Without this step, most times, the gun won’t fire. So when the hero has the bank robber cornered and its tense, the robber makes a slight move and the hero cocks his gun…. This means that the hero never loaded his gun. What use is an unloaded gun? Nada. Single Action Revolvers, common in the old west, had to manually be cocked before being fired. I’ve seen plenty of flicks, including The Magnificient Seven where someone is acting very threateningly with an uncocked gun. Now everyone around him would realize “Hey… That thing ain’t even ready to fire.” Woop.

But if the character manages to squeeze off a few rounds and runs empty, you hear it. CLICK CLICK CLICK. Ohh. Or his machine gun is empty ‘clickclickclickclick.’ Heh. Again. When semi-automatic weapons are empty, most of them will only click once, and then the firing pin is locked forward. Most semi-automatics are empty after being fired, the slide very obviously locks back. This means the gun is empty. The trigger won’t go click. It won’t do anything. Now of course when our hero reloads it and puts the slide forward, he’ll rack the slide again to load it. A for Effort friends, but the gun is already loaded if you put the magazine in while the slide is back then close the slide. I’m looking at you, Demolition Man, where Sly Stallone cycles his weapon and throws away a good bullet. Now revolvers, many of them will go click click click. But they won’t have the noise of a safety click off for drama, as most don’t have safeties. Huh.

Getting shot is one of two things. A fast way to die or a minor inconvenience. If you’re a random henchman, sorry man, you’ve been fatally shot by a single bullet no matter where it hits you. Chest, stomach, shoulder, doesn’t matter where the squib was. You fall over dead. Strange. Bullets don’t flip on/off switches in the body (save for Headshots, zombie hunters) and most people will agonize in pain for at least 30 seconds. Our good guys and lead villains will eat bullets like Wheaties. Rounds in the side, HA, nothing! Round in the shoulder? I can still punch! Round in the stomach? Flesh wound! There is no bile leaking into my guts and burning at my insides and slowly poisoning me! Though heaven help you if you’re hit by the dreaded shotgun – see you next week. You’ll be blown clear off your feet and sent into the next room. Myth Busted, friends, that ain’t happening.

So Hollywood. Seriously. What the hell is this? You spend millions of dollars on CGI unicorns and spend hundreds of thousands on prop rentals, but you can’t make sure there is one sound guy who is like “Uh guns don’t make that sound” or one person on set who can tell you how the damned thing works? Ever since The Great Train Robbery guns have been on screen. They’re a beautiful sight to behold, powerful and flashy, oooo I’m tingly! But it’s idiotic what you do to them. It’s like an 8-bit Mona Lisa. Please please learn how to use them! Embrace them! They’re just as awe inspiring when portrayed realistically! Maybe I’m the only one who notices (I doubt it!) and maybe I’m the only one who cares, maybe people just want to see pyrotechnics erupting out of gold plated handguns, but I’m past my boiling point, Hollywood. Get your act together.

Oh, and it’s called a “magazine,” not a “clip.”

Robert Fure is a scary, scary man.


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