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Basic Firearm/Guns Knowledge For Roleplayers

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Fletchawk

Clever thoughts mean nothing unless acted upon.
Disclaimer
This is a basic informational post aimed to help Roleplayers add a little realism to the fictional world their characters interact with. The information below is NOT intended for use in a non-virtual environment.

Introduction
Salutations!,

Firearms can make wonderful additions to stories, whether they are used as props, plot tools, or to help add a little flavor to a character. I decided to write this mostly because I found myself mumbling "That's not how guns work." to the point it was a little discomforting. I'm not saying these people are bad Roleplayers, far from it actually. It just feels off when you see these beautiful and well written passages that contains firearms and the details about the firearms involved seem glossed over, ignored, or misinformed. So if you're reading this that means you probably agree in some sense and want to inform yourself and expand your versatility as a Roleplayer. Now, keep in mind I'm simplifying a lot of this information for the sake of me not writing for days on end and to not waste too much of your time.

If you have any questions, comments, corrections, additions, or criticism, you are more than welcome to PM me or leave a comment below.

The Truth about Guns
In this section, I'll address the most fundamental facts about firearms. There will always be those special exceptions out there but they are few and far between.

1. Guns affect the senses! - What a lot of people don't realize is that guns can leave a distinct and lingering smell when fired. The muzzle flash can quite blinding at night as well. Oh, and guns are noisy. Yes, everyone thinks they knows this. In truth, most guns are loud enough to leave your ears ringing and partially if not completely deaf for most of the day, just from few shots in an outside area and this is effect is magnified when in an enclosed area. Prolonged unprotected exposure to the sounds of gunfire will often permanently damage hearing.

2. Guns are precision tools! - This means that in order to hit something reliably that is at any reasonable distance(farther than 10ft) will require no small amount of training and practice, even more so for a smaller target, at greater distances, and moving targets. This concept applies to most ranged combat.

3. Guns can hurt! - I'm not just talking about whatever the firearm happens to aimed at. For the most part, I mean a firearm's recoil, as in, firing a gun has physical effect upon the body of the shooter. This aspect isn't very well portrayed in movies or videogames. While this can range from a minor kick to literally knocking a person on their ass, it always noticeable when it happens and can take it's toll on the body regardless of how experienced or hardened a person is.

4. Guns are not perfect tools. - Like most tools, guns work most of the time. Guns can misfire, jam, or just plain break, not to the point where it's worrisome but it does happen. This becomes more likely as wear and tear sets in. Drop a gun in the mud and it's probably going to jam.

5. Guns don't Insta-Kill. With the exception of the brain, which is a relatively small target, it's entirely possible that a few of those baddies that you're mowing down are going to get a couple shots off even after riddling their bodies with hot lead. Remember, good guys double tap.

General Types of Firearms

Here I'll list the types of firearms that are used in modern times. Keep in mind that this list simplified to help stream line the information. I'll mention the ranges that the types are usually used for and the amount of ammunition that they typically hold.

Handguns
The handgun is designed to be held with one or both hands and is primarily used for self-defense or as a secondary weapon. The most common types are semi-automatic pistols and revolvers. Handguns are generally used in a close range, up to 25yds. Semi-automatic pistols usually hold from 9 to 17 while a revolver has 5 to 10.

Shotguns
The shotgun is known for it utility as a single gun fire a variety of 'shells' without having to modify the gun. Capable of unleashing a 'spread' of numerous projectiles from just one shell; the optimal range of can vary with the type of shell used though it is usually 20-75 yds. Most common shotguns can carry 2 to 8 shells.

Rifles
The rifle is a versatile firearm that has so many subtypes that there is one for just about any situation. While rifles were initially intended for long range engagements, most modern rifles are used 30-600yds and specialized rifles have ranges reaching well over 1000 yds. Rifles normally carry 5-30 rounds pending what it's used for and the size of the round.

Automatic Variations
This category is the most vast as there are automatic versions of every type of gun along with the Submachine and Assault Rifle. So why am I throwing them all in one category? Frankly, because you'll never see them in hands of an average joe since most first world countries have banned them and those that haven't, are very restrictive with legal ownership.


Common Types of Ammunition
Gun don't run on magic. I know they could in some worlds but not these. All guns require ammunition! It sucks, I know, but makes those little bits of metal actually worth something. Most of the ammunition's names will be simplified to make them easier to remember.

Handgun Ammo
.22lr - "Twenty-two", also used in rifles.
.38 Spec. - "Thirty-eight Special"
5.7x28mm - "Five Seven"
9mm - "Nine Mil" Most handguns use this ammo.
.357 Magnum - "Three Fifty-seven Mag"
.380 ACP - "Three Eighty"
.40 S&W - "Forty"

.44 Magnum - "Forty-four Mag"
.45 ACP- "Forty-five"


Shotgun Shells
Birdshot - 100-700 pellets pending size of shot. Wide spread.
Buckshot - 8 to 18 larger pellets.
Slug - a single very large 'pellet'
Non-Lethal - Various number of small rubber balls.
Various - You name it, someone has made it.


Rifle Ammo
.22lr - "Twenty-two"
.223 - "Two two three"
5.56x45mm "Five five six"
7.62x39mm - Made popular by the AK47
.308 - "Three oh eight" Popular round for marksmen.
7.62x54mmR - "Russian"
.30-06 - "Thirty aught six"



The Finer Details

The Gear
Holsters - Why holsters when you have perfectly good pockets? Ever wonder how all that change in your couch gets there? It ain't gnomes. Bottom line is that stuff falls out of your pockets and you don't want it to be a firearm. Besides, holsters are awesome! What's a better feeling than knowing exactly where your lead spitter is? Only one, the fact that you look badass with it on! On a serious note, you use holsters to keep your handgun secure and yet readily accessible. There's also holsters for storing spare mags for your guns. Nifty, huh.

Slings - These are for those bigger guns like rifles and shotguns. There's different kinds of slings, sure. But the concept is the same, slings make it a lot harder for you to lose your gun since it's physically attached to you. Because god forbid you trip over some random gnome and your Shotgun+6 skids into a thermal vent or your friend thinks it would be funny to drop kick you down a hill. Huge time saver, trust me. Plus, you can be like "Look Ma! No hands!"

Ballistic Armor - Two things I need to stress about ballistic armor. First, that vest you're wearing is made to stop first couple of bullets from turning you into swiss cheese. After that, you might as well be playing russian roulette with yourself. Second, It hurts like a motherf***er. Like getting jabbed with a drumstick really hard. If you really want to stop the baddies from filling you with lead, find cover.
On a side note, if your character is wearing a rig heavier than a concealable ballistic vest and you're here looking for answers, you may have bitten off a bit more than you should have.


Fancy Stuff - I'm talking about the heavy duty tactical items like MOLLE rigs, plate carriers, helmets, and anything else that's tactical/mil-spec. I seriously suggest you research this stuff yourself, because there is a LOT of information out there on it and it goes way beyond the basics I'm trying to lay down here.

The Weight of Things
The Overview - Main thing here is to remind people all this stuff has weight. Some of it might not weigh much, but it can add up. Normal setups usually include a holster, handgun, a spare mag or two, and maybe a concealed vest is going to weigh 5-10 lbs on top of everything else. Add in a rifle or shotgun plus its ammo and you can triple the weight of that, easy. There is a reason why people don't normally walk around loaded for bear. Stuff is heavy. Regular cops wear roughly 20 lbs of gear while a soldier usually has at least 80 lbs when loaded up.

The Guns - Fully loaded, handguns weigh from 10 oz. to 3.5 lbs. Shotguns and rifles usually run about 6-9 lbs. Handguns generally weigh about the same a liter of water and the rifles and shotguns weigh about as much as gallon of water. There is a reason why firearms are used to augment melee attacks, they add weight. Added weight does more damage and you don't have to scuff your knuckles.

The Ammo - Let's keep it simple yeah? Loaded handgun mags can weigh about half of a pound, rounded up. Loaded rifle 30-count mags are usually bit over a pound and 10 shotgun shells weigh a pound. Also keep in mind that having reserve ammunition takes up space.

The Gear - Holsters and slings don't generally weigh much when they aren't attached to firearms, so don't worry about it too much. Now a concealed ballistic vest weight 3 or 6lbs. Keep in mind that vest is going to make you nice and warm, which makes it uncomfortable to wear for extended periods of time.

Nuances
Mags or Clips? - Same thing, right? Nope. A magazine, or mag, is that little box that holds and feeds the bullets into the chamber of the gun for you so you don't have to feed them into your gun by hand. It's a nifty system. Now back during the first half of the 20th century, most countries used rifles that had internal magazines. This made it a pain in the ass to load the rifle as you can imagine. Fortunately the bullets could be stored on these special strips of metal called clips. This helped speed up the loading process, but was eventually replaced by the detachable magazine system that is seen widespread today.

That recoil though. - I skimmed over this earlier, but firing a gun exerts a force upon someone's body. This is called recoil and it can vary wildly from gun to gun. While the gun has a little bit to do with this, the main source is in the ammunition it fires. Most handguns and rifles that use smaller calibers of ammunition have a little recoil that is countered with a firm grip and aren't going to affect you much. Shotguns and rifles that use a larger calibers of ammo are going have a lot more kick that you'll definitely be feeling the aftereffects of, especially if you don't brace them properly.

Silencers! - That's right. That special little item that makes guns dead silent for those super sneaky stealth missions! Not really. They do muffle the noise of the bullet being fired but it's still noticeably there as it does nothing for when the bullet that breaks the sound barrier the moment it leaves the suppressor. No matter what it is, anything that breaks the speed of sound is going to make a very loud noise. While there is subsonic ammunition that doesn't break the sound barrier, their range tends to be inferior to regular ammunition.

Bullet wounds! - Oh no! You've been shot! What happens next? Well unless it hits bone or it's a particularly slow moving bullet or heavy pellet, you might feel a little tug where the projectile hit. This is quickly followed by the feeling of red hot poker being jabbed into you. By the time you've realized you've been shot, the bullet is either passed on through or is sitting somewhere in that nice little new hole of yours. Pending on how many blood vessels it hit, blood is either going to oozing slowly or flowing free. Generally the closer the hole is to your heart, the more you're gonna bleed. Bleed too much and your body is going into shock. This is when you become a useless lump of meat that is barely conscious. Loss of consciousness and death aren't that far away. This how most people are killed by firearms. Bleeding out. So patch those holes, people!


Resources
Here, I will jot stuff down that I find or others may suggest. I will always encourage you to be curious and research anything you don't know about, not just firearms.

The Golden Rules of Gun Safety - I'm adding the rules of gun safety not as an attempt to force one to adhere to them, since there are no true 'accidents' while roleplaying, but as a reminder that most people/characters that utilize firearms on a regular basis will know them. Most of it might be common sense, but it would likely still affect the mindset of a character who interacts with guns regularly versus someone who doesn't. So it's more of a character building aspect one may want to keep in mind.
  1. Always treat the gun as loaded.
  2. Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.
  3. Always keep your finger straight and off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
  4. Always keep the gun unloaded until you are ready to use it.
  5. Never point the gun at anything you don’t intend to destroy.
  6. Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.
  7. Learn the mechanical and handling characteristics of the gun you are using.
  8. Always use proper Ammunition.
  9. Be sure the barrel is clear of obstructions before loading and shooting.
  10. If your gun fails to fire when the trigger is pulled, hold your shooting position for several seconds; then with the muzzle pointed in a safe direction, carefully unload the gun.
  11. Don’t rely on the gun’s safety to keep it from firing.
  12. Be aware of your surroundings when handling guns so you don’t trip or lose your balance and accidentally point and/or fire the gun at anyone or anything.

GURPS Tactical Shooting - While Dice-based, this has a lot information for using firearms for Roleplaying. If you're willing to take the time to read 87 pages of pure information.
 
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The timing on this could not be any more perfect, thank you. I'm about to play a dude who Uses Gun but my knowledge of guns is basically "can identify a gun is a gun. that gun over there is probably a shotgun, I know this from video games."

I was planning on doing a bit of research and this primer certainly helps a ton. Thank you again! :bishiesparklesl:
 

Communist

Making Marx proud since... Never
You sir, have won a place in my bookmarks. Because you said the truth and because I am not a guns geek so this will be helpful.
 
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Bacon is fluffy

Wut'n th'name of davy jonez lockr is uh sall-add?
What about knock back? What about the weight of ammunition and realistic amounts one can carry with them for each of these categories?
 

Fletchawk

Clever thoughts mean nothing unless acted upon.
What about knock back? What about the weight of ammunition and realistic amounts one can carry with them for each of these categories?
I was working on expanding on the types of guns, but that is also a great idea. Which just led to the idea of adding a separate part about holsters and MOLLE rigs. Thank you. Are talking about the general recoil or when a bullet initially impacts a target?
 

Umbrie

Adorable Little Nymph
bullets are heavy and cumbersome to carry. sorry, but i don't care what you did in your favorite Video game, you are not carrying 15 full reloads for your AK-47 strapped on a bandolier while also wearing a full set of body armor.where the hell do you find places on your body to strap 15 reloads in easy access? 1 or 2 reloads might be reasonable.
 

Fletchawk

Clever thoughts mean nothing unless acted upon.
bullets are heavy and cumbersome to carry. sorry, but i don't care what you did in your favorite Video game, you are not carrying 15 full reloads for your AK-47 strapped on a bandolier while also wearing a full set of body armor.where the hell do you find places on your body to strap 15 reloads in easy access? 1 or 2 reloads might be reasonable.
I totally agree. Bullets are deceptively heavy, especially with the magazine. A standard 30rd mag can weigh 1-1.5lbs each pending on what the mag is made of. It adds up. While training and fortitude will ultimately determine how much one can carry, I find 8 is the realistic max on soldier, 10 if he's Captain America status. But you are correct, most sensible people would only carry a mag or two on a regular basis.
 
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Bacon is fluffy

Wut'n th'name of davy jonez lockr is uh sall-add?
I was working on expanding on the types of guns, but that is also a great idea. Which just led to the idea of adding a separate part about holsters and MOLLE rigs. Thank you. Are talking about the general recoil or when a bullet initially impacts a target?
Sweet, can't wait to see it when it's finished. Tag me once yer done. I was talking about general recoil, like the differences between using a rifle, a handgun, a sniper rifle, and a shot gun. But the bullet initially hitting a target, which I know is based on caliber, sounds really neat as well. :)
bullets are heavy and cumbersome to carry. sorry, but i don't care what you did in your favorite Video game, you are not carrying 15 full reloads for your AK-47 strapped on a bandolier while also wearing a full set of body armor.where the hell do you find places on your body to strap 15 reloads in easy access? 1 or 2 reloads might be reasonable.
I know...U.S army soldier lugg like 80 pounds of crap in the desert sun lol. But I thought it'd be a good section to know what's reasonable. I'm sure carrying a clip for an assault rifle is different than carrying shot gun shells.
 

TheRockInception

You're literally looking at a $2,000 meme machine
Sweet, can't wait to see it when it's finished. Tag me once yer done. I was talking about general recoil, like the differences between using a rifle, a handgun, a sniper rifle, and a shot gun. But the bullet initially hitting a target, which I know is based on caliber, sounds really neat as well. :)

I know...U.S army soldier lugg like 80 pounds of crap in the desert sun lol. But I thought it'd be a good section to know what's reasonable. I'm sure carrying a clip for an assault rifle is different than carrying shot gun shells.
"Clip"
RAEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE
CLIP DOES NOT EQUAL MAGAZINE
RAEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

*more autistic screeching*
 

Umbrie

Adorable Little Nymph
I know...U.S army soldier lug like 80 pounds of crap in the desert sun lol. But I thought it'd be a good section to know what's reasonable. I'm sure carrying a clip for an assault rifle is different than carrying shot gun shells.
most of that 80 pounds of crap is their provisions for prolonged missions. and the majority of it is consumable items like food, water and emergency medical supplies. and when they carry the full kit, it still slows them down. it isn't a mountain of spare reloads, which is why most soldiers are also trained in melee combat in addition to ranged. they aren't supermen. they merely pack a lot of extra food and water for the long haul.
 

augmentedspartan

Surviving in the Metro
bullets are heavy and cumbersome to carry. sorry, but i don't care what you did in your favorite Video game, you are not carrying 15 full reloads for your AK-47 strapped on a bandolier while also wearing a full set of body armor.where the hell do you find places on your body to strap 15 reloads in easy access? 1 or 2 reloads might be reasonable.
Sure you can. You just have to be creative.


This is a pretty good list. It's better to know the basics than to needlessly research all about a specific weapon. Since it's already been brought up, maybe you could include the differences between clips and magazines, which seem to always be confused. Another one could also be the difference between real suppressors and Hollywood ones, as well as how subsonic ammo works.
 

Fletchawk

Clever thoughts mean nothing unless acted upon.
Sure you can. You just have to be creative.


This is a pretty good list. It's better to know the basics than to needlessly research all about a specific weapon. Since it's already been brought up, maybe you could include the differences between clips and magazines, which seem to always be confused. Another one could also be the difference between real suppressors and Hollywood ones, as well as how subsonic ammo works.
This all sounds good, though I think subsonic ammo is more of a personal research thing for those that really find an interest in firearms. This is more of a lesson in the basics so there'll be less gun nut groans. :D
 

Fletchawk

Clever thoughts mean nothing unless acted upon.
Shameful bump...

I've been gone for a while and I'd like infect your minds with my guide.
 

rae2nerdy

Ultra Nerdy
Tutorials This might also be a good place for future guides. Those tend to be bumped less frequently so it might make your guide easier to reference if this section gets hopping.
 

Fletchawk

Clever thoughts mean nothing unless acted upon.
Tutorials This might also be a good place for future guides. Those tend to be bumped less frequently so it might make your guide easier to reference if this section gets hopping.
Thank you for the advice. How would I go about moving it there? Contact staff?
 

Daisie

Former Youngest Person Alive
Moderator
Friendly bump! This is a very useful guide.

May I suggest adding in the "Golden Rules of Gun Safety"?
 

LegoLad659

Neko Fairy Queen
I had no idea this was here. I know a gun enthusiast, so I knew some of this stuff already, but still, it's very cool to have all this information readily available like this! ^.^ Great job being both organized and comprehensive as well
 

Fletchawk

Clever thoughts mean nothing unless acted upon.
@Daisie
You know, it went through my head as I was writing this article. My thoughts were to not to over-complicate things for people who are not gun savvy. This is for same reason that video games don't introduce the "Golden Rules of Gun Safety". Because as realistic as you may want your RP to be, it's still a fantasy. So 'accidents' don't happen unless you want them to, thus I thought that adding in the safety aspect would be a bit frivolous.

That being said, I'll add it in as a reminder for character building uses. Thank you!

@LegoLad659
Thank you for your kind words!
 

Winter_Wolf

you had me at whiskey
Very nice.

I especially like the point about how bullets are not always a 1 hit instant kill, because that’s kind of the classic thing in movies/shows, that the good/bad guy shoots a guy once with a pistol and they die immediately (not John Wick usually IIRC lol. Then it’s at least twice)

I remember reading about a British NCO in Afghanistan who got shot through the NECK but apparently the round missed his spine, trachea, and major blood vessels there, so he kept giving orders and fighting until medevac arrived. Presumably this is far far far away from the norm where getting shot in the neck is concerned, but still. Crazy stuff.
 

Kazzy

Penthouse Pauper
I think my favorite thing I've ever seen in an RP was when a small teenage girl dual-weld 500 Magnums and hit every shot on moving targets at like, 50 feet
 

Fletchawk

Clever thoughts mean nothing unless acted upon.
@Winter_Wolf
Thank you!

I know, right?! People can be rather resilient. Especially when they have that good ol' adrenaline pumping through them.

@Kazzy
When I read that, I was like "Wait... Wut?" Was this girl, like, human? I mean, because that's a big round for a little girl. Like really big.
Those things got a LOT of umph behind them, to the point that they're not really fun to shoot because the amount force they inflict on the shooter and that's just using one with two hands.
What was she even shooting at that required such a powerful round?
 

Unchosen

A Sinister Character
I thought this guide was very well written and encompassed a big part about firearms, but I'd loved to have seen a bit about Light Machine Guns and how to operate them, as most people are very unaware as to how LMGs actually work.
 

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