The Difference Between Guns in Movies and Guns in Real Life

Explore the many ways Hollywood takes creative license when depicting guns in movies.

John McClane, the Terminator, even Neo, they all have one thing in common—they look really badass shooting guns. Here's the thing though, in real life, the feats they perform, from shooting two micro uzis at the same time to blasting away a bad guy with a Beretta six inches from one's ear, are all kind of, well, super fake and impossible. How super fake and impossible? Well, take a look at these videos that explore common myths and misconceptions about guns that many of us have learned from watching Hollywood movies.

This first one comes from Corridor Crew:

This video from Watch Mojo goes a little deeper into the actual science behind real-life firearms and Hollywood firearms:

I know what you're going to say, and I get it. Guns in movies aren't really intended to behave the way they would in the real world because if they did, every villain making their escape in a car would get away scot-free since you can't explode a fuel take with a bullet. And that's pretty boring. We want to perceive our action heroes as unbreakable strongmen who've never heard of the term "kickback" let alone had their wrists obliterated by one. We want to feel the anxiety and anticipation after a bad guy unloads a billion rounds on a good guy who has just performed a perfect swan dive into a body of water. Is he gonna resurface as a corpse full of holes or an impenetrable force that must now be reckoned with?

So, yes, Hollywood uses guns to ramp up the action and show how strong its heroes are (and how weak gas tanks are, apparently). Is this an issue? I suppose if you get all of your information about guns from what you've seen in movies then, yes, I guess it is. I mean, this wasn't intended to be a PSA about gun safety—really, it's just interesting to look at the vast differences between real guns and movie guns—but, I feel like I have to say...please don't pick up a gun and shoot at your buddy who's ducking behind a car like they do in the movies. You will shoot them and you will be very sorry.     

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Your Comment


In a country where you can buy guns at Walmart it’s totally legit to point out those differences. Unfortunately the kids playing cop versus gangster with his dad’s gun probably doesn’t follow nofilmschool... if you try to look at the issue from a neutral standpoint there’s a lot of stuff in movies just not behaving like in the real world: kissing, sex, flying people :)

June 24, 2018 at 12:44AM, Edited June 24, 12:46AM


Let's make something clear here; Hollywood gets things wrong in everything, not just about guns,

June 24, 2018 at 6:50AM


Except for the mechanical sound of the slide moving back and forth on a semi-auto, pistols can be totally silent when using a suppressor if the bullets are traveling at sub-sonic speeds. Some cartridges, in actuality, are loaded with lighter charges of powder for this very purpose.

Revolvers can not be silenced (suppressed), at all, because the expanding gases not only exit the muzzle but, also at the gap between the cylinder and the barrel.

Gun trivia: What's the difference between a pistol and a revolver?
In a pistol, the chamber and barrel are one piece.
In a revolver, the chamber (cylinder) and barrel are 2 pieces.

June 24, 2018 at 7:52AM

Richard Krall

"Can you use a gun to pierce your nose?" ... that could only have been written by a "Gender Studies" major.

June 24, 2018 at 10:25AM

Robert W.

Fun video and a frustration we all have with movies, well...those of us who have science and or shooting backgrounds! ... one point, water.... bullets will penetrate water to depth ... lower caliber more than higher caliber (again physics) ..

June 25, 2018 at 8:31AM, Edited June 25, 8:31AM