Rob Pincus

Unload and Show Clear

Rob Pincus
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Duration:   2  mins

Should you pull the trigger of a gun to show that it is empty? Rob Pincus answers this with an emphatic “No.” In this handgun training video, he demonstrates the procedure he recommends for unloading and showing that a gun is clear.

When Should You Pull the Trigger?

Pull the trigger only when you intend to fire the gun, or in some cases if you have to disassemble the gun after you’re already 100% sure the gun is clear. However, the gun may need to stay unloaded and you need to be able to show the gun is empty. You may have to leave it on a table and walk away from it, or have to take it out of your holster and put it in a box. There is a procedure for making sure the gun is clear. When using self-defense weapons, safety comes first.

Unload and Show Clear

First, remove the magazine, the ammunition source, from the gun. Next, lock the gun open to the rear, and you or anyone can look in the chamber and see that the gun is clear. Leave the gun locked open, and that’s the end of the unload and show clear procedure.

Disassembling the Gun

If you need to pull the trigger as part of the gun’s disassembly procedure, as with some modern striker-fired pistols, once you have unloaded the gun and shown (preferably to someone else) that it is clear, close the gun, continue to point it in a generally safe direction, and pull the trigger so you can disassemble it. This is a purely administrative action, not designed to prove the gun is empty, but something you do only after you firmly believe the gun to be empty.

Don’t pull the trigger just to prove that your gun is empty.

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5 Responses to “Unload and Show Clear”

  1. Karey Wise

    Good reinforcement of safety practice. Please remeber, "safe direction" is, or isn't. Qualifier like "generally" just confuses the message. Again, thanks for the explanation of why, why not.

  2. Phil Digh

    What was the name brand airsoft pistol you used in your unload and show clear video. Also what type laser system was it. I’m an instructor and I’m always trying to find better and safer ways to instruct my students. Thanks.

  3. Frank Salisz

    I think that you need a new level added per my LEO friends; Strip the mag, clear the chamber, rack rack rack, visually inspect both the chamber and mag well, then sweep the mag well with your finger. This can then be safely handed to another individual that should perform like exercises as you should always treat a gun as loaded until you verify it is not. Otherwise "Murphy lives on your doorstep". Stay safe.-Frank

  4. BJJ

    At the Academy they added "stick your pinky finger into the chamber" to double emphasize that there is nothing besides your finger in the chamber.

  5. jsl55

    Although I don't disagree with you, in some scenarios the shooter is required to pull the trigger. This is the case in organizations such as IDPA and USPSA. Since I want to play their game, I do as the rules stipulate, with the exception of rimfire guns I use at Steel Challenge. The gun can be damaged by dry firing, so I use chamber flags that go into the chamber a couple inches.

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