Living Off the Land
Gun Safety Essentials
“It happened within just the last few months. A terrifying ambulance ride … emergency surgery … telephone calls to panicked parents. How do you tell a parent their
son has been shot? Even when they survive, that’s quite a phone call to make. I guess
what really brought this home to me is that this time, he was a friend of mine …”
—Molly Green Magazine, Spring 2016
Let’s pick up where we left off in the last issue of Molly Green Magazine in determining gun safety in groups, while hunting, handling a
gun alone, and more.
7. Know your ammo.
While the vast majority of these rules protect the
people around the shooter, this one protects the
shooter. First, if you reload your ammunition (as I
do), or shoot someone else’s reloads, you’d better be
100 percent sure that it is done correctly. Overcharging a load can have disastrous consequences, not the
least of which includes the rifle exploding right by the
When I reload, I’m very careful not to exceed safe
limits. However, I had a friend who once thought the
limits were more like guidelines. Returning from an
unsuccessful hunt that was thwarted by how high the
geese were flying that day, Bob declared, “I’m going to
make some magnum loads!” Unaided by the proper
load data, Bob proceeded to “beef up” the loads he always used to increase the range and speed. The results
could have been disastrous.
Bob wanted to see how the loads would perform, so
he set to the process of patterning the shotgun. However, on the first shot, the pressure was so high that
it essentially herniated the front of his steel shotgun
action (a Remington 870—one of the more indestructible actions built). Realizing he had narrowly
escaped serious injury, Bob had the shotgun repaired
and discarded all the dangerous ammunition … never
to repeat that experiment.
Second, a rifle is not just a rifle. A rifle is a .30-06
Springfield, or a .308 Winchester, or a .257 Roberts
... or any number of other calibers. With only a few
exceptions, they can’t shoot each other’s ammunition.
In most cases, we hope that our rifle will not be able
to chamber an incorrect round. However, that is not
always the case.
By Talmage Ekanger, JD