Grad Corner

Clearing a Pistol

  • Jack Collins

You’ve probably heard of the four rules of firearm safety. They’re fairly simple concepts. But one of them — always treating every gun as if it were loaded — is perhaps the most important safety rule of all.

In this post, we’re going to look at how to apply that rule in a real-world situation. Specifically, we’ll look at how to clear a pistol to make it safe to handle. Whether you’re working behind the counter at a gun range, shop, or smith (or you’re just handing a gun to your friend for them to check out), you need to know how to safely clear a pistol. Here’s how to do it.

Step 0: Keep the Gun Pointed in a Safe Direction

Before you even begin clearing a gun, make sure you keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction. This behavior should be ingrained into your mind whenever you handle a gun for any reason. You also should never touch the gun’s trigger during this entire process.

Step 1: Drop the Magazine

The act of clearing a gun involves emptying every live round from the firearm. The first step in this process is to press the magazine release to drop the magazine from the gun. Set the magazine aside for now.

Step 2: Rack the Slide at Least Twice

Just because you’ve removed the magazine from a gun doesn’t mean it’s cleared. Part of assuming every gun is always loaded means treating every firearm as though its chamber is hot.

Fortunately, clearing a pistol’s chamber is a fairly easy task. Just rack the slide until nothing comes out of it. You should only have to rack the slide twice, but to make sure the gun is clear, keep going until the gun stops ejecting cartridges.

Step 3: Visually Inspect the Chamber

This step is the easiest to forget. But if you’re not visually inspecting a gun’s chamber to ensure it’s empty, you’re setting yourself up for a negligent discharge. It takes less than a second to visually confirm the chamber is empty. Don’t be lazy.

That’s it! If you followed this process, you’ve cleared the pistol and confirmed that it’s safe to handle. Go ahead and pass it off to your friend so they can check it out!

Learn More About Firearms at SDI

Learning how to clear a pistol is just one aspect of gun safety. To understand safe firearm handling, you’ll need to build on this concept with some expert help — like the kind you’ll find at SDI. To learn more about the programs SDI offers, click here.

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