Learn the mechanical and handling characteristics of the firearm you are using

It’s one of the 10 Rules of Safe Gun Handling (NSSF). The NRA says it simply: Know how to use the gun safely.

More precisely, the concept is this:

Before handling a gun, learn how it operates. Know its basic parts, how to safely open and close the action and remove any ammunition from the gun or magazine. Remember, a gun’s mechanical safety device is never foolproof. Nothing can ever replace safe gun handling.

Part of that is knowing the proper loads for a gun and never “experimenting” with anything else.

Finally, under “additional safety precautions,” the NRA says:

Be aware that certain types of guns and many shooting activities require additional safety precautions.

Here’s MY 2 cents: There are almost zero “accidents,” only mistakes.


I’m learning how to make them.

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Well, you have some professional experience with their use and maintenance. So that makes good sense.

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This is true for any tool that you are going to use. If you are familiar with firearms you still check out any new one to find similarities and differences.
If you are not familiar, then you need to find out all of the whats, hows and whens.


True, but particularly so with anything propelling an object as a result of a controlled explosion. And the bigger the explosion, the more importance regular maintenance and inspections and proper operating procedures become.


@Ken38, GREAT post. I became a first-time gun owner just a few years ago. I had the good fortune of having a retired Army Ranger walk me through the paces of the first gun I had ever owned. He covered it all with me. Gun safety. PPE. We shot it. Then we cleared it, broke it down, cleaned it, reassembled. And then he made me break it down on my own, reassemble. Wash, rinse, repeat. I’m still as susceptible as anyone to lose focus, but it’s all about the basics. Even mistakes are survivable if basic rules and knowledge are followed.


I read every user’s manual that comes with every tool I buy.
I’m old school in the sense that I prefer a written version.

I hate it when they gave me a CD when I bought a grandpa van.

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That’s why breaking down 1911s is a good thing.

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If every firearm I owned was a 1911, this would be simple. But every firearm I own is different. Some are significantly different. For each, I tend to dry fire out of the box to learn where all the “stuff” is located. Then I like to field strip it, put it back together, and do a functions check to see if I’m pointing it in the right direction. Maybe I’m a little too cautious, but I want to be very familiar with any new firearm before I take it to the range and chamber my first round.

I also never throw away manuals / TMs. In fact, I have a couple of firearms that I won’t clean without the manual. YouTube is great, but there’s nothing like having the factory / service approved instructions on hand.