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So you decided to finally become a gun owner due to coronavirus-related fears? Well, we’re glad you’ve finally joined us, but there’s a few things you really need to learn and fast.

Under normal circumstances, we’d tell you to just go take a basic NRA gun safety course or something similar. State hunter safety courses are good, too. Most of them include safe handling and some range time. However…well, things aren’t normal and most of those classes aren’t being offered right now.

So let’s get started.

First, and most importantly, learn the Four Laws Of Gun Safety, also referred to as the Four Rules Of Gun Safety.

The Four Rules of Gun Safety

They aren’t actually “laws” the way the National Firearms Act is a law. It’s more that these four rules cover almost everything you need to know about how to handle a gun safely.

They are:

  • Treat Every Gun As If It’s Loaded
  • Never Point A Gun At Anything You Don’t Want To Destroy
  • Keep Your Finger Off the Trigger Until Your Sights are On Your Target
  • Be Sure Of Your Target And What’s Beyond It

In short, treat a gun as if it’s loaded even if you know it’s not. Never trust that it’s unloaded; VERIFY that it is.

Every. Single. Time.

If there’s a person or other living thing that you don’t want to be perforated by a bullet, don’t point the gun at it (or let your gun’s muzzle sweep across them).

Don’t touch the trigger unless you darn well intend to press it. Keep your finger out of the trigger guard, preferably indexed on the frame, unless you’re about to shoot a target or a threat.

If you’re going to shoot, know what’s behind and around your target. Make sure there’s backstop, or that nothing or no one vital will get hit by a bullet if it passes through the target.

Get on YouTube. Watch every video you can about basic gun safety and basic handling. Here’s a good one:

Many, many people who bought a gun and thought themselves responsible did not heed these rules when they should have known better. Sometimes, they just have to patch a hole in the floor. Sometimes…tragedy happens.

Second, learn how to maintain your specific make and model firearm.

You should know, at minimum, how to field strip (partially disassemble) and clean and lubricate your gun. Yes, guns need to be kept clean and lubricated. If some yokel, some putz, some doofus tells you a GLOCK or AR-15 doesn’t need to be cleaned or lubricated, they’re an idiot. Don’t listen to them.

Get on YouTube, and look up “(name of your gun here) cleaning and lubrication.” Chances are you’ll find what you need. Get the necessary supplies to do so. Those Hoppe’s cleaning kits that go for under $15 at the gun store might not be the “best” tools for the job, but they work and they work well.

Third, if you’re going to carry your gun, then get a decent holster for it.


Much discussion and argument occurs over what constitutes a good holster, but the basics are that a holster should retain your handgun adequately enough for you to carry it securely, the trigger guard should be fully covered, and the holster should be strong enough for you to be able to draw the pistol and re-holster it if you need to.

We can debate the merits of various materials and designs another time. For now, that’s the minimum of what you need in a holster. If you’re buying off the gun store shelf, it’s a good idea to go with one made of either Kydex, leather or a hybrid of the two.

Tip: avoid one-size fits all and nylon pouch holsters. Very few people who are serious about handgun proficiency use either of them. If you have no other choice…they’re better than no holster, but try to find something else.

Fourth: a related note on a handgun either for concealed carry or home defense…do not use full metal jacket ammunition anywhere except at the range.

Credit: Derek280/Wikimedia Commons

Get whatever hollow point personal defense round you can for your firearm. Fragmenting and/or frangible ammo is okay, too. Just not hardball, and yes that very, very much applies to .45 ACP.

FMJ (full metal jacket) ammunition is fine for practice at the range, but tends to over-penetrate (goes right through) bad guys. JHP (jacketed hollow point) ammunition is designed to expand inside an attacker. That makes it more likely to stop the threat and less likely to continue on into something or someone else behind that person.

On a related note, make sure you have an appropriate self-defense load for a shotgun (usually buckshot or a slug) or a rifle, which is either fragmenting/frangible ammunition or a hollow point.

Fifth: Lock your gun up when not in use. Get a safe of some sort. If you have a handgun, even a cheap lockbox is better than nothing.

Credit: USAF/Wikimedia Commons

If you can’t get a safe, make sure to use the cable lock that came with the gun (every gun comes with some kind of locking device) to lock the action. If your gun didn’t come with a cable lock for some reason, get one. They’re cheap and you should be able to find one at the hardware store. In fact, many police departments even give them away for free.

Finally, with fewer gun ranges being open right now, train at home by dry firing. Get on YouTube and watch every video you can about effective dry fire practice and the basics of marksmanship.

You aren’t going to learn anything without getting some time behind the gun, but the good news is dry fire practice is easy and it’s free. If you can get started on honing those fundamentals, even for a few minutes per day, you’ll be off to a good start.

Then, when all of this is finally over…hit the range. Get some training.

Remember that gun rights are civil rights, too. You bought a gun because you have the right to do so, which is not a right enjoyed by many people on earth. It’s also a right that a lot of people in this country want to take away from you and me and everyone else.

Unarmed people are at the mercy of those who are stronger and more inherently violent than they are. Armed people are not.

While we all live in a society together, that doesn’t mean we must tolerate stratification of our society into those with the power to do what they will and those who must obey or suffer. You have the individual right to keep and bear arms. Use it and cherish it.

Stay safe out there, folks.


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  1. Nope, just pissed my gun shop has been closed for the last two weeks while I’ve had the money in my pocket to pay off my layaway I started in January.

    • Continue to train even when you are sick and hurt. Stuff doesn’t always happen when you’ve had a good night’s sleep and your brotine shake for breakfast sunny and at noon. Prepare under the worst conditions (including your physical self) to be ready for the worst to happen.

    • Look for something like the Ruger Polycase ARX or Black Hills Honey Badger. They accomplish the same thing, and they are not hollow point or frangible. Hopefully NJ hasn’t blocked them as well.

    • In NJ, you’re allowed to posses Hollow Point Ammunition in your home. Since you can’t take a handgun anywhere because you can’t get carry permit, hollow points are fine!

      If you shoot an attacker inside your home with a Hollow Point, be sure to have him charged with illegally possession of a Hollow Point bullet! You’re allowed to have them in your own home, but he is not.

      You can’t make this stuff up.

      • Good reason to not have “through and through” penetration. Keep the HP inside the perp so he is in possession of it. Only in a Liberal world does this shit make sense.

  2. Excellent to see so many of these “gun basics” articles this past week. Always good to review the basics, newbies and experts alike.

    “If there’s a person or other living thing that you don’t want to be perforated by a bullet, don’t point the gun at it (or let your gun’s muzzle sweep across them).”

    Just this morning, I popped a rabbit that had been chewing on ornamental bushes in my yard for several days. After I finally spotted it upon waking up and sending it to the hereafter with my .22LR I had by the window at the ready, I unloaded it, visually and digitally (with your fingertip) checked the chamber for clear, and put it away. As I did so, I made sure the muzzle was pointed in a safe direction, because my wife was showering in our master bathroom located just on the other side of the wall I was facing. Drywall will NOT stop a bullet, not even a small .22LR, so always be sure to observe Rule #4 beyond just what you can see with your eyes

    “If some yokel, some putz, some doofus tells you a GLOCK or AR-15 doesn’t need to be cleaned or lubricated, they’re an idiot. Don’t listen to them.”

    The author should provide better clarification here. Everyone knows an AR must run “wet” for best performance, but you should be very careful with Glocks. The only area of a striker-fired gun you should lube is the barrel and slide, and only slightly. Never, never, NEVER lube the striker assembly! The striker pin will gum up and eventually fail to fire the gun. If in doubt, don’t lube the gun at all, but at least keep it clean. I’m honestly surprised to read the author’s statement that anyone who tells you differently (which is pretty much any armorer, expert, or veteran Glock owner out there) is an idiot.

    • “Everyone knows an AR must run “wet” for best performance, but you should be very careful with Glocks.” I’d guess the majority of the population has absolutely no clue.

    • AR-15s do not have to be run wet. In fact in desert environments, which I have a lot of experience in, you absolutely don’t want to run them wet. Put a bit of lube on and wipe it off to leave a very light film is about all you want to do unless you want the lube to attract a bunch of dust that will cause issues. I don’t run my ARs quite that dry in the US because I don’t live in a desert environment but there’s no reason to run one wet. If you have to do that with your AR there’s something wrong with it.

      • That’s why I said they run “best” well lubed. You don’t have to apply lube if you don’t want to, but I doubt anyone really prefers to run a few mags of ammo through a dry BCG. YMMV.

  3. The USAF credit photo is a bit misleading…why is the frame locked? Without the slide/striker/barrel the chances of a frame chambering/detonating a round is zero…

    The article is decent…now, if only the people who need the sage advice offered will read and follow the suggestions.

    • Just a total guess but the USAF credited photo is probably from an official article about storage/transport of personal weapons – USAF makes it very difficult (if not impossible) for a member to keep operable personal weapons in their possession on base.

      • My guess was that it was a USAF armorer locking frames in inventory because the frame containing the FCU constitutes a “firearm”.

        For any new firearm owners reading this…please do not store your defensive gun in this manner. It will slow your response to the threat of imminent bodily danger to the point of uselessness.

        There are videos that show how the cable lock can be used properly.

      • The Air Force lets you keep a weapon in base housing if you live there. If you are single and living in the dorms you have to keep it in the base armory.

    • Yup, just a very expensive brick or club. Not useful unless you are well versed in hand to hand combat, and totally useless against someone with a firearm. Forget #5 The gun belongs in a holster, on your person at all times. Then you don’t need to lock it up.

    • I agree with your point for people without kids at home… it’s not so simple with people who have kids (or people with kid-equivalent ignorance/judgment) around. So it’s a decent rule to put out for a general population of newbies.

      • Me and my brother grew up in a house. That had numerous guns on the wall, in the corner and by the bed. All loaded. From the tender age of birth. Not once did We even consider touching one. Generally gave them no mind. Why? Education…No touchy meant NO Touchy. The side of a #10 engineer boot applied to the seat of learning. Was an effective educational tool. Used the same technique on my two sons with equal effectiveness. A locked up protection devise. Regardless of type: club,knife,tire iron, baseball bat or gun. looses if ability to protect if it is not readily available in a time of need. Unless of course the perp is willing to wait while you unlock and retrieve it. Keep Your Powder Dry.

        • 100% My wife and her siblings grew up with loaded guns in the corner of every room, never did any kid touch one. She learned, You learned. And now you pass it on. You had a great teacher, and now you are same. That is what keeps America America.

        • +1. Do NOT touch means “Do NOT Touch.”

          “Teach your children well
          Your father’s hell” – Crosby, Stills, and Nash.

          My “children” are now over-20. When they were ready, they recited The Four Rules from memory, and I took them to the range.

          My “ready” weapons are empty-chamber, requiring only pulling the charging handle or racking the slide. My children know this, and their locations. Someday, they may save their Old Man.

    • A locked gun is fine if you’re not intending to use it. If I’m not headed to the range, I don’t need a clays or Anschutz gun to be ready for action. However, defensive gun is always in use and should be under your control, not just hidden in convenient locations.

  4. There is a fine line between owning a firearm and going to jail. One screwup is all it takes and here comes the police, EMS, detectives, ER, doctors, nurses, attorneys, jailers, bondsmen, court dates, distraught family and friends, etc.
    When it comes to firearms no one and I mean no one ever quits learning what to do and what not to do.

  5. From the article:
    FMJ (full metal jacket) ammunition is fine for practice at the range, but tends to over-penetrate (goes right through) bad guys. …

    On a related note, make sure you have an appropriate self-defense load for a shotgun (usually buckshot or a slug) or a rifle, which is either fragmenting/frangible ammunition or a hollow point.

    This sounds like you’re not recommending the typical 55gr (M193) or 62gr (M855). So, assuming they can find something else, what rounds do you recommend for the new AR-15 owner?

      • I think Paul Harrell had put this one to bed in a recent video. Yes, the .223/5.56 will probably tumble when in hits a wall. It will tumble it’s way through 5 layers of room spaced drywall and out the outside wall of your typical newcon house with enough velocity to harm someone.

    • Feral hogs are a problem down south. Animals weigh up to 200 pounds. Very ill-tempered. What do feral-hog hunters use? Usually 55 or 62gr soft-point. Could that be a useful self-defense round?

      Also check the sintered-copper rounds. The gel-tests are nasty. Most “varmint” rounds are designed to explode on impact with the ground, sending small bits of dust downrange. Could be useful for home defense. I won’t say more, because OpSec.

      As others have pointed out, be aware of over-penetration. 5.56 is a 3000fps round. You are responsible for every projectile leaving your weapon.

  6. A good valuable line item insurance policy on your new expensive firearms. Keep records of your receipts, good photographs of the firearm and serial number with manufacturer physical description of the firearm in the text portion. No such thing as to little data for insurance.

    Now I would not get one for a hi point but a high end AR platform with aimpoint and a pistol ( kimber glock or whatever) its worth the cost.

    I pay 360$ a year for close to $35,000 worth of coverage.

    • Get legal insurance. Don’t ever insure the firearms themselves unless you’re comfortable with them being “de facto registered” with a corporate organization, where LE can always obtain it via subpoena.

      • Unfortunately most my expense in my insurance coverage is the fact the are NFA items or otherwise hard to replace to replace items so registration is a non issue for me.

      • I use Collectinsure and they don’t require any serial numbers unless the item is valued at $5k or more. I just pick the amount of insurance I want to pay for. You are required to maintain your own inventory. Pictures would also be a good idea.

        • Core-Vens Co. has a very good firearms collection insurance product (underwritten by Travelers Insurance).

          Policy can be in your name and have your NFA trust as an additional Named Insured, so both your personal gats and your NFA toys are under the same policy.

          Also covers accessories (scopes, etc.), but not ammo.

          Does not require you to itemize on the application or policy, except for individual items worth over $5k.

          Covers up to $115,000 in value for $350/yr.

          Worth checking out . . . .

  7. I have a fair amount of self defense ammo, but at some point someone is going to get shot with ball ammo. I would bet that this applies to most folks that a large supply of ammo.

  8. I think it is a good article. Though I would leave the handgun fully assembled when locking with a cable lock. Just release the slide and gently bring it to rest on the cable to unload the recoil spring.

    • I’ve been contemplating an ultrasonic and Simple Green, but the dishwasher could work!

      Let me know how it works on lead deposits in the lands, OK? Currently using a .40 jag with bronze Chore Boy, but always looking for something easier.

  9. Curious if traffic here has gone up with all the supposed newbies out there looking for intel. Smart to have all this information on here, given what we keep hearing about first-time buyers. Then they start scrolling through the comments…..

    • I would make the suggestion of reading the manual for the firearm cover-to-cover several times. And then going through each section and stepping through the operations of loading, unloading, and basic field stripping for cleaning. If no manual came with the gun, look it up online as most manufacturers have them on the internet. And check online for more information.

      And don’t be afraid to ask questions.

      • the first thing I always tell anyone is to make sure the damn thing is unloaded before you handle it…and that includes the chamber…then check to see if it will fire with the clip [magazine] removed…a leading cause of accidents…once you have loaded it,..find some way to lock it up…that can quickly be removed for quick access…read your manual to see how it works or look it up online…and you are good to go…actually firing it is a good idea if you can manage it…just to see how it performs….and acquaint yourself with law as it applies to you…

  10. I see Sam is still hilariously obsessed with his hatred of FMJ. Why don’t you visit Jared Loughner in prison and ask him how effective it is.

      • I have a single shot in .22 short. I promise you that you wouldn’t volunteer to stand in front of that one either. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t better rounds for stopping someone.

        • That’s not what he said. In the article it said “do not use full metal jacket ammunition anywhere except at the range.”

          This is ridiculous. If all you have is FMJ, which is not impossible in the current crisis, USE IT.

  11. Most folks today are internet savvy enough to look up videos on safe handling and cleaning and operating a given firearm.

    As for fmj? If you manage to legally find a working firearm in this environment and all that available is ball ammo, take it.

  12. I don’t use my favorite/expensive firearms for self defense (m-4, .45) because I assume that they get confiscated by police after a SD shooting until the county decides if they want to file charges against you.
    I use a cheap Taurus G2 and a Winchester sxp shotgun for self defense duty.

  13. Of course there are 2 rules that haven’t been mentioned by the 2A radicals:
    1.Guns don’t save lives.
    2. You don’t need a gun to survive.

    • Wrong on both accounts,
      Look up jack Wilson, the man who put down a church shooter in Texas.

      • +1.

        Jack Wilson took the “post-card challenge”, was successful. and saved lives.

        Law abiding citizens use firearms to protect themselves and others. Self-protection is a universal human right that precedes the invention of government.

    • If you live in one of America’s big cities you may get a chance to find out since the cops aren’t arresting or even responding to anything less than rape or murder and some them are sending some “nonviolent” felons your way.

    • You could try to induce a cerebral hemorrhage by discussing Marxian dialecticism to the shooter. The logical contradictions would be enough to give any rational person a seizure. But criminals and spree shooters are not rational.

  14. “Fourth: a related note on a handgun either for concealed carry or home defense…do not use full metal jacket ammunition anywhere except at the range.

    FMJ (full metal jacket) ammunition is fine for practice at the range, but tends to over-penetrate (goes right through) bad guys. JHP (jacketed hollow point) ammunition is designed to expand inside an attacker. That makes it more likely to stop the threat and less likely to continue on into something or someone else behind that person.”

    Did you explain that to New Jersey and NATO? They must have a different opinion.

  15. I remember being taught that you can dry fire a pistol or rifle, but should avoid doing so with shotguns and revolvers. Dry firing the latter was only to be done with snap caps.

    Was this bad information?

    • Dry firing on an empty chamber puts a different kind of strain on a firing pin than having it smack into a primer. Some firing pins don’t like it like my CZ 52 which I broke the firing pin on dry firing it one time. That was a $3 fix and the new aftermarket pin was hardened differently and can by dry fired to my heart’s content. Some guns don’t mind it at all like the vast majority of modern striker fired guns. Especially the ones that require dry firing just to take apart. You’ll have to look up what your specific gun likes and also be aware of parts availability if you do break something.

    • The only type of firearm that should NEVER be dry fired (besides exceptions like those mentioned by Timothy above), are guns chambered in rimfire calibers – generally .17 and .22 cal.

      On a rimfire the firing pin strikes the edge of the chamber (not the empty space in the center), and will tend to peen over the chamber, leading to problems loading cartridges and possibly breaking the firing pin in the process. No good… don’t ever dry fire a rimfire on an empty chamber, whether it be a handgun or a rifle!

      Dry firing a rimfire can be done, albeit slowly. Some companies make plastic snap caps for them, but they tend to break and wear out with repeated firings. And they cost money – which my solution doesn’t. I simply load by hand an already-fired rimfire case into the chamber, making sure that the firing pin will strike an untouched area of the rim. This cushions the blow when the firing pin hits the soft brass, just as an unfired case would.

      With that said, it’s always a good idea to use snap caps even on centerfire guns. I own and use snap caps for nearly every caliber and gauge that I own.

  16. Ammo is ammo and if I only have hardball or FMJ that’s what I’ll use. I do have self defense rounds loaded but I’ll use what I can and buy.

  17. I like the way my gun instructor taught me:

    When picking up a gun, put your trigger finger on the frame first, and then grip with the rest of your fingers and thumb while sliding the trigger finger straight along the frame. Otherwise your grip instinct will naturally put your trigger finger on the trigger before it is safe to do so.

  18. I’m very concerned with safety, but an important part that is being neglected is legal defensive use and what might be called tactics. Without training, these people will have movies/TV and wives’ tales as their guide. They’ll have seen/heard wrong stuff, like drag to body inside if you shoot someone outside, fire warning shots, try to shoot the gun out of the bad guys hand or shoot him in the leg, it’s ok to shoot a fleeing robber, or it’s ok to shoot a guy breaking into your car. Do they have a safe room, and is there a plan to get everyone there? Do they know safe lanes of fire, or are they set up with the neighbors’ or kids’ bedroom as a backstop? Are they going to try and clear the house solo when there’s a bump in the night? Do they know how to safely move through the house with a gun if they have get a child to safety and aren’t just trying to protect the big screen? Granted, newbies are more likely to hurt someone by not knowing the safety fundamentals than failing to fight off a threat, but they have a decent probability of the bump in the night being a family member or benign noise.

  19. That cleaning video is a shit show. Not nearly that complex and there is a lot of rambling. Get some Hoppe’s, get some Ballistol, get a silicone rag. Apply in that order. Makes one of the most weatherproof guns out there, have been in high altitude blizzards and just watched sleet running off my gun. Clean bore, Ballistol action and contact points lightly, wipe whole exterior to death with silicone rag. These new products are hilariously overpriced and most do not work well and have been tested to death. Is snake oil made by manicured beard types like that dude up there.

  20. Most importantly, always take firearms advice from people in the comment section. They are ALL experts!!!

  21. “do not use full metal jacket ammunition anywhere except at the range.”

    This is a really asinine statement.

    “Use hollowpoints over FMJ if available” would not be asinine.

  22. Round ball isn’t harmless. Hollows are better but FMJ still drops people. The US military can attest to that.

  23. Why does this guy hate on FMJ? It’s Plenty effective at killing people. Ever read a history book?
    Sure expensive self defense ammo is probably a little more effective but I haven’t met to many people that want to find out the difference between getting hit with a hollow point or a FMJ.

  24. he didnt tell them to stock up on mags
    he told them to only buy the most expensive ammo on the shelf
    now there will be more mags and fmj ammo there for the rest of us blokes
    good article
    no…GREAT article

  25. Left out one very crucial point for home defense:

    Develop a plan and make sure everyone in the house knows what it is. Rehearse it.

    If you gotta stop and think about where you’re gonna go, what you’re gonna do, where your points of entry are, who is who where and when… well, you’re probably fucked before you get started. Even if the plan falls apart, you gotta start with something.

  26. A Hunter Safety course is a good place to start even if you are not into hunting. I still remember mine very well, and that’s nearly fifty years ago.

  27. Seven: Ignore rule #5. NEVER be without your gun. If it isn’t with you at all times, you have no business with it to begin with.

  28. The majority of gun owners and instructors know how to shoot a gun, but have no idea how to actually fight with a gun. Learn, because even with the basic safety rules you are very dangerous to yourself and those around you. Whole world of difference from shooting on a range in perfect conditions and being in a actual shooting situation with unknown conditions. Find out the qualifications of your instructors, if they have no law enforcement or military combat arms experience then move on and find somebody who does and learn from them. An unloaded gun is a just a paper weight and a gun unattended/unlocked with kids in the house is a tragedy waiting to happen.

  29. I understand safety and no doubt would have a gun safe IF THERE WERE CHILDREN IN my house;
    BUT!!! If you have to remember a combination or look for a key THEN load your weapon —-whats the point of having one? Is the gun safe in your bedroom? LIAR! No woman would go for that, so your defense is running out to the garage opening the safe then loading your weapon (that couldn’t be done in less than three minutes), while the intruder does??? who knows what?
    IMO a firearm of any type is useless unless you can actually use it; and immediately.


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