How to Load Submachine and Machine Guns

Dear Ben,

As an Australian writer working on his first novel, I need information from time to time on the step-by-step procedures involved in loading, cocking, aiming and shooting certain firearms, such as when to flick off the safety lever, and so on.

Is there a writer’s guide available in hard copy that will tell me, step by step, how to prepare to shoot most rifles, shotguns, sub-machine guns and handguns – including notable exceptions to the rule so I don’t make a mistake in my book? This would be very handy in my line of work.

In the meantime, can you tell me, please, how to prepare an L1A1 self-loading rifle (SLR) and an Uzi sub-machine gun for firing?

Regards,

Peter Greer

Queensland, Australia

***

Dear Peter,

First off, congratulations on taking the big step with that first novel. Exciting times.

In response to your first question, yes, there is such a book. And as a matter of fact, I wrote it. It’s called The Writer’s Guide to Weapons. It drops in July 2015, available for pre-order here.

With the shameless plugging out of the way, this would be a good time to do a brief overview of how most submachine and machine guns are loaded. It’s not too difficult, but a lot of writers likely don’t have experience in this area.

How to Load and Fire a Submachine or Machine Gun (the quick version)

1) Character inserts a magazine of ammunition into the firearm’s magazine port (could also call this the receiver).

2) Character racks the charging handle (also called a cocking handle). “Racking” means the character pulls back on this handle, then releases it. This action moves one cartridge (aka shell or round) from the magazine into the chamber, which is the spot inside the firearm where a cartridge is seated to be fired.

3) Character moves a selector switch from safe into a semi-automatic, burst or fully automatic mode (depending on the model).

4) Character pulls the trigger.

5) Character unwinds after the gun battle with a beer and the Packers game on TV. (optional)

That’s a rough outline of how submachine and machine guns work. Things change when the models are more specific. That requires a little research, because certain terms and parts are specific to gun models. Here are the steps tweaked for the Uzi and L1A1.

How to Load and Fire an Uzi

300px-Uzi_1* Wikipedia image

1) Character inserts a magazine of ammunition into the firearm’s magazine port (could also call this the receiver).

2) Character racks the charging handle (also known as a cocking handle), which is a sliding knob on the top of the firearm.

3) Character moves a selector switch from safe into a semi-automatic or fully automatic mode. The selector switch has three modes: safe (gun can’t shoot), semi-automatic (one pull of the trigger equals one shot fired) and fully automatic (firearm will shoot so long as the trigger is pulled).

4) Character pulls the trigger.

 

How to Load and Fire an L1A1 (aka FAL and a bunch of other names)

300px-SLRL1A1* Wikipedia image

Just a note that in the States we’d call this gun a FAL. Not sure if that means anything to your novel, but it goes by a number of names depending on the country it’s being used in (and it’s been used in almost every Western country since the Cold War at some point). If you know it as the L1A1, then roll with that. 

Also, the L1A1 only comes in a semi-automatic version. If your novel needs it to have a fully automatic mode, write in the L2A1.

1) Character inserts a magazine of ammunition into the magazine port (could also call this a receiver).

2) Character racks the charging handle, usually located on the left side of the firearm.

3) Character toggles a safety lever from safe to fire mode (if it’s the L2A1, this switch would toggle between safe, semi-auto and full-auto modes).

4) Character pulls the trigger.

Good luck with your novel, Peter!

Best,

Ben


Get the Book

The Writers Guide to WeaponsThe Writer’s Guide to Weapons: A Practical Reference for Using Firearms and Knives in Fiction (Writer’s Digest Books) comes with everything but the ammo. Pick up a print or digital copy from these fine retailers:

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