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Thread: Carrying a rifle, with, or without one in the chamber?

  1. #1
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    Default Carrying a rifle, with, or without one in the chamber?

    I have read in another thread that it is not safe to carry a round in the chamber, and the person never does. Is this an accepted practice in Alaska, or just an old wives tale?

    I can see that in certain circumstances where the rifle is around camp or on a dangerous hiking trail, etc. But, and there always is a but in life, if you are in country where there is a possibility of a bear charge, and your reason for carry is protection, you must have one in the chamber. Reading the stats on charges, one is very lucky indeed if he or she has the time to get a shot off period, must less work the action first then get the rifle engaged!

    I think if this is real, it was established for rookie city-slicker hunters by experienced guides, as a rifle in the hands of such is more dangerous than any bear. To extend that rule for dummies to you is foolish at best...

    Again, let me ask. Is this a regular practice in Alaska for free thinking riflemen?

  2. #2
    Member e45colt's Avatar
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    Default Two Camps

    There are definately two camps on this subject. Some feel that there is never a reason to have a round in the chamber until ready to fire.
    I'm on the other side, and almost always carry one in the chamber. There are times however when I download, like when the terrain requires 4-points-of-contact to traverse etc. I am comfortable doing this. My rifle is in my hands and not slung. Muzzle control is critical and observed by all when I hunt.
    Growing up in Louisiana and hunting very dense woods/riverbottoms/swamp usually meant single offhand snap-shots at game. If the rifle was not in your hands and a round chambered then no shot!

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    Default

    A rifle without a round chambered is a club.

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    Default

    LOL, Way to open up the can of worms. In experienced hands and depending on the circumstance I say 1 in the chamber.
    "A dog has no use for fancy cars or big homes or designer clothes. Status symbol means nothing to him. A waterlogged stick will do just fine." Marley and Me

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    Member Vince's Avatar
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    Default Mine?

    if not in case strapped down..


    it is loaded.
    "If you are on a continuous search to be offended, you will always find what you are looking for; even when it isn't there."

    meet on face book here

  6. #6

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    I'm obviously not in Alaska, but I almost always have one in the chamber. I have come across too many situations where trying to chamber a round after seeing game would have alerted them. If the terrain is rough and there's a chance I might slip, then I will empty the chamber.

    I usually hunt alone and in that case I believe it's a non-factor. If I'm with someone else, I believe it's important to come to an understanding either way. If they are not comfortable with me carrying a chambered round then I wont. I probably wont hunt much with them either if it means loosing shot opportunities.

    Last, for proponants of hunting with an empty chamber... what do you do when you're bird hunting with a scatter gun? IMHO, that's a more potentially dangerous sitution than a chambered rifle. Especially if there ar 3 or 4 in the party.

    My $.02

  7. #7

    Question some times....

    If I am by my self on a trail that is easy to walk on and moose hunting I often will. When I am with in shooting distance of a critter I want and the terrain permits I usually will. If I am sitting on a water hole or meadow calling and waiting for a moose to show up I usually do. If I am walking around with some one else I usually don't and like it when they don't. I keep my finger off the trigger untill my sight is on the target and I have decided to shoot. I am very aware of my guns muzzle and the muzzle of those with me and I will not hunt with a careless person. Not all safties are created equal. I think the Mod. 70 safety is one of the best. As we all know "the best safety is between our ears". I have never had a critter get away because I could not chamber a round fast enough. If the reason for carrying a round in the chamber is concern over a bear getting to you before you can chamber a round then that sounds like a personal decision and is a rare circumstance. If I was a guide I would not want my clients to chamber a round untill I thought we needed to so neither would I. I always carry a hand gun "chambered" but they are secured in a holster. Safety should always be the first concern and no animal is worth risking human life over. Simply put, "Condition one, it's not for everyone"! The reality is , we rarely need to have one in the chamber untill we are with in shooting distance of an animal we have decided to kill.

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    Default I do both...

    ...it depends on lots of factors, but my firearms are pretty much always loaded when in the field.

    Always loaded but chamber empty while in the gun boot of the four wheeler or snow machine, when slung in the scabboard of my Eberlestock pack or when cased in the boat. Always one in the chamber when on foot stalking, calling or moving through a game area (unless I need to temporarily unchamber for a safety reason such as traversing tricky terrain...then I rechamber afterwards).

    All that said, my hunting partners and I have no problem letting eachother know if gun handling is unsafe.

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    Default scary

    all the posts here scare the **** out of me! Maybe Ive been guideing to long but our clients sign a contract that says the guide can terminate a hunt at any time for unsafe handling of a firearm. I had a military guy a few years ago that had his rifle go off behind me! Dumb **** was in the process of taking a round out of the chamber. I have never seen a time when one in the barrel made any difference as to getting a shot or not. The only exception is wounded bear of course. Limbs brush etc. just have a way of snagging safteys and triggers, its just not worth it to me even if Im alone what if somone is up on the hill or whatever. I wouldnt hunt with anyone who did thats for sure.

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    Default Like I said

    Quote Originally Posted by yukon254 View Post
    all the posts here scare the **** out of me! Maybe Ive been guideing to long but our clients sign a contract that says the guide can terminate a hunt at any time for unsafe handling of a firearm. I had a military guy a few years ago that had his rifle go off behind me! Dumb **** was in the process of taking a round out of the chamber. I have never seen a time when one in the barrel made any difference as to getting a shot or not. The only exception is wounded bear of course. Limbs brush etc. just have a way of snagging safteys and triggers, its just not worth it to me even if Im alone what if somone is up on the hill or whatever. I wouldnt hunt with anyone who did thats for sure.
    Two camps for sure.
    Having a loaded chamber is not in and of itself, an act of unsafe gun handling. I've seen guys with "empty" chambers swinging their muzzles without regard to anyone............that is unsafe and not someone who appropriately handles their weapon. I agree that the guy that had a negligent discharge was unsafe............I am not him so don't lump all of your potential (now one less) clients into one bucket.

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    Default common sense

    Ok, say you are here on Kodiak doing a self guided hunt with me as your transporter, you climb in and out of boats and crawl over logs on the beach, plus your slipping and slidding on new terrain. You would not and should not have a round in the chamber durning pickup or drop off. Now say when I drop you off and your leaving the beach and cresting over the grass to see whats over the beach berm, I'm always ready for browny to wake up from a nap. Or say your stalking thru an area that has thick brush and you are carefully "clearing" that avenue by walking thru it, yes I chamber and once clear, I take out the round in the chamber, but never just walk around with one in the pipe.
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    Default

    The only times I will ever chamber a round in a rifle is when I see the animal I intend to shoot, am within a 100 yards or so of a recent moose kill where we are going back to retrieve the meat, or sitting and waiting. Taking time to chamber a round quickly has never slowed me down enough to cause me to lose a opportunity to shoot.

    You can do what is comfortable with yourself but I will never hunt with anyone who has a round chambered in there rifle as they walk in the field.

    And I will not debate this can of worms. Heard both sides of the arguements and it is my choice
    Tennessee

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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Doc View Post
    All that said, my hunting partners and I have no problem letting each other know if gun handling is unsafe.
    Like snowolfe, I don't chamber a round unless its pointed down range or at an animal. I think part of Doc's post sums it up for my partner and I as well.

    I use to hunt with a guy who was oblivious to gun safety. To check if his 9mm was loaded, he pointed it between our feet and pulled the trigger; it WAS loaded! Dude had major muzzle control (and ethical) issues; don't hunt with him anymore!

    Situation does dictate though; I could see hunting with one in the chamber if it seemed more warranted, like being in heavy-duty grizz country or something-haven't had that situation come up though, plus my partner and I always carry sidearms.

    Tim

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    Default A Round in the Chamber....

    In my hands, only. When carried on a horse, wheeler, snow-go, or vehicle of any kind or on a strap over my back or strapped to a pack...never a round in the chamber. I always want my magazine loaded and the pipe empty. Now when the rifle is in my hands, there will be many times when its chamber is not loaded. Even on a stalk, no reason to load until ready for the shot. Some consideration is given for type of rifle and ease of loading (quietly) but generally not chambered. Certainy not when you are walking behind your guide or another hunter, regardless of type of carry.

    I have never found the need to keep any bolt or lever with the chamber stuffed for the time it take to cycle either one to get into the fight is so little. If we are conditioned to the sequence, cycle the action on the way to the shoulder, align the sights on the target and fire, it will come autmatically.

    I carry with a loaded magazine in the field and will load the chamber by cycling the bolt/lever and I expect the same of those who hunt with me. There is a time to load up but carrying loaded is NOT a good idea.

    I have lost two friends because of other hunters carrying a rifle with a round chambered. One was an idiot with a 270 caliber Savage 110 that leaned it against the tire of a four wheeler that my friend was working on. Shaking the wheeler caused the rifle to fall and fire.

    Another was by his idiot father who had a Remington 700 BDL fully loaded across the rear seat of his Chevy pickup. When my friend, my Hunters-Ed student, sixteen years old, was out of the truck putting on his state mandated orange vest, his father picked up his Remington and fired it through the side of the Chevy, killing his son.

    Those on this forum who have hunted with me can tell you, we all hunt with the chamber empty and I have a routine I force every on to go through before we go afield together. Some object and they don't hunt with me. I will teach my kids and grand kids how to use a rifle correctly and load and shoot in one sequence. There is no need to carry with a loaded chamber. You will rue the day you walk inot my camp with a round in the chamber.
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



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    Quote Originally Posted by Snowwolfe View Post
    The only times I will ever chamber a round in a rifle is when I see the animal I intend to shoot, am within a 100 yards or so of a recent moose kill where we are going back to retrieve the meat, or sitting and waiting. Taking time to chamber a round quickly has never slowed me down enough to cause me to lose a opportunity to shoot.

    You can do what is comfortable with yourself but I will never hunt with anyone who has a round chambered in there rifle as they walk in the field.

    And I will not debate this can of worms. Heard both sides of the arguements and it is my choice
    I couldnt have said it better myself. I learned to hunt with my step-father at the age of 12. He told me to pretend as if there was no saftey on a rifle. I dont put one in the chamber until im fairly certain im about to shoot something. If for some reason I dont shoot, the chamber is cleared. The best safety is an empty chamber.

    Josh

  16. #16
    Member Matt's Avatar
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    Default

    People who hunt with a LOADED round in the chamber are dangerous not only to themselves, but more importantly other people who are out in the woods. And they should also be required to go to a hunter ed class. I've hunted brown bears, been charged by them, killed them, all the while with a cold chamber until trigger time. Pretty simple.

  17. #17
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    Default How many?

    How many African Professional Hunters carry an empty chamber? Just curious because I don't remember Capstick doing that, although I'm open to correction.
    In response to the poor "gunhandling" cited that led to 2 deaths, tragic yes, and I don't condone a loaded chamber in vehicles, or leaning on stuff, or slung etc. I agree that is unsafe. Please re-read my first post. In my hands and not slung.
    Anyway please do what you feel is comfortable, but I'm not a risk to anyone else at all. Why is a holstered sidearm fully loaded any different? Some designs require the hammer to rest on an empty chamber.......?

    Focus on gun handling and not on condition(loaded, unloaded, chambered etc.) Remember all guns are "loaded".

    Ed

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    Default unsafe

    Murphy too bad about those guys. I have a rifle near me almost all year, I have raised 3 kids, guns were and are always around, lots of them, one thing I am constanly on is saftey, even when out alone I will check my rifle often. My youngest is 15 I can leave her anywhere where there is guns and without fail she will be safe and make sure everyone else is as well. How many of you saw that 20/20 show last week those kids were 18!! e45colt dont worry if you insisted on haveing a round chambered we wouldnt want or have you in our camp, look around and talk to other outfitters any that are worth going with will tell you the same thing, think about the lawsuits that could be filed! I am one who believes a rifle should be with you out in the bush, but not if you put others at risk. The storys by Murph are a good example. going after wounded bears, or when you are close to an animial ok fine, otherwise keep them in the mag. or stay out of the woods.

  19. #19
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    Default It depinds on the gun for me.

    I like a hammer and am not a bolt action guy at all, don't like them one little bit. If I have a hammer I have the hammer at the safe click with the web of my hand behind the hammer so I know if it moves. With no hammer I only have a loaded chamber when I feel I may need it and unload otherwise. When transportation by vehicle I want it completely empty, horseback is loaded but empty chamber.

    Muzzle control is what I think is lacking from most people as far as safe gun handling. The number one rule is . . . Treat every gun as if it was loaded and has no safety!!!! I canít tell you how many times I have had guys wave a muzzle in my chest as we walk and when I call them on it they say ďI only load the chamber when itís time to shoot so itís safe.Ē Well I say there is no such thing as an empty gun, people are accidently shot with empty guns all the time so point your %#$@ muzzle away!

    As for hunter safety classes, yes we should all take them and I have been 6 times over the years. At all of them we were never told to have an empty chamber unless crossing a fence or hard terrain, the main point is always to watch where you point, know your target and have a backstop. I canít imagine dove, quail, or ptarmigan hunting with an empty chamber and having grown up armed on horseback working cattle in the Arizona brush hills I equate safety with muzzle control not a so called empty gun. I kinda feel the empty chamber thing came from the type of stand/blind hunting done in the east. In the west I have never done this kind of hunting and donít see the fun in it, but I do see why they would keep an empty chamber.
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    Quote Originally Posted by e45colt View Post
    How many African Professional Hunters carry an empty chamber? Just curious because I don't remember Capstick doing that, although I'm open to correction.
    In response to the poor "gunhandling" cited that led to 2 deaths, tragic yes, and I don't condone a loaded chamber in vehicles, or leaning on stuff, or slung etc. I agree that is unsafe. Please re-read my first post. In my hands and not slung.
    Anyway please do what you feel is comfortable, but I'm not a risk to anyone else at all. Why is a holstered sidearm fully loaded any different? Some designs require the hammer to rest on an empty chamber.......?

    Focus on gun handling and not on condition(loaded, unloaded, chambered etc.) Remember all guns are "loaded".

    Ed
    I agree those events were the result of piss poor gun handling or mis handling practices. There are some absolutes that should always be followed and that could be just as simple as when it is not in your hands, no round in the chamber. The saddle scabbard, the wheeler boot, the pickup truck, etc are absolutely never. Also if you lean a loaded (chambered) rifle against anything you are a fool and a danger to yourself and others. I will also say the same about a slung rifle. You can pull the swivel stud from the stock or break the swivel or sling and loose the rifle in a climb, etc. You do not have positive control over it. Only in your hands do you have control of the muzzle so tha is the only time when you can have a round chambered. We can walk side by side, rifle in hand, over turf and tundra with a round in the chamber without endangering each other. We cannot climb mountains with a rifle over the shoulder and a round chambered without endangering those areound us. There are many other situations where the chamber must be empty.

    Actually African PH's rarely ever carry a bolt gun chambered. I remember a hunt in Zulu land where a client shot a kudu on a hill at about 200 yards off. It dropped at the shot but obviouly wasn't finished as we could see it thrashing around from below. I made the hike with professional hunter Peter Harris of Pretoria, to finish the animal. The hapless old bull sported enormous head gear and when we arrived at the top of the hill and climed above the rocks. This kudu was laying there with both front legs shot off at the knees. Just as we topped the last rock the kudu tried to get up, or get away, or get at us and .....I guess flopped is the word, and pointed his long horns at Peter from a few feet away. Peter instictively cycled the Sako 375 he carried and fired a shot into the chest of the animal so quickly you could hear no distinction between the cycling of the bolt and the shot. Peter was also a big advocate of no rounds chambered when riding in the truck and would make everyone check for empty chamber each time we boarded. He hunted lions and buffalo with his 375 or his 500 Jeffery with an open chamber. I never doubted he could get off a good shot from that empty chamber after the kudu incident. And our Texas hunter was ribbed heavily about the way he made Peter's job of shooting kudu easy.
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



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