Are Cased Guns Safe?

Dear Bruce:

I want to discuss the a practice of casing of guns between stations. To me it leads to a terrible safety practice. I have had more closed guns pointed at me at sporting shoots than I ever saw in years of trap shooting. Guys are VERY casual about closing actions, swinging closed guns and wildly swinging cases around. It seems like a flourish to finish a stand, close the gun, then catch the case over the closed barrel.

I thought that it was an NSCA rule that actions had to be open at all times, except when in the box. At these shoots, guys carry closed guns all the time and point them without thinking. If I were an insurance agent, I would never cover any shoot with this kind of loose interpretation of the old rule I treat every gun as if it were loaded.

Before you flame me as a response, look around at the next shoot, and think if you would let your son treat a gun like these guys do. Cases contribute to the problem. It’s a great group, I would hate to see it marred by a safety accident that could be avoided.



Dear George,

Casing guns between sporting clays stations is commonly done for a variety of reasons. First of all, soft field cases come with straps so the gun can comfortably be slung over the shoulder as it is carried from station to station. Secondly, when stations are backed up the gun rack is always overfull. Cased guns are less liable to be damaged in the general milling about. Thirdly, it is virtually impossible to accidentally pull the trigger of a cased gun.

That said, perhaps it isn’t so safe after all. You are very right that many shooters are less wary of their muzzles when the gun is in a soft case. Obviously, when an O/U is cased the action it is closed and not as completely safe as it is when broken open. If the gun does go off somehow, the case certainly will not protect anyone. Perhaps people think that the gun has been made completely safe just because it is put in a cloth case. Your observation is quite correct that shooters handle uncased guns with a lot more care than they do cased ones.

Casing has always been considered the polite, preferred and safe way to carry a gun at a sporting clays match. Maybe it isn’t. Then again, even those who carry their O/Us broken open, close the gun when they place it into the rack while waiting their turn to shoot. I have seen a few people attempt to rack their O/Us slightly open, but the guns tend to fall. Trap and skeet shooters always rack their guns closed, but they are shooting in much more controlled situations than the sporting clays shooter. Many (most?) shooters carry their guns to and in their cars made up in long, soft cases. The English are very strict on gun safety and when I have shot there, they always made a point of casing their guns between sporting stations or when changing grouse butts. That said, you have certainly made a point and raised a doubt.

I just do not have an answer for this and would love to hear from our readers on this point. Safety is too important to mess around with. If there is a safer way to conduct our shoots and carry our guns we should do it. Would it help if we banned soft cases on the course and required the guns to be racked with the actions broken? Would simply educating our shooters that, cased or not, an assembled gun is still a danger be enough? Is there some better way? We hope that Shotgun Reports’ readers will write with their thoughts.

Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid

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2 Responses to Are Cased Guns Safe?

  1. Steve Handerer says:

    I use the following procedure. When removing a gun from a gun slip I turn so my back is facing other shooters near me so that the barrels cannot point at anybody. I then unzip the case, reach in and slide out the gun simultaneously breaking the barrels of the gun if possible. Putting the gun back in the case I use the opposite procedure. I too have had guns pointed at me when returning them to a gun slip. There’s no excuse for it. You never point a gun at anyone cased or not.


  2. Like everything in life………what works for some people, other people just think nothing of. If a gun is cased and carried correctly, it should have the muzzle down, butt up, and carried over the shoulder in the same position. A gun going into a case, should be carried open, until it is placed into the case, and even then, only pointed towards the ground as the case is placed on the gun. When the gun is removed, it should be removed in the same manner, and opened at once upon removal from the case. Auto loaders should always be cased with the actions open, and need to be even extra careful upon removal to not sweep the muzzle in the direction of any person. Most people I have observed are very considerate of this, but again, not everyone thinks as we do. In most cases, if a person is sweeping the muzzle, and it is pointed towards people, MOST, shooters will not mind a gentle and polite reminder of what they are doing. Now, I have also observed another shooter going off “half cocked” , and screaming and yelling at the offender, and 99% of the time the shooter did not even have an idea of what he or she was doing. That does not do any good either. Any time I have observed this, the shooters I have spoken to have been more than cordial, and have tried to correct the problem. Let’s face it, we all forget from time to time, and if so………..feel free to remind me, AND if I don’t know, please help me learn what is correct and incorrect on the clays course so we all can enjoy this sport more. Remember, if there are 100 people on the clays course, there are 100 Range Officers out there. We are all responsible for the safety of not only what we do, but what other people do too, if we can help a person become safer. You can never be wrong if you help a person become safer, but you sure as hell can be wrong if you say nothing and let an unsafe practice keep happening.
    We all had to start someplace…………help someone today, and we all can enjoy this sport for a long long time to come.


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