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5 Gun Myths Dispelled

myths1If you are like me, you love watching exciting “Action” movies. Who doesn’t love a good movie scene with an exciting car chase and lots of explosions? Unfortunately, many times what we see in the movies is NOT what happens in real life. Firearms are no exception. In fact, many times Hollywood (and the public in general) gets firearms and how they really function completely WRONG.

So I thought I would take a look at 5 myths or beliefs on firearms that are either erroneous, or at the least very misleading.

#1 – Silencers are whisper quiet

If you are a James Bond fan, you have seen our hero sneak into some fortified castle, and use his Walter PPK with a silencer to quietly take out the bad guys. Sadly, this Hollywood depiction of a silencer is not accurate.

Silencers reduce a portion of the noise, this being the pressure wave from the expanding propellant gases. It does NOT reduce the noise of the sonic crack a supersonic round creates when fired.

To put this into layman’s terms, a typical supersonic round fired from a commercially available firearm is between 140-190 decibels. Variables such as caliber, barrel length, etc can change this some. But typically, this is the most common range for the sound made from firing a gun.

A silencer reduces the noise level only down to 120 to 140 or so dB. And if you think subsonic rounds are much quieter, think again. Commercially available silencers used in conjunction with subsonic rounds still produce between 110-130 dBs.

To give you some perspective, most ambulance sirens produce around 100-120 dBs.  And since hearing damage/loss can start at around 85 dBs (sustained), it is still recommended that you wear ear protection when firing a gun with a silencer.

So sorry folks, silencers do NOT reduce the sound of your firearms down to that of a barely audible whisper. They make firearms quieter, but not THAT quiet!

#2 – Fully automatic firearms seemingly fire forever

Hollywood LOVES fight scenes. And as the above video shows, changing magazines and reloading is for wussies!

I have fired a fully automatic Colt M4 carbine. I emptied a 30 round magazine in less than 4 seconds. Several members of our SWAT team have been issued fully automatic M4 carbines by our department. And while they are fun to shoot, every single officer keeps their rifle set at semi-auto. These firearms are much more accurate and easier to control when fired at the semi-auto selection.

At full auto, you are going to go through a full magazine much faster than you realize! And the barrel is going to heat up rather quickly. But that is something you won’t ever see in the movies!

And it isn’t just fully automatic rifles and machine guns either that the movies don’t get right. Hollywood and TV seem to portray firearms has having an infinite amount of ammunition. Someone, please tell me where I can purchase one!!

#3 – One shot/one kill

Let me qualify this. I am NOT talking about military or law enforcement sniper shooting. I’m talking about realistic scenarios where you have to use your firearm to defend yourself. More often than not, one bullet is not going to kill your adversary. It may not even stop them or slow them down.  You won’t see huge amounts of blood splatter, and many times, you may not even realize you are hitting your target.

The video below illustrates this point. This video takes place in Bali, but the number of rounds it took to kill him are staggering. Be warned, it is a bit graphic.

Now add in the fact that there is a good chance that, under huge amounts of duress, you may not even hit your target at all.

A Rand study was conducted on police officers in New York City involved in shootouts. The study found at only 18% of the rounds fired by police actually hit their intended target. Less than 1 in 5 bullets found their mark. (If the suspect did not fire at police, the hit rate went to 30%).

In the end, you will most likely need multiple rounds on target to be truly effective. When you go to the range and practice, try getting off several rounds on target right in a row. Practice that and other multi fire techniques often enough that it becomes ingrained in your muscle memory.

#4 – Shotguns; Just point in the general direction and fire

I see this myth on many gun forums and on social media. Folks, this is simply NOT true. ESPECIALLY in a home defense type scenario.

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Buck shot can be VERY effective against targets. Double 00 buck (12 gauge) is essentially nine .32 rounds flying in your direction. OUCH!

However, all shot has what is termed “spread shot”. This is the distance the shot spreads out as it travels in flight. This can vary quite a bit based upon factors such as the type of shotgun (12 gauge, 20 gauge, etc), the manufacturer of the shotgun you are using, if you are using a choke, and the type and manufacturer of the buckshot.

That being said, most buckshot must travel at least 5 to 7 yards from the muzzle before it begins to spread. That is at least 15-21 feet. (I have a 12 gauge Benelli Supernova that will keep a group of 00 buck the size of your fist at 15 yards, and the size of a softball at 20 yards.)

When you consider that most self-defense type fire fights occur at under 10 yards (under 30 feet), your buckshot will essentially be the size of a tennis ball (or smaller) at that range. That leaves a lot of room for error; a lot of room to miss.

In reality, you need to aim your shotgun just as you would aim any other firearm.

police#5 – You don’t need an AR-15 because it is an offensive, military style rifle

I have actually had this debate with a left leaning friend of mine. He believed even the police do not need the AR because it is an “offensive” weapon. We should have something more “defensive” in nature.


Stop and think about that for a minute…and try not to fall over laughing.

I explained to my friend that we as police officers have what we call a “Use of force continuum“. This is the amount of force that may be used by the police in trying to affect an arrest or to defend themselves and others from harm. We are trained to use only the force necessary. Despite what the media tells you, we do NOT wake up each morning hoping we get to “kick ass” or shoot people. Just the opposite.

We took an oath, to protect and defend the population that we serve. It is an oath that most officers I know take very seriously. Yes, there are a few “Bad apples” (like this guy) out there. And most cops will tell you that it is those “Bad apples” that make all other police officers’ job that much more difficult. But in the end, we try to preserve life, not take it.

When it comes to firearms training, everyone outside of the military is taught to shoot to stop the threat. And you are taught to shoot for the largest target area, ie center of mass. That is where the vital organs are, and is the surest way to stop the threat of your attacker. As I mentioned above, typically one shot is not going to be enough to stop the attack. It generally takes multiple rounds on target.

That is why police carry rifles like the AR 15, and have “high capacity” magazines in our Glocks or Springfields. These firearms are accurate, and have the ability to get multiple rounds towards the bad guys. While the gun control groups like to view these weapons as offensive, in reality they are just as defensive as they are offensive. In other words, all firearms are both offensive and defensive in nature.

For more on why the AR-15 is a wonderful and popular rifle, read this article here.

Something else to understand is that once firearms comes into play, at that point our primary goal shifts from preserving that suspect’s life to instead protecting our own life. Police have batons,  pepper spray, tasers, and even non lethal bullets. But when the incident crosses the line from non lethal or “less” lethal to “poop has hit the fan”, and our personal safety and that of the general public is in danger, firearms are used for deadly force.


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The same is true for the general public.

I hope you found this informative. Are there other gun myths that you want to dispel? Tell us about them in the comments section below.

Stay safe out there!

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2 Responses to 5 Gun Myths Dispelled

  • Hi James,

    I remember firing our M-16’s in basic training. We mostly fired our weapons on semi, but a couple times we did use auto. We were taught to use 3 or 4 round bursts. Even at that, however, my barrel became extremely hot.

    As for one shot, one kill, every hunter knows that when you shoot a deer, you’re probably going to have to chase it a few hundred yards before it actually dies. Why would a human be any different? In fact, since most males weigh more than an average deer, reason would dictate it would take even longer for a man to succumb to his wounds from being shot. Thanks for an awesome article!


    • Oh trust me…if we could have 3 round burst we would absolutely love it. 🙂 But unfortunately, we do not get that option.

      And you are spot on about the deer. People see all kinds of crazy stuff in the movies and think that is how it really is.

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