Counting Bullets

Took my pistol to the range this a.m. and put a couple hundred rounds though it (225, to be precise.) While my miserable shot grouping isn’t the subject of this post – clearly, I only have a single point in Guns (Pistol) – what did occur to me is how frequently I lost track of the bullet count and was momentarily surprised when my magazine was empty.

This led me to thinking: how is it that PCs in a RPG are able to know exactly how many rounds they actually have fired? In an Ultra Tech situation, that’s easy – an ammo counter might display this, ala the M41A Pulse Rifle of Aliens fame or perhaps the character has a HUD running that tells him this – but in a more modern society? I spent four years in the Army as an infantryman and even in a carefully controlled environment like a gun range, I lose track of my count.

In GURPS: Tactical Shooting, there’s a bit about Situational Awareness on page 11 that remarks simply that the game presumes everyone is aware of things that are difficult to monitor in real life, but doesn’t include ammo count; mostly, it’s about being able to track additional threats and the like, but this also seems like an appropriate thing that a good shooter should be aware of. Later, on page 32, there’s a bit about “Harsh Realism for Tactical Shooters” but to my surprise, no reference to bullet counting.

Now, for someone with the Gunslinger advantage, for example, it makes perfect sense to ignore this as they are likely immediately aware of exactly how many rounds a specific firearm has expended. Yeah, I’m looking at you, Sterling Archer. But what about less experienced shooters?

My first instinct is to say “ignore this for anyone with Combat Reflexes” and then apply an extra second (or even two!) to reload times for those without to reflect the “BANG! BANG! Click! Crap! I’m out of ammo!” bit.

Still considering…