Loading 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.

Make sure that you are using the correct ammunition for your gun; that the caliber matches and, if your cartridges are marked with a “+P”, that your firearm manufacturer indicates the revolver can withstand the additional pressure (for example by noting it on the gun as shown below).


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 down and insert a cartridge into one of the chambers with the bullet pointing down (flat end of the shell pointing up). Using your two fingers and thumb, rotate the cylinder to insert additional cartridges. Ideally you should practice loading with your gun hand placed close to your body as an anchor point to facilitate loading without looking at the gun (or in the dark).


Close the cylinder.