Apparently, there’s some confusion out there about characters storing ammunition when they’re not using their firearms. Over at my guest post at Jane Friedman’s place, Writing About Guns: 10 Errors to Avoid in Your Novel, user marcydyer670919403 (whew) commented on an instance “when a character sticks the bullets in her pocket instead of loading the gun because it might shoot her” in something she read.
Hrmmm, I say. Hrmmm.
That’s…a new one.
I get where this idea is coming from. The firearm is no longer in use, so the author portrays the character unloading the gun. That’s a solid idea that reflects sound firearm safety. Great.
But what’s this business about the firearm going off accidentally? I’m a little stumped by that one. Is the character putting the firearm away for a long period of time? Or is the idea that the ammunition would only be loaded once the character is ready to pull the trigger?
(By the way, bullets are a component of ammunition, but not the whole thing. So “cartridges,” “ammunition,” “shells” or “rounds” are the better terms.)
Is It OK for a Character to Carry a Loaded Gun and Not Anticipate Using It in the Immediate Future?
The short answer is yes. The long answer is also yes, on the condition that the firearm’s various mechanical functions prevent it from firing, such as the safety. Leave a comment below if you have any questions about that, as the nuances are too varied to skim over here.
But that’s beside the point. Simply put, if a character can’t carry around a loaded firearm without worrying it will go off accidentally (although most gun folks will tell you there are no accidental discharges, only negligent ones), then the character shouldn’t have a firearm at all.
How About Storing Ammunition in a Pocket?
On the surface, there’s nothing wrong with a character keeping ammunition in a pocket (or even firing a gun from inside a pocket). It’s not ideal, though, since there are better ways to do it that make loading easier than fumbling around with loose rounds. These include the following.
Ways to Carry or Store Ammunition
A spare magazine (not clip) clipped to the pocket with a product like the Snagmag:
A speedloader attached to a holder fixed to a belt (for revolvers):
Speed strips (also for revolvers):
Various shell holders that slip onto a firearm’s stock (for rifles and shotguns):
On a belt:
In a dry box:
Last, but certainly not least, a gun safe:
And if you’re looking for something a bit more nimble, Gun Digest features a top 10 list of fast-access gun safes here.
Those are just a few of many options out there, and they offer pros and cons depending on your character’s needs.
How Do Your Characters Store Ammunition?
Leave a comment below. And, please, no orifice references unless you can pull off a delicious pun to match.
Get the Book
The 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: