Loading a Handgun

Loading a revolver and loading a semi-automatic are different procedures.

Loading a Revolver

This procedure will work for most modern, double-action revolvers. It will not work for cowboy, single-action revolvers. Before you load your revolver, check your owner’s manual to make sure these steps are appropriate for your gun.

  • Point the gun in a safe direction.
  • Hold the gun in your shooting hand.
  • Put your non-shooting hand under the gun.
  • Push forward on the Cylinder release and push the cylinder out with the middle fingers of your non-shooting hand. 
Opening the cylinder of a revolver using the shooting hand

Opening the cylinder of a revolver using the shooting hand

  • If there is anything in the chambers, you don’t know if you are looking at empty casings or ready-to-discharge ammunition. So at this point, you have to unload it.
  • Continuing to hold the gun in the non-shooting hand as shown in the figure above, take live ammunition in your shooting hand and push one piece of live ammunition fully into each chamber. Continue until all chambers are full. (More advanced techniques exist to load more than one chamber at a time, such as speed-loaders.)
  • Close the chamber. You should hear a click when it is fully closed. You may have to rotate the cylinder a bit to get the click. The gun is now loaded.

Loading a Semi-Automatic

Here are the steps for loading a semi-automatic.

  • Keeping the gun pointed in a safe direction, engage the safety, push the magazine release and drop the magazine out of the grip.
  • Put the gun down with the muzzle pointing in a safe direction and load ammunition one-by-one into the magazine until it is full.
  • Pick up the gun and push the magazine into the grip of the gun. Give the magazine a solid tap to make sure it is seated correctly.
  • At this point, the gun is loaded but not ready to shoot because there is no round in the chamber. To put a round in the chamber, rack the slide once or, if the slide is locked back, release the slide and let it snap into the forward position.
  • The gun is now loaded and will fire when you take the safety off and pull the trigger.