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Author Topic: A Gun Question.  (Read 4210 times)

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James

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A Gun Question.
« on: October 27, 2008, 06:36:15 PM »

I hope someone who knows more about guns than I do can answer this question.

If someone was to fire a small revolver - say a Smith and Wesson snubnose .357 magnum - in an enclosed space like a small bedroom, what would the report be like? Would it blast your eardrums?

And would the smell of gunsmoke be overpowering? Or what?

Thanks in advance to anyone who can help me here.
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dhparker

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Re: A Gun Question.
« Reply #1 on: October 27, 2008, 09:59:33 PM »

James, I don't know much about guns, so I asked a similar question some time ago.  I don't know if it will help you, but you might find it interesting.  Here's the link to the thread:  http://mwf.ravensbeak.com/forum/index.php?topic=464.0

JIM DOHERTY

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Re: A Gun Question.
« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2008, 05:31:56 AM »

James,

Re your question below:

If someone was to fire a small revolver - say a Smith and Wesson snubnose .357 magnum - in an enclosed space like a small bedroom, what would the report be like? Would it blast your eardrums?

And would the smell of gunsmoke be overpowering? Or what?

A snub-nosed .357 Magnum (and "Magnum" is a proper name, being a registered trademark of S&W, and thus should be capitallized), is only "small" in a relative sense.

It's got a shorter barrel, of course, but it's still a good-sized, heavyweight weapon.

If the piece was loaded with .357 Magnum ammo (and .357's can also shoot regular .38 and .38 Special rounds), it would make an hellacious report.  Your ears would definitely be ringing.

Smell of gunsmoke wouldn't be literally "overpowering," but it would certainly be noticeable.  And, in an enclosed space, it would probably linger for awhile.

James

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Re: A Gun Question.
« Reply #3 on: October 30, 2008, 05:01:57 AM »

Thanks for that, Jim. I knew about the .38, and I knew about S&W and the Magnum, but I didn't know you had to capitalise the name.

May I trouble you with one more question?

Living in Scotland, where guns are a rarity (even in law enforcement), I know next to nothing about guns. In many ways, this is an advantage in a crime short story or novel, because as soon as one is produced it has a great 'shock effect'.

So I'm feeling my way here. I have been examining some YouTube footage of people firing S&W .357s, and in one

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=uEKVu7qzeW4

a man is seen firing a seven chamber model, though he only fires six shots as far as I can see. I notice that with the first four shots he doesn't cock the hammer each time, but for the last two he does. Any reason for this?
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JIM DOHERTY

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Re: A Gun Question.
« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2008, 11:09:33 AM »

James,

Re your question below:

I have been examining some YouTube footage of people firing S&W .357s, and in one

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=uEKVu7qzeW4

a man is seen firing a seven chamber model, though he only fires six shots as far as I can see. I notice that with the first four shots he doesn't cock the hammer each time, but for the last two he does. Any reason for this?

I'd have to speculate, but, off-hand, I can only think of two reasons.

First, it is easier to get an accurate shot off if the gun is fired single action (that is, the gun is cocked prior to the trigger being squeezed).  If the gun is already cocked, the trigger doesn't have to be squeezed as tightly.  Consequently, the act of squeezing the trigger is less likely to throw the shooter's aim off.  For a carefully aimed shot, therefore, as opposed to a quick snap shot in a combat situation, a cocked weapon gives a slight advantage to the shooter.

Second, since it was a video, produced, presumably, for exhibition purposes, the shooter may simply have been demonstrating that the weapon is capable of being shot in either double-action (squeezing the trigger both cocks and releases the hammer) or single-action.  Not every weapon is capable of both modes.  Some are single-action only (most of the Old West revolvers, like the Colt Peacemaker and the S&W Frontier Model, were single-action only), and some are double-action only (lots of weapons produced for law enforcement are double-action only because it is believed that it reduces civil liability to the particular police agency issuing them; a cocked weapon is likelier to go off accidentally, so a weapon that can't be cocked prior to squeezing the trigger is less likely to go off accidentally).
« Last Edit: October 30, 2008, 11:24:31 AM by JIM DOHERTY »
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James

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Re: A Gun Question.
« Reply #5 on: October 30, 2008, 01:42:06 PM »

You know your guns, Jim.

Thanks for that. In my story, I have a woman firing the revolver, something she has very rarely done before. I'll have her cocking it first each time she fires(it's close range).
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Q

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Re: A Gun Question.
« Reply #6 on: October 30, 2008, 02:12:04 PM »

I was just about to post when Jim's reply came in - he does know his guns, they are spot on.

Writers and guns, getting it right and making mistakes, has bothered me for some time. Early this year I published a small book about the issues (you should link to it through my blog at www.byknight.com/wordpress ...

... and I hope I'm not breaking any house rules. I'm not sure of the policies here, as I'm not around as often as I would like.

Q
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James

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Re: A Gun Question.
« Reply #7 on: October 30, 2008, 06:05:59 PM »

Apropos of this thread, I have one or two books about guns on my shelves. But they only tell you about various models and makes etc.

Is there a book out there for mystery writers that explains the ins and outs of using guns? How to hold a particular model? How easy it is to pull a trigger? How accurate they are at various distances? Their weight? The kind of recoil you can expect? The noise they make in enclosed spaces? If the smell of gunsmoke from different propellants is different? How easy it is to load a pistol or revolver? The damage a bullet can do?

Writers Digest publishes a book called Armed and Dangerous, but this too seems to concentrate on what various models look like and who uses them.

Here in Scotland it is very difficult to get to use a firearm, as our firearms legislation is very, very tough, and owning a gun for protection is not allowed.
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JIM DOHERTY

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Re: A Gun Question.
« Reply #8 on: October 30, 2008, 07:07:40 PM »

James,

Re your comment below:

Thanks for that. In my story, I have a woman firing the revolver, something she has very rarely done before. I'll have her cocking it first each time she fires(it's close range).

This brings up another reason to be firing single action.  The amount of pressure one has to put on a trigger if one is firing double action is fairly high (which is precisely why it can throw one's aim off).  If one is not used to handling a handgun, particularly a small-framed person, s/he might find it very difficult to produce the amount of pressure needed to squeeze the trigger far enough back to both cock the hammer and release it.

If the hammer is already cocked back, the amount of pressure needed to release it is much less, and much easier for a small-framed person, unused to handling firearms, to produce.

Good instincts, James.

Lance Charnes

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Re: A Gun Question.
« Reply #9 on: October 31, 2008, 02:02:13 AM »

I suspect using a firearm is much like sex -- no matter how much you read about it, the actual experience is much different, much more intense, and highly variable.

Handguns come in all form factors and types, and the experience is highly specific to each. I've fired (among others) my father's cap-and-ball black-powder Colt 1851 Navy revolver, his long-barrelled .44 Magnum, a .38 Chief special, a .22 target pistol, my own .45 M1911 Colt semiauto, and the Air Force's M9 Beretta, and I can tell you there's very little overlap in the feel, sound, weight, recoil, smoke or smell.

Your best bet would be to find a registered shooting club with permitted handguns and ask a member to give you pointers and perhaps let you fire something close to the weapon in your book. You might need to adjust your heroine's hardware to match what you can lay hands on. You can search for "shooting clubs" in Yahoo! UK and end up with lists like this: http://www.onesite.co.uk/find/shooting.htm. Good luck.
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James

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Re: A Gun Question.
« Reply #10 on: November 12, 2008, 04:10:07 AM »

I've been away for a week, so this is the first chance I've had to thank everyone for anwering my query. As usual, you've all given of your time freely and helped me enormously.

So - many thanks.
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