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June 23 : 2015  
Editor's Notebook: How to Not Shoot Yourself
FIRST, direct the muzzle into a SAFE DIRECTION. This ballistic pad is a Safe Direction from Ravelin Group.

Remove the magazine – without futzing about with the trigger or moving the muzzle from the safe direction.

Lock the slide to the rear. You don't need to direct the muzzle into your forearm, nor into any unsafe direction. It covers the safe direction only.>

Check the chamber visually and physically. Feel for a case head.

Nope, you still needn't cover your hand while depressing the slide lock lever to remove the slide – in spite of what you may see on Youtube.
This could be a continuation in Claude Werner's "Avoiding Negative Outcomes" series. Another of the never-ending "shot himself while cleaning his pistol" stories came across the desk late recently. This prompted a contemporary of mine, not a particular fan of the Glock pistol, to engage in a completely justified rant about it being the carpenter, not the hammer, when a negative outcome arose.

It's been an FBI agent at a municipal range (otherwise it might never have to come light) drilling himself through the thigh when trying to disassemble the pistol. This time a municipal officer shot himself through the hand. I shouldn't have to say this, but body parts in front of gun muzzles is a no-no. Don't do it or it will suck to be you. With me so far?

Since the disastrous op-ed in the LA Times about Glock pistols being "unsafe" for police, they've released a follow-up on how bad the S&W M&P is for LA Sheriff. Both stories are crap, plain and simple. You want to dismount a striker fired pistol, say a Glock, for cleaning?

Here's a primer on the first stages of disassembly for maintenance. Follow along.

Direct the muzzle into a safe direction. A "safe direction" is one in which an unintended discharge will lead to minor property damage and no personal injury. (h/t: Manny Kapelsohn.) This does not include body parts – yours or those of others.

Remove the magazine. Stow it. Don't hold it, don't stick it in your mouth. Put it in a pocket, lay it on the work surface – whatever – just divest yourself of it for the moment.

Lock the slide to the rear. Note the grasping grooves at the rear of the slide. They're not near the muzzle. For some of us, that is a "clue."

The reason we reach in to touch the chamber is in the event of an extractor failure – there could still be a cartridge in there. Why isn't simply peering inside good enough? For many of us – potentially all of us – what we do has to be effective at 3 PM and at 3 AM. The barrel hood can cast shadow over the chamber mouth, block your vision. I've seen ammunition with a dark coating over the cartridge case, hampering the view. Check "by sight and by feel." Close the slide.

Then you can, ensuring the muzzle hasn't strayed from the safe direction you earlier identified, press the trigger. Our own Chuck Haggard makes it a "trigger control rep" by carefully sighting and pressing the trigger to give himself just "one-more" dry practice repetition. It's a thoughtfully considered move, not a throw-away. Always think before you press that trigger.

Keep your hands away from the muzzle while stripping the slide off. Yes, you pulled the magazine, locked the slide open, checked visually and physically – but you're on the winning side. Why fumble at the two-yard line?

No gun is more or less safe than any other. Early in my police career, NDs with double action revolvers were legion – even though they were less well reported than in this era of 24 hour newscycles. Those revolver accidents happened because nearly all cops carried DA revolvers. Most cops carry Glocks now – whether or not by their choice – and that's why you're seeing what you're seeing. A firearm is only as safe as the person handling it.

- Rich Grassi

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