Safety 101: How to Properly Clear a Pistol

By Dave Dolbee published on in Safety and Training, Videos

If there is one thing that likely causes more negligent discharges than anything else it is improperly clearing or failing to clear a firearm. In plain English that means failing to remove the bullets from the gun. After that, someone or something presses the trigger. If you are lucky, the only thing that will happen next is a ringing of the ears and the requirement for a fresh pair of underpants. Unfortunately, this easily preventable scenario results in serious injury or death . Here are a couple videos to show you how and walk you through the procedure.

Which video did you like best? Why? Do you have a tip for clearing a firearm? Share your answers in the comment section.

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Comments (20)

  • Spencer

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    Something I forgot to mention. On my CZ-P07, there’s a 1/32″ gap between the face of the slide and barrel which allows a visual check to easily see a round in the chamber. It also has an angle cut on the slide end to make the slot depth only 3/32 ‘ deep, which makes it very easy to see if the chamber has a loaded round in it. I have no idea if other pistols have this feature, but I really like it on mine.

    Reply

    • techs

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      I think that kind of peekhole is relatively common, but I don’t have much exposure to modern double actions.

      I like it, but it requires good light and other favorable conditions to confirm presence — and is a poor way to verify absence. I will use it at a well-lit range to confirm what I think I did a moment ago, but will still “press check” when dressing for the street or in less than ideal conditions.

      And still require a full open visual to confirm unloaded.

      Reply

  • techs

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    Weak hands or strong springs can make it difficult to do a quality visual while retaining the slide with a pinch grip. And I don’t like routinely fishing rounds out of the dirt or from under the sofa. I use a slightly different procedure:

    1. Trigger clear. 2. Aim clear. 3. Magazine clear.
    4. Roll pistol to the right, with the ejection port down. Using a thumb and fingers over-the-top grip, cycle the slide to lock back.
    5. Inspect right hand for an empty magazine well; inspect left hand for presence or absence of an ejected round. I count that as 1st check.
    6. Roll pistol to the left, with the ejection port up. Inspect chamber and magazine well for clear. I count that as 2nd check (and the mental break described by Mr Johnson).

    If I have reason to believe with some confidence that the weapon starts empty, I may cycle the slide with the magazine in place at Step 3. If the slide stays back, eject the magazine and consider 1st check clear — proceed directly to Step 6. If the slide doesn’t stay back, there is something wrong with the pistol or with my belief — carefully reevaluate weapon status and condition from the beginning.

    I’m not sure how to translate that effectively into left-handed, and can’t vouch its effectiveness except with my SA 1911 variants.

    Reply

  • Ray

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    Please use the right nomenclature a bullet is the projectile. Round or ammunition would be the correct use. Otherwise good information.

    Reply

  • Bruce

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    Clearly the 2nd was on point. For a beginner, the first was too quick, too simplistic and not explained well enough.
    I found the 2nd much better as a training video.

    Reply

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