Monday, October 26, 2009

Why?

Do you know what I just realized is the dumbest gun part ever affixed to a gun? A "loaded chamber indicator".

Dumber than an integral lock, dumber than a magazine safety.

What's it supposed to do? Encourage people to think "Well, it's okay if I point this thing at Cletus over there because the loaded chamber indicator says it's empty..."?

Its very existence betrays a bad mindset to have around guns, which is the idea that "This one's loaded, so I'll treat it with extra special caution!" The problem is thinking that way implies the unwritten corollary that "I don't think this one's loaded, so I can handle it sloppily," which almost unfailingly comes back to bite the unwary in the arse and leave bullet holes in things better left unpunctured.

58 comments:

og said...

Or "I'm gonna point this at that bad guy and pull the trigger because the loaded chamber indicator says it's loaded, though I don't remember chambering a round. Click!" Nothing amuses a bad guy more than being shot with an empty gun.

Weer'd Beard said...

I'll still take one of those pieces of shit over the Mag disconnect, because I can ignore that feature, and not point it out to new shooters while I teach them them proper safe gun handling.

Meanwhile I have yet to hear of Loaded Chamber indicators or witness holes causing a gun to actually malf, meanwhile I have REAMS of stories on Mag disconnects bricking a perfectly good gun.

TD said...

There were reports when the Mk III first came out of the LCI causing accidental discharges. Ruger redesigned the part.

Wolfwood said...

I've used mine before. I'm still settling in on the best way to CC and it's helpful for me to be able to tell at a glance if my PM9 or P-3AT is loaded.

I'm a strapping young lad, though, and can always just pull the slide a bit. A lot of girls I know, though, would have trouble with this, and so being able to look at the LCI is helpful for them.

Tam said...

"A lot of girls I know, though, would have trouble with this..." Then I submit that it's a failure of their instructor, not their muscles. ;)

(And a cartridge inspection port is different from a mechanical LCI. A visual inspection port lets you SEE the brass in the chamber, just like a press check would, whereas you have no way of knowing if a mechanical LCI is being raised by a loaded round or a piece of debris.)

John said...

ISTR that the most recent revision of the Steyr M-series pistol has eliminated the loaded chamber indicator as one of its features. They had a wonky extractor, but I wonder if that wasn't exacerbated by the LCI's design making it just an itty-bit more difficult for the extractor to do its thing.

MCSA56 said...

I think they're useless, but if it is very dark then they can be useful to know that there is, indeed, a round in the chamber...

(I'm a neurotic "press-checker"...)

Tam said...

That's why God made pinkie fingers. ;)

mcthag said...

I have a female friend who has a nerve problem that prevents her from racking the slide AND using a double action revolver.

Odd disability, and training won't help, unfortunately.

She's using a tilt barrel Beretta .32 because of it. Yes, she's aware of the frame cracking issue.

My negligent discharge (to my eternal shame) would not have been prevented by a loaded chamber indicator because I was SO confident I had unloaded the gun that I pulled the trigger. This incident also ended my love of Glock because I would not have pulled the trigger except that I was going to take it apart for cleaning. My fault for not checking.

Ed Foster said...

Most Frog military guns were safety free until recently (that little sheetmetal sear block thingy on the MAS 35 bolt guns sold over here wasn't original), and I never heard that they had any more accidents than most other folks.

Likewise an old Swiss toolmaker I used to work with mentioned that the 1911 and K31 safeties were so close to useless nobody ever bothered with them, and they were almost ignored in the manual of arms.

Conversely, a Polish guy I still work with mentioned that the AK equipped draftees he served with had AD's all the time, in spite of the massive safety on the Kalashnikov (Polska Kawashnik).

Too much booze, not much training, NCO's who were the first to get drunk, and an attitude of "Shit, I don't wanna be here".

So, I suspect I'd be safer around a bunch of Frenchmen or Swiss w/o safeties than a typical bunch of east European draftees with. It all comes down to training and discipline.

Peripherally related: Tam, didn't the French national Police buy American revolvers back in the '50's that had safeties on them? I can't remember the model. Something about a bucket under a bull.

Tam said...

"I have a female friend who has a nerve problem that prevents her from racking the slide AND using a double action revolver.

Odd disability, and training won't help, unfortunately.
"

True, there are exceptions to every rule. What I should have said is "A healthy adult human of either gender and in possession of all ten digits should be able to operate the slide of nearly any auto."

Grown men usually have enough grip strength to do it wrong and still get the slide to work. (Pinching it between fingertips is doing it wrong. :p )

Tam said...

"Peripherally related: Tam, didn't the French national Police buy American revolvers back in the '50's that had safeties on them?"

I know that one will occasionally find S&W Model 13's done for the Gendarmerie that have what appears to be an extra cylinder release on the starboard side that is actually a safety.

Jay G said...

[waves hand]

Hi. Subject of the Volksrepublik of MA here. Our guns can't be sold to us unless they have loaded chamber indicators.

I don't know - nor care - where any of these foolish things are. Often times it's a colored spot that shows if there's a round in the chamber or not. Personally, I prefer using my damned eyes to see if there's a round in the chamber; seems to work better for all involved...

And a P3AT has a LCI? I thought the incredibly loose tolerances of the gun itself let you see in the chamber???

Wolfwood said...

Well, let me clarify a little, too. The PM9 has a great LCI; I have zero doubt if it's up or not. USPc, P-3AT? More like guesswork.

Speaking of bad instruction, how come 1/2 the guys and all the girls I teach have trouble using the slide release on any autoloader I show them? It can be a P22, a 1911, or the USPc that will drop if you look at it unteutonically, yet they'll be cranking on it and still have nothing happen. What am I missing?

wv: menibic = a Gemini's self realization

Ian Argent said...

Both my G17 and my wife's P22 purport to have LCI. I've never bothered to look at them, and couldn't tell you off the top of my head how they indicate. To see if the chamber is loaded, look in the chamber.

jimbob86 said...

It's just another Lawyer added feature on the 22/45 that the gun would be SO much better without. Thanks a PANTLOAD, Ruger. If they'd do away with the stupid magazine safety and the LCI, they could add $100 to the price and I, for one, would pay it.

This pistol is supposed to be a cheap trainer for a 1911, yet no 1911 that I know of has either "feature". Both items make Disassembly/Cleaning/Reassembly much more complicated than it has to be, and the LCI is another Murphy-friendly extraneous doohickey touching the cartridge during feeding. This is a classic case of "Less is More".

P.S.- Jay- So the rest of the country has to be stupid because Mass. Lawmakers are? Stiving for mediocrity, we are.....

jimbob86 said...

STRIVING.......need coffee....

wv- the sound the members of the general public make when they want fed or bred by the .gov ....

jimbob86 said...

wv- that would be "lowing"

toldja I needed coffee....

pdb said...

However, I think it is dumb squared that this gizmo is not fitted to the Kel-Tec RFB or FN FS2000, two firearms where a conventional lookie-loo or fingering chamber check are impossible.

Steve R said...

Have a couple that have LCIs. Never, ever, do I use them. A blob of red paint on the extractor? Part of the back of the slide bumped back a little? Too subtle for me. I'll simply treat them all as loaded, physically check myself, thankyouverymuch. Only when I'm holding the barrel loose in my hand separate from the slide do I get a little less careful in where it's pointed.

RevolverRob said...

While taking a shooting class this weekend, the instructor for the course pointed out the loaded chamber indicator on the XD as a nice feature, so you could check to see if your gun was loaded, while in the holster.

I just stared at him, wondering why my gun WOULDN'T be loaded? I subscribe to the Clint Smith philosophy, load them all, they're all loaded, all the time. I do press check the gun when I put it on and take it off, just to make sure, but it's been 3 years and never once have I found a loaded gun "unloaded".

-Rob

Popgun said...

I have an XD 45, which has an LCI. I'm glad it's there. My XD really is always loaded, with a round chambered, unless I am cleaning it or just emptied it. But when I get up in the night to check a noise, it's nice to be able to run my finger across it and know (with relatively high confidence) that I have a round chambered. Given that there may be circumstances under which it may possibly give a false indication, I'm still glad it's there.
-Popgun

Anonymous said...

"Pinching it between fingertips is doing it wrong."

I am reporting you to the Jeff Cooper Police.

Shootin' Buddy

skipelec said...

On the Mark lll it is easily fixed.
1. Remove
2. Grind off the little tit.
3. Replace.
Result= no more stovepipes.

Boat Guy said...

My most frequent carry gun is now the XD in .45 with 4" bbl. There's some kinda protrusion atop the slide that sticks up AFTER I've chambered a round. It lays down when I go to Condition III for nightstand use. Coincidence? Don't care, I'm a visual/tactile dinosaur originally trained on the 1911. The protrusion certainly doesn't bother me, though; certainly wouldn't (and doesn't) keep me from appreciating everytihng else about the XD. I do like the other little protrusion at the back of the slide that seems to make an appearance when the striker's set, since it's more difficult to confirm such a tihng.

CAR said...

Call me an odd duck, but I like a properly designed CLI (as on Walther pistols, HK P9S, Steyr M9) on my weapons.

There is a reason they should not be used on rimfires though.

Boat Guy said...

Oh, and I'll take those protrusions over a "magazine safety" ANY DAY. That one's got my vote as the single dumbest thing.
Can't believe JMB had anything to do with such a travesty.

Anonymous said...

It's a Chamber LOADED indicator not a Chamber UN-LOADED indicator.

Matt G said...

Agree with Weer'd Beard.

Boat Guy, he was filling orders, and that's what the military guys wanted.

From the standpoint of issuing guns from an arms room daily, and then putting them back in stock, I can actually see the concept of the magazine disconnect safety. Drop the magazines out, unload them (theoretically), and turn the guns in. The pistols get put up quickly and efficiently without excess worry about a discharge. So, administratively, they kind of make sense.

As a feature on a fighting they make zero sense.

Anonymous said...

What the people who demand magazine safeties for their cops do not realize is that you CAN make a pistol discharge with the magazine safety sans magazine.

First saw this done by a Gunsite instructor years ago.

I'll take one human's desire for stupidity over 100 policacrats, engineers and lawyers any day.

Shootin' Buddy

Tam said...

I can dream up a hypothetical scenario, no matter how unlikely, where a mag safety or internal lock could serve some function, but there's no function a mechanical LCI serves that I can think of that can't be better handled by actually looking in the chamber.

Further, it's the mindset behind it that bothers me: The idea that a "loaded" gun is somehow to be handled differently than any other gun.

DON'T POINT THE DAMNED GUN AT STUFF YOU DON'T WANT TO SHOOT, NO MATTER WHAT THE MECHANICAL NUBBIN SAYS!!!!!

(A side Thought Experiment, courtesy of Gunsmith Bob: "Why are you handing me the gun with the action open? Do you think I'm going to handle it differently just because the slide's locked back?")

tomcatshanger said...

LCI's don't bug me when they are a part of the external extractor that sticks out just a little bit extra when there is supposed to be a rim under the extractor claw.

I don't think they hurt anything, and if they are indeed stuck in the open position, they are a great indicator that something is wrong with your extractor.

If they are added fiddly bits, I have no interest.

Ian Argent said...

@Tam - if you hand me a firearm with the slide locked back, I can look into the chamber to see that it is in fact unloaded, without having to push it back.

I'm not going to "handle" it differently in that I'm still going to check. (And follow Rule #1).

As noted upthread - an LCI on the the keltec rfb would have a purpose. One that I would have preferred some kind of witness port to instead, admittedly.

Mass. law drives firearms design the way Cali law drives automotbile design - it's easier to make a 50-state product that an 49-state product and a 1-state product. We'e lucky in that the firearms industry still has room for people to do the latter in some cases.

T.Stahl said...

Tp me an LCI is as useless as these annoying 'bing-bing, use your seatbelt'-lights.
I don't trust safeties, why should I trust an LCI?
If I want to be sure it's loaded, I'll do a press-check. If I want to be sure it's unloaded, I'll inspect the magwell and the chamber(s) with my eyes or fingers.

On the list of 'Things Guns don't need', LCIs rank somewhere between magazine safeties and screws.

Anonymous said...

Considering those that demand the inclusion of the LCI and the fact that it can lead to unsafe handling techniques, one might see this as a conspiracy to increase NDs and make it easier to say that the firearms are just to dangerous. Not to be a too paranoid.

NattyBumpo said...

I drive the kids nuts at the gun shop. When I ask to see any firearm I manually -read stick my pinkie-finder in the hole- check the chambers. I will pop-open the gate on a single action and spin the cylinder, or pop it out on a double-action. They think I'm crazy or overly paranoid. I just explain to them that there is no better way to ensure that someone didn't drop a round in when they weren't looking. As to loaded chamber indicators, I just flip open then close the cylinder, I can see all the holes or all the primers in a flash. I can even do it in the dark with little time or noise.

NB

Sarah said...

My Mil Pro has a loaded-chamber indicator. I don't pay any attention to the stupid thing - I can, and do, verify the firearm's condition for myself.

Linoge said...

(A side Thought Experiment, courtesy of Gunsmith Bob: "Why are you handing me the gun with the action open? Do you think I'm going to handle it differently just because the slide's locked back?")

Ian beat me to it, but I am going to have to grouse about this comment as well... As standard procedure, I verify safe and clear before handing a firearm to anyone, and, as a common courtesy given that I figure they are going to do the same upon receipt of the firearm, I leave the slide locked back. Saves them the time and trouble.

In other news, yeah, LCIs are bloody useless.

staghounds said...

But it's hard to see all the way down into the chamber, the barrel hole is so small...

Tam said...

"As standard procedure, I verify safe and clear before handing a firearm to anyone, and, as a common courtesy given that I figure they are going to do the same upon receipt of the firearm, I leave the slide locked back. Saves them the time and trouble."

Oh, I do it too, and so does everyone I know. But Gunsmith Bob's comment made me realize that, at least among those who know what they're doing, it's just a custom of the tribe, rather than a necessary safety step. ;)

Wolfwood said...

Further, it's the mindset behind it that bothers me: The idea that a "loaded" gun is somehow to be handled differently than any other gun.

Well, kind-of. I don't need to rack the slide of a loaded firearm, although I don't think cartridge efficiency is the main function of the LCI.

(Yes, when I'm using the belt clip alone, my P-3AT rides unchambered)

Ian Argent said...

Wolfwood shoots and scores.

Tam said...

"Wolfwood shoots and scores."

Color me obtuse, but where? I'm honestly curious.

Ian Argent said...

It is the customer of the tribe. But customs evolve for reasons; is this a custom that we need to discard? I would say not.

On the gripping hand - why a safety (beyond the internal drop-safety - necessary for "don't grab the falling gun")?

Wolfwood said...

I'm going to say "anywhere, any time" and head out a winner.

(although I also wondered)

Ian Argent said...

Implying that there is one way in which an actually-loaded firearm is treated differently than a notionally-loaded one: if you know it's loaded, you don't need to rack the slide before pulling the bangstick.

Still not a terribly good reason for a chamber-indicator

RevolverRob said...

If the gun is always loaded, why do we check to see if it is loaded? To make sure it's loaded? This seems very tautologous.

They're all loaded, all the time, act that way. The only reason to check a gun to see if it is loaded (it is), is to verify that it is STILL loaded, not unloaded.

Unloaded is a state of being that simply shouldn't exist in our minds. All loaded, ALL the time.

-Rob

Linoge said...

it's just a custom of the tribe, rather than a necessary safety step. ;)

Well, that is definitely true, but as customs go, there are worse :).

Justthisguy said...

My Star PD has a little notch in the top of its barrel, at the breech end. If I were to look, I could see brass there, or not. I don't trust my aged mind to remember longer than an instant whether or not the thing is loaded. If I can't see all the way through the barrel from end to end at that moment, it's loaded.

word verification: wootb. Almost as good as woota?

Frank W. James said...

All comments aside and to the contrary; I respectfully disagree. I believe most firmly the most useless and most idiotic feature on ANY firearm is the 'Zit' (internal trigger lock) on the frame of all the new Smith & Wesson revolvers.

Just my two cents...

All The Best,
Frank W. James

Clint said...

You know how the busybodies take WAY too much stuff WAY too serious WAY too often? Well, there is also the ANTI-busybody. These freaks never take anything serious unless there is a pressing need to do so. But, since they are not serious beforehand, they need to be TOLD when to be careful. They treat the world like they act themselves: inert until made ready. It never occurs to them the gun could be loaded because they didn't see it loaded.

For example:

Me: Check to see if that (gun) is loaded.
Bubba: How can it be loaded when NO ONE PUT AMMO IN IT!
Me: [gives the look of disbelief....]
Me: Humor me. Rack the slide.
Bubba: [racks slide]
~Plop~
Bubba: [eyes wide]
Me: I loaded it last night....
Bubba: You keep a LOADED GUN IN THE HOUSE?!!
Me: [gives the look of disbelief....]
ME: It ain't worth-a-damn without AMMO!

We get it; they do not.

As an aside: Funny how the anti's policy of “keep ammo and gun separate”, necessitated another policy from the anti's.

Caleb said...

I have an issue with the "all guns are always loaded" school of thought, because the fact of the matter is that we don't treat our guns like they're always loaded.

At least, serious shooters don't. If they did, we'd never dry fire practice. Just running around repeating "all guns are always loaded" is as silly, albeit in a different way as a loaded chamber indicator or a magazine disconnect safety.

Ian Argent said...

Caleb's got a good point - but rule 1 isn't as punchy if you say "All UNCHECKED guns are loaded". Which is the practical truth.

Tam said...

Put me in the "unserious" column, then, Caleb.

I know that when I'm engaging in dry practice, the muzzle is sure as shootin' not pointing at anything I wouldn't mind putting a hole in because, hey, even though it's empty, it's fucking loaded.

Ask Marko how loud dry fire practice can get. Those empty guns can be real loud sometimes.

EgregiousCharles said...

Caleb's got a good point. If your dry-fire is not at the range with eyes and ears on, then your gun is not always loaded. If your dry fire practice varies in any way from the way you shoot if you checked and found you had a full magazine and chamber or cylinder, then your gun is not always loaded.

That's why keeping the muzzle pointed in a safe direction is a separate rule.

Jeff Cooper's rules are great, but if you take them much more literally than he intended it's practically impossible to transport a firearm because of the muzzle rule, let alone wear one. And your safe needs a bullet absorbing barricade built around and under it. If the Four Rules were made law and violations could be prosecuted, it would be the Brady's wet dream.

Ian Argent's got a good point too. The rules are chosen for punch, not literality.

Wuulf said...

"However, I think it is dumb squared that this gizmo is not fitted to the Kel-Tec RFB or FN FS2000, two firearms where a conventional lookie-loo or fingering chamber check are impossible."

The FS2000 has a nifty hatch just rear of the factory rear sight, you pop it up, you get to look in at the camber of the weapon. Pull back slightly on the charging handle, and you can confirm your chamber status. Its original purpose, I believe is so you can reach in and clear jams and get your fingers smashed.

I ignore my LCI most of the time, as I doubt I will have the opportunity to say "Excuse me mister bad guy, may I have a moment to chamber a round?" However, it doesn't interfere with the operation of the weapon. I would never willingly own something that had a magazine disconnect unless I had no other... scratch that, I would go buy a revolver.

Bruce B. said...

You'll really cuss the LCI when it starts catching the rim of the spent casing between it and the recoil spring guide rod. Happened to me twice last night during the slow fire on our Bullseye pistol league.

About MA requirements, I'd think that rather than make a 50 state legal firearm a "Banned in Massachusetts" label would be a selling point. :-)

Anonymous said...

"there's no function a mechanical LCI serves that I can think of that can't be better handled by actually looking in the chamber."

There is one purpose: to know whether the gun is loaded or not without removing it from the holster.

I have a very high level of confidence in the reliability of the LCI on my Walther P99. It's very nice to be able to make sure nothing has changed since I last looked/touched the gun. If I wish to make sure the gun is unloaded for cleaning or dry fire practice or anything else that requires removing the gun from the holster, I physically check the chamber by removing the magazine and locking the slide to the rear before inspecting the chamber.

And no, the gun won't load or unload itself...but my memory is terrible.