Standard “unload and show clear” costs shooter his hand

When it comes time to unload your weapon and show clear, what do you do? Some shooters rack the slide and let the live cartridge fall where it may. Others cup their palm over the ejection port and catch the cartridge. One shooter chose the latter option and it cost him the use of his hand.

The following images and story were shared by a man named Scott B. on The Firearm Blog,

(image source; Scott B.)

(image source; Scott B.)

The following is a story relayed to me. I do not have first hand knowledge of this, but I do trust the source.

The pictures are of a recovered case and projectile after a shooter attempted to eject a live round during an unloading evolution. The shooter covered the ejection port with his hand and attempted to capture the live round rather than letting it eject freely from the ejection port. The round was trapped, under pressure of the recoil spring, in-between the edge of the ejection port along the edge of the breach face and the front of the ejection port on the right side of the slide.

There is a noticeable linear denting on the nose of the projectile and an obvious strike point on the rear of the case and the primer. The projectile could not escape and the resulting effect was for the case to burst. The pressure from the burning propellent was absorbed by the shooter’s hand. He will not be able to make this mistake again.

It is a sobering lesson for many shooters. No one ever really believes that this could happen to them.

Take a look at that second photo. It’s clear the primer was never struck by the hammer. The vertical lines on the bullet and primer show where the cartridge was trapped by the slide and the edge of the ejection port.

Will this change your unload technique?


  • This is caused y covering the ejection port with your hand when cycling the slide to clear or unload a weapon. If the slide is manipulated properly this will not happen.

  • MPAcosta

    I would never use my hand to cover the ejecting round…I can bend over and pick it up.

  • mtwzzyzx

    This is strange. First, the indentation on the rear of the case is not linear, it’s rectangular- larger than a firing pin to be sure, but does not seem to be the imprint of the edge of the slide ejection port, which should be linear.

    If true, it’s got to be a shouthpaw shooter- a rightie would maybe have fingers over the port, but that wouldn’t cost you full use of your hand- maybe just loss of a few fingers/tips.

    Who would do this anyway? I can’t see how you rack the slide AND catch the cartridge in the same hand- trap it maybe, but not catch. If you wanted to catch the cartridge, don;t most sane people face the port upward, rack the slide vigorously, and try to catch the cartridge as it flies through a parabolic arc up then down?