Tag Archives: historical firearms

Q&A: (Not) Using Antique Firearms

So I have a character who collects antique firearms. Would a gun from the 1800’s , say American civil war era, still function enough to make it an effective weapon, provided it was well taken care of?

Yes, with some critical caveats.

Mechanically, firearms are destructive. I don’t mean the bullet is harmful; that’s also true. You have a piece of equipment designed to contain violently expanding, burning gasses. Powder is, often, corrosive, and of course, you’re setting it on fire, and sending that stuff everywhere. You’re also grinding pieces of metal against one another.

Guns have an operational life, (usually) measured in rounds fired. As you use them, components will wear out or break. In some rare cases, this can turn into a Ship of Theseus scenario, where you’re replacing the entire gun a piece at a time. (Unlike Theseus’s Pardox, this one has a concrete answer: It legally becomes a new gun when you replace the receiver.)

The important thing to remember is: Every single time you use a firearm, you’re dealing a little bit of irrevocable damage to your gun.

In most cases, you wouldn’t want to actually fire a civil war era antique firearm. Mechanically, they may still be sound, but that’s something you don’t really want to test on a firearm from the 1860s. This is especially true when dealing with some of the more mechanically complex weapons of the era, like the Colt Walker revolver.

I’m going to use the Walker as an example for a moment. There were roughly 1,100 of these guns produced in the late 1840s. 1000 of those were intended for a military contract, and the remaining 100 went up for sale to civilians. The original revolvers suffered a high rate of failure, somewhere around 300 of these were returned to Colt for repairs during the original operational life of the guns. Frequent issues involved soldiers overloading the cylinders, exceeding the intended pressure tolerances, and causing the cylinder to rupture when fired. (Fun fact: Exceeding the intended pressure tolerances in a firearm is a fantastic way to destroy it. Don’t do this.) There were also a number of semi-fragile components which would wear out or break after extensive use.

Walkers saw use during the Mexican – American War, during the Civil War, and in the hands of Texas Rangers after that. In short, there aren’t a lot of these guns left. They are also phenomenally expensive today. At auction, a Colt Walker in functional condition, with original parts can easily fetch $100k, with pistols sometimes selling for between $300k-$600k.

Your character, who is a collector, wants to put rounds down range through something that expensive? Especially given their history for mechanical failures?

Also, for reference, a Walker with a ruptured cylinder will usually sell for somewhere around $1k.

Now, in fairness, this is an outlier. Most guns aren’t going to be that valuable, nor that fragile. But, even if you’re talking about something relatively common, much cheaper, and hopefully more durable, like a Sharps Rifle, it’s still a valuable antique. (Rarer Sharps variants can auction for $10k-$20k.)

Another factor is that these don’t use modern ammunition. The Walkers were chambered to a .44 bullet, but these were muzzle loading black powder firearms. (In fact, most of the Walker’s cylinder failures were due to soldiers loading too much powder, and then loading the gun’s conical shaped bullets in backwards, resulting in substantially higher pressures than the cylinder was designed for.)

The mid-19th century did see the introduction of the first metallic cartridges. The Sharps Rifle fired a .52 caliber, black powder cartridge. There might be some place you can buy these prepackaged, but, I suspect, if you want to shoot a Sharps, you’re going to be hand loading your cartridges.

So, if you want to fire something like a Walker or Lamat, you can, theoretically do so. But, you’ll need a lot of associated equipment and preparation time. Loading either is a time consuming process. You need black powder, percussion caps, and the bullets themselves. So, it’s possible, but not a great option.

All of this said, there is another very simple reason to say yes, which bypasses all of these considerations. Modern replicas of weapons like the Walker, or Single Action Army (the Colt Peacemaker, which is not a Civil War era pistol, as it dates to 1873) are fairly common, durable, and functional. In the case of the Walker, there are some significant mechanical changes to allow the  revolver to accept modern cartridges, including the addition of a loading gate. Conversion Walker reproductions are something of a novelty.

In general, reproductions of historical firearms, particularly 19th century ones have a serious enthusiast community. It would be entirely unsurprising for a collector of rare and antique firearms to also keep a selection of replicas for recreational use. In fact, modern Colt Peacemaker reproductions are a semi-common sport revolver, because of the handling characteristics.

Replicas and reproductions also offer an entry point to the hobby, for a lot of enthusiasts. Very few potential collectors can shell out half a million dollars for a revolver, but modern replicas will only set you back around $300 – $400. Given it may also take modern ammunition, that’s a much easier price point for a potential collector.

Personally, I wouldn’t fire a gun that’s over a century old, if I had another option. This isn’t a hard number, but that’s a long time for factors like corrosion, to become a serious consideration. Like I said, I have no issue with modern reproductions of those designs, I’m honestly rather fond of Colt Peacemakers chambered in .357, and slightly less fond of 1911s, but I wouldn’t want to fire an original production version of either, simply because of concerns over damaging it.

A somewhat common problem for gun collectors is, having weapons which are historically or mechanically interesting and significant, but are too valuable to shoot. This is also true of elaborately engraved firearms. The simple answer is, you don’t do it. If you enjoy shooting, and also enjoy collecting antique firearms, those are going to be two separate collections. There may be thematic overlap, via reproductions, or they may also collect modern firearms for shooting, but they’re not going to be shooting their antiques.

There’s also a separate issue that I haven’t really addressed yet. With some exceptions, you wouldn’t be getting a particularly effective weapon. At least, not if you’re facing opponents armed with modern hardware.

The early cartridge rifles were game changing, because you could start producing weapons that could fire 8-10 rounds per minute. Early Revolvers were similarly amazing.

If your opponent has a pistol that needs to be reloaded after each shot, and you can put six rounds down range before having to reload, that’s a significant advantage, even if reloading will take far more time.

Today, most modern assault rifles have cyclic fire rates between 600 and 900 rounds per minute. That, 8 to 10 range doesn’t sound nearly as impressive in context. (Granted, the actual rounds fired per minute would be much lower for an automatic weapon.) Someone armed with an AR15 pattern varmint rifle can be much sloppier with their shots and still get the job done in less time.

Shot placement is critical. If you can get the job done with one bullet, then having extras is just gravy. But, semi-automatic weapons allow you to quickly correct and compensate for errors faster than a single shot weapon will allow. If you try to make a shot with a single shot rifle, you will spend more time, preparing for your next shot, than you will with a semi-auto rifle.

Reloading modern firearms is much faster than with a civil war era weapon. Compounded by the fact that they will need to reload after every shot. Even if your modern firearm has a small 5 or 10 round detachable box magazine, that’s a lot more firepower on a much faster reload.

I’ve said before, the 19th and 20th century saw an explosion in firearms technology. In less than 200 years, we’ve gone from firearms that needed to be manually reloaded, by pouring powder down the barrel, to weapons that can deliver 30 rounds, down range, in under five seconds. Modern guns are more accurate, easier to operate, more reliable, and in general, much more lethal. Now, someone who knows what they’re doing with a Peacemaker, or a Sharps could still come out on top, if they really know what they’re doing, but working with weapons like those, in a live combat situation, is a serious handicap.

It’s also worth noting that there are some, very old, firearm designs that do hold up, in their intended roles. The Peacemaker is one excellent example. It’s not a good carry pistol, but these are still remarkably accurate revolvers chambered in a powerful cartridge. There are better options for a revolver, but these will deliver.

Another pair of examples are the M1903, which is a very accurate bolt-action rifle, and the M1911, which has become an iconic handgun design. (Though, modern 1911s do have some significant design changes, to make the weapons more reliable, and user friendly.)

So, you have a gun collector, who has a lot of civil war antiques. They need to pull something from their collection to shoot someone. The best option would be if they have guns the use recreationally or for other purposes. These may be reproductions, or they could be more modern firearms. Your collector wouldn’t reach for one of their antiques, even if the gun was technically operable.

-Starke

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Hello, I have a question about guns. My story is set in a world that recently invented guns, so the designs are flawed. Is it reasonable for a gun (something small like a pistol) to jam when fired and explode in someone’s hand? And how much damage would the explosion cause?

“Yes,” and, having their hand, “turned into something resembling goulash,” comes to mind. Though, “jamming,” is probably the wrong mental image.

It’s probably worth remembering, early guns were little more than a hollow metal tube and (sometimes) a handle, which you’d manually fire by touching off the powder with a burning object (called a match, but it’s not equivalent to modern matches at all.)

If a gun was poorly forged, over loaded with powder, or had something obstructing the barrel, it was possible for a gun to misfire or detonate in the user’s hand or face.

These were strictly single shot weapons. Powder had to be poured, by hand, followed by forcing the bullet down the barrel.

Depending on what evidence you take, the first guns originate in the 12th or 13th century. And, they pretty much stayed that way for a long time. There were numerous technological advances. But, the gun remained (primarily) a single shot weapon for nearly 600 years. If guns are a new technology in your setting, you’re probably not going to be looking at having issues like jamming. (At least not the familiar concept.)

It’s probably worth considering, that self feeding firearms didn’t become a practical option until the transition from black powder to smokeless in the late-19th century.

Put another way; we’ve been shooting people for eight centuries, we’ve had auto-loading firearms for a little over one.

There’s also a terminology hickup that can confuse people. Handgun is not a modern term, however, using it to refer to pistols is far more recent. Early handguns were longarms. The name meant you could carry and fire the gun by hand, not that it was a small compact weapon. As I recall, the first pistols didn’t appear for around a century after the introduction of the handgun. I could be wrong on that number, by the way, it might be as fast as a couple decades. They were roughly contemporary with the development of the matchlock as I recall. (But, this specific era of the timeline is something I’m a little shaky on.)

Based on the actual development of guns, if your setting just developed guns within the last couple decades, you’re looking at something more like a pole arm, that has to be manually loaded, and then the powder is set off using a match.

As you get to the point where guns have been around for 50 years to a century, you’ll start seeing firearms where the match is mounted to the gun, and a trigger mechanism ignites a flashpan of powder by dropping a lit match (usually a piece of slow burning cord at this point. (A fingertip sized, shallow bowl, mounted on the side of the gun, usually with an articulated cover).

At roughly two centuries out, you’ll start seeing rifled barrels, which are far more accurate, but require additional time and effort to load. You’ll also start to see flintlocks.

At five centuries, you’ll start to see the introduction of percussion caps, and something that looks more like what you’d consider a firearm. This would be followed by early revolvers, and pre-sealed center-fire cartridges. This would allow for the first manually cycled repeating firearms, and make rifled firearms practical for combat usage. This would also, roughly, match the introduction of the shotgun.

As you get into the sixth century, you’ll see the first double action firearms (where each pull of the trigger can recock the hammer), and the development of semi-automatic firearms.

I’m skimming over the evolution of how society and the military viewed guns, for instance, most militaries opposed the introduction of repeating firearms because they feared their soldiers would recklessly burn through ammunition, straining their logistical support. But, that’s a lot more open for your worldbuilding. Still, it’s something you might want to look into and research further.

-Starke

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Hello, so, for a story I want to write, I want one of the characters to use a “shotgun gauntlet” where the barrel is placed on the back of the hand, and it’s fired by closing the fist. My question is, how plausible/effective would that be?

I’m not sure about shotguns, but a couple hundred .38 caliber, glove-mounted, punch guns were issued by the US Navy in World War II. As far as I know, none of them ever saw use in combat. The design expected you to actually throw a punch, the force of the impact would depress the trigger and fire.

Because of how short the barrel would be, you’d basically be restricted to putting barrel close to, or direct contact with, the victim. To be fair, shotgun shells are (comparatively) low power, so it’s not any less viable than a .38 cartridge.

The big downside with these things was, you couldn’t use them at range and they were single shot (with a cumbersome reloading process).

So, no, these are real, they’re just not very useful. They are an interesting historical curiosity, though.

-Starke

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How effective are combination weapons? Like a pistol-ax or sword-pistol?

Sword pistols are a weird historical oddity. They exist, mostly from the 18th century (not counting the modern gunswords specifically patterned off Final Fantasy.)

The problem is, they don’t really work that well. The extra weight makes the pistol harder to aim, while the modifications to include a functional gun reduces the sword’s balance, increases the weight, and undermines it’s effectiveness.

I’m not sure about a gun/axe combo, but to an extent you’re looking at the same basic concessions.

The one good counter example are bayonets. At a really reductive level, you could call those a combo weapon. Though in that case, you’re talking about using a longarm, and a lightweight melee weapon. My understanding is that the extra weight of the blade does make the weapon a little harder to operate, but, the entire idea is you’d be attaching the bayonet when you weren’t expecting the gun to be enough on it’s own anyway.

There may be some integrated longarm with an attached blade that I’m unaware of, so the gun axe or a gun halberd is just this side of plausible. But, again, I’ve never heard of any historical examples.

Combo weapons can also include things like an under-slung grenade launcher, shotgun, or other attachment. For what they’re intended to do, those work. Though it’s probably not what you were thinking of.

There’s also the Lemat pistol. This was a .36 or .42 caliber revolver with an integrated 20 gauge shotgun in the center of the cylinder, and designed to fire from a secondary barrel located under the primary. Again, it’s more of a historical oddity than a practical weapon, as less than three thousand of these pistols were originally produced. Though I believe you can buy modern reproductions chambered in .44, 20 gauge.

-Starke

I’ve had this thought on my mind for a while. Is there actually a gun which you stuff thing down the barrel? I’ve searched it up before but I just get an explanation of how a gun works. Thank you~

I’m not completely certain what you’re asking here, but there are a few possibilities.

Muskets and some other early firearms were muzzle loading. Meaning you’d actually pour powder down the barrel, and then follow it with a bullet. Tap it all down, and then use wadding to keep the bullet from migrating. Read: “falling out.”

Similarly, harpoon and spearguns. These vary, some harpoon launchers use propellants, while spearguns use, I think, pneumatics. I don’t know a lot about these, but, they do exist.

I know the OSS was working on a grappling hook attachment for the M1911 during WWII. The idea was you’d mount the hook into the barrel and propel it up with a blank cartridge. I don’t know if this was ever used in the field, but today it’s a curiosity, so something must not have worked out as planned.

Some single shot grenade launchers, such as the Russian GP25, use a muzzle loading arrangement.

Normally speaking, sticking something in the barrel of a gun will result in an obstruction. Which is the technical term for, “causing the barrel to explode in your hands.” So, simply grabbing a rod, spear, whatever, and cramming it down there will destroy the weapon, with a decent chance it will tear your hands into meat confetti in the process. Loading it with blanks can serve as a propellant for something else, like the grappling hook example above. But if the foreign object doesn’t properly fit the barrel, then you could find yourself with the chamber detonating, which is even more likely to destroy your hands.

-Starke

Japan actually was not one of the first to develop firearms nor did they ban the use of them. The Japanese were introduced to proper firearms in the 16th century through Nanban trade with the Portuguese through the island of Tanegashima. Through this they gained the ability to create simple matchlock arquebuses, a technology that had existed throughout Europe for a while at that point. They would be used commonly up until Sakoku and firearms were brought back during the Meiji Restoration.

howtofightwrite:

Whoops. That’s my bad.

-Michi

Partial credit. The Japanese did originally get introduced to guns in the mid 16th century by Portuguese traders. Initially they loved them, and put a great deal of effort into refining the technology. By the beginning of the 17th century they had more firearms than any other nation and, some of most advanced designs of the time. (Arguably the most advanced firearms.)

There was also serious social opposition coming from the Samurai. The gun represented a direct threat to their place in the social structure, it disrupted their concepts of warfare and combat. And because they were the core of the government, they were in a position to dispose of that threat. Which, they did. It was never a formal ban, per say, but production was initially limited to government contracts only, and then the government stopped ordering guns.

A number of European governments had attempted bans, but always found themselves at a severe disadvantage when facing forces armed with guns in warfare, while in Japan, there wasn’t a similar external threat.

The result was that Japan effectively banned guns, in all but name.

There’s a very abbreviated version of this story in Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel, but honestly, that’s a fantastic resource to work through before you start world building in general, so, go ahead and read it if you haven’t. Also, his book Collapse might be useful for those of you planning a dystopic setting.

-Starke

Hi. Do you know anything about 18th century firearms? I’m wondering how much damage pistol shot would cause to the face at close range. Would there be just a single entry wound or would the face be unrecognisable, and at what range would that kind of damage occur? Many thanks for your help.

It wouldn’t. At least not from a pistol. Handguns usually lack the ability to completely shatter the skull, they’ll still pierce the skull, but it will be a (figuratively) clean entry wound.

Gunshot wounds vary based on how far away the gun is from the victim. Bullet velocity, and caliber also affect the wound, but it’s not a huge consideration most of the time. Now, keep in mind, this is all from modern forensics. But, the basic idea of how a gun works hasn’t really changed in the last 800 years. That is to say: boom = splat.

Gunshots over two feet from the firearm will result in a small circular wound in the victim. This will usually be slightly smaller than the bullet. This is because the skin stretches to accommodate the bullet before it penetrates. It also bunches, creating something called an abrasion collar, which is an inflamed ring around the entry wound. The collar is usually black or blue as it picks up grime and oil from the bullet as it passes into the deeper tissue.

Between two inches and two feet (roughly) there will be a pattern of burning and unburned powder that gets forced into the skin. This is called stippling. It creates tiny pinpoint hemorrhages under the skin. The closer to the victim, the smaller the ring.

It’s worth pointing out, this will occur if you shoot someone with a blank at very close range, and you can kill someone with blanks because of stippling.

Shooting someone with the gun pressed against them will result in a contact wound. In these cases the expanding gasses from the gunshot will vent into the victim, resulting in a star shaped eruption under the skin. These are big messy wounds… but they still won’t cause someone’s skull to cave in, or even for their face to be completely unrecognizable.

As an aside: These are the same gasses you’re trying to reduce when suppressing a firearm. I’m not sure what kind of a contact wound you’d get off a suppressed firearm.

Now, a shotgun loaded with buckshot, at medium range, can turn someone’s face into hamburger. The 18th century equivalent would be a blunderbuss. These were loaded with whatever shrapnel came to hand, and were really nasty weapons. So, if you haven’t looked into them, that’s probably what you want, even if they weren’t one handed.

If your character hot loaded their pistol and forgot (or chose not) to load a ball, the resulting spray at close range might be enough to sear their opponent’s face. This should kill them, but it is theoretically possible for a character could survive that. Though, getting shot in the head is surprisingly survivable, in general.

Now, that’s if we’re talking about the entry wound. Exit wounds are usually larger and ragged, particularly if we’re talking about 18th century firearms (there’s some modern exceptions). If your character was executed by a gunshot to the back of the head, it’s possible, if the angle was right, for the bullet to take most of their face off on the way out. Obviously, this isn’t a survivable wound, but it is possible.

In a modern context, jacketed and high velocity rounds tend to produce exit wounds that are very similar to entry wounds. When the shooter was more than a couple feet from the victim, and using one of these rounds, it can sometimes be difficult for an ME to differentiate between a victim’s entrance and exit wound.

Incidentally, Teflon coated rounds would actually fall into the high velocity group there. These gained a reputation for armor penetration, but the actual cause is the Teflon reduces drag on the bullet, improving its flatness. Either way, if these miss bone on the way through, they’re going to leave a similar entrance and exit wound.

Soft rounds can leave really messy exit wounds. If they impact a bone straight on, they can shear apart, it can even leave multiple wounds, or they can flatten out and wedge against the bone, leaving no exit wound whatsoever. If they flatten out, continue moving and start to tumble they can leave tiny exit wounds that look like minor lacerations.

As I’ve said before: bullets are kinda random.

Oh, and a reminder, when it comes to gunshot wounds, Google Image Search hates you, but it is useful if you really, really, want to see what this stuff looks like. Just remember to bring a strong stomach.

-Starke

archieandkobi said: Apparently, the pistols back then were really weak. I’ve heard of cases where people tried to shoot themselves and failed because the balls didn’t even get through their skulls. Most seemed to suffer concussion.

That would actually depend on how much powder the loaded. One of the quirks with pre-19th century firearms was, you were responsible for the amount of powder you loaded into the weapon for each round. This was partially dealt with by using premeasured paper cartridges that you would tear open and dump down the barrel. But, those weren’t universal, much like modern speedloaders aren’t something everyone uses. If you don’t put enough powder down the barrel, it’s not going to clear it with enough force.

I’m guessing the cases you’re looking at were the result of under loading a pistol, but, I am guessing there.

-Starke

As always, with a question with suppressors, a Nagant revolver or any other revolver with a sealed chamber can actually become very quiet when fitted with a suppressor.

There’s was also a suppressed revolver issued to OSS Agents in the ’40s. I think that was by S&W, though I’m not completely sure. Silenced revolvers do exist, but, they’re a bit of a rarity. And retrofitting a revolver requires a lot more than just threading the barrel and calling it a day.

I didn’t really want to get into it in in because the post already had enough parenthetical tangents, but, since we’re here now. The major advantages are, revolvers can use a standard double action configuration, and there aren’t many moving parts that need to be muffled, unlike an automatic. The disadvantage is, they are harder to load, and have lower ammo capacities, you know, like normal revolvers.

-Starke

Any advice for wiring a 1865 duel scene where someone gets shot in the hand, or for a scene of the same period where someone gets shot in the ear through a window? I really love the blog btw

In both cases, post injury infection is a real risk. And, your characters would run a very real risk of dying.

Not that anyone in your setting would know, but; the bullets themselves are clean, the gunshot generates enough heat to sterilize the bullet. However, the bandages used on the wound wouldn’t, and, historically, these were a common vector for bacterial infection.

Hilariously enough, in both cases, medical treatment would actually be more dangerous than the wounds themselves. But, again, and I can’t stress this enough, your characters would not know this.

Alcohol was viewed as an emergency anesthetic, not an antiseptic.

Also, without access to modern surgical techniques, getting shot through the hand could easily result in a permanent crippling injury.

Now, intentionally shooting someone in the hand, with weapons from that era, wouldn’t be impossible, but it would require an improbable degree of marksmanship.

Even with highly accurate, modern handguns, “disabling shots” like that aren’t really viable in combat. The amount of focus and precision required just aren’t available while someone is fighting through an adrenaline rush.

-Starke

I’m doing some worldbuilding currently, and the world I am working on is going to be an anachronistic mess, but I am trying to work out how to make it so that guns (19th century revolvers and single shot rifles are available, no repeating rifles) are not grossly superior to melee weapons and bows or crossbows, particularly in small group/one-on-one fights. So my question is, what would be the best way to level things out a bit?

Well, that’s not much more of an anachronistic mess than the actual 19th century.

The best way to level things out would be to remember that all not weapons are created equal. I don’t mean some weapons are better than others, this is an easy mistake, I mean weapons have different uses.

Put it this way, you wouldn’t try to drive nails with a screw driver or a pry bar, and you wouldn’t try to remove a screw with a claw hammer.

Weapons are tools. You might misuse them if you’re desperate, but ultimately, your characters need to use the most appropriate weapon for the current situation. Try to use a weapon in the wrong situation and your characters will die.

The thing about guns is, they tend to be more versatile than other weapons, and that’s not something you can get around. They’re also more forgiving of being used in the wrong role. Someone who has a rifle can still kill at a foot away, the same is not true of bows or crossbows. Try to ignore that and your writing will suffer.

Handguns are most effective in very tight spaces, where long range accuracy isn’t an issue. They also work in situations where you need to conceal a weapon. Try to fight someone more than fifty feet away, and your character will die. (You can triple that number for modern handguns.)

Swords (in that timeframe) are most effective in mass melee. They’re also (slightly) stealthier than the handgun at those ranges, and can offer a significant advantage if their foes don’t realize they’re there. Try to go up against any aware foe with a firearms; your character’s going to become chunky salsa, and they should know that.

Rifles are best for long range precision shots. Granted, 19th century firearms left something to be desired when it came to accuracy, but these were still weapons you could use to out range combatants. These start to fall apart at close ranges, and trying to take a rifle into a cramped house or tunnel system can be fatal.

Bows and crossbows are still the top choice for silent killing at range. They don’t work at the long range of the rifle, they can’t be used in close quarters, the way a handgun can, bows are very hard to operate under fire, and crossbows take awhile to reset, but that’s not the point. If no one knows your character is there, it’s a good choice, if anyone can scream in agony as they’re dying, your character better have a fallback weapon.

Also, lever and bolt-action rifles date back to the 19th century, so those aren’t automatically out. As do breach loading and lever action shotguns.

Lever-action repeaters trade some of the accuracy and range of a rifle for maneuverability and follow up. Bolt-action rifles are similar, though they keep a lot of the long range accuracy. Both are cumbersome to reload, though the same is true of most 19th century firearms. Again, neither will help you if you’re getting run through from behind with a sword or picked off with a bow, or (with repeaters), if someone is taking shots at 300 yrds, but, they will ruin someone’s day if all they have is a revolver, a sword, or a bow.

Shotguns operate at roughly the same ranges as a handgun, they trade maneuverability for stopping power. Games will give you a bad idea about how much shotguns actually scatter, but if you want something dead right now, and it’s not too far away…

If you can stomach it’s writing and “white savior” racism, Far Cry 3 is a massive playground to get the idea of the right weapon for the right situation down. The roles it places the weapons in aren’t 100% accurate, but it might help you grasp how these things interact in a modern setting.

-Starke