Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Making a Clearing Barrel

The only sound louder than a gun going off in your home is the deafening silence afterward. A million thoughts go through your head, starting with "Did that really happen?" and rapidly traversing to "Oh shit, where did the round end up?"

Negligent discharges can happen to anyone. They can ususally be traced to inexperience or complacency, and even very careful folks slip up sometimes; I have a TV with a shattered screen and a .40 slug rattling around in a wall to attest to that.

While the ideal is to never have any negligent discharges, a simple backstop can provide an additional layer of safety. Thankfully, a clearing barrel or bucket is cheap and easy to make.

How it Works
  1. The barrel or bucket is filled with sand or some other loose, dense fill materials, but sand is cheap and available. 
  2. The sand absorbs energy very quickly, serving to trap any bullets fired into it. 
  3. Larger barrels can trap more powerful rounds, but require more space and cost more. 
  4. For most practical purposes, a five gallon bucket is plenty.
To make a functioning clearing bucket, all you really need is a five gallon bucket and sand. However, adding a lid with a hole in the center makes things far cleaner. You'll need just about 50 pounds of sand for a five gallon bucket.
  1. Use whatever tool you like to cut a roughly 3" hole in the center of the lid
  2. Fill the bucket.
  3. Pop the lid on. 
For for a cost of roughly $10 and 10 minutes, you have a clearing bucket.

How to Use It
Use the bucket anytime you need to confirm an empty chamber, so keep it near any place you use to clean or maintain your guns. When you need to confirm your firearm is empty:
  1. Drop your magazine
  2. Cycle the action
  3. Aim the gun into the hole in the lid 
  4. Pull the trigger.
If you've done everything properly, nothing will happen. 

If a mistake was made somewhere along the line, the gun will go off, but the bucket will catch the bullet and prevent collateral damage. It'll be loud, but you won't have to worry about where your round ended up or if it hurt anyone.

You can't prevent all mistakes and accidents, but sometimes you can minimize the damage they cause.


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