HUNTINGsmart! USA Knowledge Base

Module 04 - SHOTGUNS 101


Follow these steps to safely unload your break action shotgun:

Illustration of a hunter's hands holding a forward facing break action shotgun.

STEP 1: Point the firearm in a safe direction.

Illustration of a hunter's hands keeping off of a break action shotgun's trigger.

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

Illustration of a hunter's hands turning on a break action shotgun's safety.

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

Illustration of a hunter's hangs holding a break action shotgun with the action open and a shotshell in each chamber.

STEP 4: Remove the ammunition as follows:

  • Move the action release to open the action. If the action release will not move, the safety may need to be turned ‘OFF’.
  • Open the action by hinging the barrel (normally it drops downward). This should partly remove or eject any ammunition or empty casing/hull from the chambers. Remove them by hand if they don’t eject.
  • Leave the action open.

Illustration of a hunter's hands removing the ammunition from the break action shotgun.

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 feeding path for ammunition.

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

Illustration of the view down the smooth barrels of a break action shotgun.

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

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