I have always been taught that it is safest to carry a rifle muzzle down, behind / my right shoulder with the muzzle pointing just slightly in front me towards the ground. It have been doing this for years and always felt it was fine.
However the other weekend i went on a booked weekend of stalking with some friends. It was the first time id been to this place, whereas the chaps i was with had visited on many occasions. So in the interests of safety, once we got out to the woods , being unsure of my previous experience the stalker who was accompanying me decided to give me a talk about how was safest to hold the rifle whilst walking, asking me to hold it on the front of my body on the left side with the muzzle facing to the sky.
Not wanting to argue with someone who is undoubtedly far more experienced than I, and wanting to learn as much as possible i immediately adopted this new way of carrying the rifle. I found it uncomfortable but put this down to it being new to me. However as the weekend progressed i noticed more and more than occasionally times came when he (being about 1.5 foot taller than me) ended up with the muzzle momentarily pointing at him. Additionally the whole time id been extremely uncomfortable knowing that if the rifle went off id be sending a 150grain bullet up into the sky with no idea where it might come down, possibly on the head of some poor pedestrian in the next village.
After the second stalk the nagging in my head got to me and i must admit when he wasnt looking i decided id had enough and reverted to carrying the rifle muzzle down. He obviously noticed this after a while as at the end of the stalk we discussed the merits of muzzle up and down, his argument was that muzzle down can lead to dirt getting into the barrel or mod and causing a high risk if the gun is discharged, my perspective was that at least if the gun went off it would go into the dirt not the back of his head or three miles into the sky ..........
So i would love to hear your opinions, it seems the world is divided. However, one is surely better, so chaps ............muzzles up .... or muzzles down?????