Photo of the day: Down the muzzle

Shelley Rae j-frame

Shelley Rae clears a corner with a S&W 640 Pro Series. This photo was originally taken for an article that will appear in Combat Handguns. However, it also got me thinking about a very specific gun photography topic, which we’ll discuss below the jump.

The topic is muzzle on photos, such as the one above. They’re actually a fairly common staple in the firearms industry, because we get tired of looking at the back of people’s heads. It shows the shooter’s face, and can show us an aspect of the gun that we, as the owner of the gun don’t frequently get to see.

They also tend to stir up a lot of brouhaha, because some people are adamantly opposed to them because it gives the appearance of violating one of the 4 Rules. I’ll use this picture for an example – we didn’t use a tripod, so the photographer was in fact “downrange” of the muzzle. However, the gun was verified unloaded by the photographer and the shooter prior to the pictures, and the room was cleared of any live ammo. Additionally, Rule 2 was observed 100%, and the muzzle never covered anything we weren’t comfortable with destroying. So in a sterile environment like this, muzzle on photography is safe and can provide some cool shots.

But what about when live ammo gets involved? Let us know you thoughts in the comments.


  1. It’s pretty simple to put a camera on a tripod and have a remote. Most semi-professional cameras have this ability. As you move up in price a lot of them even allow for a live feed of the viewfinder to a laptop.

  2. Such photos are not inherently being “unsafe.” The point of the Rules is to always be consciously aware of what you are doing with your firearm at all times, deliberately setting up a shot like that involves such conscious awareness and, as you note, you aren’t actually violating any of the rules.

  3. Even more fun is when you’re doing ‘finger on the trigger’ pictures like the one I have here –

    Now, I was breaking the rules big time here because a) finger on the trigger and b) pointing at my camera which I did not wish to see destroyed, and c) technically speaking I was pointing my gun into a neighborhood full of innocent children and had no idea what could have been behind the camera (picture was taken in my backyard)

    But I know, beyond any doubt, there wasn’t a round in the firearm. I know this because I checked it 100 times if once, so even if I pulled the trigger nothing would have happened.

    Still… I was uncomfortable while doing that shot, which is a good thing. It should never be something you can do easily. That way, on those times where you *do* need to break the rules, you’ll be safe enough.

  4. everyone has an opinion…and a picture is worth a thousand words… ammo in gun in a picture from down range…do you trust your subject……..not to draw bead…then snap away…imho

  5. I’d eat enough to wirelessly snap photos in front of the muzzle with the camera man safely behind the shooter even during live fire. I do it and I don’t have the best camera on the world either.

  6. While professionals may do it properly, seeing such photos may encourage idiots to try it at home.

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