I Call BS on “If You Carry Without A Round In The Chamber You Might As Well Leave Your Gun Home”
I've seen a meme with this quote twice in the last week so it is time for me to express myself on what I think is a dangerous and ridiculous line of thinking we often use in this industry.
To Be Clear I Think It Is Best to Carry With A Round In The Chamber
Before anyone calls me out or sends me hate mail you should know I carry with a round in the chamber and I strongly feel it is best to do so.
There are a lot of reasons why and speed isn't the only one even though it is often the only one cited in the argument. Carrying without a round in the chamber not only slows down your draw somewhat but it also reduces your ammo capacity by one round and complicates your draw should you ever need to do so one-handed.
RESOURCE: Carrying With A Round In The Chamber – To Do or Not To Do
RESOURCE: Podcast Episode 18: The Chamber or Not To Chamber
But Is it Better or Equally Good To Just Leave It Home?
No, it isn't. Having a firearm on you without a round in the chamber is still a significantly better place to be in a potential self-defense incident than not having the firearm on you at all. Any argument to the contrary seems crazy to me.
Yes, carrying without a round in the chamber means that one must rack it as part of the draw stroke but how much slower is that really? A well-trained shooter who practices that element into their draw can get it done in under 1 and 1/2 seconds total.
The delay added by racking the slide is probably 1/2 second. That might vary for others depending on the level of training and the carry position etc., but I have to ask the question: Does slowing down the draw by .5 to 1.5 seconds now mean that the gun owner shouldn't even bother carrying the gun? That extra second or two somehow means they might as well not have the gun at all?
Not all situations require a lightning-fast draw stoke. For example, in most mass killer events the majority of the victims have more than 1-2 seconds to react. They may have as much as 30 to 60 seconds to draw and present to the threat.
Let me take this line of thinking to an extreme. Let us suppose that in 99% of self-defense incidents the speed at which you can draw is so significant a determining factor of the outcome that the extra 1-2 seconds it takes to rack the slide means losing the gunfight.
This is, of course, crazy and not true but let us just suppose it was true. Then don't you think it would be better to have the gun than to leave it home in case one finds oneself in the 1% of situations where it isn't a determining factor?
RESOURCE: How to Train If You Don't Carry With A Round In The Chamber
How We Should Deal With This Issue
Telling gun carriers in our community that they shouldn't have the gun at all or might as well leave it at home is shameful. It divides us in a way that is unnecessary and it guilts people into feeling bad about their own journey or level of comfort.
I have to ask, do you really want someone who has gone through the time and expense to carry around a firearm for personal protection to leave it home instead of carrying it just because they don't have a round in the chamber?
If they are in the restaurant where your family happens to be eating when crap hits the fan will you say to yourself “I sure wish they had left that gun home instead of trying to save my family's life because they didn't even have a round in the chamber.”
OR, will you be grateful they were prepared to the degree that they were prepared even if it wasn't as ideal as you would like?
To take this to the extreme do you think we should tell people they should leave their gun at home if they can't perform a sub 1 second draw, if they carry a gun that holds less than a certain number of rounds, if they don't carry a spare magazine, if they don't also have an IFAK, if they carry in an ankle holster or other less than ideal carry position, if they don't also carry less-lethal options, or if they haven't passed the FBI qualification?
We should applaud concealed carriers who have taken any steps forward in their own personal defense and then focus on encouraging them to progress and educate them on the pros and cons of each decision. We should avoid shaming them or telling them that anything less than the perfect carry loadout is worthless.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Have you ever told someone they might as well leave the gun home? Has someone told you the same?
*UPDATE May 2022: Since publishing this article we've received over 50 comments below. I'm shocked how many of the comments are arguments for or against carrying with a round in the chamber. To those commenters I have to wonder… did you read the article at all? The point of this article is that regardless of how you feel about the issue it is shameful to suggest that people would be better off without the firearm than to have it with them in a manner that you feel is less good than how you feel it should be carried. Please as you comment below, and I encourage you to do so, please do so with respect for each other and orient your comment on the topic which is the issue with shaming other people for their choices when we don't agree with them.
I’ve seen many people getting bashed online for not carrying a loaded firearm. I’m one of those that doesn’t carry my Glock loaded but as stated I can draw and rack my slide and put five holes in a bad guy before some can even unholster their firearm. I support both ways of carry. I think it’s BS to have anyone tell someone else that if they don’t carry loaded then they shouldn’t carry at all.
Ive been in law enforcement for years and always have a round in the chamber that split. half second could nean life or death
That splint second could be the difference in killing the wrong person.
When I was in the service, I carried my weapon in condition 3,
unless I was in combat.
You should use distance and time, to make the best shot on your target.
You have had bad training, if you have to quick draw to safe your life.
I agree! Unless you are a cop, or a soldier in combat….For the rest of us, “distance and time”, as you say, are the best ways to stay safe. Every bullet we fire is a huge liability. It’s easy to miss your target after a fast draw, and the potential of hitting innocent bystanders is great. I never want to be in a position where a quick draw is necessary.
As far as I know, the Israeli Army still carry their Glocks with an empty chamber. And they train “draw and rack” all the time.
If you believe that, you could seriously stand additional or better training.
I have a gun that has no safety. It would be irresponsible for me to have a round chambered. There is a high degree of paranoia to think that you are going to be in a quick draw contest. If you cannot gage your circumstances to make a good judgement to flip a safety or chanber a round then maybe carrying is not a good idea for you. It is common sense preparation in my humble opinion. Then I hope that the presence of a gun eliminates the aggressor before I actually have to harm another human being.
I absolutely love your reply! I also don’t have a safety on my firearm. And I agree with every single word you said!! 👏🏿👏🏿
you’re very likely to be a victim of your own weapon….what good is a semi without a round racked?
it’s a great gift for your assailant.
muzzle awareness combined w CAR system and a round racked is the best chance for survival in a close quarter, time sensitive self defense scenario.
this isn’t an opinion or advice…. it’s a fact. now you can do what you will informed of the facts.
at ten feet, I could easily drive a knife thru your heart before you have a round racked..wo a round racked, you’re worm food pal.
rack a round, learn the CAR system and train….alot.
This all has everything to do with training. I believe the Israeli security forces that carry concealed are(or were?)trained to only chamber a round when drawing.
It still is .
The main reason is you can pick up any semiauto and you know there is a bullet in the chamber and all have to do is point and shoot.
You do not have to change your training to different seimautos.
Surely there’s no one who TRULY believes that if you don’t carry one up, you might as well leave your firearm at home. It’s beyond ridiculous if there’s someone to whole heartedly believes that. Most people who say that are either just giving people who don’t carry one in the chamber a hard time or they’re just being hyperbolic. Lol Because it’s so blatantly obvious that If you was in a self-defense scenario… You’d a 100 out of a 100 times prefer having to take an extra 2-3 seconds to chamber a round, so you then can have a fully loaded firearm to protect yourself with… rather than just straight up not having one at all. Lol
Exactly, leaving a pistol at home and you own one is actually far worse than .5 seconds you can potentially save your life with lol
I appreciate your words on this topic. I do not carry with one in the chamber. My adult son tells me I should but I am confident that I could rack one and shoot if the situation ever came to be.
unless you’re John Wick, you cannot. a man w a knife can cross 21 feet in 1.5 seconds. most gun battles are within 7 feet. you’ve got a half second.
this is why a semi auto pistol without training and a round racked is a gift to your assailant.
the saying .”..leave it at at home”
is meant to advise you of the chance of an assailant relieving you of the gun that you brought for him to use against you…that is precisely what will happen so you’re better off going hand to hand… study the CAR system then rack a round and holster your weapon.
I’ve watched 100s of “caught on video” incidents from all over the world over last few years. I wouldnt be surprised if it’s over 1000 actually. You tube vids like ASP puts out and others. These videos often have analysis with them some don’t so that’s when the rewind button comes in. For years I felt better unchambered, however, I now prefer chambered. What I have seen too much. Extra second, noise from racking alerting bad guy, mishandling, lack of extra round. These have all caused the good guy to lose his life. And I just dont like anything that reduces my odds in a survival situation. I would highly recommend training with your EDC chambered. But ultimately it is up to you. God bless us all.
Carrying a round in the chamber gives you less time to respond down range. Racking a round with your lever is a split second, that you could loose. If you prefer no round in the chamber; then you better practice racking a round with a practice cap. Being able to point a gun down range, and shoot is the difference between racking a safe round and your life.
That means grabbing your gun, racking the round safely, finger on the trigger safetly,,and pointing in the down range area towards what you plan to destroy or kill.
When you carry a round in the chamber you take the extra thought away. You simply grab the gun, finger to the trigger safely, pointing the gun down range and destroying the object or kill the intended.
One thing no one ever mentions or doesn’t think about is a situation where someone else is able to get control of your firearm. This would most likely happen in one of two ways. The most likely would be during a physical altercation and yes it happens to cops quite often. The second would be if you get jumped from behind. In these scenarios not having one in the chamber is going to give you a few seconds to possibly remove your self from the line of fire while the DS try’s to figure out why the gun didn’t go bang. If you carry a backup weapon or whatever it gives you the chance to respond with those. The main reason I won’t carry one in the chamber is that that 0.5 to 1.5 second is not worth the possibility of an accidental discharge and yes that can happen with any semi. The only semi I will carry with a loaded chamber is a 1911 style with a grip safety. And I never trust a gun with hammer releases as I have had them go bang twice when they weren’t supposed to so much for Sig safety. Not to mention your chances of an extremely quickdraw is far out wayed by a slower draw a this isn’t the old west.
Always Carry CONCEALED. That way your attacker doesn’t know you have something he /she can take a way.
People do think about weapon retention, and there are classes on that specific topic. Learning how to maintain control of your firearm, is a much better strategy than not having a round in the chamber and hoping the person who just took your gun can’t figure out how to rack the slide.
I can understand some people being concerned about carrying a firearm with a round in the chamber, but their goal should be to ultimately gain the confidence through training to carry with a round in the chamber (because it is without doubt the best way to carry a firearm for defensive purposes.) You shouldn’t degrade your ability to defend yourself, for fear in the threat may take your firearm away. Focus instead on how to retain your firearm, or get it in the fight quicker and stop the assault quicker. To me, this is the proper way to look at your concern.
Additionally, it isn’t the .5 or 1.5 seconds more it takes to rack the slide that is of concern. Racking the slide with one hand is difficult, especially if your being assaulted or grappling during a fight. How about if one of your hands is severely injured? Sury you can rack the slide with one hand, but it is much more difficult and takes some skill. Hopefully if you carry with an empty chamber you have attended some training classes where one handed manipulation techniques are taught. You also may not ever get a chance to even attempt to rack your slide. There is also the potential to short stroke the slide and not pull it back fully. Therefore a round is never chambered. All of these reasons are more of a reason to carry with a round in the chamber compared to just the .5 or 1.5 added seconds.
By ‘hammer release’ are you talking about a de-cocker? Which model of guns have you had that fire when the de-cocker is engaged? I am not aware of a modern DA/SA gun that has a problem of firing when the decocker is engaged, let alone more than one manufacturer or model. It would be beneficial to know which models so we can advise others of the potential danger or manufacturer recall.
You said you will only carry with a round in the chamber on a 1911 because it has a grip safety. I really have two questions about this statement. First, couldn’t an attacker take your 1911 from you just as easily as any other gun? So they would potentially have your loaded 1911 to use against you. What I am trying to understand is how the potential for you to lose your gun to the attacker goes away because the gun has a grip safety.
Secondly, the grip safety is disengaged the minute your hand establishes grip, so the gun is still in the holster and still potentially going to cross a portion of your body on the draw. So the grip safety really isn’t designed to keep you from shooting yourself. I don’t see a huge benefit in a grip safety. On the contrary, I have seen problems when people shoot from unconventional positions where their grip is changed and they do not engage the grip safety. But back to the draw, it would seem if you are gripping the gun without engaging the grip safety, until your muzzle rotates toward the threat, you may not have to worry about the attacker taking your firearm from you, moreso that it will fall out of your hand. About the manual external safety, it should be swept off as part of the draw stroke. We could debate exactly when in the draw it should come off, but if it doesn’t come off until the muzzle is aligned on the target, it’s way too late. Plenty of people have shot themselves or had ND/AD’s with 1911’s so the idea that 1911’s are any more safe because they have more safeties isn’t quite accurate. The points made on why having all the external safeties makes the gun/person safer, are the same exact points as to why it can also make the gun/person less safe. Sure it is one more step before the gun can be fired, but that means one more step before the gun is functional, and with all the things going on, one more point of failure in the process of stopping the threat.
There are certainly times when a sub second draw is not necessary, but to think that a fast draw is never necessary, or hasn’t been necessary since the wild west is another example of the wrong mindset.
Not trying to be argumentative, just trying to get you to challenge some of those ideas you have about using your firearm in the context of a deadly-force incident.
brother…wo a round racked, the rare chance of an incident will likely be your last.
No one here mentions the fact that even if you have a round chambered, and you have on a jacket and in a situation have to lift your jacket or move it to the side it takes time before you can shoot. I carry appendix and don’t have a round chambered. I can draw, rack my slide and shoot in less than 2 seconds. Most situations I feel that you would have more time than you think to draw your weapon and rack the slide. I have taught surroundings awareness for self defense and knowing and being in tune with your surroundings gives you an advantage in most cases. People also forget about an adrenaline rush and possible fumbling at the time of an incident. A person as good as they may be practicing with a round in the chamber might shoot someone who is innocent or shoot themselves in a panic.This is just my thoughts on this subject.
Think about something for a second. Why are you carrying a firearm in the first place? Most people are going to claim it’s for self defense, personal safety. Sounds good. However statistics say as a civilian that it’s way over a thousand times more likely that you’re going to have an accidental discharge and injure yourself or something else, then it’s ever going to be that you’re in a movie style gunfight where you need an extra half-second. If it’s about personal safety, the second you carry with one in the chamber you just increased your odds of having an accident over a thousand times. Almost everybody knows somebody including very experienced shooters, who had accident or negligent discharges. How many civilians do you know that get in movie style gun fights where you need that half second? How does that make sense from a safer perspective? Yeah you’re more prepared for that one in a million scenario… But statistically you and everyone around you is now at a substantially increased risk of an accident in literally every other situation. That’s not paying the odds at all with your personal safety. No other industry would they advertise something where you would save half second off a one in a million scenario, just to put yourself at a statistically proven increased risk the rest of the time. It’s one of those things where the evidence flat-out shows you’re not safer. The reality, and the numbers, and the evidence, all back up something else. Think about it from this perspective. Would you buy a holster that would take a half second off your draw time but the downside is it increases the chance of you having an accident with your firearm over a thousand times… Yeah nobody would buy that, because the huge risk isn’t worth the slight reward…yet you’re arguing the same thing when you say carry with one in the chamber.
Jason couldn’t your same logic be argued to suggest you shouldn’t carry a gun at all? Isn’t the very act of carrying a gun playing against practical odds. We don’t carry because of the odds but the stakes and further speed is not the only factor that might lead someone to carry with a round in the chamber. I think you are justified in your decision. I wouldn’t try to change your mind; but I do think there are inherent errors in your logic and I think your “stas and research” are arbitrary and without backup.
don’t tip toe thru the tulips on this…speed is everything in a gun battle. a half second could and probably will mean your life. brandish a weapon slowly and your assailant has ample time to disarm you.you should be at the ready for double action use in .5 seconds. practice and training…these are your safeties.
I fully understand both sides of this argument.
1) Conceal Carry means the firearm is not readily visible. Therefore the .5 seconds is lost anyway. You will have to assess at least 180° a assess the background for collateral damage. (N.B. The aggressor does not care about collateral damage, and the aggressor already has his firearm in his/her hand pointed in your direction. It will take him .10-.25 seconds to bring the gun to bear and fire at you.
2) so in order for you to take out the shooter you have 2 options:
a) you must be wearing at least IIIA vest so you will have time to respond after he shoots you
b) you will have to become a quickly moving target and draw and fire while moving and accurately hit your target. (Actually here the bullet in chamber is probably preferred, but as you move and rack in the same scenario it is most likely less than .25 second difference in acquiring the target.
3) reviewing #2, I might add – it can be argued – if you are going to conceal carry (either one in chamber or not) – you must also wear protective clothing (IIIA) or you might as well leave your gun home.
4) it all depends on how you train. One advantage of the “not in the chamber” is that while you’re racking the slide – you have that .25-.5 second to assess collateral damage and possibly make a much better shot and spare any innocent bystanders.
Being old and using a cane – the quickly moving is not an option. As also mentioned previously was citing how many people – even pros – have had numerous “accidental unintended” fires of their fully loaded guns, sometimes injuring themselves in the process. What was not mentioned was that 70% of shots do not hit their intended target in a gun fight.
I will continue to carry w/o one in the chamber. If the 1 in a mil occurs to me and I get shot
1) at this point I’m probably dead – so ii don’t really care any more
2) Since I’m dead – I’ll get to be with my loved ones that much sooner.
One last item – if the shooter has planned this – unlike the movies, he won’t need my gun, he’ll prefer to use the plentiful ammo he brought with him.
Very well stated Jason. The bravado makes it difficult for most to think about the real-world safety concerns you’ve eloquently raised. I don’t keep one in the chamber of my Glock for all the reasons you’ve raised.
No, you point the gun downrange, then finger on trigger. Not the other way around.
Your right, that is why you are the adult and he is a child.
I am relatively “new” to conceal carry. I have done it both ways as my comfort level increases, I get more training, and more confidence in the holster I use in everyday carry. I have heard from some of my “veteran” concealed carry friends often say “carrying without a round in the chamber is like not wearing your seat belt. you won’t have time to put it on when there’s an accident.” For me, I do want is comfortable. As I get more practice in and training, I will feel more comfortable with a round in the chamber everyday. In today’s world, not carrying is not a good idea.
Some guns like the ones my girlfriend an I carry dont have safeties and its a little dangerous pulling it out of the holster or even grabbing it off the night stand in the dark. Being a former Force Recon, United States Marine Corps I feel, with my training, I can draw and put multiple rounds on target faster than most. At night I also like to throw on the strobe light for the final confirmation thats its not my kids that I am firing at. To each his own. JMO dont shoot the messenger lol/
Amen and semper fi! I agree with all that said. I live in the socialist people’s republik of Kalifornia. I can not even practice concealed carry outside where I live.
Having a concealed weapon means that you don’t tell people that you are carrying concealed. The People’s Socialist Demokratik Republik of Kalifornia is a dangerous place. I would rather be judged by 12 than carried by 6.
Love you’re reply!! I also don’t have safety on mine and I have children as well. I just won’t take that chance with a round in the chamber. My hands move fast and I couldn’t fathom accidentally hurting one of my kids.
I Conceal Carry with a round in the chamber but leave the saftey on! WHY? So that there is a slim chance of missfire when holstering or drawing. Forefinger on the triger guard as I use my thumb to to switch the saftey. One swift motion and shoot down range for center mass. The last thing I want is a missfire into my foot or a ricochet into somebody’s skull. Every gun is different so everybody has diferent preference. I’m comfortable with my draw and accuracy. Doc Holliday I’m not but badguys beware!
That sounds reasonable. Most guns, you can “wipe off” the safety with one hand while drawing and suffer no tactical loss of speed. Clambering a round likely will require two hands and as has already been mentioned, what if one hand is severely injured or needed to grapple with an assailant. I carry a G19 as primary and an LCPII as BUG. IF my LCPII .380 had a safety like my LCPII in .22LR does, I would leave its safety on. Big difference in wiping off a safety and clambering a round.
So many comments are like yours and seem to think racking needs 2 hands or 1 handed is difficult. Theres a little trick people are missing. Most rear sights have a flat front, you can clear holster and immediately shove back downward to snag that rear sight on your pants or holster which will rack it. Takes very little time and just takes practice & trigger discipline to be quick & smooth like anything else you train. When you get it down and safe, you can make this a drill by following up the rack with firing from hip at close target(mugger, car jack, etc) then get to your stance to finish and scan for more threats.
Im not gonna argue one being superior, some pistols I prefer 1 in chamber, some I dont. I think you should do what you practice and works best for you.
For me a senior citizen I do carry with a round in the chamber maybe for the young guys who are fast it’s different.I cannot run from a threat anymore so locked and loaded is my game!! Amen
I’m with Steven. I am a senior citizen and carry a round in the chamber. practicing, practicing, practicing, keeping my finger away from and off the trigger when holstering.
When drawing as well I practice keeping finger off until my brain makes the decision it is time to unload when at the end of my draw or sooner (should the attacker be upon me). My P365 also has a laser for that reason. I practice at the range and at home (dry fire of course at home).
I also carry pepper spray as a non lethal option for step one. But if elevated beyond step one (instantaneously or, subsequently) I am poised and ready to send shots should the situation require that response…without racking. My confidence in avoiding ‘accidental’ discharge is steeped in training. Dry fire (or draw without fire) with regularity.
It is sad that we live in a time when all this seems prudent and potentially necessary. I pray I’ll never have to use my weapons, but also pray that should I be the one ‘sent’ into the battle that I, or others who carry will save lives of innocents or possibly our own. And I carry every day.
I use to carry chambered but I now carry a Glock without a safety. My concern is the firearm discharging if chamber by accidentally hitting trigger at time of draw. Or any other times. Thoughts?
Doug I think the best advice is for you to continue training until you are comfortable with your ability to draw safely without hitting the trigger. It is the fundamental key to any good draw stroke and if you were doing that for years with a different gun that had a more active safety then I suspect you may already have the skill. I’m sure you know that Glock cannot discharge unless something presses the trigger to the rear so it really just comes down to having the skill to draw without engaging the trigger and the confidence in yourself that you have developed that skill.
also former Marine.
is it a hammer lock or revolver? a good safety for a revolver is no round under the hammer or in next chamber. one dry fire(I know the damage… I’d rather survive n buy a new pin) and your in the fight…for four well placed combat effective opportunities… for a semi double action, chamber a round, get a good speed release kydex holster and train. you, well trained, are the best safety.
Doug, totally valid concern. No amount of training can completely eliminate all the risks of carrying a gun. In my opinion, it boils down to how do you mitigate that risk so you give yourself the best shot at getting the gun running and into the fight the quickest. You already pointed out that carrying with a round in the chamber is a preferable method and the article cites many reasons this is true. So we don’t have to touch on that. It seems your concern is the fact that your Glock does not have a manual external safety. I see how the two subjects can bleed into one another. I wrote a rather indepth article on that specific topic https://www.concealedcarry.com/safety/do-i-need-a-safety-on-my-everyday-carry-handgun/
But here are a few points to consider:
First, training to keep your finger on the slide unless you make a conscious decision to pull the trigger, makes your default position, finger off the trigger and on the slide. When I say train, I mean hundreds and hundreds of draws. Habits are hard to break and do not develop overnight, or a couple trips, every so often to the range. A good method is to video record your draw. And play it back frame by frame. See when and where your finger moves to the trigger. And then do it some more. SIRT guns and similar, are a good tool because when the trigger is pulled you will see a laser. But this only shows when the trigger is pulled and not when the finger makes contact with the trigger. Some models have a take-up laser that activates with rearward pressure on the trigger. But still, the goal is to have you finger out of the trigger guard until the muzzle clears your body and is oriented toward the threat.
Even on a gun with an external safety, there is a point in which the safety has to come off. Ideally this would occur simultaneously as the gun is drawn. It can’t always occurs once the gun is at eye level or even when the hands are joined, because there are defensive situations where you would draw and shoot one handed or draw and shoot from a retention position and the gun never comes up to eye level. The thing is that often people disengage the safety after the gun is drawn and when they begin to look through the sites or bring the gun to bear on the threat. This is safe as far as not shooting yourself while you draw, but it isn’t ideal for getting the gun up and running. So theoretically, if you’re doing it ‘right’ i hesitate to say that, you run the same risk of shooting yourself on the draw even if the gun has a manual external safety. A safety is not an excuse for poor trigger finger discipline, and when it is looked upon as one, the potential for injury is great.
I won’t rehash the whole article, but just some food for thought, and check out the article if you have time. Might help you work thought some of those legitimate concerns.
Thank you for writing this. I have been feeling guilty about not having a round chambered when I carry. I’m relatively new to handguns and have been taking classes to become more proficient and comfortable. I have around 5 holsters for different situations so I’m still trying to work on comfort and correct placement and while doing so feel more comfortable with not having a round chambered. My draw is not the fastest but I still feel it’s better to have on me in case I need it. I’m rather active outdoors and worry more about bears who hopefully wont be shooting back at me although their charges are rather quick and dont leave a lot of time for thinking. I believe training os the most important aspects to carrying. Practice and repetition builds muscle memory for intense situations.
Well, as with any carry method, it all comes down to practice practice and practice/train, train, and train. One things not mentioned is short-stroking, or during the stress of the encounter not managing to pull the slide back far enough to chamber a round. It happens during casual shooting, so it can also happen. Also anyone who carries without a round needs to instinctively know the one-hand methods to get a round in there on the chance that the other hand is busy.
Concealed carry is a very personal journey. You must always be willing to learn and see other alternatives and choices out there. I have always carried with a round in the chamber. But I started out with a sa/da hot and locked. Then moved to safety off hammer forward. Now I carry a striker fired M&p with no safety. Being willing to get comfortable with a round in the chamber may take practice but I believe any shooter can conquer it.
Good article. I do carry with a round in the chamber, with a gun that has no manual safety, and I feel completely comfortable doing so. Also, I will always advise that others do as well, based on their own level of comfort, but always without any judgement.
I think it’s shameful how some people are on social media… belittling others who don’t know as much, or don’t use the “right” gun or the “right” caliber, or don’t carry with one in the chamber. It’s bad enough that we have to deal with the d-bags that want to rob us of our 2A rights let alone having to defend against people within our own community. Social media is a great place to learn and gain new insights, but it also brings out the a-hole in some people.
I carry an SR1911 and have never, even when I carried the same weapon on active duty in the Army, carried this type of weapon with a round in the chamber. I do not feel comfortable with the weapon cocked and locked in a concealed carry holster. I know, the side safety and the grip safety should offer redundancy, but I am just cautious.
Finally, someone willing, at considerable personal cost I might add, to call out this dumb as a rock sentiment. Even if you carry without a round in the chamber, you are still 18 rounds nearer to safety and 100% better armed than 99% of those around you. A round in the chamber is generally always advisable but you are hardly disarmed without one. Even if you use your firearm as a club you are still better armed than most. If a person chooses to carry a firearm, it is their choice alone, based upon their best judgement how they can best do so in requisite safety. For what I have concluded are safety reasons, I never carry a pistol on my person with a round in the chamber when I am in a vehicle with my young grandkids and as with all decisions related to employment of firearms I own, that is no one’s determination or business but my own.
Just so you know, I always carry with a round in the chamber! Do what you feel comfortable with! With our modern firearms, there is no reason to be concerned about a round going off! Most modern firearms have a safety that needs to be clicked off before you can fire a round. Those that don’t probably should only be used by competent firearms users. If you are competent, then you have the choice of using a non-safety firearm or not and having one in the chamber or not. Do what you are comfortable with!
Suppose you’re carrying an empty chamber and approaching you is a “situation”. Still far enough away that you have plenty of time but still approaching. Now, to pull your gun and rack it is a threatening gesture, escalating what may be a misunderstanding. And if you don’t pull and rack and suddenly need a loaded gun, you’re f****d. Just think about it.
If i am carrying a pistol with no safety I will canny with an empty chamber. If it has a safety, and I trust the safety, I will chamber a round.
I am silver-haired 70 and over weight. I do not carry open unless it’s my rifle. I saw a Somali snatch an open-carry pistol and run away with it! Never recovered! When I try to conceal carry the gun will usually print unless I carry apedix position. Aimed straight at the balls!? So I carry concealed with empty chamber for my own peace of mind.(when I can) I do appreciate that Paulson does follow up on comments. I live in the socialist people’s republik of Kalifornia. ?
For me, the primary reason for chambered carry is that the other hand might not be available for racking. Many possible reasons – injury, supporting a child or another possibly injured person, holding yourself in cover or concealment, physically holding off the aggressor, etc. In that situation – not chambered and unable to rack – you don’t have a USABLE gun until you regain that other hand. There are alternatives, such as catching the rear sight against a hard edge (sole of your shoe, door jamb, furniture, etc) but you don’t want to do that for the first time under fire. If you carry unchambered, find and PRACTICE an alternate racking procedure. Might not be possible when grappling with the aggressor.
Personally, I don’t like manual safeties – if it’s not there, it can’t possibly be in the wrong position. Concealed carry is the one instance where I like a grip safety – the gun can’t fire unless you have have taken proper hold of the grip. My choice – Remington R51.
In Nam had an SFC jump off a tank with holstered 1911. The .45 went off and shot him in the foot. The SOP was no round in the chamber.
not to worry, way not use revolver?
I believe that those that chose to carry should. Chambered or not is up to the individual. I carry both ways depending on the feel of situation. Carrying, after all is the true point.
Just a couple of thoughts. How do you know that you will be able to chamber a round if you are attacked? What if your support hand is injured, what if someone grabs your hand or arm or pins your support arm to your side and you can’t move it? What if you are pushing your child back out of harm’s way with your support hand? You might be able to draw, but can you rack the slide to chamber a round if facing one of the above situations?
What if you are walking down the street and you see a couple of sinister looking guys approaching? You can’t pull your gun out in front of them and rack one in, just in case, can you? That would be brandishing a firearm, and that is illegal in most, if not all states. If you are uncomfortable carrying a firearm without a round chambered, that is your choice. But, in a real world, sometimes lightning-fast situation, you might not be able to draw and chamber a round.
Train to draw your handgun quickly with your finger off the trigger. Always have the gun in some type of a holster that covers the trigger. Then, carry confidently with one in the chamber.
Your article is quite practical. Whether you carry with a round in the chamber or not, the old saw still applies. It is better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
Being slightly handicapped, and a senior citizen, I choose to carry without one in chamber for a few reasons. If the odds of ever having to draw the gun in a defensive situation are like a million to one, and then you add in the gunfight odds, for me, practice the draw and rack move and it completely removes the better odds of an accident. Just me, and believe that in one of those situations, it all comes down to muscle memory, and more practice will compensate.
I enjoy the comments. Consider me a paranoid old man. I carry my Charter Arms Bulldog 44 revolver in a fanny pack, waistband or back pocket depending on the situation; a .38 derringer in my pocket at all times, and an XD-9, sometimes chambered and sometimes not, depending on where I am.
I have a S&W MP 9mm with a laser sight, what is the recommended concealed carry method?
Ken if your question is in reference to having one in the chamber or not then the specific made/model of gun or the presence of your laser isn’t relevant. The best method is to train and practice to the point that you are comfortable carrying with a round in the chamber and then do so. If I misunderstood your question don’t hesitate to let us know!
You do what you want, but for me, my trusty 45 is cocked and locked at all times..
When I stated carrying I too didn’t have one ready. One day I got stopped by the local PD. I told him I had a firearm. He removed my weapon and asked me why I didn’t have one in the chamber. I said I was not comfortable yet. He told me to get to know your gun. So I say to those who don’t carry one in the chamber, get to know your gun. They are much safer then they were years ago, but you still need to use common sense.
I think you know how I feel about this. I carry with one in the chamber every day and think everyone should, but I would never make someone feel bad or stupid for choosing to carry without one in the chamber.
I think education and familiarity with firearms goes a lot further than shaming someone.
I would prefer to carry without a round chambered, that’s just my personal preference. But I have seen with semis where the round doesn’t chamber properly when the slide is racked. I always say better to have a gun and not need it then the other way around. And I also don’t want to take the chance of not being able to get a shot off if needed, so I carry with a round in the chamber. 1 shot is better than nothing at all.
This subject is, more than any other in the gun community, the one that makes me think people are compensating for lacking some other form of manhood… Bro, I get it that you are such a non stop high speed death machine that you have no worry of making a mistake but listen most of us are normal people. Normal people sometimes are a little wound up when they pull their gun out and decide they want a step to keep from killing someone by mistake and ending their own life that way. People who decide to add that extra step are not committing suicide like many of you claim. You who walk around with your hand on your loaded gun with the safety off and the chamber loaded could still get clubbed in the back of the head before you can pull that out. You big talkers who act like the only time a gun comes out is a quick draw gunfight are just being pushy about someone else’s rights.
This is an excellent article–one of the most thoughtful I have ever read on this topic. So I say “THANK YOU” to the author, Mr. Jacob Paulsen. Carrying one in the chamber–or not– is a matter of personal choice based on a variety of reasonable considerations, and a solid case can be made both ways. I have read opinions from experts in the shooting industry who support always carrying a round in the chamber, and also opinions from experts in the shooting industry who recommend NOT carrying a round in the chamber. I personally spent years carrying with an empty chamber, and now (since several years ago) I always carry with a round chambered. Both practices are far superior to “leaving your firearm at home.”
This is a bad take.
We have learned from Tuller that 1.5 seconds is all you have.
Tueller taught us that if someone is running at you full speed starting from 21 feet or less then you have 1.5 or less seconds to react. Tueller never did anything or taught anything to suggest that every defensive scenario or gun fight is such that you have 1.5 seconds or less to react. I’m writing this comment a few days after an armed citizen stopped an active shooter in a shopping mall in Indiana. In that scenario the armed citizen was not an immediate target and as such could take as many seconds as he desired to react. That isn’t an endorsement for being slow, untrained, or carrying without a round in the chamber. I carry chambered, I train, and I work on my speed along with accuracy. But to suggest that someone who is unwilling to carry chambered shouldn’t carry at all because every gun fight ever is over in the first 1.5 seconds is ridiculous.
I agree 100% it is better to have a gun and not need it, than to need a gun and not have it. No matter how you carry it. People need to deflate their egos a bit and realize not every person is as perfect as those with over inflated egos think “they” are( “they” meaning those with over inflated egos, shaming those who dont carry with 1 in the chamber).
I grew up as a hunter, and later joined the military. I have never lived in a rough neighborhood and visit them infrequently. I have 2 young children as well. My coworker and I were discussing this because generally I donot carry with a round in the chamber. He told me I might as well leave it at home. My response was as you said. having a fire arm on me in a yellow state instead of amber or red if there is no safety is much better then having no fire arm at all. I think this roots from hunter education and fire arms safety from my dad my whole life. I was always told not to go through the woods with a loaded firearm. and I still don’t to this day. the only time my firearm is loaded when hunting is when I am moving around methodically, there are no obstacles to overcome or I am sitting. I use the same percaution when carrying. I could give a million reasons why but I save yall some time, it’s my personal choice. I carry a firearm for the security of my self my familly and others. having a round in the chamber feels like an unnecessary risk to my security. I am not in a war time situation where I expect stuff to pop off. The first thing I am going to do in an active shooter situation anyway is seek cover. Every single time my firearm comes out of the holster I check to see if it’s loaded or if their is any obstruction anyway. And I am going to assess my target and what’s beyond it before firing anyway. drawing your firearm as fast as possible and firing upon someone as quickly as possible in my opinion is negligent. I am not at war and taking someone’s life is a very serious decision to me that requires pause and evaluation. I am not comfortable with making a split second decision to discharge my firearm and take someone’s life because I think that person is a threat to mine or another person’s life. Noone on this planet can process a situation that fast not even police officers and they get it wrong ALL THE TIME.
Thank you for your article. I absolutely agree and you’ve helped me ensure my confidence to keep carrying, practice and become more knowledgeable so that I am comfortable and can help others be comfortable. You are absolutely correct and I applaud you for taking the time to write your article.
Amazed the columnist downplays the delay of having to chamber a round.
Difference between life and death perhaps.
No point in carrying for self-defense if you haven’t got a round chambered.
I don’t think I downplayed it. Clearly it could mean the difference between life and death. But then again to suggest that there is zero % chance that it may NOT be the difference between life and death is equally ridiculous. To suggest that someone is better off without a gun than with a gun that needs to be chambered is equally ridiculous. Of course they are better off with the gun and yes, they would be even better off with a chambered gun but it doesn’t have to be a binary choice. There is a middle option and I think it to be obviously better than no gun at all but still not as good as chambered.
I see a lot of funny ego driven “I can do this and that” nonsense in these comments…but not one actual viable argument (other than personal choice) supporting the idea of an empty chamber.
Honestly, the advice of people who know more than you do should be considered as a “warning label”. Follow the advice…or don’t. It’s your life (or death) and you do not have to defend your decision to anyone.
I worked with an officer who carried a 1911 NO ROUND IN CHAMBER. One night after his tour he attempted to stop an assault, one of the dirtbags grab him, the other started beating him. He drew his weapon and was unable to chamber a round. He was shot. At the sound of the shot officers who were close by came to his assistance. He lost a kidney and was retired.