Quantcast Special Precautions for Small Arms

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LEARNING OBJECTIVE: Discuss the special safety precautions that every Gunner's Mate should know before handling small arms.

Semiautomatic pistols in the hands of inexperienced or careless persons are largely responsible for the saying, "It's always the unloaded gun that kills." It is a fact that many accidental deaths and injuries are due to the mistaken belief that removing the magazine of the pistol (or other magazine-fed weapons) is all that is necessary to unload it. Nothing could be further from the truth. To unload a pistol or other magazine-fed weapon completely and render it safe to handle, it is necessary not only to remove or empty the magazine but also to make absolutely certain the chamber is empty. The only way this can be done is to pull back the slide or bolt and inspect the chamber either visually or, it if is dark by feel. This should be done after the magazine is removed and with the muzzle pointed upward. Of course, if the chamber is loaded, the round will be extracted and ejected when the slide is operated. "I didn't know it was loaded" is never an excuse for the accidental discharge of a weapon-especially for the Gunner's Mate. All weapons must be considered loaded when the slide or bolt is forward and/or the magazine is in the weapon. It is safe only when the slide or bolt is locked in the OPEN position, the magazine is out of the weapon, and the chamber is visibly empty.

When you are handling revolvers, a simple visual inspection is sufficient to determine if any chambers in the cylinder are loaded

Keep the hammer fully down when the pistol or revolver is not loaded. When the pistol is cocked, keep the safety lock in the ON (SAFE) position until ready to fire.

Let's review briefly some of the safety precautions that apply to the handling of all small arms:

Never point a weapon at anyone or anything you are not ready to destroy. Unless the weapon is to be used immediately, never carry it with a round in the chamber. Unless you are about to fire it, the safety of every small-arms weapon must always be in the SAFE position. Always keep your finger away from the trigger. When the safety is moved from the SAFE to the FIRE position, many small arms will fire if the trigger is pressed as the safety is released Consider a gun loaded until you have opened the chamber and verified that it is empty. It is not enough to wail afterward, "I didn't know it was loaded." The empty weapon is the dangerous one. Before firing any weapon, be sure there are no obstructions in the bore.. Before firing any weapon, be sure the ammunition you are using is the right ammunition. For example, the M14 ammunition cannot be used in the M16 rifle. Nor should you try to use illumination signals with shotguns, even though they look much like shotgun shells. Before firing, be sure there is no grease or oil on the ammunition or in the bore or chamber. Although lead bullets may be lightly waxed or greased, there must never be any lubricant on the cartridge case.

Keep ammunition dry and cool. Keep it out of the direct rays of the sun. Keep ammunition clean, but do not polish it or use abrasives on it. Do not attempt to use dented cartridges, cartridges with loose bullets, or cartridges eaten away by corrosion. Be particularly careful with tracer ammunition, which can ignite spontaneously if damp. Misfires and hangfires can occur with small-arms ammunition as well as with other types. On some weapons, like the automatic pistol, you can recock and attempt to fire again without opening the breech. If, after a couple of attempts, this proves unsuccessful or if the weapon cannot be recocked without opening the bolt, wait at least 10 seconds, then open the bolt and eject the defective round. Defective small-arms ammunition should be disposed of according to current regulations.

A misfire with blank cartridges may leave unburned powder deposited in the bore; always check the bore after any misfire and clean it if necessary.

If you experience a light recoil or report, clear the weapon and check the bore for an obstruction. This may indicate a partial burning of the propellant that may not have been sufficient to force the bullet clear of the muzzle.


Never try to dislodge a bullet from the barrel by firing another bullet.


LEARNING OBJECTIVE: Discuss the importance of proper maintenance on small arms.

The cleaning, preservation, and care given to small arms are determining factors in their operation and shooting accuracy. You have undoubtedly heard that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This can aptly be applied to the maintenance of all ordnance weapons and equipment. To maintain these weapons properly, you must use a system of preventive maintenance. The preventive maintenance procedures for Navy small arms are set forth in the appropriate 3-M Systems MRCs.

Preventive maintenance is the systematic care, the inspection, and the servicing of material to maintain it in a serviceable condition, prevent breakdowns, and assure operational readiness. To maintain your small arms in a state of readiness, you must service (including lubrication) them each time they are used and periodically when in stowage.

Inspections of each weapon are an important part of preventive maintenance. Inspections to see if items are in good condition, correctly assembled, secure, not worn, and adequately lubricated, apply to most items in preventive maintenance procedures.


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