HUNTINGsmart! USA Knowledge Base

Module 05 - HANDGUNS 101


Illustration of a hunter's hands holding a forward facing semi-auto pistol.

Follow these steps to safely unload your semi-automatic action pistol:

Illustration of a hunter's hands turning on a semi-auto pistol's safety.

Step 1: Turn the safety ‘ON’ (if it can be engaged during the unloading process).

Illustration of a hunter's hands holding a forward facing semi-auto pistol.

Step 2: Point the firearm in a safe direction.

Illustration of a hunter's hands keeping off of a semi-auto pistol's trigger.

Step 3: Make sure nothing touches the trigger area during the process.

Illustration of a hunter's hands inserting a magazine into a semi-auto pistol.

Step 4: Push the magazine release button to remove the magazine.

Illustration of a hunter's hands pulling a semi-auto pistol's slide backward.

Step 5:  Pull the slide to the rear by doing the following:

  • Hold the handgun in your strong hand and point it in a safe direction. Extend your arm, locking your wrist and elbow.
  • Pinch the rear of the slide with your weak hand. Make sure your hand does not cover the ejection port.
  • Pull the slide quickly and completely to the rear. This will extract and eject any cartridge or casing from the chamber.
  • Let any cartridge or casing fall onto the shooting bench or range floor and leave it there until you've completed all of the unloading steps.

Illustration of a hunter's hands holding a semi-auto pistol with its action open.

Step 6: Look in the chamber to confirm that there’s no ammunition or empty casings in there.


Illustration of a hunter's finger checking a semi-auto pistol's chamber for ammunition and obstructions.

Step 7: Verify that there is no ammunition by inspecting the feeding path for any objects. Make sure the magazine has been removed.

Illustration of a hunter's hands holding a backward facing semi-auto pistol to check the bore for obstructions.

Step 8: Examine the bore for lubricant, rust or obstructions. Now you’re officially UNLOADED.


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