1. JadeX
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    JadeX Active Member

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    Are sawed-off firearms a personal safety risk?

    Discussion in 'Research' started by JadeX, Oct 30, 2015.

    I was checking out some stuff the other day about the Columbine shooting, and I learned that in the video of them testing their guns at a shooting range, both boys complained that their sawed-off shotgun hurt to fire and in some cases left cuts and/or abrasions on their hands.

    As my current WIP novel deals with an anti-government revolution, I had figured that the rebels might likely "saw off" weapons like shotguns and rifles in a similar fashion, to make them more modular and easier to conceal. But I didn't think that doing so could cause injury to the shooter. If that's a common thing, then it may pose a problem for my characters.

    I'm gonna need someone with firearms experience to tell me - is this a fairly common issue with illegally-converted sawed-off weapons, or did the Columbine kids just do it wrong?
     
  2. uncephalized
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    uncephalized Active Member

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    A sawed-off weapon will have more kick because it's lighter, so will hurt the shoulder more, but I don't know why it would cause cuts on the hands.
     
  3. Bookster
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    Bookster Banned

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    Most people who aren't all that familiar with firearms don't grip them tightly enough, and any gun could cause injury to the hands if that's the case. A shortened shotgun would have more recoil, as @uncephalized said, but it's also possible that your characters wouldn't necessarily be firing those close-quarter weapons a lot, anyway.
     
  4. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    You can saw off a shotgun because the pellets already present a spray pattern. By sawing off part of the barrel you are able to achieve a wider, more open pattern. (Able to do more damage w/o actually having to be accurate with your aim.

    However--you cannot saw off a rife. (Well, you could but it would have a huge effect of your accuracy.) A rifle shoots a single projectile, not a spray pattern of pellets. The rifling in the barrel cause the bullet to spin. This helps to stabilize the bullet, which improve its aerodynamic stability and accuracy. If you saw the rifle off, you loose a good portion of the rifling, and loose accuracy, which matters much more for rifles than shotguns.
     
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  5. uncephalized
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    uncephalized Active Member

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    @KhalieLa, that's true, although the use case for a sawed-off gun is usually as a short-range concealed weapon--at 10 or 15 yards, even half a rifle barrel will still put the bullet pretty close to the target. Another issue is that a shorter barrel sacrifices muzzle velocity since the bullet has less distance to accelerate, so you are also reducing stopping power/penetration. This would hold for shotguns too.
     
  6. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    Not knowing much about the shooters you mentioned, my guess is that their sawn off shot gun hurt their hands because they were trying to fire it one handed like a pistol. There would be a temptation to do that since it doesn't weigh what it used to and may not have the place for the second hand.

    As to recoil my guess (and I stress guess) is that it would actually be less in a sawn off weapon. As uncephalized points out muzzle velocity of the projectile decreases as the barrel gets shorter simply because as the bullets moving along the barrel being propelled by the expanding gasses it's accelerating all the way. Recoil is simply the equal and opposite force. I think this would be a more important factor than the weight of the weapon.

    I once did some research on the Desert Eagle fifty calibre pistols and discovered that there's two barrel lengths for them. A six or seven inch and an eleven inch. The elevn inch has significantly more stopping power due to muzzle velocity even though everything else is the same.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  7. BrianIff
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    BrianIff I'm so piano, a bad punctuator. Contributor

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    If the part of the stock was not sanded where the cut was made, yes, the recoil would be concentrated in the palm for a gun that's meant to be stabilized by both hands and the shoulder, and that would be enough force to cause an abrasion. It has nothing to do with barrel length or caliber, insofar as the weapon will have enough kick to require a stock.

    ETA: No, even small caliber guns could cause cuts if the grip had sharp edges.
     
  8. BrianIff
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    BrianIff I'm so piano, a bad punctuator. Contributor

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  9. rja2015
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    rja2015 New Member

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    If you're fighting the soldiers, you've got to have long range weapons such as rifles. A sawed-off shot gun is only effective in close quarters combat.
     
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  10. JadeX
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    JadeX Active Member

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    Yes, that's exactly what it was! In the video they were indeed firing them one-handedly. Alright, so that makes sense and answers that question. I suppose adding a foreword pistol grip attached to the pump action would solve that problem.

    Makes sense! As far as Columbine is concerned, it's likely that they did make sloppy cuts. Everything they did was sloppy, just look at the "time bombs" they built LOL. They were just amateurs following vague instructions they found on the internet. So between sloppy cuts and poor firing technique, I think we've answered the question as to how they hurt their hands. So for my title question - "Are sawed-off firearms a personal safety risk?" - the answer would be "Only if you don't know what you're doing."

    Good point. The same would apply to rifles as well.

    Speaking of sawed-off rifles, there is actually a Wikipedia article about it, so apparently it is a known concept:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Short-barreled_rifle

    In my story they would be fully-automatic assault rifles, such as AK-47s and M14s. I'm thinking they would cut the stock off, shorten the barrel, add a foregrip, and use them for hit-and-run style close-quarters attacks in an urban environment, so I think it'll work, right?
    (These modifications would be made so they could be easier concealed in clothing, handbags, etc., quickly whipped out and fired from behind walls, windows, whatever cover there is, then quickly bagged up and ditched in the sewer, and then the guerillas recede back into the civilian populace and retrieve the weapons afterwards. Quick "Hit-Run-Hide" style kinda deal.)
     
  11. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Why M14s? It's a largely obsolete design. Why not the already smaller, lighter, more modular, and in most ways better M4? If the fighting will happen in close quarters, why not go with carbines like the aforementioned M4, the HK MP5, or even bullpups like the FN P90? Carbines were made for situations where a rifle would be unnecessarily big/powerful. There's a reason why assault teams don't saw off rifles but instead choose firearms designed to be smaller to begin with.

    I've heard of infantry folks in Iraq etc. even shoulder their rifles in very tight spaces and instead use their sidearms instead of their rifles because of the chance that in very narrow corridors with doors on both sides, a bad guy could grab the barrel of the two-handed weapon and it'd end up being a fucked-up tangle whereas with a pistol, you can lead with your weak hand and should a tangle ensue, your pistol is free to put down the bad guy.
    That being said, why not handguns?
     
  12. croak3r
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    croak3r Member

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    I agrea with T.Trian, the M14 would be an odd choice since it's hardly a modern rifle or short either. An AK is a good idea though, since you could have them use ones like the AKMS which have a folding stock, so they wouldnt need to cut them down and the stock could still be used.
     
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  13. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Oh yeah, another thing about the M14: it's chambered in the powerful 7.62x51 NATO cartridge which is great for longer ranges, against vehicles, body armor, hunting (often used for hunting deer) etc, but mostly far too powerful for urban environments since the round can punch through people, walls etc. and hit innocent civilians behind those objects, thus breaking the 2nd of Jeff Cooper's 4 golden rules of gun safety: never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy (and that includes whatever is behind the target through which the bullet may go).
    A war zone is a little bit different since the distances tend to be greater and often the direction you're firing in has only enemies, so if the bullet punches through one enemy soldier and hits another, it's only a good thing, but when there are innocent civilians running around like e.g. in malls or busy streets... very bad idea unless you want innocent casualties.

    Also, the 7.62x51/.308Win has much stronger recoil than e.g. the .5.56x45 NATO/.223Rem, so it's much less controllable in rapidly changing urban combat vs. longer distance shooting (also note the stock 20rd magazine capacity of the M14 vs. 30rds for the M4 or, if it has to be a rifle, M16/AR-15, not to mention M14 mags are harder to find than AR-15 mags sold everywhere). Also, if you compare the M14 to the AR-10, while they share the same caliber, the AR-10, being more modern, has much more manageable recoil and is generally less unwieldy and very modular in comparison to the old M14.

    Why do they want full-auto or select fire weapons anyway since they're military weapons, i.e. very, very difficult to acquire for civilians, and full-auto is so useless outside military applications? Firing full-auto in e.g. a mall or crowded street might well hit nobody, but it might hit several innocent civilians, so its uses are extremely limited and even then mostly in military applications in combat zones instead of urban situations where a regular semi-auto like the AR-15 (or AR-10 if you insist on the 7.62x51/.308 caliber) would be far more effective.

    Also, actually hitting their targets with full-auto is extremely difficult because most full-auto weapons are very uncontrollable unless we're talking about mounted machine guns. Some newer firearms can fire fairly accurate, short bursts, especially the ones chambered in handgun rounds like the 9x19mm, like the aforementioned MP5 and P90 because they're far more controllable due to better designs and much weaker recoil of the weaker round. Those older full-auto/selective fire rifles were notoriously difficult to fire accurately in full-auto. If it has to be an old design in a large caliber, the G3 would be at least a more accurate option although it's even less concealable.

    As for the wiki article on short-barreled rifles, shorter, e.g. 16" barrels are usually not sawed off from longer barrels by the end user, but bought ready-made (or sawed off and finished by a gun smith to ensure the consistency of the rifling) and then usually installed by a gun smith or someone with the appropriate skills (not something I'd attempt myself even if I had the tools). That's how much of a difference the consistency of the rifling in the bore makes on accuracy (or lack thereof).

    Furthermore, no matter how you cut up an M14 or an AK, you'd need one huge handbag to fit one inside and you definitely won't be whipping it out quickly from one either. I don't know why they need to be ditched after a shootout since, if the shooter gets caught, it's still possible to prove they've fired a weapon from powder burns etc. even if they use gloves, so ditching the weapon would only make the shooter unarmed during an escape.
    Personally I'd rather keep the firearm in case I need one during the escape and, only after I've gotten away, take care of destroying all evidence if necessary, which would include showering and scrubbing, and, depending on the situation, burning the clothes in some remote location and getting rid of the firearm in some other remote location totally unrelated to you, your mission, or anything else, i.e. everything has to be totally random.

    In my honest opinion, handguns would really be a more practical option in most urban situations if concealability, quick access, and being easy to get rid of/difficult to trace are important.

    Just my 0,02€.
     
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  14. JadeX
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    JadeX Active Member

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    *sigh* Now I have to do WAY more explaining than I ever intended.

    Because they don't EXIST.
    My story is an alternate history which, while it takes place roughly present-day, occurs fifty years after the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 turns the Cold War hot. Therefore, any weapons designed after 1962 do not exist.


    Fair point.

    Another good point. Pistols such as the M1911 or SMGs like the M1A1 Thompson may actually be a better choice.

    Yeah, that's operating on the assumption that the world in my story is even remotely similar to the world we live in, which it is not. Not even close. There are no civilian weapons. The only kind of gun any civilian has touched or even seen in the past half a century are BB and pellet guns, for small game hunting and pest control (and that's only in very remote and/or rural areas). Firearms are not available to ANYONE, anywhere, period.
    WW3 was forced to an end by the invasion of an extraterrestrial race. (Keep in mind, whenever you see the word "government", that I am not talking about a human government here)
    These aliens, having had a drastically different evolutionary path, never really developed any infantry-style weapons, as they never even had a hostile skirmish on their home planet until well after they were capable of aviation (compare with humans, who have been obsessed with killing each other since the dawn of time) and weren't even introduced to the concept of full-fledged warfare until they began interstellar travel. Thus, the only weaponry they had was long-range stuff like missiles, artillery, bombs, cannons, and the like. They never had anything like firearms, so in the early days of their occupation of Earth, they seized human-made firearms from militaries around the world to use for security purposes, such as defending government positions and infrastructure, domestic law enforcement, suppressing violence, etc. Eventually they built their own weapons based on the design of human firearms; however, many of the original human-built military-grade weapons still exist in armouries scattered globally, for use in training and by reserve forces.

    Furthermore, while most human military infrastructure was destroyed during/after the war, a few surviving and abandoned arms factories provide a rare exception. Most of these are Kalashnikova plants in "closed towns" in the Soviet Union.

    Between the firearms stocked in reserve armouries, and the ones that could potentially be built using surviving equipment, it would actually be MUCH EASIER to obtain fully-automatic weapons than their semi-auto counterparts.
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2015

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