How many times has a Hollywood protagonist screwed a silencer onto his pistol, cocked the hammer a few times, and delivered a perfectly silent shot or ten into the bad guy, causing him to fall backward and knock over a storage unit full of lead weights? There is so much wrong with that premise, and yet we see it all the time. It’s given many people a poor perspective on firearms, how they really work, and their capabilities. I’m here to help dispel these myths and improve the realism in your writing!
1. Guns are loud!
Crazy loud. Without any ear protection, a gun battle is louder than a rock concert. The cartoonish image of somebody’s ears bleeding after a loud sound is almost accurate if a gun battle were to erupt inside a building. Decibel levels of a gunshot can be 140dB, which is more than four times as loud as a common rock concert (115dB). (See this breakdown for more info.) It is worth adding, though, that when adrenaline (and even morphine) levels are running high during a fight-for-your-life scenario, strange things have happened where (in addition to expected things like tunnel vision) gunshots feel much, much softer, so it’s conceivable for a conversation to take place right after a gun shot. However, this is incredibly unlikely.
2. “Silencers” aren’t.
They’re also more formally (and accurately) referred to as suppressors. Technically speaking, they suppress the concussive shock waves that are released from the barrel in front of the exiting bullet. Suppressors tend to greatly reduce the “boom” associated with gunfire, but the sounds of the actual explosion of gunpowder and all the metal moving parts on the gun are not really decreased at all. Either way, it’ll be very loud. For example, most suppressors on the market will bring a .22lr round from 160 dB (loud enough to rupture an eardrum) to about 120 db (a rock concert or jet engine).
The students’ lounge had It Must Have Been The Mistletoe on infinite repeat. Always the editor, I was thinking about some simple ways to fix this song. It was surprisingly easy: It Must Have Been the Missile TOW.
Defense Tech has an article on military exoskeletons. We haven’t reached the level of killer androids (yet), but strength-enhancement is interesting, too. (Also, if killer androids are in the works, exoskeletons will help programmers teach the androids how to move naturally, says one commenter).
This isn’t government-sponsored national service, but I think that twelve stitches and a hell of a lot of ass-kicking earn the tag.
A Tulsa newspaper reports that a Batman imposter walked into a grocery store and unsuccessfully tried to open fire. Then an airline mechanic tackled him from behind. Several minutes of unrelenting pounding ensued.
Web Gumbo provides a great picture of his unit mascot. You might wonder what a Marine mascot does. Deliver pep talks? Rally the fans? Please.
Agent Orange, our mutated alligator, says that “it’s not surprising that they turned to an alligator when they needed someone to scare and bond with Marines. Here you can see the gator playing Marco Polo with a Marine that is obviously enjoying the gator’s friendly and sociable company.”
Lash retorts retorts that “if the guy’s actually enjoying anything, it’s probably the thought that he will soon not be dangling over a watery grave.”
Sigh. Apparently the Office of Special Investigation’s Agent Orange is not the only federally employed Agent Orange. It appears the FBI also has one. The OSI’s Agent Orange, the free-wheeling reptile, has more.
Dr. Darpa: Virtually every Office of Special Investigations agent uses a firearm as his primary weapon, but the vast majority of our kills are executed with non-gun weapons.
Captain Carnage: Every one of the criminals we deal with has steel-like skin, dodges bullets like they’ve gone out of style, or both.
Dr. Darpa: Over the past twelve years, I’ve been modifying tank-mounted machine guns to compensate for those unusual characteristics. I have created a handgun so horrifically lethal that Congress has limited its sale to NATO countries.
Captain Carnage: You mean…
Dr. Darpa: The Western Cannon.
Captain Carnage: I thought it was a myth!
Dr. Darpa: Mythically deadly, perhaps. With a full mound of ammo, it weighs roughly half a ton. It has three rates of fire: “full automatic,” “wall of lead,” and “dodge this.”
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