Safe Gun Handling Tip from Law Enforcement: Clearing Barrels

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clearing barrel

If you work in an environment that uses, or handles firearms, you probably need a clearing barrel. What is a clearing barrel? A clearing barrel is a ballistically safe tube, designed to contain bullets that are fired into the barrel. Most of the time they are used in areas where weapons are transferred from user to storage and back again. Every place I have worked, where we handled firearms, had a clearing barrel. In a best-case scenario, the clearing barrel keeps people from putting unwanted holes in walls, ceilings, or floors. In a worst-case scenario, the clearing barrel will likely save a life. It is well known that the unloading and loading process for firearms is one of the most dangerous times in gun handling, and the time where a negligent discharge is most likely. To avoid these dangers, I always recommend the use of a clearing barrel.

A clearing barrel is the safest way to ensure a firearm is unloaded, and either ready for safe storage, or for transfer to the next user. It is the ultimate safety check.

clearing barrel

How is a clearing barrel used?

The typical use of a clearing barrel might be for a unit armor collecting weapons at the end of a shift. For example, in a police department that issues patrol rifles at the start of a shift, and collects them at the end of a shift, the clearing barrel would be utilized. The Officer would place the barrel of the rifle into the clearing barrel. They would then place the safety on, remove the magazine, and open the bolt to clear the chamber. In placing the barrel into the clearing barrel, the Officer has now ensured that human error will be contained. If the unloading process is done incorrectly, or the Officer mishandles the firearm, any round discharged will go harmlessly into the clearing barrel. The barrel will contain the round and with a good clearing barrel, there will be no splash back, just a very loud and unexpected noise as the gun goes off. In the case where the Officer is retrieving an issued firearm, the loading process can consist of placing the barrel of the rifle into the clearing barrel, inserting the magazine, then, depending on unit practices, chamber a round with little fear of a slam fire from sending the bolt forward on a live round. If that were to happen (and I have seen this happen) the round will be contained in the clearing barrel. This makes the loading and unloading process much safer. Officers who are tired from a long shift, or anxious to respond to an in-progress call, will greatly reduce the impact of human error as they load or unload their rifles.

clearing barrel

Choose the best clearing barrel

Clearing barrel design and manufacture vary from brand to brand. The best clearing barrels are tubular in design and will be flexible in size to allow them to be mounted at any place that will best serve the users. The clearing barrel must be convenient and easy to reach to encourage its use, otherwise, people are likely to look for shortcuts, which could have disastrous effects. Clearing barrels, such as the ones made by Weapon-Clear and sold by Security Pro come in a variety of sizes and levels of protection. Weapons-Clear makes clearing barrels that will stop common rifle rounds, or if your work force only uses pistols, you can get a smaller one that will handle all common handgun rounds. The Weapons-Clear clearing barrels can be placed on the ground, or securely bolted to a table or bench.  The Weapon-Clear barrels are phenomenally capable. For example, their rifle clearing barrel will stop all rifle rounds, up to and including the .50 caliber BMG. That is quite the feat.  Weapon-Clear barrels are coated with the same material used in pickup truck beds. This allows them to be mounted inside, or outside with no ill effects from the weather. Weapon-Clear uses a proprietary design that will contain all splash back, so no bullet fragments will leave the tube. This is critical as rounds fired into a metal surface, at close range, will often produce bullet fragments with enough force to penetrate the skin and possibly the bone.

clearing barrel

Why do you need a clearing barrel?

If you are a gunsmith or armorer, who frequently handles firearms, you are well advised to invest in a clearing barrel. Familiarity breeds contempt and anyone who has been around guns for any length of time, has a story of either a friend, perhaps themselves, being responsible for a negligent discharge during loading and unloading. A clearing barrel will prevent that from being a bigger issue than just a careless mistake or momentary lapse in attention. If you supervise a work force such as military, police or security, that frequently handles firearms for turn-in, you are setting yourself and your co-workers up for a potentially fatal accident if you don’t utilize a clearing barrel. At the end of the day, they provide inexpensive peace of mind. Check out Security Pro’s full selection of Weapon-Clear clearing barrels.


About the writer

Mike Lazarus

Military and Law Enforcement Veteran

FBI certified firearm instructor

MP5 and Sub Machine gun instructor

Defensive tactics instructor

Police Academy instructor


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