As each shot is fired manually, the case of the cartridge is ejected automatically and the chamber is reloaded automatically.
- To open the action, you must pull back the slide. On most semi-automatics when the slide is pulled back, it will lock in the open position if the magazine is empty. If the handgun does not lock open, it means that a cartridge from the magazine has gone into the chamber, making the gun ready to fire. A few semi-automatics do not lock open and must be held open to check the chamber.
- To unload, first remove the magazine. Next, work the slide several times to ensure all ammunition has been removed. Then lock the action open. To make sure the gun is unloaded:
- Visually check the chamber for an additional cartridge.
- Put a finger into the chamber to physically make sure the chamber is empty.
- When closing the action for loading, pull back to unlock the slide and then let go, allowing it to travel forward on its own. Do not guide it forward with your hand because it may not seat properly.
- On a semi-automatic, the trigger must be pulled each time a shot is fired. This makes the semi-automatic different from the fully-automatic firearm, which fires continuously as long as the trigger is held down. The fully-automatic firearm may not be used for hunting or sport shooting.