Firearm handling etiquette question


April 16, 2008, 07:29 PM
Can't find a post mirroring my question . . . So figured it'd be safe to ask it.

Suppose I was at someone's house and they offered to allow me to view a select few of their collection.... Being the safe minded individual I am, naturally I would wish to manipulate the action(s) of said firearms and determine they were clear and safe.... This would also include probing into the breech in addition to the mag well... But in doing so, I am of course, leaving behind finger acid deposits.

This seems rude to me.

So, any solution to that? Or is this a non-issue? I'm likely might just being paranoid with all this.... But, this is an issue that I at least think of and it goes along the lines of; do unto others, you know?

Is there even such a thing as ''etiquette'' when it comes to handling another man or woman's firearm? :)

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April 16, 2008, 07:34 PM
I'm not aware of any codified set of rules, but here's my take: if someone invites you to look over their guns, ask first if they mind you handling them. If they say "no, I don't mind" then you're good to inspect the guns - reasonably including what you're saying you'll do to check them. If they say "yes, I mind" then you're not going to get hands on anyway, so no worries.

That said, I'd be careful of putting your finger into every breech that you run across. In all seriousness, most of the time you can see that there is no loaded round, and you wouldn't need to stick a finger in there. For closed systems where you're not as sure, okay, fine, but consider just looking.

If you don't trust your eyes, well, you've got a whole different set of logical problems to deal with.

April 16, 2008, 07:34 PM
Generally speaking, when *I* hand someone a firearm, the action will already be locked open and the magazine removed.

This way we can both rest assured that the weapon is clear.

To answer your question: If I didn't want you to fondle something, I wouldn't have handed it to you.

Howard Roark
April 16, 2008, 07:36 PM
I keep a oiled rag by the safe for this very purpose. Wipe it off and stick it back in the safe. I also would never hand anyone a firearm without checking it in front of them and handing it to them open.

Ask before dry firing.

April 16, 2008, 07:41 PM
Have to agree that the owner should have opened the action and removed the magazine prior to handing the firearm to you.

2nd 41
April 16, 2008, 07:44 PM
I stopped handling others possessions. Cameras, Guns, Collectables and so on. That's just me.

April 16, 2008, 07:46 PM
Have to agree that the owner should have opened the action and removed the magazine prior to handing the firearm to you.
those that know me know it doesn't matter to me if they've just cleared the piece; if they hand it to me, I'll clear it again.

April 16, 2008, 07:46 PM
I'd call that improper etiquette. I always lock back slide and remove mag or open cylinder on revolvers and ask the person if they agree it's clear. Kind of a habit i picked up in the corrections academy.

April 16, 2008, 07:46 PM
....I've been reading from the viewpoints of Ayoob and it makes sense to me to check, double check and check some more then check again.
As it takes only one time to get it seriously wrong.

Aside from that, I also agree with the concept that this seemingly weird nonsense of feeling for the empty breech and empty mag well (even when you clearly can see there's nothing there) is simply a matter of programming yourself to do it this way every time any time. So those are my motives.

April 16, 2008, 08:25 PM
So, the owner with an oily rag near the safe thing is a solution, is there any others?

April 16, 2008, 09:12 PM
Anyone that hands me a firearm for any reason, had better accept the fact that I WILL open it and check it, Even if they checked it just before handing it over, If they can't accept that TOO BAD.
Not that I don't trust them, I just trust me more.

April 16, 2008, 09:20 PM
Well, First thing I do when being given any firearm in any circumstance is check to see if it's loaded. After confirming it's empty I fondle.

April 16, 2008, 09:22 PM
here is when you should play musuem curator. yeah those acid free gloves like the butler uses to wipe table tops to make sure the maids are doing their jobs. And what they use to fondle those 1000 year old textiles in musuems..
Still a gun is someones baby. be good to it.

April 16, 2008, 09:22 PM
I hand them over with action locked and mag dropped if the circumstance allows. Rather then reach my hand into someone elses gun I usually take out my Surefire Defender and shine it in there. Can visually tell if there's a round, if I can't with the brightness on that thing, well, then I need a complete new set of eyes lol.

Silicon cloth in my safe however, it's got hoppes, Rem-oil and all other kinds of stuff on it as well from general use so I give everything a wipe down with that.

April 16, 2008, 09:23 PM
before you were given them firearm it should have been checked and the action locked open. If it was not, that is the 1st thing I would do. There is no need to do a "press check" being able to see light down the barrel and into the mag is fine.

April 16, 2008, 09:26 PM
I'll check that it's unloaded as well. If I can see the chamber, that's good enough for me and I don't stick my fingers in actions or mag wells. Why would you ever need to stick your finger in a mag well anyway? You can see all the way through the thing.

What is the proper way to check an old front stuffer?

April 16, 2008, 09:28 PM
If I hand someone a firearm and he doesn't check it (regardless of how many times I check it before handing it to him) then I will not hand him another.

Safety is paramount, and proper firearms handling promotes safety. If you object to fingerprints, or don't have a rag, then don't hand the weapon over.

Fingerprints wipe off easily. Holes in your wall/ceiling/child/etc....ummm, not so much.

April 16, 2008, 09:32 PM
So.... spinning and clicking is out, huh?


April 16, 2008, 09:36 PM
+100 Orion , I'll let them fondle it and then later I'll fondle it with a rag .

April 16, 2008, 09:38 PM
i would say this, 1) if they are showing you their private gun collection, it is safe to think of your relationship as freinds. 2) if they hand you a weapon, it is your DUTY to check the action, even if they just did. 3) if they want you to hadle their guns, they are well aware that finger prints and acids will be left behind. unless you have some kind of elevated acid skin condition (seems to me i read something about red haired people having a higher than normal acid level in their skin secretions), do not worry about it. 4) if you DO have a higher than normal acid level, it is also your duty to explain this PRIOR to handling the weapon. 5) the next time that person is at your place, return the favor.

April 16, 2008, 09:48 PM
i dont understand the idea of finger banging the gun... if you cant look in and see that there isnt a round in it, perhaps you dont need to be handling guns...

April 16, 2008, 09:51 PM
But in doing so, I am of course, leaving behind finger acid deposits.

Silicone cloth.

If they don't open the action, then you do it. Don't feel awkward about it.

* I would find that really unusual if someone knew enough about guns to be alarmed over "finger acid" yet not have the common courtesy of opening the action. :uhoh:

April 16, 2008, 10:04 PM
I kind of thought I was being paranoid on the finger print thing, looks like I was....

Okay, so, don't worry about it I guess is what you're all saying?

And on the status-check. Yes, even if someone, right in front of me, hands over a firearm and I clearly see that they have cleared the mag and locked the chamber open I will still continue to visually and tactilely confirm.

The source where I am getting this reasoning is reading material from Ayoob .... Ayoob's theorizing on the tactile confirmation is basically that; this is the only way you'll be able verify there is indeed a live round in the breech, at night, under stress, (say if someone is breaking into your home and you needed to grab a defensive arm for protection). And, so therefore if you feel for the mag and breech even under routine handling conditions, you should hopefully, instinctually do this in a stress situation.

Plus, it's just one more redundant safety step right? Can't be too safe.

Thanks much from a noob.

April 16, 2008, 10:53 PM
I appreciate the owner checking it for safe. I too will do it. With an auto, if I can see that there's nothing in the chamber, and nothing in the "handle", I'm not going to play "third base" with it.
With a revolver, cylinder open and empty, I'm not gonna stick my smallest digit up the pipe.
I'm gonna think that you've invited me into the Holy of Holies, that you think that I'm WORTHY, and will be appropriately reverent.

April 16, 2008, 11:49 PM
at night under stress, any gun i grab is going to be loaded and ready to go... the only exception would be my 12ga which will be loaded with the action open so that all i have to do is close the action and be ready to go... again i dont see the need to treat my guns like suzy rottencrotch behind the gym...

April 17, 2008, 12:59 AM
When I show anyone a firearm, I first inspect it to assure that it is not loaded, then I expect them to do likewise.

April 17, 2008, 02:50 AM
I agree with the ideas that you should always check for yourself. I also hesitate before I handle somebodys gun that is either super expensive or super old. I just know that it would be my luck that I would rack the slide and break a spring on some guys 1911 that his father brought back from the war.

April 17, 2008, 04:07 AM
If someone hands me a firearm, I figure they already know that I am going to be handling it.

I ALWAYS check any weapon I handle. It is just a good safe practice. In my 20+ years of shooting, I've yet to see damage to a gun that has occured as a result of checking the chamber. The residue from your finger's "oils" are a minimal impact on the gun. If your friend maintains his weapons, I feel that it will never be an issue (personally, I'll occasionally pull my guns out and apply a light coat of oil to them when they are sitting for a long period of time... and I always wipe them down after they are handled).

Checking a gun is pretty much standard operating procedure... We do it at work, I do it in stores, and I do it when a friend hands me a gun. It isn't an insult. I feel more insulted when someone handles my guns and doesn't know how to safely handle them!

Some people are a bit too sensitive I guess. I say, you can't be too safe.

To draw a parallel with other safety issues, the same thing goes for prisoner searches in LE... If one of my shift partners handcuffed and searched a prisoner, I'll often search them again before they ride in my car. It isn't an insult to the other officer, it is just a safety issue.

Having said that, I'm not inclined to go grab the bore light to look for loose debris in my friend's barrel, but checking the chamber is always good practice.

April 17, 2008, 05:39 AM
The physical (finger) check is necessary anytime you can't clearly see the breach or chamber, as with some bolt actions, especially if you don't have a safe direction to point the muzzle while you check visually. I'd rather wipe and re-oil the chamber of a weapon someone has checked than be swept with a muzzle. I've had people comment about the finger check, but if they've just handed me a weapon I can't check any other way I'll point that fact out. The safety of others is more important than the minor inconvenience of having to wipe down a chamber.

April 17, 2008, 05:44 AM
don wrote,
When I show anyone a firearm, I first inspect it to assure that it is not loaded, then I expect them to do likewise.

I agree.

April 17, 2008, 06:36 AM
I don't have people in my house, so the guns in my home are a non-issue, but I have handed my carry piece to a few trusted friends & relatives who expressed interest in seeing it (mostly because they're curious about the PF-9 itself). They know I carry. They know it's loaded. and believe me, they know how to safely handle it, or I wouldn't let them touch it, because I'm not messing around unloading it for someone I know will handle it properly. I do tell them it's hot, but unless I'm unsure of their gunhandling (in which case I do clear it), I don't worry about it.

April 17, 2008, 08:48 AM
I do as Eng23ine said.... I will hand them a safe weapon but I fully expect them to double check.

April 17, 2008, 12:29 PM
Don't remember where exactly I heard this from but I liked it...

If Jesus himself descended from upon high, handed me a rifle, and told me it was unloaded... I would still check it myself.

April 17, 2008, 12:34 PM
The NRA's first rule of safe gun handling:

Always point the gun in a safe direction.

Before I handle any gun, I always determine the safe direction. If I am at someone else's residence and I am not sure of the safe direction, I ask before handling any firearms.

April 17, 2008, 01:46 PM
Many bolts you can remove the bolt by squeezing the trigger while pulling the bolt back (and well after it is opened enough to avoid any contact of the firingpin to primer or anything else. That will allow you to look down the bore from the rear of the chamber. Is there a bolt gun where you cant see the breach from the side? My .22lr's even have enough room to see. Not trying to be smart here, but can anyone post a pic/give an example of one you cant see the breach?

To check to see if a ML is clear, remove the primer, flint piece, or cap and gently run the ramrod gently down the barrel. You should be able to tell if there is a round in the chamber then. Some rods that came with the firearm have a mark for where the barrel could come to on the rod when it is empty, if it doesn't make it to that point, loaded. My rods (and all the ones in my family) have a sharpie or groove mark we put in at the loaded point and the empty point. Its easy, two lines its "pregnant" or loaded, one line it isn't.

April 17, 2008, 02:15 PM
Handle it as if it were your own.

April 19, 2008, 12:32 AM
Thanks again.

April 19, 2008, 09:36 AM
Is there a bolt gun where you cant see the breach from the side? My .22lr's even have enough room to see. Not trying to be smart here, but can anyone post a pic/give an example of one you cant see the breach?

There are several, especially long actions, where it's difficult to see the chamber from the side. It's not impossible, but it can be inconvenient and awkward, especially if you're in a situation where there's a crowd of folks around (I'm talking gun shows here) and you have difficulty finding a safe direction to point while checking. In that case, a quick check with the old pinky finger is by far the safest way to do it. I do it when I'm putting zip ties on guns being brought into the show. As a side note, I have no problem asking when someone hands me an unfamiliar weapon and I don't know how to break it down. Another point is that if you know something about collectible guns, you can pretty much tell which ones the owner is going to be real picky about you handling. If that's the case, I'll let the owner show me that it's clear and let him put the tie on himself. I always respect other people's property, especially their rare and expensive guns.

I have had people bring in old wall-hanger muzzle loaders that were loaded. One guy had a double barrel muzzle loader, so I put the rod in one barrel, OK. The rod stuck out of the other barrel about 3 extra inches, so we knew that one was loaded. In that case, he was bringing it in to see a collector we both knew, so I let him leave it with me and go talk to the collector. The collector came out, looked at it and bought it without it going in to the show. Apparently if there's enough history behind a piece, unloading lessens its historical value (it was a Civil War era gun).

April 19, 2008, 09:57 AM
I just point peoples guns at them and pull the trigger. I figure if they hand me a loaded weapon and I shoot them with it they will learn their lesson...I wonder why no one wants to shoot with me anymore?

Im kidding by the way...dont get crazy on me.

April 19, 2008, 10:02 AM
I never accept a gun from someone elses hands if the action on the gun is closed. The slide should be locked back and any detachable magazine removed. The cylinder should be swung out/removed. The breach should be open. Whatever. Other details (press-check, bore light, etc.) are individual. Proper etiquette is to hand any gun over with the action open. Proper etiquette is to ask others to do the same.

April 19, 2008, 10:03 AM
I consider it respectful if I hand a cleared weapon to someone and they clear it again. Shows they care about both our safety.

April 19, 2008, 12:03 PM
Here is how I was taught, first they clear the wepon and show it to you, then you take it pointed at the floor from them, and you re check it again, if it's an auto, it should of had the mag removed prior to your hands getting it, if he put it back in, ask that it be removed, pointed down ward again, rack the slide and check to make sure there are no rounds left inside, the revolver should also have been empty and handed to you with the cylinder open. Ask for a cleaning cloth, as you never want to put any weapon away without wiping off the corosive elements from your hand. The way I was taught was if you didn't re check the weapon after it was handed back to you, you recieved a slap to the side of your head, by a Marine. I have seen my old uncle Mike, slap a lot of heads, God rest his sole.

April 20, 2008, 04:01 PM
I just point peoples guns at them and pull the trigger. I figure if they hand me a loaded weapon and I shoot them with it they will learn their lesson...I wonder why no one wants to shoot with me anymore?

It's unfortunate that this does actually happen.

gym - I have had a couple of knots raised on the top of my head for that exact same thing, but it was by an army grunt. Wonder if that was how it was taught back in the day. :)

April 20, 2008, 04:03 PM
Got the back of my head slapped a few times as a kid. Not once in the service. Thank God for pro-gun parents!

April 20, 2008, 04:09 PM
I doubt I'm the only one like this, but if I was to invite you to handle my firearms, I would have cleared, checked, and double checked the gun before I ever hand it to you, then I would expect you to clear, check, and double check it yourself, to verify, and confirm that it is unloaded. I'd rather have have your dirty fingers in my chamber, than somebody's blood on my floor.

3rd Generation American
April 20, 2008, 04:27 PM
My first lesson in gun handeling was a gun is always loaded, check it to be sure it is not.
My second lesson was a gun is always loaded, check it to be sure it is not.

So if you hand me one I will check it.

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