Gunnery Network
Gunnery Network

Firearm Safety - Gun Safety

Safety First  4 Laws of Gun Safety Ten Commandments of Firearms Safety

Hunting Safety Shoot Sober 5 Rules of Concealed Carry

 Other Safety Rules   Reloading Safety

Safety First Rules

*NRA Gun Safety Rules - The Golden Rules

  1. Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.
  2. Always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
  3. Always keep the gun unloaded until ready to use.

*Additional Safety Precautions

  • Be sure the gun is safe to operate.
  • Know how to safely use the gun.
  • Use only the correct ammunition for your gun.
  • Know your target and what is beyond.
  • Wear eye and ear protection as appropriate.
  • Never use alcohol or drugs before or while shooting.
  • Store guns so that they are not accessible to unauthorized persons (especially children).

* Reference "The Basics of Personal Protection" - an educational training publication of the National Rifle Association. Reprinted by permission of the National Rifle Association of America.

The 4 Laws of Gun Safety

The 1st Law of Gun Safety
The Gun Is Always Loaded!

EVERY TIME you pick up or draw a gun, inspect it in a safe manner, control your muzzle, and always treat it as a loaded gun. You should VISUALLY inspect your gun's chamber every time you pick it up even if you just sat it down moments before. It may seem redundant but establishing good habits may save a tragedy during a moment of "brain-fade". Remove all ammunition and loaded magazines from the immediate area when handling any gun. Also, if you hand someone your gun, VISUALLY show them the empty chamber and accept no less in return! An experienced gun handler would never feel insulted.

The 2nd Law of Gun Safety
Never Point A Gun At Something You're Not Prepared To Destroy!

The best way to handle a gun is to imagine the worst case scenario: Assume your "empty" gun is loaded and that it's going to function PERFECTLY! When you press the trigger it will FIRE! Since you are prepared for that, you should only point the gun in a safe direction - never allowing the muzzle to sweep you or someone else. That way, if "brain-fade" does result in a Negligent Discharge (ND) , it will be into a safe impact area and there won't be a tragedy.

The 3rd Law of Gun Safety
Always Be Sure Of Your Target And What Is Behind It!

Bullets can penetrate lots of things, many of which may surprise you. Identify your target before firing - even before dry-firing. If you are not sure, DON'T FIRE! Just as important, make sure there's a safe impact area behind your target. For home dry-fire practice, find and aim only at a BULLET PROOF BACKSTOP. Even though you have checked and double-checked your gun, you should still treat your gun as though it's loaded and functional. Plasterboard walls and outer walls are not bulletproof. A handgun bullet can easily travel through several rooms before stopping. Who is in these rooms? If you're not sure, and you still aimed in that direction, SHAME ON YOU!

The 4th Law of Gun Safety
Keep Your Finger Off The Trigger Until Your Sights Are On The Target!

KEEP YOUR FINGER OUTSIDE THE TRIGGER GUARD! Almost all Negligent Discharges (ND) are caused by placing the finger on the trigger when you aren't prepared to fire. A finger on the trigger during reloading, during movement, during the draw, holstering, or while clearing a jam have led to several Negligent Discharges (ND). It's difficult to isolate the trigger finger from the muscles required to hold the gun firmly - they all want to contract together. It can be especially difficult under stress and anxiety. Therefore, THE FINGER SHOULD NOT TOUCH THE TRIGGER UNTIL THE INSTANT YOU ARE PREPARED TO FIRE! This holds true even if you find yourself in a legitimate self-defense situation.

Ten Commandments of Gun Safety

The Ten Commandments of Firearms Safety should be etched in your memory forever.  Let them govern your actions wherever and whenever you're involved with firearms.  In the woods.  On the range.  Or in your home.  Please take time to review and understand these rules.

1. Always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction.

This is the most important gun safety rule.  A safe direction is one in which an accidental discharge will not cause injury to yourself or others.  Never allow your gun to point at anything you don't intend to shoot.  Be especially careful when you're loading or unloading.   Treat every gun as if it were loaded.  And make it a habit to know where your muzzle is pointed at all times, even when your firearm is unloaded.

No one will be injured by an accidental discharge if you keep your firearm pointed in a safe direction.  It's as simple as that.

2. Firearms Should Be Unloaded When Not Actually In Use.

Load your firearm only when you're in the field or on the target range and ready to fire.  Never let a loaded gun out of your sight or out of your hands.  Unload it as soon as you're finished shooting - before you bring it into your car, camp, or home.   Remember, unloading your firearm means unloading it completely, so there is no ammunition in the chamber or in the magazine.

Before handling a firearm or passing it to someone else, visually check the chamber, receiver and magazine to be certain they do not contain ammunition.  Always keep the gun's action open when not in use.  Never assume a gun is unloaded even if you were the last person to use it.  Always check for yourself.

Let common sense rule when you carry a loaded gun.  If you're in any situation that could risk accidental discharge - such as crossing a fence, wading through a stream, or climbing a tree - always unload your gun.  Never pull or push a loaded firearm toward yourself or another person.  And never carry a loaded gun in a scabbard, detached holster or gun case.

Safe storage of firearms is just as critical as safe handling.  Never store guns loaded and be sure to keep your firearms in a secure place where no one can get their hands on them without your knowledge.

Take special care if there are children around.  Kids are fascinated by guns.  It's a natural curiosity that can have tragic consequences when not properly supervised.  Store your firearms in a locked gun safe or some other location that physically bars a child from gaining access.  Ammunition should be stored and locked in a location separate from your firearms.  Never leave an unsecured firearm or ammunition in a closet, dresser drawer or under the bed.   Remember, it is your responsibility to make sure that children and others unfamiliar with firearms cannot get access to your firearms and ammunition.

3. Don't rely on your gun's safety.

Treat every gun as if it can fire at any time, whether or not there's pressure on the trigger.

Your firearm has been carefully designed to maximize performance and safety.   However, a gun's safety is a mechanical device and, like any mechanical device, it could fail.

Human error is a more likely reason for a gun safety to fail.  By mistake, you may think the safety is on when it really isn't.  Or the safety may have been disengaged without your knowledge.  Or you could think your gun is unloaded when there's actually a cartridge or shell in it.  A safety is not a substitute for common sense.   It's merely a supplement to your proper handling of a firearm.

Don't touch the trigger on a firearm until you are ready to shoot.  Keep your fingers away from the trigger when you're loading or unloading.  And don't pull the trigger when the safety is engaged or positioned anywhere between safe and fire.

Read your instruction manual to understand the exact location and operation of your firearm's safety.  Even when the safety is on, maintain control of your loaded firearm and control the direction of the muzzle.  In other words, don't rely on your safety to justify careless handling.  If your firearm's internal mechanisms are broken or have been altered, your firearm my fire even when the safety is on.  Remember, you and your safe gun handling practices are your gun's best safety.

4. Be Sure of Your Target and What's Beyond It.

You can't stop a shot in mid-air, so do not fire unless you know exactly where your shot is going and what it will strike.  Never fire at a sound, a movement or a patch of color.  A hunter in camouflage can easily be mistaken for a target by an impulsive shooter.  Before you pull the trigger be absolutely sure of your target and what's behind it.  Make sure your shot has a backstop such as a hillside or dense material like sand.

Remember, bullets can travel great distances with tremendous velocity.  Know how far your shot will go if you miss your target or the bullet ricochets.

5. Use Proper Ammunition.

Every firearm is designed to use a certain caliber or gauge of ammunition.   Using the wrong ammunition, mixing ammunition or using improperly reloaded ammunition can cause serious personal injury or death.  And it only takes one cartridge or shotshell of the incorrect caliber or gauge, or which has been improperly reloaded to destroy your firearm.

As a gun owner it's your responsibility to make sure the ammunition you use exactly matches the caliber or gauge of your gun.  Refer to the instruction manual to find out the specific requirements of your firearm.  Always read and heed the instructions on ammunition boxes.

Confusing shells or cartridges can cause serious personal injury or death and destroy your firearm.  Examine your shells and cartridges closely and use only the precise caliber or gauge for your specific firearm.

For example, suppose you accidentally loaded a 20 Ga. shell into a 12 Ga. shotgun.  Because the 20 Ga. shell is too small for the chamber, the 20 Ga. shell could travel down the barrel and get lodged in the bore.  If you then loaded a standard 12 Ga. shell behind it and fire, the 12 Ga. shot will slam into the lodged 20 Ga. shell and may cause the barrel to explode right in your hands.  This is commonly called a 12/20 burst, and it can kill you.

Check all ammunition before you load it to make sure it matches your gun's requirements.  Every Remington� cartridge and shell is head-stamped with its caliber or gauge for easy identification.  Likewise, you'll find the caliber or gauge of your new Remington firearm imprinted on the barrel.

6. Reloading Requires Extra Diligence.

If you're an ammunition reloader, you are responsible for personally assuring that the loads and components of your reloaded ammunition meet your gun's factory-tested standards.  Never use ammunition which has been reloaded by someone else!

Many shooters handload as a hobby or to save money on commercial, factory-made ammunition.  However, it requires a thorough knowledge of reloading procedures and a deep respect for the explosive potential of gunpowder.

Firearms are designed, manufactured and proof-tested to standards based on factory loaded ammunition.  Handloaded or reloaded ammunition that deviates, either intentionally or inadequately, from load or component recommendations can be very dangerous.  Reloaders must observe all possible safety precautions and practices related to the proper handling of explosives.  Whether you're a seasoned reloader or just starting out, you should study the subject, watch reloading demonstrations and talk to experienced reloaders.

The first rule of reloading is to always follow the manufacturer's instructions for the components you're using. They'll tell you to follow certain guidelines.  Namely:

  1. Don't mix or substitute powders or primers.
  2. Don't use unknown or substandard components.
  3. Use only suitable components that have been factory tested by reputable ammunition, powder and bullet manufacturers.
  4. Always be sure to use the manufacturer's recommended recipe when reloading.

Not following these guidelines could result in severe damage to your firearm or yourself.  Dangerously high pressure and explosions can result from an overcharge of powder, use of the wrong powder, incorrect shot selection or other deviations from established reloading guidelines.  Be very careful.

The process of reloading exposes you to environmentally hazardous materials.  Lead is the most common substance in bullets and shot.  It is important to handle lead bullets and shot with extreme care.  Work only in a well-ventilated area and always wash your hands after exposure and before eating.   Never smoke while reloading.

Primers and powders are also highly toxic and flammable.   So after reloading, be sure to clean up all materials from your work area.   Don't leave primer or powder spills anywhere on the floor or bench top.   Dispose of all waste materials in accordance with the manufacturer's recommendations.

Finally, when reloading or hand loading concentrate on what you're doing at all times.  Do not be distracted by talking to others, listening to the radio or watching TV while reloading.  Never reload after or while consuming alcoholic beverages or drugs of any kind.  You are working with extremely hazardous materials and you can't risk even a few seconds of distraction.   Remember, if you reload, you are the ammunition manufacturer and you are responsible for the performance and safety of your reloaded ammunition.

7. If Your Gun Fails To Fire When The Trigger Is Pulled, Handle With Care.

If for some reason the ammunition doesn't fire when you pull the trigger, stop and remember the 1st Commandment of Firearm Safety - always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction.  Keep your face away from the breech, then put the safety on, carefully open the action, unload the firearm and dispose of the cartridge safely.  Remember anytime there's a shell in the chamber, your gun is loaded and ready to use.  Even if you tried to shoot and your gun didn't fire, treat your firearm as if it could still discharge.

8. Always Wear Eye and Ear Protection When Shooting.

Your sight and hearing risk injury from shooting and should be protected at all times.

Wear protective shooting glasses to guard against falling shot, clay target chips, powder residue, ruptured cartridge cases and even twigs and branches in the field.  Also be sure to wear eye protection when you're disassembling or cleaning a gun so that tensioned parts (like springs) and cleaning solvents don't come in contact with your eyes.

Continued exposure to shooting noise can permanently damage your hearing.  On the range, where shooting volume is the loudest, be sure to use the maximum protection of a headset.  And learn to use earplugs in the field, especially in confined locations like duck blinds.

9. Be Sure The Barrel Is Clear of Obstructions Before Shooting.

Before loading your gun, open the action and make sure there's no ammunition in the chamber or magazine.  Check the barrel for any obstructions or debris.  Even a small amount of snow, mud, excess lubricant or grease in the bore can dangerously increase pressure and cause the barrel to bulge or burst when firing.  Use a cleaning rod and patch to wipe away anti-rust compounds or any other residues or obstructions in the barrel.  Never try to shoot out an obstruction by loading another shell and firing!

When firing, rely on your instincts.  If the noise or recoil from your firearm seems off or weak, stop everything, unload your firearm and be sure nothing is lodged in the barrel.  Remember the 12/20 burst?   That's what can happen when the barrel is obstructed.  So always be sure you're using the correct ammunition in your firearm and that it's free of obstructions.

10. Don't Alter or Modify Your Gun and Have It Serviced Regularly.

Your firearm has been designed to operate according to certain factory specifications.  You'll jeopardize your safety and that of others around you by attempting to alter its trigger, safety or other mechanisms.  So never alter or modify your firearm in any way.

Like any mechanical device, a firearm is subject to wear.   It must be maintained and periodically serviced to assure optimum safety and performance.

Don't allow anyone to service, repair or modify your firearm unless they are a qualified service facility.

Proper cleaning and lubrication are also important to firearm maintenance and are necessary to assure accuracy, safety, and reliability.  Before cleaning, always make sure that your gun is completely unloaded.  And always clean the barrel from the chamber end to the muzzle when possible.

Make it a practice to clean your bore every time you're going to shoot.  Be sure to clean your entire gun before and after long-term storage, and no less than once a year.  It's also important to clean your gun whenever it's been exposed to adverse conditions such as rain, dirt, mud, snow, sleet or saltwater.

For safe and dependable operation of your firearm, all parts of your gun must be properly cleaned and lubricated.  Periodically inspect the internal workings of your firearm to be sure they're clean and free of rust, unwanted dirt and debris.

Use recommended lubricants on your gun and do not over-lubricate.  Excessive use of a non-recommended lubricant could adversely affect the function and safe operation of your firearm.  Remember, you are responsible for the proper care and maintenance of your firearm.  Failure to properly maintain your firearm can not only damage or ruin your firearm, it can expose you and others to unnecessary risks of personal injury or death.


Safety First


Americans have a right to purchase and use firearms for lawful purposes. The private ownership of firearms in America is traditional, but that ownership imposes the responsibility on the gun owner to use his firearms in a way which will ensure his own safety and that of others. When firearms are used in a safe and responsible manner, they are a great source of pleasure and satisfaction, and represent a fundamental part of our personal liberty.

Firearms do not cause accidents! Firearms accidents are almost always found to have been the result of carelessness, or ignorance on the part of the shooter of the basic rules of safe gun handling.

The following rules must be observed by gun users at all times. Safe gun handling is not just desirable, it is absolutely essential to the continuation of gun ownership and sport shooting as we know it today.

1. LEARN THE MECHANICAL AND HANDLING CHARACTERISTICS OF THE FIREARM YOU ARE USING. Not all firearms are the same. The method of carrying and handling firearms varies in accordance with the mechanical provisions for avoiding accidental discharge and the various proper procedures for loading and unloading. No person should handle any firearm without first having thoroughly familiarized himself with the particular type of firearm he is using, and with safe gun handling in general.

2. ALWAYS KEEP THE MUZZLE POINTED IN A SAFE DIRECTION. Be sure of the bullet stop behind your target, even when dry-firing. Never let the muzzle of a firearm point at any part of your body or at another person. This is particularly important when loading or unloading a firearm. In the event of an accidental discharge, no injury can occur as long as the muzzle is pointing in a safe direction. A safe direction means a direction which will not permit a discharged bullet to strike a person, or to strike an object from which the bullet may ricochet. A safe direction must take into account the fact that a bullet may penetrate a wall, ceiling, floor, window, etc., and strike a person or damage property. Make it a habit to know exactly where the muzzle of your gun is pointing whenever you handle it, and be sure that you are always in control of the direction in which the muzzle is pointing, even if you fall or stumble.

3. FIREARMS SHOULD BE UNLOADED WHEN HOT IN USE. Firearms should be loaded only when you are in the field or on the target range or shooting area, ready to shoot. Firearms and ammunition should be securely locked in racks or cabinets when not in use. Ammunition should be safely stored separate from firearms. Store your firearms out of sight of visitors and children. It is the gun owner's responsibility to be certain that children and persons unfamiliar with firearms cannot gain access to firearms or ammunition.

4. BE SURE THE BARREL IS CLEAR OF OBSTRUCTIONS BEFORE SHOOTING. Even a bit of mud, snow or excess lubricating oil or grease in the bore may cause the barrel to bulge, or even burst on firing, and can cause injury to the shooter and bystanders. Be sure that you are using ammunition of the proper caliber and loading for the gun you are using. If the report or recoil on firing seems weak, or doesn't seem quite right, CEASE FIRING IMMEDIATELY and check to be sure that no obstruction has become lodged in the barrel.

5. BE SURE OF YOUR TARGET BEFORE YOU SHOOT. Don't shoot unless you know exactly where your bullet is going to strike. Be sure of the bullet stop behind your target, even when dry-firing with an unloaded gun. If you are in the field hunting, do not fire at a movement or noise. Take the time to be absolutely certain of your target before you pull the trigger.

6. WEAR SHOOTING GLASSES AND HEARING PROTECTORS WHEN YOU SHOOT. All shooters should wear protective shooting glasses and some form of hearing protectors when shooting. Exposure to shooting noise can damage hearing, and adequate vision protection when shooting is essential.

7. NEVER CLIMB A TREE OR FENCE WITH A LOADED FIREARM. Put the firearm down carefully before climbing a fence, and unload it before climbing or descending a tree or jumping over a ditch or other obstruction. Never pull or push a loaded firearm toward yourself or another person. When in doubt, or whenever you are about to do anything awkward, unload your gun!

8. DON'T SHOOT AT A HARD SURFACE, OR AT WATER. Bullets can glance off many surfaces like rocks or the surface of water and travel in unpredictable directions with considerable velocity.

9. NEVER TRANSPORT A LOADED FIREARM. Firearms should always be unloaded before being moved or placed in a vehicle. A suitable carrying case or scabbard should be used to carry an unloaded firearm to and from the shooting area.

1O. AVOID ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES WHEN SHOOTING. Don't drink until the day's shooting is over. Handling firearms while under the influence of alcohol in any form constitutes a criminal disregard for the safety of others.

Shoot Sober

There's one rule that must be followed when handling firearms.  In fact, respect for this rule is necessary in order to effectively practice the Ten Commandments of Firearm Safety.  The rule is:  SHOOT SOBER!

Alcohol, drugs and guns are a deadly combination.   Never consume anything that would even mildly impair your judgment or physical coordination when you're using a firearm.  This includes Prescription & over the counter medications as well. A staggering percentage of the shooting accidents that occur every year involve alcohol or drugs.  Be smart.  Shoot sober and stay alive.

Hunter Safety Rules

    Don't assume the firearm you're carrying is empty. Give it the respect you would a loaded gun.

    Know and control the direction of your muzzle at all times. Never pull a gun by the muzzle toward you.

    Make sure you identify your target before firing, and know your safe zone of fire. Prepare yourself by studying game features before hunting.

    Take down or have all actions open before traveling. Make sure firearms are unloaded while in their cases.

    Never climb fences, jump ditches or make awkward moves while holding a loaded firearm.

    Be aware of your line of sight. Make sure your backstop is more than adequate. Avoid shooting at hard, flat surfaces or bodies of water, and always wear hearing and eye protection.

    No matter how enjoyable it is, hunting is no game. Avoid horseplay, and never point a firearm where you don't want to shoot.

    Before loading, inspect your barrel for obstructions. Check ammunition to make sure its specifications match those of your gun.

    When not in use, store unloaded firearms separately from ammunition. Keep all out of reach of children and inexperienced users.

    Never consume alcoholic beverages or other mood-altering drugs before or while hunting.

Five Rules of Concealed Carry

1. Your concealed handgun is for protection of life only.

Draw it solely in preparation to protect yourself or an innocent third party from the wrongful and life-threatening criminal actions of another.

2. Know exactly when you can use your gun.

A criminal adversary must have, or reasonably appear to have:

A) the ability to inflict serious bodily injury (he is armed or reasonably appears to be armed with a deadly weapon),

B) the opportunity to inflict serious bodily harm (he/she is physically positioned to harm you with his/her weapon), and

C) his/her intent (hostile actions or words) indicates that she/he means to place you in jeopardy -- to do you serious or fatal physical harm.

When all three of these "attack potential" elements are in place simultaneously, then you are facing a reasonably perceived deadly threat that justifies an emergency deadly force response.

3. If you can run away -- RUN!

Just because you’re armed doesn’t necessarily mean you must confront a bad guy at gunpoint. Develop your "situation awareness" skills so you can be alert to detect and avoid trouble altogether. Keep in mind that if you successfully evade a potential confrontation, the single negative consequence involved might be your bruised ego, which should heal with mature rationalization. But if you force a confrontation you risk the possibility of you or a family member being killed or suffering lifelong crippling/disfiguring physical injury, criminal liability and/or financial ruin from civil lawsuit. Flee if you can, fight only as a last resort.

4. Display your gun, go to jail.

Expect to be arrested by police at gunpoint, and be charged with a crime anytime your concealed gun is seen by another citizen in public, regardless of how unintentional or innocent or justified the situation might seem. Choose a method of carry that reliably keeps your gun hidden from public view at all times. Before you expose your gun in public, ask yourself: "Is this worth going to jail for?" The only time this question should warrant a "yes" response is when an adversary has at least, both ability and intent, and is actively seeking the opportunity to do you great harm.

5. Don't let your emotions get the best of you.

If, despite your best efforts to the contrary, you do get into some kind of heated dispute with another person while you’re armed, never mention, imply or exhibit your gun for the purpose of intimidation or one-upmanship. You’ll simply make a bad situation worse -- for yourself (see rule #4).


The following gun safety rules should also be observed when using or storing a gun:

1. Be sure the gun is safe to operate. Just like other tools, guns need regular maintenance to remain operable. Regular cleaning and proper storage are a part of the gun's general upkeep. If there is any question concerning a gun's condition, a knowledgeable gunsmith should look at it.

2. Know how to use the gun safely. Before handling a gun, learn how it operates. Know its basic parts, how to safely open and close the action, and how to remove ammunition from chambers and/or magazines. Nothing can ever replace safe gun handling. Don't rely on a gun's safety mechanism. Like any mechanical device, it can fail. Use it, but don't let it be a substitute for safe gun handling and observance of the three fundamental rules of gun safety. A defective mechanism could result in an accident. Never pull the trigger on a gun when the safety is in the "ON" position, or when the safety is located anywhere between the "ON" and the "OFF" positions. If the safety mechanism is defective, the gun could fire without any trigger contact when the safety is moved to the "OFF" position at a later time. Don’t play with the safety by changing its position constantly . . . leave the safety in the "ON" position until absolutely ready to fire.

3. Use only the correct ammunition for the gun. Only BBs, pellets, cartridges, or shells designed for a particular gun can be fired safely in that gun. Most guns have the ammunition type stamped on the barrel. Ammunition can be identified by information printed on the box and sometimes stamped on the cartridge. Do not shoot the gun unless the proper ammunition is used.

4. Know the target and what is beyond Be absolutely sure that the target has been identified beyond any doubt. Equally important, be aware of the area beyond the target. This means observing the prospective area of fire before shooting. Never fire in a direction in which there are people or any other potential for mishap. When practicing, be sure that there is a safe backstop. Always think first. Shoot second.

5. Wear eye and ear protection as appropriate . Gunshots are loud and the noise can cause hearing damage. Guns can also emit debris and hot gas that could cause eye injury. For these reasons, safety glasses and ear protection are strongly recommended.

6. Never use alcohol or drugs before or while shooting. Alcohol, as well as any other substance likely to impair normal mental or physical bodily functions, must not be used before or while handling or shooting guns. Remember that even over-the-counter (non-prescription) medications can impair judgment and cause undesirable physical side effects, such as loss of coordination, vision difficulties, tremors, and drowsiness, which could contribute to an accident.

7. Store guns so they are not accessible to unauthorized persons. Many factors must be considered when deciding where and how to store guns. A person's particular situation will be a major part of the consideration. Remember that safe and secure storage requires that unauthorized individuals (especially children) be denied access to guns. Dozens of gun storage devices are available on the market today: gun cabinets, gun safes, wall racks, hard and soft gun cases, strongboxes, etc. In addition, various types of locking devices which attach directly to the gun, such as trigger locks, are available. However, these mechanical locking devices, just like the mechanical safeties built into guns, can fail and should not be used as a substitute for safe gun handling and the observance of all gun safety rules. Ammunition, as a general rule, should be stored separately from guns. It is preferable to keep the ammunition in the manufacturers' original boxes. Ammunition should be stored in a cool, dry area and in a manner so that it is not accessible to unauthorized persons.

8. Beware that certain types of guns and many shooting activities require additional safety precautions.

9. Learn the Mechanical and Handling Characteristics of the Firearm You Are Using. Not all guns are alike.  They have different mechanical characteristics that dictate how you should carry and handle them.  Anyone who plans to use a firearm should first become totally familiar with the type of firearm it is and the safe handling procedures for loading, unloading, carrying, shooting and storing it.

10. Before you even unpack your new firearm, read the instruction manual from cover to cover and familiarize yourself with the different component parts of the gun.  Then read, understand and follow the ten commandments of safety.

Reloading & Hand Loading Safety

Reloading can be a safe and enjoyable hobby as long as you obey some simple rules. Just as you follow basic gun handling rules to make the hobby safer, you must so the same with reloading.

Never mix or substitute components.

Every lot of powder, primers, bullets, brass, and any other components can differ significantly. Different manufacturer's components differ substantially. For example, never substitute Winchester brand primers for Federal, and expect the same results. One primer may be fine with your load, but another brand may cause extreme pressures with the same load. Don't substitute magnum primers for standard primers for the same reason. Just because two brands of powder have similar characteristics, that does not mean they are interchangeable or mixable. Every time you finish with a lot of a component, you will have to back off the load slightly and start over, checking for overpressure signs, just as you did when you first worked the load up. You are in essence working up a brand new load.

Always wear eye protection.

You hopefully wear ear & eye protection while shooting, and you should do the same while loading. You don't need the ear protection (hopefully) while loading, but eye protection is an absolute.  Besides the obvious protection against an accidentally detonated component, you are protecting against flying particles (i.e. a piece of brass that jammed and shot out from the press). This is a press, and presses can generate some large forces. You are also working with hazardous components, mostly lead. You will be less inclined to wipe your eyes with your lead stained hands if you have glasses on.

Never eat, smoke or drink while working.

Just as your hands can introduce lead into the body by rubbing your eyes, food can do the same. Nothing is worse than getting a lead shaving in your tuna sandwich. The smoking part should be obvious. You are working with flammables and explosives! If you must take a food, smoke or drink break, wash your hands thoroughly to remove any contamination and take your break away from your workbench.

Block out all distractions.

While working, block any distractions. This means TV, radio, wife/husband, kids, dog/cat, pesky neighbors, and so on. It only takes one second of lost attention to produce a dangerous load. While loading, you must give 100% of your attention to what you are doing.

Keep your workbench clean.

Keep a tidy workspace. This will make things go much smoother. You are less likely to run into problems. It is not hard to have your scale give you a false reading because it is pushed up against a stack of papers that should not be there. Immediately clean up any spills. Use a dust brush and pan instead of a vacuum because of fire/explosion hazards.

Keep all components in their original container, and stored properly.

Do not store primers, powders, or other components in anything but their original containers.  You need the container for proper identification. The factory containers are designed for long term storage, and is the safest and best way to keep the components. Always read the warning labels, and follow the recommended storage method (usually in a cool dry place).

Keep good records.

Don't rely on memory, or a scribbled on post-it note for your records. Keep a good notebook, and track all lot numbers, brands, depths, weights, or any other data you would need to look at to go back and trace a problem, or reproduce a load.

Keep out of the reach of children and pets.

You don't want unsupervised children, or irresponsible adults near your equipment or components. It is easy for them to, at best, change your settings or spill something, or at worst, start a fire or mix your components up causing you to make a dangerous load. Don't rule out teenagers. Many young adults have a fascination with fire, and would just love to get a hold of a pound of gunpowder.

Never guess.

If you are in doubt of something, don't guess. Stop and get help. Call the manufacturer for assistance. Most good component producers have a technical staff that is eager to help. They don't want anyone to get hurt with their product. 

Establish a good routine, and follow it exactly.

You will hopefully develop a method where you will have your own little production line. Once you find a good routine, stick with it. You will less likely have errors if you follow it.

Always check for overpressure signs while shooting your loads.

If a load seems strange, stop shooting it. Look for primer flattening or flow back. Also, case bulging, or difficulty with extraction. These are good indicators that your loads are too hot.  Stop shooting them immediately and step your loads down. If recoil is severe (more so than with similar factory loads), then stop shooting them. A chronograph is a nice way to keep track of velocity. If the shots are significantly faster than what you were working for, you may
have overpressure loads.

You can have low pressure loads too. If you get a mild pop instead of the usual BANG, then stop shooting them, and check your barrel for a stuck bullet. Never try to shoot out a bullet. It will ruin your barrel or gun, and possibly cause severe injury to the shooter or bystanders!  This does not always happen from a load with no powder.

Following these basic rules will help you load safely, and get the most from your hobby. By no means is this a complete list.  Read loading manuals, and keep an eye out for any others cautions. Above all, use common sense and good judgment.


Basic Handling Cautions

NEVER LEAN OR PROP A LOADED FIREARM AGAINST A FENCE, WALL, TREE, ETC. Accidental discharge may occur should the weapon fall. 

It is your responsibility to teach or get qualified instruction in safe handling and use of firearms for your household. Practice close supervision and stress safety. 

Range Cautions

BE CERTAIN THAT THE BACKSTOP IS ADEQUATE to stop and contain bullets.
Ricochets or bullets that pass through the backstop can travel considerable distance and cause property damage, injury, or death. 
ASSIGN A KNOWLEDGEABLE AND RESPONSIBLE PERSON TO TAKE CHARGE OF SAFETY when a group is firing. Obey the commands of the Range Safety Officer at all times. 
KEEP ALL FIREARMS POINTED TOWARDS THE BACKSTOP while loading, firing, and unloading. 

Loading Cautions

Many cartridges are similar enough to chamber in various weapons not designed for them. Mismatching ammo to the weapon will almost certainly cause property damage, injury, or death. The correct cartridge designation is stamped on the barrel or receiver of most weapons available in the U.S. 
USE ONLY QUALITY AMMUNITION. New factory manufactured, military surplus, or properly hand loaded ammunition will perform safely and effectively. Old, corroded, or poorly manufactured or reloaded ammunition is dangerous. 
BE SURE THAT THE BARREL BORE, CHAMBER AND ACTION OF YOUR FIREARM IS CLEAN AND CLEAR OF OBSTRUCTIONS. Dirt, water, or other obstructions in the bore may cause the barrel to burst if a round is fired. Clean a wet or fouled weapon immediately. 
NEVER ATTEMPT TO CHAMBER OR FIRE DIRTY OR DAMAGED AMMUNITION. Properly discard damaged and wipe any dirty ammo clean and dry.

Shooting Cautions

AVOID ALCOHOL AND DRUGS. Medications, illegal drugs, and/or alcohol impair vision and judgment making weapons handling unsafe. 
Hearing loss is inevitable from repeated exposure to gunfire. 
These projectiles may travel considerable distance and cause property damage, injury, or death. 


IF YOUR FIREARM FAILS TO FIRE point muzzle in safe direction, wait 30 seconds, clear magazine and chamber. Inspect the primer of the last round in chamber. If the indent left from the firing pin is shallow or off center as compared to previously fired rounds, have the weapon checked by a gunsmith. If the firing pin indent appears normal, assume faulty ammo. 
IF THE REPORT OF YOUR FIREARM IS MUFFLED OR UNUSUAL DISCONTINUE FIRING AT ONCE. Point muzzle in safe direction, wait 30 seconds clear magazine and chamber. Check bore for obstructions such as a stuck bullet. If
bore is not clear, DO NOT ATTEMPT TO FIRE, have a gunsmith correct the problem. 
DO NOT ATTEMPT TO USE A MALFUNCTIONING FIREARM. Take it to a qualified gunsmith for repair. 

Safety First 4 Laws of Gun Safety Ten Commandments of Firearms Safety

Hunting Safety Shoot Sober The 5 Rules of Concealed Carry

Other Safety Rules  Reloading Safety