Are You Guilty of Spreading These Five Common Gun-Counter Myths?

Step into most gun stores or visit any Internet message board, and you’re certain to come across some fairly common stories and legends that have plagued the firearms community for decades. Despite readily available information that present fact-based rebuttals to these untruths, they seem to persist and actually grow as the years move on.

So, here you go: Five gun counter and message board myths that seemingly won’t go away, yet have almost no factual basis for continuing to propagate around the firearms world.

Racking the Action of a Shotgun is Enough to Scare Away Intruders

Gray haired man in dark sweater and gray pants holding a shotgun in the hallway of his home.
Don’t bank on the sound of a pump-action shotgun as the only deterrent to a home invader.

It’s almost impossible to walk into a gun store without hearing one of the counter sales people loudly work a shotgun’s action with a “Click-Clack,” while explaining that it’s the most recognizable and universally understood sound in the world. “Rack the action, and intruders will flee in fear!”

This may or may not be true, but choosing your home-defense weapon and strategy around the noise of an action working is, quite frankly, asinine. Racking the action, and hoping for the best, is guaranteed to tell an intruder two pieces of information: You’re present, and that you’re armed. If he doesn’t decide to leave (and that’s a big if), he can now decide how to tactically proceed in a way most beneficial to himself.

Not only this, but you’re giving up at least one round in your shotgun, which already has a frighteningly low capacity. Whether you’re ejecting a shell in the chamber to make some noise, or have simply left it empty to begin with and feed the chamber from the magazine, you aren’t doing yourself any favors by giving up precious ammunition.

Merely Owning a Gun is Enough to Protect Yourself

Boy snatching away a girl's revolver
Mere ownership doesn’t make you an expert. Train and then train some more.

Far too many gun owners view their concealed handgun as something akin to a magic talisman, in that possession alone is enough to create a deterrent to violent crime or form a sense of security. How many times have you heard somebody say “Oh, time for her to get a CHL.” with no follow up afterwards?

Shooting a handgun is difficult enough on a range with good lighting. Mix in the element of a surprise attack, low light, odd shooting angles, and uncertain spaces behind your target, and your handgun might just be as useful as the laminated plastic your permit is printed on.

It’s not enough to simply own a handgun. You have to train with it, under a variety of circumstances, for it to be effective.

Bullets Rise as they Leave the Muzzle

This one is particularly confusing, especially if you look at a linear trajectory table for any caliber. At first glance, it does indeed seem as though bullets rise, and then fall to the target. However, the simple realization that the muzzle is angled to create this rainbow-like trajectory will make all things clear. For example, when you throw a baseball, does the ball rise on its own accord? Of course not. The trajectory is created because you threw it at an angle.

Bullet Flight Path
Bullet Flight Path

Bullets are not baseballs, but they illustrate gravity the same way. Bullets don’t rise; they fall, and we have to impart an angle to them via elevation of the muzzle.

Leaving Magazines Loaded Will Wear Out the Springs

GLOCK 42 Magazines, Loaded
Leaving magazines loaded will not wear out the springs.

While there’s no question that magazine springs do eventually wear out and need to be replaced, it’s not entirely clear that leaving them loaded is what makes it happen. In fact, there’s a strong case to be made that rotating ammo in and out of your magazines is what causes springs to give out!

This makes sense if we think about it. Consider a wire coat hanger, as an example: If you bend it in half, it likely won’t break. Working the bend opened and closed, however, will eventually cause the wire to snap.

While magazine springs are made of much higher quality wire than a coat hanger is, the same principle applies. Working the springs is what wears them out, not leaving them in a static position. Load up your mags and don’t worry about them.

The AR-15 is Unreliable

Image shows I and a heart and underneath a picture of an AR-15 rifle.
It just isn’t true that the AR-15 isn’t reliable.

Nothing could be further from the truth. If your rifle and mags are built to the correct standards, and if you use decent ammo and perform even the most basic of maintenance tasks (apply oil through the ejection port periodically), you will never have a problem in thousands of rounds.

Given enough time and ammunition expended, any rifle will fail. And the AR-15 is certainly no exception. Most rifles will never even see a full case of ammo fired through their lifetimes, making much of the hubbub about AR-15 reliability issues a moot point at best, and a downright lie at worst.

What are some tall tales and mythical falsifications that you’ve heard perpetuated at the range or the gun counter? Let us know in the comments below.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog. "The Shooter's Log", is to provide information - not opinions - to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decicions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (122)

  1. The choice is to have a round in the chamber, “hammer” back and the gun in safe, or leave the chamber empty, “hammer” down and not on safe.

    If I were breaking into a home, the two things I would rather not deal with is a home owner, and a firearm.
    Racking the slide tells me both are there, AND a round has just been chambered.
    No than you!

  2. i hear or see these comments from newbies. how about racking the slide on your semi auto pistol. when the slide is in the open position after the last round, do i let the slide go back to battery with full force or use my weak hand and let it go back slowly with help. or dry firing your pistol, will this hurt the firing pin or hammer.

    1. Only let the slide go back to battery with full force if you are chambering a round. If the magazine is empty, remove the magazine and let the slide go back slowly. This will save unnecessary wear and tear on the pistol.

      Dry-firing modern day weapons will not hurt the firing pin or hammer.

  3. “For example, when you throw a baseball, does the ball rise on its own accord? ” properly thrown, a baseball with backspin will rise (relative to its base trajectory) on it’s own due to aerodynamic loads (much like a golf ball). bullets spin along the axis of their trajectory and do not impart aerodynamic loading (other than drag).

    1. george smythson you are absolutely correct. The ability to put “spin” on a round ball and change that balls flight path is well documented. If my Biomechanics recall is correct it is called the “Magnus Effect”. The spin on a bullet is through the longitudinal axis of that bullet and keeps the bullet on trajectory. Notice I used round ball earlier to describe the Magnus Effect. A football (American) is like a bullet and a good pass is one with a tight spiral. When a football doesn’t have a tight spiral it wobbles and looses its trajectory.

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