My unknowing Jedi Master Charles Stross pointed out this little bit of
amateur mythbusting: The universal movie gimmick of someone shooting open a padlock is debunked
in fairly scientific fashion by a couple of serious gun enthusiasts. To
be fair, they were using a decent sized 2-inch padlock and were
shooting it from a few feet away, so they don't precisely replicate the
movie imagery. Then again, only an idiot puts a gun barrel point blank
against a block of metal, unless he wants some lovely close-range
shrapnel or lead spatter to maul his hands, arms, face, and general
1. "How hard is it to shoot off a lock?" Answer:
2. Pistols won't shoot a lock off or even penetrate the
3. Pistols are pistols and rifles are rifles. Enough said.
4. I now understand why our troops are often seen carrying
"breeching shotguns" on their backs and a rifle
in their hands. Shotguns will blow a lock off. Rifles
will blow holes through a lock, but will not reliably
shoot one off.
5. The rifles went through the locks with ease. It is
obvious that you could "knaw" off the lock,
little by little with a rifle, but a shotgun does it with
Take that, Hollywood. I'll never use this fallacious gimmick in any of my writing (ever again).
Jay Garmon has a vast and terrifying knowledge of all things obscure, obtuse, and irrelevant. One day, he hopes to write science fiction, but for now he'll settle for something stranger — amusing and abusing IT pros. Read his full profile. You can also follow him on his personal blog.