How not to carry your rifle

Carrying an AR-15 around by the magazine is only asking for problems.

Photo caption …

Sgt. Bashir, a platoon sergeant with Afghan National Army’s 6th Kandak, 3rd Brigade, 203rd Corps, greets a farmer during a U.S.-Afghan clearing operation in southern Ghazni Province, Afghanistan, June 2, 2012. During the operation, Afghan soldiers were first to enter all houses.

[ Many thanks to Lance for emailing me the link. ]

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • MacK

    Well since he doesnt have a sling and he is trying to be respectful, semper gumby.

    • Giolli Joker

      Clever move from my point of view: he appears respectful to the guy and nobody seeing this picture can think that the “evil American soldier is going to shoot the peaceful old man”… it cannot be read as “I just pretend to be good” as if he was keeping the hand on the grip, it’s clearly “I respect you and I mean you no harm”.

      • He’s not an American soldier though…

    • Giolli Joker

      ouch, sorry, my bad… my knowledge of uniform and badges is 0…
      Nevertheless, I’m pretty sure that a good 90% of journalists identifies soldiers in modern day warzones as Americans…

      • Giolli Joker

        …and it seems that my ability of reading photo captions is pretty close to my knowledge of uniforms…

    • it looks to me like there is a sling. And I’d say he has grabbed the magazine to keep the rifle from slipping off his shoulder while he greets the local farmer.

      • Matt G.

        Heath has it. Definitely a tan sling there and he’s just holding it to keep if from swinging around. Though I agree it looks silly holdin it like that.

  • Darkness

    Every class, article and instuctor I’ve had or read always told me to carry my mag fed rifle by the magazine…
    Except the complete opposite…

  • Vince G

    I agree with Mac! I’m sure he could of carried it better but under quick thinking and to show respect

  • Mike Knox


  • W

    I guess you do what you gotta do when you don’t have a sling πŸ™

  • Walt

    Looks safer than carrying it by the carry handle.

  • NickB

    No worrys it’s a AK those things are designed to be beat to shit………wait a sec that’s a m16. I hope it had a nice life

  • Foetus

    Well designing a rifle that cannot be carried by the magazine IS asking for problems.

  • Remember, the left hand is UNCLEAN for a Muzlim, so, if he would just pa

  • Remember, the left hand is UNCLEAN for a Muzlim, so, if he would just pass the stinkin’ gun to the left hand, and hold it by the pistol grip…
    No 72 Virgins!

  • Trev

    I don’t see the big deal.

    Could not find anything saying it would hurt the rifle.


  • Axel n

    “how not to carry your rifle”

    Well he’s not really carrying his rifle like that, he seems to be just holding it like that for a moment.

  • FormerSFMedic

    How is this “asking for problems”?

  • Mark

    Given the apparent lack of immediate threat in the area (look at his lack of protective equipment. The ANA guys I’ve patrolled with always have frag vests and helmets), it’s more important to not scare or insult the local national than it is to keep his rifle ready.

    Good to hear that Americans are utilizing the principle of Afghan Face, meaning that whenever possible, one should let the Afghan security forces lead conversations, with NATO forces as backup.

  • Jeff

    He needs a sling… they’re more important than people think

  • BLG

    If he doesn’t have a sling, then what’s the tan line coming from his armpit, past the carry handle and down the top of the upper handguard?

    • Ian

      Correct. Rifle is slung and he’s holding it back to prevent it from rolling forward. This photo is in all ways a good thing.

  • lolinski

    I dont see a problem, in my opinion if a foreign soldier came to my house and was holding his gun by the pistol grip while talking to me I would think he didnt trust, ergo i shouldnt trust him.

    So i think sgt. Bashir did a good thing here

    And besides hodling the gun by the magazine doesnt hurt it.

    • Tom

      If only they would put a handle on them to carry it by; like a carry handle. Such as the one found just above the receiver.

      • The rifle is slung over his shoulder and he is holding the magazine to keep it from slipping off his shoulder.

      • LJK

        I thought carrying an M16 from the carrying handle (I know, I know) was forbidden after the rifles were first introduced because of fear that the rear sight might be effected, or broken completely?

      • HK

        I think so too. It could be also for if any of “uncle’s” relatives are around the soldier and he’s showing them he means no harm with the non-threatening grip.

  • FormerSFMedic

    Yeah, this is a pretty silly write up. There is absolutely nothing wrong with holding your M16 by the mag. It’s not going to give you any problems nor cause any damage. Is this what its come down to? Critiquing someone we don’t know on how he holds his rifle during a situation we know nothing about? That’s petty.

  • Josh

    Like others have said, there’s a sling. He has it slung over his right shoulder and is keeping it frome falling.

  • Ethan

    I agree with Heath. He is holding the rifle by the mag to keep it from slipping off his shoulder.

  • West

    Im more worried about how Grandpa is holding that shovel. He could take a toe off.

  • thatguy96

    With the rifle slinged on his right shoulder he’s holding it with his left hand to prevent it from slipping off. This complicated handling procedure is because he wasn’t going to shake the man’s hand with left hand, a cultural taboo that would definitely be taken as an insult.

    • JAFO

      This is a complete BS and utter nonsense sort of post (the original post, with the photo). Another example of folks with little to no experience trying to Monday-morning-Quarterback the folks out doing the job.

      This blog’s gone downhill since it was sold off.

    • charles222

      Pretty clearly no sling, but I’d say that’s what he is doing as well.

      • charles222

        ..How the hell is 0 to 12 a “hot debate”? :p

    • David/Sharpie

      Charles, there most certainly is a sling, it is very hard to see, but look right about the carry handle, there is a tan sling keeping his rifle slung, he’s holding it to keep it from falling off his shoulder.

      Either way, it wouldn’t hurt it much.

      • Charles222

        Yeah, I see the damn thing now. :p Still don’t think you’d harm an M16 by holding it by the mag.

  • West

    Sean Connery undercover as a simple Afghan farmer.

    • Chase

      I would pay fifty dollars for a ticket to see that movie.

      • West

        “Ryan, you imbecile, thats not an IED its an ALFA Class Soviet submarine!!”

    • mosinman

      the name is bond…. james bond….

  • G3Ken

    You guys might find this a stupid comment, but if you want to appear friendly and you obviously have a firearm behind your back, how does the farmer know he’s not holding it by the pistol grip.

    I don’t know about you all, but if I saw a guy approaching me, holding a rifle, with his hand behind his back, I’d be one suspicious MF-er.

  • Esh325

    A very silly post.

  • galloglas

    I saw an article long ago about M-16’s captured by the PAVN after Saigon fell being sold to central American guerrillas. After 20 years of use the magazine wells were eaten away by the sweat from people holding the magazine and magazine well while carrying the weapon around. That said I’ve also had my own ass chewed by Gunny for carrying the same rifles by the rear sight/handle while in service.
    Looks like a good way to transfer oil, sweat and sand/dirt into the magazine and it’s well to me. Could be a failed mag release and his mag keeps falling out of the weapon.

    • Esh325

      “Colt switched from the 6061 aircraft-grade aluminum alloy for the receiver to 7075 aluminum alloy in 1968 as it was less affected by humid climates and sweaty hands.”-The M16 by Gordon. L Rotman.

      • galloglas

        Good to know! I have never had a failure from holding the mag while holding the AR-15/M-16 class of weapons. The article actually came out of the Old Soldier of Fortune magazine years ago during the El Salvador events.
        Many of the M-16 rifles were in very bad shape, some were little more than single shot bolt action operation others had been modified with wooden stocks after the originals had broken or just wore out.
        I wish I knew which issue this was in.

  • Lance

    I laugh and told Steve about this because there was news on how Afghan Solders hated the M-16s and M-4s we gave them saying they broke easily. Well see how they treat them and see why they broke. I like the M-16A2 carry one and is in my opinion way better than a Type-56 the Taliban uses. However if you treat your weapon poorly it will treat you poorly here is proof.

    • Esh325

      It’s not proof of anything if you ask me.

      • Lance

        Well talk to GI back from the war they tell you the same thing the ANA is a joke and they dont treat there weapons well at all.

        The reason the AKM and Type-56 done well there in the past is because they are one of the few designs that can take that much misuse and and still work (not well).

      • JMD

        Don’t feed the troll.

      • Mike Knox

        That’s not a troll, that’s an Idiot..

      • Lance

        Now dont disgrace the magical Knox name your no Neal Knox.

    • FormerSFMedic

      Holding your AR/M16/M4 by the magazine is in NO WAY mishandling! I could grab my M4 by the mag and shake it violently for 5 minutes everyday for the next 12 months and it would do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to negatively effect the rifle. Spreading complete myths at the expense of trolling for attention is unacceptable. I have no idea what the editor of this site was thinking posting this for you (Lance), but it says alot about where the mindset of this site is. I just started commenting here recently and thought it might be a cool place but misleading readers shows a lack of integrity.

      • Lance

        I have had enough of your lies and Crap your always claiming your a super hero out of SOCOM and every time I state something or just say a gun looks nice you come running in to attack. Your full of it and your a ass pal. Your no hero but a pumped up shirt who is full of your self. I just stated the pic was a funny example of ANA solder not being to swift and that ANA have been complain about our guns WE GAVE them for free and that its there mistreatment NOT the fact the M-16 is bad. I did say a thing to hurt a GI feeling or honer nore would I ever will. Your full of it SF medic go to the toilet with all of your bull crap logic pal. Saying stuff about me or Steve is your own childish mentality. If you love ANA or hat the post DON’T COMMENT on it and leave the site till tomorrow for other news. Your the Troll SFmedic since you cant shut up on any post you dont like.

        Take a flying leap Jerk off.

      • dominc

        Lance, i hope you step on a plug.

    • Josh B

      So your telling me that by supporting a slung m-16 behind my back by holding on to the magazine and mag well i’m mistreating my rifle and it will cause a failure or break. If that is true then you sir are an idiot and a fool.

      • Lance

        Id say that is not a slinged weapon and yes a M-16 can be held on the mag but like any weapon AKM G-36 ect…. its not recommended.

    • Get Out

      Finally somebody found the cause of all m-16 failures, quick everybody stop holding your rifle by the magazine it will cause it to break. Good job sir you found the solution.

      • W

        also stop resting the magazine on the ground when you’re in the prone. youll cause jams! πŸ˜€

    • Lance

      Quit talking about yourself as a troll JMD!!!

    • Corsair8X

      Lance, if you look carefully at the picture you will see that the weapon is slung. The strap is visible riding parallel to the carry handle on the receiver. Admittedly, it does blend quite well with his uniform. He is merely stabilizing it via the magazine.

    • Tinkerer

      A rifle that cannot withstand field mistreatment, is not worthy of being issued. Period.

  • Esh325

    I wouldn’t know or even care how they treat them. All I can say is the picture above doesn’t show any proof of mishandling.

  • Shootin’ Buddy

    He is stabilizing the weapon, not carrying it.

    He has it slung starboard side. If he did not have his left hand on the mag then the weapon would slide off his arm and potentially crack the old man in the nuts.

  • D

    I’d argue that if a weapon’s so fault prone that holding it’s own weight by it’s magazine is apt to cause a serious problem, then the weapon itself is faulty by definition. Guns aren’t surgical tools; they should have some tolerance for rough handling.

    That said, whatever faults the guy’s gun handling might have, he’s doing a job i’d certainly not want, so kudos to him for that.

  • Tweak

    Chuck Taylor tells a story about IDF’s experiences with rifles relayed to him by a senior IDF officer. The officer told him that the Israeli Army had bad luck with the “fragile” M1 Garands, Lee-Enfields, M16’s, G3s, and even AKs.

    Chuck found this information shocking until he was sitting outside a West Bank cafe one day when a M113 load of Israeli soldiers pulled in and proceeded to unload their vehicle by tossing all of their gear, rifles included, out of the troop hatch and over the side of the track.

    • Joe Schmoe

      Sounds like something the reservists would do πŸ™‚ .

    • galloglas

      Wasn’t the Galil made with a built in bottle opener so IDF troops in the field could open their Kosher bottles with that instead of the mag lips and such on the M-16. I recall American troops damaging the barrels on their M-16 while using the weapons as pry bars to break the banding wires of the C-rats cases. Insert barrel and twist until the wire breaks. These were not reserves or sub standard Infantry that did this.
      I was taught to use my E-tool which in those days was sturdier than the new ones.

  • Luv.Adolf

    Most people do not know about Afghan culture, most men own a rifle to protect their home and family, and carrying a weapon is a normal thing in thier culture. Slung weapon or one held in the postition as in the picture means something… In their culture it means, I respect you, I have no hostile intentions towrds you, holding a weapong in ready postion, by 2 hand, means I consider you a threat. Old people are really respected in their culture

    • charles222

      Most Afghanis I met on my first of four deployments were bigger supporters of the 2nd Amendment than most members of this blog. :p

  • Mike

    Holding an AR by the magazine won’t cause a problem. Neither will putting the magazine on the ground to shoot prone, in spite of what other internet warriors tend to think.

    Starting to worry about the quality of info put out by this blog…

  • Leonard

    After going through all comments, I still haven’t found one person that is able to explain how holding an AR-15 by the magazine is supposed to do any harm or how that is “asking for trouble”. Please clarify, Steve.

  • Victor

    An emblematic picture regarding the combat preparedness of the Afghani army.

  • Darrel

    AR-15? So… We don’t give the Afghans fully automatic weapons? That would be smart,in my opinion. It’s pretty clear every single gun we give them is going to end up on the street, or in some rebellion, or even worse, killing American troops.

    Anyway, I don’t really see why there’s all these silly stigmas with ARs.I’d really like to see some solid basis for why gripping the magwell is bad. It’s a piece if forged aluminum. Even if you death-grip it, you should be able to count on it not messing up. I get that it isn’t the most solid shooting position, but my hand feels so good right there in the crook.

  • elleerre

    “Carrying an AR-15 around by the magazine is only asking for problems.”

    For example?

  • John Doe

    Despite what the History Channel says, the M16 isn’t made of glass, it can take abuse like any other combat rifle.

  • galloglas

    Did anyone see the IDF guy use his M-16 with Mag inserted as a face buster on some protestor the other day?
    Did not hurt the mag as far as I could tell.

  • charles222

    β€œRyan, you imbecile, thats not an IED its an ALFA Class Soviet submarine!!”

    Really wish I could like this comment more than once. I’ve laughed just about every time I’ve read it. :p

  • Matt R.

    Seriously. It is a PR shot. I agree with the assertion that he is keeping it from slipping off his shoulder while he is doing some public relations….try not to over think it.