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Old February 21, 2008, 12:28 PM   #1
Capt. Charlie
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Muzzle up? Or down?

We've all heard the debate. When unholstered and not pointing at a target, should the muzzle be pointed up or down? The "proper" way has done a 180 over the years, so which is it?

Here is a highly detailed article that sheds some interesting light on the subject. Granted, it's aimed mainly at law enforcement, but hopefully, y'all will find this useful.

I didn't cut and paste anything because the article contains a few hyperlinks to videos, etc.

Enjoy... and learn .
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Old February 21, 2008, 12:36 PM   #2
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Down in my opinion is safer.. unless on a balcony or in an apartment complex.. then all directions are questionable.
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Old February 21, 2008, 12:40 PM   #3
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Muzzle down is how I was taught by my father...."What goes up eventually comes down....and it's going to hit something, or someone".
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Old February 21, 2008, 12:45 PM   #4
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Excellent article! Thanks for posting that.

I have always been of the depressed muzzle camp: I know where the bullet will go if my gun does decide to magically go off...either into the floor/dirt/etc...or my foot. Yes, there is a chance of richocet if the floor is concrete or something similar, but if my muzzle is raised, I truely will have no idea where the bullet will finally land if I am outside. See rule #4: "Be sure of where your bullet is likely to end up.". I am more sure when my muzzle is depressed than raised.

Also, I prefer a depressed muzzle simply because I can have my hands are down at my side and therfore I tend to look more "normal" and non-threatening at first glance, than if I were to have my handgun muzzle raised and pointing up.
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Old February 21, 2008, 01:00 PM   #5
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I will relate what I used to teach (to members of the armed forces). The weapon is to be holstered or pointed down range - simple. Down range meaning either arms fully extended or weapon in the chest, enabling you to fire from that position while you are 'punching out' into a "proper" firing position. The weapon should never be pointed up or down, as that is adding a step in deployment of the weapon. This holds true for reloading (semiautomatics) as well (the bad guy may not know you are empty [if you are effective, you still have a round in the chamber and can fire] if you are still pointing down range).

If you do not intend on shooting, keep it holstered or reholster. If you intent to shoot keep the weapon pointed in the direction you need to deploy it.

The only time pointing up or down is acceptable is when filming "Miami Vice."
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Old February 21, 2008, 01:14 PM   #6
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Doesnt work very well when my holster is a deep concealment holster buried deep under clothing...
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Old February 21, 2008, 05:43 PM   #7
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Doesnt work very well when my holster is a deep concealment holster buried deep under clothing...
Or when I'm up to my neck in swamp water.
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Old February 21, 2008, 06:43 PM   #8
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Pointed down. pointed up the gun requires more movement of joints to extend into firing position, and is therefore slower, but more importantly because when pointed up that means I have something interfering with my field of vision. even holding it off to the side, it's gonna be in the way. unless I hold it below my line of sight, and still pointing up, which seems like i'd pointing it at myself.

The third eye punch out thing doesn't fly with me. I'd like to be ready to shoot, as in out of the holster, but not pointing at anything, since I think you should only point the gun at something you are willing to or are ready to shoot. If I haven't commited to killing it, or at least being okay with killing it, then I want my muzzle pointed down.

For instance, guy makes a threat and shows a knife. I point at him, cause I feel my life is in danger. But I don't shoot yet, because it hasn't gone that far, but I'm willing to, knowing I'd be justified because I'm in fear for my life right now. But if the attacker demurs, puts away his knife, then I don't want to point my gun at him anymore, becaue I'm not willing to kill him if he is not posing a direct threat. However, I wouldn't holster until I was completely sure the situation was over. As in I am gone, or he is.

low ready is best, in some very rare circumstances I could see how that Sul compressed ready thing would be useful.

In teamwork that third eye pointing out from your chest stuff is bad news. You'd be covering everything you looked at. real easy with that to point at a partner or team-mate. And you're always pointing with that at something, and whatever is beyond that something.

the trick is to know exactly what you're pointing at all the time, know with as much certainty as possible where your bullet is going to go if you're gun goes off at any given moment.
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Old February 21, 2008, 07:16 PM   #9
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I've noticed it pointed down some and pointed up for some of the times I've actually had it out for whatever reason. Down for surrendering it for locking at a gun show, pointing it into the fire barrel for clearing, etc. Up to the rafters for pointing a new gun while at a show to see how it feels. I will also need to put finger on trigger at this point, rule #3 be damned. Also up when investigating noises on my property. Once shocked a kid that was visiting my next door neighbor's kid via his bedroom window. Down when investigating noises in basement, up when doing the same on the second story. It seems to be pretty much automatic to me.
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Old February 22, 2008, 11:10 AM   #10
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Once upon a time I was shooting informally with a group of friends. One of the friend's father was with us and he chastised us for pointing our loaded weapons at the ground instead of holding them muzzle up. I politely pointed out that with the muzzle at the ground, there is less chance of an accident with a runaway bullet being fired from a downward muzzle as opposed to an upward muzzle.
He told me that he knew better because he had been around guns longer than I had.
I told him he had been lucky a long time, and I don't care to share the range with him any longer.

Doesn't add much to the topic, but just shows some strong opinions.
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Old February 22, 2008, 12:21 PM   #11
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up or down

I was always taught muzzle down. Kind of in a "low-ready" postion.
"You can all go to hell, I'm going to Texas."
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Old February 22, 2008, 01:55 PM   #12
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If you do not intend on shooting, keep it holstered or reholster
That may be for the military, but we're talking about civilians in everyday scenerios. Bump in the night, I'm not keeping my gun holstered, especially since I'll probably be in a robe.
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Old February 22, 2008, 09:44 PM   #13
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The muzzle up the author refers to is when the muzzle is covering a potential threat, not muzzle straight up to the sky.


The artical is a good one, and is relevant to anyone who might find themselves in the position of having a gun out with the expectation of deciding to point it at someone or not.
Meriam Webster's: Main Entry: ci·vil·ian Pronunciation: \sə-ˈvil-yən also -ˈvi-yən\, Function: noun, Date: 14th century, 1: a specialist in Roman or modern civil law, 2 a: one not on active duty in the armed services or not on a police or firefighting force b: outsider 1, — civilian adjective
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Old February 22, 2008, 10:39 PM   #14
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Most teachers of combat arms will teach muzzle down. If someone trys to do a gun grab you can start pulling the trigger while pointing towards the gun grabber. You will hit them in the shins, knees, hip, groin, or belly. A similar gun grab with muzzle up will have you shooting into the air..............
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Old February 22, 2008, 10:58 PM   #15
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I like down.
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Old February 23, 2008, 01:34 AM   #16
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Of course, with the gun coming down obscuring the target, the target would have to come in to view eventually while the sights overtravelled the target. Just come back up and shoot, I guess.

Of course, when in a crowd of good guys with drawn guns, and people moving around, muzzles have to be in safe direction--down if possible, but up if not.
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Old February 23, 2008, 02:55 AM   #17
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Military taught us pointed out. Quantico taught us pointed down. Nobody ever taught us pointed up.

If every single gun owner belonged to the NRA as well as their respective state rifle/gun association, we wouldn't be in the mess we're in today.

So to those of you who are members of neither, thanks for nothing.
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Old February 23, 2008, 03:15 AM   #18
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With a pistol: Down, with your entire body orientated toward the target.

This way you'll have the advantage of going quickly into retention if you have to; and, you'll be able to bring the muzzle up the target's vertical body centerline faster and easier than if your pistol is pointing, mindlessly, up in the air. You'll, also, be able to, 'index' onto the target faster, too, if you start low and bring the muzzle straight up along the target's midline.

('Speed indexing' is a lot harder to do if all you've got for reference is ceiling or sky. Ain't nothing like a torso or pair of legs to bring you right in there - fast!)
'Things go wrong. The odds catch up. Probability is like gravity; and, you cannot negotiate with gravity. One other thing: God always has the last laugh. You need to remember that!'
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Old February 23, 2008, 04:48 AM   #19
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Always down...unless you're in a hollywood movie...then you put it up, right next to your head, with your finger on the trigger.
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Old February 23, 2008, 06:07 AM   #20
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Always down...unless you're in a hollywood movie...then you put it up, right next to your head, with your finger on the trigger

I would say down for sure. For CQ type environments, whether your operating individually or as a part of a team, down is a better option. If an adversary jumps out from behind a corner and gets in your face its easier to shoot him if your coming up rather than trying to bring the gun down to him. If hes trying to steal your weapon, you'll have much better leverage bringing the gun up into him. As far as always keeping the muzzle pointed downrange, thats a nice idea but that only works on a square range. In real life, the threat area is typically 360 degrees around the shooter. This is why for some movements I favor position SUL (muzzle down), which enables the shooter to scan this entire area without sweeping the entire area as well. SUL also works well for moving around people. If Im moving through a tight area with my gun out, and I'm by myself, I use a low ready postion that resembles a very tightly compressed weaver. I hold the gun just below the chin line with the muzzle angled downward. Becuase the gun is so close into my body's center and near my face, I can very quickly bring the gun up into my focal plane and fire off a series of shots if need be.
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Old February 23, 2008, 07:11 AM   #21
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I prefere pointed down. One main reason for this would be that if I was ever in a bad situation I could fire while raising my gun and kinda work from the knees up. So I would be able to take the bad guy out before he takes me out. Just quicker that way. Also down keeps my field of vision clear and the gun away from my head.
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Old February 23, 2008, 07:31 AM   #22
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i carry muzzle down. pointing at a slight angle to my left. just clear of my foot. with the safety on. granted its my shotgun not a pistol. unless i am waterfowl or bird hunting. then maybe muzzle up when moving through a field . i don't rely on the safety so i make sure i don't have the muzzle pointing at something i don't intend on shooting. i usually hunted with my father so typically one of us would be leading and the other following. so i couldn't just have it up to my shoulder at the ready with the safety on or off. were hunting animals not enemy soldiers.
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Old February 23, 2008, 04:21 PM   #23
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Definately down, besides, if you have an AD with the muzzle up it could make the bird crash if it hits a rotor or hydraulic line etc...

Last edited by ISC; February 24, 2008 at 08:28 PM. Reason: typo
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Old February 23, 2008, 04:35 PM   #24
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Low and ready is the term. Holding the muzzle to the sky is good for Hollywood movies but has no tactical advantages unless you are clearing a second level while going up a flight of stairs. "Grazing" fire which means firing two to four feet from ground level is easier to accomplish even though it will be at an angle if standing versus prone the muzzle down aimed in the direction of your threat still exist when in the low ready versus the hollywood to the sky method.
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Old February 23, 2008, 06:43 PM   #25
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My input, having no training at all, is muzzle down. My line of reasoning is that the act of aligning sights and shooting will be similar/the same as drawing and firing.

I can see pointing up maybe if you have a group of people around you clearing/entering a building or room but for solo "bump in the night" investigations I'm at low ready.
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