The Inhuman Science of Red Dead Redemption 2

The aftermath of an assault on a mansion, led by Dutch Van Der Linde and his gang. This shows the brutality and unforgivingness of the old, yet wild, west. (Photo courtesy of Greyson Rupert)

When I was young, I used to play around with toy cap guns. One of these happened to be an old timey Uberti 1873 Cattleman revolver, much like the one used in Rockstar’s 2019 hit game Red Dead Redemption 2. Once all of the caps were exhausted in the revolver, I had to reload to get back into the cap gun fight. For the life of me, I just could not get the reload down. Of course it behaved like a real revolver, but it was full of smoke making caps. I fumbled with the reload more times than I can count, dropping caps and slipping the gun out of my hands, and even screwing up the cylinder spins. 

Fast forward about nine years later, Red Dead Redemption 2 comes out of development and releases for players around the globe. I was so incredibly excited to play the game for the first time, starting off in the bone-chilling mountains of New Austin. I reminisced about all of the fun, action-packed times I spent wielding my toy colt. As soon as I got my hands on one in the game, I just had to take it for a spin. The first enemy camp I found, I stood behind a wall, flanking the enemy from behind. I drew my colt, and fired. All six were gone in a moments notice, and before I knew it, I was reloading. I took a moment away from the enemy and paused the game in shock and awe at the main characters ability to reload at the speed of a superhuman. 

The speed of the reload after firing all shots from the sidearm is a whopping 2.8 seconds! I was particularly astonished at this revelation when I figured out that this was the normal reload time, as opposed to being different from varying amounts of stress that the character underwent. Even the most experienced gunslingers who’ve practiced all of their lives with revolvers will have some difficulty with colt revolver reloads. Remember, in order to perform a complete reload, you must empty the capsule, put in the new round, spin the cylinder, and repeat six times (unless you only load five shells to prevent an accidental discharge). There is, of course, more than one way of reloading an Uberti 1873 revolver, but this is the one used in the game.

The average time it takes to reload a single chamber, while under the stress of a shootout, would have to be about 0.75 seconds. Multiply that by an empty cylinder, that’s at least four and a half seconds. The main character of Red Dead Redemption 2, Arthur Morgan, is a trained gunslinger in a game that takes place in 1899, who has had his fair share of stressful gunfights, like bank robberies and stagecoach holdups. It’s no surprise that he would be skilled in gunplay and reloading weapons like the cattleman showcased in the game. It is a surprise, however, that he reloads the weapon in 2.8 seconds, while under the stress of a gunfight and even with a dirty and rusty weapon. The game is a realistic enough reenactment of the wild west and what life in a gang was like during the end of an era of robbery, and a new beginning of law and order. But this is a bit off of the chain, even for realistic games like this.


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