Psycho-Sexual Analysis of Guns, Part 2

I recently posted some thoughts on the psycho-sexual aspects of defensive ammunition from James William Gibson’s book Warrior Dreams: Violence and Manhood in Post-Vietnam America. We all know that guns are phalluses, but who knew that an expanded hollow point bullet is like an erect penis and a wound channel in ballistic gelatin is like a vagina?

Gibson actually takes the analysis even further. If guns are phallic then what about gun holders? Yes, “Holsters are always erotically charged. . . . Even the process of making a leather holster has sexual overtones. To make a holster, leather is ‘wet worked,’ meaning that wet leather is stretched over a particular model of gun and then dried to give the holster its shape. Some custom-holster makers request that a consumer mail them his gun, so that a holster can be made so tight it will only accept that particular gun—not just any Cold 5-inch .45 automatic, but his .45 automatic. Such a holster is the ideal . . .” Wait for it.

Photo from
Photo from

“. . .vagina, since it firmly grips its owner and rejects all other suitors” (p. 96).

My vaginas, er, holsters . . . are made by a fellow North Carolinian, Matt Rector of MTR Custom Leather. Which I guess makes Matt a pimp, because I give him money for vaginas.

Interestingly, even though guns are phallic symbols, they can also be seen as like women. Men love them, they have passion for them, they like to hold and admire them. (Again, as noted my previous post, I am not sure what this means for women who like guns. If guns are penises, then women who like them would have “penis envy,” but if guns are women, then I guess women who like them would be lesbian?)

Gibson draws on a review of a Star 9mm BM pistol by Robert Lange in Special Weapons and Tactics magazine (March 1988) in which Lange talks about his personal carry gun, the Star BM, as “a love story.” Lange writes, “Passion, then, must overrule a certain degree of objectivity . . . I am in love with Star pistols and I must admit that it is love in the extreme, for all the members of the family” (p. 97).


Lange goes on to characterize his Star BM as like a woman: “Apart from the fact that the thing works every time, the BM’s most enduring quality is its feel. Like a woman’s, the Star’s design was gotten right for the first time.”

What does this mean psych-sexually, according to Gibson? Well, “If a man is ‘firing’ a woman-weapon, then controlling the recoil of the weapon is like controlling a woman’s body as she moves . . .” Wait for it.

“in orgasm.”

Me controlling recoil like an orgasmic woman at MAG-40
Me controlling recoil like an orgasmic woman at MAG-40

I didn’t know what to say about this really, so I read the passage to my wife, Sandy, who hit the nail on the head: “Has that guy ever shot a gun or been with a woman?”

Props to my wife, who doesn’t get enough props on this blog. As I noted in my first ever post, Sandy inspired me to try shooting with tales of qualifying as an expert with the Beretta M9 in the US Coast Guard. The image of Sandy below is from a story by Massad Ayoob in Shooting Industry magazine. She’s still got it, handling that recoil . . . Wait for it.

From Shooting Industry Magazine, March 2013
From Shooting Industry Magazine, March 2013

. . . like a shooter.


  1. This blog is going to help make Amazon richer. So how about some academic work about how people project their inner conflicts onto guns? The book you mention sounds like someone doing that by writing a book. I assume that though I ordered the book and it is in transit and I have not read it yet. Jacob Needleman wrote ‘Money and the Meaning of Life’ (about how to know oneself better by learning how you deal with money). I am searching for an equivalent book about guns.


    • To me, Needleman is really a theologian, and the idea of projecting inner conflict onto some object would be the domain of psychology. So, I don’t read widely in those areas. There is a sense in which a book like Jennifer Carlson’s looks at how people negotiate their identities by way of guns. So, the focus on manhood and masculinity and respectability and citizenship associated with guns for Carlson. That is a more sociological approach, and actually I think you will find that Gibson has some interesting thoughts on this once you get past the psycho-sexual stuff.


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