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Occasionally you may trip or stumble in the field, accidentally dipping the barrel into the ground or snow. Immediately check for an obstruction.

Hunter removing barrel obstruction
  • Point the muzzle in a safe direction.
  • Open the action, and make sure the firearm is unloaded.
  • Check for debris in the barrel. If the firearm is a break action, look through the barrel from the breech end, or use a barrel light to inspect the barrel for obstructions.
  • Remove any obstructions with a cleaning rod.
  • Check the barrel again to make sure no debris remains.

Clearing Plugged Gun Barrels

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Video Transcript
Rob

All right. So you never know what’s going to happen at any time when you’re duck hunting. And that’s why everybody loves it. But besides the excitement, there’s also a lot of safety issues that can happen at any time. OK. So let’s try this. Let’s see if you can identify them and then help us find ways to solve them. You ready?

Carson

Yeah.

Rob

All right. So any guesses what we’re doing here to start a safe hunt? Well, because we’re still heading to our hunting spot, our guns are not loaded yet.

Rob opens the gun to show it is unloaded.

Rob

See? But we’re still walking side by side using safe carries. Because—

Carson

Because we always carry and handle any kind of gun as if it were loaded.

Rob

And walking side by side is the safest, especially in this slippery stuff.

Carson

Is that the spot, Uncle Rob?

Rob

Yeah. That’s the spot. We have everything ready. We just have to set up the decoys.

Carson

OK.

The two set up decoys and get into position. Carson hands Rob his firearm.

Rob

OK. Thank you. OK. You ready?

Carson

Yeah.

Rob

OK. It’s safe to load.

Carson

OK.

The two face away from one another and begin loading.

Rob

All right. What did you notice about loading? Communication? Positioning? Let’s see what you noticed. We waited until we were at our hunting location and all set before loading. We also communicated clearly with our partner about what’s happening. And we positioned ourselves so we can see, hear, and respect our safe zones of fire. OK. Now we’re ready for some action.

Carson, whispering

Right there.

Rob uses the duck call. Carson points to some ducks overhead, and Rob uses binoculars to see them. As he watches the duck, his gun slips off his lap muzzle-first into the mud.

Carson

Uhh, Uncle Rob?

Rob

Ohhh. That’s no good. Well, we might as well make the most of this and learn a few tricks. Now, if you suspect you might have a plugged barrel, you need to get to firm ground with safe footing. And then open the action to unload your gun.

The two walk to a safer area.

Rob

OK. First, we need to see if the barrel’s plugged. With a pump action, you need to pull the barrel off to check whether or not it’s plugged. How you remove the barrel depends on the type of firearm you’re using. And that’s why you should always check the manufacturer’s guidelines.

Rob removes the barrel and looks down it.

Rob

Yep. This one’s plugged. OK. So whether it’s mud, snow, ice, or dirt, what’s the best way to clear an obstruction? Use a stick as a ramrod? Remove obstructions with a cleaning rod? Or simply blow hard down the barrel to clear the obstruction?

A cursor on screen selects USE A STICK.

Rob

Using a stick as a ramrod is a bad idea. First, you could break it off and really plug your barrel. And if your barrel is attached to your gun, you could damage your action with debris. Try again.

A cursor on screen selects BLOW INTO BARREL.

Rob

Ohhh. Look, blowing into the end of your barrel is never, ever an option. You better try something different to clear an obstruction.

The cursor selects USE A CLEANING ROD.

Rob

That’s right. Using a portable cleaning rod is the right way to clear an obstruction. You want to push from the breech and push the obstruction out the end of the barrel. Once you’ve done that, you can use the other side and finish the job.

Rob re-assembles his firearm.

Rob

All right—let’s go. Look, just about anything can happen when you’re hunting. And that’s what makes it so exciting. But that’s also why safe hunting is a vital part of fun hunting. All right. Should we get back to those ducks?