ByEge Bosut, writer at
Part-Time Writer, Musician
Ege Bosut

There's only a handful of filmmakers that put a lot of thought into the proper handling of firearms and the anatomy of gunfights. Just as hackers in Hollywood are antisocial teenagers bashing away furiously at their keyboards and yelling out nonsensical pseudo-technical mumbo jumbo, action movies are generally people cluelessly swinging around guns spraying evil henchmen to hell one bullet at a time. This is ok, because the majority of the audience is oblivious to what the reality of it is, as they should be.

The Mann

Filmmakers such as Michael Mann however, are compulsively obsessed about every detail of tactical gunfights and proper handling of weaponry. This wonderful obsession is to an extreme degree which had him professionally trained with firearms to be able to capture action scenes perfectly...which he does. That's not where it ends either. Mann had Tom Cruise train with Mick Gould, an ex-British Military CQC (close quarters combat) instructor, for months in preparation for the movie Collateral; not to mention that Cruise had to deliver FedEx packages in LA without being recognised to adjust to his role. That's not so unusual since Tom Cruise, after all, was the main character. However, Mann also had Mark Ruffalo, despite the fact that he does not use a gun even once in the entire film, go through rigorous firearms training just so he'd look believable sporting a gun!

The Finger

Safe House, massively entertaining flick.
Safe House, massively entertaining flick.

Your finger should never be on the trigger until you've got a target and you're ready to shoot it. This is the primary, and perhaps the most important rule. Anytime I see a character in a movie running around gun in hand with his finger on the trigger, I get the intense urge to facepalm myself.

The Grip

Vincent from Collateral
Vincent from Collateral

See Toms grip? That's called a 'Straight-Thumbs' grip. That's how you hold a firearm (unless it's a revolver in which case you would use 'locked-thumbs' grip to not blow your thumbs off). This is the best way to manage and control recoil when you fire a round. Also you only extend your arms out and aim when you've seen your target and you're prepared to shoot. Otherwise the gun should be close to your chest, pointing a couple of steps in front of you. This is to prevent an unexpected assailant from grabbing your gun.

The Stance

"Hey bro I'm gonna shoot of foot off" "Wait for me"
"Hey bro I'm gonna shoot of foot off" "Wait for me"

Look at the image above. Both of those a-holes are ready to blow their own feet off. You NEVER point the gun directly down. You guys like walking? Don't ever hold a gun like this, never! Aside from blowing a foot off (I can't stress that part enough, feet are important, people!) you'd never extend your arms down. That's because in CQC once you see the assailant, the time it takes you to aim is the difference between life and death. When your arms are against your chest, all you have to do is to extend your arm forward to aim. With this stance, your arms have to complete a 45 degree angle upwards until you have the 'enemy' in your sights. Which, I'm sure I don't have to tell you, takes longer.

See how he's holding that Heckler & Koch P30? Nobody can grab his gun without getting shot and he's ready to aim the moment he needs to. The entire movie John Wick was a perfect display of CQC and firearms handling. Not to mention that it's a phenomenal directorial debut.

Let's not even get into the whole gangsta grip thing. I don't need to tell any of you that holding a gun with one hand is a terrible idea but holding it sideways? Unless you actually want to temporarily impair your vision with a spinning empty casing ejected from the gun during a gunfight. There's nothing gangsta about getting sho- wait.......never mind.

The PERFECT Example

See our boy Gyllenhaal up there?

  • Gun out of assailants reach √
  • Gun pointing to a safe direction √
  • Proper grip √
  • Finger clear of the trigger √
  • Proper stance √

Overall, End Of Watch is the absolute perfect example on how to handle firearms and how firefights work in reality. The movie treats you like an adult, and shows you that one or two people battling or rather killing hundreds in a firefight is impossible. Not that watching Keanu mow down mob henchmen in John Wick isn't supremely enjoyable.

The Best Confrontation Sequence

See how the long haired wannabe douchebag holding his gun sideways like an idiot? He even comes up to put the gun to Vincent's face! Lads, you never need to put a gun to someones head, pointing it at them is enough. Putting it against them makes YOU vulnerable. Because this fool has a terrible grip and stance that allows him no control over his firearm, Vincent can just push his arm away, this is not Hollywood trickery, that's how it'd work. Idiot 'numero dos' is just standing there like the idiot he is, not even with a hand on his gun. It's worth noting that the time it takes Vincent to draw and fire is 0.4 seconds. This is fascinating because the world record for fastest draw was set by the professional Bob Munden and it was 0.2 seconds. That's with a weapon specially tailored for quick draws. The derelict has less than half a second to react to the unexpected attack by Vincent. see how that turned out. He double taps homesless surfer dude before he puts two in the chest one in the head of the skinhead hogman.

The Perfect Examples

Here are some of the movies that were impeccably accurate. They also happen to be awesome movies that you should watch (unless you already have, in which case watch them again).

  • Lone Survivor
  • End Of Watch
  • Heat
  • Collateral
  • Man On Fire
  • History Of Violence
  • Eastern Promises
  • John Wick

End Note: Heat (1995) by Michael Mann is the greatest Action Movie ever. Period.


Latest from our Creators