Safety Question

Feb 27, 2017
Long guns -- such as this pump shotgun - are best kept chamber empty until their use becomes necessary.
There was apparently an unintended discharge, according to an internet discussion recently, and a question was raised. It was something along the lines that we carry pistols loaded all the way up, but hunters (for example) don't chamber a round until they're ready to shoot – they're so much more aware of safety issues than the self-defense practitioners are or so it seems. The first answer, quickly given, was "the mission is different." That's a good answer, but there's a follow-on to it. To address the sporting shooter being safer by having half-loaded guns (magazine but not chamber) or by keeping the guns empty until engaging in their sporting activity, consider this: have you ever been to a skeet and trap range and noticed a pad on the toe of certain shoes? That's to rest the muzzle on. Yep, a human foot is under that pad and the pad won't stop a target load. "But, but, it's unloaded," is the response when you call someone on it. Rule 1: All guns are always loaded. (Even – or especially – when they're not.) So we've disposed of that chestnut. As to the 'mission.'
Chamber-blocking devices, like the one by Chamber Safe, are used by some law enforcement agencies -- giving a visual assurance that the chamber is empty, while having a loaded mag inserted. It's quickly removed and stowed for deployment of the piece. It's also used at Paul Howe's excellent training facility, CSAT.
That's a big part of it. You're not carrying the Remington Model 1100 into the cut field on September 1st because you're going after Al Capone. Nor are you carrying it in the event there's an armed robbery report at that local. You're going out to miss the mourning doves flying by, thereby assisting in keeping the lights on at the ammo company. The rest of the story is the equipment: it's not a pistol. In terms of handgun safety, understand that the handgun can be considered in a few ways, only one truly correct: it's meant to be fired with a single hand, it doesn't have a shoulder stock – or that it's 'handy.' By handy, we mean it can be worn, instantly available all the time. Early cartridge-fired handguns weren't drop safe: the Colt 1873 Model P is but one example. The early S&W Military & Police revolvers were not all that safe to carry fully loaded either. The .38 S&W Military & Police Model of 1905 4th Change was the first to include the passive hammer block. It wasn't introduced until 1915. Look at currently available handguns and you'll see that, as a class, they tend to be drop safe – and we're not just talking about being dropped, but rough handling generally. The multiple redundant safeties one sees in service type handguns give us the indication that the intent of the designers is that they be carried loaded. And shotguns or rifles aren't? Well, no. One loads up at the blind or the stand or at the outset of the stalk – not riding around in the truck. As to law enforcement applications, note the policy for carry of long guns in so-called "cruiser-ready" – magazine loaded, chamber empty.
In addition to the Chamber Safe (bottom), Hornady makes the "Rapid Rack," a device for ARs and some shotguns. They're both smart long-gun solutions.
Chamber a round of ammo in an AR, then rack it out. When you check it later, there's a small dimple in the primer from the firing pin coming forward along with bolt and bolt carrier group – how many times do you want to chamber that round? As to shotguns, even a manufacturer of a shotgun that had been approved for use by Department of Defense after passing its tests will say they don't consider that shotgun "drop safe." Most shotguns have a safety that blocks only movement of the trigger: it doesn't lock the hammer, sear or firing pin. There's a message there. Go to Combat Shooting and Tactics (CSAT) in Texas, a place operated by MSG Paul Howe (Ret'd): he makes extensive use of the Chamber Safe Chamber Blocking Device. It's even part of the rifle drills on the range. Such a concept was not lost on Hornady either: increasingly involved in safe storage of firearms while keeping them ready for defensive applications, they produce the Hornady Rapid Rack. Made in versions for .223/5.56 AR-15 and .308 AR-10 rifles, they have versions for shotguns as well. Part of it is indeed the mission . . . but another part is the design of the piece. So, handguns are carried loaded up, including the chamber. Long guns aren't. -- Rich Grassi