And the real gun is...

It's all in the magazine.

Earlier this week, Castanet asked readers if they could tell the difference between a replica gun seized during the commission of a crime in Kelowna and the real deal.

Close up they look identical - in fact, trained RCMP officers had a hard time telling the difference.

RCMP Cst. Kris Clark says telling real from replica in this instance comes down to the magazine at the bottom of the grip.

Clark says the real gun (yes, it is the grey gun in the side-by-side picture Castanet posted) has a continuous ring around the magazine where the clip would be inserted while the replica (black gun) has only a single slit, presumably a hinged opening.

Everything else is the same.

While you may be able to eventually tell the difference between the two from up close - there is no way you would be able to tell whether you are staring down the barrel of a real or fake gun from a distance while it is being held in a potentially dangerous situation.

For Clark and police officers across the country there-in lies the problem.

Over the past number of years incidents involving replica handguns, be they dollar store cap guns or real-to-life paintball or pellet guns, have risen exponentially.

The message from police is always the same.

"Police don't have the luxury of examining a suspect's weapon before engaging them and have to rely on their knowledge, experience and perceptions in order to respond. When faced with the apparent threat of a firearm, the results could be disastrous," says Clark.

"Honestly, I don't even know why someone would want to own a gun like this."

While there are no documented cases of someone being shot or worse while pointing a replica gun at someone in Kelowna - one would think it is only a matter of time.

And, Clark reminds would be thieves using a replica gun in the commission of a crime - the charges could be very much the same.

A weapon, real or not, is still a weapon.

And, people purchasing these real looking weapons for innocent purposes such as target practice need to remember showing off the weapon or flashing it around in public will likely result in a visit from police.

If you are travelling from home to a gun range or the bush to shoot, Clark says the gun should be transported in its case.

He says people should keep the weapon in the case until such time has they are at the place they will be shooting it.

Once finished, the weapon should be returned to the case and carried to a vehicle for safe transport back home.

As for the Castanet poll, it seems you know your guns.

Whether through intimate knowledge or an educated guess, 69.6% (2,438) correctly selected the grey gun as the real gun while only 30.3% (1,061) selected the black version.

Here's hoping you never have to try and figure it out in a real-life situation.

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