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By John Farnham [via]

In our Urban Rifle (UR) and Armed Response to a Terrorist Attack (ARTA) Classes, students come to us from numerous divergent training backgrounds. We, of course, run a hot range, so rifles carried by students are loaded (round chambered, manual safety “on,” fully-charged magazine inserted) continuously. All drills start, and finish, with loaded rifles . . .

There is no specific command to reload at any particular moment, so all students are expected to keep rifles they are bearing continuously loaded, magazines charged.

I have adopted a universal “muzzle-down” doctrine for all our courses.

A “safe” direction in which to point a gun is mostly imaginary! Even on an established firing range, a “safe” direction, such as at a dirt berm, is only “relatively” safe. When any gun discharges in any direction, intentionally or accidentally, a bad outcome is always a substantial possibility. Of course, some directions are blatantly unsafe, and these need to be recognized and carefully observed.

So, on shooting ranges (and all other places), we endeavor to constantly keep muzzles pointed in “relatively safe” directions. We call this practice and philosophy “muzzle consciousness,” and every student is expected to be continuously aware of the direction in which his weapon is pointed. The ostensible “condition” of the weapon never relevant. Sloppy gun-handling is, at no time, tolerated!

With the foregoing in mind, which is safer, muzzle up or down?

Logical arguments are made for both practices, but I see muzzles inadvertently pointed in unsafe directions much less often when “muzzle-down” is the prevailing and accepted doctrine.

Our rifles are always slung (one-point or two-point) with the muzzle down. The rifle is never allowed to come up to horizontal unless the student is on the line or otherwise facing a “safe” direction.

Even when facing downrange, we don’t do “port arms,” nor do we allow the rifle’s muzzle to point upwards during reloading. It is always, “Heads up! Muzzles down!” A muzzle-up posture during reloading is a “gun give-a-way,” plus it greatly increases your profile, particularly when you’re behind cover.

Sending a rifle bullet over the berm and off the property is a real danger on any shooting range. NDs are always the result of poor finger discipline, but an ND (negligent discharge) into the dirt downrange of the shooter is always preferable to one that sends a bullet high enough to clear the berm!

There is nothing we can do, and no policy we can implement, that will guarantee nothing bad will ever happen during training. Any training worthy of the title will always be (1) painful, and (2) dangerous. Risk can be managed,” but never eliminated. I believe a muzzle-down philosophy and training doctrine represents appropriate risk management.

Thus, “Heads up! Muzzles down!” is, in my opinion, the correct philosophy during serious rifle (and pistol) training, and should be universal.


John Farnam
John Farnam

About John Farnam & Defense Training International, Inc
As a defensive weapons and tactics instructor John Farnam will urge you, based on your own beliefs, to make up your mind in advance as to what you would do when faced with an imminent and unlawful lethal threat. You should, of course, also decide what preparations you should make in advance, if any. Defense Training International wants to make sure that their students fully understand the physical, legal, psychological, and societal consequences of their actions or inactions.

It is our duty to make you aware of certain unpleasant physical realities intrinsic to the Planet Earth. Mr Farnam is happy to be your counselor and advisor. Visit:

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    • ND occurred not long ago when the Marine recruiting station was attacked and civilians volunteered to provide protection outside. Muzzle was down and 5.56 round impacted asphalt without serious consequences. Not sure how an oblique shot at concrete would respond. However, a ricochet from either surface seems preferable to that same round traveling an unknown distance to an unknown destination through the clear ether.

      Rule #4: Know your target and what’s beyond it. That’s a lot easier when you are muzzle down than with your muzzle pointed at the sky.

      • A bullet propelled into the air, unless it strikes a plane (good luck with that, would have to be flying low and slow)
        Of anything actually man-portable, will usually not descend with enough force to cause serious injury.

        I find this out come most preferable with something such as a shotgun, where a pellet would be neigh incapable of causing harm falling back down, but would be very dangerous ricocheted off asphalt.

        Totally different set of rules for multi-story buildings, however.

        • Bullets fired straight up descend at terminal velocity (i.e., ~ 90 M/S). This is enough to hurt you but most probably not enough to do serious damage or kill you.

          The real danger from bullets fired in the air is an angled shot which can impact with a velocity of much higher than terminal velocity.

          • The Mythbusters already ran that experiment. They determined that if a bullet were fired as little as 1° off of vertical, said bullet would maintain a stable ballistic trajectory and return to earth with potentially lethal energy.

    • +1 down always… Ive seen it done both ways but muzzle up tends to be more sloppy in terms of muzzle awareness. The only exception is for rifles with target crowns AND no muzzle device to protect the crown…. Hanguns is just stupid ie the “charlie’s angels head shot”.

  1. Yep, down.

    Up, a bullet can go anywhere.

    Even on concrete an ND will at least be confined to a relatively small area most likely.

  2. It depends a lot on the environment.

    On a concrete floor (or indoors with a concrete or steel ceiling), an ND is going to ricochet and be a danger.
    Outdoors on softer dirt, mud, etc., the ricochet risk is reduced, because the dirt will absorb more energy, and allow the bullet to bury itself. In an open environment, an ND into the sky is pretty harmless (less dangerous than a hailstone) above a certain angle, but that is an odd angle to carry a rifle.
    As long as they’re mindful that “down” isn’t at another student’s femoral artery and “up” isn’t toward another student’s head, either is probably pretty safe in a typical outdoor scenario.

    • A bullet at > 0° +/- will deflect and stay ~ 6″ – 8″ away from the surface (does not mean whatever you hit won’t shatter/splatter). So, stay off of the wall too.

    • But its about more than just safety. Muzzle down is faster to mount, and much faster to take up the “hasty sling” position. One only needs to place the forearm of the off hand over and through the sling to the fore end, and then mount to the shoulder as normal. Instant hasty sling.

  3. MyPOV: to be safe, you have to be aware of the environment around you. For example, if I’m in an apartment building with a concrete floor and people living in floors above me, I’ll take down over up. If I’m on that same concrete floor in a single level home, I’ll take up.

    The important thing is to think through it. An observational mind is the key to firearm safety.

  4. Depends like everything else. If Im in my tree stand and you approach my tree , mine will be up and yours should be down …

    • Yup. Always going to be exceptions for certain situations. The rule is in the safest possible direction so if a round were loosed it would do the least damage. My reason for mostly being part of the “down” camp was stated near the end of the article:

      “an ND (negligent discharge) into the dirt downrange of the shooter is always preferable to one that sends a bullet high enough to clear the berm”

      Muzzle up means it has to come down to get on target, and between straight up and on target is a huge swath of unsafe, launch-a-bullet-miles-into-the-unknown movement. From muzzle down to on target is ground. May or may not be completely safe, but it’s almost always significantly safer than launching a bullet at an angle into the sky.

  5. I always point down. I always teach down.

    That said, I am always amazed when I go to indoor or even outdoor covered ranges and see bullet holes in the ceiling.

    Thankfully over many, many years, I myself have never had an ND nor any of my students nor have I experienced any at public or private ranges.

    Here is hoping my luck keeps going for many more years.

    • As a former range safety NCO and range user in several states, I can tell you that in the past, many of those overhead holes are a result of the movie-style Dirty Harry/Charlie’s Angels muzzle-up handgun position, primarily with a revolver. The shooter will thumb-cock the revolver while it’s still muzzle-up, and then touch the trigger as they start to bring it down into line with the target, launching the shot early due to the unfamiliar and much lighter single-action trigger pull weight.

      It was so bad for a while, many ranges added a specific prohibition on bringing the muzzle above the target for ANY reason, and briefed it (with visual examples of what NOT to do) during the range safety/use briefing.

  6. I took a Pat Mac class a while ago. Everything we had was loaded but the muzzle was to be kept in a safe direction. They ended being down for all of us. My 2 cents.

  7. Was always taught muzzle up when doing reloads on the AR15, so that you can actually see the mag well and keep peripheral vision downrange.

  8. Front: Towards Enemy
    or down-range
    or down, but never up- too much like lawn darts, never know exactly where a 1/4-oz+ piece of lead will land after it hits terminal velocity. I’ve seen some cars damaged by ‘new years celebration’ gunfire that landed and punched a hole in a metal car panel.

  9. Here’s my 2 cents: it depends in what you’re doing. Speaking from tactical experience, In a shoot house, I prefer to move in the ‘high ready’. When performing CQB I have found it easier to manipulate my weapon and maneuver around the man in front of me without ‘flagging’ him like would be necessary when carrying at a low ready.

    Low ready or muzzle down is safer on a flat range. I once saw a sear on a military issue M4 spontaneously break and the operator was able to control his weapon during the 30 round mag dump into the dirt at his feet without injuring those standing around him. Weird stuff happens when you are firing thousands of rounds over several weeks and weapons can and do suffer catastrophic failures.

  10. Basically down unless you are in a building. Of you have floor below you and ceiling above you down. If you have floor below you and roof above then up because someone could be below you. Apartments suck because there is no safe direction unless you are on the top floor.

  11. On a hot summer day a dirt road or a grass field can be just as hard as concrete. Down can be very dangerous.

    • I’ve seen multiple military 5.56mm rifle and 9mm/.38 pistol shots (all FMJ) fired straight down into a concrete firing range slab. You get a lot of fragments flying around (bullet and concrete chips), but generally, nothing large enough to even punch through a boot or shoe. It WILL punch through a pant leg with enough energy to draw blood, and obviously it’s dangerous to uncovered eyeballs or bare skin areas.

      Mud or dirt, baked in the sun or frozen to 30 below zero, will still absorb a shot more safely than concrete, but even concrete isn’t nearly as ricochet-dangerous as most folks think, as long as the bullet is going nearly straight down (90 degree entry angle).

  12. These things like many things in the tactical realm depends highly on the situation.

    Lots of SEALs favor muzzle up by default because they spend a lot of time in boats. OTOH in helicopter muzzle down in best because all the important bits are up.

    You should analyze your situation and pick the direction that best suits it. For example in a two story house I would favor down on the first floor, and up on the second floor.

  13. Pistols always get reloaded muzzle up, while revolvers always get reloaded muzzle down. No charge for that bit of random observation.

  14. I like the Yeagerism for it: If you’re in a helicopter, point it down, if you’re in a boat, point up.

    To answer the question, down is my normal preferred unless something else changes. I live on a second floor, so in my house, up is what happens.

  15. Almost always down, even over hard surfaces. To me it’s a matter of voluntary choices and consent…

    If we the participants catch some ricocheting shrapnel in the leg, that sucks, but we made our choices to accept that risk.

    On the other hand, what goes up must come down, and someone a few blocks to a mile away, for whom guns may not even be on their mind and clearly did not accept any such risks, catching an errant round is to me FAR worse.

  16. While I never want to take a round, I’d rather take one in the foot than in the face.

    Down towards the ground is best.

  17. As many here have pointed out, MU or MD can depend on what is up, and what is down. There also is something to consider with regard to overcoming obstacles. Running up inclines and up and over obstacles: muzzle up? Running down inclines and down from obstacles: muzzle down? Squeezing through tight or narrow spaces: muzzle up? Or if you’re approaching a multi-level building: muzzle up?

  18. A high ready is faster than a low ready and is more maneuverable in a building if the gun isn’t in your shoulder. And you’re not going to shoot yourself in the head if you have an ND with the muzzle up. Geez. You don’t place the muzzle under your chin in the high ready, killers.

    • High-ready isn’t faster if you never see the target/hostile because the weapon was blocking your view of it. And if you peek around a tight corner muzzle-up, it’s much more difficult to prevent leading with the weapon, signalling your intentions in advance or offering your weapon as a handle if the BG is close.

  19. I’ve been within 5 feet of a .45 ND into/onto a concrete floor. It was pretty close to a straight down shot. The bullet pretty much disintegrated. Unless you are wearing flip flops your shoes should protect you in that situation. At other angles YMMV.

  20. Establishing a set doctrine for all instances is absurd and unusual from someone like Farnham (with whom I have trained). Usually muzzle down works best for all of the reasons mentioned. But once you start moving with non-combatants taking cover on the ground or moving up/back/between friendly forces proned out muzzle down becomes a problem.

    Muzzle direction is always the ‘least shitty option’. Training to only use one method invariably leads to that method being utilized under stress regardless of the suitability for the situation. Practice alternatives or you may find that you have none when you need them.

  21. I am curious what the muzzle down reload looks like, and how it’s possible to do it with “head’s up.” To truly stay “heads up” it would have to be a no-look reload, because having the muzzle down during a reload is going to force your head down if you actually look at the magwell. The port-arms/muzzle-up reload with the magwell right at your face level allows you the fastest reload, that’s why it’s overwhelmingly used in competition (where a ND is equally dangerous) and taught by many ‘tactical’ instructors as well, as it allows you to keep your vision on your space, with the most minimal loss of awareness for the brief instant you look to seat the mag in the well. Just a shift of your eyes. This is even more important when reloading while moving (eyes down you fall down).

    When you are doing this “muzzle-up” reload, the firearm is unloaded for the entire time it is pointed up, as the bolt comes home as/after you have got the rifle pointed forward again. I know this reasoning goes against the “condition of the gun doesn’t matter,” but for me it’s the main reason why I do consider the “muzzle up” reload superior, while I don’t like high ready/muzzle up in general (special circumstances, such as those mentioned in other comments, of course taking precedence).

    I guess the port arms reload could give away your position, but in how many situations would you have just finished firing a full magazine yet somehow managed to keep your position a secret??

  22. When I was a kid, my Old Man taught me to carry a rifle muzzle up, cradled near the body. Proper attention paid to chamber status, action open and trigger finger position. This was apparently sue to his WWII era military training. I note however that when one is doing anything other than handling the weapon, such as bending or crouching, the muzzle may point at others nearby. So I modify this method as conditions warrant.
    To avoid embarrassing incidents, best to keep handguns holstered. A loaded, safed handgun I will carry muzzle down for short distances, or pointed downrange.

    I believe in most cases a ND into the ground is preferable to a random shot into the air.
    Yeah, it may splatter, but is unlikely to take anybody’s head off.
    And I hate to think of the muzzle blast of a Garand inches from my ear…

  23. I prefer muzzle up. Yes, it can “go anywhere”, but that’s good. At an indoor range, muzzle up and an ND will go into the ceiling, maybe stop, but certainly slow down. At an outdoor range, it’ll keep going, but that immensely expands the landing zone. Outdoor ranges are spacious and its less likely you’ll hit anyone if it goes up or even at an angle.

    ND straight down and you have ricochet and fragmentation risks off of rocks, cement, or even the soft ground (you never know), with people in the immediate vicinity. I’d rather take my chances with a falling projectile at only gravity acceleration over a vast area, than a full muzzle velocity projectile only inches away.

    Keep your rifle unchambered, without magazine, locked open, finger off the trigger until you’re shooting, and you shouldn’t have to worry, anyway.

    I know, there are hunting and shoot house scenarios to consider, too. Specific situations require specific conduct, but generally your odds are better NDing up.

  24. This is going to be a challenge…. The verbally Anti-Gun, but secretly Pro-gun (because it sells), Hollywood usually has the guy with the rifle go muzzle-up for not-shooting or for reloading. People new to rifles and just now learning the idea of trigger or muzzle discipline are going to tend to mimic what they have seen before and that is probably muzzle-up.

    I agree down is better. A ricochet off the ground is less dangerous even if only slightly when compared to a round going up and then who knows how far down range at something still near a lethal velocity.

  25. I really enjoyed this article. I have always assumed that muzzle up was the preferred direction, especially when changing magazines. This article is counter to everything that I’ve seen on TV and at the range. Since he explains the logic behind this approach, and it makes sense, I will be changing my default hold position. However, I will remain aware that sometimes a muzzle up position may be preferable.

    I can’t visualize how I would reload a magazine with the rifle in the down position while keeping my head up. Would someone explain the mechanics of how to do this or point me to a good video? This would be the perfect type of thing for TTAG to make a short video about once they start making them. Imagine showing two shooters – one muzzle up and one muzzle down. Imagine talking through the pros and cons of each position. What a great training tool this could be.

    Please keep more articles like this coming.

    • I can aswer that question. I can mag change with muzzle down & head up.

      Disclaimer: Never actually done it, but my theory is mechanically possible.

      Milspec Ar-15 is righ handed so we’ll start there.

      Start with full mag, round in chamber, stock set to the right shoulder properly, strong hand on grip, support hand on foregrip.

      Run your set until the bolt locks back.

      Right index finger triggers the mag release.

      Mag drops clear, support hand brings the rifle down.

      Support hand releases and goes for new mag, strong hand keeps rifle stock against shoulder.

      Support hand brings up fresh mag, strong hand pivots rifle 15° clockwise.

      Insert mag, slap the base to seat, support hand then returns to foregrip.

      Right thumb hits the foreward assist as the rifle is brought up to line of sight.

      Ready to fire.

      Using that method it is theoretically possible to execute a tactical reload, with muzzle down, and eyes never leaving the target.
      Is it easy to learn? No.
      Easy to demonstrate in a fluid, professional manner? No.
      Fastest reload possible? No clue.

  26. HERE IS WHAT “IT DEPENDS” MEANS TO ME: (correct me if you think I’m wrong, I’m always open to being safer than I am, since I live alone for the most part, and drive and hike the Great Basins and Ranges alone most of the time — I can get sloppy, and it’s never wrong to be told I’m sloppy – it means I am learning something that may, or may not apply to MY situation — hell I’ve found out that my .270 will put a hole through a rail-road rail — and there’s only one way to do that – and, you are right, I’d NEVER tell ANYONE that it was even a little bit ‘OK’) —

    1) NEVER ‘LAZE’ ANYONE, EVER! (Laze = Laser, that is, have your muzzle cross the body of a ‘friendly’)
    2) I’ve always been taught pistols UP and to the side, when walking,
    2a) pistols DOWN and to the side when running or moving fast.
    3) rifles slug UP except when moving through dangerous territory – when on ‘active patrol’ muzzles down and perpendicular to direction of movement – because THAT is YOUR ‘fire zone’.
    4) In choppers, Muzzle DOWN – for obvious reasons. Muzzles anywhere when ‘jump on the bounce’, then always down or front with downward tilt and at ‘ready’.

    I’ve NEVER had a range re-cert or class where the pistol muzzle was not ALWAYS ‘up’ when ‘safe’ or ‘up’ — when taking a class, the GENERAL rule has been muzzles UP when at a run, and muzzles DOWN when walking or moving short of a run. If you are in a ‘line’, muzzles ALWAYS down so if you fall, your sidearm does not discharge as it ‘lazes’ the person in front of you as you fall.

    In a class, I’ve NEVER had Muzzles ANYWHERE BUT DOWN when not ‘engaged’ then it was perpendicular off center in the direction of movement (YOUR ‘fire zone’) so you would NEVER ‘laze’ anyone else who might stumble across your direction of movement, or if you stumble you don’t lase anyone else (put friendly fire on a member of your team).

    So, it depends on
    1) mission or range rules. Most out door range rules for pistols are UP unless holstered or engaged; up for finish of drill ready for range master to check for ‘safe’ — then, if no holster, down while you move back to the tables where you keep mag out, slide back, or EMPTY wheel up (or out) and no rounds next to the pistol.
    2) Rifles are used in MANY ways – hunting slung UP to keep crud from your muzzle, DOWN when stalking or getting ready for a shot.
    3) When on Patrol – muzzles UP while moving in ‘friendly territory’ and muzzles DOWN (and sometimes out) when ON active patrol –

    1) ‘Nam (think battle zone/hot zone) off base – any direction that keeps the person in front or to you side safe, — rules relax in the field — BUT while in chopper ALWAYS DOWN, And exit ‘up at door’ (though we all know how well THAT worked out) while ‘jump on bounce’ hot L-Z – anywhere it ends up, try to keep it from fouling. ON BASE – ALWAYS DOWN, brass cold, unless slung then up or down (16’s were easier slung down, 14’s liked up if I recall) and ALWAYS brass cold. often mag out but not always.

    2) Hunting, up when slung and moving to area of contact, ambush, or stake-out, then down so you can bring up, and do the auto-arm-sling brace in one quick movement while you flip your Butler Creeks up and acquire target. In sit-stil, muzzle in direction of fire, so always OUT unless off perimeter, then up when resting.

    I don’t live in a city so don’t have a lot of knowledge about concrete or asphalt, though I have put many a road-side deer down always on rocky shoulder area so only know about that, and had enough ricochets to have SERIOUS concern about where that piece of copper and lead is gong. I’ve heard a ricochet hit my Bronco thrice (out of call it 100+ deer) and that is thrice too often since it COULD have come back at me. ounce I put a deer down on pavement, and two rounds of hollow points seemed to have stayed in the asphalt, but that’s ONCE in over 65 years. I’ve never been in an ‘in door range’ – so can’t comment what that environment would be, though I sure would ask what the policy was before I went in. I know that when I talk to the guys at the two gun shops I visit regularly, they have had to tell people to ‘slow down your fire rate’– then turn to me, and say, that’s too fast for them, you could fire faster if you wanted (thinking I might be a ‘combat shooter’ – which I am the opposite of, though I do the 3 round burst very very fast. ) Having the Scrub Desert means I can fire about however I feel and in generally any direction I feel like – even on ‘research’ hikes, I’ve been known to let go half a mag in a couple of seconds just to ‘get the buzz on’ — and it’s just adult plinking).

    So – while saying ‘it depends’ – I needed to expand that phrase to mean something to someone who doesn’t understand the kinds of environments that MIGHT call for different muzzle positions for specific reasons.

    If I carry an unslung rifle ANYWHERE – it’s ‘muzzle down’ — even in the rock fields of the Great Basins and Ranges — though ‘down’ means away and at and angle away from my body and pointed ahead of anyone to my right or left who might be following me – if I’m following them, it’s down and to the left since I’m a right-hand shooter — and aimed so that it hits a rock more than 5-10 feet from our ‘trail’ such that it may be.

    The concept is not ‘hard and fast’ the concept is if there is an — I call them ‘accidental discharge, not ‘NEGLIGENT discharge’ since I had my Rem 700 fire on bolt close ONCE in over 2, 000 rounds and I can’t say that was ‘negligent’ it was a misfunction of the bolt or trigger action, such things DO happen. I’ve had an SAA (older) fire when I lowered the hammer with firing pin on it into a chamber with a live round in it. It discharged, and it wasn’t ‘negligent’ I was testing the pistol before I started work on it, since I have a policy that I don’t work on ANY firearm that can fire without checking out it’s safety and action, it protects me from law suits down the road – “It’s the engravers fault!’ is a phrase other engravers have heard, and I don’t EVER want to hear that – I’ll ship the gun back free-on-me and ask that it be repaired before I work on it – if they can afford engraving, they can afford a firearm that’s safe.) — an ‘Accidental Discharge’ — no one is hurt by the bullet, shrapnel from hitting a rock, or by a full bore 1000 ft/sec ricochet.

    So — to me – “It Depends” is a valid answer if the person knows what they are talking about – I think part of this forum is to help teach others — and learn from each other — so because I used to teach, I need to explain what “It Depends’ means TO ME. It will mean something entirely different to someone in downtown Chicago, New York, or Dallas – just as one set of rules apply in the ‘brush’ there are other rules that apply in populated areas I live in an area that has an AVERAGE population of about 30 people per square mile – and two large (3, 000-
    5, 000) towns – so that means HUGE areas where there are zero per square mile, and when I do field work I get into areas where the population is below 10 people per square mile — so that means one town of 1, 000 can suck up thousands of acres of no one, So MY rules of carry are different than most other areas of the US –

    I do know, for example, that the City-County of San Francisco — while part of a state that has county issued CCW’s for state wide use – even off duty out-of-City-County LEO’s are asked to carry their firearms in their trunk with ammo in separate lock-box – and if you back-talk, you — as an LEO — have your firearm ‘confiscated’ and you can pick it up from central evidence or a given station when you are ready to leave the city-county — and the professional courtesy is no fee when retrieving your sidearm(s) – otherwise it’s something like $85+ per firearm (every county can set their own standards). — So rules of carry vary on where you live-are — so do the rules of ‘safe muzzle direction’ — and where I am, I have habits that I follow, some learned from my Grandfather, others from the military– others learned from Range Masters — and when I’m on my own, or with friends — the rules get bent a bit here and there — but the NUMBER ONE CARDINAL RULE IS NEVER LAZE ANYONE, EVER. — And generally that means even in a ‘fall’ or ‘stumble’ situation. Even experienced gun users get into trouble – witness Chaney — bird-shot grazing his head — someone broke the cardinal rule and ‘lazed’ Chaney – someone who had a LOT of experience with firearms — that could be called ‘negligent’, I would be kinder and say it was ‘accidental’ — and in that situation the words are virtually equivalent.

    So, there you have MY meaning of ‘correct direction of muzzle’ when I say ‘It Depends’.

  27. Yes. It really sort of depends. I try not to point guns at people or populated areas when I am outdoors.

    • NEIOWA — yes, corrected, I’d had a ‘senior moment’ and forgot the two aft tank-cells on the UH-1 Iroquois silly of me since I hatted every moment I sat in one of those birds – what’d we say? – two thousand pieces of metal flying in very close formation? Something like that. Thanks for the memory back. To this day I hate the smell of kerosene from my old kerosene wick lights when the power goes out – One good reason to use Aladdin mantle lamps – not only do they put out enough light to be useful, the light is white and they don’t give off much smell at all and, best of all — are dead silent. thanks again for those golden memories.

  28. NEIOWA — yes, corrected, I’d had a ‘senior moment’ and forgot the two aft tank-cells on the UH-1 Iroquois silly of me since I hatted every moment I sat in one of those birds – what’d we say? – two thousand pieces of metal flying in very close formation? Something like that. Thanks for the memory back. To this day I hate the smell of kerosene from my old kerosene wick lights when the power goes out – One good reason to use Aladdin mantle lamps – not only do they put out enough light to be useful, the light is white and they don’t give off much smell at all and, best of all — are dead silent. thanks again for those golden memories.

  29. Muzzle down… people who knowingly consent to the risk of being around loaded guns might be hurt, potentially hurt quite bad, but basically 0% chance to be killed. and a for sure 0% chance of a random non-consent person suffering any harm

    Muzzle up… well ‘if it isn’t quite muzzle up’ like too many (or not enough) wedding celebrations in the sandpit its quite potentially deadly… aside from that, a clean muzzle up shot endangeres non-consenting unsuspecting individuals, potentially lethally. That is totally unacceptable IMO. I can’t understand how ranges think this is ‘better. if you are on the range you probably signed a liability waiver, if a homeowner 2 miles away gets a bullet in his house, he didnt sign no waiver and that range is going to get sued out of existence.

    I’d much rather take the shrapnel to the leg than wonder ‘just where did that bullet go’. Muzzle down I KNOW my target and what is beyond it. Muzzle up: no idea.

    And another thing, if muzzle down was so dangerous, why are we all totally okay with handgun holsters which almost universally point the gun at the ground

  30. I go muzzle up at the range, muzzle down in the field. Being a mostly-bolt-gun jurisdiction holding muzzle up allows the bolt to rest rearward, showing chamber clear. Even in a nation that thoroughly vets all gun owners, some are mighty dumb and it rustles my jimmies to see a closed bolt being handled unless shooting.

  31. All the discussion brings back the memory of an outdoor range in western Oregon where I was delighted by the nice roomy covered area to shoot from — covered, since in western Oregon rain is a regular visitor. There was actually a dual rule which explained the extra-roomy cover: it had started as a (polished) concrete surfaced area, but due to a NG or two with muzzle down resulting in injury due to ricochet, and holes in the roof due to muzzle up, they’d made two changes: first, the roof was made thicker with layers of heavy plywood with sheet metal roofing so no bullets could escape upward; second, the concrete area became a setup zone and the actual shooting zone was moved forward onto a wood floor over dirt. The result was that in the concrete area, muzzles were to be up, but on moving forward to the shooting area, it was muzzle down. The nice thing about the situation was that it was a perfect lesson for being aware of where your muzzle was pointed and why.

    Wish I could remember where that was — took a superb class there.

  32. Now that I’ve had a day or so to think about it —

    1) only saw a couple of references to ‘downrange’ when talking around ranges. May be the ‘berm’ idea of shooting over it – so downrange needs to be part of the answer. And that means in the direction of travel, not just for a range.

    2) The GENERAL tendency is to always carry a pistol holstered when headed to the fireing line line, up if it needs to be checked by Range Master, then holstered back to tables where you reload. And in real life, they are always (for 99%) holstered until needed, then they point at the target.

    3) Rifles are rarely ever carried slung unless you plan to walk a ways to your hunting area, so they always point DOWN by the natural balance point of rifle – I’ve NEVER had a stock-heavy rifle. And when slung the muzzle points up (where I live) until you see game, or are at a stake out or ambush site, or are ‘tracking’ – then the rifle is unslung so it’s always pointed at a downward angle. And of course there are common sense rules – like when opening a gate or crossing a fence or crossing a stream – When I’m out alone, or if I have some grad students with me unoffically, I carry my Marlin 45-70 guide unchambered cross wise in my ALICE pack (yeah, I really DO like those for gathering samples of nearly any size or shape) – and unchambered and down when lashed to a standard ‘hiking’ frame pack. It’s for (hopefully scaring bear by a big bang or take down if needed — and cats, since several times I’ve been ‘tracked’ by cats I can hear, but not see, in the brush.

    The U won’t allow side arms, but give me special permission for hikes more than a few hours away from where we park our FWD ‘bus’. Often those are weekend hikes during school session, and week to two week hikes when summer – I’m then hired as ‘part time retired faculty’ — and they carry special insurance for me even though their policy is NO FIREARMS EVER. I won’t go into some areas without the Marlin, – ever – so I get special permission that puts a big burden on me.

    So the real answer is ALWAYS DOWN, unless holstered or slung – with only a single hand full of exceptions.


  33. Negligent implies YOU are at fault – Accidental also includes mechanical problems — poor safety, a slow hang-fire (I mean how long DO you wait before you open your breach? — forever?) — Ever have a rifle-pistol discharge when you safe it or take the safety off? I have. Negligent? Not in my book, that’s ‘Accidental’ — Though you COULD argue that it’s ‘negligent’ of the firearm maker. But out of a hundred thousand run production, do you REALLY believe that the company is at fault and that EVERY firearm is a Wednesday production run? I’ve had nearly EVERY type of firearm misbehave at some time or another — The ‘Half-cock’ ‘safety’ of older Winchesters works OK, but perfectly? If it goes off when you are brass hot, is that ‘negligent’ or is it ‘accidental’? Do you hunt brass-cold? How about early Beretta’s where the slide blows off the frame? (Does: “You ain’t a SEAL ’till you’ve eaten Italian steel.” ring a bell?). I prefer to give the firearm owner more credit – even new-be’s. I understand ‘negligent’ — I really do — But then, I’m not around folks who are generally stupid, so I prefer “Accidental”. I am POSITIVE that a Range Master has seen more ‘negligence’ in a week than I’ve seen in a decade or more.

    I’m FAR more worried about the sound of gunfire near a dirt road I am idling along in low-low, or when I’m walking or breaking a trail than I am about the experience or qualification of the shooter I hear. Me being hit is NOT gonna be their fault if they have a clear background for as far as they can see – and I’m in a gully and crest the trail just as they miss the tree they have a target nailed to. THAT is when a 3 round burst from my pistol let’s someone know the direction and distance of another person in the area who may be out of sight. It’s a friendly thing to do – I do it for others, and others have done it for me. It’s just what people do to help each others stay safe. And, yeah, I often fire into the ground, though if it’s a rock field, I fire away from them into the air. Unsafe? Maybe. But VERY unlikely.

  34. Muzzle down for longarms and muzzle up for handguns. Why? Harder to shoot yourself in the foot that way.

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