“Cruiser Ready” Is a Bad Idea

This is a guest post by Andrew Betts

How Should I Store My Home Defense Gun? cruiser ready

By its very nature, a home defense gun should be ready to use as quickly as possible yet be secure from unauthorized use. Some folks also bend over backwards to find additional issues to worry about. For example, it is sometimes argued that home defense weapons should be kept in a “cruiser ready” state. That is the condition where the chamber is empty but the magazine is full. Sometimes “cruiser ready” is meant to include hammer down (unlocking the action for a pump shotgun) and the safety off. The reason often given for this is that if they had a round chambered and they fell over, they could discharge. Or so it is claimed.

There are several components to unpack here. The first is the idea the video focuses on, which is the theory that a fall that impacts the muzzle could cause a floating firing pin to detonate the primer due to inertia. As demonstrated in the video, this is simply not possible from any reasonable height. The speed at which the firing pin falls just isn’t fast enough to set off the primer. It’s also worth noting that even if it were possible, the only way for that type of failure to occur would be with the muzzle pointed at the ground, which would be a safe direction if you are on the ground floor. Of course, it is possible that a faulty sear could allow the release of the hammer or striker, but guns that are in proper working order don’t discharge simply because they tipped over in the closet. The one failure mode that really is reasonably likely is that a house fire would cause the gun to discharge. If there is a serious fire and if your gun is loaded and exposed to the fire, it will almost certainly discharge.

The real issue here is that guns should be stored with the muzzle pointed in a safe direction and in a stable position such that they are not prone to fall over, even if there is a fire or earthquake. It is quite reasonable to store a gun, muzzle down, and leaning in a corner while you are in the room and in direct physical control of it. If you cannot maintain direct control of the weapon, you should lock it up. If it is in a true safe, it may not matter what orientation you store it in, since the walls of the safe should have no trouble stopping most rounds, but you should consider where that projectile would go if the weapon were to discharge. If you use one of the popular steel lockers, they will do absolutely nothing to contain a round.

The obvious criticism is that, if a gun is locked up, it is not immediately accessible. There is no denying the fact that any locker will delay access, but it is worthy pointing out that, if you are not in the room with the gun, it will take you a moment to get to it anyway. The quickest types of lock are going to be a physical key or biometric sensor. After that are pushbutton electronic or mechanical locks and the slowest will be the dial type of combination lock. Some safes have a dial combination with a keyed “day lock”. This offers quick access while you are home, but is less secure. When you leave the house, you spin the dial and the safe is locked more securely. There are a wide variety of options here and there is absolutely a locker or safe that will fit exactly your set of needs for the balance of speed and security.

To be perfectly blunt, I believe that one reason that “cruiser ready” is so often recommended is that some guys just like feeling tough when they work the action on a shotgun. It gives them a feeling of security. Unfortunately, it also gives the intruder a good indication of where you are. That sound might scare them off or it might prompt them to prepare for a fight. It’s called the “fight or flight reflex” not the “definitely run away” reflex. They might simply crouch and point their gun at your bedroom door and wait for your head to come into view. That might not be a problem if you live alone, but if you have children in other parts of the home, you may not wish to shelter in place until the police arrive. Or the sound of chambering a round could panic them into shooting wildly through the walls. Or they might do something entirely unpredictable. The point is that it adds an element of chaos to an already tenuous situation and reduces your control.

Keeping your home defense weapon unloaded is a poor choice. There is no benefit to an empty chamber but there is significant risk. If you intend to maintain a weapon in a state of readiness, be sure that it is actually ready.


Andrew Betts served with the Arizona National Guard for over 12 years, including a tour to Afghanistan. Visit his YouTube Channel for more great shooting information.

Photo credit – Andrew Betts

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