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We looked at each other like we had each just rolled a chamber in Russian roulette and now had the guns in our mouths.

If the chambers are what's inside of the actual cylinder, which is what you spin, would "like we had each just rolled a cylinder" be more accurate?

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    you probably want “spun the cylinder”...
    – Jim
    May 21, 2021 at 5:29
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    A 'chamber' is the part of a gun which holds a piece of ammunition. Revolvers are very specific guns which have a number of (incomplete) chambers drilled into a cylinder each of which can hold a piece of ammunition. As the cylinder rotates each chamber drops into place in turn becoming a complete chamber. If there is a bullet in the chamber the gun can be fired. Other weapons such as magazine loading rifles have a chamber but no cylinder the bullets being inserted into the chamber from the magazine clip. What you spin is the cylinder.
    – BoldBen
    May 21, 2021 at 10:22
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    Note that the verb here is rolled, not spun. You can spin the cylinder and have a chamber roll into firing position.
    – Andrew Leach
    May 21, 2021 at 11:13
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    @WeatherVane no, the cylinder was rolled (or spun) the chambers merely had their positions changed by the rolling of the cylinder. If you spin a spoked wheel the spokes aren't spun, just moved because they are part of the wheel.
    – BoldBen
    May 21, 2021 at 12:32
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    @AndrewLeach - But it’s not idiomatic. If I heard that i’d roll my eyes and think, “This did not come from a native English speaker”
    – Jim
    May 21, 2021 at 15:38

1 Answer 1

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If the chambers are what's inside of the actual cylinder, which is what you spin, would "like we had each just rolled a cylinder" be more accurate?

Yes, "cylinder" would be correct.

In firearms, the cylinder is the cylindrical, rotating part of a revolver containing multiple chambers, each of which is capable of holding a single cartridge. The cylinder rotates (revolves) around a central axis in the revolver's action to sequentially align each individual chamber with the barrel bore for repeated firing.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cylinder_%28firearms%29

Cylinders spin, chambers are part of the cylinder.

enter image description here
By Photograph by Rama, Wikimedia Commons, Cc-by-sa-2.0-fr, CC BY-SA 2.0 fr, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12345217

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    I think this answer also needs to address the verb used (spin vs rolled) as well as the article (a vs the). Just saying, “Yes, cylinder is correct” is misleading.
    – Jim
    May 21, 2021 at 15:11
  • @Jim The question asked which word is correct. Wouldn't "spin vs rolled" be a separate question?
    – David D
    May 21, 2021 at 17:30

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