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Carrying With A Round In The Chamber – To Do or Not To Do

Should I carry with a round in the chamber? Yes, you should because when seconds count needing to rack the slide is the last thing you should have to do.

I have been carrying firearms on a daily basis for around 10 years now. I started carrying 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 chose to carry a popular branded, polymer, striker fired pistol with no external safety, chambered in .40 caliber. In speaking with more concealed carriers, I realized that two groups fundamentally disagree with one another on carrying a concealed handgun with a round in the chamber. This is not an article intended to bash those who do not carry their firearms with a round in the chamber. If you are looking for one of those, there are plenty. Instead, this is my attempt to have you to simply consider carrying with a round in the chamber. I will also provide you a way of gaining confidence that your firearm can be just as safe carrying it with a round in the chamber, as without.

Without getting into an instruction on the mechanics of semiautomatic handgun operation, it is important to understand the difference between a single action trigger pull, and a double action trigger pull. Here is your 30-second quick crash course on the matter. Your double action trigger pull will be heavier, meaning that it takes more pounds of pressure to squeeze the trigger and fire the weapon. This is because, in a double action firearm, the trigger has to cock and release the hammer, firing pin and striker. A single action trigger pull will be much lighter, requiring very light pressure to squeeze the trigger and fire the weapon. This is because, in a single action firearm, the trigger only performs one action: releasing the hammer forward.


Undoubtedly you have heard (or used) some of these arguments to support your stance on the matter. 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.
  • I like single action firearms, and it is not safe to carry single action firearms with the hammer cocked and a round in the chamber.
  • My gun does not have an external safety, so it is unsafe to carry with a round in the chamber
  • One of the safety rules states, “Keep the weapon unloaded until ready for use.”

Let me begin by addressing these concerns. As far as the firearm going off inadvertently, there are no doubt mechanical malfunctions with firearms that could cause them to fire without manipulation of the trigger. Recently, a group of firearms was recalled because there was a chance that under rare conditions, if a round were in the chamber and the firearm was dropped, around could be fired. Buying a quality firearm and maintaining it with factory parts, can greatly reduce any possibility that a catastrophic and rare event of the firearm firing without the trigger being manipulated, occurs. Additionally, having a quality holster that completely covers the trigger guard, and that is designed specifically for your model of firearm can keep the trigger from being manipulated and an unintended discharge of the 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 gun could accidentally be fired.

In a deadly force situation, you are likely reacting to a threat, and thus already at a position of disadvantage. Drawing your firearm takes time no matter how skilled you are. Adding another step, such as, racking the slide to the rear to chamber a round adds what could be an eternity during the limited time of a deadly force incident. Even if you train night and day, there is just no way to be as quick than if you were to eliminate this step.

Carrying a single action (1911 type) firearm, with a round in the chamber and the hammer to the rear can appear very dangerous and truthfully, can look dangerous. Understanding that these guns are designed to be carried with the hammer to the rear and with the safety on, should allow you to have confidence that if you buy from a quality manufacturer, you’re getting a gun that has passed several levels of quality control before it made it into your hands. These guns are designed with internal safeties that ensure that the firearm will not fire on its own. I understand that this is putting your faith in the mechanics of a firearm and that this is probably the most legitimate concern those of you choosing not to carry with a round in the chamber, have. Please do not infer that I am somehow saying single action pistols are not safe to carry. That could not be further from the truth. More single action pistols have been carried, and for a longer period of time, than the modern striker fired pistols. Even over the hundred-plus years, single action pistols have been carried, there has never been an epidemic or cause of concern that carrying a single action pistol is dangerous. Some guns are designed to function with a safety, such as the 1911 style mentioned above.

Some guns have models that come with or without safeties to satisfy different shooters’ preferences. Remember, having a safety on your firearm can be a benefit or be a detriment depending on how you look at it. First off, safeties are mechanical devices that, although rare, can fail. This means that if your peace of mind that you are safe because your firearm has an external safety, your 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 is another manipulation of the firearm you must make before firing at a threat. This could take precious time that you may not have. Having an external safety is not all bad though. Through proper training, the amount of time it takes to disengage a safety can be minuscule and if it gives the user peace of mind to have one more safety on the firearm, then it is definitely worth it.

I have also heard some argue that even one of the universally accepted weapons safety rules state, “Keep the weapon unloaded until ready for use.” This safety rule is 100% accurate, but applying it to a firearm you are carrying to protect yourself in a “deadly force” situation is not correct. When you make the decision to carry that firearm for protection, it should be as ready for use as it will ever be. In a moment’s notice, that firearm must be ready to use against a deadly attack. In this way, it is appropriate (if you desire) to carry with a round in the chamber.

Understanding all that we have spoken about, let's look back at the firearm I chose to carry as my concealed carry gun. As stated earlier, my everyday carry pistol was a striker fired, pistol with no external safety. Striker fired pistols, although technically categorized as double action firearms, have relatively light factory trigger pulls. On average the factory trigger pull on these firearms is in the range of 5-7 pounds. Besides the safety trigger, (that little paddle-like device built into the trigger that must be depressed for the pistol to fire), has no external safety. Considering all this, I choose exclusively to carry with a round in the chamber. I use an appendix position carry with a hybrid holster designed for my model of firearm. My trigger guard is completely covered and my firearm does not come out of the holster or get manipulated at all. I practice drawing my firearm from the very 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 to a point where I felt confident that I handled and carried my firearm safely. Let me just remind you that I do not advocate a “one size fits all” concept to firearms training. If you choose a different way to carry you are not wrong, you have simply weighed the pros and cons and made your decision based on your confidence and comfort level.

Still on the fence about carrying with one in the chamber? Understandable, and if you’re not comfortable, you absolutely should not carry with a round in the chamber. Here is something you can do 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). Ensure your trigger is set and has not been pulled to the rear. In other words, 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 firearm. In a safe location, and while pointing the firearm in a safe direction and only after ensuring the firearm is unloaded or only loaded with snap caps, practice drawing your firearm from your holster. At the end of the day, or more often if you wish, inspect your firearm. If the trigger was inadvertently pulled, 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 firearm in a safe safely enough, not accidentally squeeze the trigger.

Ultimately, the type of firearm you carry and how you carry is a personal choice that should be made based on your personal confidence and understanding of your firearm. While my suggestion is that you carry with a round in the chamber, I do not advise you do it if you are not confident with your firearm, or if after considering everything you do not feel safe doing so.

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70 Responses to Carrying With A Round In The Chamber – To Do or Not To Do

  1. Randy Crawford 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 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 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.

    • Jose 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 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 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 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 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 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!

  3. UpNRms 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 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 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 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 April 25, 2019 at 7:18 pm #

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

        • Michael 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 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.

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

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

  4. fishinflorida 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 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 January 10, 2020 at 12:58 pm #

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

  5. Mr lucky 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 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 June 29, 2018 at 9:50 pm #

        Okay, please enlighten us…

  6. Daniel 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 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 November 22, 2020 at 3:34 pm #

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

    • Mike 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 January 10, 2017 at 10:38 am #

        Yes Mike, I wonder the same thing.

      • Jeff 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.

  7. fran 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 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 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.

  8. Matthew 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 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 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.

  11. Sibu 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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.

  15. Ron in Delaware 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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.

  26. William E Dorn 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. 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 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 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

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