A word of caution regarding safety catches...

Frank Homes

Well-Known Member
I wonder what Dodgy knees and his school do when they are hunting with shotguns? and if they don't adopt the same drill as their rifle safety code why not?

F
 

Heym SR20

Well-Known Member
But only because they don't have the gun pointing at the ground.
Nope - is because following them you looking straight down the barrel of a loaded gun. Frankly if any body points an unloaded gun at me I am not happy - All Guns are ALWAYS Loaded.
 

Freeforester

Well-Known Member
In the old days, rough shooting with a shotgun involved cocking the hammers before firing; when ferreting, and on other occasions, including walking up in a line say for grouse, I've found it to be of no harm to have the gun broken/open, cartridges in but safety also in the 'safe' position, and to close the barrels upon sighting the quarry, which (safety reasons apart) tends to prevent any tendency toward shooting too close and thus destroying the quarry, and I find it also gives one time to consider the direction of travel of the quarry, i.e. to get a feel for its path and to permit the hand and eye to come together with the gun when taking the shot. I have never been an advocate of standing there much less walking with safety off and gun shouldered, but have seen others in such a pose, and with the safety already off - usually ineffective on game, and asking for trouble too.
 

dodgyknees

Well-Known Member
@alberta boy, I hear what you're saying about absolutes.

The opinion I have stated here is aimed at those who get out of their car, arrange themselves and their gear, and as they set off on their walk, load their rifle. Or, those that walk, believe they are "close", and load a round "just in case". That is what I don't like, what is regarded here as unsafe practice. And it would seem from this thread, something that is regarded as unsafe practice by a lot of posters stalking in the UK.

There is only one situation in which I will load my rifle and proceed on safe. Always for a short period of time, and thinking through this now, nine times out of ten I probably won't move at all, but rather wait for the shot to present itself. The trigger for me to load my rifle is always the anticipation of taking a shot based on visual evidence of a suitable target animal. If I can hear it and/or smell it, I will chamber a round and proceed on half cock. Both my Tikkas have the half cock bolt modification. My Howa, with the infinitely preferable three position safety, has a very positive half cock and I carry the rifle with my right thumb pushed in under the bolt in the half cock position. I must emphasise that the only time I carry my rifle in the half cocked position is at the stage when I am in slo-mo mode, usually stationary, waiting, or moving very very slowly. I never carry the rifle in half-cock under normal walking conditions.

If circumstances call for quietness, there is a well rehearsed process of quietly loading the rifle, by pulling back the bolt to just before it picks up the rim of the top round in the magazine, and slipping in a single round and closing the bolt. But more often than not when the shot presents, I will quickly cycle a round into the chamber, shoulder the firearm and prepare to shoot. The time it takes to cycle around into the chamber will be measured fractions of a second. I think we will actually test that this afternoon, give us something to do.

I just do not buy the argument that loading a rifle quickly is more dangerous than carrying it loaded on safe. Sorry, no offense to those that hold this view, but I think that is complete cobblers.

The next step, unequivocally, is unloading when the decision is made not to take a shot. When hunting with a partner - usually my wife or my mate Alan - the shooter will verbally talk through the process of unloading, as checking each other's rifle status, and having absolute confidence in it being safe, is a critical part of the process. It does help to be very familiar with your hunting partner. But trust can also lead to complacency, and you must be able to instruct your partner to unload if they are absorbed by the moment, or ask your partner about the status of the rifle at any stage, without any discomfort or awkwardness.

The part of the process that takes precedence though, and something we're not talking about, is the assessment of what is in front of, and behind the target animal. New Zealand's Rule #5. This really interests me, for those who say it is too slow to chamber a round, it is highly suggestive that the shooter is snap shooting in an instant, and I wonder when the decision is made that the firing zone is 100% safe. It just all feels too rushed to me. There's no point anyone arguing with me on that, it's just the way I feel about it.

I respect the fact that many of you that disagree with my views are highly experienced driven hunt shooters. Driven hunts are not common here at all, nor were they in any of the other places I've lived in the world. I've never been on a driven hunt in Germany or Poland or wherever. When I watch videos of driven hunts, the question of the relative position of everyone concerned is always in my mind. Sometimes I just can't get my head around how the shooter can make the decision to shoot, knowing there is a human being standing somewhere behind the pig. Just a comment founded in a complete lack experience of that kind of hunt, not a criticism.

@Frank Homes, it is not my "school", it is the law here. Regarding shotguns I cannot think of a single occasion ever in my hunting life in New Zealand, Africa, N America, where someone has stalked with a shotgun. Also I don't shoot birds, haven't for 30 years. Just not something I have gotten into.

I did however grow up rough shooting in the UK, for rabbits, pigeons, etc, and used first a break action single shot 410, then a 20ga side by side and then a 12ga over & under. If I carried the shottie closed, I got a sharp clip round the ear from my grandfather. I remember one indiscretion that resulted in me losing my permission, carrying a loaded shot gun closed into the yards. That hurt. Carrying it closed was completely and utterly against the rules.

A related question is the use of semi automatic centrefires. On the recent Taranaki trip, I had a Browning Short Trac with me, a long term test. Not mine, but a rifle I have been using for a while. After several days of intense goat shooting I had run out of ammunition for my 6.5 Creedmoor, .223 Rem and .243 Win. So I got the Browning out and used that for a day. One thing I learned is without a doubt it is a much noisier firearm to load and unload then a typical centrefire bolt action.

Having used a Ruger 10/22 for many years, I am used to the process of unlocking the bolt, loading a round, and clearing the rifle and locking the bolt open, and all the associated buggering around with dropping the magazine out, and putting the cleared round back in the mag, etc.

But one thing I have observed firsthand several times is that shooters not used to semi automatics will frequently accidentally leave a round up the spout. There's just something about the change in configuration that confuses even experienced shooters, and creates the conditions for a mistake to be made.

I like the Short Trac, but not enough to buy one. I much prefer the BLR. There's just something about the automatic reloading that makes me feel uncomfortable.

At the end of the day, as usual, it is clear we have different opinions and practices. It is interesting to note that on a handful of occasions over the last 30 years, I have dealt with this difference in the field with Brit shooters - only ever Brits as far as I can remember - and on each occasion they have accepted our view unconditionally that carrying a loaded rifle on safe is unacceptable. No quibble. And that's great. My syndicate partners - all straightforward rural Kiwis - are a lot less diplomatic about this kind of thing! You'll be told. Any hint of an argument, you'll be sent packing. Just the way it is.
 

Freeforester

Well-Known Member
As to Caorach's 'Titanic' exemption, I'm sure "never say 'Never" is a good maxim, but feel you'd have be extremely unfortunate or to try pretty hard to suffer an accidental discharge from a standing start with the Blaser system; akin to having to set and trigger a fairly robustly sprung mousetrap in one fell swoop - agreed it might be not totally impossible, but it would take 'some doing'; anything with an already cocked spring in it has the potential to misfire when closed, irrespective of the safety. It is true indeed that "the empty rifle cannot discharge", but between these two extremes comes the Blaser type cocking/safety system, and I would be very interested to learn of anyone who has suffered an accidental discharge from such a type of weapon where the cocking spring has to be with some effort physically cocked and engaged prior to the shot being discharged, irrespective of whether the weapon involved has a separate safety catch or an integrated one.

In my own case, as I tend to stalk 98% of the time alone, and my area is remote, I am reasonably relaxed about having the Blaser loaded but uncocked when afoot, but if with another then I tend to leave my own rifle anyway, and 'offer' to carry (and thus control) the guest's piece, either of which I will invariably carry with muzzle down and with my hand around the moderator or barrel, thus controlling the direction of the barrel toward the ground, angled slightly forward and away from any following party. When on the hill proper, the rifle was/is always loaded in the magazine only and in the slip, with the spring/bolt discharged/relaxed i.e. without a cartridge in the breech.

But I wholeheartedly agree that "Perfect actions trump perfect intentions", and too often in the past I found I had to remonstrate with people as to their lack of muzzle awareness, many if not indeed all of whom should have known better, and I feel I was lucky to have been schooled in this aspect at my father's side, rather than having had to learn such notions from any book, manual or video. I've had my own 'close call' with a rifle many years ago, where the 'safety' took a back seat to the trigger, and believe me, the devil can see to the rest, be assured!
 

Woodsmoke

Well-Known Member
Interesting thread. And a very interesting post from Dodgyknees above!

I carry my rifle loaded (if there's the chance of a shot), muzzle-up over my shoulder, but with a thumb through the loop on my sling to stop it moving around. I'm also very conscious that having a rifle muzzle swing onto you, on matter how briefly, is certain to focus your attention!!! My stalking partner and I are pretty meticulous about muzzle awareness and rifle status to be honest, and we always make certain the other is aware if we're loaded, unloaded, or changing from one state to another. We're pretty safe, and comfortable with each other, which makes a big difference. I think the main thing to consider. Is that what one person considers perfectly safe and acceptable (within acceptable limits of course) may not be what someone else feels comfortable with. My view is if I'm shooting with a guide, or someone new, I'll err on the side of caution and ask what THEY prefer
 

rem284

Well-Known Member
I have always hammered it home to anybody who has an interest in firearms, the muzzle awareness issue. Another important factor is to know what state the firearm is in(loaded or not). I have told many folk that if you are going to handle a firearm the the first thing you check is to see if its loaded whilst pointing it in a safe direction. I have told them even if I have handed them the rifle and told them "it's not loaded" to check for themselves. One young lad who was very keen was handed a rifle from me and I told him "it's not load, see there's nowt in the mag. Try the trigger". I had placed an empty cartridge in the chamber to test if he had been listening. He passed the test because the first thing he done was to look for himself.
 

kennyc

Well-Known Member
Nope - is because following them you looking straight down the barrel of a loaded gun. Frankly if any body points an unloaded gun at me I am not happy - All Guns are ALWAYS Loaded.
I was taught to carry the rifle muzzle down with my right hand ensuring that the muzzle was pointing where I wanted it, I am also not happy walking behind someone with a moderated rifle carried muzzle up, probably for the same reason as you, its all to easy for the muzzle to angle down in motion, this I believe was the reason for the person who taught me insisting on muzzle down and muzzle awareness, 2 lessons I have always followed (if you see me with my rifle slung and muzzle up its because I have emptied it first............ but dont take my word for it ! ask! I'm not going to get upset ;) )
 

Alantoo

Well-Known Member
I just do not buy the argument that loading a rifle quickly is more dangerous than carrying it loaded on safe. Sorry, no offense to those that hold this view, but I think that is complete cobblers.
snip...
I take no offence because I do not hold that view. I don't think any body else has stated that in this thread either. I certainly did not. Your post however seems to pick up on some of my post but you have either misunderstood or misconstrued what I actually said. Please look at what I said again. Of course the rifle is less dangerous if there is no round in the chamber...it is even less dangerous if you leave it behind locked in the cabinet.

My musing was that the risk of the hazard of an ND or AD through mechanical failure is greater at the time of chambering when those mechanical elements of the rife action are in motion. And I linked that higher risk of ND whilst chambering, to the potential for a lack of total focus on muzzle awareness when one is part focussed on sighted quarry.

The lower risk of ND after the round is chambered and the mechanical elements are at rest holds true, even if it is for just the split second before you pull the trigger having carried the rifle to the quarry sighting with an empty chamber.

Alan

Risk and hazard...I would have thought that unless your rifle has a decocking system à la MO3 or Blaser or a 3 position / firing-pin-locked safety, the most likely time to get a mechanical failure AD or ND is when chambering a round. Once chambered with the safety engaged and with no bolt/mechanism movement involved, there is lower risk.

So if you are carrying with no round chambered the risk of not focussing on muzzle awareness whilst chambering and setting safety before aligning the rifle with the target is likely higher...purely through giving some attention to your quarry and notwithstanding "buck fever".

Alan
 

enfieldspares

Well-Known Member
I've looked at this thread again. I'm guessing that most must be deer stalkers only? And have never carried a loaded shotgun either as a walking gun on a driven day or when walking up grouse or snipe or similiar? I can't understand a lot that's been written. If I carry a loaded firearm with a chambered round I carry it at "high port". If I need to sling it I unload the cartridge from the chamber. I am not a fan of the German method of carrying a loaded round with a round chambered and the rifle slung over the left shoulder with the muzzle down.
 
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oxfordshirestalker

Well-Known Member
I've looked at this thread again. I'm guessing that most must be deer stalkers only? And have never carried a loaded shotgun either as a walking gun on a driven day or when walking up grouse or snipe or similiar? I can't understand a lot that's been written. If I carry a loaded firearm with a chambered round I carry it at "high port". If I need to sling it I unload the cartridges. I am not a fan of the German method of carrying a loaded round with a round chambered and the rifle slung over the left shoulder with the muzzle down.
I do quite a lot of walked up rough shooting and will often carry a my gun loaded and closed with barrels to the sky. This has always seemed safer to me than closing a gun towards dogs or beaters in front when something gets up. Of course there are the risks of tripping with a loaded gun which this thread relates to much more, but I suppose you have far more control over it than you do with a slinged rifle. Not that that will make a huge amount of difference if you trip.
 

caorach

Well-Known Member
Talking of muzzle awareness, this is from the Steyr site...
Do you think there are people looking at this web site (i.e. the Steyr one) who think that the photo and what is going on is completely fine as this is the way it is done in their area? Or has this just been a mistake on the part of a photographer/agency/communications department that has found its way onto the web site and people in the area are looking at it in the same way we do? Clearly there are some things I do (carry my Blaser with one in the chamber) which others quite reasonably disagree with though, to be honest, I don't see how anyone can reasonably support what is happening in that photo.

Many years ago I was shooting target on a range when some shooters went forward to check their targets. When they were forward it was noticed by those of us who had stayed at the firing line that (let's not get tied up in how it happened) one person had gone forward while their rife was sitting, pointing down range, with the bolt closed. Now, of course, the first reaction is to make it safe but under the circumstances the only thing to do, of course, is to remove everyone to a safe distance from the rifle and wait until all those forward of the firing point had returned as an unattended rifle was highly unlikely to fire by itself whereas one that we were fiddling with to "make it safe" might fire in the course of this process. This situation sort of supports or demonstrates some of the principles of your position Alan that, potentially, carrying a rifle (carefully) with one in the chamber can be safer by preventing mechanical fiddling with it at a time when the shooter might have additional stress.
 

dodgyknees

Well-Known Member
@Alantoo... post #49 was what I was referring to, nothing to do with what you said. Now @levigsp is an experienced guy, a well travelled shooter, his views are his views and I'm not going to change his mind or yours, I just have a different (very strong) opinion.

"...EVERYTIME ive seen a gun go off accidentaly its been when someone is trying to chamber a round in a hurry, so in my book carrying a gun stalking and expecting to load and fire is dangerous."

Maybe I just hunt with more competent people, because I've never been around an accidental discharge. I am very fussy who I hunt with though. I've seen some fukwitted behaviour particularly in South Africa, with all sorts of craziness like insane breakfast drinking and shooting up stuff in camp. If I see it once, I disassociate immediately. Regardless of the environment, who knows what percentage of accidental discharges happen due to someone making a foolish error, not having their brain engaged. 99%?

To be honest this has reached the point of stalemate. As usual, standards differ. My standard is what I regard as the only one guaranteed not to result in an accidental discharge at a time the shooter was not engaged in the act of shooting an animal. That standard is what informs our law, and our culture. Does everyone adhere to it? No. Do most adhere to it? Yes. I'd guess over 80%? I don't know a single person who will walk with a loaded rifle. Does any ever kill someone else, destroy their own life, and the life of those associated to, or dependant on, the dead person because they didn't adhere to rule #3? Sadly, yes.

The vast majority of shooters wouldn't allow you to carry a rifle with a chambered round here, almost all experienced hunters and certainly anyone I associate with. When I come to the UK, and hunt with members of my family, we don't carry a rifle with a chambered round. That's all there is to it. Disagree if you like, it is what it is.
 

Alantoo

Well-Known Member
This situation sort of supports or demonstrates some of the principles of your position Alan that, potentially, carrying a rifle (carefully) with one in the chamber can be safer by preventing mechanical fiddling with it at a time when the shooter might have additional stress.
In fact I was actually even more abstract than that...in as much as I didn't actually take a position (or confess to or condone) carrying with one loaded in the chamber, I just mused on the higher risk levels of mechanical fiddling as per your description....hence my response to Dodgyknees' comment.

But as usual nothing is absolute...sometimes when my experience of the ground tells me there may "something round the corner" the Blaser is carried muzzle down with one in the chamber, uncocked. I can load it quietly in stealth mode, so most other times creeping along it is left empty.

Somewhere on here in a similar thread I spouted on about always emptying the chamber when negotiating an obstacle or climbing into the high seat, even though I could not think of sufficient "what-ifs" that could cause an un-cocked Blaser to discharge on its way to the ground. The main reason was not that I didn't trust the Blaser system itself, but that I had other rifles where the "what-ifs" were not so difficult to imagine, like my Air Arms FAC or the Finnfire. I wanted a routine that I maintained with all of them in order to reduce errors.

Alan
 

Alantoo

Well-Known Member
@dodgyknees Oh good, I am glad my posit-ing was not misinterpreted...

Just being a bit pedantic here...part of the reason I thought your were referring to my post and not levigsp was that what levigsp actually wrote and your paraphrasing is not quite the same though is it? False premise?

He didn't actually say it is more dangerous than carrying it loaded on safe (he may have meant it, I don't know)...and conversely...Do you see no danger in the circumstance he relates of loading and firing in hurry?

I have taken a lot of shooters out over the years and EVERYTIME ive seen a gun go off accidentaly its been when someone is trying to chamber a round in a hurry, so in my book carrying a gun stalking and expecting to load and fire is dangerous.

I just do not buy the argument that loading a rifle quickly is more dangerous than carrying it loaded on safe. Sorry, no offense to those that hold this view, but I think that is complete cobblers.

Discuss, Alan :)
 
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caorach

Well-Known Member
I could not think of sufficient "what-ifs" that could cause an un-cocked Blaser to discharge on its way to the ground.
Off hand, and I'm sure there are others with a better understanding of the mechanism who could do better than me, there weren't many ways I could imagine the Blaser firing when the user believed it to be uncocked. One that occurred to me, and it is a long shot I will admit, is if you'd previously cocked the rifle and, on uncocking, some obstruction had kept the spring under tension though blocking its movement. If this obstruction were to move of its own accord or when subject to a knock then the spring might launch the firing pin on its way. Another, even less likely, possibility was if the spring were to break in a manner that left the firing pin free to move and if the rifle were then to be dropped with considerable force it is possible the firing pin could move forwards to strike the primer. Based on my very limited knowledge of how the Blaser works it seems that both these modes of failure need multiple mechanical failures in the mechanism plus very bad luck.

I should highlight that I am not aware of a Blaser ever firing when uncocked and there are enough people out there on the internet who appear, for some weird reason, to dislike Blaser that if it had happened I'm sure we would hear about it on various forums on a daily basis. Another thing worth highlighting is that some years back it was suggested by the interfering classes that stalkers in Scotland would have to do courses and exams and so on "for safety reasons." There was much debate about this on the forum but the debate was, I considered, largely pointless unless we could find the basis for this requirement and also how they were going to measure "success" in terms of improvements in safety. They were interested not just in firearms safety but also in meat hygiene etc. I did a FoI request to SNH (who seemed to be driving it) asking for the figures for a number of safety related things including people killed by a legally held firearm while it was being used for stalking and deaths due to venison meat hygiene problems. Their reply indicated that they had no evidence of a death due to meat hygiene relating to venision and they were not aware of a single death caused by a firearm while it was being used for stalking. This seems to support our approach to safety being effective in application, and the courses and exams went away as well :)

Unfortunately I can't find my post quoting the SNH answer, it is maybe 8 - 9 years old and perhaps those posts have gone now.
 

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