Bolt up instead of safety switch?

Discussion in 'Firearms & Ammunition' started by BenKK, Mar 1, 2019.

  1. BenKK

    BenKK AH Elite

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    My Mauser has the flag safety which can’t be used with the scope on.

    This isn’t a problem here in Australia because I only chamber a round when I’m about to shoot (buffalo, mostly) or else I chamber a round but keep the bolt open with my hand jammed firmly underneath. This is habit. Safety buttons make me uncomfortable (but I have used them at times on other kinds of rifles).

    My question is, is my way of doing things acceptable or unacceptable on a plains game hunt in RSA? Bad manners, perhaps?

    And, is a safety switch better to use on antelopes because of less noise (though lowering the bolt is quiet too).

    I do prefer to keep my rifle as is, but am contemplating whether installing a horizontal safety is the right thing to do.
     

  2. dmyers

    dmyers AH Veteran

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    I'm of the opinion that safeties used with good barrel control and other good safety behaviors is always appropriate- as is leaving chamber empty in addition to the above (when possible/appropriate).
     
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  3. Red Leg

    Red Leg AH ENABLER LIFETIME BRONZE BENEFACTOR AH Legend

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    On most PG hunts in SA or Namibia, the PH will likely insist on an empty chamber. In 99% of opportunities, there is ample time to chamber a round as you prepare for the shot. Hence, not an issue for hunter or PH. DG areas are a different matter. Even there, if the PH doesn't know his client, an empty chamber eliminates one of the major injury potentials. One reason, I like Blaser and Krieghoff designs, is that I can maintain a round in the chamber with an un-cocked rifle. It is also why an inexperienced hunter with a loaded double rifle is probably about as dangerous as the buffalo or elephant they are pursuing. I personally hate the open bolt technique. No offense intended, but I am uncomfortable afield with someone who does that. There is just so much potential for a lot of things to go wrong - brush - dropped rifle - inattention - etc, etc. If we are among big hairy beats, I would much rather have someone with me with a loaded chamber, on safe, exercising proper gun handling technique.

    I assume you know, a low profile safety for a mauser action is one of the easiest conversions that can be made, with no change to the bolt. Put the flag in a drawer so you have it if you ever want to return the rifle to original condition.
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2019

  4. Patton63

    Patton63 AH Veteran

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    I think it depends on the hunter, how well they handle their rifles, and the sense that the PH gets as to how safe someone is. On both of my plains game hunts in SA, the PH wanted a round in the chamber once we exited the truck and began our stalk. On my first trip, I used a borrowed rifle and the safety wasn’t working properly. As a result, I left the bolt up. On the second trip, my son and I had our rifles and relied on the safeties.

    We each have a responsibility to control our muzzles and ensure our rifles are in a safe condition until they are pointed at a target we intend to shoot. How we best achieve that (e.g., with a safety, an empty chamber, or raised bolt) will vary from person to person and situation to situation. Unfortunately, I’ve seen many people get caught in the excitement or exertion of the moment on hunts, at matches, or simply at the range and forget these most basic principles.
     

  5. GuttormG

    GuttormG AH Enthusiast

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    Why not just install a safety??
     

  6. One Day...

    One Day... AH Fanatic

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    The bottom-line stark reality is that unless you are directly involved in a follow up on wounded dangerous game, or in a Leopard blind, or in an up-close-and-personal stalk on DG at 30 yd, etc. there is no reason why you should have a round in the chamber.

    Now to explain a bit this terminal statement :)

    Yes the best safety is between the ears; yes muzzle discipline prevents safety failures from having catastrophic consequences; yes a bolt-mounted firing pin-blocking safety (whether vertical like the Mauser flag; horizontal like the Winchester 3 position; lateral like the Weatherby, etc.) is pretty reliable; yes, yes, yes... but the bottom line is why would one carry a loaded hunting rifle (i.e. a round in the chamber - as opposed to a munitioned rifle i.e. rounds in the magazine) unless there is a need for imminent shooting? A hunting rifle simply does not serve the same purpose as a concealed carry weapon or an infantry CQB weapon.

    There is no real NEED to load one's rifle until one is about to get on the sticks, or in otherwise shooting position. Personally, I always ask the PH to witness my empty chamber and hear my dry firing "click" after killing an animal, and ALWAYS before getting in the truck. This is out of both practical safety and courtesy, and when I have my boys or girls with me, we cross safety-check our rifles. Old military habits die hard :)

    I thought the only exception would be my Krieghoff double, with its independent cocking mechanism, but my PH in Limpopo still asked me to carry it without ammo in the pipes until we started an actual buff stalk. I certainly understood and was happy to oblige... Nothing scares me more than a loaded double with a traditional shotgun safety on someone's shoulder...

    I have (so far?) in 40 years of hunting never been in a situation where not having a round in the chamber has caused me to miss an opportunity. I have either stumbled at 30 ft into animals I had not been aware of and that bolted explosively on me, in which cases there either was no shot anyway, or, like in a reload after a first shot, a quick handling of the bolt was fast enough; or, during successful stalks, I have always been able to load quietly enough that animals 50 or 100 yd away did not hear it.

    As to bolt open, it is an old practice in many places, including Africa, to carry a rifle with a bolt half open. On many Mauser 98 and myriad clones, ZKK 602, CZ 550, etc. there is actually a half way point where the bolt starts to close but is not cocked, and it is maintained in position by the pressure of the striker spring before it is fully compressed by closing the bolt down and forward. Is it safe? Well, the rifle certainly cannot fire in this position, so the answer ought to be yes, right? The challenge, however, is that safety is most likely to be required not when everything goes right, but when everything goes wrong. Is it possible to trip and fall precisely on the right hand that holds the rifle with bolt open, get it closed accidentally under the weight of the body over the hand in the fall, and getting it fired if the trigger hits a rock or a twig? I guess it could happen... Is it safer than a firing-pin blocking safety? Probably not... Are we discussing far fetched scenarios? Yes... But in my experience (more military than hunting related) accidental discharges happen either out of sheer stupidity, in which case they are negligent discharge, or through an accumulation of indeed very far fetched and improbably events...

    Empty chambers have never killed anyone. I default to this one...

    Just my $0.02...

    A parting thought, which I am sure will get me plenty of flak :E Rofl:is that I do not systematically default to the judgement of the PH, whether in Africa or anywhere else. I had one PH younger than my kids who clearly did not have half my shooting/hunting experience and who made blatant error of judgments; I have heard more PHs than one would care to hear say things entirely false re. rifles, ammo, etc.; I have seen one PH be blatantly unsafe in his gun handling; etc. ... and I have, of course, seen PHs who clearly mastered all aspects of their job better than I could ever hope to do myself... The point is that if an accidental discharge happens and somebody gets hurt or killed, your PH will not be the one in the accused box, you will...
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2019

  7. Eric Anderson

    Eric Anderson AH Enthusiast

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    Open bolt always gives me the heebie-jeibbies.
    It is not a weapon condition. Every time I have ever hunted in the United States, my rifle stays in one of two conditions, 4 or 1. I take the safety off when I have the animal in my crosshairs to take it to condition 0.

    It is extremely disconcerting to me to have a rifle that is in a grey area of either loaded or not loaded. Especially since my .375 has to have the safety on anyway with an unlocked bolt. If the bolt is not completely lifted, pulling the trigger causes the bolt to snap down and releases the firing pin. That is a potential OOB if the trigger snags on something when crawling through dense brush. Yes, you should be carrying your rifle so that the trigger guard is covered... but it seems like a bad idea to me.

    In my opinion, leaving the bolt handle up is a crutch to cover up poor maintenance and weapon handling skills.

    The other side of the story is the PH/tracker/ect. I know every once in a while one gets shot by a client, and logic suggest for every time someone gets shot, there are many more unreported close calls.

    I booked my last hunt with a PH I had hunted with 2x before. I trust him, I hope he trust me. We were hunting Buffalo on a consesion that required a representative of the landowner with us that is fine by me. On the first day, we were returning to the truck in the evening when I stopped 15 ft from the truck, spun 180 degrees around so that no one was in front of me, and proceeded to unload my rifle. I think the representative about had a heart attack when he heard the rifle action.

    I guess he had worked with enough idiot clients that he was extremely uncomfortable with a rifle action being worked behind his back.

    To summerize, I have worked for years to develope good weapon handling skills and mentality so that it is second nature to me, and anything other that routine is very disconcerting to me.
     
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  8. Shootist43

    Shootist43 AH ENABLER GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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  9. TOBY458

    TOBY458 AH Elite

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    I hunted with an outfitter in Alaska that would ask you to have an empty chamber, and have the firing pin in the lowered position. Of course, this would prevent the safety from engaging altogether. However, he felt it was faster to get into action, should you walk up and surprise a bear at close range. He likened it to using a lever action rifle.
     
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  10. BenKK

    BenKK AH Elite

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    Thank you, everyone. The gunsmith offered a Wisner that he has, and when I did an online search it appeared to require grinding to fit - am I mistaken? I do really like the suggestion above about keeping the original flag safety to reinstall.
     

  11. Red Leg

    Red Leg AH ENABLER LIFETIME BRONZE BENEFACTOR AH Legend

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    Look at the one in the Brownells catalogue that @Shootist43 provided. No fitting required.
     
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  12. BenKK

    BenKK AH Elite

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    Done! Brownell’s Australia has them.
     
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  13. Ray B

    Ray B AH Elite

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    If going from point A to B with a bolt action, and not expecting an animal to burst from a bush I prefer the action closed and firing pin lowered on an empty chamber. If expecting game, chamber loaded, safety in on position with bolt locked. If using a break action, chambers loaded, gun open. When raising the gun to make shot the action is closed. No automatic safety involved.
     

  14. Von Gruff

    Von Gruff AH ENABLER GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    BobT and Von S. like this.

  15. BenKK

    BenKK AH Elite

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    Thank you, Von Gruff. I’ll probably need to ask for guidance here when it arrives on how to fit it.
     

  16. Philip Glass

    Philip Glass AH ENABLER LIFETIME BRONZE BENEFACTOR AH Legend

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    I’ve been with a PH who insisted on bolt being up. Even though I had a Ruger with 3 position safety. Can never be too safe.
    Philip
     
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  17. Newboomer

    Newboomer GOLD SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    I've always carried my rifle with a round chambered and safety on. My Win 70 has a 3 position safety so everything is locked and the PHs I've hunted with are fine with that. Safety doesn't come off until I'm on the sticks. My muzzle never ever points ahead, always to the side or up until I'm on sticks. That way if something should happen the muzzle is in a safer position. I don't like to carry muzzle down. Too much chance of hitting something or someone you don't want to or tripping over the barrel in rough stuff.
     

  18. Dr Ray

    Dr Ray AH Legend

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    Empty chamber would be a good idea. I like to have bolt deactivated and closed on empty chamber and if hunting whereby I need a quick shot I have the bolt up or deactivated on a round.
    AH members have criticised the deactivated on a round I might add. So unless there is urgency such as a stalk on a lion, then I would think - empty chamber.
     
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  19. BeeMaa

    BeeMaa AH Elite

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    For those that may not know or understand the "Jeff Cooper" rifle/pistol readiness conditions...

    Condition 0 - Magazine inserted, round in the chamber & safety OFF (SA/DA hammer is back)
    Condition 1 - Magazine inserted round in the chamber & safety is ON (SA/DA hammer is back)
    Conditon 2 - (Mostly for SA/DA pistols) Magazine inserted, round in the chamber, hammer forward. Revolvers - rounds in the cylinder, cylinder locked into place, hammer forward.
    Condition 3 - Magazine inserted, no round in the chamber. (SA/DA hammer is forward)
    Condition 4 - No magazine inserted, no round in the chamber (SA/DA hammer is forward and for revolvers no rounds in cylinder)

    Personally when hunting/stalking I prefer Condition 3, then moving to Condition 1 or 0 as needed.
    If I were to be following up on wounded game or in the thick of it with DG it would be Condition 1 or 0.
    Obviously the request of your PH will trump any feelings you may have.
    As always, demonstrating good practices at all times will give your PH confidence in your firearm safety and handling (and vise versa).
     

  20. Shootist43

    Shootist43 AH ENABLER GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Von Gruff, is the safety on the rifle you posted the original Mauser design i.e. left hand side? All of my Mauser designed rifles equipped with Buhler style safeties have the flag on the right side.
     

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