Question Of The Day: Why Can’t Movie People Do Guns?

Image courtesty Hong Kong Movie Database

‘Cold Steel’ is a movie set on a Pacific island in WWII, where Hong Kong action star Guo Minxiang plays a Japanese sniper with a torn shirt and…an American M1941 Johnson Rifle? And a variable-power riflescope that wouldn’t be invented for another twenty-five years? Really, now: Arisakas may not get much love among American shooters but they’re actually excellent rifles, and just about any period rifle would be a superior sniper weapon to the recoiling-barrel M1941 Johnson and its delicate magazine. Why does Hollywood (or in this case, Hong Kong action cinema) get guns so wrong most of the time? . . .

Is it because the demands of gripping action, exciting visuals and the all-important box office take (or Nielsen ratings) needs outweigh the desire to depict firearms in a realistic manner? Or is it because far too many Hollywood glitterati are anti-gun ignorami who don’t know a gun’s muzzle from its magazine well? Or is there an agenda being pushed on us?

The technical depiction of guns onscreen isn’t as bad as it used to be, although I don’t know whether it’s the directors or the bean-counters we have to thank. Many of its big wheels would love to disarm all of us while they live behind gates and surrounded by armed security, but Hollywood should get some credit for improving at least their technical depiction of guns. Even though this example of epically-awful crap came from Turkey, this kind of coffee-spit hilarity was pretty standard fare for 1970s TV shows.

Today, most war movies and bigger-budget action flicks know they’ll lose their action cred if they don’t bring on a technical consultant like Dale Dye to keep them from stepping on their dicks with laughably foolish on-screen weapon handling.

And in case you ever noticed that there are many guns you never notice onscreen? Some manufacturers are happy to work with Hollywood (even as Hollywood poisons the public attitude toward the Second Amendment) by giving them free guns to show in movies. On the reverse of the coin, a Ruger representative told Entertainment Weekly in 1999 why we rarely see Rugers in films or television: Ruger doesn’t sell to prop houses.

”Hollywood never shows the 99 percent of typical firearm use: People using them responsibly, nobody being hurt, families shooting together. We watch these violent movies and think we’d have to be crazy to want to be a part of that.”

I’m as much of a Hollywood Insider as the guy who pressure-sprays your parking lot, but most of the movie people I know not only ‘get’ guns, they’ve also got them. An old college friend in the CGI biz kept a 9mm under his bed because he lived in a nasty part of inland Venice Beach, and another screenwriter acquaintance used to illegally carry a .38 snubnose every day in the Southland. (The statute of limitations has long since expired in both instances, in case any LAPD detectives are reading this…)

My industry contacts may have been atypical, but it’s sad that for every David Mamet, John Milius or Charlton Heston there are at least a dozen Hollywood hypocrites who earn millions playing with the very guns on screen that they would like to confiscate from our collections.

Want to start a different discussion or ask a question on another topic? Click here to go to TTAG’s Free Fire Zone.


  1. avatar Tim U says:

    I think what happens is Hollywood falls into 2 categories for guns:

    1. Those who care enough to try and get it right, in which case they hire a consultant and get it mostly right unless the story demands something impossible.

    2. Those who just have an action movie going and go to the nearest prop store to borrow/buy whatever is on hand and “looks cool”

    How else does one explain the prolific Desert Eagle in the hands of action heroes and villains alike, despite not one real world example of them being used for anything but range guns/maybe a big game hunter?

    1. avatar DJ says:

      “And the fact that you’ve got “Replica” written down the side of your guns… and the fact that I’ve got “Desert Eagle point five O”… written down the side of mine…should precipitate your b*lls into shrinking, along with your presence.”

      1. avatar Dryw says:

        ^great flick

      2. avatar Matt in FL says:

        I’ll never think of a Desert Eagle again without thinking of that scene. The clip (

        ) for those unfamiliar. Language most assuredly NSFW.

        1. avatar jwm says:

          Bullet Tooth Tony. Cousin Avi. Frankie Four Fingers. Turkish. What’s not to like about that movie.

          Also, if you haven’t already, check out “Lock, stock and two smoking barrels.”

      3. avatar Jim R says:

        God, I love that movie.

    2. avatar Dryw says:

      If we’re simply going for cool-looking, I have some suggestions for producer types:

      – Treeby Chain Gun (1854)
      – Chinese ‘Jingal’ .60cal
      – Gabbett-Fairfax Mars
      – Webley-Fosbery
      – Hino-Komuro 1908

      …I could do this all day.

      1. avatar jwm says:

        In the movie “Zardoz” Sean Connery had a Webley Fosbury. The blank loads that the movie makers used in the gun didn’t have enough power to cycle the action. So everytime he fired the gun he grabbed the barrel and manually cycled the action.

        1. avatar jim says:

          It’s been a while since I’ve seen it, but I seem to recall that there was a W-Fbury in the opening scene of “The Maltese Falcon.”

        2. avatar jwm says:

          jim, I remember that Bogart’s partner was killed in the opening and they said it was a W-F used in the murder. But for the life of me I can’t remember if they actually showed the gun. I’ll have to locate a DVD of the movie and add it to my collection.

        3. avatar Matt in FL says:

          It just so happens that I picked up a copy of that the other day, and they do both name it as a Webley-Fosbery (Bogey mispronounces it a bit, he says it like “Foresby”) and show it. Here’s a couple screen caps:

          Tom Polhaus: “Got him right through the pump with this. It’s a Webley. English, ain’t it?”
          Sam Spade: “Yeah, Webley-Fosbery, .45 Automatic, eight shots. They don’t make ’em anymore.”

    3. avatar cg23sailor says:

      “2. Those who just have an action movie going and go to the nearest prop store to borrow/buy whatever is on hand and “looks cool””

      Ah… the ‘ol “Michael Bay” school of filmmaking.

      1. avatar C says:

        Looper. The “blunderbuss” i’m reasonably certain were lengths of pipe with quad-rails and a bit of athletic tape at one end. All of the other guns were completely stock. (mostly BFR’s and Beretta U22’s.) Laziest prop guy ever.

  2. avatar Aharon says:

    For a moment, I thought the top pic was a soft-butch chic with a crew-cut trying to be sexy by showing off her shoulder.

  3. avatar ensitue says:

    Because movie Directors are Story Tellers, Visual Stories it is not Faction it is Fiction. Anyone who does NOT appreciate this deserves the constant disappointment they self-generate

    1. avatar Bruce B. says:

      But you make a contract with the storyteller up front. You agree to a ” willing suspension of disbelief” and they agree not to violate the terms of whatever fantasy world they create.

      If you create a world where the atmosphere is methane, and the occupants have evolved to breathe it, ok. But if they suddenly sprout gills and began to breathe a liquid, you had better lay some serious groundwork for that.

      If I’m supposed to buy your highly trained operator but he is too stupid to fire a revolver because he “forgot to take the safety off”, you have violated that same framework. Unless of course, you have created some alternate world in which revolvers actually HAVE safeties.

      There is fiction, and then there is stupid.

  4. avatar Thomas Paine says:

    Hollywood is in California. That’s why.

  5. Because nobody gives a $hit except OCD gunnies. You know, the ones who whine about a finger on the trigger in a photo shoot with a prop gun.

    1. avatar Rich Grise says:

      Well, gun safety is serious shit! Nah, strike that, it’s too flip. Guns are serious tools with a purpose, which is self- or family-defense, and to use to protect the Republic if^H^Hwhen we get invaded, whether by Iran, North Korea, or Washington, DC.

  6. avatar Dryw says:

    While I don’t watch a large amount of Hollywood fodder these days; I’ve noticed a discernible trend towards more technically accurate in what I do watch. More examples of proper trigger discipline, less unsafe behavior, and seemingly more ‘experienced’ deployment when the actors deploy them. Fringe and Criminal Minds are two I can think off the top of my head.

    Not saying the idiocy doesn’t still abound in Hollywoodland. But in the small sampling of shows I tend to frequent, it’s certainly doesn’t seem to be as bad as it was in say… the 90’s.

    Definitely a lot less useless crap dripping off rails these days. I call that progress.

    1. avatar Dryw says:

      I will say the best example of ridiculousness I’ve seen recently was the MacGuyver-esque usage of a MagLight tube as n M9 suppressor.

      Yes… I’m looking at you, Walking Dead.

      1. avatar Darren says:

        It’s real. Not real good, but unless they somehow stumbled upon the SWD factory somewhere in Georgia and found a bunch of suppressors, it’s semi-believable that they would make some of their own to avoid bringing down a horde of biters on themselves. I think the producers stumbled upon this (or something like it) on the Internet and figured it would make a useful example of a field-expedient suppressor. An oil-filter suppressor would be just as useful, and easier to both make and keep operational.

        Although I have to say that the parallel universe in The Walking Dead (has to be, a universe without zombie stories otherwise they’d just call them ‘zombies’) is rather devoid of useful arms and ammo. A .22LR is a zombie-killer’s dream: lightweight ammo, will penetrate the skull, little to no recoil, relatively no noise/easy to suppress and thick on the ground in the US.

        1. avatar Voice of Reason says:

          Great minds think alike, Darren. I too have always thought the perfect zombie/walker weapon would be a 22. After all, if you have to hit them in the brain then what really matters is shot placement, not power. Then again, the fact that I have thought this through may suggest I have too much time on my hands.

      2. avatar ChuckN says:

        Was it the use on the show that was ridiculous,
        or the use of a maglite?

        If it’s the maglite itself, you might want to google
        it to see some fantastic examples in action.

        1. avatar Dryw says:


          I stand 100% corrected on the maglight-suppressor-thing.

          You kooky whippersnappers and your newfangled interwebs.

    2. avatar Anon in CT says:

      Actually, the trigger discipline has gone too far in some cases. Like when the heroic cop has a gun on the bad guy and is supposedly ready to plug him if he moves an eyelash, and yet the cop’s finger isn’t on the trigger.

      1. avatar Roscoe says:

        Well at least the mostly ignorant actors have learned SOMETHING about gun safety; even if they still don’t understand the mechanics of using one.


        I still like to see the older westerns where all the shooters have old style revolvers blessed with an unlimited supply of rounds in the cylinder. I remember as a kid thinking: How can they do that? Shoot, they still do it today but since the weapons now used aren’t six shooters, it isn’t as readily apparent to most.

        Isn’t ignorance bliss; especially if it’s called for in the script.

        1. avatar Rich Grise says:

          I’ve always said I want a gun like they have in the movies with infinite bullets and zero recoil. And it doesn’t get hot.

          The stupidest stunt I’ve ever seen was where several guys came through the skylight of a 15-story atrium and rappel down some ropes, to about 5th floor level. So there they are, dangling at the end of 100′ of rope, and they stop twirling while they’re facing the bad guys’ office, and they open up with those movie “Uzis” – the little rectangular things. And while there’s flame blowing out the front of their rifles, they just dangle there. No deflection, no rotation, no nothing. What a dream gun!

    3. avatar Adub says:

      At least they don’t hold their guns sideways anymore…

  7. avatar Jim R says:

    These are the same people who think you can survive a 3-story fall out of a flaming helicopter and not be injured, that think bullets spark when they hit, and cars explode into giant fireballs whenever they hit each other.

    1. avatar Matt in FL says:

      Bullets have to spark when they hit. Otherwise how would you know where to run to get away from them?

    2. avatar Shenandoah says:

      And 30 round mags really mean infinite capacity

  8. avatar jwm says:

    Hollywood gets everything wrong. Hollywood is not an educational tool. Unfortunately there are those among us that get most of their info from movies and they give the opinions of the latest hollywood pretty face the same credence that should be reserved for learned experts on the given topic.

    1. avatar Southern Cross says:

      I’ve been saying for years that legislators should watch less Hollywood and more Mythbusters.

      My son who is about to turn 5 knows more about guns and firearm safety than most adults, and infinitely more than most lawmakers do on guns.

  9. avatar Hobbez says:

    Hollywood can get it wrong all day long for all I care as long as they follow 2 very simple rules: (not in any particular order)

    1) Entertain me

    2) Don’t tell me how to live my life

  10. avatar DJ says:

    I really wanted to like “Falling Sky” – but apparently (according to Hollywood) the Earth is in danger of being invaded by aliens who operate at a 6th grade level.

    The only thing that can hurt our super robots is the machinegun on that HMMWV. Let’s blast everything except the HMMWV.

    A 5.56mm bullet can achieve total armor penetration on their “super battle robots”.

    All the “military” characters are both tactically illiterate and not too smart.

    I could go on. It was a huge disappointment.

    1. avatar Matt in FL says:

      Did you just start watching with the new episodes? Their bullets always bounced off the mechs, until about halfway through last season they figured out that how to scavenge the armor from the mechs they did manage to kill and melt it down to cast bullets that could penetrate the mech armor. They were making those bullets for basically every gun they had by the end of the season. That’s what they’re using now.

      1. avatar DJ says:

        Matt, I did just start watching. That makes a bit more sense, although since penetration is based upon mass and velocity as much as hardness I don’t know how the physics of that would work.

        1. avatar Matt in FL says:

          If you’ve got the time, I’d recommend you start from the beginning. There were a few things in the first two episodes of this season that made me sorta facepalm, but the armor-piercing part wasn’t one of them.

          Also, they should have told me at the start of the first episode of this season that I’d want to run a drinking game on every time they said “the past seven months.” By the 9th or 10th time I was yelling at the screen, “OMG I GET IT ALREADY!”

    2. avatar Dryw says:

      Two words: Steven Spielberg

      Oh, how the mighty have fallen…

      (To be fair to make-believe: didn’t they ‘manufacture’ rifle rounds smelted from alien robot armor to achieve that AP effect? I’m not commenting on the fact that they did it overnight before a battle, via a conveniently and immediately available truckload of presses and other reloading components… done by personnel who received 10min of instruction…)

      Edit: FLMatt beat me to it.

    3. avatar Jeff says:

      Actually, Falling Skies is a pretty good example of WTF firearms selection.

      Aliens invade the world, society collapses, etc. etc. So we have to assume that the survivors can raid any number of military/police arsenals, as well as private collections and shops. Just based on the numbers, it would be more likely that most of the weapons they would find would be of the type that were legal for civilian ownership beforehand.

      What we end up with is a group of survivors who seem to be mostly equipped with *full-automatic* foreign-made weapons like AKMs, Micro-Galils, or domestic FA M60s, M16s and M14s, etc. In other words, stuff that either is not readily available in most places accessible by civilians, or would probably only be found in the continental US stored on military bases in armories used for foreign weapons familiarization. Even then, the US military is known to use commonly-available “foreign” arms like off-the-shelf Romanian WASRs for this sort of training.

      But hey, lots of guns in the hands of dirty-faced refugees (with sylized hair) looks cool on TV. And it is sort of cool that the lead character prefers an AK, to the point that after he’s captured, the group already has one set aside to replace the one he lost.

      I say this as a fan of Falling Skies.. I just wish they could get someone on the staff who would point out some of the corny stuff to the producers and writers.

  11. avatar Bruce says:

    Many years ago, there was a TV show Airwolf. It was about a super helicopter. Most shows Airwolf got in a fight with some jet fighter and would finally blow up the evil plane. The funny thing, the evil plane would always turn into a Saber just as it blew up. Like Hollywood felt we were to stupid to realize it was the same plane blowing up week after week, and always a Saber.

    1. avatar DJ says:

      The Airwolf helicopter was also firing 10′ long, 6″ diameter missles out of a 3′ long tube…

    2. avatar Rokurota says:

      I loved that show. And the fact that Airwolf could be destroyed by a Nagant revolver bullet up the fuel receptacle.

      1. avatar lolinski says:

        Dont underestimate Nagant revolvers, they are some of the most accurate revolvers on this earth. They aren’t the most powerfull though. 1100 fps with a 6 gram bullet isn’t really awe inspiring but will still kill you. In short I am not surprised if you could use it to bring down a hi-tech helicopter (though a full auto rpg or a quad .50 would be way easier 🙂 )

        1. avatar JaxD says:

          Quad .50 I’ve seen. But a full auto RPG is news to me.

      2. avatar Southern Cross says:

        I always thought it was a French Lebel revolver.

  12. avatar Patriot says:

    Easy, they are liberals that don’t know anything about guns, you never have to reload, you never have to aim, you never miss, you don’t even have to have your EOTech or Aimpoint mounted correctly!, but then again you don’t even really need to have your EOTech mounted forwards in real-life to be cool enough anyways.


  13. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    Hollywood is staffed by people who don’t know jack about squat, for the most part.

    I ceased going to action flicks decades ago, because I could no longer suspend my disbelief long or deeply enough to not laugh at the ridiculous “physics” displayed on the screen. Everything about movies is so absurdly nonsensical now, my wife and I usually take in only the artsy-fartsy movies, or animated movies.

    1. avatar Mark says:

      “… the ridiculous “physics” displayed…” Like the shotgun blast blowing the guy across the room as if he was hit by a 16″ flat-nose naval projectile moving at 10 fps?

      1. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

        Yea, that, among other things.

        And directed-energy weapons discharging gigawatts of energy… but which are the size of a Walther PPK. Shots at anything more than 10 yards away with a Walther PPK. Petite women blasting at stuff with not one, but two Desert Eagles in some hand-cannon caliber.

        One of my favorite bits of “bullcrap” are women shooting shotguns that blow stuff apart, who show absolutely no evidence of having experienced recoil upon pulling the trigger… and never wincing from having a bruised boob the day after, the way most C or D-cup women would if they were shooting a magnum tacti-cool shotgun whilst wearing a push-up bra.

        On and on and on and on and on and on… the list of things that make me mutter “bullcrap” at a theatre is now so long that my wife can’t stand to be near me when I see “action” films. She can’t stand most “chick flicks” (it becomes her turn to mutter “What woman would put up with crap like that? Don’t you have a brain?” and “You dressed like a prostitute, now you complain that people treat you like one?”), so there we are: Art flicks or Pixar flicks.

        We do like some of the Chinese martial art flicks, mostly for their scenic locations and beautiful costuming. We’re both looking forward to Despicable Me 2. I giggled like a little kid when I saw the belching black clouds of smoke behind Gru’s car in the first flick.

  14. avatar Matt in FL says:

    Ooh, if we’re doing “bad guns in Hollywood” I’ve got one from just recently.

    One of my guilty pleasures is the show Revolution. (When they started talking about nanites I had flashbacks to midichlorians.) Last week two of the main characters were standing in the middle of an open field talking when a helicopter gunship popped over the rise, with gatling guns on both skids. The two guys took off running in opposite directions — about a 90 degree spread between their vectors. It was unclear which one the pilot chose to follow, or if he just ran up the middle, all I know is that skid mounted gatling guns would not have been able to stitch a seam of bullets right at the feet of both running guys at the same time. But that’s what happened.

    1. avatar Sid says:

      I quite watching action flicks in the late 1980s when they intentionally misrepresented a mission that I participated in as a junior member.

      We were sent over the border in a Central American country to retrieve a diplomat. At least, that is what we were told. We did not know that a previous Special Forces A Team had been sent in ahead of us. We found their bodies (awful mess). Well, we followed the trail to the insurgent compound and attempted to rescue the “diplomat”. As it turns out, the diplomat was CIA but we did not arrive in time to save him. The gun battle that insued was fairly accurately portrayed. Backpack mini-guns and multi-shot grenade launchers, etc…. The only thing we all hated was the depiction of MP5s. No one was carrying those.

      Later, one of our team members was hit by an alien wearing a high tech camo suit. Our weapons sergeant capped off a full belt of ammo from his M60A3 and then picked up his dead friend’s minigun. Our team formed a firing line and we basically unloaded. M16s, grenade launchers, underbarrel mounted shotguns, etc… What left us with a bad view of Hollywood is that they portrayed the firefight as if we only wounded the alien and later our team leader killed it with a tree. In all honesty, we shredded the alien. We found the biggest part of its body splattered on a tree. We even began joking with each other about the law of physics being suspended in a Hollywood firefight. We don’t have time to build snares and traps with vines. That is why we have guns. And our weapons sergeant did kill the pig with his knife. It was delicious.

      We all quit watching action flicks after this experience.

      1. avatar CyborgCowboy says:

        + 1,000

      2. avatar DJ says:

        You win at the internet!

      3. avatar Bill says:

        Ok, but what I want to know is, was one of you’re guys really native american and did he wear a cowboy hat.

        1. avatar Sid says:


          Major Schaefer allowed us a great deal of latitude in uniform items when we were in the bush. In garrison, we had to have a military grade haircut. But we could get away with a lot of uniform faux pas on a mission. It was a little discouraging that we could not grow a beard yet. That was a few years away. It is possible that SFC Blain would have survived the alien heat weapon if he had a beard.

  15. avatar DisThunder says:

    I think Bucky used a similar 1941 Johnson set up in Captain America. And he pretended it was bolt-action. Maybe prop guys just think it looks cool? I always thought they were ugly as sin…
    Recently, it was pointed out to me that the director of Predator, was, in fact, pretty anti-gun. And the whole scene after Blaine eats it where they level half the jungle trying to shoot the Predator? Apparently that was to demonstrate the “futility” of guns.
    Heh, and here I was going “holy shit, that was awesome! I want a minigun!” from the age of about 10 on.
    Nice work there, Hollywood.

    1. avatar Lucas D. says:

      I remember reading that, too. My though was “Oh, you mean those same guns that laid waste to an entire rebel camp twenty minutes ago?”

      So it seems like if John McTiernan wasn’t a moron, what he should have said was that guns are only futile when your enemy can turn invisible and has already fled the scene, and in that one very specific circumstance, I suppose he’d be right.

      1. avatar ensitue says:

        Keep in mind that Hollywood types are self-serving bleepity-blanks that will tell one interviewer one thing and then change-up on the same ‘Question’ for another based on the demographic that will be exposed to the interview. If it’s from Hollywood it exists in a parallel universe, it’s fiction.

  16. avatar Jim says:

    Because they are not people of the gun. It is probably the reason guns and weapons are so fetishized by Hollywood. A bunch of kids who grew up never touching a gun, never knowing what they are or how they operate, turn into a bunch of adults who idolize the gun as the dark deadly symbol of man hood. Beware, it’s a gun! It could blow this whole building down and shoot a man dead just by pointing it in his direction!

  17. avatar Roll says:

    I saw one picture of a guy trying to shoot an AR/M16 with his thumb on the foward assist…lol Fail hard

    1. avatar CyborgCowboy says:

      How many times did we see Roger Moore holding his PPK with his thumb riding the top of the slide? Real threatening, Mr. Bond!

  18. avatar Chaotic Good says:

    I’d buy an Arisaka if I could find any factory ammo for one. Same thing goes for the Carcano.

    1. avatar Lucas D. says:

      I got one from my granddad years ago. Still has the bayonet and the partially ground-off “mum” on the receiver. To my knowledge, Norma makes factory loads in 7.7mm Jap, but they’re about $2.00 a pop and crazy hard to find.

    2. avatar Hermit says:

      My local Cabelas often has(well, had) Hornady 7.7×58. Whenever I went in, I bought a couple boxes. Their inventory tracking system definitely worked well, as after I started buying it, they’d always have at least 2 boxes on hand. Yeah, it was expensive (relatively) but I now have a bunch stored away.

  19. avatar Aharon says:

    Metal swords being drawn out of leather scabbards or sheaths also make a metal against metal scrapping-cling sound in Hollywood.

    1. avatar Rokurota says:

      And interestingly, Foley artists use swords to make rifle sounds.

  20. avatar Rokurota says:

    A New York paper did a “man on the street” movie review series where they recruited regular working folks to critique movies. Invariably, their reviews centered on perceived errors in their fields of expertise: the plumber fussed about the unrealistic water pressure in a penthouse apartment; the cab driver groused about the inaccurate fares the characters paid; and so on.

    No one wants to see a movie with a gunfight that’s over in 2.5 shots, or whatever the statistical average is these days.

  21. avatar Jacen says:

    Actually I can explain why. It’s not because “What can’t movies do guns?” It’s why can’t Asian movies about period pieces like WWII do accurate representations of guns of the time. My dad was watching a Chinese tv show and the main characters were being chased by Japanese troops with Grease guns! I usually don’t watch a show like that but when I heard from my Dad’s tv the sound of a lot of automatic fire and I listened, I thought, what were they shooting at them with?

  22. avatar CarlosT says:

    Something that really drives me nuts now is the plethora of clicks that accompanies any motion involving a gun.

    Take a gun out of holster: *click*
    Raise a gun from low ready: *click click*
    Point a gun at someone: *clickity click click*

    1. avatar Matt in FL says:

      Well it has to click when you point it at them. How else will they know you did it so they can turn around and give an expositional monologue?

    2. avatar Shenandoah says:

      Or when people cycle the actions on handguns after already aiming at someone

    3. avatar Ben in UT says:

      YES. Lost was the worst at this. Apparently it even became a running joke with the actors.

      A character points a SIG P226 at someone with a resounding shuck-chuck like it’s a pump shotgun. Happened all the time.


  23. avatar David says:

    As someone who is attempting to write a screenplay, I feel I have a not-so-sacred duty to chime in. As pointed out already, occasionally Hollywood does get it right; I have seen some historical films that have been very accurate.

    I think you all take for granted all you know about guns. The average person in the entertainment industry knows very little about anything remotely firearms related. It takes alot of time, research, and exposure to firearms to know what you all collectively know here.

    If you wait to here the ping from an WWII era M1 as it fires its last shot – or if you know that HK’s frequently have mag seating issues you are in the %1.

    Again, as already pointed out, Hollywood gets a whole lot else wrong. Remember the ejection seat on a commercial jet in Die Hard 2, or the mythical bolt-gun-thingy from Cliffhanger?

    Content and knowledge bottlenecks through directors so there are times where the prop guys or the screenwriters get it right but it gets changed somewhere in production. Aesthetics trumps physics in Hollywood because deep down we all know that physics is a %*#@^.

    With all that stated I promise to accurately portray firearms in anything I write – unless it becomes a professional liability to so 🙂

    1. avatar Ardent says:

      So no one will thumb back the hammer on their Glock or or reload single action revolvers one in each hand in your work? (The examples are from Stephen King.)

      1. avatar David says:

        I would be very picky on revolver round counts (or any round count). And I am still wondering how one would thumb back the hammer on a glock? Which Steven King movie was that?

        1. avatar brian.z says:

          It was Mile 81, not a movie but a short story.

  24. avatar Glenn Goewert says:

    Check out a Brit film called “Hot Fuzz”. Someone had a hoot making this movie. Every time a gun appears on screen (about every 3 seconds) it’s odder, rarer, and more obscure than the last. If the same character draws his gun four times in a row, it magically morphs from a Webley-Fosberry to a Luger to a dueling pistol to a Spiller & Burr cap & ball revolver. If a “posse” appears they may be armed with a Dutch Blunderbuss, an M1 carbine, an AK, and a civil war era Spencer carbine. After about 30 minutes it becomes plain that an attempt was made to avoid ANY duplication of firearms throughout the entire film.

    1. avatar disthunder says:

      Hot fuzz is excellent. My personal favorite was the old highlands farmer with an armory in his barn. “he’s got a license for this one, he says”

    2. avatar Rob in Wilco TX says:

      …and when mentioning the plethora of weapons in Hot Fuzz, let’s not forget the sten gun…

      1. avatar Sid says:

        Didn’t also have a WW II era sea mine in the barn?

    3. avatar Jesus says:

      Yeah… That’s kinda the whole point of Hot Fuzz.

      It’s a silly – but great – movie.

  25. avatar Pascal says:

    I am a software engineer, I am a car guy and I am a gun guy…..if I worried about the amount of fail in every movie with a computer (hack the NSA in 10sec, unrealistic car jumps, and accurate gun representation) I would watch absolutely nothing!

    1. avatar Jeff says:

      beep boop bop click click boop whiizzzzzzz


  26. avatar IdahoPete says:

    “Is it because the demands of gripping action, exciting visuals and the all-important box office take (or Nielsen ratings) needs outweigh the desire to depict firearms in a realistic manner? Or is it because far too many Hollywood glitterati are anti-gun ignorami who don’t know a gun’s muzzle from its magazine well? Or is there an agenda being pushed on us?”


    The exceptions tend to stand out – one 2009 movie that had pretty accurate firearms depictions was “Public Enemies” (with Johnny Depp as a realistically scummy Dillinger). When the gangsters used their Thompsons, they started with drum magazines, ran out of ammo after 50 rounds, and reloaded with 20-round stick mags. When a BAR (.30-06) was fired, it had a much deeper sound and a correctly slow rate of fire. Plus the BAR ran out of ammo at 20 rounds, and they had to change the magazine. I was fairly impressd by the efforts to make the gun-portrayals correct.

    1. avatar disthunder says:

      And those guys tapped the very talented Dan Block to do their Thompson work. Can’t go wrong there.

  27. avatar Ardent says:

    It’s already been said, no one from the director to the actors to even often enough the prop people know anything about guns. Thus the inaccuracies continue. of course they could simply Google and learn but they work on the assumption that since they don’t know the difference neither will the audience. For the most part they’re right.

  28. avatar John in AK says:

    What you need to enjoy a shooter movie in spite of the mistakes is called ‘suspension of disbelief.’ It’s a MOVIE, fer crissake! And they can’t all be ‘Saving Private Ryan’–although they should be.

    For example, I still enjoy ‘Open Range’ even though I fully expected Kevin Costner to take a .44-40 to the gut when he smashed all of those 1873s against trees in the dark-woods-campfire scene, and I laugh and point when he torches off at least 9 rounds (maybe it’s ten?) from a six-shot revolver at the beginning of the big shootout near the stable after planting a .45 bullet in the bad guy’s forehead at 3′ range and NOTHING comes out the back. I marvel at how well Boss handles a .45 slug through his small intestines and maybe a kidney and never even needs medical attention. Nobody vomits their insides out after being heavily chloroformed, either. Men were tougher then, I guess.

    It’s still fun to watch.

    1. avatar Adub says:

      I think after Saving Private Ryan, Unforgiven was pretty realistic. You don’t always die from the first shot, and people begged for their lives as they died.

      I have a feeling that’s why movies aren’t realistic. Nobody wants to cheer for the hero while a hundred bad guys shriek in agony.

    2. avatar CyborgCowboy says:

      We talking the same Saving Private Ryan where the sniper cycles 7 rounds through his Springfield without any visible reloading? It’s a nitpick, I know, but still. Reloading makes for drama.

  29. avatar pat says:

    Hollywood films and the awful styles of shooting they depict is the primary reason many of the snack bars we face overseas shoot from the hip – they want to look like the cool American action stars. So Hollywood can keep getting it wrong for all I care.

  30. avatar TStanton says:

    This isn’t just guns. Hollywood get’s very few details right in almost any historical or real life story.

    As a life long Christian and the holder of a graduate degree in theology – I can assure you they almost NEVER get historical / theological details correct. I don’t know anything about how movies are made – but I’m guess that unless they hire a technical consultant for a particular area – they’d never know the difference. Plus – other than (gun / history / etc.) nerds – no one watching the film knows / cares.

    1. avatar David says:

      True. But there are exceptions. I point to Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Devil’s Advocate as the two most “theologically correct” major movies:

      Indie = God is Holy and does not need your help.

      Devil’s Advocate = The Devil is well . . . Evil.

      Historically = Gettysburg (the one from the mid-90’s) is so accurate it is scary.

      1. avatar jwm says:

        Gettysburg was so accurate because it was filmed on the Gettysburg battlefield and all those soldiers and artillerymen you saw were members of re enactment outfits that were basically unpaid volunteers. They provided uniforms and equipment. And if you’ve ever hung around re enactors, they’re sticklers for getting it right.

        1. avatar David says:

          I have. I wore union blue on that battlefield during the summer of 97 🙂 And yes they are sticklers for accuracy.

      2. avatar TStanton says:

        Right –

        exceptions that prove the rule….

    2. avatar Ralph says:

      Wait — do you mean that Jesus wasn’t a six-foot, blonde-haired, blue-eyed Anglo Saxon who spoke perfect English?

      1. avatar Ben in UT says:

        A few years back, Popular Mechanics did a really fascinating digital estimation of what Jesus looked like. It’s hardly the representations we see in stained glass windows and portraits.

        1. avatar jwm says:

          It was the middle east. Not too many blond haired blue eyed folks in that place. And during biblical times people tended to be shorter than they are now. I don’t know if it’s correct but I’ve heard that the average height of a Roman soldier was five four.

        2. avatar Bill says:

          not saying you’re wrong, but God was his father, at least per the story, so he’d be half of whatever God is genetically.

        3. avatar Matt in FL says:

          That’s assuming God contributed his own genetic material, a la sexual reproduction, and didn’t just “make it happen.” Maybe he was totally drawn from his mother’s DNA.

  31. avatar Ralph says:

    A gun guy watching a Hollywood gun movie has the same reactions as a lawyer watching a Hollywood lawyer movie, which can be summed up as a big ol’ steaming pile of “WTF????”

    I’m not saying that I didn’t enjoy “A Few Good Men” or “Inherit the Wind,” but the courtroom scenes were about as realistic as the battle scenes in “Starship Troopers.”

    1. avatar Dryw says:

      Umm, Troopers is like… in the future and stuff Ralph. You can’t possibly know…

      …sorry. Started thinking about Dina Meyer. What were we talking about?

      1. avatar Ralph says:

        Even in the future, I can’t imagine rifles that hold eight million rounds in a banana mag and only run out on cue.

        1. avatar Dryw says:

          Listed (7.62×51) single mag capacity for the Morita Mk.1 rifle is 160rnds. The under-barrel 8ga (!) shotgun has a listed capacity of eight.

          Too geeky?

          Apparently the laws of mass and volume are malleable in the future. You sir, have no concept of how awesome the future of firearms will be.


    2. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

      I’m sure all those mini-skirts that female lawyers wear into court on TV and in the movies are approved real-world courtroom attire, right?

      1. avatar Charles5 says:

        I do NOT want to see Ralph in a mini skirt…

  32. avatar Jon R. says:

    Speaking of Ruger in movies, any body watch “Warm Bodies,” and catch John Malkovich’s charter tell his daughter to grab his Ruger SD9 from his bed room. That caught my attention as I thought that was a not so typical firearm choice for a major movie.
    I also remember a suppressed mini 14 was featured in “The American,” which I also thought was hilarious as I would think a Ruger would be hard to find in Europe.

    1. avatar Dryw says:

      I noticed as well.

      Not only an uncommon firearm in moobies, but an oddly specific call-out of exact make and model (as opposed to “the nine in the drawer”).

      Product placement?

    2. avatar Jeff says:

      About as ridiculous as the idea that firearms need to be smuggled into Europe from America, given that there is a massive arms trade throughout Europe sourcing firearms from and through the former Soviet republics. You’d be more likely to see a suppressed Krinkov or Uzi.

      1. avatar lolinski says:

        We actually have Mini-14s in Europe, they are just not popular because they are putting it mildly “accuracy challenged” (You can dump money in them to make a good rifle but there are other better options like the Molot Vepr).

        1. avatar Jeff says:

          Yes I know a guy in Sweden who bought a Mini-14 specifically because of some of the restrictions that are in place requiring that certain types of rifles be of a design tailored towards “hunting”..

    3. avatar Charles5 says:

      I’ve heard of a Smith and Wesson SD9 and a Ruger SR9, but never a Ruger SD9…

  33. avatar David says:

    In the movie “Felon”. A mini-14 is used to kill Val Kilmer. I believe that California DoC does actually use minis.

    1. avatar jwm says:

      When I worked at the prison in Ca. the issue rifle was the mini14. It was also the official state rifle of California. That was in the late 80’s. Things may be different now.

    2. avatar Rob in Wilco TX says:

      The A-Team used minis to great effect….they didn’t even have to hit anyone. The bad guys were so afraid of the bullets that they usually rolled their vehicles, climbed out, and ran away.

  34. avatar Tommy Knocker says:

    Save the money on the movie.

    I literally just finished the re-published book “Shots Fired In Anger” by Lt. Col. John George. The publisher is Canton Street Press. It is the memoir of the author and his WWII experiences in the Pacific theater. He is a self-described “gun nut” (the earliest use of that expression I can remember). He shot at Camp Perry in the National Matches and brings his expertise in shooting with him to the war. The book is in a couple of parts. The first is his pre-war and island hopping in the jungles fighting the Japanese. Here he details the grit and life of a grunt. Focusing on the guns and their uses. He carried his own custom scoped rifle with him for sniping. The second part of the book will educate you enormously on the Japanese arms of the time. Col. George would acquire the arms, break them down, evaluate and compare them to US designs in use. I came away with a much higher regard (as did he) of several Japanese weapons and Army tactics.

    The voice of the author reminds me of my relatives who served in WWII. The voice of that generation. Realistic but understated. You’ll gain a wealth of info on Japanese arms and the life of a US GI in the jungles. Well worth the read and better than any Hollywood movie.

  35. avatar Tim U says:

    Speaking of Ruger and entertainment, who could forget the Mini 14s in A-Team?

    1. avatar jwm says:

      Not good advertisement for Rugers. The A team never hit anything and the bad guys always walked away unhurt. Not the gun I’d want if I needed to fight for my life.

    2. avatar Southern Cross says:

      When we could use self-loading rifles for service rifle shooting, the Ruger Mini-14 wasn’t very popular because out-of-the-box they were not particularly accurate. You could do a lot of modifications to the Mini-14 but for that much money you could buy a Leader SAR (locally made rifle) or spend a bit more for a AR-15 SP1. AR-15 A2 HBARs were very expensive but very popular (about $5000 AU in 1994). Because of the modular nature of AR-15s, it was common for a SP1 to be modded with a new upper and handguards to A2 spec.

      I remember a friend had a Mini-14 and I ran a tight patch on a pull-through cord up the barrels of my SP1 and his Mini-14. The 14’s barrel felt very loose compared to my AR’s barrel. I could actually feel the difference between the bore diameters of the two rifles with the patch. No wonder the Mini-14’s accuracy was regarded as so-so.

  36. avatar DaveL says:

    Hollywood gets guns wrong most of the time, from the perspective of the gun-knowledgeable, because Hollywood gets almost everything wrong most of the time from the perspective of people who know these things. Breaking into a computer system in Hollywood usually involves a panoply of swirling 3D graphics. Physics resembles nothing in our known universe. Deafening explosions reverbrate through deep space. Bombs are always equipped with LED countdown timers and a standardized wire color code. Automobiles are designed to go up in a giant fireball at the slightest impact. If you tried most of what the protagonists do in romantic comedies, you’d probably get arrested.

    1. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

      And don’t forget: If the hacker can’t break into a system within a minute, some woman will help focus his mind on the task at hand by giving him oral sex.

      1. avatar David says:

        The director may have owed Hugh a favor. That or the guy wanted to see Ms. Berry at her naughtiest. Directors and producers have been known to put in sex scenes just to delete them later – I would not put it passed them (or any guy) to gain sexual gratification at the expense of accuracy.

    2. avatar Ken Hagler says:

      Agreed. As someone who’s worked with computers for 30 years, I can tell you that the way Hollywood presents guns is infinitely better than they way they present computers.

  37. avatar mike says:

    My other pet peeve is cars and motorcycles. All cars have a 20 speed transmission with a top speed of 20 mph. Motorcycles alternate between four and two stroke at will and also have a 20 speed trans that needs shifting every 5 feet or so. It would be so easy for them to get it right. My favorite is a scene in A_Team where the bad guys lose control of their car and drive off a pier into the water. The hood accidentally pops open and guess what, no engine, empty, no trans either.

    1. avatar jwm says:

      Pay close attention to cars in movies. If they’re destroyed in a stunt 9 times out of 10 you can see there’s no motor in the car. It’s an empty hulk for that purpose. When Bubba Smith turns over the cop car in Police Academy you plainly see no motor. It’s as common as six shooters firing 40 shots between reloads in a movie.

    2. avatar Jeff says:

      or when the same generic soundbyte of a V8 accelerating away is used for anything from a Dodge Caravan to a Ford Escort.

  38. avatar MMA03 says:

    Someone mentioned Public Enemies above. I’ve always enjoyed Michael Mann’s movies and efforts in getting gun stuff right.

  39. avatar US says:

    As far as I can tell Hollywood usually gets the technical details of just about everything glaringly wrong.

    I think one reason is that there’s diminishing returns to getting those details right. Generally speaking (say) 95% of the audience will not be very familiar with guns (or e.g. network security, math, physics, history, etc). The other 5% usually do not boycott a movie simply because those details are wrong. Thus there’s not much payoff to getting those technical details right.

  40. avatar steve stahler says:

    Hollywood and people like Stallone are an embarrassment. The blow peoples faces of with .50’s, rockets and every weapon known to man, and then they slam gun ownership.
    Boycott Hollywood and boycott these fakers. Let them move to the UK or Australia where they can’t have armed guards. Pansy ass pretenders.

  41. avatar Andrew says:

    I was watching Austin Powers the spy who Shaffer me and they are using what appears to be an m4 when they are supposed to be in 1969. Also in Pulp Fiction Jules refers to his 1911 as a 9mm when I have never seen a hole that big on the end of any 9 I’ve ever shot. If only they would just do alittle research before making a movie picky gun guys like us wouldn’t tear it apart lol

    1. avatar Mr. Lighter says:

      Actually, Jules’ gun is a 9mm. It’s a Star Model B. Go look it up on IMFDB.

  42. avatar percynjpn says:

    How about when they use T-6 Texans instead of F6F Hellcats – they don’t care if it’s correct, and most viewers probably don’t know the difference.

  43. avatar Land says:

    Transformers the tv show got the conservation of mass all wrong. Megaton was 50 feet tall then turned into a gun.

    1. avatar Tommy Knocker says:

      Geeze…and what makes the conservation of mass so sacrosanct?

  44. avatar jwm says:

    Blind Fury, a Rutger Hauer movie. Bad guys carjack 2 old ladies and throw them out of their car in the street. 1 old lady hauls out her piece and peppers the car and fleeing bad guys. Bad guy driving is ducking bullets and says to his partner. “This is why I vote for gun control.”

  45. avatar Johnny Come Lately says:

    I work in Hollywood, often with props, often with guns. I had a long-winded response to this all lined up but in the end it’s generally one of two factors:

    1) The director thinks it looks cool
    2) The budget

    I’ve mentioned it in comments on TTAG before but my favorite example so far was the director who insisted that the sight for the Stinger missile he was filming be folded into the non-functional position during the firing scene because it “looks cooler like that.” Sometimes you get a guy who wants it to be as realistic as possible but most of the time you get a guy who wants it to look cooler than real life (as interpreted by him).

    Also- those backward EoTechs and whatnot? In my experience, at least half the time that’s a disgruntled prop guy or armorer’s inside joke on the production. It’s slowly becoming the gun handler’s equivalent of a Wilhelm Scream.

    1. avatar Matt in FL says:

      “It’s slowly becoming the gun handler’s equivalent of a Wilhelm Scream.”

      I really like this.

  46. avatar Tommy Knocker says:

    If you want to spend half a day rummaging thru a 1000 movies and the guns they use in them, this database is the best out there.

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