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Do you have a hard time watching movies without pointing out all the little discrepancies (and annoying your family members in the process)?

Me, too! While there are too many movies with military errors to list them all, here are some of the top service and firearm mistakes which frustrate me to no end.


Is the character trying to salute, or is the actor shielding the sun from their eyes? There’s a big difference in hand placement.


THE TRIGGER FINGER Although not a military movie, this is my favorite example of WHY YOU DON’T KEEP YOUR FINGER ON THE TRIGGER.

When it’s not part of the plot (as it was in Pulp Fiction), every time I see some actor holding the gun with their finger on the trigger, it’s like nails on a chalkboard.

The countless movies with actors who don’t handle their guns correctly are astounding.

IT’S “OVER” OR “OUT”, NOT BOTH For some reason, somewhere along the line it became acceptable in movies to say “Over and out” when signing off on a walkie-talkie or HAM radio.

In reality, it’s either “over” -when you’re waiting for a response, or “out” -meaning the conversation is finished. If it was a civilian telephone, “out” would be the equivalent of “Goodbye” and hanging up.

STARS’ WARS Too often the military stars, stripes, and uniforms in movies aren’t accurate and are improperly matched to the character’s supposed rank.

The funniest of these gaffs launched a nationwide (albeit short-lived) controversy over – wait for it – Cap’n Crunch! Supposedly the Captain of a U.S. ship, he only wears 3 stripes on his uniform instead of 4 – making him a Commander, not Captain.

To confuse things further, he is also wearing a Napoleonic French Captain hat. Hmmm… sounds like a breakfast conspiracy to me!

NOTE: There is a rumor that movie studios military costume designs are intentionally wrong to avoid legal ramifications of impersonating an officer in the service.

This is just a rumor. In fact, U.S. Code Title 10, Subtitle A, part 2, states specifically to the contrary. It reaffirms that a military uniform can be as accurate as possible in movies.


One of Mike’s biggest pet peeves is when the soldiers assigned to guard duty are shown talking to each other instead of paying attention.

Inevitably, the invaders take advantage of the distracted guards and end up storming the building. Or, when the servicemen are trekking through enemy territory and they tromp through the woods, talking loudly and giving away their position.


Speaking of giving away your position, “skylining” in movies is a huge annoyance for those who have actually served.

You know it in movies as that big, epic, wide shot of the platoon on the move, walking on top of a ridge in a single-file line, their silhouettes against the backdrop of the beautiful scenic skyline (hence the nickname “skylining”).

That does NOT happen in reality. If it did, the squad would be left out in the open, exposed for all to see. You might as well paint targets on everyone.

I like to call these last four the “MAGICAL FIREARMS” category:


It’s always hilarious to see John Wayne and other movie figures brandish a gun that hadn’t been invented yet within the period of the movie.

This is such a topic of interest, there’s an entire database of the guns used in movies at There are so many movies with this error, it would be easier to list the movies that DO have total timeline-appropriate weapons.


This is so common in action movies that named it “Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship”.

20 heavily-armed guards shooting after 1 or 2 people (mostly using the “spray and pray” technique), and miraculously miss every time.

Which brings us to its cousin tropes: WASTING AMMO and ENDLESS AMMO. Especially with semi-automatic weapons, the “spray and pray” seems the only way movie soldiers know how to fire a gun.

It just wastes ammo and is rarely effective, but is invariably supported by the magical never-ending supply of bullets in the gun.

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