How to Correctly Load & Unload Your Handgun

When using a gun, there are safety tips to know and understand, such as how to point the gun, protective gear to wear, and steps to use when maintaining or cleaning the firearm. One of the most crucial steps is to load and unload the handgun safely and correctly. Failing to do so could cause you to experience a negligent discharge, put yourself in harm’s way, and damage your gun. Below are some steps you can use to ensure you’re loading and unloading a firearm correctly.

Point the Gun in a Safe Direction

Many negligent discharges are preventable, including those associated with basic tasks like loading and unloading a firearm. If you’re completing either step, you should never point the gun toward a person because if the gun were to discharge, it could cause significant injury. Instead, it’s best to point in the direction that’s least likely to cause any harm in the event a negligent discharge occurs, which should always be away from people. The safest direction to point a gun is going to depend on where you are and whether there are people around.

Pay Attention to the Type of Gun

There are various types of guns, including handguns, rifles, and shotguns. When unloading or loading a handgun or long gun, the steps will be different because each firearm uses different cartridge styles. For example, shotguns typically have pump-action designs and autoloading. However, a handgun can be a semi-automatic or revolver. When it comes to the unloading process, regardless of the type of gun, always make sure there’s no magazine or clip in the gun and the chamber is clear. The steps you use for one type of gun won’t necessarily work for others. When purchasing a firearm, ask the seller or gun shop employee, or refer to the manual if you’re unsure about the steps to load or unload.

Watch Your Trigger Finger

Placing your finger near the trigger can be a habit, but you’ll need to find ways to prevent it, especially when maintaining your firearm. Your finger could accidentally press the trigger and cause the handgun to discharge. Therefore, when removing and loading magazines and other ammunition, you need to keep your finger away from the trigger until you’ve completed the steps. Additionally, the safety feature should remain on at all times. The firearm won’t shoot until the safety is released and placed in the off position. With this feature on, you can load and unload the gun with more confidence and prevent it from negligently discharging. However, the safety shouldn’t be relied on, which is why keeping your finger off the trigger at all times until ready to shoot should be common practice.


One of the best strategies is to take a course and learn as much as possible about loading and unloading your gun. By enrolling in a gun safety course, you can receive the knowledge and training necessary to operate your firearm safely and reduce the risk of negligent discharges. Try to practice as much as possible during and after class to improve your skills and keep your gun in good condition.

If you’re a gun owner, safety should be your top priority, and that includes getting proper training on gun handling and maintenance from experienced professionals. If you’d like to learn more about any aspect of gun safety, call on the experts at Gun Safety Training Pros. We’re committed to providing the finest firearms training available. If you’re looking for a high-quality online gun safety course, we have everything you need. Contact us today at [email protected].

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