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Clearing A Revolver

Updated: Jul 10, 2018

There are times when you want to handle a firearm, such as cleaning or dry firing, where you want to make sure there is no live ammunition inside of it. Some people refer to this as "unloading" a firearm. However, if you are a responsible firearm owner, then you know that the first of 4 Universal Firearm Safety Rules is that all guns are always loaded. Because of this, it is best practice to refer to your firearm as "cleared". While this might seem like semantics, it is actually very important to ensuring safe handling each time. So what is the proper way to clear a revolver?

STEP 1 - Obtain a "master grip" on the firearm.

You want to hold the firearm with your dominant hand. This would be similar to your shooting position, except your trigger finger should be "indexed" on the frame of the revolver, NOT on the trigger or trigger guard.

STEP 2 - Activate the cylinder release button.

The cylinder release is the small button near the rear of the revolver that allows you to unlock and open the cylinder.

For right-handed shooters, you want to activate this button with your strong thumb.

Left-handed shooters will use their trigger finger to activate the cylinder release.

How you activate it depends on the make and model of your revolver. Some push forward, others push back. Some move up, others down. Some of them push in toward the frame.

STEP 3 - Open the cylinder.

You want to get in the habit of opening they cylinder (the part that revolves), by pushing a part of your hand entirely through. This is important if you want to learn how to perform an efficient speed reload later on. You can accomplish this by cradling your support hand under and around both sides of the revolver (see photos).

Right-handed shooters will use their left two middle fingers to push all the way through the unlocked cylinder. The left thumb can then join the fingers in gripping the cylinder

The thumb and two fingers make either a circle or "C" shape around the cylinder, depending on the size of the hand and they firearm.

Left-handed shooters should use their right thumb to push through the unlocked cylinder. The middle two fingers can then wrap underneath the trigger guard and provide additional grip on the cylinder.

The thumb and two fingers make either a circle or "C" shape around the cylinder, depending on the size of the hand and they firearm.

STEP 4 - Rotate the muzzle straight up.

While gripping the cylinder using the support hand as described above, you now want to rotate the muzzle so that it is pointing straight up into the air. This will allow gravity to assist you in removing rounds that are inside of the chambers.

SAFETY NOTE: Be cautious as you rotate the muzzle upward that you do not inadvertently aim the barrel at any part of your body.

STEP 5 - Use the ejector rod.

Use the meaty portion of your support hand to activate the ejector rod. You want to apply a firm force to this motion to help eject any brass that has expanded inside of the cylinders. For this reason, it is not a good idea to use your thumb on the ejector rod, use your whole hand instead.

Tapping ejector rod while clearing a revolver.
Firmly Tap The Ejector Rod With The Hand

SAFETY NOTE: Be sure that your hand does not cover the muzzle, especially on shorter barrel models.

STEP 6 - Visual & physical inspection.

It is important that you finish your clearing process by looking at each cylinder to verify that it is empty. It is also a good idea to perform a physical inspection of the cylinders using your little finger to verify that they are cleared.

Learn even more in FREE Clearing A Revolver online training.


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