One Simple Trick to Never have a Negligent Discharge when Unloading Your Gun!
(Why the Order of Operations Matters)
If you’re like me, you are regularly administratively loading and unloading your firearms. I usually discourage people from excessive administrative handling of guns (e.g. gun selfies, pocket dumps, moving gun from belt to some car holster contraption), however sometimes it’s necessary. Whether it’s for nightly storage, cleaning, or for daily dry practice, I seem to be constantly unloading/loading my guns.
There is no shortage of people who have had negligent discharges (ND) while unloading, usually while cleaning guns that require pulling the trigger to disassemble. It goes like this (or a similar variation):
- Be distracted
- Remove magazine to remove source of bullets
- Be about to rack the slide to clear the chamber when something interesting comes on the TV…
- Pull down take-down levers and try to remember if you racked the slide, decide you probably did.
- press trigger…*ears ringing*…Whoops…
Order of Operation Matters
I never gave much thought to the process of unloading. I’d just take the magazine out, rack the slide a few times, then look for an empty chamber and empty magwell, and I was done. That had worked well for me for a long time because I try to not be complacent. Then Claude Werner asked me a question.
CW – “What is the source of ammo into the gun?”
Me – “the… magazine?”
CW -“Everyone thinks the magazine feeds the gun. It doesn’t. The chamber does. Until the chamber is rendered safe, the gun is loaded.”
Unload and Show Clear
As a small aside, I have also adopted Claude’s method of marking the bottom of my chambered cartridges after unloading with a sharpie. A single line next to the primer. Rotate a cartridge with 5 marks to the bottom of the magazine. When the whole magazine has cartridges with 5 marks, shoot that magazine. This allows 80 unloadings in a 16 shot gun. This technique will prevent projectiles from pushing into the case from countless chamberings and keep your defensive ammo more reliable.
A small alteration in technique can pay dividends over the course of your shooting career. I’ve made the switch to this more robust and foolproof method.
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