You have finished a day of firing at the range. You are now ready to clean your semi-automatic pistol. You are pretty sure that there are no live rounds left in the firearm, but there is just one problem... Rule # 1 of the 4 Universal Firearm Safety Rules states that all guns are always loaded. How do we get our gun ready to clean?
The answer is to properly "clear" the firearm. Clearing is the method used to remove all live ammunition from your pistol, while still maintaining the mindset that does not violate the safety rules mentality. So what are the steps to clearing a semi-automatic pistol?
STEP 1: Remove the magazine
It is crucial that you remove your source of ammunition first. If you do not do this, the following steps will only load a different round into the chamber. The magazine is your source of ammunition, so remove it right away.
STEP 2: Rack the slide
Even after the magazine is removed, most semi-automatic pistols are capable of firing a round that is still in the chamber. Racking the slide should eject any round that is still in the firearm.
STEP 3: Rack the slide 3 more times
This step is important because you want to ensure that any round still in the chamber was actually ejected. This step will also quickly tell you if you forgot to perform STEP 1. If you did, you will continue to see rounds cycled through the firearm as you repeatedly rack the slide.
STEP 4: Lock the slide open
This is necessary in order to have the firearm ready for the next two steps.
STEP 5: Visual inspection
You want to think of your firearm as a "T" while doing this. Your first visual check should be through the top part of the "T". You want to look through the chamber and barrel to ensure that there are no rounds inside. The second part is looking through the chamber and magazine well, the "base of the T".
SAFETY PRECAUTION: NEVER look through the front of the barrel, always look from the backside. By looking under the opened slide you should be able to see all the way through.
STEP 6: Physical inspection
The final step of clearing a semi-automatic is to perform a physical inspection of the same "T" that we just did with our eyes. You want to use your little finger to ensure that you have not overlooked any rounds by feeling in the chamber/barrel, then the chamber/magazine well.
Learn even more by trying our FREE Clearing A Semi-Automatic online training.