PMO SECURITY SERVICES
Kansas City, Kansas
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Fundamental NRA Rules for Safe Firearm Handling
- 1. Always keep the firearm pointed in a safe direction.
- 2. Always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
- 3. Always keep the gun unloaded until ready to use.
Additional Basic Use and Storage Safety Rules
- 1. Know your target and what is beyond it.
- 2. Be sure the firearm is safe to operate.
- 3. Know how to use the firearm safely.
- 4. Use only the correct ammunition for your gun.
- 5. Wear eye and ear protection as appropriate.
- 6. Never use alcohol or drugs before or while shooting.
- 7. Store firearms so they are not accessible to unauthorized persons.
- 8. Be aware that certain types of firearms and many shooting activities require additional safety precautions.
Situational safety rules.
These additional safety rules apply in the circumstances indicated.
- No loaded firearms in class.
- All live firearms in class will be checked by instructor and one other person for safety prior to use in class.
- All firearms will have action open, safety engaged, when handed to another member of the class.
Firearm Maintenance (Cleaning) - Safety
- Establish a definite cleaning area.
- Allow no distractions in cleaning area; no TV, other persons, etc.
- Know safety and disassembly procedures for all firearms to be cleaned.
- Unload all firearms before beginning any cleaning. Utilize a bullet trap or stop.
- Place ammo in a box in a different area.
- Finish cleaning all firearms before reloading any firearm.
- Secure in holster you are wearing or in locked container when driving.
- Install lock boxes or alarms if firearm is to be left in unattended vehicle. Consider disabling weapon with safety mechanism, disassembly, etc as well.
- Teach firearm safety to anyone who is normally present in the home.
- Use lock boxes, trigger locks, safes, etc as appropriate to current risk.
- Store ammunition in separate locked container from firearms.
- Establish a cleaning area that is separate from other activity areas; consider what will happen if a discharge occurs. (Where will the bullet go?)
- Establish a practice area that is separate from other activity areas; consider what will happen if a discharge occurs. (Where will the bullet go?)
- Build and use a bullet trap to reduce risk while clearing firearms.
- Assess risk in office; consider whether firearms may be needed.
- Consider a controlled entrance, particularly if firearms are not worn.
- Install lock boxes if firearms are not worn; avoid storage in desk drawers or similar office equipment.
- All firearms are unloaded on arrival.
- Hearing protection is used, particularly on indoor ranges.
- Eye and face protection is used, particularly when firing at ranges of less than 10 feet from the target or when revolvers are being used by the person to the right or left on the firing line.
- Firearms will be loaded only when command given by instructor.
- Firearms will be pointed downrange at all times.
- Cease Fire command will be given by anyone when an unsafe condition is observed.
- Range commands are followed immediately; ask if unsure what to do.
- Local range rules are to be reviewed prior to firing.
- Avoid engaging in other activities such as eating, smoking, etc.
- Make a definite stop to training and transition to other activities.
- Remember to wash hands, arms and face after firing to avoid long-term effects of lead poisoning.
- Leave firearm in its holster, case, bag , etc. when moving it from place to place.
- Avoid carrying it with a lot of other items.
- Avoid sticking it in your belt, under your arm, etc. while handling other items.
- Avoid carrying it by trigger guard; very dangerous with Double Action Only and striker action firearms.
- Avoid impromptu practice sessions.
- Secure the area where the firearm is located.
- Refer to an experienced person if possible.
- Remember there is a possibility of mechanical alteration or defect.
Safety Mechanisms.See firearm terminology.
Safe Storage.Store firearms unloaded and separate from their ammunition.
PMO Security Services, Wichita, KS
Type. The basic classification of a firearm by its typical firing usage and design.
- Revolver - A handgun with a rotating cylinder of several chambers for the cartridges. A revolver may be single action, double action or double action only.
- Pistol - A handgun without a rotating cylinder of chambers for the cartridge. A pistol may be single shot or multiple shot of varying actions or designs.
- Single shot pistol. A handgun with one barrel and one chamber. After each shot, the firer must manually extract the fired casing and reload a new cartridge. They are usually of breaktop or bolt action design. The latter may have ammo magazines.
- Semi-automatic pistol. A handgun with one barrel and chamber, a slide, and an ammo magazine. During firing, the slide moves rearward extracting and ejecting the fired case, and then forward, stripping a new cartridge from the magazine and reloading it into the chamber. It fires once each time the trigger is pulled.
- Multi-barrel pistol. A handgun with more than one barrel and a chamber in each barrel. When the firearm fires, the internal mechanism fires each barrel in sequence. After firing, the firer must manually extract each fired case and reload each barrel with a cartridge. Multi-barrel pistols are typically of break-top design.
Semi-Automatic Pistol Types.
- Blowback. This type has a barrel fixed to the frame; the slide is locked (held forward) by the recoil spring. The force of the gas pressure generated by firing moves the slide to the rear by exerting pressure on the slide through the cartridge casing. Normally used on smallest calibers of handguns.
- Recoil. This type has a separate barrel which is usually on a tilt or pivot point. The slide is locked in place by the pressure of the recoil spring. When the cartridge fires, the gas pressure exerted through the cartridge causes the slide to move toward the rear and the barrel to lift by sliding or pivoting. The basic concept is the same as blowback, but the barrel is also moved. Recoil operated pistols typically have a more elaborate locking mechanism around the rear of the cartridge.
- Gas-operated. The gas pressure from the firing cartridge is bled off from the barrel through a small vent. This gas pressure works directly against the bolt or slide to move it to the rear. This type mechanism is used only on very high power handguns such as .357 magnum, .44 magnum, or .50 AE.
Action. The mechanical operation of the firearm by which it actually fires as the trigger is pulled.
- Single-Action. A handgun which requires cocking (movement) of a hammer to the rear position (cocked position) prior to pulling the trigger. Such a handgun will not normally fire with the hammer in the forward position.
- Double-Action. A handgun which moves the hammer to the rear and then releases it to go forward by simply pulling the trigger. Most (But not all!) double-action firearms are also capable of being fired in the single-action mode.
- Double-Action Only (DAO). A handgun which moves the hammer to the rear and then releases it to go forward by simply pulling the trigger. It is not capable of firing from the single action, cocked-hammer, position. Some double action only handguns will fire if you attempt to put the hammer in the cocked position and then release it! Know your firearm!
- Safe-Action or Striker Action. A handgun which moves the firing pin and spring to the rear and then releases it when the trigger is pulled. It has no hammer to strike the firing pin, but relies upon spring compression to drive the firing pin forward. Most public agencies include these firearms in the category of Double Action Only for regulatory purposes.
Safety Mechanisms. A mechanical function of a firearm which prevents normal firing of the handgun in one position and allows it in another position or which indicates that it is prepared to fire.
- Chamber indicator. A small pin or other protrusion which extends into view when a cartridge is in the chamber of the handgun. Typically located above the hammer on the rear of the slide; some models have them on top or side of slide and may pair them with other mechanisms.
- Decocker or decocking lever. A mechanism which moves the hammer from the cocked, ready-to-fire position, to the forward, safe position without firing the round in the chamber. Usually operated by the firer's thumb. Found only on firearms which are single action capable.
Graphic of Colt Double Eagle Decocker
- Disconnector safety. An internal mechanism which requires no operation. It prevents a pistol from firing when the trigger is held to the rear while the slide is operated.
- Grip safety. A mechanism on the grip or handle of the firearm which requires hand pressure on the firearm in order to allow the weapon to be fired.
Graphic of Colt Gold Cup Grip Safety
- Half-cock. A hammer position approximately halfway to the rear, fully cocked position. It prevents the hammer from going forward until it is completely cocked and the trigger pulled. It is found only on firearms that are single-action capable. It was originally intended to prevent accidental discharge caused by striking of the hammer when the firearm was dropped, hit, etc.
Graphic of Colt Gold Cup Hammer at Half-Cock position
- Magazine safety. An internal mechanism which requires the magazine of a semi-automatic pistol to be fastened in place before the firearm can be fired.
- Thumb safety [safety lever, rolling block safety]. The most frequent type of safety encountered. An exterior lever on either the receiver or the slide which is moved up and down or forward and backward. It is typically operated by the thumb. Most firearms with a thumb safety are marked with ‘S' for the safe position and ‘F' for the fire position or have a white dot for the safe position and a red dot for the fire position. On some firearms the thumb safety also serves as a decocking lever.
Graphic of Smith & Wesson Thumb Safety
Graphic of Colt Gold Cup Thumb Safety
- Transfer bar. An internal mechanism on some revolvers which requires no operation. It prevents accidental discharge caused by the hammer being struck from outside.
Graphic of Colt Trooper Transfer Bar
- Trigger safety or safe action system. A small lever which extends forward on the trigger. It requires finger pressure on the trigger to allow firing. Finger pressure on the lever deactivates an internal firing pin blocking mechanism.
Graphic of Glock Safe Action System Trigger Lever
How to Determine if a Handgun is Unloaded
If the chamber is empty, the firearm is unloaded.
Handgun Safety Locks. Graphics of simple locking mechanisms applied to handguns. All handguns should be unloaded prior to installing any locking device.
- Visual Lock The Visual lock is a 2-3 part mechanism which must be inserted through the barrel. Barrel locks prevent the firearm from having a round chambered.
- Trigger Lock A two part lock. It is installed with one part on each side of the firearm trigger guard and then pushed together tightly. It is most effective with the shank behind the trigger, but this may not be possible on all firearms. Some handguns can be discharged with a trigger lock in place. Trigger locks are effective for children up to about 10 years of age if the key or combination is properly controlled. Teenagers can probably determine how to force the lock.
- Life Jacket The Life Jacket is a hard cover that locks over the trigger and chamber area of the firearm. It prevents loading or pulling the trigger.
- Pistol Secured with Cable Lock A one part lock. It is installed with the cable running through the slide ejection port and magazine well. The cable lock may also be run through a heavy, fixed object to prevent its removal from the storage location. Cable locks are effective for children up to about age 10 if the key is properly controlled. Teenagers can probably determine how to cut the lock.
- Pistol Secured with Trigger Lock
- Revolver Secured with Cable Lock The lock is installed around the top of the frame or through the barrel while the cylinder is open; it may also be fastened through a fixed object to prevent its removal from the storage area. This type lock is effective for children up to about age 10 if the key or combination is properly controlled; teenagers can probably determine how to cut the lock.
- Revolver Secured with Padlock The lock is installed around the top of the frame while the cylinder is open. This type lock is effective for children up to about age 10 if the key or combination is properly controlled; teenagers can probably determine how to cut the lock.
- Revolver Secured with Trigger Lock
Other handgun calibers are available, but are not typically encountered in private security work.
- Caliber. The diameter of the barrel measured between the internal grooves. Usually expressed in millimeters or inches. Caliber of ammo must match the caliber of the firearm in order to operate properly and safely. To determine the caliber of a handgun, look for the caliber designation which is usually located on the side of the barrel of a revolver or on the top of the chamber area of a pistol. Here are two examples:
Revolver Caliber Marking Semi-Automatic Pistol Caliber Marking
Common Handgun Caliber Designations.
- .22 LR .22 inches in diameter; LR is long rifle.
- .22 WMR .22 inches in diameter; WMR is Winchester, magnum, rimfire. It is not interchangeable with .22 LR.
- .25 ACP .25 inches in diameter; ACP is usually translated as automatic cartridge pistol.
- .32 ACP .32 inches in diameter; ACP has same translation.
- .32 S&W .32 inches in diameter; S&W is Smith and Wesson.
- .380 ACP .380 inches in diameter; ACP has same translation. May be marked as 9mm Kurz (short) if the pistol was manufactured in Europe.
- .38 Special .38 inches in diameter; the Special designation originally differentiated it from a shorter cartridge with lower pressures that is now defunct.
- 9mm Luger 9 millimeters in diameter; Luger designates the original manufacturer in Europe. May also be designated as 9mm Parabellum. Although there is a technical difference in the cartridges, there are considered interchangeable within the United States, but not overseas.
- .357 magnum .357 inches in diameter; the magnum designation originally indicated greater pressure to differentiate it from other cartridges. .38 special cartridges may be fired in .357 magnums but not vice versa.
- .357 sig .357 inches in diameter; A pistol cartridge developed by Sig-Sauer. The cartridge casing is a 'bottle neck' style; it is .40 caliber in diameter at the base and .357 at the bullet.
- 10mm 10 millimeters in diameter.
- .40 S&W .40 inches in diameter; Smith & Wesson. The original developer of the cartridge.
- .41 Magnum .41 inches in diameter; the magnum designation indicates higher pressure to differentiate it from earlier .41 caliber rounds.
- .44 Special .44 inches in diameter; may be fired in .44 magnum firearms.
- .44 Magnum .44 inches in diameter; the magnum designation indicated higher pressure to differentiate it from earlier .44 caliber rounds.
- .45 ACP .45 inches in diameter; ACP is the same.
- .45 GAP .45 inches in diameter; GAP is Glock Automatic Pistol. This round is shorter than the .45 ACP and is not interchangeable with it.
Other designations may be used by various manufacturers, but should be similar to these designations.
- Bullet. The small projectile fired by the handgun. It usually has a soft metal core covered by a harder jacketing material which is usually metallic.
- Case. The container, usually metal, that holds the powder.
- Cartridge. The complete assembly: bullet, case, powder and primer.
- Flat point (FP). The tip of the bullet is flat.
- Frangible. The bullet is designed to break apart on contact. May be called safety slugs or similar title.
- Full Metal Jacket (FMJ). A bullet that is completely jacketed, usually with a hard metal such as copper, brass or steel.
- Grain. A unit of weight measurement of the bullet (technically, .0468 gram). Handgun bullets usually weigh between 55 and 280 grains.
- Headstamp. The markings on the base of the case which show the caliber and manufacturer of the ammunition.
- Hollow-point (HP). A bullet with a deep concave tip; may be fully or partly jacketed. Intended to expand on contact to limit penetration. Some hollow-points have center posts in the concave area or scoring along the sides to assist expansion on contact.
- Jacketed. Exterior of the bullet is covered with a layer of material that is different from the core.
- J.H.P. Jacketed hollow point.
- Match. Ammo that is manufactured to tighter tolerances (a higher quality) and is considered more reliable for precision shooting.
- +P. A cartridge loaded with a higher than normal pressure for that caliber. Originally intended for police use only. Cartridges with this designation should not be used in firearms unless the manufacturer of the firearm recommends it. If you are not certain, don't use it or check with a gunsmith first.
- +P+. A cartridge loaded with a pressure even higher than the +P designation. The same limitations apply.
- P.S.P. Power soft point. Similar to a soft-point.
- Powder. The flammable material contained inside the cartridge. When it burns in the enclosed space, it produces a gas expansion which drives the bullet out of the firearm.
- Primer. The reactive metallic insert at the base of the cartridge case that detonates inward toward the powder when struck by the firing pin.
- Round nose (RN). The tip of the bullet is rounded or oval in shape.
- Soft-Point (SP). A partially jacketed bullet. The tip is exposed softer metal similar to the core while the remainder is jacketed.
- Subsonic. The bullet is designed to travel at a slower velocity which makes the sound easy to suppress with a silencer.
- S.W.C. Semi-wad cutter. A bullet with a basically flat tip and slightly concave surface. It is usually not jacketed and is intended for target use.
- XTP (Expansion tip). Similar to a hollow-point.
Firearms Information and Equipment Links
- Firearms and Firearms Customizing
- Holsters, Cases, etc.
- Grips, Magazines, Sights, Parts, etc.
- Ammo and Reloading Equipment
- Electronic & Laser Shooting Practice Systems; Target & Range Systems
Last Modified: 5 January 2015