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Muzzle up or down? Why did the army change?

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by mljdeckard, Mar 30, 2011.

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  1. mljdeckard

    mljdeckard Member

    Jun 5, 2006
    In a part of Utah that resembles Tattooine.
    When I went through basic training in 1991, pretty much all of the time we kept our rifles at 'port arms'. When we were on the range, we were to keep the muzzle 'up' and 'downrange'. Fast forward .....a few years. Now, they have magically decided that up is no longer a good idea. Muzzle is always down. I asked why the change, and when it happened, and no one seems to know for sure. The best definitive answer I could get was that they want muzzles down, so that if there is a ND in a helicopter, it will not hit the blades or power train. I don't really buy this, because if it wasn't for the occasional shuttling of passengers in Iraqistan, most soldiers would never touch a helicopter.

    I see a lot of problems with the 'always down' idea. They expect us to rest them against walls resting upside-down on the flash hider. This means they are more likely to fall, and that often you are putting the flash hider in the dirt. When soldiers carry them they often point them at toes and legs. The mentality is that if a muzzle is pointed at someone's upper body it is terrible, but their legs are expendable. Requiring it to always be down makes soldiers flip the rifle to comply, and sometimes it is difficult to fine a clear lane to point the muzzle to flip it.

    When I have discussed this with other soldiers, they ask me what I think would be a better idea. I tell them, "How about we always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction, whether that means up, down, sideways, or otherwise? Seems simple to me."

    Why and when did they change?
  2. isc

    isc Member

    May 4, 2009
    Seems like I started hearing that put out at ranges about 2 or 3 years ago. I don't lke it because I see soldiers with dirt packed into their flashhider all the time. Then again, I still have a hard time teaching the POGs that came through my classes to keep their trigger fingers out of the trigger guard.

    It's funny how the army wants to pretend everyone is a "warrior" by giving them all berets and labeling everything "warrior" this and "warrior" that. You can call a fat POG anyhing you want, but he's still a POG.

    I wish they spent as much time training soldiers how to use their weapons as they do making us attend mandatory EO briefings, "Town halls" and standing in formations listening to officers we never knew try to convince us how hard they are working to look out for our best interests. I'm glad I'll probably be retiring soon.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 1, 2011
  3. wideym

    wideym Member

    May 30, 2007
    Maybe the powers that be decided that it's better to have a joe shot in the leg than the head?
  4. oldfool

    oldfool Member

    Jul 18, 2009
    Thomasville, Georgia
    mostly, American aren't the nation of riflemen they used to be
    back in the day, your average teenage lad knew how to carry a loaded rifle, whilst keeping the trigger guarded and carrying the rifle safely side/front, up/down
    most of 'em have to be taught "there can be only one" these days, because it's hard enough just to teach 'em even one
  5. Gromky

    Gromky Member

    Jan 7, 2011
    I don't think it's entirely a new idea in the military. A friend was trained to shoot by a Marine who served in Nam, and he taught her to generally carry down...because there's a trick to bring it up and wrap the sling to stabilize a bit more quickly. I don't think it was official, and I don't recall historical photos of soldiers carrying down. But he carried that way in service.

    I can understand that you're much less likely to have your barrel swing towards a vital area when it's down (never a pleasant experience on the receiving end). But I really don't understand a rifle leaned against a wall being muzzle down. I guess it's not a big deal with a flash hider (if you don't care about the accuracy of your first shot), but that scares the crap out of me with a standard rifle.

    Also, junk (water, dirt, snow, etc.) on the ocular lens is a huge deal with optics. The objective lens, it's not nearly as big of a deal.
  6. ball3006

    ball3006 Member

    Dec 26, 2002
    I have always carried muzzle down. It is just a second to mount the rifle to your shoulder that way and your arm is stabilized in the sling. If you have the rifle slung muzzle up it is alot slower to the shoulder that way......chris3
  7. Nushif

    Nushif Member

    Mar 21, 2010
    Corvallis, OR
    I was trained to carry down for two reasons:

    1. We're at war. Hence out of tradition we don't carry at port arms and
    2. It is faster to bring up the gun than taking it off your back or coming from port arms.

    Now, when someone said they're expected to also rest it against things with muzzle down ... that's dumb... and probably the product of a junior leader who doesn't handle guns much. Anytime we use rifles we don't let the muzzle really touch *anything*

    Remember that some flexibility is inherent in the new doctrine of the army. I know this may be a bit of a shock and counter intuitive but you'd be surprised at the leeway low end leaders have. So ... Carry it with muzzle down, keep it ready and when you put it down either put it flat (with the ejection port up) or muzzle up is the only way I've ever been told to carry it. Aside from rifle drill, of course.

    Army Doctrine isn't like the FOUR GOLDEN RULES OF GUN HANDLING OF LEGEND AND LORE PASSED TO US BY THE MOST BENEVOLENT AND POWERFUL AND ANYONE WHO VIOLATES THEM IS OSTRACIZED BY THE NRA. Modern Army doctrine calls for rules changing at times. And gun handling goes along those same lines. I know they teach to the lowest common denominator, but ALWAYS MUZZLE DOWN EVEN WHEN IT CLOGS YOUR BARREL is most definitely not part of them.
  8. TxPhantom

    TxPhantom Member

    Jul 9, 2006
    Frisco, Texas
    It's a rifle , not a gun!!!

    When I was in the Army (1961-1965) we were ordered to always keep the muzzle up and down range. Any violation of this rule would result in lots of push ups with the rifle not touching the ground, layed across the tops of your hands. You were to hold this position until some NCO told you at ease.
    Of course if you ever made the mistake of calling your rifle a gun......well I'm sure some of you ex-military know what happened then!:what:
  9. Owen Sparks

    Owen Sparks member

    May 27, 2007
    Think it might be because the trendy new combat slings are designed to hold the rifle across the front of the body at a 45 degree angle? If the muzzle was up it would be pointed at the head of the guy next to you.

    Up is also not as safe as you might think unless you are hunting in the wilderness. I saw a man disqualified at a pistol match once because he pointed his muzzle straight up. The range officer explained that he had potentially pointed his pistol at everyone there because if it had discharged the bullet could have landed on any person or car within half a mile and a 200 grain chunk of lead does not have to be falling all that fast to really hurt someone or break a windshield.
  10. X-Rap

    X-Rap Member

    Sep 23, 2006
    Try shooting trap from port arms or muzzle up then the typical low ready. The gun comes up better than it goes down when acquiring a target.
    The same can be said for travel in a vehicle, it is easier to dismount with the muzzle down then raise to the target than have the muzzle up in your face.
  11. Owen Sparks

    Owen Sparks member

    May 27, 2007
    I really think it is because of the new slings like the excelent Vickers Blue Force.
  12. Shadow 7D

    Shadow 7D Member

    Nov 30, 2008
    Frozen North

    And how many times did you sleep in the back of a LMTV with your K-pot NODs mount on the barrel...

    Just saying, it's one guy in the unit who has a bright idea that command picks up,Unless this stuff is coming down from TRADOC in the Infantry School. Being in a helicopter unit, once upon a time, I can tell you that we had two companies of infantry that all but moved in with us, and I can tell you they flew a hell of a lot more than we did. They only brought a companies worth of tents etc. for good reason.

    The whole barrels down, is because a hole in the floor is a pain, one in the transmission, is a crash. And all the crewchiefs I know/knew, would take you head off for a unsecured weapon (loose) in their bird.

    Like many good ideas, there is a reason for it, and it might not be the best in every situation, but you have to start somewhere.
  13. Mt Shooter

    Mt Shooter Member

    Nov 28, 2007
    I cant speak for the Army, but imagine this. If I come at you muzzle up, and we are at bad breath range, I try to bring my rifle (or pistol for that mater) to bear. Try to stop me, easy to do grab the muzzle or my arm. Now same thing muzzle down, I try to bring it to bear, stop me. Easy to do again, until I start shooting your feet.
  14. thralldad

    thralldad Member

    Feb 17, 2010
    If you are moving in Afghanistan it's likely by helicopter. Nowadays we carry at the low ready. Much faster target engagement. And yeah, less damage to the aircraft.
  15. One-Time

    One-Time Member

    Aug 18, 2009
    'Alert to the Dirt' its faster to bring up a gun to target, then down. While riding helos, its better if there an ND for the round to go through th floor, than through the engines/rotor blades
  16. GRIZ22

    GRIZ22 Member

    Nov 4, 2006
    I see a lot of problems with the 'always down' idea.

    I don't as One-Time said its faster to bring up a gun to target, then down. .

    Its a matter of an old Army doctrine "train as you fight".

    If you carry muzzle up in combat and find you have to engage a target quickly you will shoot air if you shoot early you will shoot air. If you carry muzzle down and you shoot early you stand a chance of hitting your target, maybe in the foot but you'll hit him.

    There are also other techniques that favor muzzle down.
  17. Tim the student

    Tim the student Member

    Feb 1, 2009
    I think it may have been an SOP on one of the FOBs we stayed on in Iraq, but I guess I don't remember. I know I always did because it was most comfortable for me, if nothing else. I know it is not an SOP on Ft. Bragg - or wasn't when I left at least. Joes walking to and from arms rooms could generally carry the rifles as they pleased.

    Whoever does that is an idiot. Is that really the standard, or are you just kind of thinking out loud so to speak?

    What level is this coming from?
  18. HorseSoldier

    HorseSoldier Member

    Jul 13, 2006
    Anchorage, AK
    I've been told that down versus up is a practice that trickled out from the cool kids to Big Army. When you're training live fire in a shoot house that has a cat walk for observers and trainers to watch the show, muzzle up isn't a safe practice, it flags them. So for safety the muzzle down practice became SOP.

    It also gels well as a point of practice running fighting rifle slings ("let 'em hang"), etc. However . . .

    . . . In the finest tradition of all things Big Army it sounds like you're dealing with some el retard(os) grande who is taking a perfectly logical idea, applying their complete lack of common sense and understanding of intent, and screwing it up.
  19. benEzra

    benEzra Moderator Emeritus

    Dec 25, 2002
    Down East in NC
    Rifles with pistol grips encourage a muzzle-down carry, and recent thinking is that muzzle down is safer than muzzle up if an ND does occur, particularly when in close proximity to others. And when carrying muzzle down, there is no reason to sweep people's feet; in close quarters, the muzzle can be pointed down (as in at the ground in front or just to the left of your feet), not merely at an angle.

    For a rifle with a pistol grip, muzzle down is also faster on target than muzzle up, and you are less vulnerable to a shove-the-barrel-up disarm.
  20. Flfiremedic

    Flfiremedic Member

    Sep 25, 2007
    If you are in the habit of muzzle down, and aren't used to combat etc, that panicy green recruit may squeeze the trigger with muzzle down...recoil MAY bring the rifle up onto target...just my thoughts.
  21. MattTheHat

    MattTheHat Member

    May 22, 2007
    Plano, TX
    But, doesn't that make you vulnerable to a shove-the-barrel-down disarm?

  22. Crazy Uncle Al Gore

    Crazy Uncle Al Gore Member

    Nov 3, 2006
    South West Ohio
    We almost always have our rifles slung with a three point sling. It would be a little difficult to carry at port arms with a three point sling on.
  23. AhmadShah

    AhmadShah Member

    Oct 7, 2007
    Central Texas
    Entered Active Duty in 2004, and Port Arms/Muzzle up and down range at all times was fairly strictly enforced. Starting in about 2006 and on, practice changed to muzzle down. I got the feeling at the time that no one really understood why, but that it came down from on high (TRADOC flavor) and spread from there. I prefer the muzzle down carry for a number of reasons, to wit:

    1. Done correctly, is basically the low ready carry
    2. "Train as you fight"
    3. On patrol, it's basically the way you're going to be carrying, and an ND into the dirt limits the local populace's ability to claim that this one bullet slaughtered their entire herd of sheep.

    Reviewing the above, it's basically a personal preference. I like it, but can't really articulate why. I find that my muzzle down to engagement is faster than the port arms to engagement from a speed to rounds at target standpoint...but I'm sure with training anything would get as fast.
  24. impartial

    impartial Member

    Feb 21, 2011
    during the first few years of the Iraq war there were several hundred deaths and 1000;s of injuries related to "accidental discharge" which was later to be deemed as "negligent discharge" I believe this could have something to do with it

    When I went through basic in 2003, we were to keep our rifles pointed towards the ground unless we were engaged in training or marching drills.
  25. lemaymiami

    lemaymiami Member

    Oct 15, 2010
    south Florida
    Since my Army years were in the stone age (101Abn, 1971) I've enjoyed reading the various points of view expressed in this thread. I agree that an idiot anywhere in your chain of command can certainly take a reasonable procedure and turn it into something ridiculous.... While all of this is about military training and doctrine, if I were training police shotgun use it would be "high port" all the way out in the open since there's other things than shooting (running, working through obstacles, dealing with situations where the shotgun as weapon will not require firing a round, etc) that a police shooter may have to contend with.

    These kind of discussions make this site worth a look any time....
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