How to Unload and Clear Your Handgun: All Safety Rules Apply

I put this article together after seeing numerous videos of knuckeheads doing stupid stuff. Whether you have decades of experience with firearms or if you are a novice to them, the same rules of safety apply, and for good reason too. The rules of safety are there to protect you and others. My buddy Dan once placed his firearm on his cleaning table and got distracted by his wife coming into the room. Dan went to assist her and upon coming back to his gun cleaning task believed he was cleaning an unloaded firearm-WRONG!

A round went off and tore through the doorway and into the room where his children would routinely play. How does this happen to a veteran with 30 plus years of experience with firearms? Dan assumed that he had already unloaded the weapon before he went to assist his wife.  Anytime you come back to a firearm and put your hands on the firearm to unload it, ASSUME that it is loaded, and go through the proper steps of unloading, clearing it and checking the chamber.

Unloading the weapon means to remove the ammunition from the weapon, whether by removing the magazine, or by ejecting all cartridges from the chamber. Clearing the weapon means to ensure the weapon does not have any ammunition seated inside of it: You are going one step further by locking the slide to the rear and visually and physically checking the chamber.

There are many times that you will need to perform this operation: When doing dry-firing training, when you start cleaning your firearm, when you hand the firearm to someone else or when you are packing your firearm away before you head home. Never practice loading and unloading with live ammunition! You can purchase “dummy” ammunition from sporting goods stores and guns shops.

Point the weapon in a safe direction with your finger outside the trigger guard: Do not point your weapon at a person or the walls. Do not point your weapon at anything you wouldn’t be willing to shoot if the weapon were loaded.


Keep your finger off the trigger!

Remove the magazine from your weapon: Press the magazine release and remove the magazine.


Set the magazine aside: Just because the magazine is set aside does not mean the pistol is unloaded. Ammunition may still be inside the chamber.


Lock the slide to the rear using the slide stop.


Visually inspect the magazine well and the chamber: Look to see there is no magazine and there is no cartridge in the chamber.


Use your index finger to check for a round in the chamber. Check the magazine well and the chamber. If there isn’t a round your weapon is cleared.




Through his own hardships and frustration Mike decided to create a site to share his knowledge. He keeps meeting others who want to do the same. Out of this came Spotter Up, a website to put out information to help guide those who want to live life on their terms. He credits his early military training as the one thing that kept him disciplined through the many years. Michael Kurcina subscribes to the Spotter Up way of life. “I will either find a way or I will make one”.

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