Firearms Safety

I’ve been targeting shooting for well over 35 years.  Yet, I’ve only been hunting for about 10.  To-date, my hunting trips have all been for Pheasant or White-tailed deer.  While it’s something you have taken for granted, or never considered, I’ve had some friends ask me to highlight the differences between target shooting and hunting.  In short, there’s a lot more going on in the woods, so you better be on your game…and not just what you’re hunting. 

First, let’s talk about Safety:

Head to a formal shooting range, and it’s going to be very obvious which way is “downrange.”  There’s generally a very formal set of rules around who can go downrange, when, what exactly everyone else on the range can, and can’t do, and even where they can, and can’t be, when anyone is downrange.  Likewise, there will generally be rules governing how, when and where you can unholster your gun, or remove it from its case, and making sure all guns are pointed downrange at all times.  Finally, most formal ranges will  generally have at least one RSO (Range Safety Officer) making the rounds, observing your every move, and ensuring all safety practices are followed.  Many of these same rules should apply to your informal and even impromptu backyard ranges  – most are easy to apply.   Point being, most range environments are fairly well laid out and controlled. 

Head into the woods, and most of that “controlled atmosphere” disappears.  Certainly the 10 Commandments of Firearms Safety always apply whenever firearms are involved.  However, things just aren’t as black and white, or as obvious in the woods.  There’s a lot more on you, the hunter.

There are trails to navigate.  There are obstacles to contend with, be they creek, river or fence crossings.  There are tree stands to climb and stay in.  All while carrying a loaded gun.  (More hunters get hurt falling out of tree stands than anything else.)   Hikers and dog walkers will walk through your lane.  Other hunters may wander into your line of fire.  Game will flush and come in from the most inopportune angles.

Honestly, when I’m on the hunt, I’m generally more concerned with who’s in the woods with me, who’s on the other side of these blow-downs, or where’s this slug gonna go if I miss than I am with where the birds are or rushing a shot on a deer.

 

 

 Shots Fired

A target shooter could easily go through a couple hundred rounds in a a typical trip to the range.  Depending upon the game being hunted, time of year and location, a hunter might be lucky to get off 1 – 3 shots in a typical trip afield.

 

 

Maybe you’ve never thought much about it before, and many may take this for granted.  While you need to be focused, and in “high alert” mode when doing both, but there’s a lot more to think about when hunting, and hunting is generally more dangerous than target shooting.

Why?

At the Range – whether it’s a formal range with Range Safety Officers, or an informal, impromptu back-yard range there should always be:

1. A certain direction designated as “downrange,” and it should obviously be the same direction for everyone.   This is where your targets go.  This is the direction you’re shooting.  You need to know you’re target, and what’s beyond.  Go to a formal range, and they’ve generally got this laid out for you.

2. A certain set of rules, understood by all on the range, around who goes downrange, when, and what everyone else on the range can and can’t do when anyone is downrange.

3. Rules stating All firearms should stay holstered or cased, until you’re on the firing line.

4. All firearms should be pointed downrange, at all times.  Even when you’re unloading the gun from its case.

 

Whenever you’re target shooting, whether it be a formal range, or an impromptu back-yard session, a certain direction should always be designated as ‘downrange’, and there should always should be   should always be

 

In the woods, you’re pretty much on your own.  There’s RSO (Range Safety Officer) watching your behavior.  Downrange isn’t clearly or obviously marked.  There’s obstacles to content with.

For me, there’s generally a lot more going on mentally while I’m hunting.  At least until your comfortably in your stand

 

There’s a lot more to the “Shoot / Don’t Shoot”

 

Pull that trigger, and that’s bullet’s going!

 

 

So, I was recently discussing the site with a good friend and faithful reader, who gave me a fantastic bit of feedback.  He asked, “Why don’t you make the site more interactive?”  That’s a hell of a great idea!

Let’s face it, guns can be intimidating.  All that power.  Potentially deadly force.  Little room for mistakes.  Unfortunately, gun safety isn’t taught in schools anymore, (though they teach kids about illegal drugs??).  Likewise, for far too many, gun safety and shooting is unfortunately no longer part of the knowledge, or skills proudly handed down from generation to generation, (though such training it could save your life).

Yet, there are many who still think it’ part of, “the man code.”  Like somehow, all men are supposed to know about guns and gun safety.  (That’s the kind of thinking that will get you in trouble, likely hurt, and possibly worse.) I think we’ve all unfortunately had that bad experience, where we’ve gone into a gun store, or bellied up to the gun counter of a sporting goods store, and been greeted by, “Mr. Just Your Presence is Annoying Me“, or Rambo Himself

Trautman: It’s good to hear your voice Johnny, it’s been a long time. Look John, you’ve done some damage here, they don’t want anymore trouble. That’s why I’ve come. I want to come in there and fly you the hell out. Just you and me. We’ll work this thing out together. Is that fair enough? (First Blood, 1982)

Honestly, who needs that?!  Especially if you’re new to the scene, and already intimidated.  Nobody wants to feel like an ass, especially if you’re trying to better yourself by educating yourself about important life skills topics.  So, wouldn’t it be nice if there were a place you could go to ask all your firearm, shooting, knife and other outdoor related questions, without fear of being ridiculed by the guy behind the counter?  That’s certainly my attitude towards the NRA courses I teach, but let Inside The X Ring be that place!

Want to know the difference between centerfire and rimfire ammunition?  The difference between a bullet, a casing, and a round, or what a primer is?  Want to know the difference between controlled round feed, and push feed in bolt action rifles, and why you want controlled round feed when hunting dangerous game?  Want to know whether it’s a magazine or clip, or how to determine the caliber of that old rifle Grandpa gave you?  Ask away.  Just keep it on topic, respectful, and clean!

For now, please email questions to, Jim@InsideTheXRing.com, and look for a future “Q&A Post.”  If the concept takes off, maybe I’ll make it a “Special Series” and/or add more capability directly to the site to capture your questions.

 

Be Aware! Be Prepared! Be Safe!

 

© 2014 Inside The X Ring.

 

It’s been in American Rifleman.  It’s prominent on their own site.  There is a safety recall on all Model 700 and Model Seven rifles “with X-Mark Pro® (“XMP®”) triggers, manufactured from May 1, 2006 to April 9, 2014.”  In short, “under certain circumstances, unintentionally discharge. A Remington investigation has determined that some XMP triggers might have excess bonding agent used in the assembly process.” While I have not experienced it personally, my research indicates the risk of a “slam fire,” which happens when the user closes the bolt hard, and firing pin releases.

Also, please note that Remington offers two models of the X-Mark Pro Trigger.

Here’s the link, please be sure to read the entire notice yourself and take action appropriately: Remington Safety Recall

 

Thank You & Be Safe!

Seriously, you’d think gun guys and gals love this question, and we do.  As a general firearms enthusiast, Blogger and NRA Instructor, it’s a question I get a lot, and I can certainly talk to it at length.  However, it’s a tough one to answer, because there are so many great choices, and so many different factors involved.  Different strokes for different folks, as they say. 

For defensive POU’s, the answer is, “Get as much gun as you can comfortably and repeatedly shoot accurately.”

But there’s actually a bit more to it.

First of all, why do you want a gun?  What’s your purpose, or philosophy of use (POU)?  Personal protection carry gun? Personal protection home defense gun?  (Though both focused on protection, some of the key factors that go into each are vastly different.) Recreational target shooting? Hunting? Competition?  Perhaps a jack-of-all trades?  Do you live in a Shall Issues Carry State?  Will you actually carry the gun beyond trips to the range? 

Will you be the only one shooting this gun, or do you want something the wife (or someone else) can also shoot effectively?  (Are you 6’5”, 250lbs, married to a 5’3”, 100lb woman?) 

Is this the first, only and last gun you will ever buy?  (You may think so now, but I doubt it…)

What’s your tolerance for recoil?  How about your wife’s, or other shooters?

What battery of arms are you comfortable with?  A cocked-n-locked Single Action Only (SAO), Double Action Only (DAO), Double Action / Single Action (DA/SA)? 

Wheel gun or auto pistol?  Hammer or striker fired?

How do you feel about safeties and nanny devices?  Do you want a gun with a safety lever that must be manually manipulated, or something with just internal safeties associated with trigger manipulation?  Do you also want a grip safety?  Do you want a decocker so you don’t have to dry fire the gun before field stripping, or to make it safer to carry hammer down with one in the pipe on a DA/SA gun like the Sig P226?  How do you feel about those new nanny features (that actually do more harm than good because they don’t teach fundamentals) like loaded chamber indicators, or the inability for some guns to fire without a magazine in the gun?  (Learn how to properly check the chamber and unload the gun. NEVER rely on nanny features.)

Ergonomics should be important to you.  So, how big are your hands?  What feels comfortable?  Can you reach and easily manipulate all of the gun’s controls?  (As I hinted above, those tiny, micro guns great for deep concealment carry are often difficult for shooters with large hands to manipulate and shoot accurately beyond a few yards.  They may not make great home defense or jack-of-all-trades type guns.)  If your wife or anyone else will be shooting the gun, you’ll likely want something that can be adjusted for different hand sizes by using different back straps or grip panels.  Do you have any physical limitations or disabilities that need to be considered?

Are aesthetics important?  Of course! Who spends hard-earned cash on something that doesn’t appeal to them at some level.  That said, I’m a HUGE fan of Glock firearms.  Though there are plenty who just can’t get past the no frills, all business, utilitarian looks.  (If this is your first or second gun, focus on purpose of use, functionality, fit and feel over looks and coolness factor…)

OK, OK, I Know You Want Specific Recommendations…

When it comes to auto pistols primarily for home defense and recreational target shooting use, I steer most towards a full size (4″ – 5″ barrel) 9mm, aka the 9mm Parabellum, 9mm Luger, 9×19, 9x19mm, and sometimes with the “+P” designation.

The .40S&W has a snappy recoil.  The .45ACP has a heavy recoil.  The snappy and heavy recoil make it a challenge for some new shooters to get comfortable with, and master those calibers, especially if you go with something smaller or lighter.  Do your research and you’ll discover the 9mm has a proven track record as a defensive round.  (I believe it is also the most popular military handgun cartridge in the World.)  And while in an emergency defensive situation any gun is better than no gun, even a .22lr, I personally don’t see any compelling reason to go smaller than the 9mm for home defense.  With its mild recoil, especially in a gun with a 4″- 5″ barrel, I find men and women, the tall and the small, novices and experts alike all shoot the 9mm well.  It is a round that in many instills confidence, and is a pleasure to shoot at the range.  The round is so popular you can get ammunition anywhere in the World, and usually at reasonable prices.  Likewise, due to its popularity, everybody in the game produces at least one 9mm variant, so you’re sure to find the pistol that’s just right for your needs, budget, and your tastes; regardless of whether you want a micro sized, super light pocket pistol like the Kel-tec PF-9, or a full-sized, full-featured battle pistol just like the ones used by our Navy Seals, like the Sig P226.  Recoil aside, you also usually get 1 – 2 more rounds in the 9mm than in the same gun chambered for 40S&W, or 45 ACP.  In fact the 9mm is so popular, and there are so many great choices, watch out for “analysis paralysis“.  As my boss used to say, “That’s a high class problem to have.”  Still want more  direction?  I can tell you from hands on experience that Beretta, Glock, SigSauer, and Springfield Armory all make fantastic choices.  If I were now in the market for a new 9mm, I’d add FNH USA, Ruger and Smith & Wesson to that short-list.

Want a wheel gun?

You can’t go wrong with a 4” barreled .357 Magnum, with 6, 7, or even 8 shots.  Simple to understand.  Easy to operate and use.  It’s something pretty much anyone can shoot, and shoot well, especially when loaded with light 38 Special ammunition, which shouldn’t to be discounted for defensive purposes.  (You know they make 38+Ps for when full powered .357 Mag loads may be a little much, or when rockin’ a snubbie…)  Here again, and from personal experience, Smith and Wesson and Ruger are at the top of my list, though Taurus is certainly also worthy of a look.

calibers

.38 Special, .380, 9MM, 40S&W, 45ACP

 

My Final Thoughts & Recommendations…

Talk to fellow gun enthusiasts.  Surf the net.  Buy the gun rags.  Read as many reviews as you can.  See what your friends have. (Get lost in some analysis paralysis for a bit.)  But in the end, and while I certainly hope my thoughts are helpful, it really doesn’t matter what I, or anyone else thinks.

Finalize your POU.  Think about who else may be shooting the gun.  Narrow down your caliber choices.  Decide if you want a wheel gun or an auto pistol.  Finalize your short list.  Then find out which Local Gun Stores (LGSs) have them in stock.  Go to as many different guns stores as possible.  Get hands on.  Handle as many of your choices as you can.  Always practice gun safety, and be advised that many LGS owners don’t want you to dry fire their guns – so ask first.  Hit the range with friends as much as possible.  Hit a range that rents if possible – especially if they rent the choices you’re considering.  Send lead downrange.

In some cases, you’re going to find that what feels best in hand, and what you shoot best may NOT be the same gun you fell in love with from just pictures and specifications.  I’ve seen it happen.  Better to know before you fill out all that paperwork and plunk down all that hard earned cash.

It’ll come to you.  Again, it’s a high-class problem to have – and we are VERY lucky to live in this Great Country, where we can have such a problem!

 

Be Aware! Be Prepared! Be Safe!

 

© 2014 Inside The X Ring. All Rights Reserved.

Let’s face it, going to the shooting range is a great time, and there are plenty of reasons to go!  Whatever your reason for going to the Shooting Range, your trip MUST be SAFE, and it should be FUN!  Here’s how to make it so, assuming your going to a formal, private range, as opposed to just moseyin’-on-out to the back forty.

  • Go with a friend or family member who already belongs to the range, or at least to a Shooting Range.  Yeah, this seems obvious, and at some shooting ranges it’s absolutely required, but you can’t go wrong with someone who already knows the ropes and is comfortable in the scene.
  • Always know and follow the rules of the Shooting Range: Regardless of whether you’re shooting at an indoor or outdoor range, there’s always a formal set of rules, policies and procedures that must be followed, at all times.  Safety First, Safety Always…  If you don’t know the rules, or if there is anything you’re unsure about, just ask.  We firearms enthusiasts are generally a welcoming, friendly and helpful group.  Even if you’re intimidated to ask someone else on the firing line, per my next tip, there’s always someone formally working the range.  While there are differences between indoor and outdoor ranges, guests generally have to formally check-in or register before they can start shooting.  One thing true of all shooting ranges is that you must always ensure the muzzle of your gun is pointed downrange, even when un-casing your gun(s).  Don’t open your gun case until you are at your designated shooting port, or bench.  When you do open the case, check which way the muzzle of  your gun is pointing.  If the muzzle isn’t pointed downrange DON’T TOUCH THE GUN.  Instead, close the case, slowly spin the case around until the muzzle is pointed downrange.  Then open the case and check again.  Only remove the gun from the case when the muzzle is pointed downrange.
  • Know and Respect the Key Players.  The Range Safety Officer (RSO) is in charge of the Shooting Range. You may notice him, or her right away, or it may take you a while, but the RSO is there – and he, or she, is watching you, along with everyone else on the range.  This is a good thing.  It’s their job to watch the range, and everyone on the range, to ensure all safety protocols are being followed.  They have the power to call cease-fire and i you’re shooting at an outdoor range, they generally decide when to make the range safe for target changes, and when to make the range hot.  The RSO may strike up conversation, or they may hover in the background.  Either way, if they tell you something, you’re well advised to listen.  Else you might be going home early, and you might not be welcomed back.  Have a question on range protocol, policies, procedures, the RSO is a great resource and there to help you out.  Likewise, if you have an issue while firing, like a misfire,the RSO will likely help you out if you aren’t sure how to handle it – just keep it pointed downrange at all times.
  • Prepare for your trip to the Shooting Range: Take your trip to the range seriously.  Take the time, before you leave, to make sure you are mentally and physically prepared.  Check the range schedule before you go.  Know the laws in your home state for traveling with a firearm and ammunition.  Know that when you arrive at the range, it’s going to be LOUD.  It may be crowded.  Prepare your guests, especially if they are newer shooters.  You and/or your guests are likely to be any combination of excited, pumped, nervous, anxious, etc. etc.  The better prepared you are, the smoother things will go, and the more enjoyable the experience will be.  Make sure have your essentials: Range Bag. Eyes (protection). Ears (protection). 9mm casings make decent earplugs in a pinch. Gun(s) – you cleaned & lubed em’ after your last trip to the range, so they are ready to go, right?? Ammo for what you are shooting. Targets. Target frame, if needed. Staple gun. Spotting Scope.  Shooting rest, or bags.  Pen and Paper. Cleaning and/or gunsmithing equipment. Membership card and/or keys. Money. Etc. etc. If you’re shooting at an outdoor range, check the weather, and dress appropriately.  Water and snacks are never bad ideas either.
  • Range Etiquette.  Common courtesy goes a long way.  This is another obvious one, and it’s like anything, or anywhere else.  The best and most important thing you can do to make friends on the shooting range is to always stay safe.  Additionally, and always with safety in mind, help keep the range clean; pickup your trash, sweep up your brass.  Be mindful of time limits, whether it’s for target changes or port usage; try not to make everyone else on the firing line wait on you – at least please don’t make a habit of it.  Beyond that, try to check out the scene before diving right in and if space allows, leave a port, a bench or two, between you and the next shooter.  I try to never crowd other shooters, especially if I can tell they are new, or possibly in a training session.  Likewise, if I can help it, I won’t setup with my AR, which BARKS, right next to someone shooting rimfire.  Think about it, for the newbie, the trip to the range can be overwhelming and intimidating enough, they don’t necessarily want Rambo setting up right next to them if other ports or benches are open.  You get the idea.
  • Never lose your focus on safety, but keep it light and have fun.  It should be a great time, and a great experience.

 

 

Be Aware! Be Prepared! Be Safe!

 

 

© 2014 Inside The X Ring. All Rights Reserved.

The Second Amendment protects the individual right to keep and bear arms.  It does not put limits on purpose, such as for military use versus recreational use, hunting, or personal protection.  It does not put limits on location, such as inside the home versus outside the home.  It does not put limits on the type of “arms”, such as one model of rifle over another.  The Second Amendment is very clear, and NOT for debate.

Now, while most people tend to focus solely on the individual aspect of the Second Amendment, I believe there is also a Greater Good, a National Interest, a National Treasure of Sorts.

 “You cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass,” is a famous quotation usually attributed to Isoroku Yamamoto, Commander-in-Chief of the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II.  Exactly when and where he uttered those words, or whether it was actually said by someone else is irrelevant.  The point remains.

Civilian firearms ownership is, in fact, a deterrent to invading the mainland United States.

Now, before you’re quick to dismiss this as inconceivable, or an impossibility in the year 2014, consider that Sara Palin was mocked in 2008 when she predicted that Russia would invade the Ukraine.  Likewise, 2012 Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney was ridiculed for stating that Russia, is without question our No. 1 geopolitical foe. They fight every cause for the world’s worst actors.  Well, if you’ve paid any attention to the news lately, you’ve now realized that while it seemed far fetched at the time, both Sara Palin and Mitt Romney were spot-on correct.

And regardless of how much you may have personally, “evolved into a higher being,” or think society as a whole has done the same, the unfortunate fact remains that there are still evil forces out there.  Evil forces who want to destroy individual people, and whole nations.  Evil forces that can only be defended against, and fought, with force.  You see examples every day in the news.

And lest you think no one would be emboldened enough to invade the mainland United Sates, let’s not forget that in the late summer of 2012 a Russian attack submarine sailed for weeks undetected in the Gulf of Mexico.

So, with President Obama making plans for very significant, major cuts to the military, cuts that would take our Armed Forces backwards to pre-World War II build-up levels, on top of already perceived US weakness due to soft foreign policy, on top of continued threats from terrorists and nations like Iran and North Korea, you should be happy for, and support the millions of Americans who do exercise their Second Amendment Right.

Beyond the obvious reasons usually focused on the ‘individual’, consider that the Second Amendment is strategic in nature for broader National Security.  “There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass!

 

Be Aware! Be Prepared! Be Safe!

 

 

© 2014 Inside The X Ring. All Rights Reserved.

We teach our children about Drugs.  Drugs are ILLEGAL.

We teach our children about bullying.  Bullying is NOT RIGHT.

Yet we DO NOT teach our children about guns?

GUNS Protect the President of the United States.

And our Governors.

And our Mayors.

And other High Ranking Politicians.

And other High Profile People.

GUNS Protect our Shores.

GUNS Protect our Homes, our Property, our Families.

GUNS Put Food On the Table.

GUNS are Legally Used for Competition.

GUNS are Legally Used for Recreational Purposes.

GUNS are Legally Used for Many, Constructive and Positive Purposes.

GUNS are an Integral, Uniquely American part of History. 

If we are serious about reducing the potential for firearms accidents related to ignorance…

If we are serious about teaching our children individual responsibility….

If we are serious about teaching our children that guns are not toys…

Then Gun Safety should be taught to our Children! 

Be Aware! Be Prepared! Be Safe!

 

 

© 2014 Inside The X Ring. All Rights Reserved.

We’ve added a ‘Links‘ page, and it does a couple of important things:

  1. It explains a bit of the ‘method behind the madness‘, or the process I go through to bring you, my subscribers and readers, the best information possible.
  2. It gives an overview of my personal network of seasoned professionals and contacts, all of whom provide me valuable input and insight.
  3. Last, but not least, it introduces you to, and provides direct, ‘one-click‘ access to some of the best gun, holster, knife and associated gear reviewers from around the Web.  All of whom:
    • have been vetted and fact checked to ensure they provide accurate information, and
    • have demonstrated safe firearms handling, which helps continually drive home the principles for basic firearms safety.

 

So, what exactly can you expect from these links?

Write-ups and videos on Guns, Firearm Accessories, Holsters, Knives, Flashlights, Ever Day Carry (EDC) Gear, Tactical Gear, ‘Bug-Out‘ or ‘Go‘ Bags, and Survival Gear.  All delivered in the form of:

  • General observation, and quick overview reviews.
  • Detailed, and extremely thorough table-top reviews.
  • Head-to-head product comparisons.
  • In-action segments from ‘Live Fire’ shooting ranges and other real-World scenarios.
  • Thoughts, opinions, tips, tricks and product recommendations specific to concealed carry.
  • Thoughts, opinions, tips, tricks and product recommendations specific to female firearms enthusiasts and women shooters.
  • Specific videos on safety – firearms safety, basic first aid kit design and use, survival, etc.
  • Educational segments that focus on mindset, philosophy and terminology.

 

The point is, our links provide direct, easy access to a wide variety of high-quality, accurate information covering the wide spectrum of the products most firearms enthusiasts are likely to be interested in.  So before your next Gun, Firearm Accessory, Holster, Knife, Flashlight, EDC, Bug-Out, Survival or related gear purchase, be sure to check out some of my secret sources

And yes, as content expands, will absolutely roll-in specific review, head-to-head comparison and other videos from each of the folks on our links page.  Stay tuned! 

Guns are many things to many people… Significant investmentsTreasured family heirloomsCollector piecesPart of HistoryVersatile, important, and possibly life saving toolsAll of the above.  They should be taken seriously, respected, and treated accordingly.  A big part of that is proper maintenance, cleaning and care to preserve the function, reliability and value of your firearms.  Ideally, your firearms should be cleaned as soon as possible after shooting, or after coming back in from the field.

 

Dad learned from some of the best, and always passed some strict inspections, so he is pretty meticulous about it.  Likewise, I tend to be diligent about my gun cleaning.  I always try to give my guns a thorough cleaning as soon as possible after use, but more important than doing a great job, is staying safe while doing it.  So whether you’re giving that firearm a thorough cleaning, or just quickly running a few patches down the bore until you can do it right, here are some safety tips for cleaning your weapons:

 

Cleaning your guns isn’t something you rush.  It isn’t something you do unless you are completely focused on the task at hand, are of sound mind and body, and are in the right frame of mind.  Just like every other time you are handling firearms, you need to maintain Situational Awareness and Constant Muzzle Awareness.  You also still need to adhere to the Basic Firearms Safety – Rules to Live by.  But beyond those basic, general firearm safety tips, here are some additional thoughts:

 

  1. Keep your finger, and everything else, completely out of the trigger guard, and certainly off the trigger.
  2. If cleaning your duty or carry weapon, unload the weapon before you proceed.
  3. Safety check the weapon.
  4. Safety check the weapon again – it’s a good idea to physically stick a finger in the chamber to verify that the gun is unloaded.
  5. Completely remove all live rounds from your work area – it’s a good idea to physically get up and move live rounds to an entirely different room.
  6. Follow the gun manufacturer’s instructions to field strip the weapon.
  7. Maintain a clean, well organized, and well ventilated work area with plenty of good lighting.
  8. Use good, high quality cleaning products.  (Hoppes has always worked just fine for our needs.)
  9. Ideally, clean the barrel from breech to muzzle, which accomplishes two important things:
    1. It allows you to keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction, even with the gun disassembled.
    2. It’s generally accepted that cleaning from breech to muzzle, the same direction of travel as the bullet, is the better way to clean a barrel as it prevents cleaning solvents, bullet fragments and fouling from getting into the action.
  10. When done cleaning, lube and/or oil per the manufacturer’s instructions.
  11. Reassemble the weapon according to the manufacturer’s instructions  – and pay attention to detail.  (Watch those ejectors on both lever action guns like the Marlin 336 series, and some semi-auto pistols, like the Sig p238.)
  12. Immediately return the weapon either to safe storage, or ready for duty as normal.
  13. With your well maintained and clean firearm safely away, clean up your work area, and go about your day.

 

Quick Tip When working with products for, and associated waste from cleaning, oiling and lubing, or polishing firearms (solvents, patches, rags, cotton swabs, etc.) be sure to read all product labels, and follow the manufacturers instructions for both USE and DISPOSAL!

 

Revolvers and some styles of rifles, the counter-intuitive cleaning exception.

Some weapons must be cleaned from muzzle to breech.  In some cases there’s just no way around it.  This can be legitimately unsettling to some people, especially for new shooters.  You’ve been instructed over, and over, and over again to always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction.  From Day One, it is drilled into your head.  It continues to be drilled into your head.  But here you are, about to clean your weapon…and starring down the business end of things?!?!

Unfortunately yes, but if you’ve done everything else properly, you will be fine  (correct frame of mind, safety checked weapon, removed all live ammo from the work area or room, safety checked the weapon again, ensured the hammer or striker is not cocked or in the ready to fire position, kept your finger and everything else outside the trigger guard and off the trigger).  After all, guns are mechanical devices.

 

Generally speaking, guns don’t go off by themselves.  An outside act is required to make a gun fire, such as someone, or something, pulling the trigger, something hitting the hammer, or slamming the firing pin, etc.  That’s why there really is no such things as an “accidental shooting,”  but unfortunately, there are plenty of “Negligent Discharges”, (ND’s).  In most “accidental shootings,” someone clearly did something negligent just before the gun fired.

 

Yes, even in the recently reported case of a hunter shot by his own dog, you can make a good argument that the hunter in question did at least a few negligent things.  At the top of the list would be putting the gun down loaded, with a live round in the chamber…and leaving it unattended…in a small space…with a dog running around.  It also sounds like the hunter in question wasn’t completely vigilant about the rule to always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction.

 

It may sound a bit harsh, but I’d rather be a bit harsh, intense and always vigilant than the alternative!

 

Again, if you are laser focused on the task at hand, follow by the tips provided on this site, strictly adhere to the basic gun safety rules, and remain vigilant, you will be fine when cleaning your weapons.  Yes, even the ones you must clean from muzzle to breech.

To be clear, I have no intention of turning this into a political blog, that said, here are some quick thoughts on the law:

  • Know and follow all state and local laws for purchase, use, carry & transportation of firearms and ammunition.
  • It is up to you to know the law.
  • While there has been a significant increase in the ability for law abiding and appropriately trained civilians to carry concealed – and this is a great and positive thing– not all state laws are the same.  Unfortunately at present, unlike State issued driver’s licenses, which are nationally recognized, not all States may honor your carry permit.  Find out if your destination, or the state you are passing through honors your carry permit before you go.

 

  • Never rely on just the law to keep you safe!  Some current laws are themselves arguably downright dangerous, and at risk of doing more harm than good.  For example, California’s “loaded chamber indicator law” is an abomination. I’m sure the intent was noble, but without proper training, that law alone can cause deadly confusion.  What happens when that kid or new shooter from CA gets his Father’s or Grandfather’s gun,  moves to, or just travels to another state where there is no such law?  One could argue the CA law wrongfully encourages people to assume the the gun is not loaded if they’d don’t see the “loaded chamber indicator”!!  That could be a deadly mistake.  Take it upon yourself to learn and teach the correct way to safety check and safely handle a firearm.  It is not hard.  Learn it! Teach it – especially to your kids!  Never rely on wrongfully implemented “nanny” safety devices.  Not to mention such devices and indicators significantly disadvantage good law abiding citizens if they are ever in a situation where they have to defend their own life, or the lives of their family members.