Chamber and Mag Check (R)


The Rifle Drills course is an online curriculum consisting of 15 short instructional modules with quizzes.

The predecessor to the Rifle Drills Course is the Handgun Drills course which we encourage everyone to start with. By building on the foundation of the Handgun Drills course you will more quickly learn what works for you should you be afforded the luxury of enough time to retrieve your long gun.

In this Rifle Drills course, we will provide you with the study materials needed to begin mastering stress resistant gun handling techniques for the rifle. This course will introduce you to drills that you should practice at home (dry) and on the range (live).

The drill modules should be completed in order, after which the student can revisit any module at any time to refresh their memory. Students who complete all 15 modules and pass the quizzes will be awarded a certificate that can be posted to their profile page.

INSTRUCTIONS: Watch the video, read the narrative, review the still photos then take the quiz at the bottom. When done move on to the next module indicated at the bottom.

DURATION: 30 Minutes

 

CHAMBER CHECK MAGAZINE CHECK What we are going to cover now is an administrative action (something we wouldn't do in the middle of a fight), called a chamber check and magazine check. The chamber check and magazine check is often referred to as "five seconds of cheap insurance."

 

I strongly believe that if you are serious about what you are doing in regards to proper gun handling techniques and being prepared to save your life, then you will conduct a chamber check magazine check whenever you need to in order to ensure you know the condition of the firearm.

Conducting a chamber check and magazine check is the one act that allows you, the end user, the peace of mind knowing the condition of your firearm.

Believe it or not, both I and the instructors at DSI have seen hundreds of men in training and in real life situations, carrying around weapons that - unbeknownst to them - had no round in the chamber. I have personally witnessed this kind of incident in real-world operational environments.

In a training situation, this can be embarrassing and yet can be a learning point, unfortunately, if it is present in a training environment it is highly likely that the same problem exists during real life carry, and that can lead to disaster. To avoid this for yourself the chamber check and magazine check is an easy cure.

Notes: While a B.A.D. lever is very helpful, it is not a required piece of equipment. Therefore, we will demonstrate how to conduct a chamber check and magazine check with both the B.A.D. lever as well as without.

Because we haven't spoken about loading and unloading, in both instances we will be starting with an unloaded rifle.

With a B.A.D. Lever

In order to conduct a proper chamber check and magazine check, first orient yourself in a safe direction.

With your firing side hand, obtain a firm gasp high on the pistol grip, with your trigger finger straight and on it's tactile reference point, and your support side hand on the handguard, present the rifle out briskly, like you intend to fight, to what we call the ready position, keeping the muzzle oriented in a safe direction (your designated safe dry practice area as outlined in the Dry Practice Guide).

01 Present Briskly Pointing in a safe direction, present to the ready position, finger off the trigger.

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Now drop the stock below your armpit while elevating the muzzle up, bring the magazine well towards your chest, into your personal workspace (the area where you have the more power, can best manipulate the rifle). When correct, this position will leave your rifle magazine well roughly at eye level and easily accessible to your support hand.

As you can see in the below photo, the barrel is elevated around 45 degrees. The degree of elevation is not important, what is important is that your trigger finger is off the trigger, and the magazine well is about eye level. Become familiar with this position as you will use it often.

02 Into Workspace - Keeping the trigger finger straight, bring the rifle into your personal workspace with the magazine well at about eye level.

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Note: In the following photos, the shooter will be changing directions to expose better views to the camera. You should keep yourself facing a safe direction.

Next, break your support hands grip on the handguard, and with your palm down, reach back to the charging handle and pinch the charging handle latch between your thumb and forefinger (alternately, with oversized latches you can face your palm towards you and use the meaty portion of your palm - below he pinky finger to achieve this).

03 Pinch charging handle - Use your support hand trigger finger and thumb to pinch the charging handle latch.

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Simultaneously, place your trigger finger under the B.A.D. lever (if equipped) and lift upwards on the bad lever, towards the top of the receiver.

Left-handed shooters can simply use their trigger finger to press down on the bolt catch's lower thin lever arm (not the wider top portion) while they use their index and middle fingers (palm down) to straddle the charging handle and pull the bolt back.

04 Prestage - Prestage your trigger finger under the B.A.D. lever.

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Once you have the charging handle latch firmly depressed between your support side trigger finger and thumb with your firing side trigger finger pre-staged on the B.A.D., pull the charging handle straight back towards the end of the stock until it comes to a complete stop.

If you are pressing into the B.A.D. as instructed, the bolt will now be in a position to lock in place. Ease the bolt forward (let the springs do the work) until the bolt comes to rest on the bolt lock (you will feel this happen as the charging handle will no longer be pulling your fingers/hand forward under spring tension), then return the charging handle all the way forward ensuring it locks back in place.

05 Lock - While lifting up on the B.A.D., pull the charging handle all the way to the rear, lock the bolt in place by easing it forward until you feel it catch, release the B.A.D. lever

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Once the bolt has engaged the bolt lock and is in place, return the charging handle to its forward position and lock it back in place (see the inset photo, which has been taken from above the rifle)

06 Return Charging Handle - Press the charging handle all the way forward and lock it back in place.

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Now rotate the rifle in a manner that exposes the ejection port upwards so you can see into the chamber area.

Try not to get into the habit of craning your neck over the ejection port to see inside. Instead, lift the rifle exposing the ejection port so that you can easily see the chamber.

07 Return and Look Inside - Rotate the rife so you can see into the chamber area to ensure there are no rounds there.

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Could you use a different technique to check the chamber?

Of course, however, we encourage you to use the same basic movements with all of your firearms-handling techniques in order to build solid and consistent firearms-handling skills, because doing so will gain you greater skills in faster than trying many different techniques.

By adopting them as your own, you will be able to fight in all conditions (gloved, wounded or not) and by keeping the techniques the same, you speed yourself along the learning path.

Once you can see into the chamber area, you will know if your rifle has a round in the chamber or not, yet this doesn't mean that the rifle is clear and free from obstructions, so the next thing you will want to check is the magazine well. To achieve this, simply roll the rifle towards your support side hand and back to its starting position in your personal workspace, and insert a couple of fingers into the magazine well.

08 Mag Check - Roll the rifle towards your support side hand and back to the starting position in your personal workspace, insert a couple of fingers into the magazine well.

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Once you know your rifle is unloaded, simply replace your support hand on the handguard, and then placing your trigger finger on the top of the B.A.D., pressing downwards in order to release the bolt.

At this point, you can close that ejection port if you choose to do so (if you plan on storing the rifle). If you plan on storing the rifle for an extended period, you can take the rifle off safe, and depress the trigger (while pointing in a safe direction), thereby removing most of the spring tension from the hammer spring.

09 Press B.A.D. Downwards - To get the bolt home once again, press downwards on the B.A.D., you can then close the ejection port cover.

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At this stage, you could either store your rifle or begin your loading process (which we will talk about shortly).

Inevitably, we see those who choose to neglect the chamber check/mag checks as a regular and integral part of their loading and unloading process as the ones on the firing line or in the Reality Based Training scenarios (with non-lethal ammunition of course) who end up getting a click when they want a bang, or a bang when they want a click instead.

It is because of the above observation that we strongly urge you to incorporate a chamber check and magazine well check anytime we are unsure of the condition of your firearm (administratively, not something to do during a gunfight). Again, it's five seconds of cheap insurance, that is well worth the small effort on your part.

Without the B.A.D. Lever

With your firing side hand, obtain a firm gasp high on the pistol grip, with your trigger finger straight and on it's tactile reference point, and your support side hand on the handguard, present the rifle out briskly, like you intend to fight, to what we call the ready position, keeping the muzzle oriented in a safe direction (your designated safe dry practice area (as outlined in the Dry Practice Guide).

10 Present Briskly Pointing in a safe direction, present to the ready position, finger off the trigger.

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Now drop the stock below your shoulder and under your armpit while elevating the muzzle upwards.

As you can see in the below photo, the barrel is slightly elevated. The degree of elevation is not important, what is important is that your trigger finger is off the trigger.

11 Into Workspace - Keeping the trigger finger straight, bring the rifle into your personal workspace with the magazine well at about eye level.

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Note: In the following photos, the shooter will be changing directions to expose better views to the camera. You should keep yourself facing a safe direction.

Next, break your support hands grip on the handguard, and reach back to the bolt catch on the left side of the rifle just above the back side of the magazine release button (see inset). You will take note that the bolt catch consists of a large flat area above a short arm that has a cotter pin punched through it in order to allow the bolt catch to be levered at your choosing. Now take your support side thumb and press in on the lower thin lever arm (not the wider top portion) maintaining a firm and constant pressure into the receiver.

Now break your firing side hands grasp around the pistol grip, and using your trigger finger and middle finger palm down, rest a finger on each side of the charging handle, depressing the charging handle latch with your trigger finger using your middle finger to help you pull the charging handle to the rear.

Left-handed shooters can simply use their trigger finger to press down on the bolt catch's lower thin lever arm (not the wider top portion) while they use their support side hands trigger finger and middle finger palm down, rest a finger on each side of the charging handle, depressing the charging handle latch with your trigger finger using your middle finger to help you pull the charging handle to the rear.

12 Press Bolt Lock - Use your support hand thumb to press bolt catch, and firing side hands trigger finger to depress the charging handle latch.

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13 Top view

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Once you have the charging handle latch firmly depressed, pull the charging handle straight back towards the end of the stock until it comes to a complete stop (see below).

If you are pressing into the bolt catch as instructed, the bolt will now be in a position to lock the bolt in place.

14 Lock - While pressing on the charging handle latch, pull the charging handle all the way to the rear.

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Ease the bolt forward (let the springs do the work via the charging handle) until you feel the bolt catch.

Once the bolt is caught (you will feel all the spring tension that is pulling the charging handle forward suddenly stop) use your thumb to return the charging handle all the way forward and locking it in place (inset).

15 Return - Once the bolt is caught, return the charging handle to its foremost position and lock the charging handle back in place by using your thumb and press the charging handle forward until it locks back in place.

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Re-establish your firing grip, and rotate the rifle in a manner that faces the ejection port upwards, so that you can see into the chamber area.

Try not to get into the habit of craning your neck over the ejection port to see inside. Instead, lift the rifle exposing the ejection port so that you can easily see the chamber area.

16 Look Inside - Rotate the rife so you can see into the chamber area to ensure there are no rounds there.

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Could you use a different technique to check the chamber? Yes (see the first section of this chapter). If you don't have a B.A.D. I would recommend that you get one so that you can keep all of your gun handling techniques similar.

Once you can see into the chamber area, you will know if your rifle has a round in the chamber or not, yet this doesn't mean that the rifle is clear and free from obstructions, so the next thing you will want to check is the magazine well. To achieve this, simply roll the rifle clockwise back to its starting position in your personal workspace, and insert a couple of fingers into the magazine well.

17 Mag Check - Roll the rifle clockwise back to the starting position in your personal workspace, insert a couple of fingers into the magazine well.

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Once you know your rifle is unloaded, take the meaty portion of the heal of your support side palm, and firmly strike the larger top portion of the bolt catch.

18 Strike Bolt Catch - To get the bolt home once again, strike the large upper part of the bolt catch with the heal of your support hand.

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At this point, you can close that ejection port if you choose to do so (if you plan on storing the rifle). If you plan on storing the rifle for an extended period, you can take the rifle off safe, and depress the trigger (while pointing in a safe direction), thereby removing most of the spring tension from the hammer spring.

At this stage, you could either store your rifle or begin your loading process (which we will talk about shortly).

Inevitably, we see those who choose to neglect the chamber check/mag checks as a regular and integral part of their loading and unloading process as the ones on the firing line or in the Reality Based Training scenarios (with non-lethal ammunition of course) who end up getting a click when they want a bang, or a bang when they want a click instead.

It is because of the above observation that we strongly urge you to incorporate a chamber check and magazine well check anytime we are unsure of the condition of your firearm (administratively, not something to do during a gunfight). Again, it's five seconds of cheap insurance, that is well worth the small effort on your part.

 

NEXT DRILL: Stance and Grip

 

Danger Stripe

NOTE: On-line instructional courses are not designed or intended to replace live training on a range, but rather to supplement your live fire and dry practice training.

At a bare minimum, you will want to enroll in a basic NRA course offered by any of the qualified NRA instructors in your area. Introductory NRA courses do a nice job of providing hands-on experience with basic marksmanship, weapon safety, maintenance, and cleaning.

If there is a DSI certified Combative Firearms Instructor (CFI) in your area we suggest you start with Module 1 (Rifle Basics) of our Combative Rifle courses. If not, we recommend that you take a quality rifle course from a reputable firearms training school near you.