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Pistol Safety Golden Rules

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by pinghat, Jan 19, 2013.

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  1. pinghat

    pinghat Member

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    Hey guys,

    Im pretty new to firearms/pistols and I know there is ALOT of info online about pistol safety, but I thought I could ask you directly. What are some of your "golden rules" regarding general pistol safety?

    Thank you.
     
  2. davidalyn

    davidalyn Member

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    I did not not write these rules, but have lived by them for longer than I care to remember.

    My remembrance of Jeff Cooper's four general Firearms Safety rules:

    1. All guns are always loaded (treat all guns as if they are loaded regardless whether there is any ammunition present)

    2. Never point a gun at anything you are not willing to destroy.

    3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target

    4. Know your target and what is behind it.
     
  3. JTQ

    JTQ Member

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  4. pinghat

    pinghat Member

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    Thanks for all the info guys. Much appreciated.
     
  5. OptimusPrime

    OptimusPrime Member

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    Stay safe.
    Have fun.
    Stay safe.
     
  6. Drail

    Drail Member

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    For a start just try to remember "always loaded" and "where am I pointing it?". ALWAYS loaded.
     
  7. MikeJackmin

    MikeJackmin Member

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    Be aware that the act of putting a handgun INTO a holster is potentially a dangerous moment. An unattended finger left covering the trigger with be pressed against the trigger by the edge of the holster, potentially causing it to fire. This can result in a particularly ugly and dangerous wound to the thigh, which can be fatal if the femoral artery is damaged.

    Develop a rigorous habit of keeping your trigger finger straight as the pistol is slid into the holster. It's also wise to slide it in smoothly, don't jam it down.

    The generic term for this sort of accident is 'glock leg', but most handguns will be dangerous if they are mishandled in this way.
     
  8. dmazur

    dmazur Member

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    Here are a couple -

    1. Some pistols have a "magazine safety" to handle the problem of leaving a round chambered after you drop the magazine, but many do not.

    A local police department rangemaster was explaining their "clearing pipe" and that, as officers carried their pistols loaded, they had to unload and show clear by pulling the trigger on their pistol while its muzzle was in the clearing pipe.

    Apparently an officer would get confused, rack the slide and then drop the magazine. This resulted in a discharge in the clearing pipe a couple of times a month...

    So, pistols are not unloaded just because the magazine has been removed. (Rule 1).

    2. I also read of a gun show accident where someone managed to open the bolt on a hunting rifle to "clear" it, closed it and then pulled the trigger. Shot someone. The extractor had failed, and while the bolt came back, the round stayed in the chamber.

    So, guns aren't unloaded just because you ran the bolt. And, just because you think it is unloaded doesn't make it OK to point it at someone. (Rule 1 and Rule 2).
     
  9. The Lone Haranguer

    The Lone Haranguer Member

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    There are a number of other rules besides Jeff Cooper's four, but those apply to all situations at all times, while the others are situational or vary with type of gun.
     
  10. MedWheeler

    MedWheeler Member

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    Post 2 covers the basics. In a nutshell, don't pull the trigger when doing so would be a bad thing.

    Now, to expand on that, you will need to be familiar with those cited concepts in post 2, and with whatever weapon you are handling.

    Regarding Rule 1, I phrase it as "Any gun you come into contact with is loaded until you yourself unload it or verify its unloaded status. To do that, you will need to be familiar with its Manual of Arms. Once you turn your back on it, it becomes loaded again."

    Regarding Rule 2, I expand it to include ".. not willing to destroy or see killed."

    Regarding Rule 3, I expand to read "..off the trigger and outside the trigger guard."

    Regarding Rule 4, I expand to read ".. know your target and what is behind or beside it."
     
  11. dogrunner

    dogrunner Member

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    I'll add that you will.........that's WILL..........sooner or later have an unintended discharge. I don't care how many rules you memorize or just how much 'training' time you engage, it will at some point, happen to you.

    Probably the most effective way to ensure that you don't do harm is to train yourself into a constant state of muzzle awareness........hell yes, they're 'alway's ' loaded, like John Wayne's character said an unloaded gun ain't good for anything. Sooner or later, it's gonna go off, but if you ingrain a cautionary handling philosophy you are at best, not going to harm anyone.

    Believe me, I have seen it all. I was a LEO/CLEO for way over 30, a certified FTO by both my State and the NRA. I've personally noted everything from holes in vehicles, walls, feet and torso's.........I recall one wherein an officer touched one off from her Glock that went thru a PD building wall and cipped another officer in a parking lot in both lungs and nicked his heart......another wherein a young deputy will never walk again as a foolish companion grabbed that Glock from his belt while horsing around.......he has no base to his spine now!......................and on and on and on. In EVERY instance wherein damage or injury occurred, the simple issue of muzzle awareness was the deciding factor!

    Take it for what it's worth, but remember, sooner or later it's gonna go off when you did not intend it.
     
  12. MikeJackmin

    MikeJackmin Member

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    I'll add one more point - extractors fail, and many guns will continue to run just fine without them. The remaining pressures in the barrel will often extract the fired cases just fine.

    Why does this matter? Because too many people will 'clear' a chamber by just blindly racking the slide back and forth a few times. If the extractor is broken, this does nothing. A chamber is not clear until you either eyeball it, or stick a pinky finger in there to verify it by feel.

    Some pistols, notably the Beretta 950, do not even _have_ extractors.

    My habit for clearing a pistol is to drop the mag, lock the slide open, and then take a moment to actually look inside. I refuse to be surprised, ever.
     
  13. Ramone

    Ramone Member

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    Two 1911 type I would recommend-

    Most Retention type holsters require an additional effort in the last bit of travel to seat the pistol properly. At this point I 'pinch' the hammer and the top of the grip safety with thumb and forefinger (Thumb on hammer holding back, keeping it from falling, forefinger holding the grip safety in the 'Safe' position) to seat the pistol that last bit.

    As the thumb safety is against the body, it is possible (especially with extended/enlarged safeties) for it to disengage when you are moving around a lot. I check it when it occurs to me, by placing my forefinger under the hammer (blocking it from falling) while swiping the safety off/on with my thumb.

    With the exception of bathroom rules (more about that in a second), if I remove a pistol from my holster, I clear it.

    I never hand it to someone without the slide locked back.

    I never hand it to an idiot- in a perfect world, those coworkers/acquaintances that are idiots, don't even know I am carrying. Actually, in perfect world, there wouldn't be any idiots.

    I have a lock box in my car, and I use it when I don't feel a pistol is safe in a particular place, or prohibited by law (like a bar), and I have a satchel ( man-bag, murse, whateva) for places like the beach, where I can't carry concealed on body, but might not want to leave it in the car.

    When using the head, I remove the pistol from the holster and if there is no ledge to place it on, I simply let it rest in the hammock of my dropped trousers- in this (hopefully) well controlled environment, for this short time, I do not clear it. Likewise, if I am just unholstering to change pants, I do not clear.

    I try to rotate my carry ammo every range trip (every week or two, usually) firing at least my 'in pistol' mag, and I occasionally check for 'set back' by simply standing up my ammo on a flat surface, and sighting across the tops with a straight edge. rounds that show 'short' get put in the bottom of the mag, and I have found that if I stick to better quality ammo, while I do sometimes see a shorter round, it is never so bad that I am concerned about it's fitness.

    edited to add:

    I also talk myself through clearing a pistol
    <drop mag> "mag- check"
    <rack slide> "slide-check"
    <inspect chamber> "clear- check"
    <close slide, lower hammer> "hammer- check"

    On the overnight, it sits beside in condition three ( mag inserted, chamber empty ) hammer down. I never lower the hammer on a loaded chamber, so my visual indicator is Hammer down= Empty Chamber, Hammer Back= loaded.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2013
  14. dbp

    dbp Member

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    What does this have to do with the OPs question of pistol safety?

    If I were to take your remark to it's logical conclusion I wouldn't even carry a weapon. I mean if it is inevitable that we go broke if we have to shoot someone in self defense, who could afford that. Why, I may not even get out of bed again -- too risky. :)
     
  15. ATLDave

    ATLDave Member

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    Without adressing the relevance of the point to this thread, the heuristic offered is not a bad one. If you're not willing to go 100% broke for pulling the trigger in SD, then you probably are not in a situation where you are entitled to pull the trigger.
     
  16. dbp

    dbp Member

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    Not to be argumentative, but If I am in a situation where I am "entitled" to pull the trigger, i.e., to save a life - then I shouldn't have to worry about the inevitability of going broke to defend myself in a court of law. However, I do recognize the possibility of facing a lawsuit brought by either the person I shot or a family member.

    What I refuse to do is buy into the mindset that it is inevitable that I will go broke because I defended a life.
     
  17. Mainsail

    Mainsail Member

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    That's the most ridiculous statement I've read on this or any other forum. If I believed that nonsense I'd sell every gun I own and join the anti-gun groups to get them all outlawed. You're claiming that guns are too dangerous, or people are too stupid (or both), to prevent a firearm from discharging unintentionally.

    All guns are NOT always loaded. Anyone who makes this statement is a liar, and is doing more to make themselves unsafe than they realize. Do you clean your loaded gun? Do you function check your loaded gun? I think not. So your actual claim is that all guns are always loaded except when...

    Making exceptions to an absolute is a recipe for disaster. Where do you draw the line? A rule by its very definition must be inviolate or it's not a rule.

    Imagine you're teaching a novice that 'all guns are alwyas loaded' and yet they see you cleaning, function checking, or demonstrating it. What message are you sending? You're telling the novice that 'all guns are always loaded unless you're an expert like me and then you can be more casual about gun handling. Then BANG.

    If you have to make exceptions to your 'rule' you're making it a mere suggestion with no bright line. The bright line is bright because it makes you uncomfortable when you approach it, and downright nervous when you're standing on it.

    1. All guns are handled as loaded until you confirm for yourself it is not. This means if it leaves your hand even for a moment you reconfirm its status.
    2. The gun, regardless of whether it's loaded or not, is always pointed in a safe direction when handling it.
    3. Keep your finger off the trigger and out of the trigger guard until you are ready to shoot.
    4. Be sure of your target and what's behind it.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2013
  18. dogrunner

    dogrunner Member

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    Mainsail, there's only two types of gun handlers.........those that HAVE had an unintended discharge, and those that WILL.


    You can rest assured that I don't like making that call, but that call is precisely why I stress that the one, unbreakable rule is relative to the muzzle!

    And remember, I am not talking about the novice.......usually those types, if there's anything upstairs to begin with, are likely more safety concious....the folks that get so familiar with that everyday tool are, in my personal experience, at a greater risk...........

    Dangereous......damn straight, like the Russian said, "Is gun, Is dangereous".

    I did not utter the sentimiments in my post lightly, I am MORE than just an experienced shooter and LEO....I'm also a military vet, shot competitivly there, and I stand on my comment. If it hasen't happened to you yet, thank that guardian Angel..........likely it will!


    Ridiculous? There are those that will in truth admit to such an event, and those that choose silence......


    And, Oh yeah, if you have the thing in your hand and sweep me with it, IT'S LOADED!
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2013
  19. dmazur

    dmazur Member

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    Correct. While Col. Cooper's "exception" isn't often noted, he did state -

    RULE 1
    ALL GUNS ARE ALWAYS LOADED

    The only exception to this occurs when one has a weapon in his hands and he has personally unloaded it for checking. As soon as he puts it down, Rule 1 applies again. - Cooper's Commentaries v. 6 no. 2


    And it can be a subject of heated debate that Cooper's Four Rules don't say this. And, I'm sure there are published examples which omit it.

    But it is common sense. And Cooper did intend it to be a recognized exception to Rule 1. (Well, the only exception.)

    IMO, what isn't realized, even by those espousing a common sense application of Rule 1, is that Cooper's exception is very limited. As soon as the gun isn't in your control, even for a moment, Rule 1 applies again.
     
  20. tipoc

    tipoc Member

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    The 4 rules were devised to be simple and easy to remember. Col. Cooper was pretty far from a fool and he well knew that there are certain exceptions, stipulations, provisos etc. to each of the 4.

    1. All guns are always loaded.

    2. Do not point a gun at anything you are not willing to destroy.

    3. Keep your finger off the trigger till you are ready to shoot.

    4. Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.

    Now he could of added all those situational provisos to the rules but that would have muddied up the simplicity and clarity. The simplicity is one of their main attributes.

    Some can get emotional, as you can see above, that each of the 4 is too simple. Cooper figured that folks could think for themselves so the 4 are blunt and to the point, easy to remember. Simple tools usually work best. What situational provisos are needed folks will be aware of as they are obvious.

    The 4 rules interlock and are mutually supportive. If one rule is over-ridden the others are still operative and so keep things safe.

    tipoc
     
  21. ATLDave

    ATLDave Member

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    That's not the point. The point is that you should only pull the trigger in situations where going broke is preferable to the consequences of not pulling the trigger. It's a decision-making heuristic, not a statement of what one deserves. After all, deserve's got nothing to do with it. Nor is it necessarily a prediction. It just illustrates how desperate one needs to be before that trigger gets pulled.
     
  22. dmazur

    dmazur Member

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    Except that, there was enough concern over Rule 1 that he wrote an exception for it, as I explained above.

    It was written directly below the Rule in the commentary I cited.

    IMO, it is a short description of a "common sense" application of Rule 1, with the important note that it is limited by your possession following the inspection. As soon as you put it down, it needs to be inspected again...

    This clarification, though written by Cooper, is often ignored.
     
  23. hovercat

    hovercat Member

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    Really, rule #1 is all you need. Everything else follows.
     
  24. tuj

    tuj Member

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    The gun is always loaded, until you have VISUALLY VERIFIED it is not. Verify and verify again.

    Finger off the trigger until sights are on the target.

    Never point the gun at anything you wouldn't be willing to shoot.
     
  25. surferdaddy

    surferdaddy Member

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    I have 5 basic rules that I follow religeously. The four which many are familiar with and a fifth which I almost learned the hard way. Rule #5 of 5, never...EVER attempt to catch a dropped gun. Catching a dropped firearm is instinctual, these things are to be handled with care after all. They are expensive! They are our companions. But if it is dropped, and you go to grabbing it, most, if not all, the other 4 basic rules are tread upon.

    Surfer
     
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