Accuracy in Guns or Gunning for Accuracy

While it may not currently be politically correct to talk about guns, my characters carry them.? Morg is a P.I. in Christmas Cracker and Vince is a Chicago PD detective in the soon-to-be-released Foul Shot.? Neither of them run around shooting up the neighborhood, but carry them in their respective jobs.? However, I try to make their guns and and the guns of their foes accurate in what they are and how they work.? Sadly, this is not always the case with authors.? While you don’t have to have fired the weapon you describe, you should do the research by talking with someone knowledgeable of doing a little Net research to be accurate.? Hit your mark, so to speak.? So let’s start with a few who were way off target.

Let’s start with an “automatic revolver.”? It means that when you fire it, the hammer is automatically cocked to fire again. If you are a fellow reader of mystery and P.I. novels, you will probably have come across that term.? There have been very,very few made and the most famous is the Webley-Fosbery that was made from 1901 until 1915.? Not exactly a common handgun.? Very rare, in fact.? So why do writers use the term?? Because Dashiell Hammett used it in The Maltese Falcon (and Bogart mispronounced it in the movie of that name).? Hammett knew the gun and named it in his book.? So why has such a rare gun cropped up in later books?? Poor research. Those writers are not talking about a specific gun, but are using the term generically, as though all revolvers are also automatics.? However, while an automatic cocks itself after every shot, so that a relatively light pressure on the trigger is all that is needed to fire, the revolver does not.? Well, except for the Webley-Fosbery and a very few others.? Considering the times I’ve read about automatic revolvers in books, it must be a favorite among killers.colt

This brings me to another pet peeve: safeties on revolvers.? I have read about some character releasing the safety on his revolver.? There’s no such thing.? Nowadays, most revolvers are double action, which means when you pull the trigger the hammer comes back and then strikes the firing pin.? There’s no “safety” to release to make it fire.? But the pull of the trigger is, in itself, stiff enough to be a safety.? So if you read about someone releasing the safety on a revolver, it’s pure B.S.? Bad Search-engine.

The manThen we have recoil.? If you’ve seen Rambo or Arnie movies with the hero grabbing a couple of .50 caliber machine guns and storming in, guns blazing with belts of ammo draped around them, you know fantasy.? There have been instances in battle where a soldier has actually picked up one machine gun and fired it, but they are rare.? Accuracy goes down the tubes.? Recoil is one good reason for not trying.? There’s no way anyone (even Sly or Arnie) could hang on to one of these bad boys while firing with one hand.? But we’re not talking movies here, so let’s go back to the books.? I recently read a mystery where a woman, who had never fired a gun before, shot an attacker at the top of a staircase above her with a 9mm handgun and hit him in a non-lethal part of his body on purpose.? The recoil of the shot slammed her against the wall and almost knocked her out.? Wow.? Since guns always tend to shoot high when shooting uphill or downhill, that was one lucky shot.? Hitting the attacker in a non-vital part of his body was even luckier.? But the recoil blows me away.? Obviously, the writer had neither fired a 9 mm or talked to anyone who had.

There is more, but I think I’ve made my point.? What’s my point?? Research, research, research.? When I wrote Foul Shot, I went to Chicago, spent time with the police and met people in Little Italy.? A Catholic priest, who is a friend, critiqued my book and I even visited hospitals mentioned in the book.? It’s release has been delayed because I am researching exactly what a certain Chicago hotel was like in 1982.? Will I make mistakes?? Very likely.? But it won’t be because I was not willing to ask questions and learn from others.



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