Shotguns come in a wide variety. The two basic shoguns used in today’s era are sem-automatic and pump-action shotguns like the ones meant for home defense.
To some extent, the way of handling shotguns is different than other firearms. Firearm owners, especially the ones new to this field, are highly concerned about their safety. They are highly eager to know the proper technique of how to unload a shotgun to avoid any kind of safety risks.
Usually, most of the shotguns are not equipped with the usual magazines that handguns and rifles tend to have. Although some shotguns might have a magazine, most of them have some sort of a tube where shells are loaded into.
Unloading your shotgun is one of the most important activities that must be carried out to stay safe and to protect your gun from any kind of damage or accidental operation. It is highly advisable that you never place your gun into a vehicle or at home before unloading it.
The best part about unloading a shotgun is that it is not at all a tedious task. It is simple, easy, and efficient.
Although there are several types of shotguns and each shotgun stores the bullets in different ways, the process of unloading each shotgun is more or less similar. Once you check the chambers are free, it is highly recommended that clean the gun before putting it away.
There are five majors tips that will be discussed below to help you easily unload your shotgun. Follow the procedure step wise so that you do not miss any vital part and save yourself from any kind of disaster.
These five steps include:
- Point the gun away from yourself and other people
- Press the bolt release
- Release the bolt grip
- Open the hinge
- Remove all the shells.
Let us look at a detailed description of how to carry out each of these steps.
1. Point The Gun Away
Pointing the gun away is one of the most critical steps that need to be followed to avoid any kind of mishappening. Always start the unloading process by pointing the gun in a safe direction.
The whole idea behind carrying out this process is to keep the gun away from your body or anyone else around you.
If possible, the best time to unload your shotgun would be when you are alone. It is always better to carry out this process with no one near you. Having other people around is not necessarily a deterrent, but it is often safer to unload it on your own if the gun misfires.
While you are at this stage, ensure that you keep your fingers off the trigger so you don’t accidentally make the gun off.
2. Press The Bolt Release
A bolt is the part of a repeating, breech-loading firearm that blocks the rear opening (breech) of the barrel chamber. Simultaneously, the propellant burns and moves back and forward to facilitate loading/unloading of cartridges from the magazine.
Once you ensure that the gun is pointing in the safe direction, far away from you, press the bolt release on any pump-action shotgun. This is located behind or in front of your trigger guard.
When you pull back the bolt release, the gun automatically unloads one shell. The shotgun only unloads one shell at a time. As soon as you notice the shell pop out, cycle the pump action.
You need to follow the above process until no shells are visible in the magazine tube or the shell chamber.
Generally, pump-action shotguns contain only one barrel. Although, their magazine tube is capable of holding multiple shells at once. Press the bold release a few times and thoroughly check the presence of any shell in the chamber to ensure your safety.
3. Release The Bolt Grip
In case you own an auto-loading shotgun, the next task would be to pull back and release the bolt grip. When this process is carried out, the gun empties a single shell.
Continue this action with the previous step until you can no longer see any shells visible inside the chamber or the magazine tube. Do not stop until complete unloading is done.
It is always better to double-check your magazine tube. There inside the chamber, and you would not want to miss out on any shell there.
4. Open The Hinge
You need not open a hinge for every shotgun; only if you are unloading a break action shotgun, you are required to open the hinge.
The hinge is generally located somewhere between the stock and the receiver. Removal of the shell from the chamber part of the barrels needs to be done before you close the hinge.
With a break action shotgun, you will only load one shell at a time and thus unload only one shell at a time.
If you own a double-barrel shotgun, you need to check for shells in both chambers while unloading the shotgun.
5. Remove All The Shells
No matter which shotgun you are using, once the shells are unloaded, you need to keep them in a safe place for future use. The best option is to leave these shells away from the place where you are planning to work.
Another level of safety is added if you store these shells in a separate room than where you are planning to clean your gun.
Before proceeding towards cleaning your gun, double-check the chamber of the barrel to see if any shell is still remaining in the magazine tube or shell chamber.
The last step is to put the bolt action button back to its original place to make sure that no ammunition is still in the gun.
Once all the above procedures are finished, you have reached the completion of unloading your shotgun, and the main question of how to unload a shotgun has been answered.
There are a few more steps that need to be followed once your gun is unloaded.
Clean The Gun
The next step after unloading your shotgun is to clean it. After each and every use, it is recommended that you take the barrel off, wipe everything down, and spray solvents through all the components. This prevents build-up inside the gun and makes it efficient for use for a longer duration of time.
Guns that are not adequately cleaned and maintained have a high risk of getting stuck, and they can rust, and have many other issues making your gun wear out faster.
It is suggested to clean the chambers where your shells and ammunition go carefully. This makes it easy for the shell to move out from the barrel while shooting.
This step is the last chance where you can once again check whether there is any shell or ammunition left in the chamber before finally putting the gun away.
Put The Gun Away
Once you are done unloading and cleaning the gun, you can put away the gun safely. You must choose a safe spot where you can store your shotgun so that no one uses it or gets hurt.
Even an unloaded shotgun can be dangerous when swung around, left on the floor to trip over, or if it falls over.
A gun safe is a safe and sound place for storing your gun. You can go for a gun safe with a good lock and keep the keys elsewhere for safekeeping.
Tips To Make Unloading A Gun Safer
While unloading a gun is not such a tough task, it is always better to do it with utmost caution.
The first thing to keep in mind is to always treat your gun as if it is loaded. It doesn’t matter how sure you are that the gun is unloaded. This will keep you safe even in the worst-case scenario.
If you assume that the gun is unloaded and, by any chance, there is still a shell left, it might cause inconvenience to you and the people around you. Whereas, if you consider your gun loaded, and you are wrong, there would be no harm to anyone.
The next most important thing to be remembered is always to keep your fingers off the trigger. Unless you are planning to shoot, never put your fingers near the trigger. It might lead to some accidental mishappening, and even a slight slip might make the gun go off at the wrong time.
One of the other main points to keep in mind is to always point your gun away from you or anyone else. The shotgun must always be pointed in a safe direction.
Finally, just be careful while you are removing cartridges.
How To Unload A Shotgun – Conclusion
If you are a regular shotgun user, or even if you are a beginner, it is always good to know how to unload a shotgun to ensure your safety and the safety of your near and dear ones.
Unloading your gun is a critical part of gun safety. You are never supposed to store your gun without unloading it, as it may lead to many accidental mishappenings.
Checking a few times to get the shells out, cleaning the gun, and leaving it somewhere safe is the best way to make sure your gun is ready to be used again without harming anyone else.
This article provides a list of steps you need to follow to unload your shotgun. You can follow these guidelines to ensure that you have unloaded your shotgun adequately.
Michael Castaneda is a 45-year old war veteran from Michigan with a deep interest in guns. After the war, Michael took a pledge to never touch a gun except for the purpose of self-defense. He created Machine Gun Books to guide people on self-defense and providing information on guns and accessories.