Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Over the weekend, thousands of lucky people got a firearm for Christmas. For many of them, it’s the first firearm they’ve ever owned. If you or someone you know is a brand new gun owner, then check out these gun safety tips. They should be practiced over and over until they become second nature.
Preppers know that firearms are extremely important for things like hunting and self defense, but they can only keep you safe if you handle them safely. If you buy a firearm for home defense but someone gets hurt or killed because you were careless with it, then it would have been better if you’d never bought one in the first place.
So if you’re a new gun owner, I highly recommend taking a training course. In the meantime, here are 15 gun safety tips.
1. Keep Your Gun Unloaded When Not In Use
Unless you store your gun in a safe (such as this one), you should keep it unloaded when you’re not using it. Store your ammunition close enough so that you can load your gun quickly if someone breaks in (get a speed loader if you have a revolver), but don’t ever leave a loaded gun on the dresser or in a drawer. It’s just an accident waiting to happen.
In a survival situation, this may be less than practical. Adjust the rule so that you are always “using” your weapon if the need arises.
2. Handle Your Gun As If It Is Loaded
Even if you have a perfect track record for unloading your firearm before putting it away, always assume it is loaded. Remember, accidents frequently happen when someone is absolutely sure their firearm is unloaded; everyone makes mistakes. That’s especially true in survival situations, so be careful.
3. Only Point Your Gun At What You Want To Shoot
Even if you think your gun is unloaded, never point it at anything or anyone you don’t want to punch a deadly hole into. It is best to keep the barrel of the weapon pointed somewhere neutral like the ground except when you are actually aiming to shoot.
4. Keep Your Finger Off The Trigger When You’re Not Firing
Until you are ready to actually squeeze a round off, don’t put your finger on the trigger. Especially do not run with your finger on the trigger. You never know what kind of distraction could make you clench your finger and fire a deadly shot.
5. Make Sure The Barrel Is Free From Obstructions
Never fire a weapon without checking the barrel for obstructions. Obviously do not point the gun at your own head when looking through the barrel. If you have fallen on or dropped your gun, there is a chance dirt made its way into your weapon.
If you have to wade through water, make sure to drain the water out of the barrel before firing. If you know you’ll be wading through water a lot, you can protect your gun by placing an unlubricated condom over the barrel to keep water out.
6. Know What You’re Aiming At
Never fire at something you haven’t completely identified. This goes for target practice, hunting, and especially a firefight. This tip is important for two reasons. The first is that you don’t want to accidentally hurt another person by shooting at them.
The second is that you need to know the type of material your bullet will be striking. Hard surfaces that bullets might ricochet off of should be avoided as targets or backdrops for targets.
7. Don’t Depend on Your Gun’s Safety
The safety mechanism on your gun can be a very handy feature, but don’t rely on it entirely. Use previously mentioned tips to avoid accidents. Never dry-fire a weapon that could be loaded simply because you’ve engaged the safety mechanism.
8. Wear Eye and Ear Protection
Protecting your sight and hearing is very important. Using firearms involves employing a controlled explosion, and soft tissue does not mix well with explosions. In a survival scenario, the convenience of eye and ear protection may not be available, but do your best.
If you have the time and the preparation, you can acquire a suppressor and subsonic rounds for many firearms. This will allow you to save your hearing if you have to use your weapon unexpectedly.
9. Become Familiar with Your Gun
Know your weapon as well as you can. Know how to disassemble and reassemble it. Know what parts are the most likely to malfunction. Know how your weapon is sighted in. Know what types of ammunition it can safely fire. Know its range and its capabilities.
10. Always Clean Your Gun
Always clean your gun after use. This allows for optimal firing conditions. If you neglect this process long enough, it can impede the firing process and even cause unsafe conditions.
11. Only Fire the Ammunition Your Gun is Built to Handle
Never fire ammunition your gun isn’t meant to fire. Some weapons can fire multiple types of rounds safely (for example, a rifle chambered in 5.56 ammunition can also fire .223 rounds, but not vice versa).
12. Make Sure Your Ammunition Isn’t Expired
While most ammunition has a pretty long shelf life, certain storage conditions can cause your ammunition to expire. Particularly in a survival situation where normal society no longer functions properly, you may have to rely on old ammunition. To protect your ammo in the long term, always store it in a cool, dry area, preferably in a sealed container.
13. Use Proper Care When Reloading Your Own Ammunition
In a SHTF scenario, you may soon become dependent on reloading your own ammunition. When doing so, always exercise the proper safety precautions. Keep your powder stored in a separate place from your primers. Make sure you’re not reloading with damaged shells or putting in too much powder.
14. Handle Misfires Properly
If your weapon misfires, don’t confront the issue immediately. Keep your weapon aimed at the target for half a minute or so to make sure the problem isn’t a delayed fire. Once you’ve waited, carefully remove the faulty ammunition and check it for signs of malfunction. Make sure there is no obstruction remaining in the barrel of your gun.
15. Decide What You’re Comfortable With
Much of gun safety comes down to what you’re comfortable with. The weapon you feel the most comfortable with should be your go-to weapon. In addition, consider if you want to carry your weapon with a round in the chamber or not.
There are advantages and disadvantages to each: having a round chambered allows for quicker reaction time but reduced safety, while not having one chambered is safer but slower to engage.
Bonus Tip: Practice!
Practice shooting as often as you can. Keep your muscles in shooting shape. Practice firing under duress. Shooting in a life-or-death situation is extremely stressful, and the first thing to go in these scenarios is fine motor skills. Practicing often will improve your muscle memory and help you react more accurately in these situations.
Olivia Smart says
Thank you for explaining that you should choose the weapon you feel the most comfortable with when learning gun safety. My husband has been thinking about taking the family to the range to learn about gun safety. I’ll share this with our kids and see if we can find a gun that they are comfortable learning with.
Charlotte Fleet says
Thank you for all of your safety tips on owning a gun. I agree that it would be important to be familiar with your firearm. I think it would also be smart to go through a concealed carry class.
Toby Ryan says
Thank you for mentioning how you should store your ammunition near your gun so that you can easily load your weapon in the event of an emergency. My wife is interested in buying a handgun that she can use to protect herself while I am on a business trip next week, but she needs to make sure that she can store it in an area that will prevent our son from accessing now that he knows how to walk. Maybe it would be best for her to learn about gun safety before she makes a purchase.
Page Firearms says
Hey there Alan! These are very helpful tips! pagefirearmstrainingllc.com Gun safety should really be the top priority of every gun owner. This article will help a lot of gun owners out there and this can also serve as a a reminder to those who are already familiar with their guns.
Tori Raddison says
I completely agree that you should keep your gun unloaded while you’re storing it because I have a few kids. I just got a new firearm and they’ve been very curious about it. I’m going to store it somewhere safe, with the ammunition somewhere else. That way I don’t have to worry about any accidents happening.
Luke Smith says
My dad wants to buy a gun for the safety of our family but he doesn’t know where and how to buy one. I’ll make sure to recommend your article with my dad so that he can prepare and condition himself before buying one. I appreciate that you explained learning the proper way on how to reload your ammunition and where to keep it safely that’s unreachable for children. https://www.freedom-weapons.com
The best thing a new gun owner(s) can do is to go to a gun store with an indoor shooting range. You can rent a lane and get professional instruction (1 on 1) for an hour or so. You can shoot many different types of guns and learn what brands/styles you are comfortable with. Please, don’t buy a gun until after your second or third visit and after shooting different types of guns. It is also a must (in my book) to take the 16 hour hunter safety class, or a concealed carry class. Be knowledgeable about guns.
Zayn Karim says
Thanks for telling these 15 gun safety tips. Always keep the weapon’s muzzle pointed in a safe direction
Adolph Knigg says
Keeping the gun unloaded is better than keeping it loaded as from safety view and for gun owner, he must do every task including unloading, cleaning its barrel, dissemble it and putting it in safe storage and use it only for self-defense.
Michael Lee says
I did not know that ammunition can expire. I have a couple of guns but have never checked the expiration date for the ammo. Storing it in a safe place would be a great idea.
Jon P Goldsberry says
Had a shotgun in the house. Had a skunk outside. Got the shotgun to kill the skunk. (We lived in the country) Went racing around the house to locate some shells. Found one and shot the skunk. Was laughing later with the wife saying “please Mr. Robber! Wait while I find my gun and ammo! Suddenly realized the shotgun without shells is just an expensive club. Never did that again. Guns are loaded and ready for use. Guns in safe are loaded as well so if i do somehow get tkme to get to one of them I don’t have to start loading a magazine while the bad situation gets worse. I have no kids in the house so that is never an issue. Guns without ammo? Just get a pike of rocks. It cheaper. (Have knives handy as well as a backup for cqb) and never forget to have a plan to save a life after the shooting and always.always.always ask for a lawyer EVERY TIME. Speak to NO ONE before your lawyer. Not neighbors friends and even family in some cases. Protect your legal rights by STFU!
Daryl Poe says
***Always know what is beyond your target.
You #1 safety tip is all wet. I keep my firearm loaded with a round in the chamber next to my bed at night. Trying open a safe or a drawer and trying to load the firearm in the dark when someone is in your house is a tip for disaster. Trying to unlock a gun in the same situation is the same.I have loaded guns in several places in my home and have never had any problems.
If children are in the house, they should be properly trained in the use of a firearm. My two children never touched any firearm in the house from the time they were small.
Well put Barry. I agree 100%
I think if you are new to guns and have never used one, then it is important that you take a gun safety class. Great information, thanks for sharing!
Sideliner 1950 says
Definitely +1 from me on your comment. I couldn’t agree more.
Sorry, Alan, I stopped reading after your “gun safety tip #1”. That “tip” and your logic are just way off-base.
“Negative 5 Stars” for this article.
John Foley says
Who’s the moron who wrote the first rule must be from californication
Alan Hastings says
Your first rule proves just how stupid you really are. If your gun is unloaded and the ammo stored in a different place and you wake up in the middle of the night with intruders in your home your gun would be about as useful as a damned rock. I am real sure that the criminal intruders will understand that you need to retrieve your gun and ammo from different places and then load it so you can protect you and your loved ones from them.
Wake up and face reality an unloaded gun is a worthless piece of junk. A criminal or intruder is not going to politely wait around while you get your gun from one place and your ammo from another then load the gun.
Your advice makes a victim out of everyone that follows it in the case of a home invasion or ant other time you need your gun to protect yourself or someone else. You must have rocks for brains or just want to get law abiding people killed.
Every year there’s news stories of children getting hold of guns and someone is dead and your in jail. If you don’t have it in a secured storage box (safe) put a lock on it. There are fine products on the market for locked store that are installed beside your bed…..
I prefer a 12ga for nighttime home defense. Just racking a round into the chamber lets the bad guys know what they are up against.
Bill, I have to respectably disagree regarding part or your statement “I prefer a 12ga for nighttime home defense. Just racking a round into the chamber lets the bad guys know what they are up against.”. While a Mossberg 500 is a great home defense weapon and the racking sound is truly intimidating, I have to disagree that just the racking sound will scare off an intruder. My opinion is that I don’t want to give away my tactical advantage with any kind of noise alerting the BG as to where I am and that I’m armed. If they are they are that close that they can hear my racking, then a true confrontation is inevitable and is about to happen. I want them to react to me, not the other way around.
Just my .02 cents of an opinion.
Robert D Dukes says
As a former combat vet long time followers of crime I will tell you racki g a round into a chamber in most cases will result in a round fired in the direction of the soundyour dead
When racking that 12 ga, you either lose a viable round from the chamber or lose one in your reload capacity. All self defense firearms should be fully loaded, including a round chambered.
Ken G says
An empty gun is nothing but a paper weight.