Down the business end, that is, James May demonstrates. Are there any legitimate reasons whatsoever where you should look down the gun barrel or is factually accurate to say that you should never look down the barrel from the front for any reason?
I thought maybe cleaning it, but from what I’ve found on the YouTubes even then you work from the other end.
The Canadian Firearms Program safety training (recommended for the Canadian Possession licenses PAL, RPAL, and POL tests) instructs you to look down the barrel as the final check that a gun is safe.
The mnemonic is “PROVE”
Point the gun in a safe direction
Remove the ammo and magazine (if applicable)
Observe the chamber to confirm empty
Verify the feed path is empty
Examine the barrel for obstructions
The last step requires you to look down the barrel, or in the case of some revolvers (where you would only see black because the cylinder doesn’t rotate out of the frame), you would use a dowel poked down the barrel.
It feels a little uncomfortable at first, but if you follow the steps in the process, the gun barrel is safe to examine.
Just wanted to add that my instructors always directed me to look down the business end of the barrel, and not try to find an angle where I could see down the barrel from the chamber. Unless it was a break-action shotgun.
There are times that you do look down the barrel from the muzzle. Depending on the firearm and action type, it is often impossible to look down the barrel from the chamber end. I’ve looked down barrels from the muzzle when inspecting and cleaning. It is not necessary to look from teh muzzle end if you can see from the chamber end, as in some bolt action rifles (where you can remove the bolt) and swing-open over/under and double-barrel shotguns. If you can’t look down the barrel from the chamber, you always unload it, and then double- and triple-check that it is indeed unloaded and the action is open. What I mean by the action being open is: open the bolt (if bolt action); swing open the lever (if lever action); pull back and lock the bolt (if semi-automatic); pull the pump handle back (pump action); or swing out the cylinder (revolver).
Every gun I’m familiar with can be verified as unloaded, and rendered unable to fire (by opening the action). The partial exception that comes to mind is a muzzleloader. You can’t really open the action, and unloading typically means firing it. If you can’t or don’t want to fire a muzzleloader, it can be a bit tricky to tell if it is loaded or unloaded.
Those early steps are the critical ones, i.e. ensuring, immediately prior to retrograde barrel inspection, that there is no round in the chamber.
Don’t make the mistake of saying “if my finger isn’t on the trigger, it’s safe to point the gun at my face.” Witness this dumb-but-fortunate fellow, who experienced a hang fire event and decided to look down the barrel. Fortunately all he damaged was his hat (and probably his hearing).
Marine Corps Boot Camp, Firearm Inspection, M-14, no magazine, no ammunition, bolt locked back, thumb in chamber, thumbnail facing forward to create reflection, look down barrel for any dust/dirt. I’m still here.
The only good reason for looking down the barrel of a gun is to see why the bullet isn’t coming out when you click the clicky thing, preferably while pounding it on a table top. I’m sure I’ve seen this exact technique demonstrated in Saturday morning cartoons.
Of course you can look down the barrel. I always do when I am considering purchasing a gun. I want to see how clean the barrel is as well as how the lands and grooves look. I also want to see if I can spot any pitting in the barrel. I usually use a bore light for this. The catch is make sure YOU are the one holding the gun and make sure YOU have made sure the gun is not loaded.
You can’t just keep running a patch through the barrel until it comes out clean. You want to, at some time, take a look. Also you’ll want to see if there’s any pitting. Gum wrappers, pieces of white paper, thumb nails work also. Of course, if you’re running a cleaning rod through the barrel, it’s probably been disassembled enough that you don’t have to worry about an accidental discharge.