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As each shot is fired manually, the case of the cartridge or shotshell is ejected automatically and the chamber is reloaded automatically.

Semi-automatic action firearms
  • To open the action, you must pull back the bolt’s operating handle (on a rifle or shotgun) or the slide (on a pistol). Most semi-automatics, when the bolt or slide is pulled back, will lock in the open position if the magazine is empty. If the firearm does not lock open, it means that a cartridge or shotshell from the magazine has gone into the chamber, making the firearm 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 and lock the action open. Then make sure it’s unloaded—visually check the chamber for an additional cartridge or shell.
  • When closing the action for loading, pull back to unlock the bolt or 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.