Chamber check questions


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brekneb
April 17, 2008, 11:26 PM
Noob question:

I assume this is really only an issue for auto loaders and not bolt actions, levers, etc (whether it be a rifle, pistol, shotgun.....)

For whatever the circumstance, you're not 100% certain what's in the breech and so you retract the mechanism rearward just enough to see what's in there and then let it slip back into place. (This is of course, under the assumption that you do not intend to clear the weapon and so therefore you intend to leave a round, if there is one, in the breech.)

So now the questions:
Is spring pressure an issue? Has the bolt fully returned into battery after doing this?
2nd question is: I assume there is not enough inertia involved to risk a slam fire during this, correct?

I've always been under the impression that the only way to ensure full closure of the bolt is by allowing the bolt to close under it's own power rather than 'guide' the thing in by hand (and that it's also safe to do this.)

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SDC
April 18, 2008, 04:52 AM
Usually, a chamber check to see if a firearm is unloaded will involve more than just opening the breech to peek at part of the chamber; many people will also stick a little finger in the chamber to FEEL if a round is present, as more than one AD has happened when someone glanced quickly and missed seeing a round in the chamber. After it's positively cleared, you can always relax the mainspring by pointing the firearm in a safe direction and squeezing the trigger.

HammerBite
April 18, 2008, 06:02 AM
Is spring pressure an issue? Has the bolt fully returned into battery after doing this?
When checking to ensure that the chamber is loaded, the bolt (or slide) should return to battery under spring pressure alone unless the chamber is exceedingly tight or dirty. You are only moving the bolt back far enough to observe whether-or-not you can see the extractor start to pull a round from the chamber. In any event, it won't hurt to "help" the return to battery, if needed.
I assume there is not enough inertia involved to risk a slam fire during this, correct?
Correct. Consider the fact that a slam fire didn't occur when the round was originally chambered from the magazine.
I've always been under the impression that the only way to ensure full closure of the bolt is by allowing the bolt to close under it's own power rather than 'guide' the thing in by hand
This is generally true when the round is orginally chambered from the magazine. Consider that the round must be stripped from the magazine, broken over horizontal to enter the chamber and the rim of the cartridge must be stuffed under the extractor. It is best for the bolt to be unimpeded. None of these things need to be accomplished during the operation you have described (generally referred to as a "press check" when applied to handguns.)

Clipper
April 18, 2008, 10:04 AM
If I'm simply making sure the chamber IS loaded (not making sure it ISN't loaded...BIG difference), I simply look at the extractor. It will lie flush when empty, and stand out slightly when loaded. In fact, some pistols use it as their loaded chamber indicator by painting the side of it red to make it more visible when exposed.

Bix
April 18, 2008, 10:29 AM
When performing a chamber check on an autoloading pistol, I've been taught to "tap" the rear of the slide prior to reholstering - to ensure the weapon is fully in battery.

If the gun has gotten gummed up toward the end of the day in a high-round-count class, or if the recoil spring is nearing the end of its service life, the slide may not fully return home after performing a chamber check in my experience. Simply tapping the rear of the slide solves this problem.

NeveraVictimAgain
April 18, 2008, 10:34 AM
My impression was that it's only a "press check" if you put your finger in and press it into the chamber to feel if there's a round chambered.
This seems to be the preferred method that instructors teach to avoid an AD.

mekender
April 18, 2008, 07:27 PM
Usually, a chamber check to see if a firearm is unloaded will involve more than just opening the breech to peek at part of the chamber; many people will also stick a little finger in the chamber to FEEL if a round is present, as more than one AD has happened when someone glanced quickly and missed seeing a round in the chamber. After it's positively cleared, you can always relax the mainspring by pointing the firearm in a safe direction and squeezing the trigger.

im not sure i understand the need to finger bang the gun... if you cant look in and see that the chamber is empty, you need better lighting...

as for the pressure to pull it back, with mine, i just pull em far enough back to see the empty chamber, not far enough to fully rack the slide... so the slide usually only comes back about 3/4 an inch

SDC
April 18, 2008, 08:48 PM
im not sure i understand the need to finger bang the gun... if you cant look in and see that the chamber is empty, you need better lighting...

It's happened often enough with TWO people looking at a given "unloaded" firearm that this is why "if clear, hammer down and holster" was added to the Range Officer's "unload and show clear" instructions in IPSC. It's also why we check "unloaded" guns that are handed to us by other people, even if we just watched them do it.

Jim K
April 18, 2008, 08:59 PM
A "press check" usually applies to an auto pistol; it involves "pressing" the slide back with the off hand or "pressing" it against some solid object to move the slide back far enough to see if there is a round in the chamber. The slide should always close by spring tension; if it does not, it can be tapped closed.

Some guns have extractors that will stand out if the chamber is loaded, but many (like the original Model 1911/A1) do not, so that is not a general way to determine if the chamber is loaded.

To determine if an auto pistol or most rifles are empty, retracting the slide/bolt and checking the chamber is the one sure way. To make sure a pistol or rifle is loaded, some people do a "press check".

I consider a "press check" at best a nervous habit, at worst a distraction that could get you killed. When I was a LEO, my side arm was loaded, I KNEW it was loaded, and it was ALWAYS loaded. I didn't have to "press" anything or "check" anything.

Jim

brekneb
April 18, 2008, 10:39 PM
This is generally true when the round is orginally chambered from the magazine.

Ahh, okay so then the amount of force necessary to drive the round home has been accomplished during the initial 'charing' of the weapon and merely cracking it open once more to check it's condition will not cause any problems?

HammerBite
April 18, 2008, 11:25 PM
Ahh, okay so then the amount of force necessary to drive the round home has been accomplished during the initial 'charing' of the weapon and merely cracking it open once more to check it's condition will not cause any problems?
Correct.

brekneb
April 19, 2008, 12:00 AM
Thanks much, Hammer I have it cleared up now .....

And thanks to everyone who responded. I have a few less questions on my mind.

Wes Janson
April 19, 2008, 12:11 AM
I consider a "press check" at best a nervous habit, at worst a distraction that could get you killed. When I was a LEO, my side arm was loaded, I KNEW it was loaded, and it was ALWAYS loaded. I didn't have to "press" anything or "check" anything.

Bingo. I've never quite understood this either...if you don't know off of the top of your head whether your sidearm is loaded or not, you probably shouldn't be carrying it.

brekneb
April 19, 2008, 01:52 AM
I'd be more worried that someone would have to use a defensive arm and find out there's NOT a round in it when seconds decide an outcome. I guess that's mainly what's on my mind.

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