Operating Single and Double-Action Semi-Automatic Pistols

Next >>>
Copyright © 2014 by Level 1 Firearms Safety and Training  ·  Boise, ID · Meridian, ID · Nampa, ID · Caldwell, ID  ·  E-Mail: info@level1firearms.com
To schedule your next class or Home Safety Inspection

Loading Ammunition into a Semi-Automatic Pistol Magazine

When you first begin to load a semi-automatic pistol magazine, the process is fairly simple. As you add ammunition, you'll discover the process to be a bit more difficult as the magazine loads and the magazine spring becomes more and more condensed.
The magazine should be in an upright position, with the back of the magazine resting against the thumb and fingers of the weak (non-shooting) hand. The front of the magazine should be facing the strong (firing) hand. The firing hand places a cartridge into the magazine at roughly a 30% angle, pushing it downwards and towards the back of the magazine. When the cartridge in fully inserted, the lip of the magazine will retain the ammunition in place, ready for another round to be inserted. With he following rounds, use the case rim to create tension between the two cartridges combined with pressure from your weak hand thumb to drive the bullet into the magazine. When the magazine if loaded to capacity, it is best practice to slap the back of the magazine to ensure the ammunition is seated properly against the back of the magazine.

Loading the Semi-Automatic Pistol with the Magazine

It is "best practice" to practice loading the magazine into the pistol often, to the point you can do so automatically without looking, in the dark. Oftentimes the only difference in winning a violent confrontation is the amount of time it takes for you to perform an action.

The pistol should be held in your strong (shooting) hand. Note: ALWAYS keep your finger off the trigger until you're ready to shoot! With the pistol pointing in a safe direction (away from your body and away from anything you could potentially damage during a discharge), pick up the magazine with your weak hand. Your weak hand forefinger should be extended and touching the first round in the magazine; this ensures the magazine is orientated in the correct direction, with the bullets facing forward, for insertion into the magazine well.

With one continuous action, you should be able to align the magazine to the magazine well, remove your forefinger as the guide, turning your palm upwards as to press the magazine the remaining distance. You should feel and hear a clicking sound as the process completes. As a "best practice", you should slap the bottom of the magazine to ensure it has, in fact, been securely and properly seated within the magazine well.
At this point, you have a loaded pistol but it is not ready to be fired. If you intend to carry, be sure to check with a local attorney to see
if you can carry with "one in the chamber". If you are ready to practice shooting, you'll need to load your first round into the chamber.
This is a three step process:

1)  ALWAYS keep your finger off the trigger! Your finger should be resting comfortably in a forward fashion against the frame of the

2)  ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction. Be sure you know where your firearm is pointed and if there are any objects
that need to be avoided should the pistol discharge. SAFETY is the gun-owners responsibility!

3)  Grab the end of the slide with your weak (non-shooting) hand, using a strong grip combination of your fingers and thumb. With
one quick pull rearward pull the slide, continue your pull until it reaches the end of the slides capacity; immediately release the slide
so the magazine can load a live round into the chamber.

It is important the slide action is completed in one swift action, mimicking the blowback action of the slide during a discharge. You
will never be able to pull the slide with the same amount of force a blowback creates, however, that amount of force is not required
for the loading mechanisms to work. A quick pull of the slide and a complete extension and release will do the job. If you hesitate or
cause the slide to operate correctly, you stand the chance od a bullet being loaded into the chamber but not properly seated.

Once the firearm is properly loaded and ready to shoot, the user can commence firing.

If there is a delay in firing, the bullet does not leave the gun, or there is not a loud "bang" as expected, the user should
keep the firearm pointed down range for at least 30 seconds!

The reason you want to wait is due to several miss-fire scenarios which will be discussed in the near future.  At this point, if your
firearm did not expel a projectile, you should hold position down range, raise your hand, and ask for assistance.

Firing a Semi-Automatic Pistol

Firing a semi-automatic pistol after it has been "racked and loaded" is an extremely easy proposition. With less than 5 pounds of
pressure on the trigger, the firearm will discharge a projectile in any direction you point the muzzle; assuming you're using a cocked
single-action pistol or a cocked double-action pistol--discharging the weapon is comparatively the same.

This is an excellent opportunity to remind students of the three major safety rules followed by the two major firing rules:

1)  ALWAYS keep your finger off the trigger until ready to fire.

2)  ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.

3)  ALWAYS keep your gun unloaded until it is ready for use.

4)  ALWAYS know your target and what is beyond.

5)  ALWAYS know how to use your gun safely.

With your finger off the trigger and resting on the side of the pistol and with the pistol pointed in a safe direction, visually identify
your target. With the shooting finger resting on the frame, point your pistol towards the target switch the firearm safety from the
engaged, safety position to the unlocked, firing position. While focusing on your target, scan the area to the left and the right and look
beyond the target to ensure you will not hit an unintended target. With the target acquired, after all safety checks, after ensuring there
are no other targets that can be inadvertently hit, you can continue with your target practice. The shooter may continue to shoot until
the determined rounds are fired, or continue to shoot until the magazine is emptied.

Unloading the Semi-Automatic Pistol

To unload a semi-automatic pistol, the user should ensure the firearm is ALWAYS pointed in a safe direction and that his finger is
ALWAYS off the trigger and resting against the frame of the gun during this operation.

Place your weak hand beneath the magazine well of the gun. Press the magazine release button and catch the magazine as it falls
from the magazine well--do not let it drop on the ground as seen on TV as this can damage your magazine!

Once the magazine is released from the well, it's important to clear the chamber of the gun, especially if there is a live round in the
chamber. While pointing the pistol in a safe direction, using the support hand, pull the slide rearward to eject the cartridge form the
chamber. If you are confident the chamber has been cleared, pull the slide rearward and lock it in an open position with the slide
latch; visibly inspect the chamber to confirm the chamber is empty.

If you are at a range and anticipate you will be shooting additional rounds, it is "best practice" to leave the slide open when placing it
on the shooting bench and waiting for your turn. If you are done shooting, you should close the slide and, while pointing the gun in a
safe direction, lower the hammer, or in the case of a striker-style model, pull the trigger to ensure the firearm is not in a firing, or
"battery ready" mode. Note: Some pistols, especially Rimfire pistols, should not be dry fired" as it can damage the gun. ALWAYS
consult your owner's manual for information related to dry fire and other scenarios.
RSS Feed
Idaho Enhanced Permit Classes
Copyright © 2014 by Level 1 Firearms Safety and Training  ·  Boise, ID · Denver, CO  ·  Reno, NV · E-Mail: info@level1firearms.com