So You’re a New Gun Owner? Clearing Your Firearm

In my last post post, I discussed the firearms safety rules. Next, we’ll discuss clearing a firearm, specifically a handgun. This is important because once ranges start opening up again, you’ll want to go practice, and when you’re at the range, the safety officer will expect you to be able to clear your firearm and demonstrate that it is clear.

The good news is that clearing your firearm is simple, but it does require some attention and an adherence to the safety rules we discussed last post. Specifically, throughout the clearing process, you’ll need to keep your muzzle pointed in a safe direction, and you’ll need to keep your finger off the trigger.

Here are the steps to clear your semiautomatic handgun:

1. Keeping your finger off the trigger, point the firearm in a safe direction.

At the range, they’ll expect you to keep the firearm pointed downrange – toward the targets.

2. Remove any magazines or ammunition in the firearm.

Press the magazine release and remove the magazine from your firearm. This is an important step, because if something goes wrong during clearing and the firearm discharges, having the magazine removed will prevent the firearm from discharging more than one round.

3. Rack the slide to eject any round that might be in the chamber.

A lot of people worry about being able to lock the slide to the rear at this point – don’t. You’ve already removed the magazine, but there could still be a round in the chamber of your gun. In this step, we’re concerned with getting that last round out. Once we get the round out, then we can worry about locking the slide back.

Grip the rear of the slide firmly, pull the slide completely to the rear until you see the round eject, then let go of the slide. Now that you have seen the round eject, focus on locking the slide to the rear by pulling the slide back while pushing up on the slide catch. Keep the firearm pointed in a safe direction while you lock the slide back.

4. Conduct a visual and physical inspection of the firearm

In this step, you’re doing two main things: 1) looking and feeling into the chamber to ensure nothing is in the chamber, and 2) looking and feeling into the magazine well to ensure nothing is in the magazine well. I recommend doing this twice. Look and feel in the chamber and magazine well, look away from the firearm, then come back to the firearm and look and feel in the chamber and magazine well again.

A cleared chamber

5. Place the firearm on the bench with the slide locked back and the ejection port facing up

Placing the firearm down in this manner allows the safety officer to come by quickly inspect the benched firearms. It makes it easier for both you and them.


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