Unloading A Double-Action Revolver
Remember your basic safety rules:
ALL guns are always loaded.
ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.
ALWAYS keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
First determine the position of the cylinder release latch and how to move it to release the cylinder. On most models it on the left side of the frame (“left” when the barrel is pointed away from you) and pushes or pulls.
But that position is not universal. On the Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 38, for example, the cylinder release latch is on the top as shown below and pushes forward.
The following steps presume the cylinder release latch is on the left side (or top). The references to right and left hand may be changed for your comfort and convenience depending on the model of the gun.
Cradle the revolver in the left hand (but gripped firmly enough to ensure that you won’t drop it). Push/pull the cylinder latch with the thumb of your right hand, using two fingers of your left hand to press the cylinder slightly, swinging it completely open. Release the latch and continue to slide your two fingers through the frame of the gun and over the top of the cylinder so that the cylinder is held by the two fingers and thumb.
Rotate the revolver so that the muzzle is pointing upwards while being prepared to catch any cartridges that fall out with your free hand. Cartridges that have been fired will expand slightly in the chamber and may not readily fall out. With your right hand, push down on the top of the ejector rod to expel the remaining shells (you may actually need to sharply tap it with your palm.) If the shells are only slightly stuck, you may also be able to release them by pressing down on the ejector rod with the thumb of your left hand, while still holding the cylinder completely open with your fingers.
Visually inspect the cylinder, making sure that all of the chambers are empty.
If you are not reloading the gun at this time, then close the cylinder and rotate it slightly until it locks (clicks) in place.
The above instructions assume that the hammer is initially all the way down (de-cocked). If that is not the case, with the firearm pointed in a safe direction place the revolver in your dominant hand, keeping your finger off the trigger. Place the thumb of your support hand between the frame and the hammer. Use the dominant hand thumb to pull the hammer all the way to the rear if needed (or press it back with your support hand thumb). Keeping your support hand thumb between the hammer and frame, pull the trigger all the way back (yes, I know this violates rule number 4). While still keeping your thumb in place, lower the hammer partially and remove your finger from the trigger; then slowly lower the hammer all the way down (while removing your support hand thumb if needed).