You can’t be too rich, too thin, or, when it comes to guns, too safe.
Being able to ascertain in an instant that a firearm is unloaded is good anytime a gun is in view, but it is vital at shooting ranges and during matches where lots of people are going to be handling firearms in close quarters.
There are a number of different types of chamber flags on the market but some of them work better than others. The main issues are: 1) Is the indicator highly visible? 2) Is it easy to insert and remove? 3) Can it be used in a hot gun?
I recently tested a number of plugs from Chamber-View, which are bright orange silicone moldings that fit snuggly in the actions of AR-style rifles, shotguns and semi-auto pistols.
Just handling them in my workshop, I could see that they were well designed. The shotgun plug, for example, has stepped flanges on it that allow it to fit easily in any gauge shotgun with a 3- or 3-1/2 inch chamber. (To be fair, I didn’t have a 10-gauge or a .410 shotgun on hand—but it worked with 12s, 20s and 28s.) The pistol plugs are meant for semi-autos chambered in 9mm and .40 S&W, but I had no issues using it my Sig P227 in .45 ACP.
The plugs offer the best visibility of similar products on the market and are easy to insert and extract.
But the big question I had was, could they stand the heat of a smoking hot barrel? Some plastic flags will melt in a hot chamber, creating a huge headache for the shooter.
To test this out, I put 120 rounds—four 30-round mags—through my PWS Mk118 in the course of a couple minutes while doing some rapid-fire target transition drills at my range. The rifle was blazing hot when I dumped the fourth mag.
I popped the plug into the chamber, set the rifle down in the pile of brass I had just made, and snapped the picture at the top of this article.
I kept the plug in place until I got home about 45 minutes later. When I removed it, everything was fine. Nothing melted.
You can get them from brownells.com for about $10 each. That’s a bargain for the peace of mind they’ll offer you and others around you when handling firearms.