So I have this problem. I started writing a book about 3 years ago. I knew nothing, and I mean nothing about guns, but I put them in the book anyway. My friend and author, Emily Goodwin, read it and was like umm…that’s a rifle not a shotgun,etc. I had my gun facts all wrong. I hadn’t even really bothered to research them really. It was a first draft, and I changed the info as soon as I knew it was wrong, but if Emily hadn’t read it and I had published it as it was there would have been TONS of misinformation about weapons in it. That taught me one thing. RESEARCH, RESEARCH,RESEARCH. Especially when it’s a topic you know nothing about. Like guns…
Guns, my goodness there are endless types, makes, models, calibers, and sizes of handguns. For my research I chose three different popular models of handguns. The photos are stock photos, and are as close to the guns I had in mind as I can get. I studied the Glock 17 Gen 4, The M1911, and the Beretta M9/92FS.
So why am I sharing this with the wider world of our readers? Because we have a problem friends. And it’s a small one, but it’s one that bothers me.
In the past year I have read numerous books that feature misinformation about guns. More specifically GLOCKS. I don’t know what it is about a Glock that draws authors to use them in their work. They’re your basic handgun. Except the fact that for most of the ’90’s they were featured in countless gangsta rap songs. So I guess Glocks=Street Cred? What’s the problem with this? The authors had their characters “reaching over and switching of the safety”. Ummm….Glocks don’t have manual safeties like that.
Reaching over with your other hand to switch off a safety sounds freaking cumbersome and awkward anyway. And with a Glock could be pretty dangerous if you happen to keep your finger on the trigger. Not all, but some books featured this action. Guns that do have frame or slide mounted safeties are thumb safeties meant to be switched on and off with, well, your thumb, so no reaching required.
Let’s talk about WHY authors who research Glocks might think they have an external safety that you turn on and off?
It’s because there are after market external safety kits that you can put on a Glock, with numerous youtube videos featuring this kit, but that’s not the way it comes, and if your characters are in a world surrounded by zombies why the hell would you put an after market mod on a gun? And how? It’s not like you just slap it on and *presto magic* external safety.
Alex, the main character in Ilsa J. Bick’s ASHES Trilogy carries a modified Glock with an external safety, but the safety was installed prior to shit hitting the fan. And Bick lets the reader know that the safety is not typical on a Glock.
Having a gun without safety mechanisms sounds dangerous right? A Glock DOES HAVE SAFETIES. They just aren’t external switches. The Glock features a trigger safety, and two internal safeties. A firing pin safety and a drop safety. Die hard Glock fans seem to be pretty anti-external safety, because of this. Trust me, I ventured onto some gun forums. :p
IF YOU PUT A MANUAL EXTERNAL SAFETY ON IT THEN PLEASE MENTION IT’S A MODIFIED GLOCK!!!
So, as far as I can tell, Glocks are used in books for their name recognition. From my research they also seem to be pretty reliable as well, there are a variety of calibers and sizes available and they are fairly light for a handgun. So all in all if you or your character is into guns they might choose this gun. It just depends on how comfortable they/you are in carrying a gun without the external safety. I will say if your character likes to keep their finger on the trigger while holding a gun maybe a Glock isn’t for them…
Honestly, I think when most of us non-gun people picture a gun we are thinking of a 1911.
The 1911 is a gun frame that has been around for over 100 years. It was designed by John Browing in 1911 (obviously). There are literally hundreds of variations, makes and models of the 1911. It was the official handgun of the Armed Forces for a long time. And I, personally, think they look way cooler than a Glock. (Although I could only find stock of basic looking 1911s). If you’re into guns check out the >>> Kimber Stainless Target II<<< *drool*! Actually Kimber has some great looking 1911s all around.
The 1911 does have an external safety. It’s mounted on the rear of the frame on the left side, although you can get an ambi safety which has the switch on the rear of the frame on both sides.
The 1911 also comes with a grip safety. Which means unless the gun is gripped properly it won’t fire. Some models feature a trigger safety, but not all. Really, whatever you can think of you can probably modify on the 1911.
Why isn’t the 1911 used in fiction? Again, I’m going out on a limb and I’m gonna say that authors don’t use them because the name doesn’t have that badass ring to it, and it doesn’t have that instant aha gun recognition to it.
“She pulled out her 1911, thumbed the safety off, and shot that deader in the fucking head!” may not sound as cool to some people as, “She pulled out her Glock, thumbed the safety off, and shot that deader in the fucking head!” Even though that latter statement is completely WRONG in most contexts to some it must sound…better? Maybe?
The 1911 is a heavy gun, and it’s magazine capacity is lower than that of the Glock. So that’s another draw back. You can get extended magazines for the 1911 though so never let that hold you back from using it if you’re a writer. Just make sure to mention it. Endless ammo drives people nuts almost as much as a safety on a Glock drives me nuts. Also, I should mention that you can get 1911s in multiple calibers. The .45 ACP is the caliber of a M1911.
If you’re looking to venture away from the Glock then another alternative for the Glock is the Beretta. The Beretta 92fs is pretty popular and is the civilian version of the M9 that the Armed Forces carry. Emily prefers Beretta’s I believe. Her character, Orissa, in the Contagium Series carries a M9, among other things. It’s the ZA a girl has to have more than one weapon.
Honestly, I think when people think of an external safety on a gun they’re picturing the Beretta safety on a 1911. It has the red dot y’all!!!
The safety on the Beretta is mounted on the slide rather than the frame like the 1911. The cartridge size (bullet) depends on the model, and Berettas come with a bigger magazine capacity than the 1911. They are also lighter than the 1911. Again, I’m not sure why authors choose the Glock over a Beretta. Especially if their character’s are former US millitary. An M9 would make sense. And they definitely come with a safety. I think Beretta has moved to adding plastic pieces to their guns which seems to turn a lot of gun enthusiasts off.
I briefly researched a few other handguns, and they are all equally usable. Glocks aren’t the only guns out there, although some people would have you believe otherwise.
Research matters, and doing the most research you can before you’re even through the first draft of a novel only makes it easier to edit later. It makes readers feel like an author thinks they are too stupid to know stuff and thangs when authors pass off poor research. I blame the current indie climate which is to write, edit, and release rapidly for the decline in solid research in more and more books. All of this information is stuff I have learned from research over the past few years. Hell, I took two days last weekend to compile the information for this post. Was it a time suck? Yes, but it was also fun. And I feel like I could navigate my way around a gun carrying character in my writing now. You don’t have to get super informative either. You can use generic terms as well. GLOCK is not a stand in for GUN, but GUN is a stand in for GLOCK, 1911, and BERETTA.
I have never held a gun. I’ve never seen a gun outside of a display case in person, so all I can do is arm (hehe) myself with as much information that I can.
Don’t just click on the first link you see in research either. I put links to wikipedia pages for each gun, which is a decent place TO START (please don’t stop there). Look at the links that those articles use. Visit the Glock website it’s full of fantastic information. Look at Kimber, look at Colt, look at Remington, and Beretta. Go to a gun show, go to a gun range (I hope to do so in the future), and find friend or people you know who will talk guns with you. And this applies to all things. Don’t know anything about sports? Then you can easily follow these steps and get good solid information. Don’t know much about wounds, or illnesses? Guess what your facebook feed is probably FULL of nurses who would be more than willing to talk shop with you. Slow down, take the time to learn something. It’ll cause me to have less stupid stress in my life. :p
It seems pretty simple right? If you don’t know something, look it up. But we’re fiction writers, we make shit up all the time. Just don’t do it when it comes to the REAL stuff.