Unload and Show Clear

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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.

Discussion
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2 Responses to “Unload and Show Clear”
  1. 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.

    Reply
  2. 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.

    Reply