HUNTINGsmart! USA Knowledge Base

Module 03 - RIFLES 101


Follow these steps to safely unload your bolt action rifle:

Illustration of a hunter's hands holding a bolt action shotgun.

STEP 1: Point the firearm in a safe direction.

Illustration of a hunter's hands keeping off the trigger of a bolt action rifle.

STEP 2: Make sure nothing touches the trigger throughout this procedure.

Illustration of a hunter's hands turning a bolt action rifle's safety on.

STEP 3: Turn the safety on (if it can be engaged during the unloading process).

Illustration of a hunter's hands opening the bolt action rifle's action.

STEP 4: Remove the ammunition as follows:

  • Open the action by moving the bolt handle up and to the rear. This should kick out any ammunition or empty casing/hull from the chamber. If they don’t eject, remove them by hand.
  • If the magazine is detachable, remove it from the firearm and then remove any ammunition (use gravity—let the ammo fall into your hand).
  • If the ammunition cannot be removed in any other way, cycle all the cartridges through the chamber to remove them.
  • Leave the action open.

Illustration of a hunter's hands holding a bolt action rifle on its side with the action open.

STEP 5: Look in the chamber to confirm that there’s no ammunition, hull or empty casings in there. 

Illustration of a hunter's finger checking a bolt action rifle's feeding path for obstructions.

STEP 6: Verify that there is no ammunition by inspecting the feeding path for any objects. Make sure you feel for the follower (if applicable).

Illustration of the view down a bolt action rifle's muzzle.

STEP 7: Place the butt of the firearm on the ground and make sure the action is open, then look down the bore for lubricant, rust, or any obstructions. Now you’re officially UNLOADED.


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