Loading and Unloading a Handgun

Normally there are three types of loading sequence, then the unloading.

  • First is Administrative.  This load may be used right after you have cleaned your weapon or performed an inspection, prior to going on duty or if you are an armed citizen before you leave your home. Or in other words a loading of the gun under no type of stress.
  • Second is a tactical reload.  This reload can be performed during a pistol competition that the course design calls for.  In IDPA there is the Tactical Reload and reload with retentions.  Some folks use these in same sense, but there are differences. Retention is good for competition, but more dangerous in a gun fight.

It may be used in topping off your gun before performing another drill.
If not competing then a tactical reload is performed when YOU want to. You dictate the load, not the circumstances of running out of ammo.

  • Emergency or Immediate Reload.   The low ammo indicator had come on!  Your slide is locked back and you have to get it back into the fight.

Again, this may be used in competition where the stage is set up to make you run your weapon dry.
Many people will tell you that they can “count” their rounds and will not fire their guns dry in reality, probably not.
The situation dictates an emergency or immediate reload, not you.

  • Unloading your gun.  The match stage is over and the range officer has said “unload show clear and dry fire down range.  Your tour of duty/shift is over. Storing the weapon for the day, there are many reasons to unload your gun.
  • If a pistol. Remove the magazine, clear the chamber by racking the slide violently, possibly several times, then inspect the chamber physicayl and visually. Then make the weapon safe and store it , or whatever.

If a revolver, open the cylinder eject the cartridges, the visually look to make sure the cylinder is clear. Then make the weapon safe and store it.