In one of my fight stories, I've had the hero employ a shotgun loaded with Hornady 2 & 3/4 inch high brass shells in 00 Buck/TAP FPD at a range of less than 50 feet! My shooter is working undercover in a convenience store and is firing from a semi-concealed position behind beer coolers, and rests the business end of his semi-auto tactical shotgun on top of some beer cases
The bad guys were serial robbers. Finally they walk into a stakeout. My cop only starts shooting after he identified himself and then in a panic they shoot and kill the store clerk.
"The first gunman spins toward me and fires a pistol shot that careens off the top frame of the walk-in beer cooler. I squeeze the trigger on my Tact 4 shotgun and the round blasts his head into the front window. His brains stick on the broken shards of glass like bubble gum on the bottom of a juke joint bar stool......."
That's only the start of the shooting scene. It's in my "Rookie Police Officer Guide, Books One and Two". I really like the way my cover came out. If you look at it (over-all in color) the three black & white mugshots are the two Anglin brothers and their buddy that escaped from Alcatraz (never found). The rest of my book cover is a montage of police in action. I've sold quite a few of this series.
I'm now working on "Guide Book Three". My hero buys a Springfield high cap .40 S&W (15+1). I detail all the specs on the gun, including shooting it on an indoor range and then cleaning it. Later, he will use this gun in a big shootout. At this juncture, I have him going out on a hot date with a girl from Ireland. Yep. "Been there and done that!"
You don't have to take gun training to get the details right... Wikipedia will tell you everything you want to know about a particular gun or caliber or whatever. If you read a story about airplanes and the author describes the wings as "flapping", you'd throw the book away.
Last week I watched the premiere of a new TV series: "Longmire". The entire premise of the episode revolved around the murder being committed with a .45/70 rifle. The investigation revealed that[i] this caliber was only available in an antique Sharps buffalo rifle[/i], so Longmire was able to track the guy down as one of the few people in Wyoming who had an antique Sharps rifle. That's ridiculous because the .45/70 is available in a number of modern rifles and is in fact quite popular. I own a .45/70 and I know lots of other people who own .45/70's and none of those rifles are antiques. Every deer hunter in America knows what a .45/70 is, but the writers on this TV show didn't. That kind of mistake spoils a book (or TV show) for every gun owner.
It's not hard to get it right, whether the subject is guns or airplanes or drugs or women's fashion - just google the facts and use that knowledge.
I go by my guts. I do think that Hollywood is beginning to pay more attention to the minutiae of their weaponry. But what I have been reading is what I call "poor research" on the part of a writer. People don't have to know the brand or manufacturer of the gun unless it is relevent, for chrissakes.
When I write a fight scene I visualize it as if I am there in the thick of it. Lately, I have had to write them for my two latest books (historical fantasy), and they include horses. Since I used to ride horses when I was younger I draw from experience, not just my imagination. When I was younger I used to hang around stuntmen, too, so I know what works and what doesn't.
As a side note, I just watched "Mission Impossible III: Ghost Protocol", and found myself biting my knuckles every time Ethan Hunt went climbing. It's not just the special effects, it's the acting which carries the scene, and I was thoroughly entertained. That would not happen for the audience if the fight scenes are not choreographed correctly. The best films are always made with reality in mind, which is why many others come off as cheesy in an otherwise compelling plotline.
According to Wikipedia he used a modified 1892 Winchester caliber .44-40 carbine with a standard 20” barrel that was used on the set of The Rifleman appeared in basically two different style levers. The backwards round D style loop was used in the early episodes. Sometimes the rifle he used had a saddle ring.*
*This from the Wikipedia website.
At least The Rifleman knew that a rifle (or shotgun) is a far superior weapon in most situations over a handgun. Here is a quote I've seen many times over the years: "The only real purpose of a pistol is to fight your way back to the rifle you should never have dropped in the first place."
After I posted my remark I also checked it and I stand corrected. I've never put my writing hand to a Western, although I love the genre'. By the way, I also looked up the Sharps that Tom Selleck employed in "Down Under". Although he carried the paper powder charges on his belt for the movie, he actually fired metallic cartridges and the repos have the same thing. The old .45-110 meant 110 grains of powder in a paper slip.
A buddy of mine bought the "Quigley Rifle" and it's the most barrel heavy thing I ever lifted. He paid major bucks for it. The fancy optional rear sight alone was more than 300 hundred! If you ever fired this rifle, you would want some kind of rest for any hope of hitting the target, unless you have 16 inch arms!
The thing about the 1911 Colt automatic is that it was adopted after a young Lt. died trying to halt a Filipino's charge at him. He put several shots from his .38 in the Filipino but still got killed. The .45 has stopping power. Problem is the old army guns. Pick one up and shake it. Does the slide rattle? That is why it has been reproduced by other manufacturers to higher standards.
The show 'Wanted: Dead or Alive' is where the rifle did not fire the 45/70, but the actor carried the 45/70 round on his belt because they were a lot bigger and looked better on TV.
There was an episode of Miami Vice where a professional hit man was sent to kill a long list of men, including the main character of the show. The first man he killed was being secretly watched by the police and had body guards. He killed the mob boss as he sat in a limo in the parking lot of a motel and his guards with a shotgun. One undercover cop managed to get there (from across the street) before the guy got away and pointed a revolver at him, telling him to drop the shotgun. The hit man drops the gun and raises his hands. Before the cop can react, he pulls a 1911 and puts three rounds in the cop so fast the cop never gets a round off.
The guy who did that was not an actor. He was a champion combat handgun shooter. While it is not likely to get by with that in real life (the cop would get a round off, but might miss), he made it look real on a show that was so silly at times you had to turn off your BS meter to watch it. That guy was really that fast! If you have ever watched the best combat shooters compete, you would know what I mean. They can shoot six targets so fast it looks and sounds like a submachine gun. In fact, they are shooting FASTER than most submachine guns. They can reload a 1911 before the empty from the last round they fired hits the ground and be shooting again. Most US cops cannot draw and shoot a target twice in less than two and a half to three seconds. The average cop (and, yes, there are champion shooters in law enforcement) would not have a chance against these shooters. The only telling question would be if the champion shooter has had any tactical training and the particular circumstances of the fight. Most have had tactical training because there are few pro shooters not interested in surviving a real fight.
This is an example of where using someone who actually knew how to use a gun brought a little reality to a show that almost never had any connection at all to reality. Writing about fighting needs that same touch of reality, especially if you want readers who know the difference to like your work. That is not to say you can’t have bigger than life characters, but the action and the use of the weapons needs to be real. You don’t want a character to miss at fifty yards with a Garand and then kill men at 500 yards with an M1 carbine. It’s more than just going to the Net and writing down the model number of a weapon. You have to know what that gun can do. Take the 45.70 that was mentioned on this thread. It happens to be popular in Alaska as a carry gun for bear protection because it can be loaded to over 4,000 ft/lbs, and that makes it a good bear stopper with heavy bullets. It also comes in light, small lever-action carbines that are easy to carry while fishing and camping in the wilderness. If you did not know that, you would not be able to weave that info into your story about a plane load of people lost in the Alaskan wilderness.
The US murder rate is at a 50 year low. DC's murder rate dropped by 50% in less than a year after the Supreme Court struck down their unconstitutional gun laws. California has strict gun laws and because of that, they have much higher than average violent crime rates. This is true all over the US.
I'm glad you started this post. I've actually been worrying about this very thing...
In my latest WIP, I have a 10 year old boy in a western with an injured left arm (he was shot). This is circa 1865.
He will be shooting someone at around 50 feet and inflicting a belly wound. He does it while hiding from the ground and is steadying the pistol on a large dirt clod. I know that guns are heavy, at least the ones I've held, but I don't know about old west guns. Also, I know there's a kick. What I don't know is if what I wrote is feasible.
My writer's group didn't think it sounded unreasonable, but I'd love to hear from people who would have the actual experience...