Technical question re: old load handgun kept in storage

Discussion in 'Technical Questions & Information' started by Cyn71, Aug 11, 2012.

  1. Cyn71

    Cyn71 New Member

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    Ah, I see - thank you.

    Even though my gun scene only lasts a short while, I needed to be sure of what I was writing before I actually put pen to paper on this. So, again, all of your comments have been extremely helpful. If it's OK I'd like to reference this forum in the acknowledgements section whenever I'm finished.
  2. Cyn71

    Cyn71 New Member

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    So probably what would make more sense is that I should cut down on how many times it goes 'click', 'click'. The initial writing is for it to happen 4-5 times, but that may be overkill and not realistic.

    Is there a strange sound when it goes 'click' on a bad bullet? What I mean is, does it sound like it's just clicking on an empty hole, or something else?
  3. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, four or five clicks if probably overkill.

    As to the sound, tell you the truth, since I wear both muffs and plugs when I'm shooting a pistol, I don't know what it sounds like. I just feel the hammer fall.

    I know there is no difference in the feel.
  4. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

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    Yes there is. You got me intrigued, so I went and found a fired (but still with the dead primer in it) 357 case and stuck it in an empty 357. When the hammer fell on the empty, the sound was not as loud. Slightly muffled. To make sure I wasn't imagining things, I spun the cylinder and closed it without looking, so I did not know where the empty case was, and then shot my way around the cylinder. I could tell by the sound when I hit the case. The empty chambers, in the cylinder, had a very slight echo-effect to them, while the fired case not only did not have the echo, but kinda sucked up the sound of the hammer falling.

    I was doing that with a 2 1/2" barrel. Barrel length has a lot to do with the sound. Maybe with a six-inch barrel I might not have been able to hear the difference.

    Either way, the sound difference is very slight, but it is there.
  5. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    I guess for suspense and dramatic effect you want the gun to "click" a couple of times, but IMHO, a revolver, say a Smith & Wesson Military & Police model .38 Special fully loaded with 50-60 year old ammo and stored as you described, would not go "click" at all. It would go bang six times if the trigger were pulled that often.

    Jim
  6. Cyn71

    Cyn71 New Member

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    Interesting experiment, Alpo.

    Based on Jim's comment, I keep going back and forth between having there be a couple rounds of bad ammo or just a cylinder that's partially loaded. I'm typing up the scene as we speak, so I'll be coming to a decision soon - a decision that I might change the more I think about it. LOL
  7. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    Well, movie writers always have the bad guy "die" at least 23 times to build up suspense! A couple of movies had the villainous corpse popping up and down like the coyote in the old cartoons.

    Jim
  8. Cyn71

    Cyn71 New Member

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    ha ha - yeah, I know. I don't want my scene to be that over the top for sure; hence my decision to consult with experts. :D
  9. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

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    I remember an episode of Police Story, with Lloyd Bridges being the experienced cop and Ryan O'Neil being the rookie in plainclothes (Ryan O'Neil being a young rookie - shows how long ago that was). Lloyd had him have the first chamber up, in his "six-inch", be empty. Since he knew it was empty, if he ever had to shoot somebody he'd just double-tap - click-pow. But if a bad guy got his gun and tried to shoot HIM with it, it would go click, confusing the bad guy and giving the cop time to "pull your two-inch and let him have it".

    Seemed kind of dumb to me, and I was in junior high. But if a screenwriter could dream it up, somebody probably did it. Maybe whoever stored the gun away thought like that, so the first one up is empty.
  10. Cyn71

    Cyn71 New Member

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    The scenario I'd dreamed up was that it's a personal firearm stored away by a previous owner decades earlier, discovered by the protagonist during a moment of crisis (the existence of the firearm was already known - but its whereabouts was not up until this scene) and grabbed out of desperation for lack of anything better.

    I preferred to have it that a couple rounds of ammo were 'bad' (just because of the age of the gun), but that it does eventually fire. I'm in a bit of a quandary though because, while a couple rounds of bad ammo is dramatic/suspenseful for storytelling purposes maybe it comes off as too unrealistic. So my other option was to have a couple of empty chambers, but now even that seems lame ...
  11. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    Why not just have the gun fire and forget about the suspense?

    Or (a common storage situation) the gun could be stored empty, but with a box of cartridges next to it. Then the hero would have to fumble around getting cartridges out of the box, loading the gun, maybe only getting a few rounds in the cylinder before the BG interrupts him, but the first chamber up is empty.... Suspense all over the place, loaded cartridges falling on the floor, and so on. Of course that would mean the hero would have to know enough about guns to know how to load that one, so he can't be a complete newbie. (For example, to open the cylinder in a Smith & Wesson, the thumb piece is pushed forward, but in a Colt it is pulled backward.)

    Jim
  12. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

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    Could be even more fun. Could be a S&W top-break, and there are four different ways to open them.
  13. Cyn71

    Cyn71 New Member

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    Me again! :-D

    I'm editing the scene I wrote earlier and had a couple new thoughts. If a safety has been turned on in an old 1930s/1940s S&W handgun/revolver (or if I changed it to a Remington - I like what someone mentioned about the 22s), what does it sound or feel like?

    Did they even have safety's in guns that old?

    I'm thinking I'll go with safety being on in the first attempt, bad primer(s) in the next one or two and then "bang".
  14. Cyn71

    Cyn71 New Member

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    I totally missed your latest comments, sorry about that.

    Originally, I've opted for the protagonist just reaching for the gun, not fumbling with bullets because he's actually just a teenager and doesn't really know the first things about guns. It's there, he grabs it out of desperation. (ETA: he is *not* the one who ends up firing successfully ... even though he does make the effort, I'm trying to avoid the scenario of a kid being the one who shoots the antagonist.)

    BUT - I do like the idea about him fumbling for the bullets. That adds to the drama. Because of the constraints of my storyline, it's rather important that there are one/or two false fires (safety on, bad primer, etc.). That's why I'm trying so hard to make it work.

    If the safety is on, does this affect loading the gun in any way?
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2012
  15. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

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    Safety.

    First, yes they had safeties in guns that old.

    Revolvers, except for a few European types, don't have safeties. This is a major "look at what that stupid author wrote" laugh causer, to pro-gun people. "Rick Shovel pulled his Smith and Wesson revolver and took the safety off".

    Unlike what it shows in the movies, generally a safety prevents the trigger and/or hammer from moving, so pulling the trigger with the safety on would result in nothing. Trigger don't pull. Nothing moves. No sound.

    Smith and Wesson, pretty much, only made revolvers back then. They made one little pocket auto, and it didn't sell really well, so they weren't around very long.

    The feel. When you pull the trigger on a gun that is ready to fire, you feel the trigger start to move. There is some resistance against your finger, and as you continue pulling the resistance gets greater (you are compressing a spring) until the trigger "breaks" and the hammer falls.

    When you pull the trigger of a gun that has the safety on, there is no movement at all. The trigger feels like it is a solid part of the gun, instead of a moveable part. You can pull 'til the veins bulge on your forehead and your nose starts to bleed, and it doesn't move.

    There were a few pistols, back then, that had what was called a "hammer-drop safety" (Walther springs immediately to mind). When the gun is cocked, the trigger is to the rear of the trigger guard. If you put the safety on, the trigger is locked in that position, a block moves in front of the firing pin, and the hammer falls, hitting the block so the gun does not fire. As long as the safety is on, the block is there, the gun won't fire, and the trigger is locked to the back of the trigger guard, and will not move. If, however, the hammer was down (the gun was NOT cocked), and you put the safety on, it still moves the block in the way, but now the trigger is disconnected. If you were to pull the trigger, it moves, but the spring pressure you are pushing against is less that what you would find on a ball-point pen. Nothing else will happen. The hammer does not move, the gun won't fire.

    That might be an idea. Have him find a Walther - either a PP or PPK, fully loaded and hammer down on a loaded chamber, but the safety on. He picks it up and pull the trigger a time or two, and nothing happens - the trigger kinda swinging freely - and the he looks, sees the safety lever, disengages it and the gun is now good to go, with from seven to nine shots, depending on gun and caliber.
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