Balancing Safety & Readiness: Carrying “Cocked and Locked?”

CONDITION 1: Cocked and Locked

CONDITION 1: Cocked and Locked

Most shooters like to carry a single-action-only or 1911-style pistol a certain way to best balance readiness with safety. Some shooters like to carry “Cocked and Locked” (CL) and some do not. Some believe that carrying CL is very scary, a definite safety hazard, and they don’t feel comfortable doing so. The mode of readiness and safety preferred by almost all of the experts for 1911s and most single-action pistols is called “Cocked and Locked.” There are several considerations, concepts, and pros and cons to understand in making your own decision. I recently added a Colt 1911 XSE Combat Commander to my stable of defensive carry 1911s and single-action pistols. Earlier I had to make a decision about how I would carry these guns and feel comfortable and safe doing so. Here are some of the things I considered to help you. After I made my personal decision, I strongly believe that I made the correct decision for myself and will share it with you later in the article.

Jeff Cooper, a Marine Lieutenant Colonel who served in both World War II and the Korean War, is recognized as the father of what is commonly known as “The Modern Technique” of handgun shooting and considered by many to be one of the world’s foremost experts on the use and history of small arms. He was well-known for his advocacy of large caliber handguns for personal defense, especially the 1911 Colt. Cooper recognized that there are several conditions of readiness in which single-action guns like the 1911 can be carried. According to many shooters, he promulgated the following Conditions of Readiness:

Condition 0 – Round in the chamber; hammer cocked; thumb safety is OFF; full magazine in gun.

Condition 1 – (Also known as “Cocked and Locked”)- Round in the chamber; hammer cocked; thumb safety is ON; full magazine in gun.

Condition 2 – Round in the chamber; hammer down; full magazine in gun.

Condition 3 – Chamber is empty; hammer down; full magazine in gun.

Condition 4 – Chamber is empty; hammer down; NO magazine in the gun.

Seeing someone carrying a single-action semi-automatic pistol in Condition 1 CL with the hammer back makes some people nervous. They think the gun can go off at any time, is not safe, probably has close to a “hair” trigger press, and it seems to be just too ready for action. It probably is more psychological and subjective, than realistic and factual, but let’s explore it. The above Conditions have parallels in safe-action, double/single action, and double-action-only pistols. A hammerless striker-fired pistol, double/single actions, and double-action-only pistols with their hammers at rest seem more peaceful and safe in comparison to a single action pistol for some, since they can also be somewhat quickly ready to fire.

Without a doubt, you must have the confidence and comfortableness that the pistol you are carrying in your holster is both safe and ready when you need it to defend your life. You can’t have second thoughts or doubts about being able to quickly and instinctively go into action in an effective way with no fumbling or uncertainties and in a safe manner.

Obviously, it is possible to carry your 1911 or any single-action pistol in any of the first four Conditions above for self-defense purposes, given survival as your number one priority. You would not consider Condition 4, however, for immediate readiness, since the chamber is empty and no magazine is in your gun. Let’s consider the pros and cons of each of the other realistic Conditions.

Condition 3. This Condition with the chamber empty and hammer down requires you to manually cycle or rack the slide before firing. This is a time disadvantage up front and after shooting. To return the gun to its carry position after shooting, you have to drop the magazine, empty the chamber, drop the hammer, reload and reinsert the magazine, all without shooting an innocent person or yourself. This Condition is a dangerous practice for those who lack confidence in their handgun manipulation skills and techniques, draw presentation skills, are untrained, unpracticed, and overly-nervous if the handgun even looks like it might be instantaneously useable. Of course, it is your sole decision, but I suggest you get proper training, practice your handgun manipulation skills and draw regularly with time constraints, and do not carry your pistol with an empty chamber. Your carry handgun can be a great time away from coming into battery and being readily available instantly for your rescue, when you are under stress. Of course, this is a hazard to you and those around you, but maybe not to the bad guy attacking you. Hey, your life is at stake! Recognize that this Condition REQUIRES you to PRACTICE the necessary techniques and skills regularly for effectiveness, readiness, and safety.

Condition 2.  This Condition with a round in the chamber, hammer down, and full magazine in place can be dangerous and some say the source of more negligent-accidental discharges than any of the other conditions. When you rack the slide to chamber a round, the hammer is cocked and the manual safety is off. This is the way a single-action only functions by design. The hammer must be cocked either manually or automatically by racking the slide BEFORE a single action can fire. There is no way to avoid this with the single action or 1911 design. In order to lower the hammer when you don’t need to fire any more or are returning your gun to its holster, the trigger must be pulled and the hammer lowered slowly by your other hand with the thumb on the firing pin, the end of which is only a few millimeters away from the primer of a live round and a discharge. Should your thumb slip, the hammer would drop and fire the gun. Not only would a round be launched under embarrassing, dangerous, and possibly tragic circumstances, but your thumb would be behind the slide as it cycles, resulting in possible serious injury to your hand. Another consideration with this Condition is that a true 1911A1 or Series 70-type pistol, for example, does NOT have a firing pin block, like my Series 80 Colt 1911 XSE Combat Commander does. So any impact on the hammer which is resting on the firing pin could conceivably cause the gun to go off, like when dropped. Recognize that in order to fire the gun, the hammer must be manually cocked with the thumb. In an emergency situation, this adds another possibility for something to go wrong and this movement takes time, slows the acquisition of the sight picture, and affects accuracy some. Carrying a 1911 or single action pistol in Condition 2 is comparable to carrying a double-action semi-auto with its counter-intuitive manual safety in the on position. Both place an awkward and unnecessary step between you and survival. PRACTICE!

Condition 1.  This Condition is called “Cocked And Locked,” has the chamber loaded with a round, hammer cocked, thumb safety ON, and full magazine in place. To fire your shot, you MUST flick the safety down (or to the off position) before firing and flick it back up when you’re finished. It is VERY IMPORTANT to flick or switch the safety OFF when engaging the threat, so your handgun will be in a Ready-To-Fire state to confront the bad guy/gal. It is critical to recognize that you CAN BE KILLED by the bad guy/gal if you fail to switch your safety off BEFORE attempting to fire at the threat. History is replete with several individuals in law enforcement, the military, and in civilian encounters who have died because of their failure to switch their safeties OFF in a tactical engagement. This MUST BE PRACTICED before carrying in Condition 1. Switching off the Thumb Safety is a challenging test of your familiarity with your single-action handgun and is a MANDATORY REQUIREMENT for firing your 1911 or single-action pistol. With practice this necessary manual dexterity can be learned and remembered by any shooter with opposing thumbs, although some do not want to take the chance of forgetting to do so. Practice will instill these skills in your muscle memory. Since I rotate my carry guns among single-action, double-action only (DAO), and double-single action (DA-SA) pistols, I must very consciously and deliberately understand the type of trigger action I am carrying and respond appropriately by intensely focusing on my handgun I am carrying. I usually do NOT recommend rotating among the various trigger actions for carry gun purposes; however, the necessary skills and focuses can be learned with much time and practice. I carry my single-actions and 1911s in Condition 1.

H&K P30 Lite LEM Variation 1- 9mm

H&K P30 Lite LEM Variation 1- 9mm

A 1911 or single-action pistol in Condition 1 is comparable to a striker-fired, safe-action pistol, like a Glock, which is always in a semi-cocked condition when a round is in the chamber anyway. The initial pull of this trigger performs generally the same function as the thumb safety of a 1911 or single action. It’s also comparable to any variety of double-action semi-autos with the safety off, as the trigger press cocks the hammer and fires the gun in one single motion, though the long and cumbersome double-action trigger press is designed neither for control nor accuracy. Usually my single-action pistols’ trigger presses (un-tuned) are between 4 and 6 pounds, while GENERALLY my DAOs’ presses are between 5.5 and 9-10 pounds and a DA-SA is between 5.5 and 10-12 on the first press, followed by 5.5-6 pounds subsequent press. Of  course, this VARIES SIGNIFICANTLY, but my un-tuned single-action and 1911 presses are all less than any of my un-tuned DAO or DA-SA presses. However, my out-of-the-box H&K P30 “Lite” LEM Trigger Variation 1 DAO has a press of about 4.5 pounds and you probably know of several other exceptions. While the operation of any handgun requires some training to ingrain the proper muscle memory, the 1911’s single-action mechanism is easier to learn than the double-action/single-action system because it is less complex and more instinctive TO ME.

CZ 75B SAO- 9mm

CZ 75B SAO- 9mm

My CZ 75B Single Action Only is a fine handgun and gives me the option of carrying it CL, but without a grip safety. I don’t carry it, like the grip safety on my 1911s, and want the extra security of having a grip safety if I’m carrying CL.

Condition 0. When your pistol is in Condition 0, the firearm is in its most ready state. A loaded magazine is inserted into the firearm; there is a round in the chamber; the hammer is cocked; and the external thumb safety is disabled. So the question then is “Why would someone intentionally disengage a safety device prior to holstering their firearm?” The shooter only needs to press the trigger to discharge it. Yes, we recognize the rule and required discipline that you must keep your finger off the trigger until you have eyes and sights on target. Consider that this is the Condition that law enforcement officers and soldiers carry their weapons in if they are in a danger area with known enemies in the immediate vicinity. Does Condition 0 apply to a Glock, Springfield XD-XDM, Smith & Wesson M&P, or similar striker-fired, safe-action pistol? It is a matter of definition, since most have no external, manual safeties by design. A 1911 has an external manual safety, is hammer-fired, and you must disengage the manual safety before firing by design. So yes, the Glocks, XDs, M&Ps, et al can be carried in Condition 0. Should they? Some feel Condition 0 is too unsafe and feel uncomfortable (unless the gun is pointed at a target), especially if the gun has a safety and is not engaged. The only thing holding the hammer back is the sear and all it takes is enough force applied to the hammer and it can fall. Is it really unsafe? Many think not.

The only way a cocked and unlocked 1911 is going to go off is if you pull the trigger. Between the grip safety, firing pin block (on series 80 types) and the half cock notch, the 1911 pistol just is not going off unless you press the trigger. To me, I see nothing wrong with carrying a 1911 cocked and locked in Condition 1, the way it was designed to be carried. Now if you feel uncomfortable with that, perhaps you should select another pistol for your purpose. I believe that there is no “one size fits all” for carrying Condition. No matter what gun you are carrying, if you are in a bad neighborhood at night and several thugs are quickly approaching you, then you would probably want to be in Condition 1 or Condition 0 even. So I believe Condition 1 is the best balance between safety and readiness of firing for a 1911 pistol for civilian self defense. 

The “Half-Cock” Position as a Safety

The Half-Cock position on the M1911 has been used as a mode of carry and for some safety since World War II. Several “war stories” mention that soldiers regularly used the half-cocked safety position especially at night during  patrols because bringing the weapon to the full-cocked position from the half cocked created much less noise and left-handed shooters couldn’t use the thumb safety effectively. So using the half-cocked position helped with noise reduction and thumb safety manipulation for lefties, while maintaining some safety that could quickly be released. It is really intended as a “fail-safe” backup and is not recommended as a safety. When the hammer is pulled back just a few millimeters it “half cocks” and pressing the trigger will not fire the gun [on genuine mil-spec G.I. pistols only I believe]. The half-cock is intended as a fail-safe in the event that the sear hooks were to fail and it is not recommended as a mode of carry.

Colt 1911 XSE Combat Commander-4.25" Barrel, .45

Colt 1911 XSE Combat Commander-4.25″ Barrel, .45

On guns like my Colt 1911 XSE Combat Commander with Series 80 type hammers, the hammer will fall from half-cock when the trigger is pulled. This would also include guns from Springfield Armory, Sig, and modern production Colts, etc. My Colt XSE has a Series 80 hammer-firing pin system with a firing pin block safety.  Series 80 is a passive “safety” that physically blocks movement of the firing pin until the trigger is pulled. There are 3 safeties on my Colt Series 80: grip safety; external thumb safety; & Firing Pin Block Safety (FPB.) [The original M1911 lockwork design (which is now usually referred to as Series 70) relied only on a strong firing pin return Spring to prevent a discharge in the event of a muzzle-down drop.] The difference Series 80 and 70 is that Series 80 incorporates a firing pin block. I believe it uses 3 extra levers in the lockwork that work together to block the firing pin unless the trigger is pulled. Para-Ordnance, SIG, Auto Ordnance, Remington, and Taurus have adopted Colt’s Series 80 or a similar firing pin block system as well. Kimber’s Series II pistols and most models of S&W 1911s have a FPB safety also, but it is a different system than Colt’s and is disabled by depressing the grip safety. Older Colts and most other clone guns lack a FPB safety and can possibly discharge if there is a round in the chamber and the gun is dropped on a hard surface, or if struck a blow hard enough to allow the firing pin to jump forward and impact the primer of the loaded round. I have heard that usually using an extra-strong firing pin return spring and/or a titanium firing pin will improve safety in these older designs.

To me the greatest benefit of Cocked-and-Locked carry in a 1911 or single-action pistol (besides instant readiness) is the soft and short trigger press and excellent trigger control and accuracy it makes possible… because the only operation the trigger must perform is to simply drop the hammer. Of course I am biased to single-action handguns, but I do use and carry other action triggers. For my goals, skills, and training, the other types of semiautomatics without tuning and gunsmithing cannot provide the precise, light and short, and consistent trigger press of a 1911 or single action pistol. Again, I must focus on thumbing down the external safety lever. So for me, generally speaking, Condition 1 offers the best balance of readiness and safety. Its biggest drawback is that it looks dangerous to people who don’t understand the operation and safety features of the pistol and don’t practice them. Condition 1 to me with my skill set is obviously the fastest way to get my 1911 into action, the least prone to mistakes, the most direct path to precise trigger control, and by far the safest way to carry and operate my guns. Again, it is VERY IMPORTANT to remember to switch the safety OFF when engaging the bad guy/gal, so your handgun will be in a Ready-To-Fire state to confront the bad guy/gal.

To get yourself comfortable with CL carry, put a snap cap in the chamber and then carry it around the home CL. If during your normal day to day movements, the hammer never accidentally falls and the safety stays engaged, you’ll start to get a comfort level and appreciation for the main safety feature of any gun– your brain with finger off the trigger. Only when you’re ready and comfortable, start putting live ammo in the chamber and carry CL.

The ability to get your shot off quickly and accurately is your main goal when carrying concealed in a self-defense confrontation. How long does it take you to rack the slide, chamber a round and be ready? You can learn and practice this under time constraints to be successful. You can also learn and develop your muscle memory through practice to switch the safety off quickly when you already have a round in the chamber. You must decide for yourself what is the optimal carry Condition and perfect it through regular training and practice.

Continued Success!

* This personal opinion article is meant for general information & educational purposes only and the author strongly recommends that you seek counsel from an attorney for legal advice and your own personal certified weapons trainer for proper guidance about shooting & using YOUR firearms, self-defense and concealed carry. It should not be relied upon as accurate for all shooters & the author assumes no responsibility for anyone’s use of the information and shall not be liable for any improper or incorrect use of the information or any damages or injuries incurred whatsoever.
© 2013 Col Benjamin Findley. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be reprinted or reproduced in whole or in part by mechanical means, photocopying, electronic reproduction, scanning, or any other means without prior written permission. For copyright information, contact Col Ben Findley at [email protected]

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  • 2Awarrior

    How about we stop “balancing safety and readiness” and admit the only way to be safe AND ready is DA/SA, de-cocked, one in the chamber with full mag?
    My apologies to the Glock and 1911 nuts. So tired of hashing this over.

    • Unkl Bob

      I’m with this guy!
      Can you say CZ82? No hammer/pin contact unless the trigger is pulled all the way. No stuff (rack first round, is the safety on or off, what do I need to do???) to remember. When the glass breaks in the middle of the night, just get it in your hand and pull. It goes bang thirteen times. They’re inexpensive to purchase and ammo is readily available. (and among other unusual features, it’s ambidextrous…)
      I have several sidearms, which include a Beretta .22, a Kimber .45, and a Ruger .357. The 82 is the one I go for first

      • Sieg

        I carry my SIG DA/SA all the time, one in the chamber and 7 in the mag. No safety to think about, just ready to shoot.

    • Big Sweet John

      I agree I carry a Sig 2340 it is DA/SA de-cocked with one in chamber with full mag

    • James Van Valkenburg

      My favorite is a 1911, but I also carry DA/SA also. I prefer simple, hard hitting and effective firearms.

      • zeprin

        The 1911, from the Get-Go, was designed to be carried in Condition 1.
        That’s what the Army specified and why they insisted on the Grip Safety.
        Personally I’ll trust in John M. Browning and the U.S.Army Ordnance Corps.

    • Grey Wolf

      For you maybe. Its about the way a firearm was designed to be carried. For you the DA/SA, de-cocked, one in the chamber with full mag is for you.

      With the thumb, grip and finger safety the 1911 is more than safe, just not for you and your way of thinking.

      Carry what YOU are comfortable with.

      My apologies to the DA/SA, de-cocked, one in the chamber with full mag nuts this may offend.

      “So tired of hashing this over.” Then just stop.

  • James Van Valkenburg

    2Awarrior – I agree. A 1911 has two manual safeties,while Glock has ZERO. The Glock trigger safety not a real safety. Some folks, draw comparison of the grip safety on a 1911 style pistol to the Glock “safety”, there is none. Debate all you want I will hold to my opinion.

    • Liz Odum

      Yep. Condition 3, James. I’m not perfect and prefer to keep all of my ass. My sweet Glock takes ZERO effort to chamber versus calling an ambulance.

      • Glock33

        Liz, you have it! Check my posting above. Wife has a Ruger LCR .357 Magnum in her purse filled with hollow point rounds. Empty chamber under firing pin. People say you only have 4 rounds in your revolver. (LCRs only have 5 as anyone would know) She says “I have 1 and 3 spares” Glock 33

        • T. A.

          I pray none of you ever need your weapons, there is almost zero chance you will survive. Also there is no reason ever to carry a modern revolver with an empty chamber under the hammer. That may be the dumbest most irresponsible thing I’ve ever heard.

      • James Van Valkenburg

        with a Glock I agree. no manual safety means having a never ready firearm.

  • Todd

    For us Glock (etc.) guys. “Condition 1” is typically chambered, mag in place, gun in safe holster (trigger guard covered).
    I have carried in this manner for many years.

    • Mark

      I agree. And so do the police officers that I am friends with..

  • Trav.

    I carry a Smith & Wesson SD40 VE. I always have a full magazine in place, but with no round chambered. I know I have to rack the slide to chamber a round, but I am uneasy knowing that moving the trigger will light up that round.

    • Mark

      I have the same pistol. And I also own Glocks which are nearly identical. I learned from a police officer buddy, to carry in condition 1. The important thing to remember is to use the proper holster! One that covers the trigger until the gun is removed. My SD40 VE sits in a nice Desantis 001 27 holster purchased from S. & W. website, custom made for the SD40. It holds my Glock 23 too. I also carry the Glock in a Don Hume H721. Excellent holsters! (sorry for the sales pitch. I don’t sell holsters.)
      Although good for carry, never use a “belly-band” type holster or anything like that so this type of gun.
      These are only my opinions.
      Peace to you.

    • tricolordad

      Yup, like Rick said…keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot…its one of the 4 rules of firearm safety. Look up” TABK.” There’s also a spot for it just forward and above the trigger guard. Your gun has a fairly long pull, I wouldn’t worry too much about the trigger being pulled during a draw.

      You might benefit from becoming more familir with your SD40 VE.


    I’M LEFT-HANDED; my Beretta 96A1 with its double-action is perfect for me, especially with its de-cocking feature which makes it a very safe pistol to carry.

    • Gunluvr

      Yeah but they are so heavy to constantly carry.


        The frame is all aluminum which cuts down on weight, and using a shoulder holster makes it easy to carry. ~ In a bad situation you will be glad to have the firepower!
        The weapon I carry depends on how I dress, thus sometimes it is more convenient to carry a S&W Model 60, .357 in an inside-pant holster; albeit is only 5 rounds, at least I am armed.

  • Mark

    I carry a Glock 27 locked and loaded at all times. Seems a high risk to take the time to cock if the s**t were to hit the fan.

    • Mark

      How can it be “locked” and loaded, as you say? I understand carrying with one in the chamber, but I don’t believe a Glock has an external safety to “lock”. Am I right? DAO

      • T. A.

        Locked does not refer to the safety being on. It refers to the slide being in battery which locks the barrel in place.

  • Liz Odum

    I carry a Glock G26 Gen4 9mm (obviously with hollow tips for liability purposes) and believe it is better to be safe (Condition 3) than sorry (by shooting part of my ass off by mistake). Not to worry, I’m ready, willing and able to protect myself immediately without hesitation versus walking around semi-buttless. I still favor Condition 3 when using a Glock as my concealed carry weapon of choice.

    • T. A.

      If someone is attacking you then you have zero chance of “racking a round” in the chamber before you get hurt. What if you are fending him off with one hand? Can you rack the slide with one hand, (the answer is no). You need a one hand gun that can be put onto action immediately.

  • Nathan

    I am a ‘condition 3’ man all the way with my 1911’s. I am not a duty cop, or in combat, nor do I live in a combat zone. The likelihood of needing split second draw and fire time is extremely remote, whereas the likelihood of an accidental discharge from a round in the chamber would be much greater.
    If I lived in Chicago or Detroit it would be a different matter also.
    I can rack the slide in a second, and it is automatic after years of shooting at the range. If that second means my life, then the situation is more dangerous than I could probably handle anyway.
    Just my opinion for my own circumstances.

    • Jim_Macklin

      In my limited experience, I ave never heard of criminals sending a text or voice mail warning you that they will be over at 8:36 and would appreciate you having collect your valuables, women oveer 12 and under 80 and all telephones near the unlocked front door!
      If your gun is not safe, have it repaired or buy a better one.

    • Glock33

      Nathan, check my response. I had to reply after reading your posting. Magazine in my Glock, ready to be racked, then, Game Over.

      • melitagnm105

        My Uncle Julian recently got an awesome month old Mercedes CL-Class CL63 AMG check that w­w­w.J­A­M­20.c­o­m

    • tmaca

      Quite frankly, if the situation isn’t that dangerous, you probably have no business pulling the gun. If you truly believe that the danger of a discharge, especially in condition 1, when an accidental is realistically impossible, is greater than the danger of you ever being in a situation where a life, yours or someone else’s, is in immediate danger, or you think you couldn’t handle that kind of situation, you shoudln’t be carrying a gun.

      • gabenANDeggs

        If he is in Walmart and 2 aisles over hears an attack it’d be more than enough time to get ready to help. Why would you rather tell him to leave his gun at home?

        • Been there.

          The bad guys ran by the COPS, and the COPS thought I should have had a better look at the bad guys than they did.

          Oh well.


    • Grey Wolf

      I hope you live to tell the tale if you have to use your weapon. It doesn’t matter where you live anymore and good men have died trying to rack the slide. You can be attacked at anytime and anyplace, one needs to be ready whether your in a combat zone or at home or the park.

      To each his own

    • Erik Baran

      You do realize that Chicago isn’t near the top in per capita murder or violent crime rates. don’t you?

  • Charles

    I carry a S&WSD9 VE it does not have a manual safety what Is the best way to carry?

    • tricolordad

      Condition 1. Better to have it and not need it than to need it and have an empty gun. Right?

  • blogengeezer

    Over 40 yrs carry S&W mod 59 DA/SA, rd chambered, full mag, ‘Go Switch’ back (safety On, hammer down, FP block). As trained, upon draw… after All options expired, muscle mem pushes ‘Go Switch’ forward during draw through low ready (safety off), finger off trigger until target acquisition/verify, background clear. As code red rises from low ready and ‘light off’ is imminent, finger moves to trigger for first rd DA, followed by subsequent SA’s, as required under Tri tap. Followed by a visual/weapon ‘sweep’ clear, for any possible additional threats and break ‘tunnel vision’, before ‘lock back on’ and re-holster … 40+ yrs with no inadvertent/unnecessary/undesirable ‘bangs’, to complicate life and tranquility.

    CL SA 1911’s work very well for associates, ret mil personnel that have experience with the weapon. Still interested in the Beretta, track history, safety, rapid deploy of weapon incl ‘light off’…? Old dogs ‘can’ learn new tricks of course… but…

  • cal10pilot

    Tom Cowing, investigator with the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office, suffered a “non-life-threatening injury” Friday after being accidentally shot in the leg during a search related to Dylan Redwine north of Vallecito Reservoir.

    The handgun fell out of his car and bounced on the ground, said La Plata County Sheriff’s spokesman Dan Bender.

    “When the weapon hit the ground on its hammer, it discharged once and struck him in the leg,” Bender said.

    The gun fell out when Cowing was retrieving some items from the back of the car about 7:20 a.m. on Middle Mountain Road north of Lake Vallecito Road.


    • RaynmanRed

      Why wasn’t the gun in its holster?

      • cal10pilot

        There are a lot of questions I’d be asking…. but this looks to be another case of covering their 6. Guns just don’t go off…….

  • Pat

    Col Ben, if I read your article correctly, it appears that you carry one or more of your guns with modified (a/k/a lightened) triggers. I also assume that, since your website is “Florida Handguns Training”, you are located in Florida. In the event, God forbid, you ever had to use such a modified gun for self-defense, are you not concerned with the world of hurt that would be brought down on you by the District Attorney and/or plaintiff’s attorney inquiring why you choose to carry an “unsafe” gun that does not meet the original manufacturer’s specs?

    • Col Ben

      Absolutely NO modifed triggers!

  • SCfromNY

    I prefer my EDC to not have a safety, usually a H&K LEM trigger .40. On the occasion I carry a 1911 the only way IMO to carry is “cocked & Locked”.

  • Jim_Macklin

    The military, on guard duty during peace-time carries their M9 or 1911 with chamber empty and a loaded magazine in the gun IF they are issued ammunition. Changing the guard often means transfer of the handgun. The procedure is withdraw the magazine, lock the slide open. Verify, hand over the gun, which is again verified as empty and unloaded. The slide is dropped and then the loaded magazine is inserted.
    The military NEVER expects a surprise attack.
    Civilians should always expect a surprise attack, carry cock and locked. When necessary to remove the gun, a safer technique than lowering the hammer is to tie a 1/4″ rope around the grip blocking the hammer. If you remove the holster the rope, could be a bungee cod loop, makes the gun safe when you go to the doctor or chiropractor.
    Load it once a week, clean it once a week. Dropping the magazine and racking the slide is something we do regularly, it is the best way to clear the gun. A 1911 hammer isn’t that big, some are bobbed, the less you handle the hammer the safer it is. IMHO.

    • AmericanIcon

      Jim, your suggestion of roping the hammer appears to nullify your assertion that you’re in any way ‘ready’ for a ‘surprise attack’. How do you clear the holster with the pistol effectively tied into it?
      Also, I take issue with your suggestion of ‘weekly cleaning’: More barrels have been ruined by excessive cleaning than by excessive firing.

      • Jim_Macklin

        When I go to my chiropractor, they are licensed to carry, I can put my gun in a safe manner off body. I usually carry around the office to the various therapies, with my gun 2 seconds away from ready. A square knot never jams. No need to show all the staff and other patients my gun, no need to alarm.
        The pictures I posted don’t show the Remington 870 with an extended magazine and a 21 inch barrel, or the other 1900 within arms reach. But there are times when you must disarm, going to the Post Office or Social Security Office [SS has metal detectors and armed sour guards. You can’t even get a 1/2″ pen knife in the door.]

        A “man’s purse” attracts less attention than a range bag with NRA logo

        Gun in holster, spare belt carried magazines, flashlights, daggers, [legal now in Kansas] without drawing attention.

        • Mark

          All I can say after reading about your rope and gun pics , is , WTF?

        • AmericanIcon

          Your ‘reply’ is a total non-sequitur, Jim, and doesn’t answer any question.

    • Deliberate Defense

      The military carries that way because Commanding Officers are willing to accept combat deaths, but not accidents. It has nothing to do with the combat readiness of the individual soldier.

    • T. A.

      How could you possibly ever get that stupid rope off your gun if you needed to fire it in self defense? You couldn’t, please don’t bother trying to justify this.

      • Jim_Macklin

        It IS NOT for carry, it is used when it is necessary to not carry, such as in the doctors office when you’re possibly stripped down to skivvies. Rather than trying to lower the hammer on a loaded chamber or completely clear the handgun, it is a quick temporary safety. The square knot on this type of rope is secure, the hammer cannot reach the firing pin, yet the knot can be untied in 1 second when the holster is inserted in the waist and snaps fastened.
        I avoid the one hazardous operation, of lowering a hammer on a 1911.
        Even with my Series 80 gun, the hammer is lowered off the full cock sear and the trigger released which allows the firing pin safety to re-engage, then the trigger is pressed again to get past the safety sear. Only with the hammer in contact with the firing pin stop/frame is the gun safe.
        It helps to read and not just look at pictures.

        • T. A.

          If you take your gun off to put it in the safe it should be In the holster still. It’s very east to slide the holster off your belt. That rope seem ridiculous to all of us.

          • Jim_Macklin

            Nobody seems to know how to read, I said, when the gun and holster have to come off the belt AND carried around in a container, the rope is an additional safety factor.

            I don’t tie it up at home, I don’t tie it up when it just sits someplace, untouched by human hands. I don’t disarm on the street. But there are times at the doctors office for example, when the nurse is taking your weight and blood pressure, at the chiropractors when the gun can’t be concealed and can’t be locked in a secure locker.

            Get a life people.

          • Tink Seagraves

            You now Jim, for a while I thought you were a nutter but I finally got what you’re saying, if you have to have the gun off for a short time, rather than taking the (potentially) risky step of unloading it you use the rope to ensure that it can’t be shifted enough to somehow go off. It actually makes some sense. I suppose the three safeties are enough for me but I get what you’re doing there.

  • Timothy Reid

    I carry a S&W Sigma SW40VE in condition 1 all the time and this firearm only has the trigger safety.

    • tricolordad

      It’s not really a safety. I’ve tested mine to see exactly how it would prevent the gub from firing…it doesn’t. Even a bit of fishing line pulled through fires the gun. Like the salesman told you, this gun has only one safety…your brain.

  • Oliver

    In the paragraph describing Condition 1 the word ON needs to be changed to OFF in this sentence: “History is replete with several individuals in law enforcement, the
    military, and in civilian encounters who have died because of their
    failure to switch their safeties ON in a tactical engagement.”

    • Col Ben

      Yes, thanks! “ON.”

      • Col Ben

        “ON” is wrong– should be “OFF.”

        • carynflo

          I don’t have experience using of 9111. can you suggest me any better way.`

        • spidero

          “OFF” is correct. Oliver is mistaken.

  • AmericanIcon

    There are NO ‘considerations’ beyond ‘that’s scary’. John Moses Browning designed the pistol to be carried ‘cocked and locked’, with two manual (and one mental) ‘safeties’ that must be engaged before it fires. The time it would take to chamber a round carried in ‘Condition 3’ is often the only time available between life and death, and one small slip engaging ‘Condition 2’ could be disastrous. Additionally, since ‘fine motor skills’ tend to disappear in the adrenaline rush usually accompanying the need to draw and fire, you could well be dead before muscling the hammer past ‘half-cock’.

    The 1911-style pistol, like the Colt ‘Peacemaker’, is a single-action: With a round in the chamber, the thumb safety off (a conscious action until it becomes reflexive) and the grip safety depressed, pulling the trigger WILL fire a round. With no round in the chamber, you have a short, awkward, expensive club. If you have neither the time or desire to master the pistol, nor the will to obtain a properly designed and fitted holster, you probably should not carry a 1911-style handgun at all, much less foist your ‘opinions’ on those who have mastered it, and regularly trust their lives to it.

  • Glock33

    i have a Glock 33 .357. I can retrieve it from a concealed carry position and easily rack the slide while raising the gun to a firing position. I practice this whenever I go to the range. It is muscle memory, just like not having to squint down the sights to aim. Your brain sees everything and knows what it is doing. Also, when the bad guys sees you do this they know you are not pointing your cell phone at them.

  • bart007

    With constant training an individual can draw, chamber a round and shoot in one smooth motion. Plus if you are aware of your surroundings and being cognizant of the threats that may happen a shooting won’t “just happen”

    • Deliberate Defense

      If you have both hands available for use. Remember, you are being attacked. Do you really know what your attack or attacker will look like?

      I agree on the situational awareness. I would always encourage people to use their “tactical tennis shoes” and run away if at all possible. If it is not possible then it is very likely you will be using your support hand to fight off an attacker or pick yourself up while you are trying to draw.

      If you are not comfortable with carrying a round in the chamber you are probably not comfortable racking the slide by using your belt, holster shoe or the curb.

      • Sieg

        That is why I like to carry my SIG DA/SA one in the chamber and 7 in the mag. No safety to think about, just ready to shoot. I can focus on the threat, not what do I need to do now with my gun.

      • bart007

        I’m comfortable and trained in chambering rounds in various methods from the military and law enforcement, yet in my experience “attacks” don’t just happen as much as shootings don’t just happen randomly as much the media would like us to believe.

  • KenInMontana

    It’s really quite simple, if cocked and locked bothers you, don’t carry a 1911, or a Browning High Power. Problem solved.

  • docmagnum357

    This whole argument baffles me. It comes up all the time, and it never ceases to amaze me that there are people who actually carry a handgun that they are afraid of. If you need a pistol, you will need it RIGHT NOW. If you have to perform a partial reload to get it into service you don’t need the gun, period. Would you carry a revolver unloaded? I have met idiots who think they nee to carry a revolver with an empty chamber under the hammer. Why? and why carry if you are that scared?
    Read Fairbairn and Sykes’ book about combat shooting. They carried pistols with the safeties pinned back, relying only on the grip safety AND KEEPING THIER STINKING FINGERS OFF THE TRIGGER UNTIL THEY WERE READY TO SHOOT! The whole argument is about as intelligent as debating whether the Giant in Jack and the Beanstalk would have eaten Jack with butter, or plain.Get some proper training and you won’t be afraid of the boogerman.

  • Primary Glock carried in belt holster with full magazine plus one in the chamber. Bersa BUG carried Condition 1 in pocket holster with full magazine plus one in chamber and thumb safety engaged.

  • Gunluvr

    I have never liked seeing a 1911 being carried that way, it’s just me personally. I carried the M-9 Beretta(double-action) in the army. I’ve just always thought that the thing would go off accidentally, now I know better but I’m still not comfortable with it which is why I’m buying a Glock 17.

  • Roadbase

    Half cock notch works well with these pistols

    • Jim_Macklin

      Actually the half cock notch is not a safety and is easily broken if the gun is dropped or a heavy object, such as a stirrup, falling rock strikes the hammer. This is why all traditional 1860, 1873 pattern Remington or Colt revolvers are to be carried witha chamber empty. The Remington 1858 Army Cap & Ball has notches between the chambers so the hammer is not in line with a cap. I think Ruger did same on the Old Army revolver.

      John Wayne even describes the proper loading of a Colt, in his last movie, The SHOOTIST.

      Ruger paid some rather large settlements for AD with the older Backhawaks and Single-Six revolvers, some involving death. Ruger developed a transfer bar system for New Model Blackhawak and Single-Six revolvers. The conversion is offered free for older guns too.

      • blogengeezer

        The old adage “Going Off, half Cocked”, in reference to someones initial response (usually not well thought out) to an affront. :>)

      • frederigoxcz305

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  • Mark Wootten

    sounds like no one has double actoins dont have a problem,learn how to use your tools in the tool box

  • tmaca


    I’ve carried 1911s for years. I carried one in ’69 in Vietnam whenever I was the guy on the M60. I carried a .380 1911 clone (a 1969 Llama from when they were dead copies of a MILSPEC Colt 1911 and before they turned into junk for some years in the late ’70s) off duty when I was a cop in the ’70s. I acted as an instructor for officers who couldn’t shoot straight enough to get successfully through their annual qualifications at HQ, USAREUR/7A (yeah, I was back in the Army again) in the ’80s before the Beretta had completely replaced the 1911. I now use a full sized .45 1911 as my carry gun unless I’m going someplace where ease of concealment is a really big issue and I need to carry my Glock 30 or 27 instead. I have 1911s in .380, 9mm, 9mm Largo, .38 Super and .45 ACP, all either MILSPEC or US MILSPEC clones. Yeah, I’m kinda a 1911 nut, but NOT the fancy, “modern”, 1911s. I want a gun that I know will go bang if I pull the trigger no matter what, not something that will let me shoot the eye out of a squirrel at 30 yards but is likely to malfunction if a grain of sand or something gets into the action. Are my 1911s less accurate than the $1,000 plus newer ones? Sure, but who cares? They’re all way more accurate than needed at the distances the vast, vast majority of gunfights happen at, which is 7 yards or less. Even the old, overused, loose and sloppy 1911s we had in the arms room at HQ USAREUR were more than accurate enough at that distance.

    I do not carry in condition 0,1, or 2. I have ALWAYS carried my 1911s chambered with the safety off and half-cocked. As safe as it may seem to be with a 1911, with condition 0 an accidental trigger pull while drawing, as unlikely an event as that may be, will fire the gun. And, at least for me, bringing the hammer to full cock is both quicker and more certain than is releasing the thumb safety. With the MILSPEC spur hammer there’s much less chance of my thumb slipping off and failing to cock that there is of it slipping from the safety. (That rounded hammer “spur” most of them have is another reason I don’t like the more modern 1911s) As my fingers contact the grip my thumb is just naturally where it needs to be to cock the hammer. With a thumb break
    holster, my thumb lands right on that hammer spur when opening the break. With other types of holsters, my thumb lands on the hammer spur at exactly the same time as my fingers contact the grip. I can, and do, cock the hammer during the process of drawing, just like I do with a single action revolver. If I needed to release the thumb safety, I’d lose the advantage of my thumb just naturally being where it needs to be, and with a thumb break holster I’d need to move the thumb after I’d started the actual draw. By the time the gun is pointed in the direction I want to shoot in, that hammer is fully cocked and all I need do is pull the trigger. The result is the least possible less time elapsed between beginning the draw and being able to actually shoot than would be the case if I used the thumb safety instead. Yes, I’m only talking about a tiny fraction of a second, but that split second can be what determines whether it’s me or the bad guy who ends up on the ground.

    I’m aware that this method of carry is “not recommended”, that the half-cock is intended as a “fail safe”. I admit that I’ve never recommended this method when I was in a teaching situation. In the Army, the 1911 was supposed to never even have a round chambered until you were ready to actually shoot, a rule that admittedly was honored mostly in the breach, particularly in a combat zone. But when instructing, you can’t tell someone anything that the Army says isn’t allowed. In civilian teaching situations, I’ve never recommended it to anyone because it’s supposed to be less than safe, and just maybe there is some logical reason, which I’ve never been able come up with, for that attitude.

    But think about the term – “fail-safe”. A fail safe is something that will stop something bad from happening when all of the other precautions fail to work. It’s something that is put in place to guarantee that, no matter what, the bad thing (in this case, of course, an unwanted discharge) will not happen. If something has been created as your guarantee of safety after everything else goes wrong, how unsafe or unreliable can that thing be?

    On half cock, the gun cannot be fired. Hit the hammer with something, pull the trigger, whatever, it will not fire. And even if your thumb somehow slips while bringing the gun to full cock, the hammer will not fall all the way, it will stop back where it started from, at half cock. And at least 3 times in my life I’ve seen a 1911 on half cock dropped onto a hard surface, and none of them discharged.

    I can see at least a possibility of a little more security in the traditional cocked and locked condition with a 1911 that has the series 80 type mechanism, but I do not, and never will, own a 1911 like that. Mine are all the 1945 MILSPEC Colt type of 1911. In fact, the only difference between my .45 cal 1911 and an Army issued 1945 Colt 1911, down to the smallest part, is that mine has a slightly wider ledge on the thumb safety. Other than that, every single component is interchangeable with an original ’45 MILSPEC 1911. And with a series 70 type mechanism, I just can’t come up with any safety advantage for using the thumb safety over the half cock.

    For me, using the half cock allows me to get the gun from the holster into firing position, in condition 0, in the least possible amount of time, and does not create any extra safety hazard. But like the man said, what’s best for me is not necessarily best for every other person. For example, while cocking the hammer is an integral part of my drawing process, which is accomplished simultaneously with pulling the gun from the holster, and does not slow anything down in even the tiniest way, and using the safety would require an extra movement of my thumb which WOULD create a delay of a tiny fraction of a second, for someone else cocking the hammer might be awkward and/or slow the draw. Each person has to determine what is the fastest way, without sacrificing safety, to get his/her gun from the holster and into firing position in condition 0.

  • jimmr

    If you do not feel safe carrying condition 1, carry a different gun. The 1911 is designed and safe to carry cocked and locked and you do your self a disservice if you do not train and practice enough to carry it proper;y.

  • tmaca

    People carry revolvers with an empty chamber under the hammer because of an old wive’s tale, which says that a round under the chamber is dangerous. At one time, this was indeed true. Modern revolvers have things like hammer blocks which don’t get out of the way unless the trigger is pulled, but with real old revolvers, hitting the hammer will discharge the chambered round. It’s kind of strange, how ideas about guns always seem to hang around long after guns change. I remember in the ’70s when all cops, not just in the city where I was on the job, but all over the country and at all levels, local, county, state and federal, had to carry revolvers as a duty weapon because Autos were believed to be both unreliable and inaccurate. This believe persisted for decades after the vast majority of autos became both accurate and reliable. Many police officers, if they worked for a department which didn’t also mandate revolvers for off duty weapons, carried autos off duty. I certainly did myself. But the old beliefs about autos persisted at official levels for years and years. I don’t know just when it changed, I was out of the “business” by then, but I know it took a long time. San Francisco, for instance, didn’t with to autos until the ’90s, and I think it was in the mid or late ’90s. Now, pretty much everyone’s duty weapon, no matter where they work, is an auto, but logically that should have changed no later than the late ’70s. These beliefs about guns that are based on how guns used to be just seem to have an incredibly long life span.


      ALBEIT auto pistols have more firepower; revolvers are more reliable with their multiple chambers compared to only ONE in a pistol.
      Bottom Line; a ‘miss-fire’ could cost you your life in a tight situation where TIME is of the essence and you don’t have your other hand free to operate a slide!!!

      • felipe

        The revolver doesn’t spit evidence all over the countryside either; just sayin’

        • DonB

          One should learn to wear gloves when loading one’s magazine… 😉

    • DonB

      Your comment about San Francisco is correct. They hold on to old ideas about a lot of things well past the expiration date! I worked for an agency (not SF) which qualified at SF’s range. Those of us carrying autos were required by SFPD Range Masters to use one of their range revolvers to qualify and had to leave our autos in the car! My agency was run by college type suits who didn’t know a revolver from a musket! Fortunately that all changed in the mid-90s.

  • bc

    Cocked and Locked is the best way to carry a S/A piston hands down. If you’re having to fight off an assailant at close range you don’t have the time or the extra hand to rack the slide.

  • Grey Wolf

    The bottom line is this, if you don’t feel comfortable with the 1911 Cocked and Locked then don’t carry it. That is not the weapon for you!

    Find one that you are comfortable with and use that. The 1911 is not for everyone and has a long and storied history. It was made for combat and that is its realm. When we must defend ourselves we are in combat of a most personal kind and it is live or die.

    Choose your caliber and side arm for yourself.

  • carynflo

    okay i am know 9111 is better brand but don’t forget 9mm. At this time most of shooter use 9mm. If you want to sell your product you must be changes in your brand. So do you have any ideas.

  • taitafalcon

    There is a 5th condition with guns like a CZ 52; chamber loaded, magazine full, safety on and hammer forward. The hammer has to be pulled back and the safety off to fire the first round but the slide not need to be racked.

  • Why did I know this was written by an Air Force offocer?


  • After reading some ‘responses,’ I gotta ask:

    If someone normally carrying Condition 1, C&L, considers the only reason to not carry Condition1 is FEAR;

    Then why do I keep reading the reference to the ‘danger’ of lowering the hammer? Why do so many Condition1 advocates FEAR the hammer?


  • Keith

    My 1911 is always carried cocked and locked. 1) Thumb safety, 2) Palm safety, 3) firing pin block, 4) hammer notch. 5) holster covers the trigger which is an added safety, 6) Finger remains off the trigger most important safety 7) Practice and experience. In firing the 1911: Firm grip to deactivate the Palm safety, firearm must be removed from the holster and while clearing the holster the safety is coming off, finger remains off the trigger while acquiring target, sight alignment, sight picture if required. Trigger finger goes to work if Necessary. Nothing dangerous about a gun being carrying cocked and locked. The danger begins and ends with the end user.

    I occasionally carry two other handguns, a striker fired handgun and my Sig 929. I always carry chambered. It makes absolutely no sense to me not to. I utilize holsters that cover the trigger. I personally feel the best against an AD when carrying my 929. (probably because I carried the 929 for years on patrol) Second is my 1911 and finally the striker fired.

    Which ever condition you choose to carry in, practice, practice, practice. I have been carrying since 1987 and I still practice, practice, practice. I have personally found that the threat of an AD comes when handlers are loading and unloading guns. Never let a distraction interrupt your loading and unloading. IMPORTANT: If the slide is not locked back the gun should always be considered loaded until visually verified and reverified.

    Enjoy and safe shooting