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Four Cardinal Rules of Firearms Safety-Expanded

Depending upon which trainer, what range, or the particular gun related video that you may be watching, there will sometimes be more “rules” than these, but there should never be less.  Especially at sporting events involving firearms usage, there will likely be many restrictions that are counterintuitive to “practical” usage.  This is as it should be.  At open enrollment events, the proficiency of those in attendance cannot be underestimated, regardless of “profession”.

The following is aimed primarily at the serious firearms practitioner who recognizes that there are no reset buttons regarding defensive firearms handling and usage.  You must handle your firearms properly, all the time.  These rules, when fully committed, and ingrained, into your default behavior when you handle any firearm, will preclude virtually all negligent discharges and if you should have a legitimate accidental discharge, the consequences will be minimal.

These rules are equally as, if not more, important in “tactical” settings whether or not you are a police officer serving a high-risk warrant, warfighter moving to contact, or homeowner investigating the sound of broken glass at your residence.  You must not shoot things, or people, that you don’t intend to shoot.

The firearm you are handling is a tool.  It will act only according to input onto the operating and control mechanisms with which it has been designed.  This means ANY input on the trigger or other mechanisms, human or otherwise, will cause that part to operate in the manner in which it was designed.  Control the environment of that tool, and the opportunities for anything to interface with it, whether it is in storage in your safe or on your person in a ready condition.  Foolish and careless handling or behavior is the mark of an idiot that is soon to become a tragic injury or death.

The rules are purposefully redundant and overlapping.  To negligently discharge a firearm, you must violate two or more of these rules.  Don’t be that person.

The Four Cardinal Rules of Firearms Safety-EXPANDED

Treat all guns as if they are ALWAYS loaded, all the time. 

    • This rule, all by itself, will eliminate any situation-specific or variable decision making that may serve to confuse you.  In your mind, you will only handle firearms in one manner whenever you handle them at all.  No confusion, no uncertainty with variables, i.e., “I handle guns this way when “at the range”, or this other way when I’m “tactical”, or yet another way when I’m “just at the gun store”.
      1. Guns are supposed to be loaded.
      2. From a defensive perspective, they are no good to you unless they are loaded.
      3. Just like your car is no good to you unless it is fueled.  You expect the car to be fueled, and otherwise functional, to some level or other because that is the normal condition of a functioning car.  When you activate the ignition system, you reasonably expect your car to start.
      4. When you activate the fire control system on a firearm, it is reasonable to expect it to function as designed.
    • A Negligent Discharge (ND) refers to anytime a firearm discharges through negligent handling.  It is always a result of mishandling the firearm on the part of the person doing the handling.
    • An “Accidental Discharge” (AD) pertains to some sort of mechanical breakage or system failure that occurs internally, that the shooter had little or no control over, and causes the firearm to function without direct input to the trigger mechanism.  Accidental discharges are exceedingly rare.
    • Almost all unintentional discharges are preventable by proper gunhandling.
    • If you think a firearm is unloaded, and you are compelled to handle it, the first thing you should presume is…it is loaded.
      1. If you don’t know the proper clearing procedures for that firearm, leave it alone unless there is some overriding reason to do otherwise.
      2. While following ALL of the 4 Cardinal Rules of Firearms Safety, perform Unload and Clear Procedures.
      3. No one knowledgeable in firearms handling will be offended by you double checking a firearm, at any time.
      4. This will, in fact, demonstrate your emphasis upon safe handling procedures
      5. Anyone who objects to your emphasis upon safety is displaying their disregard for proper gun handling, and by logical extension, everyone else’s safety in the area.  They are quite possibly dangerous due to this lack of concern.  Do not allow their recklessness to affect your safety protocols.  Conduct yourself accordingly.

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3 Flashlight Recommendations to Get You Started

Riley’s Flashlight Starters

These 3 are great affordable starters

Here is a short vid on my $.02 worth of flashlight “wisdom”.

A modern compact flashlight with a LED bulb is powerful, very durable, a potentially effective “weapon of opportunity” if needed, yet is often neglected in an Every Day Carry inventory. These 3 affordable flashlights will cover most of your portable lighting needs from general utility to portable floodlight.

These are not the final say at all on flashlights. This topic is always good for a vigorous conversation. However, these three will cover a wide variety of needs from general use to wide illumination, and tactical/self defense needs.  Even if you bought all three at once, you would not break the bank.

Streamlight ProTac 1AAA

This little guy is so convenient to carry it eliminates all of your excuses to carry an actual flashlight.  True, it’s not quite up to the eye blinking chores of the “tactical” or defensive lights, but it puts out a very decent amount of light and will certainly be useful when you are trying to find your way out of a darkened office building when the normal lights go out.

SureFire G2X Pro or G2X LE

Now we’re into some eye flinching power.  Yet, both of these are affordable, compact, and quite heavy duty.  It you could only pick one light to take with you, one of these would be fantastic.

Streamlight HL4 &
Streamlight 18650 recharging kit

This is quite the bargain considering you almost can set things on fire with it.  Just kidding, but it is really bright at 2,200 lumens of diffused light coming out of a moderately sized package.

It doesn’t have the same focused hotspot as some other lights, but that’s an attractive feature.  With the high output, this light is a handheld floodlight in a small size.  The optional 18650 recharging kit lets you reuse batteries for repeated usage while maintaining the option of using a fresh pack of CR123 batteries if the rechargeables are down.

There’s More

Of course, this is not the last word in flashlights.  We haven’t even started to talk about weapons mounted lights, head lamps, filtered lights, etc.  And what about all of the different sizes, types of batteries, form factor, price, etc.  Look for another post on other lighting categories.