Recently I was having a discussion with a friend about which actions we prefer for our bolt rifles. I was somewhat surprised when he mentioned his preference, not because it was a Ruger Mk2 but because one his reasons for favouring it was due to its superior safety mechanism over other models (in his opinion of course).
That got me thinking about the safeties on my rifles and I have to admit that I don’t really know that much about how they work. I know there are safeties that lock the bolt and others that lock the trigger sear, but I’d probably have go and look at the rifle to know which ones are which. Some rifles have been in my safe for nearly 15 years and I wouldn’t know off the top of my head which mechanism they have.
My lack of knowledge doesn’t come from lack of use of the rifles but more from never using the safeties themselves. I was taught gun handling from someone who never used (and therefor never relied on) a guns safety so I guess it was just a normal process that I picked up some of his ideas. The bolt was either cocked or it wasn’t and coupled with always having the muzzle pointing in a safe direction meant the rifle was as safe as humanly possible.
Each to their own of course and as long as a safety is not solely relied on then I have no problems with which method shooters prefer to use.
Recently I was watching a friend get ready to take a shot on a long range Rabbit. He got down into a prone position and used his bipod to get himself steady. He then cycled a round into the chamber and activated the safety. Once he was on target he deactivated the safety and squeezed the shot off. Nothing out of the normal there but if it was me I would of cycled the bolt when I was roughly on target and then simply squeezed the trigger.
Both methods are a safe practise in this instance but what about if we change the situation to hunting heavy timber for pigs? Any shots taken are going to be quick and a rifle needs to be in your hands and almost ready to go. Some shooters might chamber a round and activate their safety which means that at the flick of a switch they are ready to shoot. Providing they keep the muzzle in a safe direction they are convinced that their rifle is safe.
In this instance I prefer to push the bolt forward so that it grabs (or pushes) a cartridge but not so far forward that it’s fully chambered. As the rifle is being cradled there’s no chance of the bolt opening and ejecting the cartridge and the firing pin will not be activated until the bolt is fully closed. I find that it’s now a natural movement to close the bolt as the rifle is being lifted to the shoulder and I feel no disadvantage in how quickly I get my shot off.
So what’s the point of this article you may be wondering? Well it’s basically to demonstrate that we each need to establish our own safe methods of firearm handling. What works for some people may not work for you and in this instance you need to adapt to a method that does. Always put some thought into others ideas but ultimately it’s up to you to ensure the safety of yourself and fellow shooters.