History Main / ReliablyUnreliableGuns

5th Jun '16 10:08:02 AM SirBob42
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It's well-known that even the best guns still jam every now and then after repeated firing. Usual causes include a round failing to seat properly into the breech, a spent casing getting caught upon ejection (a condition known as "stovepiping"), poor-quality ammunition (insufficient pressure to cycle the weapon) or poor handling while shooting, (not enough energy from the firing is absorbed by the hands/arms, known as "limp wristing"). These errors take only a second or two to correct in real life, so why is it that when a firearm jams in a film or television show, it's suddenly rendered [[ThrowawayGuns useless]]? Aside from its use as a convenient way to disarm a character, no one knows. All we do know that a gun will [[BottomlessMagazines never run out of ammo]] unless ''something'' takes it out of commission, so the weapon-disabling jam is it.

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It's well-known that even the best guns still jam every now and then after repeated firing. Usual causes include a round failing to seat properly into the breech, a spent casing getting caught upon ejection (a condition known as "stovepiping"), poor-quality ammunition (insufficient pressure to cycle the weapon) or poor handling while shooting, (not enough (too much energy from the firing is absorbed by the hands/arms, known as "limp wristing"). These errors take only a second or two to correct in real life, so why is it that when a firearm jams in a film or television show, it's suddenly rendered [[ThrowawayGuns useless]]? Aside from its use as a convenient way to disarm a character, no one knows. All we do know that a gun will [[BottomlessMagazines never run out of ammo]] unless ''something'' takes it out of commission, so the weapon-disabling jam is it.
28th May '16 6:24:09 PM TheD3rp
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* The Chauchat "Machine rifle" was the first squad automatic weapon and the most widely-produced automatic weapon in UsefulNotes/WorldWarI. It introduced a number of features seen on modern long guns, including a pistol grip, an in-line stock, a fire rate selector, and stamped steel components to simplify production. As with many pioneering designs the weapon also had several design faults, including a relatively complicated feed path necessitated by the heavily tapered case of the standard French 8mm Lebel cartridge (an issue that would plague all French efforts at automatic weapons until the modern straight-cased 7.5x54mm was introduced in 1929), and the use of long recoil operation. There were also production issues stemming from the traditional arms manufacturers being fully utilized to make traditional arms, therefore Chauchat production was given to less experienced and non-firearms-related firms that resulted in quality control and other manufacturing problems, including poorly aligned sights, which were so common that it was nearly impossible to exchange parts between any two Chauchats. The major issue that was responsible for 75% of all stoppages were the open sided magazines which would inevitably become clogged with dirt and debris. Overheating was the second leading cause of problems with thermal expansion jamming the gun. Despite its generally lackluster performance it was still the only/best option available and saw extensive service by the French and 8 other nations during the war and beyond. The Chauchat only earned its RockBottom reputation when the Americans entered the war and were issued Chauchats that were [[FromBadToWorse hastily designed]] to take the significantly more powerful .30-06 cartridge. The gun had trouble extracting the long, straight cases and was hardly up to the stresses of the powerful round. To make matters ''even worse'', somebody managed to screw up the conversion between English (US) and metric (French) units, so the magazine and chamber for the .30-06 version were the ''wrong size'' (this error wasn't even realized at the time; it wasn't until private testing decades later that it was discovered, hence the error never having been corrected). It was so poor that it was used only as a training weapon, and virtually all of them were destroyed after the war. US troops were then issued 8mm Lebel-chambered Chauchats, which were considered better than no light machine gun at all (but only marginally so[[note]]One of the saddest things about this is that, by the time America entered the war, they had access to the vastly-better Lewis gun and Browning Automatic Rifle - the USMC even had Lewis guns on hand when they were deployed - but were forced into using the Chauchat anyway. The Lewis gun was overlooked [[InterserviceRivalry simply because the AEF's chief of ordnance didn't like Colonel Lewis]], while the BAR wasn't issued due to fear that it would fall into enemy hands.[[/note]]).
** One very significant issue for many people firing the Chauchat is caused by the long-recoil action: It is very easy to "limp-wrist". All recoil operated guns require being held firmly in order to properly cycle, or else too much of the recoil force goes into your body rather than the action, causing it to not cycle back far enough. Limp-wristing is well known to anyone with experience firing any Browning-style short-recoil pistol, like the M1911 or Glock. However, the issue is massively magnified in the Chauchat - the 8mm Lebel is not a light cartridge, and due to the heavy barrel and action travelling quite far due to the long recoil action, the gun wants to jump around all over the place. A ''very'' tight grip is necessary to keep it under control.
** Post-war analysis showed that around half the Chauchats used in combat were dropped as useless by their operator before they could fire off an entire magazine; it wasn't uncommon for American auto-rifle squadrons equipped with them to give up on that and switch to bolt-action M1903 Springfields instead. It jammed often and easily due to the above mentioned reasons, and the only way to unjam it was complete dis and reassembly -- less than recommended in the heat of battle in no-man's-land. One may as well have charged into that trench with nothing but a knife[[note]]which some trench raiders basically did - a [[ShovelStrike sharpened entrenching tool]] and a pistol beat the Chauchat in that situation[[/note]], because it would likely outperform the Chauchat when it turned into an overly-elaborate and cumbersome metal club.
*** In the UsefulNotes/SpanishCivilWar, when the left was desperate for ''anything'' that would fire, [[EvenBeggarsWontChooseIt they still advised men with Chauchats to just throw them away.]] Note, though, that this was probably more due to a human error than the mechanical problems. By this point in time, the aforementioned "left" had all but run out of professional soldiers or discipline. Getting the hooligan militia that made up their ranks to both learn how to properly handle a Chauchat ''and'' handle it correctly in battle would've probably been a miracle, and its use by professional Western Allied and German soldiers in WWI and Nationalist ones in the Spanish Civil War proved the [[TooDumbToLive real problem with the Spanish left.]]
*** Creator/RLeeErmey tested a Chauchat for the TV show ''Lock 'n' Load'' and discovered that even on a modern gun range it invariably jammed after ''four rounds'' every single time. This could easily be caused by French surplus ammunition. Even in reliable guns like the Lebel and Berthier, misfires and hangfires are absurdly common even by old surplus standards. And, seeing as modern commercially loaded 8mm Lebel is virtually nonexistent, most shooting will be done with old surplus.
*** Non-television firearms experts have [[http://www.forgottenweapons.com/the-worst-gun-ever/ conducted analyses]] and found that the Chauchat's poor reputation is largely undeserved, aside from the .30-06 conversion and poor open-sided magazine design. It is, however, well-documented that the Chauchats manufactured by Gladiator, a bicycle company with no prior firearms experience, tended to have manufacturing errors (including the aforementioned misaligned sights) that were not present on those made by SIDARME. Unfortunately, SIDARME accounted for less than 10% of the production, meaning that most Chauchat gunners had to either learn to manually compensate for the typically misaligned Gladiator sights, or if they were mechanically inclined enough implement their own field repairs to correct them.

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* The Not the Chauchat "Machine rifle" was light machine gun. While the first squad automatic weapon and the most widely-produced automatic weapon in UsefulNotes/WorldWarI. It introduced a number of features seen on modern long guns, including a pistol grip, an in-line stock, a fire rate selector, and stamped steel components to simplify production. As with many pioneering designs the weapon also had several design faults, including a relatively complicated feed path necessitated by the heavily tapered case of the standard French 8mm Lebel cartridge (an issue that would plague all French efforts at automatic weapons until the modern straight-cased 7.5x54mm was introduced in 1929), and the use of long recoil operation. There were also production issues stemming from the traditional arms manufacturers being fully utilized to make traditional arms, therefore Chauchat production was given to less experienced and non-firearms-related firms that resulted in quality control and other manufacturing did indeed have some problems, including poorly aligned sights, most of which were so common that had to do with its open-sided magazine, it was nearly impossible to exchange parts between any two Chauchats. The major issue that was responsible for 75% of all stoppages were the open sided magazines which did not jam after several shots as some pop-historians would inevitably become clogged with dirt and debris. Overheating was have you believe. Most of the second leading cause of problems with thermal expansion jamming the gun. Despite its generally lackluster performance it was still the only/best option available and saw extensive service by the French and 8 other nations during the war and beyond. The Chauchat only earned its RockBottom weapon's bad reputation when comes from the Americans entered the war and were issued Chauchats American M1918 version chambered in .30-06. The M1918 was, in short, a godawful conversion that were [[FromBadToWorse hastily designed]] to didn't take the into account that .30-06 was significantly more powerful .30-06 cartridge. The gun had trouble extracting the long, straight cases and was hardly up to the stresses of the powerful round. To make matters ''even worse'', somebody managed to screw up the conversion between English (US) and metric (French) units, so the magazine and chamber for the .30-06 version were the ''wrong size'' (this error wasn't even realized at the time; it wasn't until private testing decades later that it was discovered, hence the error never having been corrected). It was so poor that it was used only as a training weapon, and virtually all of them were destroyed after the war. US troops were then issued 8mm Lebel-chambered Chauchats, which were considered better longer than no light machine gun at all (but only marginally so[[note]]One of 8mm Lebel in addition to several other mistakes. As a result, the saddest things about this is that, by the time America entered the war, they had access to the vastly-better Lewis gun and Browning Automatic Rifle - the USMC even had Lewis guns on hand when they were deployed - but were forced into using the Chauchat anyway. The Lewis gun was overlooked [[InterserviceRivalry simply because the AEF's chief majority of ordnance M1918s didn't like Colonel Lewis]], while the BAR wasn't issued due to fear that it would fall into enemy hands.[[/note]]).
** One very significant issue for many people firing the Chauchat is caused by the long-recoil action: It is very easy to "limp-wrist". All recoil operated guns require being held firmly in order to properly cycle, or else too much of the recoil force goes into your body rather than the action, causing it to not cycle back far enough. Limp-wristing is well known to anyone with experience firing any Browning-style short-recoil pistol, like the M1911 or Glock. However, the issue is massively magnified in the Chauchat - the 8mm Lebel is not a light cartridge, and due to the heavy barrel and action travelling quite far due to the long recoil action, the gun wants to jump around all over the place. A ''very'' tight grip is necessary to keep it under control.
** Post-war analysis showed that around half the Chauchats used in combat were dropped as useless by their operator before they could fire off an entire magazine; it wasn't uncommon for American auto-rifle squadrons equipped with them to give up on that and switch to bolt-action M1903 Springfields instead. It jammed often and easily due to the above mentioned reasons,
pass factory inspection and the only way to unjam it was complete dis and reassembly -- less than recommended in the heat of battle in no-man's-land. One may as well have charged into few that trench with nothing but a knife[[note]]which some trench raiders basically did - a [[ShovelStrike sharpened entrenching tool]] make it to the frontline experienced severe jamming issues and a pistol beat the Chauchat in that situation[[/note]], because it would likely outperform the Chauchat when it turned into an overly-elaborate and cumbersome metal club.
*** In the UsefulNotes/SpanishCivilWar, when the left was desperate for ''anything'' that would fire, [[EvenBeggarsWontChooseIt they still advised men with Chauchats to just throw them away.]] Note, though, that this was probably more due to a human error than the mechanical problems. By this point in time, the aforementioned "left" had all but run out of professional soldiers or discipline. Getting the hooligan militia that made up their ranks to both learn how to properly handle a Chauchat ''and'' handle it correctly in battle would've probably been a miracle, and its use by professional Western Allied and German soldiers in WWI and Nationalist ones in the Spanish Civil War proved the [[TooDumbToLive real problem with the Spanish left.]]
*** Creator/RLeeErmey tested a Chauchat for the TV show ''Lock 'n' Load'' and discovered that even on a modern gun range it invariably jammed after ''four rounds'' every single time. This could easily be caused by French surplus ammunition. Even in reliable guns like the Lebel and Berthier, misfires and hangfires are absurdly common even by old surplus standards. And, seeing as modern commercially loaded 8mm Lebel is virtually nonexistent, most shooting will be done with old surplus.
*** Non-television firearms experts have [[http://www.forgottenweapons.com/the-worst-gun-ever/ conducted analyses]] and found that the Chauchat's poor reputation is largely undeserved, aside from the .30-06 conversion and poor open-sided magazine design. It is, however, well-documented that the Chauchats manufactured by Gladiator, a bicycle company with no prior firearms experience, tended to have manufacturing errors (including the aforementioned misaligned sights) that
were not present on those made usually discarded by SIDARME. Unfortunately, SIDARME accounted for less than 10% of the production, meaning that most Chauchat gunners had to either learn to manually compensate for the typically misaligned Gladiator sights, or if they were mechanically inclined enough implement their own field repairs to correct them.US troops.
11th May '16 11:53:07 AM erforce
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* Subverted in ''Terminator: Series/TheSarahConnorChronicles'' When John is at a military school, his classmate's rifle has a stovepipe jam, and John, having been raised CrazyPrepared by his mom, clears the jam in about ten seconds, all while teaching his fellow student the drill to do so.

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* Subverted in ''Terminator: Series/TheSarahConnorChronicles'' ''Series/TerminatorTheSarahConnorChronicles'' When John is at a military school, his classmate's rifle has a stovepipe jam, and John, having been raised CrazyPrepared by his mom, clears the jam in about ten seconds, all while teaching his fellow student the drill to do so.
29th Apr '16 2:51:53 AM Morgenthaler
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* In ''Film/SchindlersList'', Göth is about to execute one of Schindler's workers, [[SociopathicSoldier as he has done several times before already]], but his Luger jams. As his lieutenant tries unsuccessfully try to clear the jam, Göth takes out another pistol (a Browning Hi-Power) and tries to shoot him again... but the Browning also jams. Göth, after multiple attempts to shoot are foiled in this manner, eventually {{pistol whip|ping}}s the worker and then leaves in a huff.

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* In ''Film/SchindlersList'', Göth is about to execute one of Schindler's workers, [[SociopathicSoldier as he has done several times before already]], but his Luger jams. As his lieutenant tries unsuccessfully try to clear the jam, Göth takes out another pistol (a Browning Hi-Power) and tries to shoot him again... but the Browning also jams. Göth, after multiple attempts to shoot are foiled in this manner, eventually {{pistol whip|ping}}s the worker and then leaves in a huff.
29th Apr '16 2:49:48 AM Morgenthaler
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* The villain of ''Double Take'' [[spoiler:manages to dispatch himself this way]]; bragging about his shooting skills when about to kill the protagonists, [[spoiler:he ends up falling down a long flight of stairs with his gun going off several times. He hits the floor with a GoryDiscretionShot (pun unintended for once) with the gun clearly pointing at his head before the switch.]] One character comments: "He was right, he didn't miss ''once''!"

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* The villain of ''Double Take'' ''Film/DoubleTake'' [[spoiler:manages to dispatch himself this way]]; bragging about his shooting skills when about to kill the protagonists, [[spoiler:he ends up falling down a long flight of stairs with his gun going off several times. He hits the floor with a GoryDiscretionShot (pun unintended for once) with the gun clearly pointing at his head before the switch.]] One character comments: "He was right, he didn't miss ''once''!"
29th Apr '16 2:49:30 AM Morgenthaler
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** Somewhat TruthInTelevision, as the MAC-10 is a very simple, fairly light gun with an insanely high rate of fire, which fires from an open bolt, meaning that jarring the weapon ''can'' cause the bolt to unlock, slam home, and fire a round. If it was badly-maintained (a distinct possibility given the demonstrated lack of quality of the aforementioned {{mook|s}}) it ''could'' also be subject to a phenomenon known as slam-firing, where a gun, even a semi-auto, continues to fire without the trigger being pressed, until the magazine's empty or the mechanical issue (either the bolt failing to lock back, or the firing pin being stuck forward when the bolt closes, in a closed-bolt gun) that caused it resolves itself.
*** Given that Helen is, at that point, ridiculously civilian, it is completely possible that she'd drop the surprisingly recoil-heavy submachine gun, and it would discharge on striking the ground. The hilarious part is its effectiveness in clearing the room.
*** However, ''Series/MythBusters'' tried to replicate this one and couldn't get the MAC-10 to fire; for the scene in the movie they had wrapped a wire around the trigger to get it to continue firing.
* In ''Film/BackToTheFuture'', Marty is saved repeatedly from being shot by Libyans because their rifle jams. They are shooting an AK-47, which are famed for their reliability even under the harshest conditions. However, we do see them simply trying to clear the jam rather than abandoning the gun immediately.
** Could be an ammo problem, since a reliable gun means nothing if the bullet doesn't produce enough gas pressure to cycle in the next round.
*** This is TruthInTelevision, to an extent. Most of the ammo on the market for the AK-47 is military surplus, which has been surplussed because it's getting too old. Given that terrorists who want a nuclear bomb are not going to be state-supported (what government wants to be connected with a terrorist act that ''will'' get their capital vaporized once that connection is found?) they're going to have to get their ammo on the open market, and given that they come to kill Doc in a VW Microbus, they're obviously operating on a shoestring.

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* ''Film/BackToTheFuture'':
** Somewhat TruthInTelevision, as the MAC-10 is a very simple, fairly light gun with an insanely high rate of fire, which fires from an open bolt, meaning that jarring the weapon ''can'' cause the bolt to unlock, slam home, and fire a round. If it was badly-maintained (a distinct possibility given the demonstrated lack of quality of the aforementioned {{mook|s}}) it ''could'' also be subject to a phenomenon known as slam-firing, where a gun, even a semi-auto, continues to fire without the trigger being pressed, until the magazine's empty or the mechanical issue (either the bolt failing to lock back, or the firing pin being stuck forward when the bolt closes, in a closed-bolt gun) that caused it resolves itself.
*** Given that Helen is, at that point, ridiculously civilian, it is completely possible that she'd drop the surprisingly recoil-heavy submachine gun, and it would discharge on striking the ground. The hilarious part is its effectiveness in clearing the room.
*** However, ''Series/MythBusters'' tried to replicate this one and couldn't get the MAC-10 to fire; for the scene in the movie they had wrapped a wire around the trigger to get it to continue firing.
* In ''Film/BackToTheFuture'',
Marty is saved repeatedly from being shot by Libyans because their rifle jams. They are shooting an AK-47, which are famed for their reliability even under the harshest conditions. However, we do see them simply trying to clear the jam rather than abandoning the gun immediately.
** Could be an ammo problem, since a reliable gun means nothing if the bullet doesn't produce enough gas pressure to cycle in the next round.
*** This is TruthInTelevision, to an extent. Most of the ammo on the market for the AK-47 is military surplus, which has been surplussed because it's getting too old. Given that terrorists who want a nuclear bomb are not going to be state-supported (what government wants to be connected with a terrorist act that ''will'' get their capital vaporized once that connection is found?) they're going to have to get their ammo on the open market, and given that they come to kill Doc in a VW Microbus, they're obviously operating on a shoestring.
immediately.
14th Apr '16 7:23:58 PM Jeduthun
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If the person is ''really'' TooDumbToLive, they may [[JugglingLoadedGuns look into the barrel to see why it isn't working]]. (If you have to be told why [[AndThatsTerrible this is a bad idea]], you should never touch a gun.)

Since this one's so common, it'd be easier to just list especially {{egregious}} examples and subversions. Also see RareGuns and ConvenientMisfire.

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If the person is ''really'' TooDumbToLive, they may [[JugglingLoadedGuns look into the barrel to see why it isn't working]]. (If you have to be told why [[AndThatsTerrible this is a bad idea]], [[RecklessGunUsage you should never touch a gun.gun]].)

Since this one's so common, it'd be easier to just list especially {{egregious}} examples and subversions. Also see RareGuns and ConvenientMisfire.
ConvenientMisfire. See RecklessGunUsage and JugglingLoadedGuns for when danger is caused by user carelessness or stupidity.
14th Apr '16 7:20:57 PM Jeduthun
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If the person is ''really'' TooDumbToLive, they may [[JugglingLoadedGuns look into the barrel to see why it isn't working]].[[note]]If you have to be told why [[AndThatsTerrible this is a bad idea]], you should never touch a gun.[[/note]]

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If the person is ''really'' TooDumbToLive, they may [[JugglingLoadedGuns look into the barrel to see why it isn't working]].[[note]]If (If you have to be told why [[AndThatsTerrible this is a bad idea]], you should never touch a gun.[[/note]]
)
21st Mar '16 2:16:25 PM nielas
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Added DiffLines:

** The main reason for the Ross's poor performance was that it was adapted too close to the outbreak of the war and did not have a proper "shake down" period where flaws are discovered and corrected in armories by trained gunsmiths. In peacetime most of the really bad problems would have been quickly addressed as they came up but during wartime this was a much lengthier and complicated process. In addition wartime shortages meant that some rifle batches were produced with inferior steel which would wear out quicker than expected and cause the rifles to be even more unreliable.
27th Feb '16 2:57:04 PM Kadorhal
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* In the early "Kenny gets killed in every episode" era of ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark'', Kenny was once killed by a discharge by a guy who was quitting hunting and dropped his gun.
** Which happened to have run out of ammo not thirty seconds earlier.

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* In the early "Kenny gets killed in every episode" era of ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark'', Kenny was once killed by a discharge by from a guy who was quitting hunting and dropped his gun.
**
gun. Which happened to have run out of ammo not thirty seconds earlier.earlier, at that.




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* In the 1953 WesternAnimation/LooneyTunes short ''WesternAnimation/BullyForBugs'', the bull Bugs is fighting at one point ends up swallowing a rifle Bugs was planning to shoot him with. He very quickly discovers he can [[BulletSeed fire bullets from his horns]] by smacking the end of his now-rifle-shaped tail against the ground - but then after he runs out of bullets, he attempts to reload by swallowing a box of high-powered rounds, with [[ExplosiveOverclocking disastrous results]].
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http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/article_history.php?article=Main.ReliablyUnreliableGuns