Guns. Knives. Books.


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What are Armor-Piercing Knives?

Posted on September 18, 2014 at 4:30 PM Comments comments (0)

You've heard of armor-piercing bullets, but what about armor-piercing knives?


The term "armor-piercing" is a little loaded to begin with, something that seems to make perfect sense on the surface but loses ground when the technical layers are peeled back. What type of armor is being pierced? Is it on a person or a structure? How is the piercing blow delivered? Is there a guarantee of it working every time or just some of the time? When does McDonald's stop serving breakfast on the weekends? These are questions that aren't apparent right off the bat.


When a company calls a product an "armor-piercing" knife, it's usually referring to a specific blade tip design, often called a "tanto." This features a roughly 45-degree angle ideal for distributing a lot of force without breaking - something you'd imagine is necessary for piercing armor.


Here's an example of a butterly knife from Bear Ops sporting a tanto design.


While it's true the tanto design makes it easier to jab that blade tip through tough materials, this doesn't necessarily make it an "armor-piercing" knife. Given enough force, any knife could pierce a ballistics vest (aka bullet-proof vest), a sheet of reinforced material, a car door or however else armor is defined.


An "armor-piercing" knife, like many other flashy terms in the world of firearms and knives, is more of a marketing buzzword to attract consumers. It's sort of like calling Jack Nicholson's portable log splitter from The Shining a "door-piercing" ax.

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If you found this post helpful, be sure to check out my book, Weapons for Writers: A Practical Reference for Writing Firearms and Knives in Fiction (Writer's Digest Books, summer 2015). Don't forget to sign up for my free e-newsletter, too.

Join Me for a Live Webinar on Writing Firearms and Knives

Posted on September 12, 2014 at 5:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Remember that little (virtual) trip out to Burbank, Calif., I mentioned a couple posts back? The one about a partnership with The Writers Store, the premier online store for screenwriters and all manner of other writerly folk? If not, I guess we're past of the point of needing to click to read it. But that was only a preview. Here's the real deal gist.


The Writers Store asked that I host a live webinar for its screenwriter customers (again, not necessarily limited to that type of writer, but that's the target audience). The topic will be on writing firearms and knives, aptly named "The Secret to Writing Firearms and Knives."


The live event takes place at 1 p.m. Pacific/4 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday, Sept. 30. A seat at the webinar is $69.99, and I promise it's well worth it. Here's the description of what to expect.


In this presentation, Ben Sobieck, author of the Weapons for Writers: A Practical Reference for Using Firearms and Knives in Fiction (Writer's Digest Books, Summer 2015), will boil the complex world of firearms and knives into key points you can use right away to avoid the trope trap.

It doesn't matter if you grew up around these items or have no interest in ever shooting a gun, you'll have a firm grasp of key concepts and a leg up in the competitive writing market.



  • The best-kept secret to writing firearms and knives like a pro without knowing anything about them (shhhhh...)
  • The top 10 firearm and knife depictions most writers get wrong
  • True stories of what it's like to be shot and stabbed, as told by writers who have experienced both first-hand
  • The 10 go-to firearms and knives to write into any scene
  • Key terminology for a bullseye every time
  • Much, much more from a presenter who works full-time in firearm/knife publishing and writes fiction on the side


Oh, wow, really? I have to do all that? Shiste, I'm in this thing pretty deep.


Wait, I mean, of course I'm able to handle that load. I did write a monster tome for Writer's Digest on this exact topic. The difference between the two is this live webinar allows you access to ask questions, and I'll boil things way down without getting into the nitty gritty technical details that I do in the book. It's a crash course, condensed version of the book.


I'll also extend my services (i.e. answering "What kind of gun/knife would an XYZ carry?" type questions) to anyone attending the live webinar.


For those unable to make the live event, a download will be available for purchase afterward. However, you won't be able to ask questions, due to the constraints of the space-time continuum.


I hope you'll be able to attend. See you then.


Click here to attend a live webinar from The Writers Store on how to write firearms and knives.

The Problem of Evil, Crime Fiction and The Shack

Posted on August 22, 2014 at 10:15 PM Comments comments (4)

If you think too long or look too deeply into crime fiction, as I often do, you eventually wind up facing some tough issues of morality. Namely, what makes people do bad things?


Flesh that one out long enough, or speed things up with a couple beers, and you'll probably run into the Problem of Evil. This is a major sticking point in a lot of religious discussions. Why would an all-powerful deity (or deities, if you roll that way) allow bad things to happen? Why is there suffering in the world?


It's a topic I mull over myself, in and out of reading fiction. I'll save those expositions for another day, but I did want to bring up The Shack, a book by Wm. Paul Young popular in Christian fiction. That's not an area I read a lot of material in, but a family member loaned me the book after a discussion about religion and the Problem of Evil. It also frames its philosophy inside a murder mystery. I figured I'd keep an open mind and give it a shot.


The following is the review I posted on Amazon and elsewhere. If you read it, what did you think about it?




In order to get the full benefit of The Shack, you're required to buy into several concepts about religion, existence and purpose. Once you do, the Problem of Evil, the central question the book seeks to answer, can be reconciled.


That wasn't good enough for me. I wanted a response to the Problem of Evil without preconditions. And that's why The Shack didn't work for me. Despite its popularity, it's just a retread of the same Christian ideas about why suffering exists and why God does not intervene.


The Shack boils the argument down to this: Bad things happen because Adam and Eve, after given free will, chose independence. War, crime, murder, poverty, etc. are all results of that choice. Humanity can end suffering by turning back toward God. You should be OK with suffering even if you don't understand why and are a good person anyway, so long as you have faith.


As for events not under human control - natural disasters, diseases, etc. - that's all part of a grand plan that the book compares to a mismanaged garden or a fractal. You should be OK with random, awful events because they have a beauty and purpose all their own that can't be comprehended by anything other than the divine.


These arguments were the same ones I wasn't satisfied with in the first place going into The Shack. There's not much new here, only an original approach to the run-of-the-mill "person has frank conversation with God" genre. I don't feel I got any further after reading this story.


If you want to take a bolder look at Problem of Evil questions, Christopher Hitchens offers better perspectives on possible answers - and he's arguing from an atheistic position. Or if you're afraid Hitchens' books will light on fire, give C.S. Lewis's The Problem of Pain a try instead.

Sunny Burbank, California, Here I (Virtually) Come

Posted on August 22, 2014 at 1:55 AM Comments comments (0)

Holy big announcement, Batman! I'm going to be working with The Writers Store in sunny Burbank, California, for a project in October. Details coming soon. 

Rubber Bullets? I Think Not

Posted on August 18, 2014 at 11:25 PM Comments comments (0)

For the record, these are ear plugs.