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.


Joe Biden
Joe Biden

It’s All On The Line For Gun Owners In The 2024 Election

The bottom line is that gun owners cannot afford another four years of Joe Biden in the White House.

Concealed Carry in a Bad Zip Code

The media will tell you otherwise, but the data shows that crime does not go up when more law-abiding citizens own firearms and carry concealed.

Many Israelis Realize They Need More Armed Citizens

Following the horrific events of the October 7 attack on the Israeli people, many more citizens in Israel have obtained guns for self-defense.

The NRA Goes to the Highest Court in the Land to Protect Our Right to Speak

The U.S. Supreme Court heard NRA v. Vullo in March. Here is what was said in the Court in this critical First Amendment case.

What’s With All the Clamor About So-Called “Glock Switches”

There is a proposed bill that would effectively ban the sale of Glock pistols in New York.

Biden Thinks Your Freedom Is A Red Flag

Biden’s DOJ is creating a National Extreme Risk Protection Order Resource Center to push due-process-infringing “red-flag” laws nationwide.

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