Guns. Knives. Books.


view:  full / summary

Do Knives Have Safeties?

Posted on October 18, 2014 at 12:05 AM Comments comments (0)

TLDR: Yes, some knives actually have safeties.

Characters switching gun safeties on and off in fiction, usually for handguns, is an easy pitfall for some writers. Not all pistols and revolvers have safeties or even hammers.


But what about knives? They don’t have safeties, right? As it turns out, some do.


Some switchblades (aka automatic knives) and assisted opening knives (similar to switchblades, but much more legal) have a small tab or screw that functions as a safety. When the knife is closed, the tab can be slipped in front of the blade, preventing it from opening.


When writing in a generic switchblade or assisted opening knife, you could ratchet up the tension by having the character switch the safety off before deploying the blade for a critical moment. You might blow some readers’ minds, but you’ll also look pretty sharp (pun definitely intended).


If you’re looking for a specific model, the Kershaw Leek (pictured above) is a popular assisted opener with a safety. Here’s a YouTube demonstration. The disembodied hand works the safety at the 15-second mark.

You need Adobe Flash Player to view this content.


If you found this post helpful, you’ll want to sign up for my free e-newsletter.

Download My Webinar on Writing Guns and Knives

Posted on October 17, 2014 at 11:05 PM Comments comments (0)

The webinar I did for the The Writers Store is now available here. It's called, The Secret to Writing Firearms and Knives, and for $79.99, you get personal instruction from me for about 90 minutes.

If posts like this one from Chuck Wendig on mistakes writers make with guns piqued your interest at all, this webinar takes it to the next level. You'll not only know what not to do, but what to do. And the "secret" mentioned in the title will help you get there, regardless if you've never picked up a gun or knife outside the kitchen before.

And who am I to give a presentation on how to write guns and knives? I wrote Weapons for Writers: A Practical Reference for Writing Firearms and Knives in Fiction (Writer's Digest Books, July 2015). I work full-time in firearms/knives publishing as an online editor and online product manager for titles like Gun Digest and BLADE.

The information in this webinar would surprise some of the people I work with every day. It's seriously good stuff you're not going to get from the surface level blogs out there.

Click here to download The Secret to Writing Firearms and Knives from The Writers Store.

P.S. You can save 50% off the webinar with a coupon code you can only get by signing up for my free e-newsletter.

Yes, Virginia, There are Gun Scopes that Aim Themselves

Posted on October 14, 2014 at 12:25 PM Comments comments (0)

How you decide to use this technology in your stories is up to you, but gun scopes that aim themselves are real and they're on the consumer market. Not only that, but they can sync up with a pair of Android-enabled goggles looking the other way. Which means, "OK, Google, take out the sentry at the guard post, then tell Chipotle to make my burrito for pick up," isn't that far off in the future.

The accuracy rate still isn't 100 percent, but it's better than half. The manufacturer is only set up for a handful of rifles, but a little creative license should allow you to stick this tech onto whatever tank-tipper you feel like lighting up. In your stories, of course.

You need Adobe Flash Player to view this content.

What I Learned On My Recent Trip to Jail, Part 1

Posted on September 30, 2014 at 10:50 PM Comments comments (1)

To read part two, sign up for my free e-mail newsletter, deploying this Friday. I go over the firearms and knives Hennepin County deputies use, as well as the tropes from movies this jail trip busted, such as how I never saw one set of those iconic bars the entire time. It was glass all the way. Whups, just blew it. Anyway, the newsletter is the only place to read that stuff, it won't be on the blog.


I found myself deep below the city streets of downtown Minneapolis on Monday this week, shoulder-to-shoulder in an underground city occupied by 800 of my fellow blaze orange Minnesotans. None of them were there for deer hunting, though.


The sign on the wall, the one near the line of new arrivals waiting to make their one free phone call, read "Hennepin County Jail." That was before one of the high-risk inmates pressed his face against the glass of a window a few feet away and peered in at me. Oh, and my aunt.


I'm wondering how long I can keep this up before I'm found out. Not about a crime, but that I didn't get booked into jail that day. I did, however, take a gander at the booking process, from fingerprinting to mugshots and "cooling off" rooms to a friendly jail orientation video. A few of the denizens even demonstrated those steps, willingly or not.


My aunt won a tour of the Hennepin County Jail, as well as a coffee meeting in Sheriff Richard Stanek's office, through a charity silent auction. I was eager to accept her invitation, especially since getting a free taxi to and tour of the facility usually requires alcohol, nudity and hijinx - two of which I've graciously relieved the city of Minneapolis from enduring.


The jail tour stuck us everywhere except in a cell with an inmate. They didn't want to upset the population, you see. There was one incident, though, but we "just missed show" on the high-risk level, as one deputy put it.


The temptation with any law enforcement/jail tour write-up is to humanize the situation. That's quite trendy on the Interwebs. Look at my shaggy hair and writerly frump. I'm not trendy. But I'd probably score some points by writing, "these were just people like you and me" or "with a few wrong turns, that could've been me wagging my dick over a communal toilet." But I don't even have to do that. Because this was a pre-trial jail full of detainees, not a prison of convicts. Everyone in there was, legally, innocent.


But then why were they behind bars? That's not how you treat an innocent person. Isn't there some hypocrisy inherent in a system that kisses the ring of "innocent until proven guilty" but locks up those same people? Couldn't someone go broke defending themselves for something they didn't do? Isn't being arrested its own form of punishment that can be doled out without much oversight? Isn't the system set up so that those with money stand the best chance because they can make bail and work on their defense outside of the jail system?


Yeah, I promised I wouldn't get trendy. But this is the Internet. By law, you have to get outraged about something after 500 words. Go ahead and count. I'm innocent until proven guilty.


Jail, like life, is way too nuanced to make the kinds of generalizations that are easy to make and defend, from all sides of the political spectrum, because there is rarely anyone present to offer a counterpoint. Still, at the end of the tour of the facility, I came to few solid conclusions about the Hennepin County Jail (and incarceration in general) other than...

Jails Aren't Always Full of Convicts, So Don't Treat Them Like They're Guilty


This particular jail emphasized a reward system for good behavior, treatment for the sick/addicted/injured and giving the population something to do, such as a communal TV space, books, board games and a gym. This made sense to me. And, no, this wasn't the kind of palace some political hacks like to preach on about. It had just enough. Few people were going to be there for longer than 12 months, and some might wind up released. Again, these were, legally, innocent people not convicted of anything.

Staff Does Its Best


I got the impression the staff did its best and actually gave a damn about their wards. Our tour guide, an active officer, was certainly informative and seemed rational. She explained in detail why they did the things they did, answered my curveball questions and was a true professional the entire time. Nothing gave me pause. It's hard to confirm any of this without getting arrested in Hennepin County, but that's how it appeared to me.

But I'm Not Willing to See If That's True


I don't want to go to jail. Not that I needed to be scared straight or anything, but your identity is stripped from you. That's probably the worst. It's one thing to see that effect in movies or TV. It's a whole other thing to feel it sucking at you through the osmosis of uniform, sterile facilities parched for something different. You'd be totally out of your element in there. It'd be, I imagine, like getting jettisoned onto the moon in the time it takes for the booking to complete. And that would, for lack of a better term, fuck with you.

The Joke's On You


There's a certain dark humor in knowing that people up above on the city level have no idea they're walking on top of an inverted city of Minnesota's Most Wanted. The irony is that you put people away only to have them get closer. Might as well be a metaphor for that whole revolving door thing.

Get Help, but Also Get It Together


It's a fine thing to help people who need it, but at a certain point, the onus is on you. The jail would help get you up to a certain par - sober you up, patch the holes, check the oil - but it was on you to get your shit together. Our tour officer said they don't literally handhold people unless there's a reason, in which case they're probably breaking out the restraints. If you're asked to go down the hall, take a left and head to room B, that's what you do. Because you're going to have a tougher time if you can't be an adult about things.


Hey, that's kind of like life outside the bars. See, they're just like us.


Writer folks and curious types, sign up for my e-mail newsletter to read part two of my jail trip. It deploys this Friday and is the only way you'll be able to read it. I review what I learned about the firearms and knives Hennepin County deputies use, as well as the cliches from movies this jail trip busted. You might be surprised. Or not. But you also might be.

Video: You Have Got to See This Knife

Posted on September 25, 2014 at 10:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Does your character need a big knife? I mean a big knife? The Microtech Giant Halo 3X automatic knife might be right up your character's alley. Yes, this is real, and it's yours for only $9,500. Not surprisingly, it's in stock. Eat your heart out, Crocodile Dundee. This is a knife.

You need Adobe Flash Player to view this content.