Dammit NCIS: LA

Last night at an entirely too late hour I was watching the season premiere of NCIS: Los Angeles (now with 50% more running LL Cool J) which you can watch at CBS’s website.  It’s called Human Traffic, and as episodes of the lesser NCIS go, it wasn’t too bad.  Except for one scene.  One part made me facepalm myself clean out of my chair.  If you watched it, and you’re a fan of this blog you can probably guess which scene.

Linda Hunt, who plays the local boss (and who I will always cherish for her magnificent performance in Silverado as Stella) is on the NCIS firing range practicing with what appears to be her carry gun.  It’s either a small frame revolver, and while I didn’t get too good a look at it, it appears to be a fairly generic J-frame.  Guess what she does for every shot – that’s right, she ears back the hammer and fires the gun in single action mode.  I was borderline shouting at my monitor “YOU PAID EXTRA FOR DOUBLE ACTION“.  Seriously, how many times have I talked about that on Gun Nuts?  It’s a serious pet peeve of mine, especially in compact, defensive revolvers.  Then, at the end of the scene, what does she do after reloading her gun?  She flicks her wrist to snap the cylinder closed…which is really hard on the crane of the revolver and done enough times will break your gun.

Now, interestingly enough though that particular clip demonstrates two of my favorite points.  Number 1 being obviously that you should shoot your DA carry revolvers in DA mode; but the second one is my other big revolver pet peeve.  That of course is that small frame, compact revolvers are terrible guns for women shooters.  Let’s take Linda Hunt as an example.  According to Wikipedia, she’s 4’9, is 65 years old, and I am willing to venture possesses less than 1/3 of my upper body strength.  I have a S&W Model 60 that I carry and has been tuned up a bit; even on that gun the double action trigger pull is over 10 lbs.  It is not an insignificant amount of weight, and extended dry-fire sessions will rapidly induce forearm fatigue.  In the hands of someone with reduced upper body and arm strength, that trigger becomes a tremendous chore to manage for even the five shots in the gun.  Every time I see someone recommend a snub-nosed revolver for a first gun for any shooter, but especially a female shooter it makes my head spin right off my shoulders.  And I say this as a devoted revolver shooter.

That does wrap up my rant, but seriously – shoot your defensive revolvers double action, and stop recommending snubbies for first carry guns.  It’s just good sense.


  1. The only time to fire a revolver in SA mode is if it’s pulling double duty as a hunting gun and you’re trying to get that critter.

  2. *sigh* Eventually I’ll have to worm my way into the revolver world, but so far they’re just not my thing. As for snubbies — well, the one time I tried Jay’s I didn’t get a single round on the bleedin’ paper.

    I’ll stick with my 239, thanks 🙂

  3. Imagine she’s firing SA because she can’t pull the trigger DA. Besides, it looks more deliberate and maybe threatening. Agree about her in Silverado, one of my favorite movies. So many quotable lines. If you want to get a real CSI going tell him you watch the show and think you could really get into doing his job. One of our guys did that at an AFTE (Firearms and Toolmark Examiners) convention and hearing him tell the story was hilarious.

  4. FWIW – I was shocked last night to watch the new Hawaii Five-O and actually see some decent gun handling. I kept waiting for the actors to do something stupid but didn’t catch any bad habits. In fact, I think they made the main character reload a little more frequently than he had to just to show that he was in fact reloading.

  5. Of course you realize you assume a 65yo woman has no business with a j-frame? What’s to say she can handle it and likes J-frames and shoots them quite often and with great skill? It may be unlikely, but it isn’t out of the realm of possibility.

    Seems to me, you fall into the same trap, different side, of those that do nothing but recommend a snubbie for a woman. Just as there is no reason to always recommend a snubbie for a woman doesn’t mean that a woman shouldn’t use a snubbie.

    Folks can and should use what they are capable and comfortable using. I’m a 6’6″ 350lb man who hates shooting j-frames with a passion, I love larger frame DA revolvers (K-Frames are only the second favorite things I like to get my hands on).

    As for single action fire of a DA revolver, I fail to see why anyone would get that worked up about it. I may think it’s wrong, but I don’t let others practicing this affect me in the least.

    Finally, the show is pretend, relax and enjoy.

  6. I watched that episode too. As I remember, at the end of the shooting session just before Callum retrieved the target, she dropped the mag and racked the slide before laying it down. I didn’t see her thumb a hammer, but it wasn’t a wheelgun.

  7. They probably have her do that because there’s no way on God’s green earth she could fire it in DA.

  8. Her character is supposed to be an operator who rose through the ranks. She should be experienced with arms but maybe she prefers the snubby and fires it single action as an adaptation to advancing arthritis.

    @Crucis – I watched the episode too. I never saw a semi-auto. I saw her firing a snub nosed revolver and thumbing the hammer for each shot, reloading the individual rounds instead of using a speedloader, and flipping the cylinder closed as Caleb said.

  9. As a writer myself, I go out of my way to research everything (or go out and do it, in the case of firearms) to make sure I get all the facts right, so I’m with Caleb in this regard. Shows like that have consultants, and it’s a shame no one thought to point out that realistically she wouldn’t be practicing SA shooting with that kind of gun.

    The show might be pretend, but most shows/movies are pretend, and let’s face it, the general public learns everything about guns from movies and tv. Thus, every misconception, fallacy, and prejudice people have about firearms comes from movies and tv. Thus, I think it’s totally fair to hold them to a high standard, especially since this is a procedural show.

    It is, after all, all about the details 😀

  10. This is not about guns…but I LOVE Silverado!, it’s my favorite movie!!!…next to Red Dawn..the original, yes Linda Hunt was fantastic, Brian Denehey plays a great bad guy!!!

  11. Since I’ve only ever fired one revolver, and that was an antique top-break SA in .32 S&W short (don’t quote me on that but it was .32 something) from 189? I can’t say much about shooting DA Revos. However, as a writer in the gun culture/industry, and someone with an understanding of the basic physics and operation of firearms I do have to agree about the piss poor representations of guns in the media.

    On the DA v. SA issue… Opting for SA makes sense to build tension for an execution or dramatic face off. Since these scenes usually only involve one shot the sound of the action and the reduced trigger pull add suspense, intimidation and tension since one light slip could dramatically change the story…also, it’s badass. But that doesn’t excuse full-on fire fights unless you’re in a western.

    Sure, I can suspend disbelief to a certain extent, and the writer in me understands (by focusing on the larger scope of the production) that too much attention to realism with firearms eats up the creative reserves needed to further a story line or amp up an action sequence. Nevertheless, there’s taking creative license and then there’s flagrant misuse/incompetence.

    In addition to what has already been mentioned here, there’s also the out-of-sight out of harm theory where simply putting an object as large as or larger than your body frame between you and a shooter makes you invincible. Then there’s the fact that apparently slides never lock back, so there’s no way to tell if you’re empty…if you ever can be. Still, it seems the best we can hope for is the few exceptions that actually portray firearms the way they actually function despite the plethora of horrible examples, because those bad examples aren’t going away until gun nuts become screen writers/consultants/producers/directors all in one.

    For those who haven’t read it… cracked.com can say what I’ve said, Caleb is saying and pretty much any other complaint we could drum up rather well….. http://www.cracked.com/article_18576_5-ridiculous-gun-myths-everyone-believes-thanks-to-movies_p2.html

  12. I agree with those above, I think you answered your own question of Why she shot it SA.

    “on that gun the double action trigger pull is over 10 lbs. It is not an insignificant amount of weight, and extended dry-fire sessions will rapidly induce forearm fatigue.”

    Didn’t want to have a sore arm from God only knows how many takes of that scene, makes sense to me.

  13. Wow, lots of comments. Okay, backing up – Crucis, it definitely was a snubbie. The episode is available online I think the relevant scene is right around 30 or 35 minutes or so.

    Joe, it’s not quite the same thing. I don’t believe that there is a 1-solution weapon for any shooter, everything is always going to have trade-offs. I’m not even opposed to women purchasing a snub gun. The thing is that I don’t really “recommend” any gun to a new shooter – I try to give them the pros and cons of the various choices and tell them to go shoot them and see what they like. It’s been my personal experience that most new shooters and female shooters tend to dislike J-frames when they shoot them.

  14. While I can’t stand NCIS: LA, I will have to agree with you, Caleb, about Linda Hunt as Stella in Silverado. One of my absolute favorite movies.

  15. I remember her in Dune, as the Shadout Mapes. Too bad her character was killed, but that’s how it goes.

  16. OK. I know I am gonna get pounded for this, but why would anyone put up with a DA trigger? (other than masochism, of course.)

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