How to Unload a Shotgun the Safest Way: 5 Easy Steps to Guide You

Learning how to unload a shotgun correctly can save you from a lot of risks. You should that accidental discharges can happen anytime. Fortunately, this process is pretty easy. As long as you practice it with extreme caution and care, you can take out the shells from your gun smoothly.


Some of you might have the idea on the safe and correct method of unloading a shotgun. But of course, it is not wrong if you will get some refresher courses. For those who are still new to do this, you have to pay attention to what we are going to show you.‚Äč

Precautionary Steps

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The first thing that you need to do before you unload your shotgun is to remember all the rules of handling a gun safely.

  • The first one is the rule that we are all familiar with. Yes. You got it right. Always treat a gun as it is loaded. Professionals always practice this rule, regardless if they know if the gun doesn't have any ammo. It is a safety precaution that would always save your life and other people as well.
  • The basic idea of this rule is to make you remember that guns are lethal tools. When discharged, they can knock people out for several feet. This can happen even the firearm is inert.
  • The next rule is always to free your fingers from the trigger. You need to do this except if you have to fire the weapon. Also, you can just put your fingers on the trigger when you want to put a gun in a half-cock position (assuming that you have a revolver).

Unloading Etiquettes

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When unloading the gun, make sure that you don't do it clumsily, especially if you are with other people. Specifically, you have to unload your shotgun while pointing it in a safe direction.

So what is a "safe direction?" Well, this is the area in where there are no people, living things, or other significant belongings is present. If accidental discharges happen, you will be confident that nobody and nothing will get harmed.

Ideally, you should point your weapon on the ground. But never do this inside your home because your flooring is in danger. Because of this, we do recommend that you unload your gun outdoors that have clear vicinity.

Of course, it would be absurd if you point your gun upwards. Remember that there is a thing we call gravity. What you fire upwards will eventually come down!

If you want a portable loading station, try to gather a three to five gallon of sand. Accumulate them in a way that they can stop the force of the shells when you fire them. On the other hand, we don't recommend water as an unloading platform. It will just slow the bullets, not stop them.

How to Unload a Shotgun

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We have already featured the essential things that you need to know before you start unloading your weapon. Just take note that the observance of gun safety could protect you from fatal accidents. Now that you got this, it is time to move on to our main topic.

Unloading varies on the type of firearm you are using. Therefore, the manner of unloading a shotgun is different from handguns.

Step 1

You can unload a shotgun safely and with control by following this method. First, you need to point the muzzle in a safe direction. You have to do this all the time. Moreover, you also have to activate the safety switch.

Step 2

Next, hold the shotgun on its gripping part and position the gun as if it is almost parallel to the ground. While doing this, gradually open the action by the use of your supporting hand. The thumb of the supporting hand should be positioned on the barrel's top portion. In this way, you can minimize and control the action's speed.

Step 3

You have to open the action until such time the shell will clear out the front part of the gun's ejection area. You will know that you did it right if the shell will turn outward. By the way, the shell that we are talking here is the shell that you want to extract from the chamber.

Specifically, the action must be open in a way that it will show almost 3/8 inch of the bolt. Of course, do not overdo the opening. Once the action has enough opening, take out the shell with the use of your supporting hand. Store the shell in safe storage.

Step 4

Just maintain the opening of the action. After taking out the shell, use your supporting hand to reach the receiver and loading port. You need to do this so that you can move the shell carrier on an upper position. Once you can achieve this, clutch the end of the carrier with the forefinger and thumb of your supporting hand. Meanwhile, your palm should just be below the shotgun's loading port.

Step 5

Pull the action towards the rear. It will result in the release of the shell from its magazine. When you do this, the shell will fall into your helping hand. Using the middle finger of your hand, look for the left portion of the shell latch.

Specifically, you can reach this component on the lower portion of the loading port. Typically, the latch is just in the receiver's front, near to the rear of the opening of the magazine tube.

Once you can reach the latch, press it towards the receiver's left side. Doing this will enable you to extract the shells one at a time.

Just repeat this process until you can empty the magazine already. After this, you still have to open the action so that you can inspect the magazine and remainder for any remaining ammunition.

If your shotgun doesn't have a shell latch, just press the action release switch. After this, pump the action bar continuously until you can extract all the shells. This practice is ideal if you are using a pump-action shotgun.


Learning how to unload a shotgun properly will determine your overall safety and convenience while shooting. It is among the core competencies that every shotgun owner should know. With this skill, you can optimize the usage of your firearm without harming anyone.

Of course, we need to remind you again about the fundamentals of gun safety. After all, you need to become a responsible gun owner. You still have to pay attention to your surroundings even if you are not firing. Every time you carry a gun always exercises proper caution and care. In this way, you won't send yourself or anyone to the hospital.

Did you learn from this article? If you have any questions, comments, and suggestions, just ask us. We will be waiting! Stay safe and happy shooting!

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