Skip to main content

Report: Holding a Gun Makes Man Look Taller

Does a gun actually change one's outward appearance?

It's been long established that you can take any ordinary schmo, give him a gun, and suddenly he's James Bond. Even Dirty Harry may not have looked as "dirty" if it wasn't for his trusty Smith & Wesson Model 29.

Guns may make a guy look cooler -- but do they change anything else? According to a recent study, they do. Guns make guys look taller.


A team of researchers at UCLA concluded that holding a gun makes a man look taller and stronger in the viewers' eyes than a knife, saw or any other tools.


Published in the journal PLoS ONE, the study was conducted to understand human decision making when facing a potentially violent or life-threatening situation.

"Violent conflict with conspecifics is a fundamental factor influencing fitness in many social species, humans included," the study says in the introduction. "We can therefore expect that such species will possess adaptations that facilitate decision-making in potentially agonistic interactions, as the individual must determine whether is it best to fight, flee, or appease the prospective foe."

Participants in the study were instructed to judge the size and weight of a man holding various tools -- including a .45-caliber pistol and a .357 revolver, as well as a kitchen knife, a caulking gun, a saw and others.

Whether it's because of cultural stigma or the implied strength required to fire a handgun, researchers found that participants generally perceived those with guns to be taller and larger.


"Knowing that an individual possesses a potentially lethal object, be it a handgun or a kitchen knife, led our U.S. participants to generally conceptualize the target individual as taller and larger in overall body size and muscularity," the study says. "... These findings constitute preliminary evidence in support of the hypothesis that conceptualized size and strength act as key dimensions in a cognitive representation that summarizes the formidability of a potential foe, where possession of a weapon is one factor contributing to said formidability."

It's a given that staring down the barrel of a gun can be pretty intimidating, but who would have guessed just holding a handgun could make a shooter look bigger and stronger?

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

All About .300 Blackout

All About .300 Blackout

The .300 Blackout is here to stay, and we take some time to look at new technology surrounding this cartridge. Next, we pit subsonic rivals against each other before stretching the legs of this CQB round out to 600 yards from a short 9-inch barrel.

Pinging Steel At Over A Mile Away

Pinging Steel At Over A Mile Away

Big bore semiauto or a lever gun? We look at the futuristic .450 Bushmaster and how it compares to the tried and true .45-70. ISS Prop House gives us the rundown on the guns used in Enemy at the Gate. We ping steel with a .300 WinMag at over a mile.

The Glock 21

The Glock 21

Frank and Tony from Gallery of Guns spice up the Glock test using their non-dominant hands.

The Future Of Special Operations Small Arms

The Future Of Special Operations Small Arms

We're taking a look at what the Army's Elite Units are using for service rifles and what the future of SOCOM sniping looks like.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

The Winchester .350 Legend is a no-nonsense whitetail thumper tailored for rifle hunters in the Heartland.Winchester .350 Legend Rifles and Ammo Available Right Now Ammo

Winchester .350 Legend Rifles and Ammo Available Right Now

Payton Miller - August 21, 2020

The Winchester .350 Legend is a no-nonsense whitetail thumper tailored for rifle hunters in...

With a 16.25-inch-long barrel, a tritium front sight and an aperture rear sight, Springfield's M1A Tanker chambered in .308 is a handy defensive carbine.Springfield Armory M1A Tanker .308 Review Rifles

Springfield Armory M1A Tanker .308 Review

Joel J. Hutchcroft - August 25, 2020

With a 16.25-inch-long barrel, a tritium front sight and an aperture rear sight, Springfield's...

The Winchester Model 52 is a fine, handbuilt smallbore match rifle that was once known as the king of the .22s among competition shooters.Winchester Model 52 Review Rifles

Winchester Model 52 Review

Joseph von Benedikt - July 20, 2020

The Winchester Model 52 is a fine, handbuilt smallbore match rifle that was once known as the...

The new Winchester Active Duty 9mm ammo is loaded to the same military ballistics specifications as for the MHS program and has a rated muzzle velocity of 1,320 fps and a muzzle energy of 445 ft-lbs.Winchester Active Duty 9mm Ammo Review Ammo

Winchester Active Duty 9mm Ammo Review

Jake Edmondson - July 17, 2020

The new Winchester Active Duty 9mm ammo is loaded to the same military ballistics...

See More Trending Articles

More Ammo

Speer's 9mm Gold Dot CarryGun ammo is highly accurate and produces consistent velocities, extreme spreads and standard deviations.Speer 9mm Gold Dot CarryGun Ammo Ammo

Speer 9mm Gold Dot CarryGun Ammo

Joel J. Hutchcroft - November 11, 2020

Speer's 9mm Gold Dot CarryGun ammo is highly accurate and produces consistent velocities,...

Although it was introduced 40 years ago, the 7mm-08 Remington is still one of the best 7mm-08 Remington History and Performance Ammo

7mm-08 Remington History and Performance

Allan Jones - June 26, 2020

Although it was introduced 40 years ago, the 7mm-08 Remington is still one of the best...

While the 6mm-caliber cartridges that can be considered “great” are few in number, some have long and storied histories.12 Great 6mm Cartridges Ammo

12 Great 6mm Cartridges

Steve Gash - August 20, 2020

While the 6mm-caliber cartridges that can be considered “great” are few in number, some have...

The new Winchester Active Duty 9mm ammo is loaded to the same military ballistics specifications as for the MHS program and has a rated muzzle velocity of 1,320 fps and a muzzle energy of 445 ft-lbs.Winchester Active Duty 9mm Ammo Review Ammo

Winchester Active Duty 9mm Ammo Review

Jake Edmondson - July 17, 2020

The new Winchester Active Duty 9mm ammo is loaded to the same military ballistics...

See More Ammo

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Shooting Times App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Shooting Times subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now