Should I Carry With One in The Chamber?

One persistent question is, “should I carry with one in the chamber?” My answer is “yes,” but the reason may not be what you expected.

carry with a round in the chamber

Carrying a Glock 19 with one in the chamber in the AIWB position. (Photo: Jacki Billings)

A Round in The Chamber Question Divides Gun Owners:

I have been carrying firearms daily for over 15 years now, first as an off-duty police officer. I carried my duty weapon with a full magazine and a round in the chamber, so the idea of carrying my off-duty concealed gun with one in the chamber came naturally to me.

I quickly realized that the fundamental question of carrying an everyday carry gun EDC loaded divided concealed carriers.

I'm not here to bash people who disagree with my decision to carry my EDC gun loaded. However, if you don't, I want you to consider carrying with a round in the chamber. If you want to carry condition-one (round in the chamber) I want to provide you with a way of gaining confidence to carry concealed with a loaded gun.

should i carry with one in the chamber

Common Arguments Against Carrying a Gun With a Round in The Chamber:

You might have heard (or used) some of these arguments to support an opinion that carrying with a round in the chamber is unsafe.

  1. It is just too dangerous. The gun could go off inadvertently and cause injury or death.
  2. It does not take that long to rack the slide and chamber a round.
  3. I like single-action firearms. It is not safe to carry them loaded with the hammer cocked.
  4. My gun does not have an external safety, so it is unsafe to carry with a round in the chamber.
  5. One of the safety rules states, “Keep the weapon unloaded until ready for use.”

Let me begin by addressing these concerns.

1. The Gun May Go Off Inadvertently:

Mechanical malfunctions causing them to fire without manipulation of the trigger can happen. Most recently, a specific gun could fire if a round if dropped in a certain way. If you maintain a quality firearm, the risk of the “gun just going off” is reduced to nearly zero.

Additionally, having a quality holster is important. Two must-have characteristics of a holster are that it:

  • completely covers the trigger guard
  • is designed specifically for your model of firearm

Focusing on holstering your firearm carefully; and not allowing strings, bits of clothing, keys, etc., from catching in the trigger guard will eliminate a dangerous situation where the is fired unintentionally.

Internal Safties:

Modern semi-automatic handguns, especially ones designed for concealed carry and self-defense, are equipped with internal safeties. While you may not see them, they keep the gun from going off unless you pull the trigger. Looking at the internal safeties of this dissected Glock 19 should help reassure that the gun won't just go off.

I understand, on the one hand, I say safeties can potentially fail, and on the other hand, say to trust internal safeties to keep the gun from discharging on its own. I am talking about redundancy in safety when it comes to internal safeties. Multiple mechanical safeties, coupled with safe handling practices, are what will keep you from having an “accident.”

2. It Doesn't Take That Long to Rack The Slide:

This argument most people make to justify carrying with a round in the chamber. I get it. If attacked, every millisecond is critical. But I agree that racking the slide to chamber a round doesn't take a significant amount of time. We are talking about maybe adding 0.5 seconds to your draw to the first shot time for those who practice this method.

However, racking the slide typically requires two hands. Consider most self-defense encounters begin with a physical confrontation, meaning one hand may be tied up in protecting your head against strikes.

Additionally, I have seen people not pull the slide completely back to rack the slide under stress. When this happens, you need to rack the slide again, exposing you to the attack even longer.

Racking a slide makes a distinguishable sound. There may be a situation where deploying your gun without drawing attention by racking the slide is essential.

carry with a round in the chamber?

3. Carrying With One in The Chamber for a Single-Action 1911 Handgun:

Carrying a single-action semi-automatic (1911 type) firearm with a round in the chamber and the hammer cocked can appear dangerous. And truthfully, it kinda' looks dangerous.

However, these guns are designed to be carried with a round in the chamber, hammer cocked, and external safety engaged.

People have carried single-action pistols for a long time. If the practice weren't safe, experts would not still carry them loaded.

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4. I Only Carry Loaded if I Have a Manual External Safety:

Many guns come with or without external safeties to satisfy shooters’ preferences. Consider reading this article about choosing to carry a handgun with or without a manual external safety.

An external safety on your firearm can be good or a detriment, depending on how you look at it. Safeties are mechanical devices that, although rare, can fail. So, if your peace of mind comes from your gun's external safety, you are misguided. The way you carry and manipulate the firearm makes it safe or unsafe, regardless if there is an external safety or not.

Additionally, an external safety complicates the process of getting the gun into the fight and firing on the threat. This could mean a delay or an all-out inability to fire the gun.

An external safety is not all bad, though. Through proper training, the amount of time it takes to disengage a safety is negligible. If it gives the user added peace of mind to have it, it may be worth it. You have to make sure to practice taking the gun off safe as part of your draw stroke.

1911A1 cocked and locked

5. Is it a Basic Safety Rule Violation to Carry with a Round in The Chamber?

One famous gun organization states this as a safety rule: “Keep the weapon unloaded until ready for use.”

While it is generally correct, it doesn't apply to a gun being carried for self-defense. Your concealed carry, everyday carry gun should be ready for use. The firearm needs to be ready to be used against an attacker. In this way, it is appropriate (if you desire) to carry with a round in the chamber.

My Choice:

Understanding all that we have spoken about, I choose to carry a striker-fired, semi-automatic handgun without a manual external safety. And I choose to carry it ready with a round in the chamber.

I choose to carry in the appendix position, in a holster that completely covers the trigger guard area. I practice drawing my firearm from the same holster I carry every day. I practiced hundreds of times with an unloaded firearm until I could ensure that I was not inadvertently squeezing the trigger before the muzzle cleared my body.

I mention all of this because it takes time and practice to become confident that you will be safe throughout all aspects of carrying your firearm (holstering, carrying, and drawing). I chose to carry my firearm this way because it is what I felt afforded me the quickest response time. I trained and continue to work on technique, so I am confident that I handle the firearm safely.

I do not typically advocate a “one size fits all” concept to firearms training. If you choose a different way to carry, you are not necessarily wrong. Hopefully you have weighed the pros and cons and made your decision based on your confidence and comfort level.

Techniques to Overcome Fears:

Still on the fence about carrying with one in the chamber? Understandable, and if you’re not comfortable, you should not carry with a round in the chamber. You can do something to gain some confidence in carrying your firearm with a round in the chamber.

Carry your firearm unloaded, or loaded with dummy rounds/snap caps (one in the chamber is fine here). Have the gun cocked and ready to fire for striker-fired type guns, or have the hammer to the rear and the safety engaged for your single action 1911 type firearm. Carry your firearm like this for several days and while performing routine actions and even those you may find to be more at risk for inadvertently firing a round from your gun.

In a safe location, and while pointing the firearm in a safe direction inspect your firearm. If you inadvertently pulled the trigger, you will be able to tell, by seeing the hammer forward or the trigger pulled to the rear on your striker-fired pistol. If after doing this for some time, and observing that your firearm did not inadvertently fire, you may gain some confidence that you have an appropriate holster, and that you are manipulating the gun in a safe safely enough, not accidentally squeeze the trigger.

Here are some tips on how to train if you carry without a round in the chamber.

Ultimately, the type of firearm you carry and how you carry is a personal choice that you should make based on confidence and understanding of your gun. My suggestion is that you carry with a round in the chamber. However, I advise that you don't if you are not confident in your firearm or skill set.

Consider these 4 mistakes concealed carriers commonly make.

If you are confident in your safety and want to learn how to draw quickly and still get accurate shots on target, check out our Draw Like A Pro Course. It is a fantastic video course that will bring your draw time down without sacrificing accuracy.

learn to draw better

About Matthew Maruster

I follow my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ who is the eternal co-equal Son of God. I currently live in Columbus, Ohio with my wife and daughter. I served in the Marine Corps Infantry. I was a Staff Sergeant and served as a Platoon Sergeant during combat in Iraq. After I was a police officer at a municipal agency in San Diego County. I have a Bachelors's Degree in Criminal Justice from National University. MJ Maruster Defense.


  1. Randy Crawford on August 12, 2015 at 4:11 pm

    Chambered or unchambered, if you are worried that your Glock has no safety, no problem. For about $95 you can get an aftermarket safety (manual safety kit) from in New York, and/or a Siderlock trigger safety from Lone Wolf in Idaho for $50. Any talented corner gunsmith, including maybe yourself, can install either or both. If you change your mind, the Siderlock comes back out in about 10 minutes, and the Cominolli modification can be covered up with a 2x4mm mastic patch. The Cominolli is nominally right-handed, but works fine left-handed as well by using your index finger. The Siderlock is totally ambidextrous depending on how you want it set up.

    • Paul Amerson on February 14, 2020 at 1:47 pm

      About how much should I expect to pay a gunsmith for the installation of the sliderlock? I like this idea.

      • Matthew Maruster on February 14, 2020 at 3:33 pm

        Hey Randy, that device is not too difficult to install. It took me less than 20 min total. I am not sure the going rate of a gunsmith, but I can’t imagine it would be terribly expensive.

      • Clyde S Zackery on November 29, 2023 at 8:36 am

        I own at least 10 handguns. About half of them have an external safety. I conceal carry every day! I carry w/one in the chamber and my gun of choice DOES NOT HAVE AN EXTERNAL SAFETY. A safety is just another device that takes time, thought and consideration away from the shooter and the gun fight s/he may be in. The safety is between your ears, practice. Practice. Practice.

    • Jose on October 12, 2020 at 10:34 pm

      Not carrying one in the chamber means you have to rack the slide to load it and, racking is more problematic than releasing a safety or pulling back the hammer. Example:

      Safety off and no round in the chamber: This means you have to rack the slide. Racking the slide draws much more attention, consumes more time and creates more noise than does releasing a safety or pulling back a hammer. Also, if your life depended on being able to silently and out of view either rack a slide or release a safety or cock a hammer, the safety can be released while the gun is still concealed in your pocket at which point the gun is ready to fire. You can’t rack a slide with one hand while it’s in a pocket and I wouldn’t want to cock a hammer on a gun in a pocket for fear it would drop before fully cocked. So…. I vote for a DA/SA with safety on, and hammer down. Carried in this manner the gun can never inadvertently be discharged and it only requires that the safety be released to use it.

  2. ExtraSmooth on August 12, 2015 at 7:45 pm

    Try carrying a Glock G26 (no external safety) in a cross draw shirt holster. I carry this way every day and do not have a round in the chamber. It is a deep concealment method, and requires utmost care and practice to draw quickly. If you fumble while drawing the gun, you can easily find yourself trying to “catch” the gun inside your overshirt, The chances of inadvertently getting your finger on the trigger are high when this happens. After having done that once, I changed my mind on carrying in this particular carry device with a round in the chamber. If I carried an a strong side IWB, I would have no problem with having a round in the chamber.

    • LesserDetroit on July 22, 2018 at 12:33 pm

      If Zimmerman carried without one in the chamber, he’d end up dead or disabled. Carrying without one in the pipe = assuming you would have the time to rack the slide AND use of both of your arms, which is a major assumption.

      • TotalNewb123 on December 28, 2019 at 12:42 pm

        Zimmerman should’ve stayed his but inside the house instead of being a wannabe super cop. Just my opinion.

        • Richard on February 29, 2020 at 1:11 pm

          If the cops would have patrolled the neighborhood after the string of break-ins then maybe it would have been a cop that shot the kid instead. Regardless, the bad actor was the attacker not the one defending. No one can second guess what happened because nobody saw the struggle.

          • Joe Joe Black on March 21, 2020 at 5:07 am

            The “bad actor” was the shooter who stalked an innocent kid (poorly because he was not conspicuous) raising the kid’s sense of danger to the point of him trying to confront his threat before the threat attacked him. That is also a form of self-defense.

            But you start the story with the shooting fool who instigated the incident, or by criticizing law enforcement for not being there 24/7. You see, but you’re still blinded by your bias. FACTS MATTER!

          • TREV CLARK on June 3, 2021 at 12:19 pm

            Jojo, ——- —-. The kid escalated the situation and had no business being where he was. Dispite the fact he was a thug, and instigated the fight. Zimmerman only pulled his weapon when in fear for his life (the “6’2″ 180 lb kid”) was bashing his head on the street. Good luck in your next encounter with some “kid”.

          • LordKwll on March 27, 2023 at 7:45 pm

            If the cops had been the ones to stop Martin then it wouldn’t be some plain clothes adult nimrod with zero identifiable credibility or motive telling a kid to identify himself and questioning his presence on a public street and then getting out of the car and following him at night. There would have been no failure to identify. No fight. Likely no shooting. I’d love just once for anybody with your viewpoint to tell me that what you advise your kids to do when encountering an adult stranger who beckons them over to a car then follows them when they refuse to go is to “obey all laws” and “observe compliance”. Mumbo jumbo like that is why we have a sex trafficking problem in this country. And I can’t believe people still defend that clown Zimmerman after he puts an assault rifle in his girl’s face and gets himself into a shootout in traffic in separate incidents. He’s the “thug”.

        • Wilton on July 24, 2022 at 6:49 am

          Jo Jo, Facts do matter whether you want to admit them or not and you are not telling the truth.

      • Sylvia on October 22, 2022 at 9:49 pm


  3. UpNRms on December 16, 2015 at 11:00 am

    What do you think about carrying with a snap cap in the chamber? Shortcoming is you are short that round, but you could draw and pull the trigger twice to fire a live round. Quicker than racking the slide. Should be no risk of ND.

    • Matthew on April 2, 2016 at 12:04 pm

      Hello, thanks for your question, sorry it took about 15 years for me to see this and respond. The idea about having a snap cap in the chamber might work for a revolver. It basically would be like carrying on an empty chamber. This is kinda hard to condone as you are giving up capacity in a situation where you already have a lower capacity firearm.

      In a semi-automatic, carrying a snap cap wouldn’t be of much benefit, as pulling the trigger wouldn’t cycle the slide and chamber the live round.

      Thanks for your input and sorry for the massive delay in responding.

      • King Charger on April 21, 2017 at 9:44 pm

        What about carrying a blank in the chamber, fire that while drawing and the powder in the blank cycles to the live round with (on the g2 Taurus millennium) a shorter pull if you ride it after the first squeeze. Thoughts? Blanks are more expensive, but a great compromise, especially for civilians no?

        • Jacob Paulsen on April 22, 2017 at 12:44 pm

          Personally I think this is better than an empty chamber but still isn’t as good as having a round in the chamber. Its also overly burdensome to keep track of.

        • Andrew on April 25, 2019 at 7:18 pm

          The blank will NOT cycle the pistol chambering a live round.

        • Michael on September 19, 2019 at 4:08 pm

          Just remember, blanks can kill. There are several Hollywood actors you can ask about that, nope, scratch that, they were killed with blanks.

          • Aaron Michael Raney on September 19, 2019 at 9:49 pm

            None of those deaths were actually from the blank itself. It was because the firearms were not properly cleaned and maintained and the force of the blank going off discharged debris in the barrel. The debris killed them, prime example brandon lee in the crow. The .44 magnum used was not thoroughly cleaned after live fire, a round fragment was lodged in the barrel and the blank discharged it.

          • Charles on November 14, 2021 at 6:35 pm

            Ask Alex Baldwin

        • AZZIS on January 23, 2023 at 4:50 pm

          The blank would not carry the energy to cycle the slide in mist cases. Subsonic. 22 rounds will not repaid the gun in many cases. Carrying with an empty chamber simply makes you a sitting duck in a confrontation. While you draw and then use both hands to manipulate the slide and then go about bringing the gun into play, an unarmed attacker can cover well over 20 feet and overtake you.
          If you aren’t comfortable with carrying with a loaded chamber, you are probably better off having it loaded under you seat because drawing it in public and then having to load it, in real time is a long, slow, and obvious exercise when your actions need to be smooth, practiced, and as fast as second nature. The more moves needed the more time you use up, and the more chances you have of making a mistake.
          Get a double action that are near impossible to accidentally pull through trigger, since the trigger pull is so long.

      • Andrew on April 25, 2019 at 7:19 pm

        The blank will NOT cycle the pistol chambering a live round.

    • Richard Maurer on June 15, 2023 at 5:29 pm

      Use a snapchat for training only no reason to shorten your firearm capacity

  4. fishinflorida on January 4, 2016 at 12:18 pm

    Best solution in my opinion is a decocker. Have a CZ 75 compact with the decocker and that is perfect. Chamber a round, decock it and you’re ready in double action on the first round and with CZ’s it’s a smooth trigger pull either way. Wish more guns had decockers.

    • Sal on December 10, 2016 at 9:53 pm

      I carry a p30sk that way with safety off. Also have the option of safety on if the situation warrants it.

    • M.Leonardi on January 10, 2020 at 12:58 pm

      I second that! Love my CZ P07 Duty. Great gun!

    • Azzis on January 23, 2023 at 4:53 pm

      External hammers are just one more thing to catch on something as you move. A double action striker fired accomplishes the same thing without the external hardware.

  5. Mr lucky on April 13, 2016 at 9:59 pm

    The big reason for an empty chamber is safety. For evey incident of justified self defense there are four accidentsi where a person is shot. I carry both ways depending how dangrrous it is.

    • Matthew on May 25, 2016 at 7:03 am

      Mr. Lucky, I am not sure I am following the statistics you’re referencing. Are you saying for every justified self defense shooting there are 4 incidents of an negligent discharge due to carrying with a round in the chamber. If this is the case, I would like to check out the source, because these numbers seem to be contrary to all information I have found during my research.

      • garyrandall on June 29, 2018 at 9:50 pm

        Okay, please enlighten us…

    • Azzis on January 23, 2023 at 5:01 pm

      I would like to see where you get your numbers, but how many people are overtaken by a bad guy while attempting to chamber a round?

      It seems like such a simple action that makes the weapon safer, but in a panic how many guns are discharged by accident as a round is chambered and the owner discharges a round unintentionally?

      There are unintended discharges both ways, but if the goal is self defense then keep the chamber loaded. If the idea is to scare away a bad guy then chamber a round in front of him, and hope you are quicker than he is.

  6. Daniel on April 17, 2016 at 10:40 am

    IMO, carrying a striker fired pistol with a round in the chamber is not safe. No matter how much practice or confidence. I´ve seen evidence of very experienced instructors suffering accidents with chambered striker fired guns. The best way to carry with one in the chamber is a SA/DA pistol with a safety that you can quickly remove in case of need. Probably the best of all is the 1911 “cocked & locked”: you get a round in the chamber safely, you can remove the safety really fast and you get single action trigger.

    • Matthew on May 25, 2016 at 7:12 am

      Hi Daniel, thanks for the feedback. I can appreciate your point of view but let me propose this to you. The glock is one of the most widely carried handguns by law enforcement. Many thousands of single action-stiker fired firearms carried in condition one with a round in the chamber for 24 hours a day 7 days a week. As a former police officer who carried a glock on duty, I can tell you I that police officers do not only draw their weapon during a officer involved shooting. There are many instances officers are drawing their firearm without shooting. I can safely say that on average I drew my firearm at least one time a shift. With so many single action striker fired guns being drawn, if it were extremely dangerous, there would be far more incidents of negligent discharges during the drawing motion, and law enforcement agencies would go away from this type of firearm for duty.

      Incidents where someone shoots themselves during the draw is completely due to user error and lack of training, rather than the design of the firearm. Putting your finger on the trigger prior to the gun being pointed toward the threat is a violation of a foundational safety rule and reckless no matter what type of firearm you are carrying.

      • Jeff C Johnson on November 22, 2020 at 3:34 pm

        Thank you for this article, it has been helpful to get your point of view.

      • Lauren on April 23, 2023 at 9:45 am

        In 2016 Matthew commented “I can safely say that on average I drew my firearm at least one time a shift.”

        It is now 2023 and I am reading this article because I just got my concealed carry and first gun! Woohoo!

        Do cops still draw their firearm so frequently? Have things changed in the past 7 years? I thought if you drew it you had to do paperwork now?

        Technology, bodycams, etc. It feels like 2016 was like a different century now.

        • Kurtis on December 24, 2023 at 10:51 pm

          I also just came across this article in 2023 almost 2024 and also found this to be interesting.

    • Mike on January 9, 2017 at 9:29 pm

      Where are all these negligent discharges and why am I not seeing hundreds every single day from 13 million or more concealed carriers on top of hundreds of thousands of police officers? Should be at least 100 a day no?

      • Matthew Maruster on January 10, 2017 at 10:38 am

        Yes Mike, I wonder the same thing.

      • Jeff on January 25, 2020 at 12:36 pm

        A Glock was I initially designed for military use. I don’t see too many soldiers or uniformed police officers walking around with one shoved in their waistband. Carrying a striker-fired designed pistol chambered is pretty much the equivalent of carrying around a revolver with the hammer cocked back given how light the trigger pull is. You can do it IWB, sure, but you better be damn careful on levels reaching paranoia. I personally think Springfield has the better syriker-fired safety design vd. Glock. Negligent discharges may not be a common occurrence, but when they are, how many are based on striker-fired guns? I like different types of guns, striker, hammer, etc. but I choose unchambered with a Glock. To each their own.

      • Lauren on April 23, 2023 at 10:05 am

        I am curious how the negligent discharge injuries are different in non law enforcement and in women (non law enforcement).

        We are concealed carry. LEO is open carry. Women especially are carrying in different positions than men.

        My dad and all his friends have always carried in a pocket holster or owb/iwb on the hip. I legally CAN NOT carry the same way, because it would not be concealed on me. I can easily carry a glock 17 under my breasts. But while sitting, it is pointed at my abdomen/pelvis.

        At the same time my reasons to carry are different than theirs. My chances of a sudden close physical altercation are statistically much less, and more predictable. I am less likely to be the primary target.

        Does this mean I should not keep “one in the chamber”? I will not for now anyway. It still leaves me a lot to think about!

        • Lauren on April 23, 2023 at 10:12 am

          Also with all the new bra hooks and holster leggings and concealed carry options for women…

          Would you advise your daughters the same as your sons when it comes to habitually chambering? Certainly some food for thought.

        • Kurtis on December 24, 2023 at 11:01 pm

          Again another great point. As someone who open carries I try not to comment much on concealed carry topics as I have no experience in the matter. However I find it interesting and you raised some very good points.

        • Kurtis on December 24, 2023 at 11:01 pm

          Again another great point. As someone who open carries I try not to comment much on concealed carry topics as I have no experience in the matter. However I find it interesting and you raised some very good points.

  7. fran on May 20, 2016 at 7:29 am

    Each method has it’s points. I’m a machinist. An automatic gun is a combination of mechanical parts and springs operating the trigger system. Do you want to trust a basic spring with your life or an innocent simply standing near your gun? Policemen have no choice, they are ordered to carry hot. The rest of us, who haven’t even been in a fist fight since grammar school, I’d suggest you practice drawing, racking and shooting at the range. Now if you are in a parking lot from hell, damn right rack it, but not at burger king with your kids.

    • CJ on January 15, 2018 at 1:29 pm

      Wow. I may have slightly agreed with that a decade ago, but surely not today. Seems every m ass shooting today the perp looks for the arena with the least chance of being confronted by an armed person, but also the most innocent and defenseless among us. How would I feel being at a burger king while some deranged disgruntled employee decided to go on a rampage and kill as many as possible, and while I’m trying to get my kid(s) under a table, also having to keep my head clear enough to remember that I needed to load a round into my CC pistol? No thank you, I’ll stick with my cocked and locked firearm at ALL times. Situational awareness, even at a burger joint, 7-11, or playground is just as important as what and how you carry.

      • Connor on April 13, 2019 at 7:08 pm

        Situational awareness is one of the most important things when it comes to self-defense. If you are aware of what’s happening around you, then you can leave the area before it escalates or at least be prepared if it happens all of a sudden.

      • Kurtis on December 24, 2023 at 11:04 pm

        Could not agree more, I open carry and situational awareness has always been my number one priority. There’s going to be a weapon everywhere you go if you are carrying one so you had better be aware of who and what is going on around you.

    • Azzis on January 23, 2023 at 5:23 pm

      You know if there is a place I know us dangerous, I just avoid them all together. You aren’t betting your life on a spring. You are betting you will nut pull the double trigger safety, and operate the the trigger leaver to allow the striker to hit the primer

      The problem with your argument is that you assume you know where you will need your weapon, and the fact us unless you wander in and our of war zones you just don’t.

      Of all the gun controllers claims accidental discharge is never brought up, which tells me even they don’t see it as a problem. Safety is a concern with any weapon, but I contend in a pressure situation, you are in more danger, and present more danger to those around you trying to draw and chamber a round than you are are simply drawing a loaded pistol. Inadvertent firings happen all the time when people are rushed to bring a weapon into play, and if your bad guy is armed or close, he simply blows you away as you go through the obvious steps of loading your gun. With a gun in your had a quick attacker can cover 15 to 18 feet before you can react. How much territory can he cover while you draw your gun, (2 steps) use both hands to chamber a round (steps) and bring the weapon into position, (another couple of steps) that’s at leas 7 steps or strides you have given him, of on average 3 feet so he has covered 21 feet while you draw your gun and that assumes he wasn’t already moving on you when you began drawing. He can probably overtake you from 10 yards away. That’s how much time all these things take and what it could cost you if you are really concerned about safety. By carrying unchsmbered you are making your attackers safer than you are.

  8. Matthew on May 25, 2016 at 7:32 am

    Hi Fran, thank you for the feedback as it is great to hear from a machinist who understands mechanics. I have to present a few counter-points though. I would safely say 99.9% of the handguns carried are not automatic firearms, but rather semi-automatic.

    You are correct that a firearm is made of mechanical parts, including springs which control the function of the firearm. However, even with the hammer back or striker cocked, there are safeties in place that while they are mechanical are not under tension of a spring in order to operate. What I mean is that modern guns are not designed to rely on spring tension in order to keep the firearm from firing. The gun would have to have multiple components fail at the same time and manipulation of the trigger in order for the gun to just ‘go off’ with no warning.

    I agree that gun owners should constantly practice their skills in order to become proficient. Drawing the firearm, racking the slide and getting shots on the threat during a deadly force encounter is an incredibly difficult task.

    Choosing not to carry with a round in the chamber in Burger King as opposed to a dangerous parking lot, I would argue is even more dangerous and here is why:

    1) If you believe you should have a round in the chamber when you are in a dangerous area, you are conceding that carrying a round in the chamber allows you to more quickly address the threat.
    2) You are assuming that you can for see when you will be targeted as a victim. Not all uses of justified force ocure in high crime areas.
    3) You assumably would be training your draw in two ways, one with a round in the chamber and one without. If you simply train drawing an empty gun and then rack it, when you draw your firearm in that dangerous parking lot, you will now be drawing a loaded firearm, which perhaps you haven’t trained yourself to do proficiently.
    4) You are potentially carrying a firearm in several different conditions, and while we always assume a firearm is loaded, going from different conditions leaves the possibility to not know what condition our firearm is in a deadly force encounter.
    5) Pulling your firearm out to rack a round into the chamber in public because you may be walking into a dangerous parking lot is highly discouraged for several obvious reasons. Then, once you reach your vehicle, clearing your firearm and then reholstering it, causes more opportunity for a negligent discharge than simply leaving it in the holster loaded to begin with.

    I do understand your concern and absolutely support your decision to carry without a round in the chamber, but I just want to make sure you weigh the pros and cons of both options.

  9. Ben on June 20, 2016 at 12:15 pm

    When you mentioned early on in the article about firearms being recalled due to discharge when dropped, doesn’t that problem apply to all open bolt automatics? I was under the impression that they have similar problems, and if so does the recall rule apply to only certain types of firearm?

  10. Matthew on June 20, 2016 at 12:46 pm

    Hi Ben, great question. there are obviously safety recalls or mods that have happened to nearly every manufacturer at some point. Not all resulted in death or accidental discharge, but some were done to prevent a worst case scenario failure. I was able to find two instances of a gun going off because it was dropped. One was an old Ruger Blackhawk single action revolver, and the other was a 1903 Colt Pocket Model pistol. I do not know if the Colt was recalled, but I believe Ruger was sued and modifications were made to existing pistols,and changes to all future Blackhawks produced. Open bolt weapons are obviously at a higher risk but the single action revolver was a surprise to me. I have heard the theory of ‘inertia firing’, where a strike on a specific part of the slide or the muzzle on an semi-auto could cause it to fire, but I have not found any documented case where this happened. Thank so much for reading and the question.

    • S So on June 12, 2021 at 5:16 pm

      Well said.

  11. Sibu on July 1, 2016 at 11:54 pm

    Very informative article Matthew. Something to think about for those that do not carry with with one in a chamber is that, your other hand might be fending off an attacker who could be carrying a knife as an example.

  12. Matthew Maruster on July 2, 2016 at 6:48 am

    Sibu, thank you for the feedback! You are 100% correct. It’s not just about the difference in time between carrying with a round in the chamber or not, but the ability to rack the slide and the malfunctions that can result that is as much or even more of a reason against carrying a weapon without a round in the chamber. Terrific point, I appreciate your input!!

  13. Gwen Boucher on October 3, 2016 at 6:06 pm

    I was trained in the Military on a 1911 A1 .45 and carried it concealed after the service for years. That piece has a bunch of safeties on it, but I never carried it chambered unless things were feeling wrong. I haven’t carried in about 15 years and now have a DA revolver that I hate, so will likely go back to that .45 auto. I carried it for so many years in the Military that chambering it is just automatic if I need to.

    I read the discussion about this issue and am still uneasy. I’ll likely buy something light in a .45 again. Do you have any recommendations?

    • Jacob Paulsen on October 3, 2016 at 6:15 pm

      Gwen, A few thoughts from me. First, if you inclined to NOT carry in the chamber then I might suggest a firearm with either no safety or a passive safety. Since you have to rack the slide in the draw stroke I can’t see any value to having a safety above and beyond that. Second, if you don’t carry a round in the chamber you have one less round than you would have otherwise. You may want to focus on capacity in your search. Look at double stacks. The issue here is that you are looking for a .45 that is “light” and I think that will set you up with something with very LOW capacity. So I would consider compromising on either “light” or “.45” but that is just my personal thinking…

    • Matthew Maruster on October 3, 2016 at 8:16 pm

      Hi Gwen,Thanks for the question. Jacob gives perfect advice on the trade offs in capacity, and the considerations if you know you won’t be carrying with a round in the chamber. I can imagine you probably don’t like that heavy double action trigger pull on your revolver after being used to the light single action trigger on your 1911. You may like trying something like the Springfield XDS. It is polymer, so it will be lighter than your 1911. It is single stack and compact which may help with concealment. It also is single action (striker fired) so its trigger pull with be nice and crisp. It has a trigger safety and back strap safety that is similar to what you are familiar with on your 1911. It comes in .45/.40 /9mm. You definitely give up capacity with .45 as it comes with a 5 round and 6 round magazine. If you go to 9mm you can get a little more capacity and have 7 and 8 round mags. Just a thought. Good luck and stay safe!

      • Donny on December 20, 2016 at 1:16 am

        I carry an fns 40 with 14+1 and couldn’t be happier it’s a striker fire polymer you can get with or without manual safety. It’s a medium size pistol with a 4 inch barrel you can conceal quite easily.

  14. Jean Morris on October 18, 2016 at 11:13 am

    Matthew, I received Baretta Nano as a gift and have a cc permit. While I certainly want to be ready should the need arise and know first hand how fast a situation can erupt, I am still not comfortable with chambered round carry. I carry my pistol in a clip on a holster inside my waistband and the weapon fits comfortably and well concealed although not ready for instant action. Any suggestions on how I might improve my response time in case of an emergency would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your informative site !

    • Matthew Maruster on October 18, 2016 at 11:40 am

      Hi Jean. First off, awesome choice deciding to get your permit and wanting to take charge in your personal protection. I totally understand your apprehension with carrying with a round in the chamber. This is probably one of the biggest hangups people have with concealed carry. Just a couple notes about your firearm. Your NANO as you know has a double action trigger, that is around 5.5 lbs and much longer than many other striker fired guns. This is designed this way because Beretta wanted to make the gun tailored toward concealed carry. While it does not have a manual external safety, it does have a trigger safety and an internal safety (meaning the trigger has to be physically pulled in order to allow the striker to strike the primer). Without pulling the trigger, there is a block that prevents the primer from being struck. I say this to give you some confidence that your firearm will not just go off without something physically engaging the trigger safety and pulling the trigger all the way to the rear. IF your concern is potentially shooting yourself while you draw out the firearm, that is a legitimate concern. Drawing and re-holstering are probably the two most likely times someone could inadvertently have a negligent discharge. I would suggest practicing your draw with an unloaded firearm until you can train yourself to control your trigger finger and not have it go to the trigger until you have rotated the firearm toward the threat. Here is a link to a training video that may help you practice this.

      Until then, or if you still choose to carry without a round in the chamber, I would suggest you get some snap caps (dummy rounds), and practice drawing your firearm and as part of your draw process racking the slide. I suggest doing this with snap caps, because without some sort of dummy round in your magazine, you will not know if you are actually pulling the slide all the way to the rear enough to chamber a round. while you can incorporate racking the slide as part of your draw, and become pretty fast and efficient, you will have to accept the fact that it requires both hands to get your firearm in the fight, and if you are defending yourself against an attacker with your hands, you will be at a disadvantage until you can free up both hands.

      I always think knowledge is power and can defiantly clear up some apprehension about carrying with a round in the chamber. understanding the internal safeties present in your firearm may help. I wish you the best and please feel free to contact us with any questions, we love helping any way we can.

    • Shimmy on January 28, 2018 at 8:38 am

      Hi jeane, I live in Israel where one in the chamber is a big no no for citizens but technically legal, illegal for police, security guards and military. As an American who learned to shot stateside living and workingin the occupied territories I want to be able to eliminate a threat even if I have a knife stuck in me so I choose to carry with one in the cnamber but decocked.
      If your not comfortable with that either I recommend doing what all the other Israelis do. Practice hours every day drawing and racking until its one fluid motion. An Israeli can draw rack and aim faster than most americans can draw but that’s only because they practice for hours on end.

      • Matthew Maruster on January 28, 2018 at 1:03 pm

        Hi Shimmy,
        I would be hesitant to say that good shooting fundamentals are a genetic thing or specific to a region of the world. If all Isralies practice for hours on end, I would agree that they could likely draw and rack a slide faster than the ‘Average American’ because most ‘average Americans’ do not train for hours on end. However, if you compare any two human beings (regardless of nationality) that practice for hours on end, the one who carries with a round in the chamber will ALWAYS be faster. It is just a physical impossibility to add the step of racking the slide into the draw process and make it faster than not doing it at all. If carrying with an empty chamber was faster, IDPA competitors would carry this way, but they don’t.

        Secondly, speed is only one drawback of carrying without a round in the chamber. The obvious facts that it takes two hands to get your gun into the fight is the bigger issue. If you are fending off an attacker with one hand you can’t rack your slide in order to make your gun useful. Additionally, a common time that a semi-auto can jam, is when chambering a round. Inserting another opportunity ot variable for the gun to malfunction in a self-defense incident is not wise.

        I imagine you have made your personal decision to carry with a round in the chamber based on these points.

        As far as the safety piece, if someone is going to train for hours on end, why don’t they just train not to pull the trigger until they are ready to shoot? That would completely eliminate any safety issue, and the need to carry with an empty chamber in the first place.

        • Tom on August 8, 2020 at 2:11 pm

          If I’m close enough to be fending off an attacker with one hand, I’ll just pull the karambit and create a wound channel that looks more like a roadmap vs. a small hole. Might be wearing the attacker’s entrails for a few but they’ll lose interest in the fight fast.

        • Jose on October 12, 2020 at 10:43 pm

          That’s why if I were going to carry a 1911 I would do so with one in the chamber, the hammer cocked and the safety on. The safety can be released easier, with less noise and time consumed and while still concealed in the pocket. Try silently racking a slide one handed while the gun is still in your pocket.

      • Rod on September 10, 2022 at 8:46 am

        Tremendous comment stream to a superior article on an important carry topic. Very helpful to me as I consider my home and carry situation. Thanks!

  15. Ron in Delaware on January 30, 2017 at 10:05 am

    I am well trained (over 100 hours of professional training and counting at one of the premier facilities in the US). My wife and I are members of a range and go twice a week and fire over 100 rounds individually each time from 3-15 yds. We were taught in every class to carry with a chambered round. Although I do chamber a round when I’m out in public, I don’t in my own home and I carry all day long. My reason for not carrying a chambered round in the house is simple: I have young children. Yes…they’ve been taught all about handgun safety. Yes…i’ve taken the mystery out of guns by showing them each weapon I own. Yes…they’ve been to my range. Yes… they’ve been through the NRA Eddie Eagle program. And yes…they have their own air rifles. But, and this is a big but…THEY ARE YOUNG KIDS WHO DON’T ALWAYS MAKE GOOD DECISIONS! I never want to tempt my kids or their friends by leaving guns around the house or even holstered with a round in the chamber. I carry a level 2 in the house and purely by accident the firearm can be released if the button is hit while the handle is grabbed. There is never a “one size fits all situations” scenario. If you don’t feel comfortable with a round in the chamber don’t sweat it. That’s your choice. One thing all the fanatics who believe chambering a round at all times fail to tell you is this: there are no statistics that show carrying an empty chamber kills more people than a loaded chamber. Often, just drawing a weapon diffuses more than the majority of situations. Do what you feel comfortable with.

    • Matthew Maruster on January 30, 2017 at 10:48 am

      Hi Ron,
      Thanks so much for reading the article and your feedback. I agree with your opinions about carrying with a round in the chamber and carrying in the way that you feel most comfortable. After weighing the pros and cons of each option, one should make THEIR OWN personal decision. If you don’t mind, I have a few tactical/training questions for you. Because I carry 100% of the time with a round in the chamber, some of the questions I have don’t effect me, however there are readers that have the same mind set as you and perhaps they could benefit from your standard operating procedures to ensure they are ready to go when the time comes:

      1.Because you sometimes carry with a round in the chamber and sometimes don’t based on your location, when you train with your firearm, do you train coming out of the holster with a firearm that is already chambered and also with a firearm that you have to chamber the round before you use the gun?
      2.Have you trained a default response when drawing your firearm that does not have a chambered round? What I mean is, do you automatically rack the slide when the gun comes out, or is it something that you draw the gun hoping that it will be a situation that is deescalated by merely drawing your firearm?
      3.Are you worried or has it ever caused a problem where you have failed to chamber a round when leaving your house, or cleared your firearm upon entering your house; and thus not sure exactly what condition firearm you have?
      4.Do you think you would start carrying with a round in the chamber after your children get to a certain age, or would you still carry with an empty chamber in your home by default?

      Thanks again and stay safe!

    • Lukas in East KY on September 25, 2019 at 11:08 pm

      Greetings Ron,

      I completely concur with your thoughts on this matter and live in similar circumstances. To me it is all a matter of situational awareness. Being trained in situational awareness is as, if not moreso, important than firearms training. While I carry 24/7, I do not feel the need to carry +1 at my daughters birthday party, in the early afternoon, in my living room, on a fenced in 5 acre farm, with a house full of children. In such a situation, thanks to much situational awareness training and a yard full of beagle hounds, I would become very aware of a potential threat well in advance and would have that extra half second to prepare a proper ballistic response if needed.

      Thankfully, with the exception of the occasional bear on the back porch, threats requiring a ballistic response remain rather rare here at home.

      Leaving my little haven, however, and entering into a world full of strange situations and potential threats is another matter. It’s +1 time. I must agree for the most part with Mathew, the author of this article. My answer to the question as to whether to carry chambered or not is simply… it depends on the situation, your proficiency, and comfort level.

      Bottom line is just always to know the condition of both your weapon (all your weapons) AND situation.

      Thanks for the article! Hooah!

      Stay safe and aware,

  16. Charles on March 23, 2017 at 6:33 am

    Matthew, thanks for the informative article. I carry the M&P Shield with a chambered round, same condition you are carrying your striker fired weapon. Whenever I hear people talk about single action guns, they refer to carrying it “cocked and locked with the safety on”. The new Ruger LCP 2 is a single action gun with no safety. What makes the single action Ruger safe to carry chambered with no safety but not the 1911? Is it the exposed hammer vs hidden hammer? Please advise.

    • Matthew Maruster on March 23, 2017 at 8:17 am

      Thanks for the kind review and you have asked an excellent question. Your LCP2 does have a manual external safety, it is just not the lever type manual safety most people think of when they think of a safety on a firearm. Your LCP 2, like most modern striker fired guns has a trigger safety that needs to be depressed before the trigger will move fully to the rear and the gun will fire. Glock came up with this and called it the ‘Glock Safe Action Trigger’. In addition to this, some manufacturers have added manual lever safeties to their firearms and XDS has the grip safety as well. The 1911’s manual external safeties are more obvious. The lever and the grip safety. The way the 1911 is designed to be carried like you said is ‘cocked and locked’, 1. round in the chamber 2. hammer back 3. safety on. Similarly your LCP 2 and other striker fired guns should be carried like this. 1. round in the chamber 2. striker cocked 3. safety on. So there really is no difference even though one has a hammer one has a striker.

      As I mentioned in the article, even though the striker is cocked, or the hammer is back, internal safeties prevent the gun from firing without physical manipulation of the trigger. In fact, the striker of some striker fired guns’s are not even fully cocked even with the slide racked, and thus do not in this state have enough inertia to fire the round. These require some additional ‘cocking’ of the striker which comes by the trigger being pulled.

      So all in all, carrying a 1911 cocked and locked (which has been done since the year 1911 without a rash of ‘1911 leg’. And I would guess that nearly every 1911 owner carries their firearm this way.) is no different than carrying the striker fired gun like your LCP 2 ‘cocked and locked’. It comes down to really two things. Unfamiliarity with the internal workings of a striker fired gun, and thus skepticism about it’s safety, and two, the reliance on a manual external safety (besides the one on the trigger) to feel that the gun is safe. Ultimately, no safety is going to make the gun safe, as we all know guns have no mind of their own and require human interaction to be used. The user’s adherence to safety rules is what ALLOWS THE GUN TO BE USED in a safe or unsafe manner.

      Thanks so much for the question, I hope this response makes sense. Stay safe and thanks for reading and being a responsible gun owner!!! God bless

  17. AlwynSig on May 8, 2017 at 7:37 am

    Good Day all

    Thanks for your great article Matthew.

    I carry a Sig Sauer P320 polymer striker fire pistol.
    I live in South Africa and our rate of crime and violence is a serious joke.
    Unfortunately I was forced to start thinking of self defence as there is no relying on the Government and police force. I have had a great battle on this matter with a few friends who also have concealed carry firearms. I found that the way I feel the safest is to always be prepared and a round in the chamber is without any doubt the way to go. I do believe any other way will always no matter on how many training you have give you a delay which in turn may cause your life as in any life threatening situation every second is off utmost importance. ( No stats is needed as this is common sense to anyone who has been in such a situation and understand how fast it happens. )

    This is obviously a persons own choice on how they want to carry their concealed firearm.
    But to be honest the best way will be with a round in the chamber and always prepared, it does not matter where you are as earlier stated a victim is not only found in high crime zones. I do not think that any way someone else carries theirs is incorrect, but my own logic says to me that there is no better way to be prepared in an unfortunate life threatening situation. What concerns the safety aspect of a accidental discharge and so on is only due to human error and when the responsibility is taken to carry a concealed carry weapon for self defence you must be able to be comfortable with the weapon you are going to carry with you every day.
    Please feel free to see some crime vids on YouTube about South African hijackings and robberies. These situations leave very little time for error and even less time for delay in retaliation.

    Please note this is only my point of view and opinion and there is nothing wrong with the way people feel comfortable with.
    I have done some tactical training and its always done from one in the chamber.
    Always be safe with your firearms and understand what it is capable of.
    Hope you find this useful.

    • Matthew Maruster on May 8, 2017 at 2:01 pm

      Thank you so much for your feedback on the article. I feel your mindset it 100% right on and couldn’t agree more. I also find it very educational to hear an opinion on gun ownership and specifically concealed carry and personal defense, coming from someone living outside the U.S. Often time I feel that Americans gun owners are portrayed as violent, owning firearms simply because of some dysfunctional and irrational belief that gun ownership is a right not to be infringed upon.

      Your statement reaffirms my belief that self-preservation is a basic human instinct. Where ever there are people who refuse to be a soft target and decide to take their safety and that of their family in their own hands, there will be those who stand up for their right to protect themselves with tools that even the playing field against those who have no respect for human life.

      Thank you for such a refreshing comment and stay safe out in SA. If you come to the states, you definitely have a someone to go shoot with. God Bless.

  18. Alwyn on May 10, 2017 at 1:49 am


    Sounds great, nothing more fun than shooting.
    Our gun laws is somewhat crazy, your standard time to get a firearm application approved is round about 8 months. Our government is also very hard on self defence as in any case someone is in your home but not attacking you directly or he is turned with he’s back to you and you shoot, you are sure to have some serious trouble with the law.

    You are also allowed only one self defence firearm, any other firearm requires a decent motivation and a dedicated hunter or sport shooter status. But the protection of my family is of utmost importance to me so I will make sure I have my one self defence firearm and know how to use it. Thus in a country that is one of the murder and rape capitals of the world it is very important to always be one step ahead and always as I say…carry – one up!

    Another thing you can look at to have a understanding on crime and violence of south Africa is the farm murders and farm attacks, that consist of pure brutality and hatred that are politically motivated. I have many of my family staying on farms and fear for them everyday.
    Thus it is also a good Idea to protect yourself to the utmost if you are on staying on a farm.

    Anyways this is only a few points bout our country.
    Will send you a knock when I visit the States, be safe and stay chambered 😉
    Thanks for respond and God Bless.

    • Matthew Maruster on May 10, 2017 at 9:04 pm

      I’m guessing this is enlightening for not only me but for the readers here in the United States who maybe take our freedoms for granted. And I think it is a reminder of why we as Americans protect our 2nd Amendment rights so strongly. In fact, this has prompted me to follow up with a piece specifically about this very topic. I greatly appreciate your viewpoint and input. Keep your head on a swivel and protect yourself and your family over there. God bless and come on over to the States where a person can own more than one gun, without asking for permission (except maybe from one’s spouse) 🙂

  19. Jim on June 15, 2017 at 11:26 am

    Great article and good string. I have several pistols and have been carrying Beretta 92 for years-obviously not an easy conceal weapon. I recently picked up M&P Shield (9mm) and love it-much easier to carry but giving up anywhere from 5-7 round depending on the magazine I’m carrying in either gun. All that said, here is my approach to chambered or not . . . When I have my pistol with me in my truck or at home or working in the yard I am unchambered. However, when leaving the truck and holstering I chamber. When I leave the house-I chamber. If a strange car is coming down the driveway-yep, you guessed it-I chamber. I know that accidents can occur if you don’t handle in a consistent manner but it’s second nature for me now after years of this approach. Just my two cents worth . . .again, thanks for the great information.

  20. Walkerny on December 28, 2017 at 6:34 pm

    I had never had a pistol with a manual decocker until I was issued a Sig P226 for carry in Iraq & AFG. I had to carry other pistols with a round in the chamber and safety on but always felt a bit nervous about it, not to mention the potential drawback of finding the safety when your adrenaline spikes and your hands become paws..Or having to rack the slide if you choose to roll without a round chambered. the decocker freed me from that, I LOVED it. I bought an FN USA FNP40 when I came home, it’s loaded, chambered and decocked in a quick draw safe. All I (or my wife) has to do is get it out, aim and pull. No racking slide, no fumbling for safety.

    So consider a model with a decocker. Either way, go with what you are COMFORTABLE with and practice that.

  21. Tony Thompson on December 31, 2017 at 8:05 pm

    Best writing I’ve seen on the issue. Great many thanks to you, sir. Semper Fi.

    • Matthew Maruster on December 31, 2017 at 8:36 pm

      Thank you so much Sir! I appreciate the kind words! Stay safe and God bless! Semper Fi!!

  22. PyroJason on January 8, 2018 at 4:55 am

    I saw the Ruger LCP 2 mentioned with the trigger safety – what about the LCP 1 which has no safety? Opinions on this and others like it greatly appreciated.

    • Matthew Maruster on January 8, 2018 at 7:23 pm

      Hi Jayson, Thanks for the question. With double action only (DAO) guns, I typically don’t feel they need a manual external safety. They have a much heavier and longer trigger pull that makes the possibility of accidentally squeezing the trigger much less likely. If a DAO has a trigger safety, it wouldn’t really hurt anything as those are passive anyway. Some people get nervous about carrying any gun without a safety, even a DAO. Many times they overlook the fact that DA revolvers don’t have a manual external safety and people have been carrying them for years without incident. So in essence, I would say if you have a DAO don’t sweat over having or not having a manual external safety even with carrying with a round in the chamber. Ultimately it is a personal choice, but I think the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks, and even if someone is not currently comfortable with carrying a round in the chamber, they should work toward gaining the confidence. That most likely will come from training. I wish you luck and God bless. Reach out if you have any questions 🙂

  23. John H. Jones on January 13, 2018 at 4:45 pm

    Whew, head spinning. A couple of questions.

    1. Carrying pistol with round in chamber, which is fastest to get off first shot from carry position, all else being equal:

    A. DAO,
    B. pistol with decocker, from decocked position,
    C. Striker fired with trigger safety only,
    D. 1911 style cocked and ext. safety on,
    E. any other pistol or carry condition?

    2. How important is mag capacity vs other factors (such as?) in CC self defense situation?


    • Matthew Maruster on January 13, 2018 at 5:45 pm

      Mr Jones, awesome questions. I guess if EVERYTHING was equal and we were just looking at the time it takes each one of those to fire a round, I would lean toward the striker-fired firearm. I have never found a study comparing this exact metric. I think because even within the action styles you mentioned, there are variants amongst models and manufacturers. However, I say striker-fired because the firing pin/striker has to move the least amount of distance out of all the actions. Hammers have to go back and forward on a DAO or a DA/SA where the hammer is in the de-cocked position, and the SA 1911 still requires the hammer to move a further distance than the striker. For the same reasons, I would say a striker-fired action would be faster than a DAO, DA/SA or SA revolver as well.

      Now, how much faster is the next question. I would say negligible. When looking at selecting a gun based on its action, I wouldn’t necessarily look at the time difference because I know many shooters who put in a ton of work and can sweep off a safety and fire a 1911 or even a DA/SA gun extremely fast to first shot. I would look more at how much training do you want to put in on that firearm. This is one of the perks of the striker design. The learning curve is relatively small because there are no external controls to activate/deactivate. This is just one of the reasons Glocks became popular for agencies where there is a diverse spectrum of competency in the ranks.

      I would go with something that you feel comfortable carrying and deploying under stress. Some really like a manual external safety. People can get fast but it is a mechanical step you must train. I go really in-depth in an article called ‘Do I Need A Manual External Safety on my EDC’. ( )

      As far as mag capacity, I would say it is as important as it sometimes can even drive the caliber of gun you choose. Sometimes people get wrapped up around caliber .45 vs 9mm. Sure .45 bullet is heavier, but if it hits a building instead of the attacker, does it matter? Some people have difficulty managing recoil, and the 9mm is a pretty easy round to control. Additionally, the ballistic properties of modern .45’s and 9mm are so similar that many opt to carry 9mm because they can squeeze some more capacity into their guns. Sure you can carry extra mags, many people do, but more don’t. And carrying extra magazines is no good unless you practice on reloading. So it goes back to how much training is enough and how much training will you realistically put into the self-defense.

      As far as the aspect of overall safety between any of them, we all know the gun is neither safe or unsafe on its own. If you practice correctly, you can handle and carry any of them safely.

      I hope I stayed on track and answered your questions. It really would be a neat test for a lab with the proper equipment to determine the exact numbers on the time of different firearm actions. Stay safe and God bless.

  24. Jtac on January 29, 2018 at 6:00 am

    I’m new to ccw so my mindset might change. I chose to go with a gun with a manual safety. I’ve thought long and hard on the issue and for my personal risk tolerance I feel that a ND is way more likely to happen than a situation where I need to defend my life. The risk of a ND in public hurting or killing someone else and ruining my life in the process isn’t worth being able to save milliseconds in an event that is highly unlikely to happen in the rural part of the country I live in. I understand the guns aren’t magically going off on their own and the trigger must be pulled but Murphy’s law is a thing. Humans aren’t perfect and we forget even the basics and become complacent. I don’t care how many classes you’ve attended or how many times you’ve practiced drawing and holstering. I may change my perspective on this but as of now I don’t think the risk outweighs the benefits.

  25. Jana G on February 21, 2018 at 2:38 pm

    I carry a Springfield XD, round in the chamber for all the reasons the writer gave above. I have only been carrying for about 6 months and I carry everywhere I go ( allowable by law) and God forbid I am ever in a situation that I need my gun, I want it ready for use at that moment. The more I carry the more I get comfortable carrying and I am confident that should I be forced to draw, I’ll be ready.

    • Dennis W on December 11, 2022 at 4:26 am

      Do you ever take the round out, and dry fire or decock it?

  26. William E Dorn on November 14, 2019 at 11:35 pm

    Why not just carry two light weight 5 or 6 round revolvers, or even better two 7 or 8 round medium revolvers. Easy enough to shoot with either hand and one probably could be reloaded with a speed loader while the other still has rounds left. If heading into really bad territory carry a Draco!

    I heard NYC cops used to do this before semi autos became the thing.

  27. Gary S. on February 12, 2020 at 6:17 pm

    This discussion will always continue. I feel that whatever path you choose it is better to have the weapon than not. I find it very sad that our would today makes all of this necessary. I have remarked to my wife many times as a child I would never have believed that private citizens would carry firearms in our country. We all hope and pray that we never are forced to use our weapon for any reason other than target practice. Situations can be very different and I am sure very stressful. Hopefully whatever you decide will keep you and your family safe. Whatever you do be safe and hope that you never have to find out which way is the best.

  28. Keith on March 4, 2020 at 10:12 am

    You should be aware Google is misrepresenting your article. In a search Google displays this quote taken out of context in the related questions on some gun related searches. “Should I carry with a round in the chamber?”

    “You don’t carry with a round in the chamber because: It is just too dangerous. The gun could go off inadvertently and cause injury or death. It does not take that long to rack the slide and chamber a round.” Aug 11, 2015.

    Yet another reason I hate Google.

    • Joshua Gillem on March 4, 2020 at 12:19 pm

      Keith, thank you for this. Unfortunately there isn’t a lot we can do about this because Google will continue to do as they please. Still, thank you for showing this to us and I’ll do some research around how to fix it.

      Josh ~ Editor

  29. Nick on February 10, 2021 at 3:34 pm

    Carrying without a round in the chamber is foolish. First off, if someone has the drop on you , you’ll be dead before you can draw so of course you’re not going to draw in such a case. In cases where you will draw, it assumes immediate danger but the bad guy isn’t pointing his gun at you. In that case you would be crazy to decide to draw and then announce to the bad guy that you are going to shoot him by racking your gun. Revolvers are different. You could probably get a round off with a DA revolver even while carrying with the hammer down on an empty chamber but with a semi-auto? It’s risky and is more likely to get you killed than a accidental discharge. And what if you don’t have both hands available, like if you’re pushing away your wife and kids with your free hand? Sorry, but if you commit to concealed carry, you have to commit to learning how to carry with a round in the chamber.

  30. Joel Nickerson on May 24, 2021 at 1:31 pm

    Hi all, great conversation. Living in the inner city most of my life, and having been in ‘gunfire situations’, we forget how important clandestine escalation of force is. We time ourselves for the ‘quick draw’ and judge that ‘racking the slide only takes .5 seconds’ compared to carrying with a round in the chamber. We incorrectly think that the moment we need our firearm, it will be in a ‘ready, set, go!’ environment. How can you manipulate your slide when driving down the road after having a gun shown to you from the car next to you? Related to that, how can you prepare your firearm without telegraphing your movements and becoming a perceived threat (when someone else thinks your preparing to shoot)? In a crowd, when shots are fired, how can you be most prepared in the confusion without drawing your ‘John McClaine’ and racking the slide – AND stay on the crowd’s good side? (“I think I saw the shooter!!”) There is so much confusion in shoot/no shoot situations. How about some guy walking down your driveway to ask for money, all the while eyeing you to see if you’re a hard or soft target – the knife or gun comes out quickly, but his motive isn’t realized until the thought of ‘racking the slide’ becomes a gut wrenching ‘oh, crap, it’s too late now’ moment. Or I could have talked my way out of this moment, but I racked the slide in fear/preparation and now we’re going to ‘guns’ (and the prosecutor thinks I became the threat). Wrestling someone or some group close-in is terrifying, especially when you can’t get even a hand free, let alone TWO to rack the slide (try racking against your pant leg and not letting them see or take you gun). Or being attacked from behind, losing brain power as your oxygen runs out, and trying to free up a couple of ‘sandwich clamps’ to ‘rack the slide’. OR Returning fire at the drive-by shooters that have mistakenly targeted your next-door neighbor seems like an eternity when you’re firearm isn’t ready. 40 bullets in the house next door in 20 seconds -and you’re scrambling to find a window or door to put rounds down range at the assailants hoping to give them something to think about – and stop the shooting (there’s 7 kids in that house!). It’s the real world out there. Some of us will be involved in situations that once we get through them, we will wish we never had to be part of them. Neighborhood dynamics change with the coming and going of tenants. We’ve been fortunate to have lived for 17+ years in the same city house and raise our 6 kids – but during short periods of time, bad people come into and out of your world and with them comes THEIR problems (usually worse people). I will never carry on an empty chamber. I will never leave my firearm at home. I will never wish to ever shoot anyone, but will do so if required. And the list goes on…..Do what is safe/right for you. Train hard to fight easy, but don’t ever stagnate and become complacent because it’s safer or feels right or ‘you think you’re good’. Your world will get rocked. Keep up the god fight.

  31. William Powers on June 2, 2021 at 1:14 pm

    I carry with a round chambered in my autoloading handguns. I carry a 5 shot .357 magnum revolver a good deal of the time. It is a DAO and the hammer is not exposed. Personally I feel that a DAO autoloading weapon is almost as safe as a revolver which does not have a safety, or at least non I have ever owned have. I have owned about every type of handgun made as well as all of the more quality brands. I whole heartedly agree with the author that carrying a good quality weapon reduces the likely hood of a mechanical accidental discharge or a discharge from being dropped to nearly zero. I have been carrying concealed and unconcealed since 1973 in both combat and for personal protection. Fortunately for me I have never had to use my weapon for personal protection and I hope that continues through the remainder of my life. However if I need a weapon it is most likely to be quickly and I do not want to add to the time or thought of having to chamber a round. I was also an FFL holder and. sold many handguns. My recommendation then and now for a novice shooter it a small revolver with a shrouded hammer. I think this is the safest handgun for any user to get into action quickly and safely. To me it eliminates some of the debate about carrying a round chambered. I have carried both the Colt 1911 and the Browning Hi-Power SA handguns in combat situations. I don’t carry either one of those weapons for personal protection nor would I recommend them to anyone else for personal protection. I like both weapons and overall prefer the Browning, still own a Browning but do not carry it. For one reason it is much too large and heavy for everyday carry, especial concealed carry. To me the departure from the 5 shot revolver is sad and also an artifact of too much Hollywood. If you need more than 5 shots in a personal protection situation you are probably in trouble anyway.

  32. David on June 2, 2021 at 1:53 pm

    Good debate here. I carry a Sig P 239. Always one in the chamber. The hammer de cocked and the first pull is double action, the rest single action. When I was on the job this is how I carried in a triple threat holster. Maybe it would be different if I was well trained with a clock but I’m confident with my Sig.

  33. Mike Smith on June 2, 2021 at 2:22 pm

    Both my wife and I carry SA/DA semi-auto handguns, with one in the chamber. If you have time, you can pull the hammer back and all rounds are single-action. If not, that first pull is not really very different, and all following rounds are single-action.

    You can leave it cocked and employ the safety instead I suppose, but that hammer could snag so I would never consider it myself (or recommend it), but it’s a flexible handgun.

    We both practice getting that first double-action shot on target, and at close range it is no problem. We always follow with 2 more SA rounds, hopefully on target! LOL

    I figure anytime you’re firing quickly, you’re at close range most likely. Not firing quickly, you can pull that hammer back and take aim.

    We both have IWB holsters that cover the trigger, both handguns have safeties, but we don’t use them.

    Very high level of confidence, and very safe in my opinion.

  34. Buddy Goatcher on June 2, 2021 at 3:27 pm

    This debate boils down to a spectrum spanning absolute responsivness, readyness, all the way through to the fuzzy warm security of a weapon left locked up at home in a safe.

    My round is always in the chamber. It creates an aura of extra caution and due diligence, and not in anyway does it promote a dangerous or a cavalier posture.

  35. HM2 FMF Mark "Doc" Paolino on June 2, 2021 at 3:30 pm

    In a perfect world you don’t have to carry with one in the chamber, in a perfect world you don’t even need a gun, but in The Real World you better carry with one in the chamber. You don’t put your seatbelt on until you are about to get into an accident. Also. where did you come up with “Keep the Gun Unloaded Until Ready for Use”, it sounds like a California gun safety rule. Gun Safety Rule #3 is keep you finger off the trigger until you are ready to take the shot.

  36. Chris Baldwin on June 2, 2021 at 5:38 pm

    If you have to take the time to load your gun before you can use it then you’ve decreased your chances for survival, your choice I guess!!

  37. Howard Allen on June 3, 2021 at 5:24 am

    A loaded weapon in an car fire is no significant danger to bystanders or firefighters if there is no round in the chamber. Rounds that cook off in a fire do not develop velocities that are dangerous unless they do so constrained by the chamber and barrel. On those rare occasions in which a weapon must be left in a locked vehicle, the chamber should be empty.

    Multiple strategies and techniques exist to reduce the risk of bystander gun-snatch. These are more applicable to open-carry and include retention holsters and Condition 3 carry.

    In concealed carry, the main protection against such incidents is the quality of your concealment. The first time your life threatening adversary knows you even have a weapon should be when you fire it.

  38. W. Harry Kutzbach on June 6, 2021 at 4:17 am

    This is an interesting subject. I look at it this way. I served 31 1/2 years in Law Enforcement. Until around 1985 we carried a Revolver, which does not have a safety and has six loaded chambers. This ” Hammer on an empty chamber is a bunch of BS, at least with modern revolvers. . So, when I switched to a S&W 5906, I carried it with a round in the chamber and the safety OFF. I never had a problem. Now, that I am retired, I still carry my 5906 with a round in the chamber and the safety OFF, and I never go anywhere without my 5906. I never had a problem with the safety on OFF and don’t anticipate any problems.

  39. Mark on June 10, 2021 at 1:24 pm

    There were some really good points in this article. The one argument I always have a difficult time accepting is “if your attacker has grabbed you, then you might not have two hands free”.

    I remain convinced that this argument is dumb.

    If you are attacked by someone within grappling range, and he already has ahold of you, and your one free hand is reaching down for your holster, that is foolish. You may have one, or two fewer eyeballs left by the time you reach your holster, or you may be on the ground and bleeding. If you only have one free hand, that hand better be striking your attacker, not down at your waist.

    This does require learning to fight, not just learning to shoot.

  40. Dave on June 19, 2021 at 10:26 am

    I feel comfortable with my new S&W Shield Plus with the thumb safety. For me it has been easy to draw, click down the safety all in one motion. It has become muscle memory now but I will continue to practice this as long as I continue to carry it. It is an added small measure of confidence to myself that I won’t have a ND.

    I was at first going to get the model without the thumb safety but I have to admit it was a good choice for me to have it. Everyone has their level of comfort so it relies on your mindset. I’m happy with my choice.

  41. dhoffman on September 1, 2021 at 9:57 pm

    guns can be dangerous. Whatever way you choose to cary, you are going to have to train it extensively, to be safe and swift. I am of the opinion that carrying with out one in the chamber is a poor idea, but there are those few who are well trained and do that, Israeli IDF for example. I do not see a safety advantage and I see a significant tactical disadvantage. But that’s my opinion. This isn’t if you carry and don’t train, you are askign for troublem

  42. Kenny Lovejoy on October 18, 2021 at 12:28 pm

    I carry every day and I do carry with one in the chamber

  43. Richard Hodgson on December 8, 2021 at 3:01 pm

    Every article and expert will say “Keep one in the chamber”. All these people who boast life long careers with firearms and Military Lifers. Funny part is having served 2 yrs in Afghanistan, Matthew Maruster and any soldier who deployed will tell you that there are always a few metal barrels outside of every FOB and Post for one thing. To discharge your weapon, doesn’t matter who you are your discharge your weapon into this drum. Why? Simple really, accidents happen. I’ve seen and heard more then enough accidental/negligent discharged, from people who look up after shooting into this barrel and say “I could have sworn I had nothing in the chamber” or ” I know I pulled the charging handle back far enough”. From Privates up to Officers, career Soldiers to FOBbits. Human error is what causes any type of firearm related discharge. Most pistol’s aside from a few POSs are “Drop-Safe” nowadays anyway. Ask CCW instructors or general Firearm instructors and they say the same “Keep on in the Chamber will save your life”. Isnt the reason behind Carry Concealing so people are unaware that you are carrying a firearm? So logic dictates that you wouldn’t be the obvious target, meaning those few seconds it takes to draw and cock are afforded. Been in a corner store when it was being held up, the thief didn’t go around the store and execute me and the other 2 people there. All of his attention was with the cashier. He go his money and a few cartons of cigs and left. I agree with situational awareness, I know not to walk down a dark alleyway in a bad part of town. Who are these people who are always getting jumped or mugged in alleyways? Ask people “How many times have you been assaulted or had to defend yourself with your firearm?”. The answer is usually along the lines of “Thankfully, I have never had to but I will be ready”. This is America, Cowboys always keep it locked and loaded here it’s the wild west, you never know who’s gunning for you. I joke, but honestly there is zero reason to make it out like it is the Wild West. With that said being said I appendix carry with one in the chamber, hammer down daily. I trust my 1911, I am very familiar with it. However urging inexperienced people to do something potentially dangerous and life threatening is wrong, doesn’t matter what your take is on it or how many people side with you. It’s articles and vids like this that makes negligent, accidental, unintentional, and or inertia discharges a rising problem. The truth of the matter is it’s your preference as to how you carry, people are gonna try to get you to come around to their way of thinking no matter what. Do what makes you feel safe, keeps you safe, and keeps innocent people around you safe.

  44. Sylvia on October 22, 2022 at 9:51 pm

    I had a gun misfire in my car and there wasn’t one in the chamber.

    • Vince Stubits on January 2, 2023 at 3:34 pm

      Sorry Sylvia, But that is impossible!

    • Richard on June 15, 2023 at 5:23 pm

      The only way that can happen your car must have been on fire….

  45. Sylvia on October 22, 2022 at 9:52 pm

    What are the odds of Florida doing open cary?

  46. jeremy on October 30, 2022 at 9:53 am

    Holy crap, this is dangerous advise to be giving as firearm fatality rates climb to record highs.

    We don’t live in a warzone. This self-defense myth has really gotten out of hand, based on a bunch of phone survey statistics and unverifiable anecdotes.

    So much energy is spent on what would happen if faced with an attacker. Yet the stories of being attacked are so rare… And in those, even the armed rarely have a chance to draw a weapon. When attacked, fewer than 3% of victims respond with their firearm. Yet we see that shootings and homicides rise in proportion to increased gun sales over the last 2 years. Carrying guns doesn’t make us safer; it makes those around us less safe.

    Remember, police officers are 20x more likely to shoot and kill than they are to be shot and killed. They create more danger for the community than they themselves are in. Guns kills people, not save them. Statistically speaking, each of us is far more likely to use a firearm in a criminal act than to than defend ourself.

    I grew up with guns, they are a rich part of my rural cultural heritage. And it pains me to see the cultural shift over my lifetime from guns being used primarily for hunting to guns being seen as a self-defense mechanism, despite all gathered data suggesting that they are highly ineffective as such and actually create more danger than eliminate it. Keep your guns locked up. Use them for hunting. No one is coming for you on the street. And if they do, give them your wallet. Nobody needs to die.

  47. Nicholas1958 on November 5, 2022 at 2:01 pm

    If you have a piece of string, dental floss, and something to shove behind the trigger like foam or rubber you have the solution for free. Yes, I know a 1911 or HiPoint has no space to put something behind the trigger. The trigger will be blocked from moving with the stuff behind it. Even Superman cannot fire the gun until the trigger is unblocked. Or on Amazon, you can buy for $20 a rubber plug called a trigger block. One end of the string is tied to the trigger block the other end of the string I attach to the holster. So when I pull the gun out so far, even if the plug will come out without me having to remember to push it out with my finger. I think some are concerned under stress they might shoot themselves when pulling the gun out of the holster. Or, while putting the gun in the holster something will get in the trigger area. However, I carry condition three. I retired from military service after twenty-two years in 1998. I used to issue firearms, I had to qualify yearly, I do not need more training to be confident. I practice daily still. God bless and keep you all safe.

  48. Mark on December 2, 2022 at 6:58 pm

    Like Paul Harrell said, chambered or unchambered? I didn’t even know this was a question anymore. The correct answer is….chambered, of course. If you don’t have confidence in the operation of your pistol, find one you do have confidence in. If you don’t have confidence in your ability to safely carry with a loaded chamber….get the proper training. Training leads to competence and competence leads to confidence. A modern, well manufactured pistol, even striker fired, are perfectly safe if YOU are perfectly safe in your handling of said firearm. And you can stop with the “oh, people make mistakes” excuse. Because you have already removed personal responsibility and made an excuse for an ND. Therefore, you are more likely to have an ND. Get a good quality holster made specifically for your gun that completely covers the trigger guard. Get training and do yourself and your loved ones a favor and carry with a round in the chamber. Afraid of the gun “just going off”? Get over it. Unless of course you are carrying a Sig P320 or P365. Their striker block and trigger are a piss poor design.

  49. Vince Stubits on January 2, 2023 at 3:28 pm

    If you do not PRACTICE drawing and firing all the time then you should not have a CCW! If you don’t trust your own finger then you can’t or we can’t trust you to make the right decision as to whether you need to draw and fire. You also need to practice being accurate because most people you would need to shoot will also have a gun and they get a say in the out come. It comes down to if you don’t trust yourself because your not willing to practice then you just hope the police and coroner spell your name right.

    • Jacob Paulsen on January 2, 2023 at 3:40 pm

      We’ll have to agree to disagree I’m afraid. Every day in this country we see incidents where relatively untrained people do have a positive impact in stopping violent crime with their firearm. For a quick and rather famous example look at Mr Dickens in the Indiana Mall shooting who had no formal training at all. No class required to get a permit in that state and he had never taken a class. Yes, people should seek out firearm training and should be practicing. Yes, people should, in relative short order have the goal of building those skills to the point of being comfortable with a round in the chamber. But no, people should not be required to seek any arbitrary amount of training in order to get a concealed carry permit and no people shouldn’t be told they would be better off leaving the gun home (or by your logic owning one at all) than carrying it without a round in the chamber. I respect your opinion but I disagree.

  50. D.B. WALKER on February 1, 2023 at 2:01 am

    I’m prior military and was taught to carry one in the chamber. As much as I trusted my m16 the same principle of carrying with a round chambered carried over from weapon to weapon. Seconds absolutely count in an encounter.

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