I have a pet peeve.
Okay, I have a lot of them. But I was reminded of one in particular recently: authors of detective/spy/action-type novels who refer extensively to guns and seemingly don’t know the difference between a pistol and a revolver. I’m talking about gazillion-selling, internationally-renowned authors, who could easily do their homework but apparently don’t when it comes to firearms.
So, here are a few tips for those authors who have not been around guns much but want to include them in their novels.
1. Revolvers are not pistols, and vice-versa. The terms should not be used interchangeably in describing the same handgun.
2. Revolvers do not have safeties. Many semi-automatics (i.e., pistols) don’t either, these days.
3. Not every famous firearms manufacturer makes both semi-autos and revolvers. Look up the brand’s wares before assuming the gun you have in mind exists.
4. No one ever refers to a snub nosed Smith & Wesson revolver as a “Smittie“. Nobody. Never.
a. Writers throw this brand name out as though Glocks are some sort of awe-inducing super-weapon. They aren’t. Glocks are relatively low-tech, relatively inexpensive workhorse guns, the ones you beat the hell out of. They’re the guns you use when you don’t want to risk scratching your other guns. They are extremely dependable which, coupled with their price, makes them very popular.
b. Glocks are not made entirely of plastic (or ceramic, or any other material that won’t go off in a metal detector). The barrel, the slide and all its various components, and parts within the grip/slide mount are made of steel.
c. Virtually no one refers to their “Glock”, unless they are specifically discussing the brand. Cops don’t holster their ‘Glocks‘; they holster their ‘guns‘.
d. You cannot conceal a Glock 17 in your pocket, unless you are wearing clown pants. Even then, it would probably stick out pretty far.
6. Anyone carrying a pistol for professional or social purposes already has a cartridge loaded in the chamber. They would not have to rack the slide to load a round the instant before they planned to use the gun, despite what you may see in movies.
7. Guys carrying really small pistols or revolvers as their only gun are far more likely to carry them in their front pants– or jacket pockets, or inside their waistbands, in suitable holsters, ratherthan on their ankles. Ankles are seriously difficult and inconvenient places to draw a gun from when the poop hits the propellers.
8. If you plan to write about guns and live in a place where there are stores that sell them, it would be worthwhile to visit a gun shop and examine the various types on display. If you have any specific brands and/or models in mind, this would be a good opportunity to see them in the flesh, and be sure they’re the one(s) you want to write about.
Oh, and, again where possible, it wouldn’t hurt to learn how to shoot. Basic handgun courses are available in many places, and could make what you write about guns far less cringeworthy to those who know better.
Joel Bresler is the author of Bottomless Cups