How to Load a Shotgun: All-Inclusive Guide

How To Load A Shotgun
Alfred Mendoza

Shotguns are known for shooting sports, home defense, and hunting. They fire metal shot shells. Although shotgun technology has advanced, loading shotguns remains a simple task. 

And to fully assist you on how to load a shotgun, our team provided you with the procedures that you could follow on how to load a shotgun.

1. Switch On Safety & Unload The Chamber

Double-check the chamber unloaded at all times. Find the safety feature in your weapon’s instruction manual. Make sure the barrel pointed is far from you and ensure the safety is always turned on. 

Take a quick glance at some shotguns since the interior of the loading area might be slightly sharp.

2. Determine Your Shotgun’s Gauge

Find out the gauge or bore diameter of your pump-action shotgun so that you may choose the appropriate size shells. 12, 10, 20, 16, and 28 are common shotgun sizes. 

The shell of one gauge can be launched in shotguns of another size, although a special tube is required. Otherwise, it’s easiest to pick the properly sized ammo for your handgun. But, how many shells can a shotgun hold?

3. Sit & Place The Butt Of The Stock On Your Left Thigh

While seated, put the stock’s butt on your left leg or thigh. You may also conceal the stock below your arm, ensuring that the gun turned sideways. Place the trigger on the gun’s side that faces farther from you.  

4. Place A Shell Against The Loading Flap 

Right before the trigger guard, set the shotgun shell against the flap. The shell’s end should be covering the gun barrel’s end. The shot is fired from the shotgun shell’s business end, which contrasts the shotgun shell’s metal-capped end, which contains the explosive charge.

5. Push The Single Shell Straight Up Into The Loading Flap 

With your thumb, press the shotgun shell all the way up through the flap until you feel and hear a click. Pushing the shell into the magazine tube using the pad of the thumb gives more leverage than using a finger.

When the magazine latch clicks, the edge of the shell should clear it. Some newer shotguns may have a surprisingly strong magazine spring that necessitates more energy to get the shotgun shell into the magazine catch.

6. Repeat The Process Until The Magazine Tube Is Completely Filled

Replay the process until the tube is completely filled. When you try to load a shell but it doesn’t match, you know that the magazine tube is full.

Keep in mind that never use a screwdriver or other instrument to force a shotshell into the magazine. You could accidentally set off the shell and can cause harm to you and others.

7. Pump The Slide Backward Until The Chamber Is Loaded

Keep the release button held and push the slide backwards giving a reasonable amount of power until the chamber is loaded. This will withdraw a shell out of the tube and set it in a firing position. Now is the time that your gun is ready to fire shells.

Also Read: Measuring Shotgun Choke Size

6 Steps in Loading Break-Action Shotguns

Rules To Follow When Buying A Gun Online

1. Switch On Safety

Keep the gun pointed in a safe direction and the safety device turned on at all times. Even if you’re aware the gun is not loaded, you should always treat it as if it were loaded. The first thing to remember when handling or using a weapon is to double-check everything.

2. Find & Engage The Barrel Breach Lever, Button, Or Latch 

This is normally where the barrel meets the stock on the right part of the weapon. A break-action gun does not have a magazine tube into which several shells can be loaded at once compared to most shotguns like the pump-action shotgun.

Rather, the gun breaks open, allowing you to feed the shell directly towards the chamber of your gun barrel. This implies that after each shot, or two shots for a double-barreled type of gun, you must reload your gun.

3. Open It & Lower The Barrel Away From The Shotgun’s Body

Drop the barrel farther from the shotgun’s body by opening your shotgun. 

4. Remove & Discard Any Spent Casings

Any expended casings should be removed and discarded. If they’ve been recently fired, they could be heated. Tend not to make any contact with the barrel’s metal with your hand.

5. Replace All The Used Casing With A Fresh Shell

A new shell should be used to replace the old and broken shell. The shell’s business end should be fitted inside the barrel.

6. Bring The Barrel Back-Up & Close The Break

Lock the brake and return the barrel to its original position until a click is heard and felt. Your break-action shotgun is ready to fire a shell after being loaded.

Also Read: How Much Does A Shotgun Cost?


No, you don’t need to hold the action button every time you pump up the slide. If the weapon has not been fired without pushing and holding the release button near the trigger guard, the action bar will not move back. Pull the action bar back slightly by pressing and holding the release.

You can fire a shotgun once or twice before reloading. However, it depends on the gun that you’re using. Most slide-action shotguns that have one or two barrels, can only fire one or two times. The bolt shotgun can hold up to three shells and loads ammo similarly to a bolt-action rifle [1].

Pump shotguns or slide action is the type of shotgun that is easiest to load. Many experts recommend using slide action if you’re a beginner.

A semi-automatic shotgun is the most difficult to load. A semi-automatic shotgun has a complex design making it more prone to jamming failures. Also, they require more cleaning and maintenance compared to simpler action guns.

Key Takeaways

To load and unload a shotgun, you need to make sure that it is unloaded and ensure the safety is on. Semi-automatic shotguns load in basically the same manner as slide actions. If you think your semi-auto may load differently, examine its owners’ manual or ask for any expertise. 

Make sure the chamber is empty. Always put the weapon away from your body if you’re opening your weapon. Never try to mismatch ammunition and firearms. The round may suit inside the chamber, but it could be possible to have considerably higher power than your rifle is capable of. 

Remember, adult supervision is needed when you still don’t know how to load a shotgun. Your gun could go off and kill or injure you and other bystanders.



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