How to Load a Shotgun (UPDATED 2023)

Hunter showing how to load a shotgun. - Gator Hunting Florida

How to Load a Shotgun


To safely and correctly load and unload a shotgun, it is important to follow the safety rules: treat all weapons as if they are loaded, only use ammunition that the gun is chambered for, keep the gun pointed in a safe direction, and keep your finger off the trigger. Different types of shotguns (break-action, pump-action, and semi-auto) require different methods of loading and unloading. It is important to consult the manual for the specific gun and to remember to open the action, load the chamber and magazine, and close the action. To unload, open the action, cycle the shells, and confirm that there are no cartridges left in the gun.

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You can’t fire a shotgun without loading it first – and it’s absolutely essential to know how to load and unload a gun if you want to use it safely. But not all shotguns load as intuitively as you’d like. So, let’s give you a quick rundown of how to load and unload various types of shotguns.

First, the safety rules:

• Make sure it’s not already loaded: Always treat all weapons as if they are loaded, because sometimes they are. Open the action, check the chamber and magazine, and check the barrel for clogs.

• Make sure you are loading the correct ammo: Most guns have the caliber and cartridge lengths that can accept stampings on the side of the barrel near the receiver. Be sure to only use ammunition that the gun is chambered for. Longer shells won’t fit into shorter chambers, and they can create dangerous pressures.

• Make sure the gun is secure before loading it: Learn how to operate your shotgun safety and make sure it is engaged before loading the gun with ammunition.

• Keep your finger off the trigger when loading and unloading a weapon.

• Keep the gun pointed in a safe direction while loading and unloading: Always make sure the barrel of your shotgun is pointed in a safe direction.

• Consult the shotgun manual: If you are not sure how to load and unload your shotgun, read the manual. All new guns come with a manual, and you can find the manual for almost any gun online as well.

Now, let’s look at how to load break-action, pump-action, and semi-auto shotguns:

• How to Load a Break Action Shotgun: Most break action pistols (O/Us, side by side, and single shot) have a break action lever on top of the frame. Push it to the right to open the gun and drop the shells. Close the gun firmly without slamming it shut. To unload the weapon, push the lever to open the action. Depending on the model, it will have extractors that lift the covers to facilitate their removal or ejectors that open the voids.

• How to Load a Pump Action Shotgun: Push the slide release button on the trigger guard to unlock the slide. Drop a shell, rear-pointing brass, into the loading port of a side-eject bomb, then close the action by sliding your forearm forward. Load the rest of the shells into the magazine by pushing them into the magazine tube through the port on the bottom of the gun. To unload the gun, push the slide release, open the action slowly, and you’ll be able to pop the shell out of the ejection port instead of dropping it on the ground.

• How to Load a Semi-Automatic Shotgun: Pull the bolt handle back to open the action. Drop a shell into the loading port and press the bolt release button. Use your thumb to push the shells into the tubular magazine through the loading port on the bottom of the gun. To unload the gun, open the action to remove the shell from the chamber. Cycle the next shell. Repeat until you can confirm that there are no cartridges left in the magazine or chamber of the weapon.

Now that you know how to load and unload a shotgun, you can use it safely and confidently.

Loading a shotgun is a skill that has been around for centuries. It is a skill that is still used by hunters, law enforcement, and military personnel today. While the process of loading a shotgun is fairly straightforward, there are some interesting statistics and facts associated with it.

For example, the average time to load a shotgun is about 10 seconds. This time can vary depending on the type of shotgun and the type of ammunition being used. Additionally, the amount of force required to load a shotgun can vary significantly. A 12-gauge shotgun requires about 40 pounds of force to load, while a 20-gauge shotgun requires about 30 pounds of force.

Another interesting statistic is that the average shotgun shell contains about one-third of an ounce of gunpowder. This is enough to propel a projectile up to 1,200 feet per second.

Finally, the average shotgun has a range of about 25 yards. This means that it can be used to hit a target at a distance of 25 yards or less. However, some shotguns have a longer range, and some have a shorter range.


1. How do I load a shotgun?
Answer: 1. Make sure the safety is on. 2. Open the action and remove any shells that may be in the chamber. 3. Insert the shells into the magazine tube. 4. Close the action to chamber the first shell.

2. How many shells can I load in a shotgun?
Answer: 1. The number of shells you can load into a shotgun will depend on the size of the gun and the type of shells you are using. Generally, most shotguns can hold between three and five shells.

3. How do I know when the shotgun is loaded?
Answer: 1. You will know when the shotgun is loaded when you hear a distinct click when you close the action. 2. You can also look into the chamber to make sure a shell is present. 3. You can also feel the weight of the gun to see if it is loaded.

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