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

body image.

The results:

1. “How hard is it to shoot off a lock?” Answer:

Very hard.

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

one shot.

Take that, Hollywood. I’ll never use this fallacious gimmick in any of my writing (ever again).