Basic Handgun Operations: How to Clear a Handgun

How to Clear a Pistol
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Basic Handgun Operations: How to Clear a Handgun

As a responsible gun owner, mastering the art of safely clearing a semi-automatic pistol, such as the widely popular Glock, is not just a skill—it's a necessity.

In fact, most firearm experts would argue that understanding how to safely clear a semi-automatic pistol is an essential skill for any gun owner, ensuring both personal safety and responsible firearm handling.

In this comprehensive How-to Firearm Guide, we will explore the step-by-step process to safely and properly clear a Glock semi-automatic pistol*.

Understanding and establishing your firearm's condition—whether loaded, chambered, or empty—is crucial for safe handling.

Our article aims to empower you with the knowledge and techniques required to maintain constant awareness of your firearm's status, ensuring personal safety and always exemplifying responsible firearm ownership.

*Glock pistols, now the company's most successful product line, are used by armed forces, security agencies, and police in over 48 countries.

Additionally, they are favored by civilians for various purposes, including recreational and competition shooting, home and self-defense, and are suitable for both concealed and open carry.

Firearm Safety Procedures

Firearm Safety Rules
Firearm Safety Rules

Before delving into the steps, it is crucial to emphasize the importance of safety. Below are the Four Universal Firearm Safety Rules, widely recognized and taught by law enforcement, military, and civilians.

Treat All Guns as if They Are Loaded
Always handle a firearm with the same care you would if you knew it was loaded, even if you believe it to be unloaded. This mindset helps instill a constant sense of caution.

Never Point a Firearm at Anything You Do Not Intend to Shoot
Always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction, away from unintended targets. This rule is crucial for preventing accidental harm or damage.

Keep Your Finger Off the Trigger Until Ready to Shoot
Your finger should rest outside the trigger guard until you have made the conscious decision to shoot. This helps prevent accidental discharges.

Be Sure of Your Target and What is Beyond It
Before firing, be aware not only of your target but also of the area beyond it. Bullets can penetrate through targets and travel significant distances, so understanding the entire shooting environment is vital.

Clearing A Semi-Automatic Guide

Step One: Eject the Magazine
Use the magazine catch to eject the magazine from the pistol. This ensures that the firearm is not loaded from the magazine.

Eject the Magazine
Eject the Pistol Magazine

Step Two: Cycle the Slide
Cycle the slide of the pistol several times. This action helps extract and eject a round if one is present in the chamber. It also provides an opportunity for a malfunctioning extractor to engage a cartridge if it is still chambered.

Cycle the Slide

Step Three: Lock the Slide to the Rear
Utilize the slide catch lever to lock the slide to the rear. This step allows for a clear view and access to the chamber.

Lock the Pistol Slide

Step Four: Visual Inspection - Open Chamber & Magazine Well
Visually inspect the open chamber area of the pistol to check for the presence of ammunition. Turn the pistol over and inspect the magazine well opening, as well.

Inspect the Chamber Area
Inspect the Magazine Well

Step Five: Physical Inspection - Chamber Area
Physically inspect the chamber area of the pistol by carefully using your finger to ensure there is no round present in the chamber.

Perform final Inspection

Step Six: Final Visual Inspection
Once again, visually inspect the chamber area and the magazine well to ensure no ammunition is present.

Inspect the Chamber Area
Inspect the Magazine Well

Step Seven: Secure the Pistol
At this point, you have two options: (1) Leave the pistol with the slide locked to the rear as a visual indication that the firearm is in a clear and safe state.

(2) Insert a "chamber flag" into the chamber area, then carefully release the slide onto the chamber flag. This method is useful for situations requiring confirmation of an empty chamber.

Secure the Pistol

Step Eight: Holster or Store
Depending on your preference and the situation, you may choose to holster the pistol or store it in another appropriate device.

Clearing a Semi-Auto Pistol - Video Guide


Checking the condition of a semi-auto pistol, such as a Glock, is a quick and simple procedure that significantly contributes to firearm safety.

By following the straightforward and effective steps outlined above, firearm owners can confidently ensure their weapons are safely handled and stored, thereby reducing the risk of accidents and promoting a culture of safe firearm use.

AMDEP Firearm Safety

Additional Resources

For more Basic Handgun Operations information, check out our recent gun blog article on How to Field Strip and Reassemble a Glock.

Readers can also visit the Ammunition Depot Resource Center - Your official Gun and Ammo information hub, providing details about the handguns, rifles, & ammunition used by firearm owners worldwide.

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