Episode 18: To Chamber or Not to Chamber?!


TOPIC – To carry or not to carry a round in the chamber

This is always one of the most controversial topics amongst gun owners–to carry their gun with a round chambered or not. Right up there with the age-old debate of 9mm or .45 (or .40), we’ll be looking at all the angles to this practice–pros and cons of both sides of the issue.

Matthew's Original Article on Carrying Chambered

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Today’s episode is sponsored by the Sig Sauer Elite Performance V-Crown Ammunition. From one of the top makers of firearms comes some of the top defensive ammunition. Available at an affordable price at www.concealedcarry.com/shop

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Thanks so much for joining us this week. Have some feedback you’d like to share? Leave a note in the comment section below. If you enjoyed the podcast the biggest compliment you could give us would be to subscribe to future episodes via a podcast app on your phone or via iTunes. You can find past podcast episodes by clicking here.

About Riley Bowman

Riley Bowman is the Director of Training at ConcealedCarry.com and the Host of the Concealed Carry Podcast. He came up in this world initially through his 8-year experience with a state-level law enforcement agency in Colorado. Riley has trained extensively under instructors such as: Rob Leatham, Mike Seeklander, Tim Herron, Scott Jedlinski, Matt Little, Kyle Lamb, Dave Spaulding, Jeff Gonzales, Bill Blowers, Chuck Pressburg, and others, amassing many hundreds of hours of formal shooting and tactics training. He is an NRA Pistol Instructor, a Colorado P.O.S.T. Handgun and Patrol Rifle Instructor, a graduate of Trident Concepts Concealed Carry Instructor course, and a Modern Samurai Project Endorsed Instructor. He also competes in USPSA and 3-gun competitions including numerous top-10 finishes at major matches and championships. He is the current USPSA Carry Optics Colorado State Champion and most recently won 3rd place in Master Class at the 2022 USPSA Carry Optics National Championship.


  1. Dean Gilbert on May 23, 2016 at 4:26 pm

    I carry and as such, if and when I need to draw my weapon, I’m going to need it NOW. Not 2 or 3 or 4 seconds later while I chamber a round. Cocked and locked-condition 1. If it doesn’t have a round in the chamber, it isn’t loaded and ready to use.

    • robert tubear on May 23, 2016 at 6:14 pm

      so true dean , i carry 1 in the chaimber and top it off in the mag

    • Larry on May 24, 2016 at 10:00 pm


  2. Lloyd on May 23, 2016 at 4:44 pm

    I live in @#*! California so I am not allowed. San Bernadino not withstanding . I learned gun safety in the Marine Corps. Was never allowed to “carry” with a round in the chamber. Did very well on the gun range but never was in a combat zone.
    I have read and understand your article. Thanx . I agree with what you have said but, am still uncomfortable with concealed carry with a chambered round. If I did open carry I would rather have a rifle with bayonet.
    Again thank you for the article.

    • Matthew on May 24, 2016 at 6:21 am

      Thanks for the feedback Marine! Glad you read the article and made your personal decision after weighing all the info. Stay safe and Semper Fi.

    • JAMES R McCRACKEN on May 24, 2016 at 8:42 am

      Who says you cant carry chambered in California? That’s B.S. I carry chambered and my gun has been checked by L.E. In most major jurisdictions with no issues. Don’t buy into the hype.

    • JAMES R McCRACKEN on May 24, 2016 at 8:47 am

      There is nothing in California law that prevents you from carrying chambered, I as well as all of my contemporaries carry chambered and have for years with L.E. Knowledge. Saying California won’t let you is B.S.

    • Rocky on May 27, 2016 at 9:50 am

      When soldiers go into combat, they chamber a round. I had a 9 mm and m4. I chambered a round in both before departing the base.

  3. Greg on May 23, 2016 at 4:50 pm

    If it takes you more than 2 seconds to chamber a round, you probably don’t need to be carrying anyway. I would much rather have that snippet of time to make sure this is really the action I need to be taking. With that being said to each his own and do whatever you feel and know you are competent to do.

  4. Richard on May 23, 2016 at 5:16 pm

    While shopping for a weapon, a law enforcement officer I know asked to look at the gun. Before handing it back, he told me to enroll in the handgun training offered by the sherrif’s office, and when carrying, have y a round chambered In case the need arises, and keep firing until the threat is eliminated.

    • John on May 23, 2016 at 7:55 pm

      I agree, an AZ. patrol officer told me to always have a round chambered.

  5. Ken S on May 23, 2016 at 5:27 pm

    Don’t assume you’ll have both arms and hands free to chamber that round when the SHTF.

    • Kim on June 30, 2016 at 7:40 pm

      Excellent point.

  6. Jim on May 23, 2016 at 5:38 pm

    I carry a 44 magnum wheel gun and it’s fully loaded. No empty spaces in my cylinder.


  7. Nathan on May 23, 2016 at 5:54 pm

    All of my handguns have ambidextrous safeties on them, with the exception of my GP-100, so I carry a full magazine with one in the chamber at all times. The chance of having the time to rack one in, in a shtf situation just seems too chancy. I’d much rather be able to draw, click the safety, and start eliminating the threat. Some even carry without using a safety. I myself was trained using the safety but I suppose if I was trained without a safety I would prefer that way too. It all comes down to what your most comfortable with and unfortunately, the law in some states.

  8. Steve on May 23, 2016 at 6:33 pm

    All of my ccw tools have revolving chambers. No worries w/ safties or such. Has kept me and my spouse comfortable for 40 years. Same model same calibre for each of us.

  9. Ritchey on May 23, 2016 at 6:47 pm


  10. Ritchey on May 23, 2016 at 6:54 pm

    I carry either Ruger sr9c nine mil or CZ 97 45 cal .both are loaded with one in the chamber .safety on .As long as my weapon is secure in its holster i am ready .you never know if you will have the time to rack a round in the chamber.concept don’t remove weapon from holster until you need to.When the situation warrants pull and aim,finger off trigger until you are sure you need to fire.

  11. Roy Daughtrey on May 23, 2016 at 7:08 pm

    I carry a S&W M&P shield 9 mm every day in a sneaky pete waist holster with a round in the chamber I an 75 and have trouble racking the slide I have never had to defend my self with my gun I definitely enjoy your podcast and find it helpful

    • Matthew on May 24, 2016 at 6:28 am

      Hello Sir, thank you for the feedback. So happy you are proactive with your personal safety and that you enjoy the podcast! Stay safe and God bless.

  12. C.L.(Chuck)Troupe on May 23, 2016 at 7:48 pm

    I live in Arizona, don’t need a CCW permit but it had been more than 40 years since getting out of the Army, so I went ahead and took the training and got my CCW permit. I carry a 9Xmm, with a round chambered and the safety off … no holster … I keep it in my belt, just a tad right of the small of my back … very close to my body and no “printing.” It’s a double action semi-auto with a pretty mean trigger pull, but I could easily cock it if I had time. I’ve carried for a long, long time … even in California where I wasn’t “allowed” … but carried anyway, and nobody ever knew it because nobody ever saw it … thank God I never needed to actually use it … not even when I taught Traffic School and other instructors were being robbed. Always better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.

  13. Richard Contreraz on May 23, 2016 at 8:23 pm

    I myself have an extensive background inthe Military law-enforcement field and in municiple
    Law-enforcement. I was raised around weapons pretty much my entire life. And have bought many and worn everyone professionally.

    One thing I know about weapons is there isnt one made that cant kill. Thats what they are designed to do. But they are made to save lives too.

    My whole point tomake here is this, because of training and lifes experiences i will never carry a weapon thats not loaded and that definitely includes a round chambered. Post thought:
    It would not be too wise to carry a good gun
    And not have a round chambered if your target is shooting at you and has you out gunned and out matched and just happrned to get the first shot off.

    I have never been shot because i know how to duck and more importantly how to shoot and scoot. But i have been in battle and a police shooting or two. Suffice it to say Im still around because i always carry a round chambered.
    And none of my targets are

  14. Ilka Marie Holter on May 23, 2016 at 8:45 pm

    Agreed! For me, one in the chamber, safety on, ready if needed!

  15. Ilka Marie Holter on May 23, 2016 at 8:48 pm

    Agreed! For me one, in the chamber with the safety on!!

  16. troyg on May 23, 2016 at 9:32 pm

    As a new CCW I have debated with myself about carrying with a round in the chamber or not. Thanks to your podcast I decided to carry with the gun in battery. Thanks enjoy your podcasts.

    • Matthew on May 24, 2016 at 6:30 am

      Troy, thanks so much for the feedback! Great to hear we could help in your decision making, and that you made the decision based on your comfort. I am happy you enjoy the podcast and keep sending in feedback, always love to hear what people think! Stay safe!!!!

  17. kenneth blischok on May 24, 2016 at 11:05 am

    Kenny b here one in the chamber is a must period….. you are ready when a curtain goes up. always, always be ready at any second. keep vigilant and always look around your area keep one eye open when sleeping, gun ready at all times.

    this is a line of bs when not having one round in the chamber, its your life and, or the lives of your loved ones at stake, do the job correctly and keep safe. mgb; and keep vigilant.

  18. Nick Lanier on May 25, 2016 at 2:04 pm

    Since April of 2009, I’ve had a CCW license and carry my Glock Model 22 .40 caliber pistol every day. It goes everywhere I go, except where I can’t legally carry, like Federal buildings. It always has a round in the chamber if I need to return fire quickly.

  19. Thom Sheppard on May 26, 2016 at 8:52 am

    I feel as was said when you see the need to pull your weapon, there needs to be one in the chamber.

  20. Jay on May 26, 2016 at 6:18 pm

    I may be a bit biased on this topic but I was trained from day one to always have a round chambered in a semi automatic handgun when I carry.

    ‘Train how you fight’ This is a motto that was drilled into me at an early age. So if you decide to carry a weapons system of your choice than train how you will carry it. For example if your carrying a Glock 21 concealed and you do not have a round in the chamber than you should always train that way on the range. So when you are on the firing line (at the local range) than lay the weapon down (most indoor gun ranges will not let you draw from the holster) on the bench with no round chambered. When you are ready to fire than pick up the weapon, chamber a round and engage your threat (target). If you can actually train from the holster on the range than do the same. You want to build muscle memory so when the time comes it will be second nature when you do have to use deadly force to chamber a round after you unholster.

    Side note: All police officers (most) carry their duty weapon with a round in the chamber. Also combat soldiers while in combat also carry with a round in their weapons system (M-16, M-203, etc). So I question why anyone would not carry a concealed weapon with a round in the chamber.

    ‘Train how you fight’ is a motto that you should take to heart. Also try to get as much trigger time on the range as you can because it’s upon you the prepare your battlefield for success if and when you have to deploy your weapons system (handgun) and use deadly force.

    NRA Instructor

    ‘Prepare the battlefield for success’

    (Excuse in typos due to me using an IPhone to post this)

  21. Rocky on May 27, 2016 at 9:57 am

    In military training you are taught that when you chamber a round or click the safety, there is a distinct mechanical sound that takes away your element of surprise. This alerts others and gives them time to react.

  22. Ken Edwards on May 31, 2017 at 3:06 pm

    In the future, taking notes or doodling with a Sharpie picks up on the mic very well. Kind of distracting from the great topics and conversation.

    • Riley Bowman on May 31, 2017 at 3:35 pm

      Ken, thanks for feedback. I think we had somebody else mention this, but no one was doodling or anything. It was actually just the microphone that was being used was having issues and we didn’t catch it until it was too late.

      Anyway, thanks for listening!!!

  23. Chris S on August 3, 2017 at 9:58 am

    I have a HK VP9, no safety. I have a 7yo daughter and a 11 month old little boy that crawls on me all the time, with that being said any advice? I was in the corps and know gun safety but I just don’t feel safe carrying cond 1 around my son and daughter…

  24. Riley Bowman on August 3, 2017 at 1:14 pm

    Chris, good question! Your pistol is a striker-fired gun. Your statement about the gun having “no safety” is not exactly accurate. Just like Glocks, Smith & Wesson M&Ps, etc., it does in fact have at least 2 safeties (and a lot of modern striker-fired guns will have three). This means that with its incorporated “drop safety” or firing pin safey as well as the trigger safety, as long as your VP9 is in a quality holster, it is perfectly safe as far as the gun is 99.999% incapable of firing. These safeties are automatically disengaged as part of the firing process (pressing the trigger fully to the rear disengages the safeties, and the gun is able to fire).

    Thus, your potential safety issues will be any time the gun is OUT of the holster. Meaning it is up to YOU to maintain a safe muzzle direction and to ensure proper indexing of the trigger finger along the frame/slide until the gun is aimed and you have made the decision to shoot. If the gun somehow is fired unexpectedly, it is because you somehow pressed the trigger negligently.

    I’m not telling you what to do especially as it relates to the safety of your children. But I am confident as far as the act of carrying with a round in the chamber, the gun is incapable of firing WHILE CARRYING in a QUALITY HOLSTER.

    I have 4 beautiful children, I also value their safety highly (above that of my own). I carry everyday with a round chambered, and most of the time I am carrying a Glock pistol which works just the same as your VP9–it has no manual safety. I make certain that I follow all safety rules when arming myself for the day and placing my gun in its holster and then on my body. Then I leave it there throughout the day until it is time to disarm.

    Also make sure you store your firearms in a safe or handgun vault to further ensure your children’s safety.

    Thanks, hope this helps!!

  25. Christopher Snarski on August 7, 2017 at 7:57 am

    It did Riley! And the fact that you have children and understand my concerns for their safety. I read about AD’s all the time but it is due to neglect. Muzzle awareness and other safety factors in which I follow and are second nature to me thanks to my NCO’s and SNCO’s in the military. I appreciate your advice Riley!! Thank you again!

  26. paul michaels on April 28, 2024 at 10:46 am

    not so much a comment , more of a question. i get the round chambered logic. however, as a new conceal carry gun owner, im curious about how many people carry with one chambered on a firearm with a thumb safety or not. i have two firearms that i keep chambered with a thumb safety. i also have one without the thumb safety and am still reluctant to chamber a round and carry it.

    • Jacob Paulsen on April 29, 2024 at 10:51 am

      Paul, I don’t have any data about how average gun owners choose to stage their gun. I can say that in my experience most people I see taking defensive handgun classes run guns with NO manual safety and a round in the chamber.

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