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Sig Academy tip: Chamber check

Posted by Lissa on June 22, 2010

Good morning everyone!  I forgot to include this tip in my rundown of the Sig Academy, and it’s a good one 🙂

How do you check if you have a bullet in your chamber?

What I did previously was to grip the gun as if I were going to do a full rack, and then gently pull back until I could see either brass or the lack of brass.  (If no brass, then I would continue to the full rack and lock it open and back.)  It was difficult because it’s hard for me to exert sufficient force to slide it halfway only; it felt awkward and out of control.

What the Sig instructor taught me was this:

1) Cock the weapon

2) Brace your thumb under the hammer and curl your fingers around the sights

3) Pull back enough to see brass or no-brass

See?  MUCH easier.  (It should go without saying that, throughout this process, your gun needs to be pointed in a safe direction – like a bulletproof vest – and your finger is off the trigger.  Duh.)

(Oh, and BTW, Siguette does have a loaded chamber indicator.  My attitude has always been that a loaded chamber indicator is sufficient to confirm that your gun IS loaded.  It is never sufficient to confirm that you gun is UNLOADED.  Because all guns are always loaded all the time.)

13 Responses to “Sig Academy tip: Chamber check”

  1. ZerCool said

    It is worth noting that the bullet-resistant vest in question should NOT be on your shooting partner when using it as a safe direction. 😉

    I can see the advantage to this form of check because of the leverage you’re getting by using the thumb to push back. However, it’s worth noting that on a 1911-pattern pistol, that will likely disengage the grip safety, and moving the slide already requires disengaging the thumb safety – meaning it’s ready to go bang Right Now. I prefer to press-check from underneath the front of the muzzle on my 1911, or do an over-the-top like I’m racking the slide.

    I don’t see it mentioned how you grip the slide to rack it… slingshot or over-the-top? OTT is gaining favor because it’s a gross motor skill, easily remembered under pressure, and IMHO, it uses what tend to be larger/stronger muscle groups. It does, however, have the distinct downside of being more likely to sweep those standing to either side.

  2. Carteach0 said

    Interesting…. I shall have to look at this idea, and perhaps incorporate it into my pistol handling. I load check every time I pick up my carry pistol, but never gave HOW I do it a lot of thought.

  3. Anonymous said

    ” It does, however, have the distinct downside of being more likely to sweep those standing to either side.”

    Really? I think that slingshot would be more likely to move the gun around. With over the top, your support hand is already at the right angle with the gun pointed forward. Slingshot seems to require more contortion. Of course, I never actually use slingshot, because I was taught over the top from the beginning.

  4. Y’know, it amazes me how fast (& deep) you’ve entered the gunny world.
    It was but two years ago that you were the head newbie & chief cookie supplier?
    Good goin’ lass…

  5. Carteach0 said

    I actually used this method at the range yesterday, while testing the ISSC M22. Worked like a charm. Thanks!

  6. Jay G. said

    You mean pointing it at my face to look down the barrel isn’t the right way to do it?

    (I kid, I kid).

    Actually, this is one of the advantages to a wheelgun – you can see, right there out in the open, if there’s a round in the cylinder that will be ready to fire should you pull the trigger…

  7. Aaaand, if it’s dark, you can combine this with a press check: use a finger from your free hand to feel inside the chamber.

  8. Glenn B said

    I have witnessed this type of chamber check, to see if a gun is loaded, over the past several years now. It is truly a worrisome development in that checking the chamber by partly opening the slide can cause problems for the shooter later on in the form of possible malfunctions. This can happen because when you check the chamber in a manner that partially pulls the slide back, you are also partially extracting the cartridge. If the chamber is at all dirty, in some guns, then when the slide is again allowed to move forward (remember this is not with full force as when you load normally) it may not go fully into battery and may fail to fire. SIGS are notorious, in my opinion, as to how sensitive they are to fouling in the chamber that causes them to fail to go fully into battery even when the slide is allowed to slam home with full force. Why increase the risk of a round not being properly chambered by using this method that partially removes the cartridge and then that reseats it but without the full force of the slide from a fully open position. Not a good thing, I am amazed SIG trainers are recommending such a method. I also believe this method leads to failure to extract properly in some guns.

    Regardless of the potential for problems, it has always amazed me that someone would want to get into the habit of checking to see the gun is loaded in this manner. I have seen shooters do it on the range during tactical courses of fire. Yep, they got so used to doing it when they loaded their guns at home, or during a qualification course, or at the office, or before going out on an operation that they actually paused – during a course of combat type fire – to check to see if a bullet chambered after combat reloading.

    If you are that unsure of yourself to need to check to see if a pistol is loaded, well, there are better ways to do it. If you have a pistol lying around and are uncertain if it is loaded and you are about to holster it for carry for the day – then visually inspect it. On many, many, many types of pistols you can actually see a round in the chamber if you look closely at the ejection port. That brass color you see is not a mirage. In addition, many pistols have a loaded chamber indicator that you can both see and feel. If those choices for inspecting it are not possible then remove the magazine and with the pistol pointed in a safe direction operate the slide. If a cartridge comes out it was loaded. Now reload it – best to use a fresh round and save the ejected one for a range day. Make sure to top off the magazine after reloading it. Want to know if it is loaded now – then watch it as you let the slide go during the loading process – you can see the round being fed.

    There is another way to check, if you need to determine if a pistol just actually fed a round, such as when loading at the range (not during practice combat shooting), or loading an empty pistol at home – and it is pretty much a fool proof method for those who can tell when the magazine they are using is fully loaded. You load the magazine to capacity, place it into the pistol and seat it fully, operate the slide properly, and then remove the magazine to inspect it and top it off. If you can fit another round into it, where moments ago it had been fully loaded and would not accept another round, well then it means the topmost bullet is no longer there. The reason would be because it is in the chamber of the gun you just loaded.

    Let me reiterate one thing – I don’t recommend checking by any of the methods I just mentioned if you are in a combat situation. If you stop to check then you may well wind up dead. While a life or death defense situation is taking place and someone is shooting at you or otherwise attacking you, it is not the time for you to be checking to see if the pistol is loaded or not. You had better hope you got it right when you thought you loaded it before needing it in such a situation. If it winds up failing to fire then you had best be aware of the actions to take when a failure to fire occurs.

    All the best,
    Glenn B

  9. Glenn B said

    I forgot to add this: If you are checking to see if your pistol is unloaded never use the press check method. Instead, remove the source of ammunition (the magazine) then fully pull back the slide. If the pistol has a hold open device, use it otherwise hold it open by hand. Then use your free hand to both visually and tactilely inspect to make sure it the chamber is empty and there is no source of ammunition (a magazine).

    All the best,

  10. sevesteen said

    I don’t have an exposed hammer on most of my guns, so to verify unloaded I rack the slide at least 3 times, then lock open if possible and visually check. With the excepion of the slide lock, works the same on all my semiautos–I like to minimize the differnces in safety checks between different guns when possible.

  11. Jay said

    There’s a new product on the market that’s must have for any gun owner. I bought one from Viking tactics website. It’s called safety casing. I believe it was like 15 bucks. Totally worth every penny. I’m not to sure who actually makes it. Reply back if you know. J

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