Officer & Gent

Individual Firearms Safety Precautions

Refs: FM 23-6 (1942) / FM3-22.9 (2008)

While much has changed in the world of firearms over the last century, firearms safety has remained fairly consistent.  The precautions used by our Great-Grandfather’s, is still the quintessential guide to firearms safety.  I have built the list below as a modern look at FM 23-6, the M1917 manual.  The language has been adapted to cover all firearms, and not just the bolt action rifle, and M1911 pistol.

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  1. Consider every firearm to be loaded until you have examined it and proved it to be unloaded. Never trust your memory in this respect.
  2. Never point the firearm at anyone you do not intend’ to shoot; never point it in a direction where an accidental discharge may do harm.
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to fire
  4. Be aware of your target’s foreground and background before you fire.
  5. Always unload the firearm if it is to be left where someone else may handle it.
  6. If it is desired to carry a firearm with a cartridge in the chamber, the manual safety should always be engaged.
  7. Under no circumstances should the hammer be let down by hand (as without a mechanical decocker) while there is a cartridge in the chamber.
  8. Never fire a weapon with any grease, dust, dirt, mud, snow, a cleaning patch, or other obstruction in the bore. To do so may burst the barrel.
  9. Never fire a weapon with grease or oil on the ammunition or on the walls of the barrel’s chamber. This creates a hazardous pressure on the weapons barrel or bolt locking mechanism.
  10. See that the ammunition is clean and dry. Examine all live and dummy ammunition. Turn in all cartridges which have loose bullets and those which appear to be otherwise defective.
  11. Do not allow the ammunition to be exposed to the direct rays of the sun for any length of time. Heat creates hazardous chamber pressures.
  12. If the firearm misses fire, the bolt/slide/cylinder should not be opened or unlocked until enough time has elapsed to make sure that the firearm is not hanging fire. Since some firearms cannot be cocked except by opening the bolt (or manipulating the slide), there is a temptation to open the bolt too soon. The bolt should not be opened for a full minute after a misfire. This precaution applies primarily to training; it is seldom practicable in combat conditions, but should be observed wherever possible, for the shooters safety.


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