HUNTINGsmart! USA Knowledge Base

Module 03 - RIFLES 101


Follow these steps to safely unload your pump action rifle:

Illustration of a hunter's hands holding a forward facing pump action rifle.

STEP 1: Point the firearm in a safe direction.

Illustration of a hunter's hands keeping off of a pump action rifle's trigger.

STEP 2: Make sure nothing touches the trigger throughout this procedure.

Illustration of a hunter's hands turning a pump action rifle's safety.

STEP 3: Turn the safety on (if it can be engaged during the unloading process).

Illustration of a hunter's hands removing a pump action rifle's spent cartridges by opening the action.

STEP 4: Remove the ammunition as follows:

  • Open the action by operating the action release and sliding the forestock to the rear. This should eject any ammunition or empty casings/hull from the chamber (remove it by hand if it doesn’t eject).
  • If the magazine is detachable, remove it from the firearm and then remove any ammunition (use gravity—let it fall into your hand).
  • If the ammunition cannot be removed in any other way, cycle all the cartridges through the chamber to remove them.
  • Leave the action open.

Illustration of a hunter's hands holding a pump action rifle on its side with the action open.

STEP 5: Look in the chamber to confirm that there’s no ammunition, hull or empty casings in there.

Illustration of a hunter's finger checking the chamber and feeding path for any obstructions.

STEP 6:  Verify that there is no ammunition by inspecting the feeding path for any objects. Feel for the follower (if applicable).

Illustration of a view down a pump action rifle's barrel.

STEP 7: Place the butt of the firearm on the ground and make sure the action is open, then look down the bore for lubricant, rust, or any obstructions. Now you’re officially UNLOADED.

Check This Out: Keep It Together

Knowing the technical terms for your firearm’s bits and pieces doesn’t make you a gunsmith. You should only disassemble a firearm if you know what you’re doing.

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