The Reluctant Gun Owner

My definition of ‘loaded’ is as follows: When the trigger is pulled, it goes bang. Here’s how to do it safely and reliably:

First, make sure that the chamber is empty. I’ll show you how to do this in the next section.

Next, we have to insert the cartridges into the magazine. Insert the first cartridge by pressing the cartridge head (bottom of the cartridge) onto the follower. The follower is the part of the magazine that’s attached to the spring and pushes the cartridges back up. Press the cartridge head onto the follower and then slide the cartridge backwards under the lips of the magazine, until the cartridge is pressed against the rear wall of the magazine.

Inserting a cartridge into a magazine
Inserting a cartridge into a magazine 1

You can insert the rest of the cartridges the same way. Instead of pressing the cartridge head onto the follower, you press it onto the case of the previously loaded cartridge. You can use the thumb of your other hand to help compress the spring by pressing down on the previously loaded cartridge.

I have found that with new magazines the spring is rather stiff and I need to push down really hard. It takes a long time, and my thumbs actually start to hurt. So I got the Uplula Speedloader to make this a lot easier. I strongly recommend you do the same.

Insert the magazine into the magazine well of the gun until it’s locked into place. If you want, you can confirm that you’ve securely inserted the magazine by gently pulling on its exposed floorplate. It should not slide out.

At this point, the gun is not completely loaded yet. The chamber is empty. It does not contain a cartridge. If you were to pull the trigger (don’t do it) nothing would happen. To transfer the topmost cartridge in the magazine into the chamber pull the slide to the rear and release it. When you pull the slide it ejects any cartridge that was in the chamber and when you release the slide the slide strips the next cartridge from the magazine and seats it into the chamber.

Now, the gun is loaded. If you pull the trigger, it will go bang. A bullet will go through the barrel and escape through the muzzle. In the case of my gun, even if you remove the magazine now, the gun is still loaded, because the cartridge that left the magazine when you let go of the slide is still in the chamber. Some guns come with magazine safeties, preventing the gun from firing if the magazine well is empty.

A safety is a device that can fail. Never rely on a safety to prevent a gun from firing. Rely on the best tool you have: your brain.

Continue reading: Safely Unloading a Semi-Automatic Handgun

© 2019 Aijaz Ansari
The Reluctant Gun Owner by Aijaz Ansari is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
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