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The Ten Commandments of Firearm Safety

Overview

Practice these principles of firearm safety and pass them along to others, especially new shooters.

 

A Tradition of Performance and Safety.

Your rifle has been made to Marlin's strictest standards of safety and reliability. It has been proof tested with high pressure load, function fired, and checked for accuracy at the factory. Built with tradition and engineered to last, your rifle is the product of over 135 years of Marlin technology.

Before You Use This Firearm

It is very important that you read and understand this manual before using your new rifle. Warnings should be read and heeded carefully. Always follow the "Ten Commandments of Firearm Safety," listed in this manual. Failure to follow these rules, warnings, or other instructions in this manual, can result in personal injury or death.

Safety is Critical to Performance.

A superbly crafted firearm is only as good as the hands that hold it. You can never be too careful. Shooting accidents are often caused by careless oversights such as failing to control the direction of the muzzle, failing to fully engage the safety, leaving ammunition in the chamber or using improper loads. These oversights can result in the destruction of life, limb or property. There's no calling back a bullet once it's been fired, so it's critical that you know the principles of safe firearm handling and storage before you ever take your new Marlin firearm out of the box.

The proper use and performance of your firearm depends on correct assembly and maintenance, so it's critical that you familiarize yourself with the information in this instruction book. Even if you're a veteran shooter with a collection of Marlin firearms, take the time to read this literature. Not all firearms are the same. That means the first step in safe handling is to learn the features and requirements of your new Marlin.

The Ten Commandments of Firearm Safety should be etched in your memory forever. Let them govern your action wherever and whenever you’re involved with firearms. In the field. On the range. Or in your home. Please take the time to review and understand these rules.

1st Commandment: Always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction.

2tchunters.pngThis is the most important firearm safety rule. A safe direction is one in which an accidental discharge will not cause injury to yourself or others. Never allow your firearm to point at anything you don't intend to shoot. Be especially careful when you're loading or unloading. Treat every firearm as if it were loaded. And make it a habit to know where the muzzle is pointed at all times, even when your firearm is un-loaded. No one will be injured by an accidental discharge if you keep your firearm pointed in a safe direction. It's as simple as that.

2nd Commandment: Firearms should be unloaded when not actually in use.

Load your firearm only when you're in the field or on the target range and ready to fire. Never let a loaded firearm out of your sight or out of your hands. Unload it as soon as you're finished shooting - before you bring it into your car, camp or home. Remember, unloading your firearm means unloading it completely, so there is no ammunition in the chamber or in the magazine. Before handling a firearm or passing it to someone else, visually check the chamber, receiver and magazine to be certain they do not contain ammunition. Always keep the firearm's action open when not in use. Never assume a firearm is unloaded even if you were the last person to use it. Always check for yourself.

  • 3tcgunsafe.pngLet common sense rule when you carry a loaded firearm. If you're in a situation that could risk accidental discharge - such as crossing a fence, wading through a stream or climbing a tree - always unload your firearm. Never pull or push a loaded firearm toward yourself or another person. Never carry a loaded firearm in a scabbard, detached holster or gun case.
  • Certain firearms (including some Marlin rifles and shotguns) are equipped with internal security devices to prevent unauthorized use. In addition, some firearms owners use external devices, such as cable locks and trigger blocks, for the same purpose. Even if you use such a device, you should still keep your firearm unloaded when stored or not in use. And using internal or external devices cannot substitute, however, for securing your firearms and ammunition in a separate, locked location.
  • Safe storage of firearms is just as critical as safe handling. Never store firearms loaded. Be sure to keep your firearms in a secure place where unauthorized persons cannot get their hands on them without your knowledge.
  • Take special care if there are children around. Children are fascinated by firearms. It's a natural curiosity that can have tragic consequences when not properly supervised. Store your firearms in a locked gun safe or some other location that physically bars a child from gaining access.
  • Ammunition should be stored and locked in a location separate from your firearm. Never leave an unsecured firearm or ammunition in a closet, dresser drawer or under the bed. Remember, it is your responsibility to make sure that children and others unfamiliar with firearms cannot get access to your firearm and ammunition.
     

3rd Commandment: Don't rely on your firearm's safety.

Treat every Firearm as if it can fire at any time, whether or not there's pressure on the trigger. Your firearm has been carefully designed to maximize performance and safety. However, because a firearm's safety is a mechanical device, it could fail.

Human error is a more likely reason for a firearm safety to fail. By mistake, you may think the safety is on when it really isn't. Or the safety may have been disengaged without your knowledge. Or you could think your firearm is unloaded when there's actually a cartridge or shell in it. A mechanical safety is not a substitute for common sense. It's merely a supplement to your proper handling of a firearm.

Never touch the trigger on a firearm until you are ready to shoot. Keep your fingers away from the trigger when you're loading or unloading. And don't pull the trigger when the safety is engaged or positioned between safe and fire.

Before using your firearm, read this instruction book to understand the exact location and operation of your firearm's safety. Even when the safety is on, maintain control of your loaded firearm and control the direction of the muzzle. In other words, don't rely on your safety to justify careless handling. If your firearm's internal mechanisms are broken or have been altered, your firearm may fire even when the safety is on. Remember, you and your safe firearm handling practices are your firearm's best safety.

4th Commandment: Be sure of your target and what's beyond it.

4tctarget.pngYou can't stop a shot in mid-air, so never fire unless you know exactly where your shot is going and what it will strike. Never fire at a sound, a movement or a patch of color. A hunter in camouflage can easily be mistaken for a target by an impulsive shooter. Before you pull the trigger be absolutely sure of your target and what's behind it. Make sure the shot has a backstop such as a hillside or dense material like sand. Remember, bullets can travel great distances with tremendous velocity. Know how far your shot will go if you miss your target or the bullet ricochets.

5th Commandment: Use proper ammunition.

Every firearm is designed to use a certain caliber or gauge of ammunition. Using the wrong ammunition, mixing ammunition or using improperly reloaded ammunition can cause serious personal injury or death. And it only takes one cartridge or shotshell of the incorrect caliber or gauge, or which has been improperly reloaded, to destroy your firearm. It's your responsibility to make sure the ammunition you use exactly matches the caliber or gauge of your firearm. Refer to this instruction book to find out the specific requirements of your firearm. Always read and heed the instructions on ammunition boxes.

Confusing shells or cartridges can cause serious personal injury or death and destroy your firearm. Examine your shells or cartridges closely and use only the precise caliber or gauge for your specific firearm. For example, suppose you accidentally loaded a 20 ga. shell into a 12 ga. shotgun. Because the 20 ga. shell is too small for the chamber, the 20 ga. shell could travel down the barrel and get lodged in the bore. If you then loaded a standard 12 ga. shell behind it and fired, the 12 ga. shot will slam into the lodged 20 ga. shell and may cause the barrel to explode right in your hand. This is commonly called a 12/20 burst, and it can kill you.

Check all ammunition before you load it to make sure it matches your firearm's requirements. Every Marlin cartridge and shell is head-stamped with its caliber or gauge for easy identification. Likewise, you'll find the caliber or gauge of your new Marlin firearm imprinted on the barrel.

Reloading Requires Extra Diligence.

If you're an ammunition reloader, you are responsible for personally ensuring that the loads and components of your reloaded ammunition meet your firearm's factory-tested standards. Never use ammunition, which has been reloaded by someone else!

Many shooters handload as a hobby or to save money on commercial, factory-made ammunition. However, it requires a thorough knowledge of reloading procedures and a deep respect for the explosive potential of gunpowder.

Firearms are designed, manufactured and proof-tested to standards based on factory-loaded ammunition. Handloaded or reloaded ammunition that deviates, either intentionally or accidentally, from load or component recommendations can be very dangerous.

Reloaders must observe all possible safety precautions and practices related to the proper handling of explosives. Whether you're a seasoned reloader or just starting out, you should study the subject, watch reloading demonstrations and talk to experienced reloaders.

The first rule of reloading is to always follow the manufacturer's instructions for the components you're using. They'll tell you to follow certain guidelines. Namely:

  1. Don't mix or substitute powders or primers.
  2. Don't use unknown or substandard components.
  3. Use only suitable components that have been factory-tested by reputable ammunition, powder and bullet manufacturers.
  4. Always be sure to use the manufacturer's recommended recipe when reloading.

Not following these guidelines could result in severe injury to yourself or severe damage to your firearm. Dangerously high pressure and explosions can result from an overcharge of powder or other deviations from established reloading guidelines. Be very careful. The process of reloading exposes you to environmentally hazardous material. Lead, which is known to cause cancer and birth defects, is the most common substance in bullets and shot. It is important to handle lead bullets and shot with extreme care. Work only in a well-ventilated area and always wash your hands after exposure and before eating. Never smoke while reloading.

Primers and powders are also highly toxic and flammable. So after reloading be sure to clean up all materials from your work area. Don't leave primer or powder spills anywhere on the floor or bench top. Dispose of all waste material in accordance with the manufacturer's recommendations.

Finally, when reloading or handloading concentrate on what you're doing at all times. Do not be distracted by talking to others, listening to the radio or watching TV while reloading. Never reload after consuming alcoholic beverages or drugs of any kind. You are working with extremely hazardous materials and you can't risk even a few seconds of distraction. Remember, if you reload, you are the ammunition manufacturer and you are responsible for the performance and safety of your reloaded ammunition.

6th Commandment: If your firearm fails to fire when the trigger is pulled, handle with care.

If for some reason the ammunition doesn't fire when you pull the trigger, stop and remember the 1st Commandment of Firearm Safety - always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction. Keep your face away from the breech, then put the safety on, carefully open the action, unload the firearm and dispose of the cartridge safely. Remember that anytime there's a shell in the chamber, your firearm is loaded and ready to use. Even if you tried to shoot and your firearm didn't fire, treat your firearm as if it could still discharge.

7th Commandment: Always wear eye and ear protection when shooting.

5tcprotection.pngYour sight and hearing risk injury from shooting and should be protected at all times. Wear protective shooting glasses to guard against falling shot, clay target chips, powder residue, ruptured cartridge cases and even twigs and branches in the field. Also be sure to wear eye protection when you're disassembling or cleaning a firearm so that tensioned parts (like springs) and cleaning solvents don't come in contact with your eyes. Continued exposure to shooting noise can permanently damage your hearing. On the range, where shooting volume is the loudest, be sure to use the maximum protection of a headset. Learn to use ear protection at all times.

8th Commandment: Be sure the barrel is clear of obstructions before shooting.

Before loading your firearm, open the action and make sure there's no ammunition in the chamber or magazine. Check the barrel for any obstructions or debris. Even a small amount of snow, mud, excess lubricant or grease in the bore can dangerously increase pressure and cause the barrel to bulge or burst when firing. Use a cleaning rod and patch to wipe away anti-rust compounds or any other residues or obstructions in the barrel. Never try to shoot out an obstruction by loading another shell and firing!

When firing, rely on your instincts. If the noise or recoil of your firearm seems weak, stop everything, unload your firearm and be sure nothing is lodged in the barrel. Remember the 12/20 burst? That's what can happen when the barrel is obstructed. Always be sure you're using the correct ammunition in your firearm and that it's free of obstructions.

9th Commandment: Don't alter or modify your firearm and have it serviced regularly.

Your firearm has been designed to operate according to certain factory specifications. You'll jeopardize your safety and that of others around you by attempting to alter its trigger, mechanical safety or other mechanisms. So never alter or modify your firearm in any way.

6tcservice.pngLike any mechanical device, a firearm is subject to wear. It must be maintained and periodically serviced to assure optimum safety and performance. Only a qualified service facility should service, repair or modify your Marlin firearm. Consult your instruction book for instructions on how to send your firearm to the factory or for the location of the nearest Marlin authorized repair station.

Proper cleaning and lubrication are also important to firearm maintenance and are necessary to assure accuracy, safety and reliability. Before cleaning, always make sure that your firearm is completely unloaded. And always clean the barrel from the chamber end to the muzzle when possible.

Make it a practice to clean your bore every time you're going to shoot. Be sure to clean your entire firearm before and after long-term storage and no less than once a year. It's also important to clean your firearm whenever it's been exposed to adverse conditions such as rain, dirt, mud, snow, sleet or saltwater.

For safe and dependable operation of your firearm, all parts of your firearm must be properly cleaned and lubricated. Periodically inspect the internal workings of your firearm to be sure they're clean and free of rust, unwanted dirt and debris.

Use recommended lubricants on your firearm and do not over-lubricate. Excessive use of a non-recommended lubricant could adversely affect the function and safe operation of your firearm. Remember, you are responsible for the proper care and maintenance of your firearm. Failure to properly maintain your firearm cannot only damage or ruin your firearm, it can expose you and others to unnecessary risks ofpersonal injury or death.

Marlin has a wide range of firearm care products and resources for best results when cleaning your firearm. Everything from solvents and lubricants to rods and patches. They're all available from your Marlin dealer.

10th Commandment: Learn the mechanics and handling characteristics of your firearm.

Not all firearms are alike. They have different mechanical characteristics that dictate how you should carry and handle them. Anyone who plans to use a firearm should first become totally familiar with the type of firearm it is and the safe handling procedures for loading, unloading, carrying, shooting and storing it.

7tcmanual.pngBefore you even unpack your new Marlin firearm, read this instruction book from cover to cover and familiarize yourself with the different component parts of the firearm. Then read, understand and follow the Ten Commandments of Firearm Safety in this manual.

WARNING! Discharging firearms in poorly ventilated areas, cleaning firearms or handling ammunition may result in exposure to lead, a substance known to cause birth defects, reproductive harm, cancer and other serious physical injury. Have adequate ventilation at all times. Wash hands thoroughly after exposure.

SHOOT SOBER!!

There's one other rule that must be followed when handling firearms. In fact, respect for this rule is necessary in order to effectively practice the Ten Commandments of Firearm Safety. The rule is: SHOOT SOBER! Firearms and alcohol or drugs make a deadly combination. Never consume anything that would mildly impair your judgment or physical coordination when you're using a firearm. A staggering percentage of the shooting accidents that occur every year involve alcohol or drugs. Be smart. Always shoot sober and stay alive.

WARNING! Failure to follow any of these safety rules may cause personal injury or death to the shooter or bystander and damage to property. Do not use a firearm until you fully understand and practice the Ten Commandments of Firearm Safety. If you have any questions about the safe use of a Marlin firearm, write to us at Marlin Arms Company, Inc., Consumer Service, P.O. Box 700, Madison, NC 27025-0700, or call us at 1-800-243-9700.

DON'T KEEP THIS TO YOURSELF.

Now that you're a firearm owner you have the obligation to help ensure that shooting sports are safe for everyone - participants and bystanders alike. You can do that by practicing these principles of firearm safety and passing them on to others - especially new shooters. Set an example for beginners. Be a guide to their safe entry into the exciting world of shooting sports. Invest your time and patience for the love of the sport and for its future. After all, it's your love of the sport that led you to buy a new Marlin.

Firearm ownership is a right and privilege. It's a right guaranteed in this nation's Constitution. It's a privilege, which carries with it a personal responsibility to use your firearm in a way which will ensure your safety and the safety of others. The preservation of this right and privilege depends on the personal commitment of you and your fellow shooters to the safe and responsible use of firearms. Let the Ten Commandments of Firearm Safety outlined in the manual guide you at all times. Teach and promote these rules whenever you can. Remember, firearm safety depends on you! That's the only way to really enjoy your new Marlin firearm and to preserve sport shooting as we know it today.

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