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How to Unload a Pistol Safely

Image of Bryan Hill, Founder of Pistol Wizard Bryan Hill / March 10 2021

Never assume a pistol is unloaded. Instead, every time you pick one up, verify!

  1. Pick up the firearm while maintaining triggerand muzzle discipline.
  2. Locate the magazine releaseon the gun.
    Person holding pistol, with emphasis on the magazine release for unloading.

  3. While maintaining trigger and muzzle discipline, release the magazine.
    Let it drop to the floor if needed. You can always pick it up later.

  4. While maintaining trigger and muzzle discipline, locate the slide release.

  5. Lift the slide release.
  6. While holding the slide release up, rack the slide.
    The slide is now locked back.

  7. With the slide locked back, look down the chamber.
    The firearm is clear if:
    You can see all the way through the magazine well to the ground below.
    Pistol with slide locked open for unloading. Looking down the open chamber, you can still see the magazine in the gun. Pistol with slide locked open for unloading. Looking down the open chamber, you can still see through the pistol's grip.

    And there is no ammunition lodged in the barrel.
    Pistol with slide locked open for unloading. Looking into the open chamber, you can see a round of ammo lodged in the barrel. Pistol with slide locked open for unloading. Looking into the open chamber, the barrel of clear of any stuck rounds.
    The ammo pictured is a snap cap, an inert dummy round for practice.
Even after you've verified a firearm is unloaded, maintain trigger and muzzle discipline. ID your target and backstop, even when doing dry practice. Why? It builds safe habits. The creep of complacency can be costly or fatal.


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