Checking an empty chamber/gun with a finger.

Stole this photo from SimplyAboutGuns.com

Am I the only one that feels this way of checking a gun is unnecessary and may end up with a purple nail? I have seen people doing this with the index finger too which I do find silly because even if it is the finger from your weak hand, you wanna keep it uninjured.

My opinion is: If it is dark enough that you can’t see the chamber, maybe you shouldn’t be messing with it in the first place.

Thought?

21 Replies to “Checking an empty chamber/gun with a finger.”

  1. Exactly. When someone says that they should physically chamber check their firearm, ask them two questions. First the setup.
    1. Why can’t you just visually inspect it to make sure it’s clear?
    after they invariably say “what if it’s dark?” you hit them with
    2. Can you name any situations where it is vital for you to safely unload your pistol in the dark?
    Hint: there aren’t any.




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    1. Folks I trust tell me that I’ll do what I train in a self defense situation. I don’t get to choose when a self defense situation might happen. So I -always- pinky sweep the mag well and chamber. I’ve never seen anything other then an AR let go it’s bolt and the only way I can make my handguns do it is to press the slide release. My .02




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    2. in what sort of self defense situation would it be necessary for you to unload you’re done at all?

      If I ever end up in the sort of social situation where is necessary for me to shoot somebody, my gun will remain loaded until I am surrounded by flashing red and blue lights. At the point the police arrive, I expect I will be following their directions, none of which are likely to be “unload and show clear.”




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  2. I don’t use my fingers to check inside either. It’s not like there are places for a cartridge to hide, it’s pretty cramped in the chamber (by design). Either it’s right there when you pull back the bolt/slide, or it’s not.




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  3. As it was explained to me it was more for the purposes of demonstrating to the person you are about to hand the gun to that you have indeed done your due diligence in ensureing that it was unloaded. A visible ‘courtesy display’ of safety if you will.

    I don’t htink i’ve EVER done the pinky check (and yes…it’s always my pinky) when working alone…visual is fine IMHO.




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    1. While I’d appreciate the courtesy, I’d much prefer verifying that the “unloaded” firearm handed to me is unloaded. After all, if it’s now in my hands, I’m responsible for it.




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  4. Eh, I pinky check out of habit. I’ve yet to slam the slide into it. It’s just an extra step to ensure you’re doing it right. Is it overkill? Absolutely. Does it harm anyone? Nah.




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  5. I do it, just like Robb, no harm, no foul. To each his own.

    I think what’s more important is actually checking that there’s no round still stuck in the barrel because of failed extraction. That, of course, can be done visually. But I’ve seen far too many people rack the slide without looking and assume it is, for sure, unloaded.

    When teaching students, demonstrating the pinky check clues them in visually to the idea that there might still be a round that didn’t extract. Demonstrating yourself peering into the chamber isn’t as obvious. You can explain it to them them. But when you tell them and show them, it’s more likely to sink in. Plus, in general, people who not anal about safety, are more likely to accidentally skip a [fast] visual inspection than a [slower] manual inspection.

    I’m done rationalizing, now ๐Ÿ™‚ Keep doing what works for you.




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  6. Sometimes you see what you expect, not what is really there. That’s a big problem with eye witness accounts. I wouldn’t presume to tell someone else what they must do, but for me, I like the pinky check. But I’m a belt and suspenders sort of guy.




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  7. I am kinda anal visually checking for empty chambers after being IDPA safety officers for so many years (The kind that will make you unholster the gun and rack the slide again if you went a bit too fast for my taste) but I think I get where the Pinkie People come from. I just worry about having a piece of flesh between moving metal parts. ๐Ÿ™‚




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  8. It not like fingering the opening of your chamber will always detect an undersized cartridge either, it can be too far forward to feel. This is Something arguably more dangerous and equally well argued less common an occurrence though.




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  9. It doesn’t have anything to do with low light checks. It’s a mnemonic device to ensure you do indeed have an empty chamber. Visual and physical check. I’ve seen shooters miss a round in the chamber on a quick visual check under stress conditions. Not often I freely admit but it can and occasionally does happen. There’s really no downside to the practice as I’ve also never yet seen anyone get a finger caught. I also admit it could happen but that’s probably an indicator of handling skills that need exercising more than anything else. It’s a good way to reinforce in the shooter’s mind the idea that positive chamber checks are sometimes an absolute necessity.




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    1. “Stress Conditions?” What kind of stress would a person be under when he’s unloading a firearm? I can understand stress training for shooting, the lead up to shooting, and the aftermath, but if you’re stressed, just leave the damn thing loaded.

      Turn the pistol until you can see into the chamber, look, turn and see the magwell, look, and then move on. If you stick your finger in there you just get in your own way, and if you are on enough of an auto pilot that you NEED to coon finger the thing, you are as likely to miss it by feel as by sight.




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      1. โ€œStress Conditions?โ€ What kind of stress would a person be under when heโ€™s unloading a firearm?

        Well, let me see. There was that one time when one of my fellow officers has just gotten into a shooting with a bank robbery suspect and ended up shooting him. I took his weapon afterward (policy was to take his and issue him another gun) and we both cleared it. It was kinda stressful if i recall correctly. Then there was that woman who had just dumped her abusive boyfriend who attacked her with a kitchen knife just as I entered the front door. I had to take her weapon and good firearms handling sorta indicated that I clear it before putting it into the evidence locker. That was a bit stressful too though perhaps you wouldn’t think so. There are more but I’m quite certain you’re right. There’s no conceivable situation one could find themselves in where unloading under any kind of stress were possible. I stand corrected and in awe of your clear superiority.




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    2. “…if you are on enough of an auto pilot that you NEED to coon finger the thing, you are as likely to miss it by feel as by sight.”

      I disagree. bank tellers are trained not to loo for what’s might be wrong with a bill. Rather they are trained to look for what’s RIGHT with a bill (what is supposed to be there). In this manner *ANYTHING* out of sorts is automatically detected, often times at a subconscious level, but enough to make the tellers take a closer look.

      I can recall one time working as a welder in a heavy industrial production environment where I screwed something up on the part I was welding together. I had put the welder down, picked up the ‘scarfer’, swapped the airline from my needle gun to the stinger, inserted a carbon rod, and was just about to get busy fixing the screw-up, when I suddenly realized that I wasn’t conscious of what I was doing. I was running on auto pilot.

      I believe the same would hold with pinky checking as a habit. 999 times out of 1000 that chamber will be empty. The ONE time it’s not, a red flag will go up if even subconsciously, and you will stop and take note.

      My .02




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  10. I routinely do an intentional visual double-check, no fingers involved. I hear what folks are saying, but I don’t really see the point of the finger exercise over a purposeful visual check. A religious attitude of safe firearm handling trumps any individual technique employed, as long as the employed technique does not become mere rote.




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