Concealed Carry

Should You Carry a Handgun With an Empty Chamber?

Drawing a concealed handgun while a knife wielding attacker charges

Every class (of any size) seems to have at least one person who brings up chamber-empty carry. Recently, a good friend showed me his stainless-steel Kimber — thrust casually in the waistband and carried chamber empty. A marine veteran and a man who is definitely the ‘real thing’ as far as real world experience goes carries his Glock in a proper holster — chamber empty.

I simply feel that anyone who doesn’t trust a fully loaded, properly carried, semi-automatic pistol, should carry a revolver! But, there are those I respect who carry chamber empty. Likewise, I respect my students enough to study this mode of carry once more.

An instructor drawing a gun from a concealed carry position
Drawing from concealed carry, and quickly presenting the handgun for action, is difficult enough without adding the complication of making a half-loaded pistol ready.

A Bit of Background

During my time as a peace officer, I always carried a handgun fully loaded. These handguns were 1911s, SIG DA first-shot handguns, and Glock pistols. It isn’t a problem to transition and carry a concealed handgun in the same manner.

I deploy a properly designed holster that covers the trigger guard of the handgun and keeps the gun secure. Part of the secure fit of the holster is for safety and part is for a rapid draw. My backup handgun is fully loaded. After all, I were to become injured and needing my backup, I would hate to fumble with racking a slide with only one hand.

The military forces of the world often mandate that the handgun be carried chamber empty. That’s ok for some uses. However, I guarantee that those on the front line carry the handgun fully loaded. Some point out that the Israeli’s advocate chamber-empty carry and point out several Israeli instructors teaching chamber-empty carry exclusively.

My research shows that most units carry fully loaded when on point. In fact, one unit carried its Browning Hi-Power 9mm handguns fully loaded, hammer to the rear, and safety off! This was because the safety of the Hi-Power was difficult to manipulate. I suppose a combination of international carry may be indicated if you carry Mexican Carry (no holster) then carry Israeli Carry (no round in the chamber). Funny, my Mexican friends and relatives all use holsters…

The truth is, institutional carry is not personal defense. Like many nations — including our own during wartime — Israel did not have enough handguns and scraped together a number of handguns that included Browning, Colt, CZ, Ruger, and Smith and Wesson designs. With such diverse handguns in inventory, a soldier knew that all he had to do was rack the slide and the pistol was ready, regardless the safety or decocker system. A civilian with a concealed carry permit should be more familiar with his or her individual handgun.

a slingshot release of the .45 ACP 1911 slide
When loading the automatic, be certain that you perform the chore with speed and letting the slide snap forward. Don’t ride it forward slowly.

Common Concerns

Some folks seem to think a chamber-loaded pistol could go off if dropped or improperly manipulated. No handgun suffers fools lightly. Learn to properly handle the pistol! Modern quality handguns have an array of safety features.

Some state that it doesn’t take that much time to rack the slide and that they will be able to see the threat coming. Sure, you can in a dojo or training course, but not in real life. Decide which consciousness you live. Surviving an attack is a kind of epiphany and the instructor who has survived is good at relating these things.

Thinking a few seconds ahead is a good trait to develop. We cannot always see the threat coming, and we may not always have both hands ready. Some feel that a single-action pistol should not be carried chamber loaded. This is very far from the truth.

1911 pistol secured in an IWB holster
Cocked and locked and ready to rock with an inside the waistband holster.

A 1911 with a slide lock safety grip safety and firing pin block is as safe as a machine may be. Even an original Colt 1903 with its grip safety, thumb safety, and ‘flipping sear’ is a safe pistol to carry loaded. Although not as drop safe as modern handguns, pistols with no manual safety may also be carried chamber loaded. The Glock, as an example, features a firing pin block and trigger lever safety. The Glock fires only when the trigger is pressed.

I would not recommend carrying a cheap self-loading pistol chamber loaded, but then I don’t recommend carrying them at all. A Jimenez, Hi-Point, Raven .25 ACP, or one of the many pot metal .32 ACP and .380 pistols are simply not suited to personal defense. If a pistol isn’t ‘drop safe,’ it should not be used at all. The assumption is that at some point it will be loaded and may be dropped.

Avoid junk guns. If you insist on carrying a pistol without a holster — a very bad idea — perhaps chamber empty is the only choice. A self-loader carried in the pocket or waistband without a holster is a candidate for chamber empty carry in some instances. But then, with a holster, the holster must be molded for that handgun and feature a covered trigger guard (practically universal in modern holsters).

coyote brown Glock in a DeSantis Infiltrator Air holster
Note the DeSantis Infiltrator Air features a covered trigger guard for safety.

Elastic waistbands, errant strings, and pocket debris may invade the trigger guard. I suppose hammer-down, and chamber-loaded carry is superior with a single-action type to chamber empty if carried in the waistband. However, this is another slow and undesirable carry mode.

Safety & Training

Be certain that if you carry chamber empty you also practice safely unloading the handgun. After all, if you rack the slide, load the pistol, and trouble doesn’t come, at some point you must unload the pistol. Dropping the magazine, unloading the chamber, and then reloading the chamber-empty pistol is an important skill. Practice would be better spent on other drills.

I don’t like to rely on a manual safety; I rely on proper handling. Sure, I engage the safety, but I also keep my finger off the trigger. Just the same, a properly carried, cocked-and-locked 1911 has an array of safety features that would have to be defeated to have an accidental discharge. A SIG P226 may not have a visible safety, but there is a long, double-action trigger press and an internal drop safety. The Glock features a lever inset into the trigger face and an internal striker block. Learning how these safety features work and combining them with safe handling is essential to carrying a pistol concealed. The bottom line with the Glock, FN, Masada, and others — finger on the trigger, ready to fire/ finger off the trigger, safe.

The time factor is essential in concealed carry. We carry a pistol to meet an unexpected threat. We don’t know what is coming. If we did, we would have a shotgun or rifle in hand not a pistol. Some say racking the slide adds as little as a half second to making the gun ready. If you were getting off a shot under controlled range conditions, maybe.

Maybe if you don’t have a timer and you are just guessing. Maybe if you are flying by the seat of your pants not actually engaging in research. Maybe if you don’t care if you hit the target or not. Maybe if you do not have an adversary grabbing the other arm. Chamber-empty carry violates the principles of the standard response drill.

Semi-automatic 1911 pistol cocked and lock bottom, and .38 SPL revolver top
If you are not comfortable with an automatic pistol then by all means choose a revolver.

Draw, the hand pushes the pistol forward as the support hand meets the firing hand and the pistol is pushed to eye level and fired. If the threat is close, you may fire with one hand. Some drills in close quarters battle demand one-hand fire, possibly below eye level. I am not going to bet my life that I have enough time to rack the slide.

Chamber-empty carry simply does not make up for sloppy gun handling. Get with the program and learn to handle the pistol properly. During an experiment and under stress, or while attempting to execute range drills, shooters of less experience often fail to properly rack the slide and short cycle the pistol. And this was not a high-stress situation, just a range drill.

To properly load a self-loading pistol, the pistol’s slide should be locked to the rear, the magazine inserted, and the slide dropped. To insert the magazine and then rack the slide is asking for a short cycle. This is another serious flaw with chamber empty carry.

Grasping a 1911 .45 ACP semi-automatic pistol and racking the slide
Grasping a 1911 and racking the slide requires leverage against a 16–22-pound recoil spring.

To use two-hand hold, we flow seamlessly into two hands as the pistol is drawn. With chamber-empty carry, we draw, use the weak side hand to rack the slide, and then we move the support hand into a two-hand hold. That is slow, very slow. I would prefer a revolver. The action will be over within the space of a few shots, save in very rare situations.

Telling Tales

An adventure that reinforces my aversion to chamber-empty carry illustrates my point. A good friend was forced to fire at an individual who was pummeling him with a ball bat. The action was unexpected and happened as quickly as a car wreck. My friend held up his weak side arm to absorb the blows.

While the arm bones were fractured, it was better than taking a Louisville slugger to the cranium. Three shots were fired at close range (arm’s length), to settle the fight. I can imagine the outcome if the pistol had been carried chamber empty.

A woman racking the slide of a Smith and Wesson EZ
Some folks don’t have as much hand strength as others.

While a minor consideration, racking the slide may be loud. In a home defense situation, you do not always wish to give away your position. Racking the slide of a shotgun, or the racking of a pistol slide, cannot be counted on to deter an assailant. Instead, the chemical reactions going on in their body may trigger anger and a rush, as likely as fear may be felt. The harder you look at tactical reality, the more disadvantage you see in chamber-empty carry.

Just the same, sometimes intelligent people make a choice that completely suits them, and which works for their lifestyle that is contra-indicated to my own experience. A trial lawyer of some repute went through an early class of mine. He decided on a single-action revolver for home defense.

He focused on safety and had been involved in trails involving ‘unsafe’ guns. He felt a single-action revolver with an empty chamber under the hammer was the safest possible handgun for him. At least it was instantly ready. A young woman who did well in the shooting phase 0f training carries her pistol chamber empty. She feels that the lack of a safety on a revolver isn’t for her, and neither does she trust a fully loaded automatic.

Racking the action on a Hi Point 10mm handgun
Some pistols, such as the Hi Point 10mm, are more difficult to rack. These should never be a top choice for personal defense.

A friend still active in police work has taken two revolvers from felons in the past year. Each was carried with the chamber under the hammer empty. About half the pistols he takes off felons are chamber empty so perhaps you would have a running chance against these guys. Not a good bet in my opinion.

Final Thoughts

While I don’t agree these choices would fit my needs, I respect their thoughts and practice. The bottom line… whichever mode of carry you choose, practice. An hour of range time is worth a month of discussion.

Stick with the mode of carry chosen; don’t jump from one to the other with different handguns. That said, I feel that chamber-empty carry violates the principles of response to an attack and economy of motion. Carry the pistol as it was designed to be carried. Fully loaded in the case of the SIG and Glock, and cocked and locked with the 1911. Chamber empty worked well enough in institutional use (and when demanded) due to a hodgepodge of handguns cobbled together in an emergency. You should be better prepared than that.

Let’s take a little poll. Do you carry a handgun with an empty chamber? Would you recommend it for others? Are there any situations or particular handguns you would recommend carrying chamber empty? Share your answers in the comment section.

  • Racking the slide of a Kimber 1911 .45 ACP handgun
  • Drawing a concealed handgun while a knife wielding attacker charges
  • Racking the slide of a CZ pistol while holding a spare magazine
  • Racking the slide of a 1911 .45 ACP handgun at eye level
  • Bob Campbell shooting a gun one handed
  • Holding a pistol at chest level while racking the slide
  • Man racking the slide on a 1911 .45 ACP pistol
  • a slingshot release of the .45 ACP 1911 slide
  • coyote brown Glock in a DeSantis Infiltrator Air holster
  • Semi-automatic 1911 pistol cocked and lock bottom, and .38 SPL revolver top
  • An instructor drawing a gun from a concealed carry position
  • Two WWII era semi-automatic handguns
  • Racking the action on a Hi Point 10mm handgun
  • Grasping a 1911 .45 ACP semi-automatic pistol and racking the slide
  • A woman racking the slide of a Smith and Wesson EZ

About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.

Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Rifle Magazine
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns

Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (121)

  1. @RKC
    Have you no experience with a Model 1911? The safety CANNOT be engaged unless the hammer is in FULL cock position.

  2. @ RKC: You state: “A 1911 cannot be safety on and also locked and cocked- or cocked and locked. The terms are exclusive.” I must take issue with that statement. I carried a 1911 while overseas some 50 years ago, and when I was in the field on SAR or Recon, my weapon was ALWAYS carried in the cocked and locked position with the safety on unless it was deployed or it was being cleaned. It is not possible to engage the thumb safety of a properly functioning 1911 if the hammer is not in full cock position. I have copies of TM’s 9-1005-211-12, Operator’s Manual, and 9-1005-211-34, and 9-1005-211-35 Direct Support Maintenance Manual. If the safety cannot be engaged when the hammer is locked, something is broken and it needs to be turned in to an armorer for repair. If the safety is in the on position and the hammer drops when the trigger is pulled, the gun is broken and needs to go see the armorer.

    And in Bob’s article, “The Best Handgun for Home Defense?”, he has a picture of a pair of 1911’s, with a caption that begins… “A 1911 .45 should be carried cocked and locked (left)…” and in the picture, the safety is in the on position. Your statement is in error.

    Right now, in my house, I have more than one 1911 and all of them are cocked and locked, with safety on.

  3. The term for carrying with an empty chamber is “Deadman’s Gun”. I am not a fan of the safety blade trigger as being a safety device although I have IWB carried them. I much prefer the thumb safety I can sweep off as I press forward. No matter if its a Glock, Springfield or Sig I always carry chamber loaded. I generally carry a P365 IWB chamber loaded that has a thumb safety.

  4. Chances are probably one in a million that I will ever have to draw my gun in self-defense. Chances are much, much greater that an accidental discharge will occur. An empty chamber mostly negates that occurrence. I carry a spare tire in my trunk. I don’t need it on my lap. Stay safe.

  5. I have my hammer fired weapon on decock , one in the pipe..with the decocker engaged I can also engage the safety…in an emergency situation I can just flip off the safety and have the ease of trigger of double action..

  6. MW

    A 1911 cannot be safety on and also locked and cocked-
    or cocked and locked. The terms are exclusive.

    I agree open carry is a bad idea. If the pistol is carried controls to the body as a right handed shooter would do you cannot see the safety?

    For those who sometimes carry chamber loaded and sometimes not- a very very bad idee to mix up conditions of readiness. A terrible idea.

    Always carry the same way. If nothing else we have found that the automatic pistol isnt for everyone and the revolver should be seriously considered.

  7. Two points. 1. if you don’t fell comfortable carrying a Glock fully loaded carry something else.
    2. That fraction of a second may be the last fraction of a second of your life.

  8. I only carry autos with manual safety’s and chamber loaded. At home any family member seeing an autoloader with the hammer down knows the chamber is empty. As for a backup gun, I carry a revolver on the weakside because a second gun is faster than a reload and it can also be given to a family member if the need arises in an active shooter scenario.

  9. I see many comments about the need to carry with a round in the chamber. How many of you have actually had to use your hanguns? I have twice and have actual experience. Situational awareness is critical you want to notice possible assailants before they can get close. It actually took me longer to draw out my weapon from my very concealed holster than it did to rack my slide. while drawing my Glock I racked my slide in a fraction of a second. The other benefit to racking a slide to chamber a round is the very distinctive sound your attacker quickly learns you are a dangerous victim. The bottom line is I am not comfortable carrying a Glock with a round in the chamber even a loose article of clothing can get into the trigger guard and set off the pistol. If I was carrying a double action which takes considerable force to fire the first round I would be comfortable carrying with a round in the chamber. But my big point is that it takes only a fraction of a second to rack the slide of a gun and the sound also has a benefit. If your assailant is so close that you do not have time to rack the slide it is probably too late either way!

  10. I carried a M1911A1 in Vietnam always loaded. It saved me a few times where I would have otherwise been sent home in a bag.
    Later in Germany, I was Captain B.’s security on paydays. I never had to use it then but it was ready.. Captain B. always told me that if necessary, the first six rounds were mine to use as I saw fit but the seventh round belonged to him. If we were robbed going to our unit from finance, he would be responsible to repaying the lost payroll. He assumed that I carried chamber empty, I carried loaded chamber and full magazine!
    Better safe than dead.

  11. I not only carry, but also store, all my semi-auto pistols used for concealed carry and home defense with loaded chambers, for obvious “immediate readiness” reasons that have already been logically and persuasively expressed by most previous respondents. HOWEVER, I’ll confess to one caveat: I ONLY own and carry semi-autos with manual thumb safeties, because I stubbornly remain convinced that all semi-autos lacking such manual safeties have much higher potential for unintended discharge (as a handful of preceding respondents – who try to justify empty-chamber carry as a solution- have rationally pointed out). Admittedly, it does take an extra split-second of time to flip a manual thumb safety off (albeit in the vast majority of cases, by using the thumb on the same hand that’s already gripping the pistol, while still having the other hand/arm free for possible defensive use) before firing a first responsive round at an attacker. But that’s not remotely comparable to the much longer time-frame needed to use both hands to rack a slide/load an empty chamber, quite possibly resulting in disastrous FTC scenarios in high-stress and/or violent attack situations! So be it if a lot of folks want to carry fully-loaded semi-autos lacking thumb safeties…and rely on their extensive training and infallible discipline NOT to EVER squeeze the trigger accidentally in a high-stress or distracted moment…or to ever let such a firearm find its way into the hands of someone who curiously just picks it up and pulls the trigger! But for me, I’ll stick with what I feel is the best compromise between maximizing almost-immediate readiness to engage my defensive weapon if/whenever needed while also requiring a quick yet deliberate second necessary physical action in order to actually discharge the weapon.

  12. Nope. No round in the chamber until it needs to be there. Accidental discharge around family is therefore impossible. It means a higher level of situational awareness, diligence and vigilance but the lives of loved ones are not something that can be gambled. You can’t bring them back.

  13. Got nothing to do with lack of confidence in my ability. It is the EXTRA time involved to rack the slide. I know it is a very short time. But, mil-seconds will probably mean you get shot rather than the bad guy. Carry your way, I’ll carry mine!

  14. I always carry loaded.pieces of a second matter. If you carry a cold hand gun (unless it’s a revolver) leave it at home.

    That’s my thoughts
    Stay safe

  15. I am an older man with decent hand and arm strength, but with several my larger newer semi-autos I simply find trying to chamber a round too slow and difficult for an emergency. I also leave the safety off. These are two of the reasons that I tend to favor revolvers.

  16. I carry a S&W Shield in .40. Always have a round in the chamber and even the safety off. But always in a proper holster and practiced trigger finger discipline. If I have to pull my gun I don’t want to have to think about anything except getting on target and pulling the trigger. There are enough decisions to be made in a very stressful situation – angle of fire, what’s in the background, penetration, possibility of other threats, etc, etc. Running a manual of arms in your head is just – well there is just no room for it.

  17. There is a balance that I employ. I always carry with empty chamber. It is very simple& fast to load the chamber if you enter a sketchy area or dangerous situation. If you are so scared that you don’t trust your ability to access and load a ready gun on your person, you probably shouldn’t be carrying.
    ( carry with loaded chamber if there is decent potential for trouble )

  18. So much to say, but the truth is you carry the way you carry and whatever way you carry train train train. Don’t ever judge another person’s carry method, it’s their choice. You carry the way you carry, I’ll carry the way I carry, they’ll carry the way they carry. The most important thing is that you train the way you carry and you train a lot. One of my favorites from one of my instructors was OMAD or ONE MINUTE A DAY. Basically he taught that you should practice your draw every morning for 60 seconds before you leave the house, of course this would be dry fire but it should be done every day when you get up before you leave the house. Again carry the way you carry, carry the way you’re comfortable, and train the way you carry.

  19. I have stood in the checkout line behind numerous people who open carry. The most memorable one was the the guy with the 1911 on his rughtbhip, locked and cocked, safety off. In his back pocket was his extra large wallet, sticking up and out from his backside. The ease with which I could have taken his wallet and pistol is pretty needless to say.
    I have no particular preference for either method, but therenis definitely a time and place issue that should be considered. This guy was either overly confident in his abilities or a meat head. A fully loaded pistol should probably not be open carried in an unsecured hip holster where the guy behind you has faster access to it than you do. As to the wallet, it’s his money, his problem.
    The best part was his hat that indicated he worked for our state’s department of transportation. The patch on the back said “safety first”

  20. I carry a Ruger Max 9, round in the chamber, safety on, in my left back pocket of my Wrangler jeans. It tucks in nicely, held in place by the top seam of the pocket against the butt of the slide. I try to constantly scan & be aware of my surroundings. When ever i’m in a crowd of any size. i keep my left hand on my left rear pocket, my gun. Thank God, i’ve never had to draw it, pray that i never will have to.

  21. If I’m carrying, there’s one in the chamber, always. At home all my weapons are loaded and ready. The first safety is YOU! Bad guys aren’t going to walk around unloaded and even for those bad guys who carry knives, the knife is out and ready to cause harm. I have plenty to deal with threats. FAAFO.

  22. If I’m carrying, there’s one in the chamber, always. At home all my weapons are loaded and ready. The first safety is YOU! Bad guys aren’t going to walk around unloaded and even for those bad guys who carry knives, the knife is out and ready to cause harm. I have 1911’s, HK, Vepr, Mossberg, Tavor and POF, all ready to protect my family should the need arise.FAAFO.

  23. I spent 8 years in LE. I know from many experiences that you cannot always see the threat coming. Carrying on an empty chamber CAN cost you your life. Is it worth the risk just because you PERCEIVE that it’s safer? If you’re that afraid of todays modern firearms then you probably shouldn’t carry at all. If you decide to carry, then put forth the effort and TRAIN properly. It’s that simple.

  24. Good article and yes it has its pluses and minuses on safety but biggest safety is between ones ears and trigger finger. As long as the weapon is drop safe no reason not to carry one in the chamber. Things happen fast in most cases very fast, and we hope and pray that it never happens to any of us.

  25. I carry a Sig P320 compact. It’s always round chambered, as you say time is of the essence and chambered is in my opinion the way to go!

  26. Great article,and great feed back from all the folks that responded,personally Ihave 5different pistols on myCCW and I am able to live fire train anytime I want as I have my own range,key word being train,and I NEVER carry without a round in chamber,that time it takes under the best of conditions is time your not going to have when TSHTF,so give yourself every advantage. To quote the late Bill Jordan theirs no second place winner in a gun fight

  27. Hello, great article and a topic that is not necessarily controversial but opinionated. I love reading all the comments after the article. The writer clearly has the background to provide quality information to us readers and firearm enthusiasts. With that being said, I will reiterate what was stated in the article by saying… train, train and more training.

    A little about my background so the readers will understand that I’m not a 20 something who thinks carrying a gun is cool. I am a US Marine Veteran and a retired police officer. I am a firearm instructor and published author. I have had guns pointed at me, knives pulled on me, been in fights and so on.

    I see the need for both options, I really do. I worked as an undercover narcotics officer for numerous years and carried both ways. I always carried in my waistband and not in a holster. And I always carried on my strongside as if in my dutybelt. Why? Muscle memory.

    I have been in the high stress, minimal reaction time, oh shit situations and I can say train and learn the ways of the gun. Understand what are your capabilities and more importantly, your limitations.

    I love hearing what everyone carries and their reason for carrying that specific firearm. I also love to see different training techniques and learning new forms.

    Thanks for the great read. Keep on carryin’ on

  28. Kahr PM 9 with chamber loaded. Kydex OWB/ IWB and pocket holster. I have a Browning 9mm given to me on my 16th birthday by my father. I never felt comfotable with the pistol,carried with a chambered bullet. Just my feeling. I understand how the gun functions but to carry, one must be totally confident. I never was and switched to my DAO Kahr. If the user is not confident and comfortable with their decision, they will never be pleased or satisfied. Each who carries must make that decision and live with it. Without confidence, the user will not carry and defeat the entire process. We are all unique. Find your safe, confident carry method and remain vigilant.

  29. Carry and home defense guns –

    Striker fired w/o manual safety (Glock, Sig P320) chamber loaded (these are carry guns).

    DA/SA guns (Beretta 92, SAR B6c, Jericho) chamber loaded, hammer down, safety off. (carry and home defense)

    With any of the guns, all you do is draw or pick up and pull the trigger. on DA/SA first shot is DA, and we train to deal with that. Subsequent shots are SA. IMHO DA/SA guns are ideal carry guns. We have no difficulty getting first-shot hits on DA because we practice. A lot.

    My wife and I both own 1911s, but they are range guns. We don’t carry SA guns.

  30. Vert useful article. I have always carried my handguns with a loaded chamber and in a proper holster. When hunting or cycling I carry a chest bag with a ‘universal’ belt holster velcro’d inside. It covers the trigger of both my Glock 30 and Glock 43.
    I occasionally pocket carry my S&W airweight. I use a custom pocket holster which keeps it secure and covers the trigger.

  31. I used to carry chamber empty after multiple times being in proximity to accidental discharges from others, which can be jarring. Thought it over with the above examples given and changed my setup to compensate for that fear; loaded, single action, heavier trigger pull, no safety. I think safety levers are ridiculous, same negative argument needing to add a step before using defensively. Ultimately, people carry based on their imagined scenario for use. I generally don’t put myself in situations where someone would be looking to attack me, but rather think I might be a bystander to a nut job acting out. Others might believe a gang of 5 guys is search for them around every corner and has to carry accordingly. Nobody honestly knows and will statistically never need to use it, so no need to be high on your method over others.

  32. I am retired law-enforce. When our sheriff’s office went to Glocks, I was showing my wife the Glock they issed me. She asked were is the safety, I started it has none. She then asked, how long would it take to chamber one if you kept the chamber empty? I states, Long enough to die. She never said another word on the subject.

  33. There’s no doubt the .45ACP is a good cartridge. The 1911 is well… you guys can have ’em. The S&W M&P EZ in .380ACP is so much like the 1911 it’s not funny.
    Regardless, carry, what you like and shoot well.

  34. I always carry any and all firearms chamber loaded. Including my ever present 590 Shockwave. Repetitive training, safety measures, quality firearms and equipment,various retention methods are all keys for success with personal protection and survivability. Load up and Carry on!
    No Mission Too Difficult, No Sacrifice Too Great. DUTY FIRST!
    Lead, Follow or Get Out Of The Way!

  35. I learned to shoot a pistol from grandfather who was an instructor in WW1. I started with LAPD in 1975. We carried .38 revolver with extensive training. When semi automatic’s came around, I enjoyed training with them with more capacity. I shoot IDPA one weekend a month now and load all my own ammo. I carry here in Utah and I carry a Glock 48 single stack and I always carry it with one in the chamber. It’s trigger discipline with training….

  36. Experience in the field taught me you do not have time to rack a slide. Glad I listened to my gut than the “training”.
    S&W shield- one in the chamber, ready to go, safety off
    S&W J frame .38 Revolver….it is ALWAYS ready!!!!- same for my get off me NAA mini revolvers but I do have to bring back the hammer as it sits between rounds..only use these when nothing else can be hidden ..

  37. I carry with a round in the chamber. There are some physical issues I have to deal with and chambering my M9A1 under stressful conditions would be contraindicated. 17+1 should, hopefully, be sufficient to resolve any self defense issues. I’ve tossed the idea back and forth about carrying a backup. A small S&W .38+P revolver or maybe even a .25 semi automatic could possibly be carried. The jury is still out on that issue. I live in a very gun friendly state where just about everyone is carrying. A criminal pulling out a firearm is going to be met with overwhelming force.

  38. The author did a very good job of explaining where empty chamber is appropriate and when it is not. I do what I call casual carry. Why add a possible contribution to a possible inadvertent discharge when it is totally unnecessary? They do happen. We’ve all seen the video of the cop shooting himself in the foot while teaching a gun safety class, right? Remember NFL star Plaxico shooting himself in the leg while repositioning his Glock at a disco? There are many such instances of negligent discharge. I want to drastically reduce the chances of a tragedy. If I’m in a bad neighborhood I rack the slide. If I hear a noise at night I then chamber a round. If I’m in a fighting war on the front lines, my primary and secondary weapons will be at the ready. I’m not looking for trouble and I certainly am not looking to shoot somebody but I won’t go anywhere “naked” and ripe to be a victim. Stay safe. Oh, I used to carry a revolver when my 1911 was too big and there was no such thing as a glock.

  39. Finally, a well researched and written article on a subject I have studied long & hard since obtaining my concealed carry license. I’m in total agreement with the author’s suggestions. If I am carrying a modern semi-auto, it is always with a loaded chamber. My CZ-75 style pistols have the hammer down and thumb safety engaged, my striker fired pistols, have the thumb safety engaged if so equippped and my modern DA revolvers have full cylinders. I like my classic 1911, but I don’t like worrying about stressing the firing pin spring by having it always stressed in 7×24 cocked & locked mode. I like my classic big bore Ruger SA revolver but I never want to have to cock the hammer in a self defense crisis. Accordingly, I don’t use 1911s or SA revolvers for concealed carry because I have better options.

  40. I carry a Glock so not comfortable with a chambered round even police officers have negligent discharges. It is to easy for accidents to happen like getting something accidentally in the trigger guard which sets off the trigger. I have had very bad luck over the last few years and don’t want an accidental discharge hitting myself or someone close by. I have friends who insist that you must carry with a loaded chamber but I have had two incidents when I had to get my gun ready for use once when two dirtbags appeared out of an alley with knives out both times I had plenty of time to chamber a round. I think situational awareness is more important than a chambered round. One person claims not carrying with a chambered round is like not wearing a seatbelt when I think the opposite is actually true my empty chamber is my seatbelt. I just bought two Zatoichi-style samurai staff-like swords which I need to modify with leather wrappings to conceal the fact that they are dangerous swords to carry when I can’t carry my pistol. Up close against a knife, I think pulling a samurai sword out of a walking stick may cause more pause than even a gun if confronting another knife or blunt object-wielding attacker. A samurai sword will do far more close-range damage than a knife and will have a large deterrent effect. My concealed weapon permit I believe includes swords. I have leukemia with some intermittent balance problems which I can use to justify carrying a walking sick I am skilled with a sword.

  41. I have heard one of the comments several times before as a parallel to carry with nothing in the chamber. Why put on a seat belt when you can engage it if you’re going to be in a collision! The main reason is “situational awareness”. We have usually NO idea when an accident or altercation is going to happen. Even if you did, there are other things more pressing to deal with, is my family ok, what is beyond the threat, can I seek cover, will I have a clear shot, are both hands available? While LE is in constant training, and can sense a threat, most other concealed (or open) carriers do not have the same awareness/training, and much valuable time is lost before the brain tells the body to react. Someone rushing you from 25 feet away would give enough time to react if you knew their intentions immediately. If it takes 1.5 seconds to recognize the threat, your reaction time just suffered a crushing defeat. Many criminals skillfully use the element of surprise, and it takes time training and experience to neutralize it. Carrying chambered is one less thing to worry about.

  42. Two people draw simultaneously, one is charging their pistol, one is pulling the trigger, the empty chambered gun will probably never get into the fray. The advantage of concealed carry is rapid deployment of a usable firearm, drawing and chambering negates that advantage. Good luck with that.

  43. Carry a glock 24/7 unless sleeping. Heavy duty 2 stage holster (safariland) in conceal carry. ALWAYS loaded and ready to fire. Period.

    No other way to carry.

    With all the crazy social breakdown events that seem to be growing exponentially, be ready be vigilant. A split second may be life or death.

  44. Well I carry my Ruger LCP max without a bullet in the chamber, only because it’s cumbersome trying to get the firearm out of the holster in my pocket and is leery of me trying to dig it out of the pocket and it firing into my leg. Now when I carry my 9mm on my hip, I carry with a round in the camber because it’s much easier to draw

  45. I spent 15yrs in the Corps of Royal Military Police in HM Forces. Four of those years were spent in tours in N. Ireland during the 70’s and 80’s. Issued weapon was a Browning Hi-Power 9mm, carried in plain clothes and in uniform while patrolling the streets in Belfast. At no time did we ever have one ‘up the spout’. Now that I have just received my CCW, I will be carrying my weapon loaded, ready for use if need be, but hopefully never.

  46. People that frequently remove their carry gun and leave it in the vehicle while driving etc might be better carrying with an empty chamber. One news article a mother was shot through her car seat by a child that apparently retrieved it from a pouch on the back of her seat or elsewhere in the back. Storing is a different issue but is mixed with concealed carry.

    Personally, I carry filly loaded and do not remove it from my person until it is put away at home.
    My choice is a Kahr PM 45 that has no safety. It functions with a long travel double action trigger only.
    At 19 oz unloaded it has a strong recoil spring. It is not easily racked. It is not for everybody in recoil or slide function.

  47. Being retired from law enforcement, I always carry my S&W 5-shot Chiefs Special fully loaded and ready to draw and fire. I fully reject the empty chamber mode.

  48. I carry a Smith & Wesson 686 plus. It is a 7 round revolver in 357 magnum. I carry with an empty cylinder under the hammer. The thought process is pulling the trigger brings a live round instantly. Hopefully I will not need more than six shots. If I do, my backup gun is a 1911 45. It is locked and cocked.

  49. Great article. I carry and use IWI pistols and some of my training was from former IDF commandos. For years I carried unchambered and this added only .5 seconds to my draw. I now carry chambered. The USA has become a warzone as some commenters have said.

  50. I carry a Glock 43x in a molded holster with a round loaded. Like I saw in one of the other comments carry without a round in the chamber you have the rest of your life to rack it!!

  51. I have been carrying chamber empty, but after reading this article and understanding the logic behind it I will carry fully loaded. My typical conceal carry is a Ruger EC9 which I trust this design and have handled it often at the range or in my back yard and have good confidence in this pistol. I alternate for carry depending on the clothing I ware with a Taurus 605 357mag fully loaded.

  52. The empty chamber people remind me of the manual safety people.They don’t trust their ability to operate the handgun properly.

  53. At age 75 with arthritis in my hands I have switch from Colt to a Colt 357 wheel gun. Works well with old hands

  54. 32 year Army veteran, enlisted and commissioned. Never followed the “hammer down on an empty chamber rule” ever and don’t know a single combat arms officer who did either. I do know that early in Desert Storm, Schwartzkopf’s staff had their then brand new M-9s taken away after several unintended discharges because they couldn’t figure out how to handle them safely. Have always required my soldiers to manipulate their weapons dry and live until muscle memory sets in.

  55. Statistics show, most self defense situations happen at very close range. I would hate to be fighting off a bad guy with one arm, draw with the other and then have to rack my slide. It may put you in an impossible situation.

  56. I have carried a side arm since I was alittle kid out hunting by myself. Then it was a .22 revolver fully loaded. I joined the Marine Corps in 1973. I was issued a colt 1911 .45 cause I was a artillery section chief. Never saw ammo till being assigned as Sgt of the guard. Then the 1911 was safety wired closed, so you really had to jerk the slide to chamber a round.
    I joined the San Diego Police department in 1990. We carried our duty weapons fully loaded safety off. I carried a Springfield armory operator fully loaded safety off. This saved my life twice as I beat two attackers to the trigger. I’m retired now i still carry my operator fully loaded, safety off. That split second maybe a life saved

  57. I have carried a side arm since I was alittle kid out hunting by myself. Then it was a .22 revolver fully loaded. I joined the Marine Corps in 1973. I was issued a colt 1911 .45 cause I was a artillery section chief. Never saw ammo till being assigned as Sgt of the guard. Then the 1911 was safety wired closed, so you really had to jerk the slide to chamber a round.
    I joined the San Diego Police department in 1990. We carried our duty weapons fully loaded safety off. I carried a Springfield armory operator fully loaded safety off. This saved my life twice as I beat two attackers to the trigger. I’m retired now i still carry my operator fully loaded, safety off. That split second maybe a life saved

  58. I carry my Glock 27 fully loaded in a Work-A-Day Custom Gunleather iwb rig. Ihave carried professionally for 30 + years. My initial duty weapon was a Colt Trooper Mk III in .357. Although I am retired, I still will unlimber the old wheelgun once in a while. Cylinder fully loaded there too. As a leg amputee, I already have one disadvantage, no need to further hinder my survival.

  59. Excellent article. My father served in the horse cavalry. They carried the Colt 1911 with a round chambered and the hammer at half-cock. They could draw the pistol and use the big spur hammer to cock it on their pants leg. This left one hand free to control the horse.

  60. The best quote I have ever heard on whether to carry with an empty chamber or not…

    “you may have a lifetime to get your pistol ready to fire.”

  61. I own a number of different pistols and carry them all with a round in the chamber, and in the instance of my 1911s, always cocked and locked as Mr. Browning designed them too be carried.
    As too the gentleman bringing seatbelt usage as a parallel, I never use the things I’ve had three vehicles totaled and only suffered a rib fracture and they were other people running into me,
    I just don’t like being told what too do by the government.

  62. When I was on active duty in the Marine Corps, I carried my .45, magazine in, empty chambered…but my M16A2 had mag in and one in the chamber (inconsistent but what can I say).
    As a civilian, I always have one in the chamber. With the LCP Max, this gives me 11 rounds plus my reload magazine of 10 rounds. I thought about empty chamber v. chambered and the chance of fumble-f’ing around trying to pull the slide back, needing the couple of seconds extra time when confronted, needing a second hand…seemed illogical to me so I’ve always carried with one in the chamber.
    Ex: A number of years ago, I was in Wyoming on a hike with my wife and I had my .38 snubnose with +P on me. We’re day-hiking, talking, enjoying the mountains and having a good time, in an area with no one around and behind us I hear a growl and two dogs are behind us (a Doberman pincer and a pitbull-mix). I’ve owned dogs so I know what different growls sound like. They are not sounding friendly and are about 30 feet from us and approaching. Without thinking, I pull my .38 from my inside-the-waist holster, turn sideways, get my wife behind me, and have the gun pressed against my leg with finger off the trigger. (in my mind, I’m thinking that if they get to within 10′ of me, I’m going to aim and shoot them.) I start yelling for the owner (if one’s around) and some stupid millennial comes around the corner and calls them back. I say, “You don’t know how fortunate your dogs are right now.” And this nitwit just looks at me. I say, “Why don’t you and your dogs just go in front of us and we’ll all be happier?” Then he and they go … and I holster my .38. I don’t know if he saw that, because I kept it by my side.
    After that, I thought, if I’m ever carrying my pistol, I’m always going to have a round chambered. Stuff comes on you so fast (when bad things occur), sometimes you just don’t have time to think about a lot and don’t need more variables to have to work though.

  63. Since you’re soliciting personal practice, no, I do not carry with an empty chamber. Like you, I believe my continued existence important enough to me that I carry my double action Beretta 96 Centurion .40 S&W chamber loaded, safety on. That’s the most amount of precautions I’m willing to concede to “safe carry”…well, except for using a proper holster. You should make it a point to always try and use a proper holster. It’s not that hard to find a holster that will work for you; there are countless good holsters out there. Just do a bit of “homework”. Also, don’t forget training. There’s an old military saying, I believe it was coined by the U.S. Navy Seals: “The more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in combat. If it’s good enough for those young warriors, it’s more than good enough for this ole’ Air Force vet.

  64. Most days I carry a Kimber 1911 3″ (IWB) Cocked and Locked. At times when it’s very HOT (in Florida that is relative) my carry is a Sig P238 or P365XL The P238 is cocked and Locked and the P365 is fully loaded. To me a High Quality Holster of vital importance. I use Crossbreed for IWB and good leather for outside the waist band when cooler weather allows for a cover garment.

  65. I started carrying a pistol 22 years ago. A 1911 with a 7-round mag and empty chamber. The first day I carried it, I was nervous, excited and soo aware I was carrying a concealed firearm. It took several months for me to become relaxed with it.
    After more years of carry and range time, I bought a P365. I had read a lot about the pros and cons of carrying with one in the chamber and the safety on. I started doing that and practiced drawing with an empty gun but safety on. After many years of carrying locked and loaded I am now comfortable with my safety on and one in the chamber. I carry at 1 to 3 o’clock position in my homemade, custom diy holster.
    Two years ago, a young black male came up my driveway. I profiled, yes, I did. And turned so I presented a smaller profile. We had an armed carjacking in a neighbor’s driveway some weeks prior by members of the race as the person coming up my driveway. My right hand went to my pistol and I remember thinking, my thumb was on the safety, ready to unsafe the firearm if I had to draw. He must have recognized my action as he stopped and inquired if I had seen a small white dog running loose. I hadn’t, and I had never seen this person before and noticed he wasn’t carrying a leash.
    Whenever I touch my firearm, I stop and concentrate. If a distraction occurs, I stop and put the firearm down. Whenever I have to empty the firearm, as for cleaning, I concentrate on each step and go slow. I hope to never have use the firearm, but I am prepared to if things go bump in the night or in a restaurant, or a store, or on the road. Thank you for this article.

  66. I personally carry a CZ RAMI decocker. With a proper holster, I feel very comfortable carrying with a round in the chamber, the first shot requiring a heavier trigger pull. It eliminates the need and timing it takes to chamber a round in a stressful situation. Just my personal preference.

  67. I figure, motor vehicle laws aside, if you feel comfortable driving without your seatbelt on ‘because I can put it on just before the accident’ then carry your weapon without 1 in the chamber, you should be able to rack 1 in before you need to fire. It’s kind of the same philosophy. Regardless though, learn your weapon & carry.

  68. I used to carry a S&W Model 66 for personal protection, then I got into fugitive recovery and some of the areas we had to go into, a revolver wouldn’t cover use good enough so we started carrying Springfield XP 9mm fully loaded.

  69. Honestly for me there is little point in not keeping one in the chamber. I had a home self defense situation not long ago and I didn’t have to think at all about the state of my pistol (i have a DA/SA p99c walther). It was chambered and ready to go if needed. I did have to slightly pull back the slide to change it to SA mode (did so to drive home a point to the person trying to enter my home). However my mind was totally on dealing with the person and the situation. If I had to fully rack the slide I might have wavered my attention even the slightest and might have missed the life saving seconds that could have been used in just pulling the trigger.

    for the entire 15 minutes that it took for LE to show up I kept the person outside, never once had to think about what state my sidearm was in and I was ready for things to go sideways.

    Whenever I’m out and carrying its the same thing. I never have to think if i have one in the chamber, or if I have to rack it or whatever. I know that my mind will always be focused on the situation and ready to draw and pull if necessary.

  70. I have been carrying for most of my adult life, and have always carried fully loaded on ALL types of hand guns. I would rather carry a fully loaded modern double or even single action revolver than any semi auto with an empty chamber. All modern firearms are safe when carried fully loaded. However not everyone who carries a firearm, carries safely..

  71. The gate guard incident was in 1963 in Mannheim Germany. Two MPs playing fast draw with their 1911s and an accidental discharge hit the concrete floor of the hut, bounced and hit the other guard in the head. I know… I was there.

  72. Anyone who thinks they are cool, calm & collective and could chamber one at the drop of a hat are deceiving themselves. It’s not TV! I Carry a Glock 19 & a Khar P9. Semi’s are great for more rounds, but they are more mechanical then revolvers. Sometimes I think about carry a revolver. It’s basically pull & shoot. A semi requires more thinking, the fear I have is, Am I Chambered? Did I do something to cause the pistol to not being ready to fire? There’s no doubt the revolver will fire when needed. I think sometimes too much about the bad things. I used to carry unchambered so that I knew that I had to do something to get it ready. The Unknown is a strong force. Don’t count of clear thinking when the shit hits the fan. Know you can shoot without thinking about the mechanics!

  73. Personally I don’t see why you would ever carry a gun without it being fully loaded. That said how we you decide to carry you need to train like you fight so if you decide to carry empty chamber you better have enough hours training that way so when the time comes and you have to defend yourself you don’t end up hearing the loudest click in a gun fight

  74. Respect to the writer because he or she wrote about something that’s very controversial, knowing it will stir strong emotional and tactical responses.
    Two, respect to the other readers for being respectful.
    I carry with an empty chamber not for any historical reasons but preferential. As one of the readers pointed out my main purpose is to maintain a high level of awareness so much so that I will avoid getting involved in any fire fight. Having said that I am also fully aware that sometimes it’ll be unavoidable. I mostly go out with my wife and son who is 12 my first priority is always where are the exits so I can run and not get into a fire fight with my family behind carrying empty chambered or otherwise.

  75. I have a FNH P-9 DA, I carry this chamber loaded. It has a user friendly safety, hammer, and is dual is the safest hand gun I’ve ever owned. 17 rounds fully loaded, I’m covered for any circumstance with 3 clips. I also have a Glock 42 that I carry chamber empty for various reasons.i also have 3, 6 round clips for this gun. Thanks Cheaper than Dirt, I enjoy your articles.

  76. I always have carried fully loaded in a proper holster and a spare mag. I’ve had a Texas LTC for years and CCW before that now for nearly 50 years. We’re in a warzone right here in Amerika. You have no time to rack a slide. If you’re going to carry empty leave it home…IMHO

  77. I liked the article and agreed with it for the most part. I also agree with most of the comments about an empty chamber, for the most part. I carry my Springfield Hellcat empty chamber. It’s my first pistol with only a trigger safety and nothing else. I also don’t like appendicitis carry. I have a bit of a belly, and this is not the wild west. I’m not trying to out draw somebody. I’m not going to draw on someone who’s near me that already has a gun on me. If they are farther away, then I’m moving to cover before I draw. If I’m being attacked without a gun, then I will deploy other means of self-defense first. That being said, my friend has a Walther that has a very nice thumb safety that falls nicely under the thumb. To press that safety while drawing would be a natural act without taking any extra time. I have a new Springfield 1911 loaded that I love. I would carry that cocked and locked and I’m looking at a 4″ model in 9mil as a carry piece (love the trigger :)). Now, I will admit that it makes more sense to have a loaded chamber for natural draw mechanics and that as I get more use to it I probably will go to carrying with a loaded chamber. It just goes against all my gun safety that I was taught from the age of 5. Don’t have a loaded chamber and treat every gun as though it was loaded. Good article. I like hearing both sides of a point of view.

  78. It was a few years ago, while I was waiting for a traffic light and a shady character was approaching my ’72 Monte Carlo. I thought he was going to spray my windshield, wipe it off, then ask for a dollar. Instead, he informed me that he was about to car jack me ! As he stuck a fishing fillet knife in my driver’s window, I grabbed his arm w/ my left hand, reached over to my S&W M&P45 which was next to me on my bench seat, which WAS loaded w/ one in the camber, took off the thumb safety, and shot him in his left shoulder ! There was a police officer across the intersection that was ticketing a speeder, who immediately ran over to see what the commotion was. The would be car jacker told him I shot him for no reason, and when I told the officer he tried to steal my car w/ a knife, he didn’t see a knife. So, when I opened the car door, and the knife fell out, he told me I was free to go, and ” Thanks for not shooting 6 inches to the right !” Moral of the story? I ALWAYS carry w/ one in the camber, and thumb safety ON ! (Also, never bring a knife to a gun fight !)

  79. Whether revolver or semiautomatic pistol,I’ve always carried with a round in the chamber at ready; seconds count and I don’t want to waste any having to chamber a round. In the 40 years I’ve been carrying, I’ve never had to shoot anyone but I’m prepared. I carry open and concealed,depending on the situation and laws in place where I am,but mostly open; the mere presence of a firearm will make criminals think twice.Regular practice and surroundings awareness are key to survival in today’s firearm world .

  80. I carry a SIG 365 and it’s always got one in the chamber. It is in a good holster that covers the trigger.

  81. Way, way back in Europe in the early ’70s I guarded “special weapons.” Standard side arms were old WW2 1911s and Vietnam M16s. We were forbidden to carry chamber-loaded firearms. In fact, we could not even insert a loaded magazine into the weapon while on duty. The SOP dictated that all loaded magazines be heat-sealed in a heavy plastic-foil wrap. To load the firearm in any situation required tearing off the wrapping using a knife, inserting the magazine, and racking the slide (or bolt). Report after a tour of duty with a missing magazine or with exposed rounds and you risked an Article 15 or Special CM.

    In my experience, the main risk of carrying a pistol with a loaded chamber is holstering the weapon. While a fast draw may be good, fast holstering definitely is not. Holstering must ALWAYS be done slowly and methodically. Striker-fired pistols without a manual safety present the greatest holstering challenge. Hanging the trigger on clothing or flesh while holstering a Glock (or similar weapon) will be a day-ruining event.

    I carry an HK45C LEM variant 7 — always with a loaded chamber. This variant has no safety and is DA only. The combination of an exposed hammer and two-stage trigger allows me to monitor the battery condition of the pistol as I holster the weapon. If the trigger is obstructed, the hammer will begin to move before the actual firing position of the trigger is reached. Simply placing my thumb on the hammer as I holster gives me immediate feedback.

  82. As a combat medic stationed with the Marines as I was in the Navy, my side arm was fully loaded and chambered at all times it was issued to me. This was in 1986-1993. Not sure why one would go through carrying a weapon if not ready to use it. Even as a Corpsman being a non combative status my side arm a Baretta 9mm was used to protect my patient and myself in any situation. Just my 2 cents. Today I carry fully loaded and chambered Glock 20 10mm.

  83. I’ve always carried with one in the chamber. I don’t want to worry about racking, I pay attention to my surroundings, and act accordingly.
    I would recommend someone to always carry hot, know your weapon, pay attention.
    Being prepared is the best course, stay loaded, and sober..God Bless

  84. Also @Bob, You state “but once they take the gun you are dead anyway. If they dont shoot you will beat you to death with it.”

    Have you been, or should I say were you ever in any third world country back in the 70’s or 80’s? If not, then I should mention that the social constructs of those countries defy explanation under anything seen in the US in this century. It would be easier to explain the current cultural and social climate of the US, what with all the alphabet community, wokeness, and antigun sentiments to our founding fathers than define some of the situations seen in those third world countries in the last 50 years. You cannot apply any American cultural constructs to third world countries.
    Many Americans do not realize that Africans are not all one homogenous group. If you remember that in 1994, over the space of 100 days, the Hutu majority killed somewhere between 500,000 and 750,000 Tutsi, although the BBC estimated to be as much as 800,000. People are being killed in the Sudan every day and there is no place to bury the bodies. Africa is not like here.

    Just before I got out, there were several groups interviewing for mercenaries to come to Africa and fight in places like Angola. There was also Rhodesia and other countries undergoing severe social upheaval. For a would be mercenary, the money was good IF you survived. Many who went did not come home. I listened to the spiel and decided it was not for me. But there were many who did. And there were also guys, some which were trained former spec-ops who went to work for what probably was the CIA but they wouldn’t say.

    In various places in Africa, there were gangs of street thugs who carried weapons and pretended to be an army under their chief thug. Now, let me explain something here, these gangs had, as a rule, far less discipline and much less training in weaponry than the average American street gang punk found in the US today. In a populace too poor to have enough food to eat, it was easy for anyone with any weapons to terrorize and control the general population. They ruled simply because they had weapons and they could. The people had no means of resistance. Since the thugs were just bullies, they had zero expectations that anyone could or would resist; they did not understand that someone might. Resistance did not fit into their construct. Beating someone to death took more effort than many of them were willing to exert when it was easier to shoot them and leave the bodies to serve as a warning to everyone else. They thrived on the fear they instilled in these displays, because a public execution will inspire fear in the populace.

    It was common for these gangs of thugs to wander around looking potential victims. When they arrived, many villagers knew the penalty for lying to them was to die. So if it was known that any American “Advisors” were in the area, they could easily be sold out. These thugs would find them, often times in their sleep and take their weapons, if armed. It was not unusual for there to be a public execution. There are situations like this currently going on in Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana, and countries in the horn, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan.

    The stories I have been told by the survivors was something like this; the leader of the gang would use the victim’s own weapon to execute the victim, often times by placing the victims gun within inches of the victim’s head. As there was no discipline in the rest of the gang, they would relax and let their guard down. When the hammer clicked on an empty chamber, it gave the captive a chance as long as they were not handcuffed or tied up. Back in the 70’s, most soldiers were taught basic tactical weapons takeaway. It takes practice but it is not technically difficult and you can probably find videos on YouTube to see how some off them work. Not having a round chambered saved a number of men’s lives and allowed them to take out their welcome party.

  85. @Bob. You state “Military chamber empty carry is a myth on the front line.” You infer that I said something I did not.

    I said nothing about carry on the front line. What I said was “if a soldier was issued a sidearm in a CONUS (Continental US) duty station, it was SOP for the weapon to be carried with an empty chamber and a fully loaded magazine in the weapon.” CONUS is Military speak for the Continental US. There has not been any front line hostilities in CONUS since the (un)Civil War between the States, (no war is anything close to being civil). Your point is addressing something that I did not say or even infer.

    Back in the early 70’s, in CONUS, there was an order that any soldier carrying sidearms, was to have the chamber empty. Again, CONUS is not in a COMBAT ZONE. Even MP’s were not allowed to have a round chambered and I knew several who were not happy about this, but there were officers who would do random checks on personnel with weapons and it was a punishable offense, ranging from an Article 15 UCMJ to a summary court martial if the weapon was being carried contrary to orders. I don’t know where or when that order originated, but it was in place before I deployed overseas. It was rumored that someone shot someone because they were being stupid, but that was just rumor, nothing confirmed. I separated within 2 days after returning to CONUS so I have no idea if and/or when that order was rescinded.

    I know that in Germany, circa ‘72 or ’73, a gate guard at a 3rd Infantry Div kaserne, killed another gate guard while playing around doing a quick-draw contest with 1911’s instead of actually watching the gate. I knew one of the medics who responded to that scene. Almost immediately, an order came out all over USAEUR, (US army Europe) that all personnel who carried sidearms could not carry a weapon with a round chambered unless on the firing line at a gun range to qualify with their weapon. That included MP’s and all gate guards. Neither CONUS nor USAEUR were on any front lines while I was in the army. In my statement, I was not talking about the front lines.

    The orders for carry were different for personnel deployed to a hazardous duty zone, the most notable at that time being Vietnam. Now, to my knowledge, anyone, anywhere, in a hazardous duty zone ALWAYS had a round chambered in their weapon, even soldiers in the rear echelons and not on the front lines, but anywhere in Southeast Asia, when in country, unless on R&R. For many rear echelon folks, (we called them Remfee’s which was spelled REMF’s, you can figure out what the acronym really means) the main hazard they faced was a paper cut, but to my knowledge, they were still required to maintain a weapon just in case there was another Tet offensive. There were also other regions (NOT CONUS) but elsewhere around the world, where, if hostile activities were possible, weapons were to be locked and loaded, but those locales were not really publicized as a fair number of those were classified.

  86. I believe your closing statement applies to Glocks as well. EDC because they are the simplest and fastest to bring into action, in my opinion. No levers, no racking, no buttons. Just point and shoot. Glocks: Round in chamber (they fire that way native), No racking needed just point and shoot. Equal to each other. Glocks advantage, more rounds.

  87. I don’t live in the many s**t hole places you named. I do live in a rapidly becoming dangerous USA. The split second that it takes to chamber a round is too long for me to bet my life on the fact I can do it. Loaded chamber, Glock 30 no manual safety. My hope is that I pay enough attention that is going on around me that I don’t need to draw.

  88. Bo,
    Some points- but once they take the gun you are dead anyway. If they dont shoot you will beat you to death with it.

    In 1923 the Commandant of the Marine Corps ordered Marines operating as Mail Guards, guarding US mail, to carry the handgun properly chamber loaded, cocked and locked, and the flap of the issue holster folded back. This well documented by period reports.

    Military chamber empty carry is a myth on the front line. As early as cavalry charges in Mexico the men on the point carried the pistols properly.

  89. I will say that back 50 or so years ago, if a soldier was issued a sidearm in a CONUS (Continental US) duty station, it was SOP for the weapon to be carried with an empty chamber and a fully loaded magazine in the weapon. I have heard a lot of people condemn NCIS for the fact that Gibbs did the same. That character is supposedly of my era, Mark Harmon is a year or so younger than I. I was in the Army, and he portrayed former Marine. I do not know all the whys and wherefores for that policy. but in the 50 some years since then, I have met more than one person who continued to carry that way.

    Now, back 50 years ago, there were many things going on in diverse places all over the world, but there was no internet, and the news media only seemed to care about Southeast Asia, so many people in the US remained woefully ignorant of various crises taking place. Angola and Somalia are two examples of wars of which most Americans know little about even today. And there are other third world places about which most Americans cannot begin to grasp how primitive conditions are or how those people survive, but they do.

    That being said, I have come into contact with men who spent considerable time on in various third world countries where serious and unfortunate situations arise. There are stories from some that explain why they carried with an empty chamber. More than one of these men have related about being accosted by a small armed force of miscreants who took their weapon. The new holder of that weapon would decide to keep it after he used it to kill the previous owner. Almost all of the squad of armed men would let their guard down, lowering their weapons and relaxing as they were sure things were in their favor.

    We all know that the loudest sound in the world is the hammer falling on an empty chamber. In the ensuing shocked silence, the individual who owned the weapon, initiated a tactical takeaway of his weapon, chambered a round and eliminated the entire squad, all of whom were totally unprepared for the event as they were expecting the man to be dead, shot with his own weapon. They were untrained and unready for anything other than what they thought would happen.

    I have heard similar scenarios related by a number of men who spent time in places where lawlessness was the rule, not the exception, and where roving gangs of miscreants preyed on innocents whenever they found them. For those who have never left CONUS, those things seem incredible, sometimes too incredible to accept. Even today, there are situations in Western Africa with groups like Boko Haran, et al, in Nigeria, Cameroon,, etc. that most Americans cannot grasp. For all the incivility we see here in the US, there are many places where people will kill you because to them you looked like you needed killing or they just felt like it. Some of those places will almost make you feel safe in Southside Chicago.

  90. I carry revolvers (mostly a Kimber KS6, but also a Public Defender 2”) fully loaded. These modern revolvers have a transfer bar to keep the hammer from striking the primer of the round. When carrying my old Smith and Wesson, I keep the hammer on an empty chamber, because it doesn’t have a transfer bar. From time to time, I carry a Colt Series 80 stainless in a shoulder holster, and it is fully loaded when I do. I prefer D/A revolvers for EDC because they are the simplest and fastest to bring into action, in my opinion. No levers, no racking, no buttons. Just point and shoot.

  91. No,what’s the point. No need to carry one at all if the chamber is empty. Like wait just a minute Mr. Killer for me to load my gun.

  92. The most impactful analogy on the subject that I have read? Carrying with an empty chamber is like planing to buckle your seat belt when you know you are about to be in a vehicle accident. In either case, why bother carrying, or even have seat belts in your vehicle?
    With all the carry options out there, everyone should be able to find a comfort level with the weapon ready to be used should it become necessary.

  93. Each person should carry in a manner that makes them feel safer than when not carrying. If chamber empty is it for them, so be it. Every day Joe is gonna do a lot carrying and no shooting. Sure your quick draw ain’t gonna be quick, but that’s what situational awareness is for. And learning to rack on your leg!

  94. Great article! I carry chamber loaded and would recommend it whole heartedly. Quick story how I went from “empty chamber’ to loaded chamber. The first year or so I stated carrying with an empty chamber. Faithfully practiced (With an unloaded Glock 21) at home along with my dry fire drills. I thought I was pretty good. The range I go to does not allow drawing from a holster and no rapid fire except a few days a week in the hour before they open. Which I could not get to. Finally, I managed to get to one of those sessions. Got ready and guess what? I completely blew it Every thing changed. It took me a lot longer than it did at home and I lost some of my smoothness in racking the slide. After almost an hour I got back almost to my home speed. The last five minutes or so I switched to loaded chamber. Right away everything improved! Been carrying loaded chamber since!

  95. I am a retired peace officer, and I was taught to always have a round in the chamber. If you don’t have a round in the chamber, what good is the weapon if you need it immediately to take care of an immediate threat? You may not have time to rack the slide and load the chamber. I have a SIG P226 and a S&W M&P Shield and both always have a round in the chamber when I carry them. If you are safe with your weapons and always pay attention to firearm rules you shouldn’t have any problems.

  96. I believe self awareness and situational awareness are crucial and central to how a weapon should be carried and which weapon should be chosen. I am almost 71, have arthritis and/or neuropathy in my hands. My edc are either; a P365 with a 12rd mag loaded with ARX rounds but a fmj in the chamber and safety on or a Taurus 85 5 shot loaded with 38+p hp or sjhp. Carry either in a pocket holster in my r rear pocket which is a natural and easy reach for my right hand. Have a ccp and feel it’s unwise to let anyone know I carry. My wife and I go out often and the few time we’ve been caught off guard have been by beggers from behind. Not hard to see it could have been assaults. As I said, situational awareness.

  97. Any modern handgun carried for self-defense needs to have a round in the chamber. Anyone who thinks “Israeli-carry” is a good idea is mistaken.

  98. S&W M&P and/or Glock 17. In the pipe with both, but I have to admit that I feel more comfortable with the Smith (safety on). I also carry a Beretta 92FS which has a safety and requires a long first pull. Feel perfectly comfortable with that gun but it’s pretty large for any kind of concealed carry.

  99. Carrying a pistol with an empty chamber is like keeping an empty fire extinguisher in the kitchen!

  100. We had a cop in our small town when I was growing up in the 1960s and early 70s who operated on the premise that since most police officers were shot with their own handguns, he would carry his revolver with the first two chambers empty. If a perp grabbed his gun and tried to shoot him, he had time to pull his backup piece, which was usually a two-shot High Standard 22 magnum derringer or his hand-built single-shot pistol (he was also a master machinist). Not exactly my cup of tea, but fortunately Sidney never had the opportunity to test his theory.

  101. Great topic, Bob, and good coverage. When I had a gun store with training facility we had a regular customer who always wore a 1911 OWB chamber empty. None of the explanations or arguments by me or my other instructors made a difference with this guy. We started calling him, “Dead Man Walking.”

    I, too, am always amazed at the racking of handguns, shotguns, lever-actions in the movies. You’d think they would have some consultants to tell them how unrealistic this is. But the noise is something to let the movie watcher think there’s something going on, I guess. You’d think those guys carrying lever-action carbines would run out of ammo the number of times they rack the slide.

  102. ALWAYS carry with one in the pipe. I usually carry a Kahr PM-9 and/or a Glock 36. I sometimes carry both when I venture to town, New Orleans can be a dangerous place. I generally don’t buy pistols with a safety. And I also have several SIGs that I occasionally carry.

  103. I have arthritic hands so revolvers are out of the question for me. Having difficulty in racking the slide and slowing down during adrenaline dumps make carrying chamber empty a no go for me. I need to be as ready as I can should the situation arise where I need to defend myself with a gun.

  104. My EDC is a Taurus TCP-738. I carry it in a Bulldog Case and it is ready to fire. It has no safety and I carry 1 in the chamber and 6 in the mag. The article, when you talked about racking the slide, makes me think of so many TV Shows and Movies where, usually the bad guy, but every once in a while the LEO, are holding their weapon on target of the person the perp is fighting or tormenting (or in the case of LEO, on the perp). And after a while of verbal back and forth, they get more angry and rack the slide. I’m like (so you really weren’t ready to shoot the person up until now OR you just decided you just didn’t like the round that was in your chamber already).

  105. I always carry with a round in the chamber. My S&W Shield Plus is without a safety, other than a trigger safety. My SIG P230 that I pocket carry (with a pocket holster) is a double/single action with no safety, but it has a decocker. The first shot will be a harder trigger pull, but it’s not going to go off unintentionally. I feel safe with both weapons fully loaded.

  106. In years previous I often carried a KBI/FEG Walther PPK Clone in 380 ACP (chamber loaded & hammer down). With it’s Double Action first shot and the longer trigger pull gave me both confidence in it’s readiness and peace of mind in it’s Drop-Safety.
    It would seem to me that a Double Action Self-Loading Pistol would be a viable option for those that worry about carrying a Single Action or Striker Fired Handgun with a live round in the chamber.

  107. “a properly carried, cocked-and-locked 1911 has an array of safety features that would have to be defeated to have an accidental discharge”. Yes, and no. While the 1911 does have multiple safeties, all of them converge in a single common point, called the sear. In other words, if the sear fails, a pre 70 design (no firing pin blocker) 1911 could potentially discharge at will. This is important to know, because if one desires a “hair-trigger” then it can also translates to a “hair-sear”, and eventually wear could become a serious issue. That said; It is wise to maybe keep your 1911 in factory perfect condition, so it can be carried safely locked and cocked, as if it is like many, trying to rack the slide of a 1911 in a stressful situation, can be rather challenging in of itself. Another note: Pocket style 1911s, i.e. P938, Micro 9, the slide can be manipulated with the safety on, for loading and unloading one in the chamber, and if there were ever an update to the 1911, this may be a good one, especially as no one uses the old military leather flap holster for modern day carry.

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