Tag Archives: firearms

Why the submachine guns don’t have rifling? or they do? the rifling will result in a machine pistol?

The only, common, modern, smoothbore firearm I can think of is a shotgun. Handguns, SMGs, and of course full sized rifles all have some rifling in the barrel.

This is one of the things that’s examined when you’re trying to match a bullet to the gun that fired it. The specifics of the rotation are unique-ish to the model of firearm, and any abnormalities in the barrel, that can be detected on the bullet can be used to identify the individual firearm.

A submachine gun is just a fully automatic firearm chambered to fire handgun rounds. A machine pistol is an informal name for very compact SMGs.

If you don’t have a rifled barrel, the bullet will tumble once it’s left the barrel, which will result in a very random bullet spread. You see this in old muskets and other pre-rifle firearms.

With shotguns, because of the shot itself, rifling doesn’t serve much purpose. I think rifled shotguns do exist, for slug loads, though I can’t remember if any ship with rifled barrels standard. (Probably, but I can’t remember.)


How strong would recoil be for a relatively experienced user using a pistol at close-range? also, does a gun’s safety actually exist? like, if you hid a gun in a bag for protection purposes, would that be a bad idea?

First off, range has nothing to do with recoil. Recoil is something the gun does every time it’s fired. It can not tell if it’s being fired at something three inches from the barrel or something on the dark side of the moon.

Second, recoil is affected by stance. If you’re holding the gun correctly, and it’s not some massively overpowered weapon, like a S&W .500, recoil is not going to be significant. Recoil tends to be stronger with shorter barrels.

Safeties are real, but they’re specific to an individual firearm. So, if you’re looking at safeties being reported in different places, it’s probably just different guns. I have handled firearms that didn’t have any safeties, but these are something of a rarity.

Manual safeties are physical locks that prevent the gun from firing and are set by the user. When you use the term “safety’s on” or “safety’s off”, this is the kind you’re talking about.

Integral safeties are internal mechanisms designed to prevent the gun from being fired accidentally. These vary wildly, but can include pressure plates or locking mechanisms that engage automatically when it’s held correctly. (There’s actually some inconsistency in the terminology, if you see something called a grip or automatic safety, it’s one of these.)

Finally, single action firearms function as a safety in some firearms. Single and double action refers to behavior with the hammer. In a double action weapon, pulling the trigger will cock the hammer, in a single action, it won’t, and if the hammer isn’t cocked, the gun cannot be fired. With all automatics, the slide will reset the hammer when it cycles. But, a single action automatic cannot be fired if it’s not cocked. With single action automatics, a decocking lever can function as a safety.

Now, as I said earlier, safeties are very specific. The 1911 has all three; a manual safety on the left side of the slide at the rear of the pistol, it has a pressure plate built into the back of the grip, and it’s a single action. But, that’s far from the norm.

I’ve also seen integrated safeties in the trigger itself, (the Glock and S&W Sigma have this, also I think the P99). As I recall, the Springfield XD actually has one on the trigger and a backstrap plate like the 1911.

Finally, carrying a handgun in anything other than a gun case or a holster is a bad idea. It doesn’t stop people from doing it, but, like sticking a gun under a pillow, it’s one of those things that make me shudder.


If a 16-year-old girl was shot in the arm, is there any way she could fight afterward? She doesn’t have to fight on her feet, she merely needs to knock someone out.

It’s going to depend on where she was shot in the arm, if she’s used to dealing with shock, and if any arteries were nicked. If we’re talking about your average middle class sixteen year old (male or female) who has never been around guns and never been in any physical danger then it’s unlikely. If we’re talking about a sixteen year old who grew up around guns and in situations where physical violence was a part of their general experience growing up, then it’s possible.

There are still some problems, however.

1) The person who shot her probably still has the gun and they’ve already proven that they’re willing to kill her. (They proved that the moment they drew the gun, firing it was just extra incentive.)

2) How is she going to knock them out? When someone gets shot while standing, the shock of it of it tends to make them automatically sink to the floor. Curling up into a ball, clutching the arm, and tucking in the knees, is a natural safety response that the body practices when it’s injured. If she’s not trained to fight that response, she probably won’t. So, the person who shot her is still standing and she’s now sitting. If she’s going to knock them out, then she’ll need some kind of ranged weapon that she can use while on the floor. This is preferably one that she brought with her or that got knocked away in the earlier scuffle. Something like a taser would be a good idea. The character, however, has to be willing to risk death (has to believe the person who shot them wants to kill them) and that there’s no way out except to fight back. This is not most people, especially not those who have grown up in a privileged environment.

3) Fighting makes the body bleed out faster. No matter where she was shot, she’s still bleeding. Shock, fear, and then combat all elevate your heart rate and the blood starts pumping through the body faster. If there is a hole in the body, then it causes the injured person to bleed out faster. This is why you’re supposed to sit down and breathe slowly until help arrives. Your character’s body has a limited amount of blood and the moment she got shot, the clock started ticking. She may not realize it, but if she gets up and fights, she’ll only be losing blood faster. She’s going to be at odds with her body’s own instinct to survive if she’s going to go after the person who shot her, because at this point fight or flight is dead.

The most important question here?

Is your sixteen year old willing to die to knock out (or kill) the person who harmed her?

If the answer is yes, then yes, she can fight back. If it’s no, then she probably can’t.


Is there a way for someone who’s never so much as held a gun to become familiar enough with guns in general to incorporate intimate knowledge of them in writing? Where do you recommend I start researching?

This is one of those ones where it’s not going to be cheap. It’s also going to depend on what country you’re in and if you’re old enough to rent a car.

You can use any website to get specs for individual weapons. I preferentially use world.guns.ru, but, Wikipedia is actually fairly reliable for this.

If you prefer physical books, there are, literally, hundreds of firearm encyclopedias out there. They’ll all differ in what they cover, so you can find general handbooks, military arms, modern handguns, whatever.

Unfortunately, specs will only get you so far. Eventually you’ll need to actually handle a gun. So, I’m going to make a couple assumptions, first that you’re old enough to drive, and second that you live in a country where private citizens are allowed to own guns. If I’m wrong about either of those, this is going to be a lot harder.

Most gun ranges will have classes, you’ll probably need to talk to the people that run the range to find out who’s running the class, and what the requirements are. You need to find classes where you’re not required to bring your own firearm, though you’ll almost certainly have to pay for your own ammo, regardless. They’ll run you through gun safety and explain the proper stances.

If you’re not old enough to drive, and have parental authorization, youth groups like 4-H, and of course the Scouts, do sometimes offer classes to members.

Indoor ranges will sometimes offer gun rentals. My recommendation on this is, find a class first. Though, ranges like that will almost certainly run their own classes on a regular basis. Also, you may need to drag a friend along with you. Some ranges will not rent weapons to individuals by themselves, due to suicides.

If you’re in a country that doesn’t allow for private firearm ownership, or sport shooting, things will be a lot tougher, and I’m not completely sure what to recommend. In cases like that, your best recourse will be to find a friend from another country who has had access to firearms and pick their brains for whatever details you can. It’s not an ideal situation, but it may be the best option you have.


I believe the reason top-break revolvers fell out of fashion is because the latch is in line with the barrel, it has to hold the full force of the gun firing, whereas a side break revolver, because the cylinder latch is out of line with the firing force, is a good enough comprimise of strength and loading speed (the strongest design is a fixed cylinder, like the peacemaker, but obviously that is much slower to load)

My understanding was that the latches tended to fail after a couple years of regular use, but I’ve never gone looking for credible information to back that perception up.

With a little practice, the Peacemaker loads pretty quickly, but it is a cumbersome system.

For those who don’t know, the Peacemaker’s cylinder is accessed by a small port on the back of the revolver. You knock spent shells out one at a time by rotating the cylinder, then load fresh rounds in their place.

You can speed reloading, by directing the barrel up and rotating the cylinder with the port open, to drop all the spent shells at once. Then you direct the barrel down, and with your left hand you manipulate the cylinder while you use your right hand to feed the rounds in. (This might be one of the rare moments when shooting left handed is actually an advantage, as the port is to the left of the hammer.)

You’re not going to beat reload times for a semi-automatic, or even a revolver with a speed-loader (assuming you can get the speedloader to actually release the rounds).


For the one armed anon, a good reloading trick would be to use speed loaders. Simply fit the bullets onto the frame, place against the chamber, and it’s quickly reloaded with minimal effort.

The issue with speed loaders is, most modern revolvers reload by rotating the cylinder (the revolving component that holds the rounds) out 90 degrees. This is fine if you have two hands, and are right handed. A speedloader will let you quickly swap in a fresh load of shells.

The problem is, if you shoot left handed, or you don’t have a second hand, revolvers can be a real pain to reload. You need a place to actually brace the revolver safely, while reloading. If the character only lost their right hand, then they can brace the revolver between their torso and arm, and use a speedloader or just load it one round at a time.

But, if they’re left hand is missing, the revolver will open into their torso, if they try the same thing. They could flip the gun over, but that would be awkward as hell, and we’re still at the point of needing the forearm.

I believe you can modify some revolvers to load left handed, but I’ve honestly never really looked into it. I just rotate the revolver 90 degrees to get access to the cylinder with my right hand.

Now, there are revolvers that breach open, but, these fell out of favor for one reason or another. Those could be reloaded in the armpit, using a speedloader or a fresh cylinder. But it’s still a less than ideal situation.

Finally, there are revolvers that can’t use speed loaders at all. I’m thinking of the Peacemaker here, and it’s modern replicas. It’s a weapon that can be fired very easily and comfortably one handed, but reloading it does require two hands, one round at a time. (Actually the Peacemaker is more comfortable when held one handed rather than in a modern Weaver stance.)

Either way, a character can shoot someone else if they only have on hand, and that was the point I was making.


I have a character who lost an arm. How much combat could she realistically engage in? What kind of weapons or fighting style would best suit her?

Handguns. No, really. Losing a limb will make using most weapons, and styles in combat impossible. Your character won’t be as accurate with a single hand, but they could remain functional in combat.

Probably a revolver, specifically. They’re harder to reload, especially with one hand, but I’ve found most revolvers are more comfortable in one hand than semi-automatics.

Reloading is going to involve shoving the revolver into the armpit of the missing arm, popping a magazine out with their remaining hand, fishing a fresh magazine out and loading it. They’d need to chamber it using either the holster (rotating 90 degrees and pressing against the holster will do this with most semi-auto pistols), or by using the armpit trick… which I couldn’t really recommend in the real world.

Reloading a revolver is probably possible, but I’m not sure exactly how that would work.

There are other weapons you can wield with one hand, but in combat, especially in close combat, you really need the other hand, simply for the utility factor.

Knives are out because, once your character’s hand is tied up, their foe still has another hand free to attack with. The same is true with swords. Staves, and polearms can’t be wielded single handed. There are flourishes and exhibition techniques that are one handed, but they’re useless in an actual fight. No hand to hand styles will be able to keep up with someone who has more limbs than you, not really. So we’re left with guns, or a prosthetic replacement limb, if that’s something your setting supports.



lastgreatpoolparty said: Seems like the trick with the revolver is not needing to reload. Don’t miss, I guess.

That’s always been my takeaway. Revolvers can be frighteningly accurate (especially when manually cocked) in comparison to semi-automatics, so while shot placement is more important, it’s also easier.

How much damage would wooden bullets and rubber bullets cause?

Wooden bullets, probably not much. I’d have mocked the concept entirely, but apparently, wooden rounds used to be common for blanks, particularly as training rounds. Generally speaking, the powder detonation would reduce the bullet to sawdust when fired. Individually the fragments could be nasty, but not life threatening outside of a freak occurance.

There’s a persistent myth floating around that the Germans and Japanese issued them late in World War II. It holds that the rounds would splinter on impact and result in wooden shards that wouldn’t show up under x-ray. But, it’s the actual gunshot that shatters the bullet, which makes this whole myth a little suspect.

It looks like the Germans actually used them to launch rifle grenades, (a forerunner to modern under-barrel grenade launchers.) So they would have seen some use in the field. It also stands to reason most of the countries involved in World War II would have done the same.

Now, if you’re a soldier in the field, and your side is loosing, you’re ill equipped, running out of munitions, anything you can fire will look like a valid choice, eventually. So some people probably did get shot with these, but, I’m not finding any credible information that they’ll do anything.

If I was going out on a limb, I’d guess these could be lethal up to a few feet if you placed your shot correctly, but really these are blanks.

If you’re looking at a setting that actually requires wooden bullets (to deal with vampires, for instance), then you could make wooden bullets from a hardwood with a metal jacket to protect them from the worst of the powder charge, but I’ve got no idea how those would work in the real world.

Rubber bullets can kill. They’ve been kicking around at least since the mid-70s as a riot round. To their credit, they are less lethal than a gunshot, but they’re still pretty nasty. Rubber bullets are usually chambered for shotguns or riot guns (basically re-purposed grenade launchers), though there are a lot of different variants. This means you’re dealing with a very large, slow, projectile. And they still kill people.

If you really want to see what these will do you can just Google image search “rubber bullet injuries.” Just be ready for some really graphic content.

Rubber rounds for shotguns come as both slugs, and buckshot. The slugs are slightly more common, and alternately referred to as riot slugs.

Supposedly, rubber rounds exist for handguns. These are primer only cartridges (meaning no powder), and have muzzle velocities on par with airsoft. They’re intended for target shooting, though, I’ve never actually seen these personally, so I’m going by “things people wrote on the internet.” If the published muzzle velocities are trusted, these should be easily survivable.


Hey there! I have a character who gets shot in the head, and I’d really like this character to survive, preferably without permanent brain damage. If the bullet only grazed the character’s head rather than penetrating, could that happen? What would be the probable damage incurred, and what would the recovery process look like? Thanks so much for helping!

I know of a case in the UK about forty years ago, where the bullet never penetrated the skull, it just skimmed across the surface. I think it was a .32, but I’m not completely sure. Either way, this is not the norm.

If the bullet penetrates the skull, there’s going to be brain damage. Not in the “I can’t brain today, I has the dumb,” kind of way, but they’re still going to be a bit messed up.

There was an American series called Touching Evil about ten years ago, where the lead character was a cop who’d been shot in the head and was trying to deal with the resulting brain damage. It was a remake of a British series, I haven’t seen. Unfortunately, the British series is the only one that’s readily available, and I don’t know how well that incarnation handles the character’s psychological issues.

The other thing that comes immediately to mind is, someone can still suffer serious burns from having a gun go off at close range, even if they aren’t actually struck by the bullet. It’s entirely possible the bullet missed your character and they were still deafened in one ear or blinded by the gunshot. (By the way, this CAN actually happen with blanks at close range. So it’s a plausible outcome for someone trying to “scare” your character by mock executing them with a blank. For reference, mock executing someone with a blank can still kill them, because of the burning wadding.)


On Writing: Gun Safety


Few things will tick me off faster than improper gun safety in fiction.  Unfortunately, many authors fail to properly research guns, gun usage, and gun safety.  Guns are so ubiquitous in our culture that many people think that they already know all they need in order to write gun usage into a story, but what one picks up from cultural osmosis is even less accurate than your average summer blockbuster.

Deaths and injuries from gun accidents are distressingly high, and most of them could be prevented by following the three basic rules that every gun user is taught (assuming they go to a professional class). 

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