How to Load a Semi-Automatic Handgun

Have you just purchased a handgun and used it for the first time? You will need to reload it. Follow these steps for safe, efficient reloading.

Point the gun away from yourself and others.

Make sure the slide is locked back and the gun is empty. You should be able to see the empty chamber through the ejection port. If the slide is not locked back, there could still be a round in the chamber

Press the magazine release. This is usually a button or a small lever behind the trigger on the left side of the gun.

Let the magazine drop out. On some models, you may need to gently pull it out.

Grip the magazine by the front edge(where the bullets face). Put your index finger, at the top of this edge to help you guide the magazine in.

Find the magazine well (the empty hole on the grip). Put the back of the magazine against the back of the magazine well. Push the magazine upward until you hear a click.

Firmly pull down on the magazine to make sure it is tightly in place.

Grab the top of the slide, then pull it back, until it stops. Then release.


  • Malfunctions in semi- automatic pistols can be caused by not inserting the magazine properly, so make sure it is seated correctly.
  • Remember to keep the gun pointed away from you
  • Never handle, attempt to reload, or fire a weapon without proper training or guidance of an expert


  • If you have a pistol with a thumb release and a drop free magazine, you can do a quick reload. Grasp the mag with your left hand(assuming you're right handed)while pressing the mag release on the gun. Let the old mag drop and slide the new one into position quickly.
  • Be aware of state and local laws regarding handguns