Each time you gear up, whether for a day on the range or for a patrol in hostile territory, it's important to develop a routine that you perform the same way every time. Included in this routine should be a check for the proper function of your magazine and round feed. Whether you're about to go through training exercises or on a mission into hostile territory overseas (or maybe you're a civilian staging your truck gun so it's ready to roll if you need it), you want to make sure your rifle is in the configuration required for the context. Whatever the context, the way you prep your gear and gun should be carried out with the same procedure every time. We teach the importance of this in our Rifle 1 class, because we want the right things done the right way without giving it too much thought. Included in that procedure should be making sure the first load is done right. Keep in mind: This entire procedure should take seconds once it becomes routine.
Develop and Master Your Procedure
A Quick Chamber Check. Pull the bolt back to make sure there's nothing in the chamber that could obstruct my round.
Check the Magazine. Release the magazine and pull it out. With a quick roll of the finger over the feeding edge, make sure the last round in the mag is on the right side. Loading 30 rounds into a 30 round magazine means the first round to feed should feed from the right. Push and pull the magazine back in. (By the way, "push and pull" means this: pushing the magazine into the mag well then pulling it to make sure it's secure.)
Release the Bolt. When you release the bolt, watch it click into place. Close the dust cover. Pull the magazine out once more.
Another Magazine Check. Another finger brush (doing this by feel makes it faster) of the feed edge of the magazine should reveal that the next round will feed from the left side, which means the first round chambered properly.
Ready to Rock Push and pull the magazine in again. Then check your other equipment—sights, night vision, lights, etc.
Make it a Routine. Performing these checks on your gun and equipment will become second nature and can assure you in a matter of seconds that all your kit is mission ready. Whatever procedure works for you needs to become a habit that you do consistently and master so that you're not fumbling with gear when you should be using it to defend yourself. The important thing is to have a process, have a checklist, have a procedure, that gets your rifle consistent and up and ready the way you want it every time.
Train Hard. Train Smart. Master Your Process. Live Free.