Top 4 Movies and Gun Blunders

You know what they say: You can’t believe everything you see on TV. That’s knowledge to keep in hand, for while the folks in Hollywood do have a wonderful flair for the dramatic, no one has ever accused them of being realistic.

Carrying and shooting guns is serious business. It’s crucial that every gun owner learn safe practices from the right sources—and that source does not generally include something you see in your downtown theater. Let’s consider a few Hollywood gun blunders and discuss why they’re such bad practices.

1. Shooting without Hearing Protection!—One entertaining shooting scene comes from the movie Mr. and Mrs. Smith starring Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. They’re a married couple, but each is a spy for a competing consortium. To make a long story short, they end up resolving their differences with a shootout, against each other, in their otherwise quiet suburban home. While Brad planned ahead and fought his spy-bride with a suppressed pistol, Angelina blasted away at spy-boy Brad with a 12-gauge shotgun.

You know it’s Hollywood when, after a big shootout, you never hear the characters saying, “Wait? What? I can’t hear you!” Yeah, I know, Brad and Angie wouldn’t have looked nearly so sexy wearing earmuffs and safety glasses, but that doesn’t give us real-life shooters a pass.

If you’ve ever shot indoors, it’s loud even with hearing protection. Outside shooting isn’t much better and often worse, depending on the firearm and caliber. Let’s be clear: Without hearing protection, each and every shot you endure—and this is whether you shoot on an indoor range or outside—may cause cumulative or permanent hearing loss. Always, always wear hearing protection, indoor range to pheasant field, whitetail deer stand to skeet range, .22-caliber to .50-caliber and everything in between.

2. The dramatic slide rack!—My all-time favorite action in a movie or TV show is the dramatic slide rack. This happens when an actor is about to enter an action-packed scene. You know what I’m talking about. They strike a “tactical” pose, do a sexy hair toss and then rack the slide of their pistol.

So what’s with all the slide racking? The answer is simple. Hollywood directors need to create an audible cue that informs viewers to pay attention, because something really cool is about to happen.

In the real world, most modern guns are carried with a round in the chamber and the gun’s safety on. While there are some legitimate reasons not to carry this way (and while some older guns, such as older single-action revolvers should not be carried with a round in the chamber in front of the hammer), most modern guns are designed to be safely carried when loaded. (Always refer to the owner’s manual that came with your gun or contact your firearm’s manufacturer if you’re unsure about this.)

Given that most modern guns are carried with a round in the chamber (and the safety on), racking the slide would only serve to eject the cartridge already in the chamber. And if you’re in a situation where you’re having to defend yourself with your firearm, the last thing you want to do is waste ammo.

3. The Pants “Holster”—In Hollywood, actors often just stuff a loaded gun in the back of their perfectly tailored pants and complete all sorts of exciting action scenes without their gun falling onto the ground. When playing Jason Bourne, actor Matt Damon can run, jump and do the Hokey Pokey with a gun stuffed in his pants. Heck, even those lovable hit men, John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson from Pulp Fiction, successfully carried large guns in their waistbands.

In the real world, this is a terrible idea. Good gun holsters exist for two very good reasons. One, a holster holds a gun securely, keeping it under your direct control. Second, a good holster will protect the trigger of a handgun, thereby helping to prevent inadvertent discharge. There’s no other way to put this: Stuffing a gun in your waistband is asking for trouble. Don’t do it. As with the other problems listed here, ignore the action heroes and always use a holster. It’s safer for your and those around you. Besides, plenty of Hollywood characters used very stylish holsters. Just check out the Galco Gunleather museum sometime for a few examples.

4. Grips Gone Bad—Some of the most famous movie characters ever are the best examples of how not to grip your gun. Witness:

  • Daniel Craig’s James Bond character usually presents a proper two-handed grip that’s safe and very spy-like. However, you’ll also find examples of him sporting a “cup and saucer” grip when the director needs to make sure his cufflinks are visible in the frame.
  • Roger Moore’s iteration of Bond had the habit of having his supporting hand not on the gun, but rather on his firing hand’s forearm. He did it with that huge revolver in Live and Let Die, and he can be seen using the same grip with the diminutive Walther PPK in other scenes. Old school style perhaps?
  • Action star Denzel Washington uses the classic “cup and saucer” action pose on the movie poster for his flick with co-star Mark Wahlberg in the film 2 Guns.
  • Jack Bauer takes “cup and saucer” gripping to a whole new level in the TV series 24. He even manages to point his support hand index finger at his target from underneath the gun (kind of impressive, but not very tough looking)!

None of these grips are worth more than the Blue-ray disc they’re digitized on. They don’t support the gun and don’t aid in helping to manage recoil. Learn the proper grip for your gun from a certified instructor. It’s safe, it’s smart and that good-looking group you put in the target will be well worth forgoing the “Hollywood” grip.

I know the job of actors and directors is to provide entertainment, not teach the rest of us safe gun handling skills. In fact, as you become more experienced in your firearms handling skills, you’ll likely never look at actors and how they handle those prop guns in the same way again. Still all that entertainment will never provide a platform for the skills you need to be a successful and safe marksman. Where can you go?

Well, you’ve already found one of your best resources for all things shooting and gun safety, the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s website,

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