“Taxes are not levied for the benefit of the taxed.”
by Lazarus Long




"walls of the city" logo conceptualized by Oleg Volk and executed by Linoge. Logo is © "walls of the city".

gunsmoke lied. twice.

Dear producers and writers of “American Guns”, and staff and owners of “Gunsmoke”, 

I understand the need to exaggerate and embellish a little to make “good” television shows – after all, reality can be somewhat boring from time to time, and you want to ensure the people watching your show today continue watching it tomorrow and the next day.  So you tweak a few little details: you have targets explode when they are hit with nothing more than standard full-metal jacket rounds, you add gas cans in extreme circumstances to get that Hollywood-esque fireball effect, and you generally hype your firearms until they are the most awesomest thing ever.  I get it, and I can deal with it for the most part. 

What I cannot abide, however, is outright lying, and in your most-recent episode, you lied, twice, in easily verifiable fashions, on network television. 

First, this is not a “high-explosive” round for a 20mm cannon/rifle: 

As anyone with a modicum of military experience (or access to the internet) would be able to tell you, all-blue ammunition is indicative of training rounds, which are completely, entirely inert, as explained quite nicely here:  “Projectile Type: Target Practice (TP), Color of Painting:  Blue, Blue, Blue, Blue.”  For those more visually oriented, this *.pdf has a nice listing of all the main 20mm round types, and note how none of the “SAPHEI” (Semi-Armor-Piercing, High-Explosive, Incendiary), “HEI” (High-Explosive, Incendiary), or “MPT-SD” (Multi-Purpose Tracer, Self-Destruct) rounds are colored blue; in fact, if I remember my training accurately (I was never stationed on an actual “shooter” in the Navy), all high-explosive rounds have to have yellow somewhere on their round. 

So, yes, Rich Wyatt lied to his gunsmiths (who should have known better, and thus may have been in on the lie) and the American public when he set that round down on the bench, and he lied to the customer and the American public when that not-at-all-explosive round “blew up” the pile of brush at the end of the episode: 

Yeah.  No.  Nice display of remote-detonated pyrotechnics, though. 

But it went downhill from there.  Grenade launchers are tightly-controlled and regulated by the National Firearms Act as “Destructive Devices”, and grenades themselves are likewise controlled by the same piece of legislation – a background check, $200 tax stamp, and increasingly long waiting period is necessary to purchase both the grenade launcher and every single grenade.  So you can imagine my surprise when Gunsmoke and American Guns made it seem like they sold Niki Jones of Austin Sure Shots a “grenade launcher” over the counter without all of the necessary paperwork and time. 

Only it was not a grenade launcher.  It was this: 

And that, as the video clearly shows, sure as hell is not an “M203 Grenade Launcher”; in truth, that is a Spikes Tactical 37mm Flare Launcher.  As in non-explosive.  Non-lethal.  Non-regulated.  Not much more than a signaling device.  And completely incapable of creating a detonation like this: 

Hell, your average grenade launcher does not make booms like that. 

So in the end, why does this bother me so much?  Well, at the most basic level, I hate lies – there is rarely a need to break the truth this far, and the story, in this case, would not be greatly diminished with just straight-up honesty*. 

However, my dislike goes even beyond that.  Gunsmoke is now actively feeding and catering to the “gun control” extremist hysteria that anyone can simply walk into your average gun store and walk out with a grenade launcher capable of leveling a city block.  I may hate the incessant drama-llama-ing in Sons of Guns, but at least they periodically touched on the requirements and regulations NFA-controlled firearms are subject to, and did not make their transactions seem like over-the-counter nothings. 

Yes, 20mm rifles are “Destructive Devices” under the National Firearms Act, and require the purchaser to jump through all of the necessary hoops (none of which were even mentioned). 

No, civilian-legal 20mm ammunition cannot do what they showed in the television show, not even if he could get his hands on some HEI rounds. 

Yes, grenade launchers are also regulated under the NFA, and require all kinds of paperwork to transfer, as do their active ammunition. 

No, that was not a grenade launcher. 

No, that device could not have created that explosion. 

No, your average real grenade launcher could not have created that explosion. 

But now anti-rights cultists will have “definitive proof” to point to when they start screeching about how dangerous these “grenade launchers” we can supposedly buy over-the-counter (and you can buy flare launchers over-the-counter) can be, or how destructive 20mm rifles can be (and they are destructive, but not that destructive).  Thanks, idiots. 

In the future, how about you just stick to reality?  Guns are fun enough on their own without you gratuitously inflating their capabilities to the point of ridiculousness, and we have enough trouble with “gun control” extremists spreading misinformation and lies without someone like an actual gun shop helping them out by feeding them ammunition.  Stop that. 



(* – Though, that said, I am not entirely sure where the “avalanche control engineer” can actually get HEI rounds for his 20mm, or that they would be sufficient to induce avalanches.) 

20 comments to gunsmoke lied. twice.

  • Lynn H

    Sometimes I’m glad I don’t have access to cable and don’t care to pay for satellite. My blood pressure’s high enough as it is.

  • I gave up on that show when they said the Thompson was the first sub machine gun.

  • I was watching this episode with the wife and when I saw the blue rocket and heard the associated BS they were saying, I turned to the wife and said “They have gone Sons of Guns on us.”

    And changed channels. Forever.

  • […] gunsmoke lied. twice. | walls of the city. […]

  • Farm.Dad

    They are well known here in the state as sleaze bags who have pretty much destroyed their repeat customer base and are left with the gullible and inexperienced. A few google searches on the business and owner will quickly turn up why.

  • dagamore

    I was under the impression that a 20mm rifle, as its larger then .50″ and not a smooth bore(i.e. it has rifling) as also classified as a DD and you needed a stamp and forms with the ATF-E(BAFTE?(or what ever they are calling them self’s this week)) but i could be wrong.

  • weambulance

    Ha wow, they couldn’t even make the explosions look realistic? That brush pile looked like it was hit by a 60mm mortar (at least!), and the “grenade” looked a lot more like a gasoline or other liquid fuel deflagration. Real 40mm grenades are thoroughly unimpressive, and the 20mm can only be less so. I mean… a 20mm HEI projectile only has about 1/3 ounce of high explosive in it. A normal hand grenade has ~20x more explosive in it, and they’re visually unimpressive as well.

    I’m not sorry I stopped watching it after one episode. What a bunch of absolute idiots, for lying to begin with, for their technical incompetence in lying, and for all the reasons you gave regarding public perception.

  • 20mm for avalanche control? All I’ve ever seen used for that is 75mm and 105mm recoilless rifles…

    I kinda doubt a 20mm would be large enough to reliably trigger an avalanche.

  • Pyrotek85

    @ weambulance:

    If I remember right my buddy said that grenades (at least the hand held kind) use C4 or something similar, and the explosion is just a concussive wave, not fiery at all.

    I guess Hollywood just likes them fireballs. Kinda like how they’ll show cars explode or burst into flames with the slightest bump or gunshot when it’s convenient to the plot.

  • boardsnbikes

    I couldn’t get over the quoted AR-10 price of > $7,000 in that episode. Forgive me, but in that price range I’d be looking at a Garrett or Accuracy Int’l tactical rifle with a Nightforce or equivalent quality scope. I may be off a few bucks but you get my point.

  • AM

    Some “TPT” ammunition is “explosive” in that it has a “flash bang” charge so you can see the impact for easier training (watching for splash on target past 1k is a beast without an attention getter on the projectile, even with really good optics). I couldn’t tell you if the 20mm round on American Guns was that variety or not. So it may not have been a lie, but it was definitely misleading.

    As far as the 37mil flare gun goes, you are correct, it is not a grenade launcher, and the moment some idjit makes a 37mil grenade everyone with a flare gun attached to their m4gery will be backdoor raped by the BATFU.

  • Wayne Conrad

    My handy checklist for determining what on TV can be believed:

    Q: Is it on TV?
    If Y: Then it’s BS

    Especially, all reality TV is scripted. There’s too much money in it to leave anything to chance.

  • MAJ Mike

    I’ve stopped watching “American Guns” and “Sons of Guns”. “American Guns” relies upon a bit too much “T&A” from Mom and daughter. “Sons of Guns” lost me when they tarted up the British armored car, a combat vehicle, for a municipal civilian police force. Both tend too much toward supporting the militarization of the civilian police forces with heavy weapons.

    Won’t watch either one anymore.

  • Ted N

    Dug up some stories about that shop, what a douchebag. Ridiculous prices on fairly plain guns and classes; “nonrefundable” deposits that are never noted as such and a terrible asspain to get back; taking payment for a gun, then running the 4473 and finding out the transfer is denied and refusing refund, but offering to sell it minus his 20%… Hope he gets cancer and dies in a fire, he’s not helping anybody on this side of the grass.

    No wonder he needs the Discovery Channel money. Wonder how much he’s getting from them, I bet it isn’t as much as we’d think.

  • greenmeanie

    When I was in the Army (back in the 79’s) we shot the LAW a bunch of times. The blue tipped rocket is a TRAINING round! Not much bang to it. The real round is bigger and boomier.

    Also, who in their right mind would let their, then minor and now barely legal, daughter run around on camera with painted on jeans and showing that much skin? How many MORE freaks are gonna stalk her because of that? Also it will give the anti’s something else to bitch about.

  • I am saddened by this but not surprised. I doubt if the producers of this program care one way or the other how they portray lawful gun owners to the public, much less the anti-gun crowd. In fact, part of me suspects they would be proud if the anti’s used their program as evidence, even if it’s fake. The jump in ratings would make them some money, and that’s what it’s about.

  • Bobby 55B10

    All U.S. ARMY Ammunition is to be clearly marked to indicate H.E. by OD green with Yellow markings.

    I almost fell off the sofa when I saw the 37mm on the side of the launcher. I’m still watching only for the gun porn now.

  • Wow. This might be the farthest my comments sections have ever gotten without input from me. Interesting…

    @ Lynn H: Eh. Things like Mythbusters and Big Bang Theory and Eureka offset idiocy like this. Not that you cannot acquire those from other sources, but cable TV is typically easier.

    @ RobertM: Unsurprisingly, their ignorance is not limited to a single arena ;).

    @ Miguel: See, I want shows loosely like this – I love the gun porn, I love that it is normalizing firearms in American society, and I like seeing craftsmen at work. But when they pull crap like this… well, I can only stand so much.

    @ Farm.Dad: Yeah, I did some digging around on them back when the show was first announced, and I cannot say as though I was terribly impressed – their engraving “Gunsmoke” on the side of a firearm when no such engraving was agreed upon or requested really irked me. But this is the first instance I can personally point to and, first-hand, say “That is wrong.”

    @ dagamore: 20mms are Destructive Devices, and I think I mentioned that in the post. Of course, greater than .50 and rifled is not necessarily a solid indicator, either – that .950 monstrosity got a “sporting purpose” exemption and is happily not a DD. If you can buy one of the four that exists.

    @ weambluance: I started giggling hysterically at the brush explosion once I noticed that the actual explosion was at a 90* angle to the impact of the supposedly “explosive” round. Yeah. Because physics works like that. And then I started giggling even more when they actually showed the slow-motion shot of the “grenade” detonation which very clearly shows, as you indicated, the two-stage liquid-fueled nature of the fireball. I mean, lying is one thing, but then happily showing us exactly how you lied? That takes stones. Or something.

    @ John Hardin: I rather have some doubts myself, especially given how little luck Mythbusters had inducing an avalanche with even a .50 (which, granted, is about half the diameter of a 20mm, and not at all explosive, but still).

    @ Pyrotek85: Military explosives have very little of the “flash” we have been trained into thinking should be there, unless, of course, they are expressly designed to provide that effect (napalm, for example). After all, it is just wasted energy.

    @ boardsnbikes: And remember that was after they “took off” $3k for the AR-15 trade-in Niki provided. And, seriously, POF wants $3k for theirs, JP wants around $3.5k, and Knight’s Armament wants almost $4k. That paint job sure as hell did not cost $6k (especially since Paige did it), so unless they used solid gold parts, I am not sure where the money went. Aside from “in their pockets”.

    @ AM: Well, either way, that brush pile explosion was not a result of the round fired out of the 20mm, regardless of whether it had any HE material in it or not :).

    @ Wayne Conrad: That may be the case, but they are still presenting the events as “real”, regardless of the “reality television” aspect of it, and the facts certainly say otherwise.

    @ MAJ Mike: Honestly, I cannot say as though I remember “American Guns” catering to the LEO segment… at all. As in ever. I could be misremembering, though.

    @ Ted N: And if you want even more indications of Rich’s character, look up the stories regarding his divorce from his first wife… not exactly the best history ever. But, as I said, those are all things I only learned about second- and third-hand, this I witnessed myself.

    I have always wondered how much shows like this pay, though, now that you mention it. On the one hand, it is free advertising for them, but on the other, it probably does suck up a fair bit of their time and impose something of an awkwardness on their business. Dunno.

    @ greenmeanie: I really just cannot get myself too wound up about what the girl chooses to wear, or what her father “allows” her to wear, or however you want to phrase it. I think (though I am not certain) that she is currently legally an adult, in which case her father can pack sand if he tries to tell her what to wear (unless there is some degree of equally applied dress code for the shop, and he is only speaking towards her employment), and before then… *shrug* I would certainly tell my own teenage daughter “Oh hell no” if she tried to leave the house attired in that particular fashion, but it seems to be the norm for her and her mother, so whatever.

    @ Fill Yer Hands: As the saying goes, there is no such thing as bad publicity. But, no, given Sons of Guns and now this idiocy, the Discovery Channel does not seem interested in a fair, safe, and factual representation of the firearm-owning community, which is kind of a shame, given the channel in question and its purported mission (which, granted, seems to have been lost in their never-ending quest for new and different reality shows).

    @ Bobby 55B10: That is pretty much the only reason I ever watched, but even that is stretching thin these days…

  • I’m sorry, I stopped watching that show after the first episode when they were pimping out their daughter. That plus I googled the guy and read how he screwed up so manypeoples weapons through pure ineptitude.

  • Yeah, I still cannot get too spun up about their attire, but I completely agree that screwing up other people’s guns and then being a bastard about refunding their money is, indeed, scummish behavior.