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

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  • 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
    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!
    Afflicted by condition human

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    • #3
      A rifle without a round chambered is a club.
      www.MarkandChrisLundin.com

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      • #4
        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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        • #5
          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

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          • #6
            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
            "You will never know how much it cost my generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you make good use of it."
            ~ John Quincy Adams

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            • #7
              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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              • #8
                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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                • #9
                  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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                  • #10
                    Like I said

                    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.
                    Afflicted by condition human

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                    • #11
                      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.
                      Providing trips for multilpe species for over 20 yrs
                      www.kodiakcombos.com

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                      • #12
                        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

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                        • #13
                          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! :eek: 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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                          • #14
                            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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                            • #15
                              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

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