Physics says: go to sleep. Of course
you’re tired. Every atom in you
has been dancing the shimmy in silver shoes
nonstop from mitosis to now.
Quit tapping your feet. They’ll dance
inside themselves without you. Go to sleep.
Geology says: it will be all right. Slow inch
by inch America is giving itself
to the ocean. Go to sleep. Let darkness
lap at your sides. Give darkness an inch.
You aren’t alone. All of the continents used to be
one body. You aren’t alone. Go to sleep.
Astronomy says: the sun will rise tomorrow,
Zoology says: on rainbow-fish and lithe gazelle,
Psychology says: but first it has to be night, so
Biology says: the body-clocks are stopped all over town
History says: here are the blankets, layer on layer, down and down.
As someone who writes fics with action sequences and the use of guns, I thought maybe it would be helpful to pass some things on. Even though I’ve done lots of research and talked with family members (I live in WI which is a big hunting state and we have lots of guns), I still catch myself making mistakes with specific terms and their usage. Reading more James Bond fics lately, I catch others making mistakes also. So here is a little guide to help writers.
- A ‘clip’ is something that stores multiple rounds of ammunition. It is not what you would insert into a handgun to load it. Clips make loading into a magazine easier because they simply store the rounds. It helps with organization.
- A magazine is what feeds the ammunition into the barrel. Magazines vary in capacity. They, unlike clips, are spring-loaded, which helps the ammunition move in the gun. So, when you want a character to reload, they would use a pre-loaded magazine, NOT a clip.
- A silencer is really a suppressor. ‘Silencer’ is a word that’s used in media to refer to a suppressor that doesn’t exist in real life. Guns that are suppressed will still be loud and have a sound. This is because compressed air will still leak out of the end of the barrel, you can’t silence a bullet moving extremely fast through the air, and you can’t silence the mechanical parts on a gun. There will be a noise, but it just won’t be as loud or more importantly, alert people in a nearby area that a gun was just fired. SO suppressor is a much more accurate term technically speaking.
- There are different kinds of suppressors. One important kind suppresses the muzzle flash. It’s likely a sniper would use this more than they would want to use a sound suppressor, as the muzzle flash more easily enables you to be spotted when you don’t want to be. These are simply referred to as flash suppressors.
- After a handgun runs out of ammunition, the slide will lock back into place and you will know that it is out. There is no ‘click’ signifying an empty weapon that is so dramatized in movies and tv. A more likely scenario that would prevent a gun from firing would be a jam. Or programming the gun to recognize certain palm prints.
- A great place for writers, in particular fanfic writers, who want information on guns is imfdb. You can find out what guns are used in movies and shows, and what guns characters use. You can also just search for guns.
- If you want to get really specific, check out YouTube. There are users who will post reviews of guns on there, which can be really helpful if you want to see how a particular gun looks or how to shoot it.
So yeah! Here are just a few basic tips if you want to write a fic where a character uses guns.
I see you’ve got terminology down, now let’s go for a little technicality.
- Firstly, let me explain the “kick” of a gun. A “kick” is the feeling of the round leaving the barrel of the gun. Every gun has one, the impact of the “kick” depends on the caliber, make and type of gun.
- Another way to describe a kick is the feeling of the gun exploding in your hand. Of course, the gun doesn’t literally explode, but it is a great burst of power that only lasts a second.
- For example: A .45 mm hand gun with have a bigger “kick” than a .22 mm hand gun. If someone is a first time shooter and does not know what to expect, they would most likely drop the gun after firing it once due to the shock of the force being released in their hands.
- Sniper Rifles are incredibly accurate and mainly used for long distance hits. They are also ridiculously heavy, as most rifles are, therefore, be prepared for a gigantic “kick”.
- Sniper Rifles are special because they are so powerful (they need to be in order to have the same impact a .45mm would 10 feet away compared to the shell half a mile away), thus a stand is required to use it.
- No matter what you will always need a firm holding to place the rifle (besides your grip) in order to prevent the gun from falling over after it is discharged and injury to your person. There are ridiculously powerful guns.
- General rule of thumb is that you place the butt of the rifle next to your shoulder, just below your clavicle. I’m not very good at describing this position, so I suggest looking it up. DO NOT place it anywhere in the armpit area, dislocation is likely to occur. Depending on how prepare you are and the type of rifle being used (excluding snipers), bruising might occur.
- You will be standing if you use a normal rifle, so make sure you are steady and prepared for the “kick” that follows after.
- If you are using a sniper rifle, you will be on the ground or leaning against something. Some people have special rests for their snipers specifically to fire the gun from any spot. Point is: do not stand alone while firing this. You will get hurt.
Other helpful tips:
- Earplugs or Ear Protectors are your friends.
- Safety glasses are also your friend to avoid shells from flying into your face.
- Keep the safety on until you are ready to fire the gun.
- If you are NOT currently firing the gun, whether it is loaded or unloaded, and it is in your hand, ALWAYS hold it with two hands and point it at the ground at your feet. DO NOT get distracted.
- NEVER joke around with someone by pointing the gun at them. EVEN IF YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY POSITIVE THAT THE GUN IS TOTALLY UNLOADED, MAGAZINE OUT OF PLACE, DO NOT RISK IT. It is not funny. Even if the gun is on safety, do NOT do it. You could accidently switch off the safety or the gun could misfire despite the safety.
- Lastly TWO HANDS. One on the side near the trigger and the other underneath. This is not the movies, do not attempt to fire a gun with one hand. Not only will your aim be incredibly off if you are inexperienced but you will also endanger yourself as well as others if you lose control of it.
- Guns can be scary and if you ever feel nervous or uncomfortable about firing one, do not do it.
A few things I have to add to this:
The caliber of a round is usually measured in either millimeters or in hundredths of an inch. One “unit” of caliber, I guess, is one one-hundredth of an inch. For example, a 45-caliber round has a .45 inch diameter (which is why it’s called a .45). DO NOT CONFUSE THIS WITH MILLIMETERS. .45 mm is NOT 45-caliber.
Common cartridges measured in millimeters with their respective calibers:
- 5.56mm = ~.223 caliber
- 7.62mm = ~.300 caliber
- 12.7mm = ~.500 caliber
- 5.64mm = .22 caliber*
- 9mm* = .354 caliber
- 10.16mm = .40 caliber*
- 11.43mm = .45 caliber*
(*the measurement you’re more likely to see for each cartridge.)
In the case of rifles, cartridges meant for civilian use are usually designated as .223, .300, .308, etc. Designations such as 5.56mm, 7.62mm, etc. are usually indicative of military-grade ammunition. This is not always true, but usually that’s how it is.
Military-grade bullets are held to higher standards and typically cause more stress on the internal mechanism, and the guns they’re meant for are built to handle that. They can also handle civilian ammunition. It doesn’t work the other way around, however. Do not attempt to use military-grade ammunition in a civilian-model firearm that hasn’t been modified to handle it.
A few different kinds of cartridges:
- Full metal jacket, which gives increased penetration capabilities but doesn’t do much in the ways of expansion. Risky to use in situations with a lot of innocents around, as often they can over-penetrate and go on to hurt someone behind the target.
- Hollow-points, which expand like crazy when they hit something, causing massive internal damage to their target. Outlawed in warfare under the Hague Convention of 1899, but can be used by civilians.
- Soft-points, which serve as a happy medium between the penetration capabilities of full metal jacket rounds and the expansion of hollow-point rounds.
- Shot, usually rat-shot or snake-shot, which can be fit in bullets and used to kill small vermin at close range without doing a whole lot of damage to the surrounding area.
- Sub-sonic, which have a lower muzzle velocity and effective range, but will decrease the chance of overpenetration. This is also the ideal ammo choice for weapons fitted with suppressors, as subsonic rounds avoid the “crack” of a sonic boom that other bullets can make upon leaving the barrel.