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Over at the, blogger Wes Siler proclaims that Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz doesn’t know how to carry a shotgun. Siler quotes “local hunter and lifetime NRA member Scott Nathan” who pronounces that “While his action is visibly open, he is still not in control of muzzle direction. In a break-action gun the muzzle should always point down.” Siler and Nathan attack Cruz’s gun safety with both barrels . . .

As such an outspoken gun rights advocate, Cruz should also consider himself an ambassador for gun safety, particularly when choosing to make a national TV appearance while carrying one.

“He’s either a poser who doesn’t really hunt, or just a blindingly dangerous nincompoop,” concludes Scott. “He’s got moves like Cheney.”

Shoulder carry – as exemplified by Senator Ted Cruz in the picture – is a safe way to carry a shotgun or rifle. It’s recommended and demonstrated in Texas hunter safety training. From

The shoulder carry balances the rifle on your shoulder, controlling the firearm by a hand on the grip. Always keep your finger off the trigger and on the outside of the trigger guard. This is a good carry when walking beside or behind others. It is not a good carry if others are behind you.

Shoulder carry isn’t the only way to carry a shotgun. Nor is the best way to carry a shotgun in all situations. But Wes rejects it in favor of the muzzle forward version of shoulder carry.

It might have been nice if Siler’s “this is how we do it” photo had been taken “in the field.” It would also have been useful if Siler had consulted a few other hunters, or any one of the hundreds of sports hunting organizations dedicated to conservation and firearms safety. But when you’re an outdoor writer looking to adhere to Gizmodo’s (read: Gawker’s) assiduously anti-gun rights bias, “gotcha” always comes first.

©2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
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  1. My dad is as big a safety and muzzle direction hard ass as you will ever find, and this is perfectly acceptable to him. I’ll trust his judgement.

    • A break action with open action and no shell loaded is extremely safe. This is like carrying a gun with a chamber lock and flag.

  2. It is perfectly fine if the barrel of break-action shotgun points at people as long as the action is open and there is no shell in the barrel.

    Come on guys. I understand and fully embrace the “four rules”. At some point you actually have to inject common sense. Every handgun that people carry in a shoulder holster (e.g. Miami rig) muzzle sweeps thousands of people — and the action is even closed and the handgun is loaded! Do we shriek in horror about those?

    It is one thing to carry a firearm with the action closed and the barrel pointing at people. Carrying a long gun with the action open — especially a break action shotgun — and visibly unloaded is a complete non-issue.

    • Muzzlesweeping and compatibility with much longer barrels are why New York rigs are better than Miamis.

    • “Every handgun that people carry in a shoulder holster (e.g. Miami rig) muzzle sweeps thousands of people — and the action is even closed and the handgun is loaded! Do we shriek in horror about those?”

      Sadly, I recall in Iraq of some officers in the Camp Liberty DFAC actually shrieking in horror about just such a situation (well, not quite the same, as the shoulder rigged M9’s were unloaded with no magazine in the well, and were cleared in the clearing barrel outside the entrance).

      • I do recall standing in DFAC lines with a M9 barrel starring at me because the Soldier in front opted for shoulder holster. I was always a bit annoyed, since I always carried my M9 in a hip or leg holster.

    • Oh Lordy Lordy Lordy , get thee behind me Siler , say’s my man Cruz .
      Ga-au-aul-lee Sargent Carter I can’t vote for Cruz now !
      M o o o n , gauley mister , m o o o n , that spells Cruz .
      Shazaam !
      Sorry about that chief .
      Dim witts .
      Please support Ted Cruz in any way possible and then vote for him when you get a chance .
      Even if he had a better way of carrying his shot gun , does not deter me from supporting him to restore America to constitutional government , our only hope is restoration , not transformation .

  3. The antis are running on fumes. They have done their best to convince people about “gun safety” as the anti crowd sees it, but people aren’t buying it. So they resort to this kind of petty BS.

  4. Sheesh, everyone is a nanny and, apparently, a wildly dramatic: “…a blindingly dangerous nincompoop.” Save your righteous indignation for an actual event or issue.

  5. Speaking of “gotcha” journalism…. From the aforementioned citation, “It is not a good carry if others are behind you.”

    Look behind Cruz. Watch the video. There are structures behind him that very well might contain people. He muzzles all of it during his interview. IF people behind you, THEN not good carry.

    Cruz’s method of holding his gun isn’t wrong necessarily, but it certainly isn’t as “right” as holding it muzzle down with the action open which allows 1.) a visible open action, b.) full control of the muzzle, and c.) fingers far away from the trigger.

    To your point about Wes being anti-gun, take more than 3 seconds to review his history of gun related writing to reform your opinion. While you’re at it, continue balancing your point of view with this video of him taking a screeching vegan harpy to task on national TV over the Cecil the Lion thing.

    Wes is a very nice guy who is doing a great deal to bring guns and hunting to the masses via the Gawker media machine.

    • Having / Following rules is good.

      Blindly following them without thinking is not.

      I’ll go with uncommon_sense’s comment above. No matter where the muzzle is pointing, it is very clear and unambiguous that that shotgun is not in battery or loaded.

      This falls under the same “breaking of the four rules” as dry fire practice. After all, that’s not ‘treating every gun as loaded.”

    • Those structures were well out of range for birdshot.

      Is Ted’s carry ideal for the situation? No. Is it bad etiquette? Maybe. Is it unsafe? absolutely not.

      I like Wes, he’s done a lot to try and forward acceptance of not only guns but also survival skills and individualism on the echochamber of shrill cronyism that is Gawker, but in this case he’s just plain wrong.

    • Gun safety is important. But then there’s a certain level that just gets into pedantry. Whining about how someone else is carrying an obviously unloaded gun is a special kind of whining.

      Your other points are fair enough, though.

    • Bull Crap….anyone who suggests the way he is holding his break open shotgun is bad gun safety is an idiot- Period. Too many people thinking way to much of themselves as experts. Go back to the city and give me a break

    • The biggest problem with carrying a break open gun with the barrels to the back is turning around and smacking people behind you. It’s NOT a safety problem. It is obnoxious in a large group of people, say at a skeet or trap competition. And it’s not worth making a big deal about…

    • This right here. Anyone who paints Wes as anti-gun because of other writers’ works in the same network a) doesn’t read Siler’s stuff and b) doesn’t seem to understand that different authors on Gawker’s network have different opinions on things. He’s the same dude who argued in favor of hunting when the Cecil the Lion outrage machine was rolling along at full steam ahead, for Pete’s sake. There is no unifying political agenda on that network, especially on the more niche-oriented properties like Gizmodo–and it’s disingenuous to assume that there is one.

      For what it’s worth, later footage seems to prove Wes right: there were people behind Cruz, therefore, by Dean’s own quoted expert, it’s not the appropriate way to handle that shotgun in that particular situation.

      • You are full of it. Would you rather him talk to the camera with the gun facing them or behind him. He is in an open field for God’s sake. This guy you are defending is a troll trying to get hits. He was successful when ttag linked to him.

  6. Oh good God. Normally I am the first safety Nazi to jump on anybody but damn. A break open shotgun carried over the shoulder, broken open, is pretty goddamned foolproof. This is like that thread over at ARFCOM where they jumped on Cruz because he crosses his thumbs shooting a handgun. Sheesh.

    • I don’t need my President to be the perfect shooter/hunter/operator. I just need them to support US having that right, and support us against every enemy of our rights, foreign and domestic.

  7. I called out Wes on making a huge deal about nothing, and insinuated that he was possibly folding to editorial pressure.

    He didn’t respond, but ever since, my posts on Gawker sites don’t show up publically (after enabling unapproved comments) after I submit them.

    It’s an odd coincidence.

  8. The action is open and the chambers are empty. Stop wetting your pants people. The gun is as safe as anyone could possibly make it, short of completely disassembling it.

  9. This is going to be the gun version of that stupid blue dress argument…
    Its a shame that its all the media took away from what Cruz said tho, cause I thought he made a good point about debate moderation.

  10. When you’re at the range, and the RO calls the range cold, and you have to remove mags and lock open actions, isn’t that exactly how you do it? The only differece is that at the range you then do not touch the firearm in any way. Which is negated by the whole “we’re hunting” thing…

    Wes is a doof trying to make a name for himself…

  11. Action open. Blue sky visible thru the bbls. I dont like holding my O/U by the bbls because hand/finger prints are just like instant rust but I do it when I have to and hose the bbls down with Rust Prevent.

  12. Saul Alinsky rule #4: “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.” If the rule is that every letter gets a reply, send 30,000 letters. You can kill them with this because no one can possibly obey all of their own rules.

    Wes is just a sad pathetic commie. He’s afraid of having too many rights and will stoop to any low deceitful attack in order to brain wash the proletariat into wanting the ruling elite to take their rights away.

  13. The way Wes Siler is demonstrating this would be fairly foolish if the gun had been fired a lot. Now I know, shooting bird shot isn’t going to heat up the barrel fast but it will heat up. I don’t know what activity Ted just finished up doing but if he had been actively shooting, this carry would makes sense. I don’t normally carry a weapon by the barrel for that reason as well. Sure there are other carries for a breach break shotgun, like cradling it but I’ve seen this plenty at ranges and never got concerned – the fact that Wes is making an issue out of it is extremely petty and the only people he’s pandering too are the ones who already didn’t like firearms or Ted Cruz. Overall they are losing the 2A fight, if this is the best they can do, they are falling apart faster than I thought.

    • Funny that in the video, his hunting companion is also holding his shotgun exactly the same way.

      It’s safe, common and perfectly acceptable. I would head into the field with these guys anytime.

      Please stick to topics you understand such as yellow journalism.

    • My god man – the action is open. Do you really have nothing better to do?

      I bet you are one of those guys at a gun show who criticizes a guy looking down the barrel to inspect the bore of a rifle regardless if there is even a bolt installed in the rifle or an action threaded onto it.

      You are blindly applying safety rules without exercising common sense with them.

    • I get the impression that if he field stripped the gun, removed the action from the barrel completely, put the stock/action in his pocket and then carried only the barrel on his shoulder, you would still offer your condescending lecture.

      Get a grip, or get a life. More hunting and less blogging would be good for your soul.

    • I watched the video three times. I did not see a single time that Senator Ted Cruz swept anyone with his muzzle. I would hunt with Ted Cruz anytime. I suspect that you would be safe to hunt with as well.

      But you look to be making something out of nothing with this video, which does not show Senator Cruz acting unsafely in any way.

    • This sort of unctuous lecturing is about as adorable as an eight-year-old boy earnestly explaining to his momma where babies come from.

      It is cute the first time he does it, but only the first time.

      One of the reasons why clay ranges prefer people with break-action shotguns is because when the gun is broken open, it is really obvious to everyone around the range that the gun is in a safe condition. Hang around enough clay ranges and pay attention when people are shooting pumps or semi-autos and you’ll see that experienced shooters’ situational awareness goes up – often way up – when there’s a shooter on the line they’ve not met who is using a non-break action shotgun. I’ve been on clay ranges where I’ve attempted to be a super-safe competitor, keeping my muzzles pointed up at all times I wasn’t on the line. What happens when you’re carrying a break action and you point the muzzles straight up? The action wants to close. On more than one occasion, when doing this, I was pulled aside and asked to not carry my gun in such a way off the line that the action closes – ie, don’t carry it muzzles up, carry instead over the shoulder (per Cruz above), or muzzles down, action in the crook of your arm or in your hand, etc. Just keep the gun obviously and unequivocally broken open. The same issue is pounded into people in RSO classes – before anyone is allowed forward of the line to change targets, all actions must be open, guns shown to be unloaded. And then people walk forward of the line, and they’re in front of muzzles of guns.

    • I watched the video , saw the link and yes I would be honored to hunt with Mr. Cruz and if I have an opportunity I will vote for him for president of USA

  14. Last thought on this – from reading the comments on the original article, I get the impression that if Cruz had it gun barrel the other way around, he’d be ridiculed for pointing it at the interviews legs. It’s a hit piece either way .

  15. Hunters have been carrying break-action shotguns like that in the field for longer than these two critics have been in existence.

  16. I got extremely acidic perspiration.
    I try to keep my hands off any blued part of the gun with my O/U.
    Silver nitride receiver, no issues with metal polish.

  17. Foot meets mouth. Good job Siler. Opinionated and ignorant. There is more than one way to carry a shotgun.

  18. Siler demonstrates a good way to hold your shotgun if it hasn’t been fired a lot. Otherwise, it’s just a good way to burn your hand.

    • I always carry mine with the barrels forward and don’t burn my hand. I also don’t smack people behind me when I turn around… That’s the main benefit of carrying the gun over the shoulder with the barrels forward, just keeps them from sticking out two feet behind you. It’s not safer one way than the other, though.

  19. With almost any other type of shotgun, the twitterer might have a point. (I don’t want to/shouldn’t have to investigate closely to see if the action is open.)

    With an open break-action gun? He’s just a twit. (No offense, Mr. Siler. Mr. Kee might be right that you are often on the right side in the gun debate. Not this time.)

    In the photo with two hunters, above, the guy needs to be concerned with his muzzle. That form of shoulder carry requires attention. The woman’s form of shoulder carry needs little attention from her. In almost every instance, I prefer to cradle an open shotgun over my forearm, but Ted is not wrong.

  20. The gun is open and you can see through the barrels …..what more do you want. Cruz can hunt with me anytime. Siler can take out my trash if I’m watching his every move.

  21. At my gun club, the range is “hot” until every firearm is unloaded, the action open with a flag in it. Then, we go out the the targets with all those muzzles pointing at us. At some point, you have to employ common sense rather than thoughtlessly follow rules.

  22. No, he is an idiot. He may be super pro gun but his is a moron who thinks he is too smart for the rules. exactly what we DON’T need in the white house.

  23. If Ted Cruz was to run for the Bird Hunters of America Club presidency I may consider another choice .
    I will vote for Cruz for President of the United States of America with confidence I have done the best I can do .

    • Yep.

      One of the innate advantages that men used to have over women is that we didn’t get our panties into a twist over trivial stuff. We were the “big picture” humans on the planet.

      Now, it would seem that in modern America, men have lost that characteristic.

      • What a keen observation , and I affirm , I have seen your point and I raise you one .
        Modern women are taking up the slack and seeing the big picture now more than in the past times .
        Proves my theory once again .
        Somehow , the world got turned upside down .

  24. Has this Wes guy ever actually been hunting with a shotgun?
    Seriously what a maroon. Wes do yourself a favor and go hunting or skeet shooting once before you open your mouth.
    I would hunt with Cruz anytime both for the hunt and the discussion.

  25. Wes also posted this rather comprehensive article on firearms safety for the unaffiliated. Let’s not lose sight of the forest through the trees here. Did he make an inaccurate statement (accidentally or on purpose)? Sure, but so does everyone every now and then.

    From the recap of the linked article, Wes knows the Senator’s firearm is safe. Why are pro-gun bloggers going all in to make another enemy? Let’s get it together.

    • I’ll tell you why. We don’t need non-thinking, blind “rule followers” on our side that don’t even understand the rules they are claiming to follow…

      ESPECIALLY when that blind rule following amounts to criticizing others that are thinking and using common sense.

      This is an idiotic criticism of Cruz from someone that does not really understand gun safety all. Just another “follower” and “criticizer.”

      It’s just plain stupid to attack this form of carrying a shotgun that is clearly and obviously not in battery and not loaded. Anyone that offers such criticism is only showing their stripes as a controller…maybe a mostly pro 2A controller, but a controller nonetheless.

  26. Some of the comments on the original thread went back in forth rather heatedly. Opinions seems to boil down to whether or not you like Cruz as a candidate or a human being.

    My personal opinion is that it’s really not a big deal. I also noted on the forum we did something like this with our M16a2s in the Army after some ranges. Safety on, lower unhinged from the upper receiver, bolt removed and Soldiers lined up so the NCOs can go up and down to see everyone’s rifle was cleared and free of brass or ammo. It is inevitable that by doing that, we “flagged” a person behind us.

  27. My only comment is that I was taught that you hang the break on your shoulder, you don’t rest the barrel(s) on your shoulder.

  28. If carrying an over/under or side by side shotgun over the shoulder with breach open for all to see that the firearm is empty and safe has suddenly been deemed unsafe, then well over 90% of skeet and trap shooters carry their empty shotguns off station in that manner.

    Scott Nathan is obviously a progressive liberal lying sack of $#it oblivious to protocols pertaining to the safe carry of an action open unloaded over/under or side by side shotgun or rifle. Experienced shooters recognize the manner in which Cruz is carrying the over/under shotgun as a safe and very common manner of carry preferred by skeet or trap shooters when standing with an empty gun off station.

    • 90% of skeet and trap shooters don’t carry their shotguns open with the barrels pointing back. They carry them with the barrels pointing forward where they don’t smack people behind them. The other 10% carry them pointed back, and everyone else has to watch where that guy is going to keep from getting hit. But THAT is the worst that will happen; the guy just winds up looking obnoxious and everyone else avoids him. Same as if a guy is carrying a 2 x 4 over his shoulder and doesn’t watch where he’s going, and doesn’t care what’s behind him. But I’d say that 90% of skeet and trap shooters do the right thing, while the other 10% aren’t doing anything unsafe in a ‘firearm’ sort of way.

    • Want to know what a great many trap/skeet shooters with break-action shotguns do while they’re waiting their turn to shoot, or are waiting off to the side of a sporting clays station while the rest of their party shoots?

      Resting the muzzles of their guns on their own toes. With the action broken open.

  29. Why did you leave out this line, just below the one you quoted from

    “When at a shooting range the correct shoulder carry for a break action shotgun would be with the action open, unloaded, barrel pointing down and forward, controlled by both hands.”

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