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Gun Handling Etiquette

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by MattTheHat, Jul 14, 2009.

  1. MattTheHat

    MattTheHat Participating Member

    May 22, 2007
    Plano, TX
    A related thread got me to thinking about how I try to safely handle a firearm that's *supposed* to be unloaded. My gun handling etiquette follows. If you were the other party, would any of the following make you feel uncomfortable, or that I'm being disrespectful to you?

    When I'm showing one of my guns to someone, before I hand it to them, I always say something like "Let me make sure it's clear" and then check it. If possible, I then hand it over to them with the action open. If not, I make sure they watching as I check. What I'm expecting is that the person takes the gun from me and verbally indicates that he, too, has checked it. If not, at least I know it's clear.

    When I'm handed a firearm, I'm hoping the other party checks to make sure the action is clear. Personally, I prefer it when they verbally indicate that they are checking to make sure it's clear.

    Upon accepting the gun, again, verbally, I indicate that I've also checked it. I usually do this by cramming my finger into the action, looking at it closely, and saying "Yup, all clear." If they don't say anything or don't inspect the gun, I will verbally indicate that I'm going to do so. This is where I worry about sounding like a jerk, since they obviously now realize they should have checked it. So I say something like "I'm just going to make sure someone didn't sneak a round in here while we weren't looking." If I don't know how to open a particular firearm, I simply ask "Okay, how do I open this thing."

    The other thing I do, when checking how the gun handles when pointed, is to turn to a location away from other parties and aim the gun at about a 45 degree angle into the ceiling. (Most buildings here are single story. If not, the person on the second floor can't see me any way.) I'm always careful to keep my fingers out of the trigger guard. This keeps me from possibly sweeping others, or having someone walk into the barrel.

    So, what do you think? Is this all friendly enough, or do I need to rethink how any of it sounds to the other party?

  2. ezypikns

    ezypikns Participating Member

    Jul 16, 2004
    Dallas, Texas
    All sounds very safe.

    The only difference with me, is when I pass a firearm to another, I try to set the firearm down, action open, and pointed in a safe direction, and let the other person pick it up and clear it themselves rather than hand it directly to them. This may not always be possible, but that's what I try to do.
    Also, where safety is concerned, I wouldn't worry too much about offending someone. You can be safe (as you suggest) and not be a "jerk".
  3. 1KPerDay

    1KPerDay Elder

    Jan 19, 2006
    Happy Valley, UT
    Sounds fine to me Matt. I appreciate being around people who make it a point of being safe.
  4. freakshow10mm

    freakshow10mm member

    Apr 20, 2008
    I don't talk about checking the chamber, I just do it.
  5. harmonic

    harmonic member

    Aug 10, 2007
    Back in the day, when someone showed you their firearm, proper etiquette demanded you not touch metal. You only handled the gun by the wood.
  6. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

    Jan 3, 2003
    0 hrs east of TN
    Sounds good to me. Beats getting shot.
  7. chuwee81

    chuwee81 Member

    Apr 20, 2008
    one time me and my pastor just chit chatting and i showed him my mosin nagant, empty mag, action open. And we just kept on talking while he's examining the rifle. We got carried away until i finally told him; " hey you can try the trigger pull on that thing". He said "cool" in excitement and closed the bolt. WE, again WE, never verified that it's indeed unloaded, although i made sure before handing it to him. He took aim at a safe direction but then he looked at me and BOTH of us has the same look - are WE sure that there's no round in the chamber. So he opened the action, stick his finger in there and we both smiled. I told him, i was thinking about the same thing and before i could say anything him, he opened the action. No offense to me or him.
  8. TCB in TN

    TCB in TN Participating Member

    Jun 23, 2006
    Middle, TN
    I always open the action, and verify clear, then hand it over with the muzzle pointing in a safe direction. On a semi auto I always remove the mag, on a revolver I like to swing open the cylinder and hand it over with it open. Lever or bolt guns I also open the action and verify and pass them over open. BTW I have NO problem with anyone exhibiting safe handling. I have had a lot of people hand me a gun w/o them checking the chamber, and it doesn't worry me to much, because I am ALWAYS going to check it myself. It doesn't bother me when others check the chamber after me, I actually want them to do so.
  9. psyopspec

    psyopspec Senior Member

    Sep 28, 2004
    Cape Cod
    To sum it up: Clear when giving, clear when receiving, don't point guns at people/things you're not willing to destroy.

    Yup, good enough.
  10. Sav .250

    Sav .250 Senior Member

    Jun 5, 2007
    Central Fla
    I fine no problem with your, lets be safe before we handle this thing(weapon) attitude.
    Some where along the line somebody taught you ......well. :)
  11. Quoheleth

    Quoheleth Senior Member

    Mar 7, 2007
    The Land of Bowie, Crockett, Travis & Houston
    Scary story...my CHL instructor would show off his toys to his classes. One afternoon, he picked up his SP101 and - "KNOWING" it was unloaded - demonstrated how a double-action revolver works.

    As the dust sifted out of the suspended ceiling down onto his students, he realized with horror that his wife was sitting directly in the line of fire.

    She was on the floor. Fortunately, the bullet missed her by mere inches, perforating the plexiglass window behind her, entering the next room, and punched out the outside wall of the building. She had hit the deck at the BOOM of the gun - a reflex action that was, honestly, too late (a .357 Mag travels 10 feet faster than you can react) - but served to scare the snot out of hubby, thinking he had just murdered his wife.

    Since then, his technique changed to him checking the weapon, asking a student to verify it being empty, and then - and only then - continuing with his demo.

    Stupid mistake.
    Lucky man.
    Luckier wife.

  12. John Wayne

    John Wayne Participating Member

    Dec 11, 2007
    Gun SAFETY requires that you hand a gun to another with the action open and pointed in a safe direction.

    Etiquette goes beyond that, and means you don't get your greasy fingerprints on blued surfaces or let your watch/jewelry scratch the gun inadvertantly. Also, make sure not to let someone pull the trigger on a Mosin while the bolt is open, it hurts when it falls on your foot!
  13. HKUSP45C

    HKUSP45C Active Member

    Nov 19, 2004
    Houston, By God Texas
    Maybe I'm different but I just tell people who ask to pick up my guns "be careful it's genuinely loaded with real ammo."

    Because it is.

    I expect them not to shoot either of us with it. Hasn't been a problem with the people I've chosen to populate my circle of friends with yet.

    If I'm holding a gun and need to give it to someone else, either at the range or (seldom) in my home, I usually drop the mag, rack the round out of the chamber, lock the slide open, stick my pinky in the chamber and set it down. Wheelguns get opened, emptied and my thumb run over the empy chambers and set down open.

    They can just pick it up after that.

    I can't remember the last time I handed a gun a gun to someone, my friends all have their own.

    Folks at the gun store and shows always clear it for me and lock the action open or hand me relvolvers with the cylinder open.
  14. Kwanger

    Kwanger Active Member

    Mar 30, 2009
    I always satisfy myself the firearm is clear, open the action and hand it over held open, not pointed at them, when I am handing a firearm to someone else. Way I was trained. What I would expect the other person to then do is take a good look in there to satisfy themselves it is also clear, before releasing the bolt and and/or dropping the hammer to signify 'handover complete'.
  15. ScareyH22A

    ScareyH22A Member

    Feb 25, 2009
    You're supposed to set the firearm down after clearing it and leaving the action open right?
  16. Devon

    Devon New Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    Lawrence, Ks.
    I was at a WW1 and WW2 reenactment where the actors had some handguns and rifles on display. The crowd was allowed to pick up the weapons and handle them. I had in my hand a very early 1911 that, for the purposes of the reenactment was fitted with a blank firing barrel, nonetheless, I had to check it out. While I had verified the action was clear and locked open, I was standing there looking the weapon over, it was pointed away from the crowd and down at a 45 degree angle. There was an older fellow standing beside me to my left, he turned his body 90 degrees toward me, stuck his belly against the muzzle, and loudly asked me to point the weapon in a safe direction and not at him. I was so dumbfounded at his actions that I couldn't think of a thing to say other than "sorry." The folks around just looked at him like he was an idiot and the fellow that was at the rack of weapons told him so, apparently he had seen the whole thing happen.
    Some people will just walk in front of you to make a point, he was an idiot. I wish I wasn't so young then, I'd have given him some advice but for the whole respect your elders that I was raised with.
    My Father taught me at a very young age to always make safe a weapon and verify it was safe before handling them or handing them over to someone else.
  17. MrCleanOK

    MrCleanOK Participating Member

    Jun 16, 2007
    I clear it in plain view, locking the action open. Then, hand it to the second party in such a manner that they can get at least as good or a better grip on the piece than I have before I let it go, muzzle always in a safe direction. Rifles get held by the forward handguard, barrel pointing straight up, so the receiving party can grab anywhere they want on the forend and butt/pistol grip area. Pistols get held with my fingers wrapped under the dust cover and trigger guard, grip extended toward the receiving party.
    I don't sweat it if somebody doesn't recheck the open gun I just handed them. I'll be watching them anyway to make sure no ammo magically appears and finds its way in there. And of course, I'll be checking it when I get it back, just in case.
  18. Nairbedaw

    Nairbedaw New Member

    Jul 9, 2009
    Arlington, Tx
    I was raised to check if the gun was unloaded first. Even if someone says it isnt I ALWAYS check for myself. Its just kind of common sense IMO. Never point it at or near anyone, and never put your finger in the trigger hole unless you are 100% ready to fire.
  19. chrisb507

    chrisb507 New Member

    Apr 17, 2003
    Northern VA
    The only place this may be different is in a gun store. I've been handed a gun with the action closed, and the muzzle all over the place. I always return it open, and grip first.

    Do the rules change in a gun store?
  20. Tamlin

    Tamlin Member

    Jan 8, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    Recently got my wife a S&W .38 special. She's shot my guns before, at a range trip a few years back, but for all practical purposes she's still a noob. Planning on sending her to safety classes but hasn't happened yet. DIDN'T GIVE HER ANY AMMO WITH THE GUN. She's handled it, dry fired it, etc. Days go buy, I decide to get her snap caps so she can more safely dry fire. :) Load the snap caps in the gun, but for whatever reason, didn't tell her about it. Gun sits untouched. Couple of weeks go by - her sister comes into town, and she wants to show off her gun. She pulls it out, and pulls the trigger to demonstrate the action. I freak out on her, pop the cylinder, and show her the gun is "loaded." She freaks out, not knowing what snap caps are. Immediate lesson on Rule Nos. 1-4. My fault for thinking that she still knew the rules from that long-ago range trip. :(

    Moral of the Story: No matter who hands you a gun, no matter how well you know them and/or trust them, YOU NEVER KNOW IF THE GUN IS LOADED! Safety demands that you check the gun; Etiquette compels you to tell the owner what a fine gun it is as you open the slide/cylinder.

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