How Accurately are Guns and Other Firearm Portrayed in Hollywood?

If you’re a fan of action films, you must’ve seen plenty of firearm action on-screen. Hollywood seems to be obsessed with guns and slick gunfights, though these action-packed scenes are often far from reality.

Here are three things Hollywood gets wrong in its portrayal of guns.

Never-Ending Ammunition

If you shoot regularly or have used a firearm enough times, you’ll know that you need to keep loading your weapon for it to continue working. In some cases, it even takes much longer for a person to load or reload their firearms than it does to fire a round. In Hollywood flicks, however, this is hardly the case. Continuous loading doesn’t make for a glamorous, action-packed sequence, and so we barely ever get to see characters reload their guns. Those characters who do, they manage to get the job done remarkably (and unconvincingly) fast.

Think of the last action movie you watched. Did the protagonist fire continuously for ten minutes, without pausing to load their firearm? Did the film show 2 seconds of quick magazine loading in between? If so, that’s an example of gun portrayal gone wrong. Even the best of shooters need some time to reload their weapons.

Suppressors That Are Too Silent

Another classic mistake we see repeated in Hollywood flicks is the “silencer” (better known as the suppressor) being a tool that takes care of all shady and discreet businesses with its uncanny ability to make any sound whatsoever. At most, we get to hear a mere “whoosh” when the villain quietly dispatches a foe in the backseat of a limo. However, that’s not quite how a suppressor works in real life.


Suppressors aren’t magical devices, after all. Yes, they make considerably less noise than the one made if you were to use a revolver, but they’re still noisy. For them to work as silently as they seem to in films, many factors need to align including the size of the suppressor, its caliber, and the velocity at which the bullets are fired. It’s definitely not as simple as it looks.

Unrealistic Gunfights

This brings us to the unrealistic gunfights we see occur in films. We’ve all seen some truly ridiculous gunfights, even in some of our favorite films. Aims are too perfect, the movements are often wrong, and the impact shown of the bullet hitting its target is grossly misrepresented. While some films like Saving Private Ryan and Heat have fared well in this department, the same cannot be said about the hundreds of other action movies that show graphic firefights with little accuracy.

Guns are super loud. Shooting sideways isn’t really the best way to use them, especially in a fight. No, the “bad guys” in real life don’t always have a sloppy aim, just like you can’t dodge bullets as easily as characters do in films. Watch out for these common gunfight mistakes the next time you watch an action film.

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