Loading Semi Auto Magazine
New Gun, Training & Handling

Loading & Unloading Your Gun – Semi-Auto

Loading and unloading your semi-automatic gun can be a little intimidating at first. Follow the simple steps below and soon it will become a simple task.

Before You Begin Loading Your Firearm

Remember The Four Rules apply ALWAYS so keep them in force while loading and unloading your firearm.

The Four Rules Of Firearm Safety Are:

  1. All guns are always loaded.
  2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.
  4. Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.


Glock InformationLoading and Unloading Your Semi-automatic Pistol

Verify you have the right caliber ammunition. Ammunition “can” be confusing. Know which round(s) are appropriate and safe for your model. Shooting the wrong ammunition in your firearm is extremely dangerous. There are 3 places to check. 1. Check the labeling on the ammunition box. 2. Read the bottom the round of ammunition which is stamped with the caliber.  3. The caliber of your gun will be marked on the barrel of the gun itself.

If you are not sure, don’t load your firearm and get some expert advice. Revolvers and semi-automatic pistols are loaded and unloaded differently. Click HERE to learn how to load and unload a revolver

Loading Your Semi-Automatic Pistol

As a reminder, before loading your firearm, thoroughly read the owners manual which will provide specific loading instructions for your particular firearm.

Step 1:

Point the muzzle of your gun in a safe direction. Place your hand on the grip of the pistol without placing your finger in the trigger guard.

Step 2: Press the button on the side of the hand grip to eject the magazine.

Loading Your Semi-automatic Pistol


Step 3: Verify the gun is fully unloaded and a round is not still in the chamber. Most semi-automatic pistols, after the final shot is fired, will lock its slide open. In the event the chamber is not locked open, pull back the rack and push up on the “slide lock” to reveal the chamber. Visually check the chamber to make sure it is empty.



Step 4a: Hold the magazine firmly in your non-dominant hand with the tip of the rounds facing forward, the higher angled side, or toward the right if you are right-handed. The back of the magazine should be positioned in the V between your thumb and index finger.





Step 4b: Insert rounds one at a time with your dominant hand by placing the bullet so that the case of the bullet rests on the top front third of the top of the magazine, with the rounded side of the round forward. Push firmly with your thumb (or index finger) on the center of the round and slide it back until it is below the retaining lip. Repeat until magazine is full.

Note: The magazines can be “tight” and inserting the rounds can take quite a bit of pressure but will loosen some with use. I found loading the magazine was a great thing to practice and it becomes easier the more you do it.


Step 5: Re-insert the magazine by pushing firmly upward into the hand grip with rounds pointing forward, until you hear a click, indicating the magazine has locked in place.


Note: No need to be shy. Firmly insert the magazine and gently tap the back of it against the palm of your other hand to align the ammunition.

There is a fabulous tool that makes loading magazines a breeze. Most women swear by it and always keep one in their range bag. Check out the Maglula Loader here.

For many women, racking the slide is frustrating and discouraging. Take a deep breath, the answer to your frustration might just be found in the correct technique.  It takes a very particular motion to successfully and consistently rack the slide. Following the correct technique, you will get more proficient with this action. .380’s and 9mm do tend to be easier to rack. Of course, your hand strength and the model of your gun are the defining factors.


If you have just finished shooting a full magazine, your semiautomatic pistol will lock the slide open. If you did not shoot all rounds in the magazine the slide will be closed.

Step 1: Point your handgun in a safe direction.

Step 2: Press the button on the side of the hand grip to eject the magazine.

Step 3: Verify the gun is fully unloaded and a round is not still in the chamber. If your slide was not open, you will have to pull the slide back and raise the slide lock to lock the slide in place in the rearward position.

Step 4: Carefully lay the gun down with the muzzle in a safe direction.

Step 5: If rounds of ammunition remain in the magazine, press down slightly on the top round and with your thumb and push or slide the round out of the magazine. Continue until all rounds have been removed.

Step 6: Safely store your firearm.


Continue Learning How To Shoot A gun here: Making The Decision: Part 4 – How Do I Use A Gun?

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One thought on “Loading & Unloading Your Gun – Semi-Auto

  1. Mary Ann Laffoon says:

    Sound basic information. I appreciate that TWAW provides training and tips for all levels of knowledge and skills. I have female family and friends who are becoming new gunowners. I always tell them to follow you and frequently check your site for helpful information and products.

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