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In the Weapon X comic, Wolverine says

"I can put six shots into a quarter... an' get change for the gum-machine."

What does he mean by that? I read it here.

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I haven't read the issue in question, but the explanation seems pretty straight-forward. Shooting a hole in a quarter (that has been tossed into the air) is a common gunfighter trick in fiction; some even can shoot it more than once. Many famous marksmen have claimed to do it; Annie Oakley being one of the better known ones. Claiming to be able to do so (or some fancier version, as Wolvie does) is a common gunfighter's boast.

Six is a bit excessive, but from the same Marvel Wiki article on him that you cite:

Expert Marksman: He is an expert marksman skilled in throwing weapons and firearms, but operates more efficiently without them.

The comment about change for the gumball machine is a common piece of bravado added to such claims; it takes many forms. He's talking about 'breaking' the quarter the same way you 'break' a dollar into change; he's just saying it to be silly/dramatic.

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    Oh Wolverine, you're so silly. – AncientSwordRage Oct 17 '12 at 13:24
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    I want to sort of modify this answer by saying that the "change for a gumball machine" implies that he is so good, in fact, that the shots all pass through a relatively small hole in the center, leaving the outline and weight of the quarter mostly intact, which is what the gumball machine would check for validity. – im so confused Nov 8 '12 at 16:10
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    The "change for a gumball machine" line refers to punching a nickel out of a quarter. Imagine trimming the outside edge of a quarter till it is the same size as a nickel. – Gorchestopher H Jun 18 '13 at 13:09
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Oh, you kids today! It's a meme, basically the same as X all the Things! but older.

I would say that the "original" is, "Stop on a dime and give you change." but I can't find any cites for that. There are many variations, just as there are with modern memes.

Saying that - for example - a car can "stop on a dime" is a boast about how good the car is. A dime is about a centimeter in diameter (it's the smallest size of any US coin), so claiming that your car can stop in that short a distance is already a boast. Adding the "give change" makes the boast stronger, by claiming that the car can stop in an even shorter distance.

  • sorry i didnt quite get that – Sid Mar 14 '12 at 5:11
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    I tried to clarify, but I guess it's more an answer for English Usage.SE... – Ward Mar 14 '12 at 5:16
  • -1 from me, that's not what Wolverine was saying at all. He meant the boast literally. – Omegacron Jul 8 '15 at 17:18
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TL;DR: Logan is boasting of his accuracy with a pistol, of being able to place six shots in a diameter smaller than a US quarter-dollar coin.

In marksmanship, the term "spread" refers to the distance between each bullet impact. Ideally, you want the smallest spread possible for the greatest precision & accuracy:

enter image description here

What Logan means when he says "I can put six shots into a quarter... an' get change for the gum-machine." is that he can shoot the quarter six times without nicking the edge - possibly even in the same place. Most gumball machines of the era measured the diameter & edge of a coin to determine if it was a quarter or not. Therefore, a quarter full of holes would still work in the machine. Gumballs of the time were commonly only a nickel, so he would get his gumball plus two dimes back as change. The weight of the coin could be a factor too (depending on the machine), so this could also indicate placing bullets in almost exactly the same spot all six times (leaving only one hole in the coin).

enter image description here

Note: Coins have long been used to show off precision with a firearm. The American sharpshooter Annie Oakley was famous for her trick of flipping a dime into the air and shooting it with her pistol. Despite the similarity, however, that was a trick meant to show her accuracy with a moving target. Logan is instead boasting of his small target spread.

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