Unloading and Dry Practice

posted on December 25, 2020
Are you a new shooter, perhaps one of the more than 7 million people who bought their first firearm last year? Do you keep defensive firearms in your home, or do you regularly carry a concealed pistol? This new monthly department for America’s 1st Freedom is designed to provide some practical tips and drills to improve the skills of new gun owners and those who are looking to learn something new.

We begin with the most-basic thing of all: We must always assume a gun is loaded until we have personally checked it. Here are the steps to properly unload semi-automatic pistols and revolvers.

Semi-Automatic Pistol
1 Point the gun in a safe direction. Keep your finger off the trigger and completely out of the trigger guard as you do so. Also, keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction at all times.

2 Remove the source of the ammunition. In the case of a semi-automatic pistol, the source of ammunition is the magazine. Depress the magazine-release button and remove the magazine.

3 Pull back on the slide while pushing up on the slide-lock, and the slide will lock back. If there was a round in the chamber, it should eject as you pull back the slide. (Note: If you cannot safely manipulate the slide back and the slide-lock up at the same time, you may be able to put an empty magazine in and pull the slide back to its locking position. Be certain the magazine is completely unloaded before using it.)

4 With the slide locked back, visually and physically (stick your pinky finger in the barrel from the action end) confirm the pistol is unloaded.

Common defensive revolvers are a little easier to check.

1 Point the gun in a safe direction with your finger off the trigger and completely out of the trigger guard. Keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction at all times.

2 Push or pull the cylinder release and swing the cylinder open to the left.

3 Tilt the barrel up slightly (continue to keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction) and push down on the extractor rod to dump any ammunition from the cylinder’s chambers into your hand.

4 Look at and touch the chambers to make certain they are all empty. As an additional safety check, I like to count the cartridges to make sure I got them all out of the gun.

If you think about these steps–remove the ammunition source, then check the chamber(s)—you can also unload just about any other firearm, like a rifle or shotgun.

While the gun is unloaded, try some dry practice. I like to designate a dry-practice area in my home as the only place I will pull a trigger.

Dry Practice
1 Set up a target on a surface that will stop a bullet without hurting anyone if you somehow managed to accidently fire the gun.

2 Check the gun—and then check it again—to make certain it’s unloaded. Keep all ammunition completely out of the dry-practice area.

3 Exercising all the safety rules and fundamentals needed for regular shooting practice (gripping with both hands, looking through the rear sight and focusing on the front sight, etc.), point the gun at your safe target and smoothly press the trigger.

4 When the gun “fires” (clicks), the front sight should not move or dip. Keep at it until you can do this correctly, with no dipping or other unnecessary movements. Do this about 25 times.

Running through this routine of unloading and inspecting the gun—followed by dry practice—several times a week will lay the foundation for safe shooting. Dry practice is recommended by many instructors as an inexpensive, but very effective, way to improve both familiarity with your gun and your shooting skills.


AMA Logo
AMA Logo

The AMA Should Know Better

Over the years, the AMA has supported just about every kind of gun-control plan you could imagine; from bans on “assault weapons” to bans on handguns to waiting periods for gun purchasers.

Independence Day Reminds Us That Freedom Needs Safekeeping

Freedom is a gift. America’s Freedom was purchased with the blood of patriots who fought and died so we could be free.

Déjà Vu: Biden Doubles Down On Weaponizing ATF

Rather than nominating a respected, veteran law-enforcement agent to run the ATF, Biden once again prefers a puppet who will pursue a partisan gun-control agenda.

A Short History of the Semi-Automatic Firearm

Follow the journey and development of firearms to the recent models of the 21st century, and you'll see that the politicians who tell us citizens should not own these guns don't know their history.

Gun Skills: Next-Level Dry Practice

For dry practice to be truly effective, you need to practice more than just easy, controlled shots. Here's how to practice up to a defensive level.

Warrior Systems Manufacturing’s WSM15

If excellence in the AR-15 platform is what you are looking for, try Warrior Systems Manufacturing's WSM15. This is a solid and accurate rifle with great aesthetics and a reasonable price tag.

Get the best of America's 1st Freedom delivered to your inbox.