What does "lock and load" actually mean?


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TheOtherOne
August 7, 2004, 03:45 PM
You hear it in movies all the time, but what does it mean? Put the gun on safety and chamber a round? Most guns won't let you load with the safety on so if that's what it means, shouldn't everyone be saying "load and lock"?

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Das Pferd
August 7, 2004, 04:00 PM
This phrase refers to the actions required to prepare a gun for firing.

"Lock" is an archaic term for what is now called the "action" or the "receiver". It was originally called the "lock" because the mechanism locked the hammer back in the cocked position. The trigger releases the lock to fire the weapon.

"Load" is to load the cartridge into the firearm, or the charge and ball in a muzzle loaded musket.

It simply means get ready.

1911Tuner
August 7, 2004, 04:08 PM
Lock a magazine into the weapon and chamber a round.

Line of Departure! Lock and Load! Ain't no turnin' back now fellas...We're in Injun Country! Get ready to hit the ground shootin'!

hoorah

Texian Pistolero
August 7, 2004, 06:04 PM
LOCK.. one thirty round magazine into the weapon.


LOAD... hit bolt hold back button and LOAD one 5.56mm X 45 mm NATO round into the chamber.

mutter "come to Jesus",

and let the fun begin...

Vern Humphrey
August 7, 2004, 06:20 PM
The order means, "Put your weapons on safe and load."

"Lock" refers to the safety lock. For the Springfield, raise and lower the bolt, set the safety to the mid position, then open the bolt and load.

For the Garand and M14, drawing the bolt to the rear and latching it allows you to set the safety. When the clip or magazine is inserted, the bolt goes forward.

For the M16, retract and release the charging handle, apply the safety, and insert a magazine.

Monkeyleg
August 7, 2004, 06:26 PM
Vern, to "load," wouldn't you want to insert the magazine before releasing the charging handle?

This subject was covered a year or two ago, either on THR or TFL. IIRC, the term goes back to the days of the musket.

roy berkeley
August 7, 2004, 06:31 PM
AFAIK, the phrase was born in the early days of WWII, in connection with the M-1 Garand rifle. The M-1 has a safety located in the front of the trigger guard that controls only the trigger. When the operator pulls the safety back into the front of the trigger guard, the trigger is immobilized, rendering the gun "safe". The gun is loaded by pulling the cocking lever back, at which point the action is held open by the follower in the magazine. Then an 8-round clip (yes -- a clip -- this is the proper use of the word) is pushed down into the magazine with the thumb and the cocking lever is released, allowing the bolt to move forward into battery, preferably without mashing the operator's thumb in the process. The gun is now loaded and safety engaged. To fire the gun, the operator just pushes the safety forward, out of the trigger guard. The Garand was a very safe-to-handle gun, mostly because it was possible to load it with the safety engaged. The practise was to carry the gun unloaded with the bolt forward (and it was a real test of one's skill to push down on the follower in the empty magazine and let the bolt move forward into the closed position *without* getting one's thumb caught and mashed ("M-1 Thumb")
When a unit entered a combat situation the order was given to lock and load. AFAIK, these words were heard in a *bunch* of WWII movies, popularizing the phrase...
FWIW

Vern Humphrey
August 7, 2004, 06:38 PM
Quote:
---------------------------------------------------
Vern, to "load," wouldn't you want to insert the magazine before releasing the charging handle?
--------------------------------------------------

Since normally the command is given when you have plenty of time, you can do it both ways -- either letting the bolt go forward before locking and then retracting it again after the magazine is inserted, or latching the bolt back. I always considered the first way best -- less chance of a fumble while loading.

Quote:
-----------------------------------------------------
When the operator pulls the safety back into the front of the trigger guard, the trigger is immobilized, rendering the gun "safe". The gun is loaded by pulling the cocking lever back
------------------------------------------------------

You can't lock the M1 or the M14 if the rifle is not cocked. You must retract the bolt.

By the way, for the M1918 BAR the command was, "Cock and lock the automatic rifle." The BAR fires from an open bolt, so it was pulled back to full cock, and the local applied

444
August 7, 2004, 06:43 PM
Interesting.
I always assumed the expression came from the M1 where you have to LOCK the bolt to the rear in order to LOAD the rifle.
I further assumed that from then on, it referred to locking your bolt to the rear, insterting a full magazine and then hitting the bolt release.

Mk VII
August 7, 2004, 06:48 PM
a friend once said it dated back to the Trapdoor Springfield, where you had to cock the lock before you could open the breechblock.

gunsmith
August 7, 2004, 07:00 PM
Used the term in a Star Trek movie.

I thought that was funny to apply to a phaser rifle.

atk
August 7, 2004, 07:01 PM
The way I always understood it, the proper phrasing was "load and lock", meaning, "load your garand, and lock the safety". The line "load and lock" was purportedly delivered by John Wayne during a WWII movie as "lock and load", and it stuck since.

Of course, I can't cite any sources for that :)

geekWithA.45
August 7, 2004, 08:30 PM
I don't have a lot of confidence in this, but I'll pass it along.

What I heard was that the 19th century British army would lock their rifles to their belts to prevent their spear and shield technology opponents from easily obtaining up to date firepower.

The meaning of load, of course, is self evident.

1911Tuner
August 7, 2004, 08:39 PM
Interesting...

Our '16s were always on-safe , regardless of the rifle's condition. When we'd board a Huey or walk past the perimeter, the order was given: "Line of Departure. Lock and Load." Mags were locked in...Bolts were operated to chamber a round... and safeties were left alone until there was reason to touch'em. The procedure was the same for the '14s.

sm
August 7, 2004, 08:51 PM
http://www.thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=106153&highlight=Lock+Load

Jim K
August 7, 2004, 09:36 PM
Wow! Some interesting (and wrong) answers.

"Lock and load" comes from the rifle range, not really from combat.

To begin with, "lock" has nothing to do with the locking the bolt, or with flintlock muskets. It means to engage the safety, that is to put it in the "ON" position. "Load" means to load a round into the chamber.

In the days of the Model 1903 Springfield, the command was "Load and lock", since the M1903 could not be made safe with the bolt open (the mid-position of the safety was used only for disassembly). The clip was inserted in the clip slot, the rounds stripped into the magazine, and the bolt closed. Then the shooter engaged the safety.

The M1 rifle could be loaded with the safety on, so when it was adopted, the command was reversed. "Lock" meant to engage the safety, and "load" meant (usually) to insert an 8-round clip and load the first round into the chamber.

Note that it is not necessary that "load" mean a full clip or a full magazine. The initial part of the command tells what to load. For example, it can be "With one round, lock and load", or with an M14, "With a 20 round magazine, lock and load." The command would also specify special ammunition if applicable, such as "With eight rounds of tracer ammunition, lock and load."

Jim

jeff-10
August 8, 2004, 04:25 AM
FWIW I was always under the impression it meant lock a magazine into the mag well and load a round into the chamber.

daniel (australia)
August 8, 2004, 09:37 AM
How confusing!

FWIW the Aus. Army has a clear series of instructions for each stage of weapon readiness, generally applicable to all small arms:

"Load": Safety on where applicable (not all weapons can be placed on safe without being cocked), magazine or belt fitted,

"Action": Chamber a round/cock the action, safety on, sights up/set where applicable.

"Instant": Safety off, weapon in firing position ready to fire.

I'd have thought the US forces would have something similar.

1911Tuner
August 8, 2004, 10:00 AM
Gunny was wrong???:what: :D

We were never given the order to Lock'n'Load on the firing line.
That specific order was issued as we headed for Harm's Way,
or the Line of Departure.

During basic rifle training and during AIT, rifles were issued
with bolts locked open and safeties engaged. If Gunny caught you with a bolt in battery OR the safety off before he directed you to put the rifle in battery, he would personally see to it that you'd wish you'd never been born.

"You will now lock your magazine into the magazine well, insuring that it is fully seated with the palm of your hand. With your finger off the trigger, you will now load your weapon by by depressing the bolt release button that is located on the left side of the receiver. The range is now hot. You will rotate the safety selector clockwise one quarter of a turn. Should anyone have a malfunction or any kind of problem with your rifle, you will keep the weapon pointed downrange, move the safety lever counter-clockwise one-quarter turn and raise your hand. Ready on the left! Ready on the right! Commence firing!"

Atticus
August 8, 2004, 11:56 AM
Repardless of origin ....I would think it applies differently to each gun that comes down the pike e.g., M16 family - lock mag - load chamber. I think you're all correct ...or mostly.

Vern Humphrey
August 8, 2004, 02:48 PM
Quote:
---------------------------------------
We were never given the order to Lock'n'Load on the firing line.
That specific order was issued as we headed for Harm's Way,
or the Line of Departure.
---------------------------------------

Lock and Load is often used in a modified form on the range ("With Ball Cartridge, One Round -- Lock and Load!)

But it is also most definitely used in combat. I put a lot of time impressing my NCOs that THEY decide when rifles are to be loaded.

Abenaki
August 8, 2004, 03:10 PM
All this time I thought that it went back to a time before the French and Indian war. To load they would take a paper cartrige and tear it open with their teeth. They would then prime the pan (on the lock)with powder from this cartrige and then load the barrel with the rest of the cartrige.

Abenaki

Jim K
August 8, 2004, 11:17 PM
Hi, Abenaki,

Where did they put the 8 round clip in the Charleville? Sorry, but the term is not that old. The actual commands of that period were a lot more extensive than "lock and load".

In English, not French, but just for fun and enlightenment (and if I haven't forgotten any):

1. Prepare to load [With the left hand, bring the musket up and across the body. With the right hand, bring the cock to half-cock and push the steel forward to uncover the pan].

2. Handle Cartridge [With the right hand, draw cartridge from the cartridge box].

3. Tear cartridge [With the teeth, tear the cartridge paper, being careful not to spill the powder].

4. Prime [Pour a portion of the cartridge powder into the pan and close the steel].

5. Charge cartridge [Pour the rest of the powder into the muzzle and push bullet into the muzzle with the thumb].

6. Draw rammer [Remove the ramrod from the channel under the barrel].

7. Ram cartridge [With the head of the ramrod (the big end), ram the bullet and powder all the way down into the barrel].

8. Return rammer.

9. Cast about [Bring the musket up and turn your body so as to be ready for the next command].

10. Present your musket [Point the musket at the enemy, and bring the cock to the full cock position].

11. Fire.

Then do it all over again. Or, aren't modern inventions wonderful?

Jim

SOT_II
August 8, 2004, 11:22 PM
Don't forget:

Lock and Load your first 20 round magazine and WATCH you lane,

Lock the safety, load the mag, release the bolt...and watch your lane pretty much the way it runs.

When refering Lock as in the "old version" of lock....that is common for the "lock, stock, and barrel. refering to the three common parts of a "primitive" firearm

Different types of locks and not to be confused with a trigger lock...

joab
August 8, 2004, 11:25 PM
lock and load

"The origin of the phrase "lock and load" is not entirely clear, as there are two similar, yet distinct, explanations for its origin. Regardless of its exact origin, the phrase has come to relate to any activity in which preparations have to be made for an immediate action.

One explanation of the phrase comes from the actions needed to prepare a flint lock rifle for firing. In order to safely load a rifle of this type it was necessary to position the firing mechanism in a locked position, after which the gun powder and ball could be safely loaded into the rifle barrel without any chance of the rifle misfiring.

The second explanation is that the phrase (as "load and lock") originated during World War II to describe the preparations required to fire an M1 Garand rifle. After an ammunition clip was loaded into the rifle the bolt was pushed forward in order to "lock" a round into the chamber." lock and load origin (http://www.sproe.com/l/lock-and-load.html)

Abenaki
August 9, 2004, 01:02 AM
Jim Keenan

I am familiar with the loading drills.
Man what a pain. Kinda like wearing a bright red uniform in the middle
of the summer!!!!!

Abenaki

alphaboo
October 23, 2008, 04:26 AM
I always thought that lock and load meant that you opened the breech which you locked open to load as on an M1 and loaded the gun by inserting the clip into the open and locked breech. Once the gun was loaded weather with single rounds on a basic bolt action hunting rifle (in the Dead Zone Christopher Walken opens and locks the breech on his rifle, loads the bullets one by one, then closes the bolt and breech in preperation to firing. I don't remeber if he chmbers a round at this point or does that later) or as on a M1 type clip or a box type clip like a thompson or sten gun or a modern assualt rifle, then you closed the brech so the gun had been locked and loaded and was now ready to be used by releasing the safety and pulling back the bolt (I doubt you could apply lock and load to a revolver.)or however you charged the particular weapon you were using. A paratrooper might lock and load but I doubt he would jump with a chambered round and the bolt pulled back.

Hope this helps,

Alphaboo

Pure Kustom
October 23, 2008, 04:46 AM
It means SHHTF!!!!

everallm
October 23, 2008, 06:52 AM
British Army

Entering a hot zone be it range, exercise or combat
Lock a mag in place or check the currently seated one is seated and secure
Load a round in chamber
Safety re-checked and is still on safe

Ready
Safety off, prepare to fire on command or as required

moooose102
October 23, 2008, 08:08 AM
while i do not know where or when the phrase came from, i know esentially what it means, but i always thought it should be said the other way around. load and lock. but lock and load does sound cooler.

The Lone Haranguer
October 23, 2008, 10:11 AM
A thread from the dead. :neener:

I suppose it can't hurt to refresh our memories from time to time. ;)

MIL-DOT
October 23, 2008, 10:40 AM
Interesting thread, but with all the conficting information, I still don't know for sure the exact meaning or origin of the phrase beyond what I already knew,which is,"prepare whatever firearm you're holding, to fire."

Vern Humphrey
October 23, 2008, 11:06 AM
I always thought that lock and load meant that you opened the breech which you locked open to load as on an M1
Take it from a guy who trained on the M1, who trained others, and who carried one on his first combat tour: "Lock and load" means "Engage the safety lock and load your weapon."

For the M1918A1 Automatic Rifle (the BAR) the corresponding command is) "Cock and lock" which means to draw the breechblock back until it engages the sear, then engage the safety lock.

TankerCadaver
October 23, 2008, 11:26 AM
I always thought it was "lock" the bolt back.... then "load" the rounds/magazine (and subsequently release bolt into battery).

Vern Humphrey
October 23, 2008, 11:32 AM
Take it from an old Infantryman, the "lock" in "lock and load" means "engage the safety lock."

Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
October 23, 2008, 12:04 PM
Wow, many varied answers; interesting - I'm placing my bettin money on Jim Keenan & Vern Humphrey! :p

woerm
October 23, 2008, 01:44 PM
I had aways heard this as a naval term goi ng back to the 17 century when the 'modern' navies started putting flint and later percussion 'locks' on their naval cannon. The order was to get the lock out of storage and mount it then load the weapon. With blackpowder you don't want to leave that corrosive stuff in the cannon for long periods of time. and the flint and percussion actions were to fragile to leave on the cannon. Later fuses got more reliable and cased breech loaders didn't need all that but the term still has utility 'get ready for action'

10X
October 23, 2008, 03:31 PM
Remember the phrase "Lock, Stock and Barrel". This refered to flintlocks.
In the 20th century who talks about their rifle's "locks"? I believe this to be an old pharase carried over to today meaning to prepare a musket now rifle for immediate firing.

I copied the two paragraphs below from the Saving Private Ryan dictionary page. They are as good an explanation as any.

One explanation of the phrase comes from the actions needed to prepare a flint lock rifle for firing. In order to safely load a rifle of this type it was necessary to position the firing mechanism in a locked position, after which the gun powder and ball could be safely loaded into the rifle barrel without any chance of the rifle misfiring.

The second explanation is that the phrase (as "load and lock") originated during World War II to describe the preparations required to fire an M1 Garand rifle. After an ammunition clip was loaded into the rifle the bolt automatically moved forward in order to "lock" a round into the chamber.

Stevie-Ray
October 24, 2008, 01:10 AM
It was our formal goodbye to all our cronies while leaving work about 16 years ago every Tuesday. It meant "don't forget your equipment tomorrow" as we went to the range every Wednesday after work.

woodybrighton
October 24, 2008, 02:22 PM
using lock and load in the British army means lots of press ups :banghead:

dhoomonyou
October 24, 2008, 05:26 PM
praise the lord and pass the ammunition

iapetus
October 24, 2008, 05:43 PM
Holy thread necromancy, Batman!



Data the Android
Used the term in a Star Trek movie.

I thought that was funny to apply to a phaser rifle.


Not much odder I suppose than describing a directed-energy weapon as a "rifle".

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