Firearm Safety Guide

Firearm Safety Guide

Basic firearms safety awareness is an absolute necessity for any prepper. Before you chamber the first round, take a safety class at your local gun range that’s instructed by Certified NRA Instructors. Regardless of the disaster you’re facing basic firearms safety is must always be applied. Note: if you’ve been diagnosed with manic depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and etc., gun ownership is not for you. There are three rules for basic firearm safety that are used at all times when handling a firearm:

  1. Keep your gun barrel downrange and in a safe direction
  2. Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
  3. Keep the gun unloaded until ready to use.

Commit the following safety guidelines to memory:

  • Know where each bullet is going
  • Keep your gun clean and ready to fire safely and in working condition.
  • Know your gun and its operation.
  • Always use the correct ammunition for your gun.
  • Wear hearing and eye protection as appropriate.
  • Never be under the influence of narcotics or alcohol when operating and handling a gun.
  • Secure guns so they are not accessible to unauthorized persons.
  • Be aware that certain types of guns and many shooting activities require additional safety precautions.

Firearm Safety Guide – Gun Type and Action

The two basic types of firearms are pistols (handguns) and long guns. The most common types of pistols in use today are revolvers and semi-automatics. The most common types of long guns are rifles and shotguns.

To understand how a firearm works, it is first necessary to understand the firearm’s action. The action is a group of moving parts used to load, fire, and unload a gun. A gun is usually identified by its type of action. Various gun actions and unloading techniques are described in this brochure. When unloading a gun, always eject the cartridges into your hand or onto a soft, clean surface.

Long Guns

A typical bolt-action long gun is shown here with the names of some of its parts. Various types of long gun actions are shown throughout this guide.

Firearm Safety Guide – Magazines

Some long guns use a ‘mag’ or a magazine. A magazine is a storage device designed to hold cartridges ready for insertion into the firing chamber. The location of the magazine may vary depending upon the action, model, and make of the gun. Various types of magazines also exist. Two of these magazine types are described below.

rifle magazineA box magazine is usually found in the location shown here. Some box magazines are detachable and can be removed by depressing a button, latch, or similar release device. Other types of box magazines are not detachable. Some have a hinged floor-plate, and are unloaded by pressing a release device that allows the floor-plate to open and the cartridges to drop out of the magazine. Other types of non-detachable magazines do not have a releasable floorplate, and the cartridges are usually ejected by carefully opening and partially closing the action.

tubular magazineA tubular magazine is usually found in one of the locations shown here. Some tubular magazines have an inside tube which must be removed in order to let cartridges drop out of the magazine. The action must also be opened and partially closed several times in order to be sure that no cartridges are left in the magazine. Other types of tubular magazines do not have a removable inside tube, and the cartridges are usually removed by carefully operating the action of the gun. Because a cartridge can become stuck in a magazine tube, the gun may still contain a cartridge after the above steps have been taken. Therefore, leave the action open to prevent a cartridge from being moved into the chamber.

Firearm Safety Guide – Bolt Action

Bolt actions are opened using a lift and pull motion similar to that used to open a door bolt or gate bolt.

X-Bolt-Hunter-MID-035208-l

To Unload:

  1. If the gun has a detachable box magazine, remove it. If the magazine is tubular or non-detachable, see “Magazines” above.
  2. Open and partially close the action several times by operating the bolt to be sure that all cartridges are ejected.
  3. Inspect the chamber (plus the action and any tubular or non-detachable magazine) to be sure that the gun is empty.

Firearm Safety Guide – Lever Action

Lever actions are opened by pulling the lever down and away from the stock, and are closed by returning the lever to its original position. Most lever-action guns have tubular magazines, but some models may use box-type magazines.

Henry_Lever_Action_Magnum

To Unload:

  1. If the gun has a detachable box magazine, remove it. If the magazine is tubular or non-detachable, see “Magazines” above.
  2. Open and partially close the action several times by operating the lever to be sure that all cartridges are ejected.
  3. Inspect the chamber (plus the action and any tubular or non-detachable magazine) to be sure that the gun is empty.

Firearm Safety Guide – Pump Action

Pump actions are operated with a pumping motion. The action is opened by pulling the fore-end of the gun to the rear, and closed by pushing the fore-end back to its original position. Some pump-action guns have tubular magazines, while other models use box-type magazines.

pump action shotgun

To Unload:

  1. If the gun has a detachable box magazine, remove it. If the magazine is tubular or non-detachable, see “Magazines” above.
  2. Open and partially close the action several times by pumping the fore-end to be sure that all cartridges are ejected.
  3. Inspect the chamber (plus the action and any tubular or non-detachable magazine) to be sure that the gun is empty.

Firearm Safety Guide – Semi-Automatic Action

ar15

Semi-automatic actions are opened by pulling the bolt handle straight to the rear. Some semi-automatics have tubular magazines, while other models use box-type magazines.

To Unload:

  1. If the gun has a detachable box magazine, remove it. If the magazine is tubular or non-detachable, see “Magazines” above.
  2. Open and partially close the action several times by pulling the bolt handle to the rear to be sure that all cartridges are ejected.
  3. Inspect the chamber (plus the action and any tubular or non-detachable magazine) to be sure that the gun is empty.

Firearm Safety Guide – Hinge Action

double barrel hinge action

Hinge actions are opened by moving a release lever to one side, and then moving the hinged barrel(s) downward. Hinge-action guns do not have magazines.

To Unload:

  1. Activate the release lever and move the hinged barrel(s) downward.
  2. Opening the action may cause the cartridges to be ejected from the firing chamber(s). If the cartridges are not ejected, remove them from the chamber(s) with your fingers.
  3. Inspect the chamber(s) carefully to be sure that the gun is empty.

Pistols/Handguns

Firearm Safety Guide – Revolvers

colt pyhtonA revolver is a pistol with a revolving cylinder that holds cartridges in individual chambers. Each time the hammer moves to the rear, the cylinder turns and brings a chamber in line with the barrel and the firing pin. When the hammer falls, it causes the firing pin to strike and fire the cartridge. In single-action revolvers, the trigger performs only one action — releasing the hammer. The trigger does not cock the hammer. The hammer must be cocked with the thumb, and will stay in a cocked position until it is released by pulling the trigger. In a double-action revolver, the trigger performs two tasks. When it is pulled, it will cock and release the hammer. Most double-action revolvers can also be fired in a single-action mode by manually cocking the hammer with the thumb.

To Unload Single Actions:

  1. Hold pistol in left hand by cupping hand so that the trigger guard is in the palm of the hand with the left thumb on the left side of the cylinder, and the index and middle fingers on the right side of the cylinder.
  2. With your right thumb, open the loading gate. (*If the cylinder now turns freely, proceed to step 4.)
  3. Use the right thumb to pull the hammer back two clicks. The cylinder should now turn freely.
  4. Grasping grip with right hand, use left thumb and fingers to align a loaded chamber with the loading port by turning cylinder.
  5. Elevate muzzle in a safe direction; using left hand, push cartridge out of chamber with ejector rod. Continue process until all chambers are empty.
  6. SLOWLY rotate cylinder with left thumb and fingers while inspecting each chamber to be sure that all cartridges have been removed.
  7. Close loading gate. Place right thumb on hammer spur. While controlling hammer with right thumb, pull trigger with right index finger to release hammer, using right thumb to gently lower hammer completely.

To Unload Double Actions:

  1. Use right hand to place pistol in palm of left hand. Operate cylinder release latch with right thumb; push cylinder out with the two middle fingers of left hand.
  2. Place left thumb on ejector rod and elevate muzzle in safe direction. Use left thumb to push ejector rod completely to rear, removing cartridges from chambers. Inspect all chambers to be sure that they are empty.

Semi-Automatics

1911A semi-automatic is a pistol that has only one chamber located at the rear of the barrel. Cartridges are held in a storage device called a magazine. When the pistol is fired, the slide moves to the rear, ejects the empty case, and usually cocks the pistol. On its return movement, the slide picks up a cartridge from the magazine and pushes it into the chamber.

To Unload Semi-Automatics:

  1. Hold pistol in right hand. Activate magazine release, and remove magazine from gun. (Magazine release locations vary — consult instruction manual or knowledgeable individual.)
  2. Grasp rear portion of slide with left hand, and move slide completely to the rear, ejecting the cartridge from the chamber. If the pistol has a slide stop, use it to keep the slide open.
  3. Inspect chamber to be sure that it is empty.

Muzzle Loading Guns

muzzle loading gunA muzzleloading gun is so named because it is loaded through the muzzle. It does not use cartridges; instead, it is usually loaded by pouring a measure of black powder into the barrel, and pushing a cloth patch and lead ball into the barrel on top of the powder charge. Muzzleloading firearms are available in long gun and pistol models. Due to the construction of a muzzleloader, it is not easy to tell if it is loaded. Don’t try to determine this yourself; instead, have a knowledgeable person make sure that the gun is unloaded.

This firearms guide is not intended as a complete course in gun safety and is not a substitute for formal, qualified instruction in the handling, use, or storage of firearms.
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About CMF Contributor

Certified NRA Instructor, Certified Military Platform and Performance Orientated Instructor, Training Personnel, and Emergency Management. Currently working towards M.A. Emergency Management - 101ABN/82NDABN - Charlie Wardogs

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