Is It Safe to Carry with a Round in the Chamber?

Is It Safe to Carry with a Round in the Chamber?


By Brandon – Republished with Permission from Concealed Nation.

The most common question that we receive from people who are new to concealed carry is this: Should I carry with a round in the chamber?

We know that this question is asked mainly due to the uncertainty people have with the safety aspects of this. We’re going to try and clear that up today.

Why carry with a round chambered?

Simple; preparedness. We’ll use this analogy: Carrying with an empty chamber is often given a response such as “you might as well carry a brick around” or “you might as well leave it at home”. While this can be true in certain circumstances, we feel that it’s a counterproductive response to the question. Remember, the question is usually asked by people who are new to concealed carry and may be new to firearms in general. Knocking them down with a response like that doesn’t help anyone and certainly doesn’t remove any uncertainties they may have.

We wrote this article, this article, and this article on carrying with a round in the chamber.

Under stress, your body reacts in a much different way than normal. A simple action such as racking the slide is made much more difficult than under normal circumstances. The chances of a failure increase dramatically. You may not pull the slide all the way back to allow it to strip the round from the magazine, or if you do manage to strip the round, you may find that it’s not seated fully in the chamber. Both of these are setting the firearm up for immediate failure. Having your round ready to go is the best case scenario for being prepared at a moments notice.

But how safe is it really?

The best test you can do is this: Let’s say you carry for a month straight. At the end of each day when you unholster your firearm, check to see how many times the trigger has been depressed. If you’re carrying in a proper holster and keep your finger away from the trigger, your answer should be zero. With any modern firearm, the trigger has to be pulled for the firearm to go bang. No trigger pull = no bang.

The keys to completely negating a negligent discharge are as follows:

  • Always use a proper holster for your firearm. One that has a trigger guard and is molded for your firearm is your best option.
  • Know how your firearm operates.
  • Follow the 3 Rules of Gun Safety at all times.
  • Always keep your finger away from the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
  • Practice drawing your firearm (unloaded) from your holster until you don’t have to look down at all while drawing, and then practice some more.
  • When you’re confident, practice drawing and firing at the range, and reholstering.
We can’t stress using a proper holster enough. We absolutely stand by using a molded holster that is made for your firearm. Using a generic flimsy holster can get into your trigger guard when holstering and cause your firearm to fire.

The images below show exactly that happening. This is a very dangerous situation that can be completely avoided when a proper holster is used.



The images above come from a story that cannot be viewed enough times over at

Give me the bottom line

The bottom line is this: if you are carrying a modern firearm, it is engineered to never discharge unless your finger pulls the trigger. Many have internal safeties as well as external safeties, and those safeties are in place for one reason; to ensure it doesn’t fire when it isn’t supposed to.

Current estimates claim that upwards of 10 Million Americans carry concealed every day. If negligent discharges were a common occurrence, we’d hear about them in the news every evening while we’re eating dinner. We don’t hear about this because it rarely happens. And when it does happen, it’s almost certainly related to operator error rather than firearm malfunction. The vast majority of firearm malfunctions happen because of bad reloads.

Rest assured (and walk around with your chambered firearm assured) that if you’re safe and know how your firearm operates, there is absolutely no reason that you should fear carrying with a round in the chamber. If after reading this article you are still unsure, you should consider holding off on carrying a firearm until you are confident in both that firearm and yourself as the owner.

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Luke McCoy is the founder of USA Carry. In 2007, he launched USA Carry to provide concealed carry information and a community for those with concealed carry permits and firearm enthusiasts.
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Sure it’s safe. Safer than carrying an empty gun.


Dude get over yourself. Israeli special operations have trained without a round chambered forever. Please, in a civilian environment, no real reason to carry with one in the pipe, especially with Glocks and SIG’s without safeties


i have been carrying with a round chambered for over thirty years. That may not be your preference and I support that, but don’t tell the guy to “get over himself” because he chooses a different route than you. Just because it has ever happened to you doesn’t mean that it won’t–a deranged criminal suddenly pointing his weapon at you is not going to wait for you to draw and then rack, heck you may not even have sufficient time to draw/safety off/and fire in time to save your life or others. Milliseconds count. I carry 1911’s with the grip safety and slide safety, cocked and locked with one in the pipe, and in a properly designed Crossbreed holster. These factors, along with my training and experience, make my weapons among the safest out there. A negligent discharge is just that, NEGLIGENCE. And I 100% disagree with a firearm that has been manufactured without a safety, that in and of itself is manufacturer negligence and a huge danger to the public..


With all due respect I made the statement, “Get over yourself” because the fellow thinks carrying without a round chamber is akin to carrying a firearm without any rounds.
I carry without a round chambered because both my firearms (Glock 23 .40 cal and Sig Sauer SP2022 .40 cal) do not have safeties whatsoever.
Outside of being targeted for assassination, in the civilian world, I don’t feel racking the slide will make any difference as it is done within half a second


I carry the Springfield Armory XDS .45 with the proper holster.Very nice hand gun,fun to shoot.Being a
former U.S.Marine.I carry 24/7 with a round chambered.Period.


Commandant General Amos affirmed on December 2011:

“A Marine is a Marine. I set that policy two weeks ago –
there’s no such thing as a former Marine. You’re a Marine, just in a
different uniform and you’re in a different phase of your life. But
you’ll always be a Marine because you went to Parris Island, San Diego
or the hills of Quantico. There’s no such thing as a former Marine.”

So, quit using that phrase.


“Disqus”..Well shit.I sure blew that..My apologizes brother.You are 100% correct..I am a U.S.Marine,and I will always be a U.S.Marine…………..Semper Fi Brother….Oooh Rah…….



Semper Fi


Semper fidelis.


I agree wholeheartedly. A Marine is a Marine (even though I wasn’t). But all of us who are veterans took an oath to our country. So in my opinion, not only is a Marine a Marine, but an Airman is an Airman, a Sailor a Sailor, a Coastie a Coastie, and a Soldier a Soldier. Semper Paratus!


Well Stan, you are can call yourself whatever you want, and don’t let anyone tell you anything different. After all, people like you fought to have the Freedom to choose.

Steven D. Timm

I agree with this article!!

I always carry with a round in the chamber. That is much better than having to rack the slide to put a round in the chamber when an emergency happens.

There is another point too. Chambering a round can be time consuming. Seconds count when an emergency arises.

God Bless all of you!!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving and shoot safe!!


I have ambidextrous safety/decockers on my guns. Releasing a safety is a one thumb operation. Racking the slide is a “fail” as it requires two hands. Releasing the safety is a “pass”.

Steve Weston

I do not carry with a round chambered. Reason is my grandkids… I put my weapons away out of reach when they visit but you never know if a child can get ahold of my gun. Un-chambered there is less chance of firing by accident..


I don’t think that is what the question is asking. It is whether or not you CARRY with a round in the chamber, not when you remove your pistol for storage. And putting your weapons “out of reach” is not good enough, you need to lock them up in a safe or have safety locks if they are somewhere a child could find them. Also, even an unchambered gun is very dangerous for kids to get their hands on, kids know how to rack one into the chamber from playing millions of video games. I have a different approach. My EDC pistols are ALWAYS on me, even in my house, and my others are in the safe. If there is a home invasion, are you going to have time to get to your firearm and get it loaded in time? i would rather not take that chance… I carry 1911’s that have three safeties: The manual safety on the side, the grip safety, and the main safety—my FINGER, which does not touch trigger until time to fire the weapon..


Long story made short….Left pistol with round in chamber, but on manual SAFE, on the night stand in my apartment. Left for the evening, and landlords had a neighborhood party. Upon my return I was greeted by the upset landlords telling me it was their fault, as they had let several kids into my apartment as the kids found the pistol and were going around pointing it at each other, going bang-bang! I still shake when I think as to what could have happened, and it happened many years ago. Thank God for the rugged manual Safety that was on it!


Why would you leave a loaded weapon in your apartment in plain sight, if you were leaving? It could’ve become a stolen weapon used in a crime . . . when I leave home, everything is locked up except for whatever is with me.


My “apartment” was a renovated downstairs basement in a nice home owned by an attorney, and they had been burglarized a few days earlier. Their neighborhood party was a spur of the moment notice by them, and I was not there when they notified the neighbors. Also, I am the one who renovated the basement, and my landlady was very proud of the work done by me, and she just had to show it off to everyone, and did not intend to let anyone into my bedroom…but, kids are kids. No doubt, you are correct in that I should have left the weapon locked up somehow. I think both the landlord and I assumed the blame, equally…but, it was a hard lesson learned when it comes to having innocent children around. Sorry, for not making it clear, but it did happen over 30 years ago, and my memory bank, is being burglarized every day now! Happy Thanksgiving to ya…..!


Ah, the memory bank withdrawals, taking place without our approval ; ) I am there with you, Happy Turkey day to you as well.

ken p

If you are new to the CCW or have a new gun and holster I would recommend getting so snap caps and practice carrying around the house . Practice holstering and drawing tell you feel and have convinced you can carry chambered . Because if your you our under a life and death altercation and seconds count even the most experienced person could fumble trying to chamber a semi auto. If you have 1 in the pipe you know you are only 5-7 lbs away from making it go bang . Does this make since . This is what i did 7 years ago and it worked for me and I still do it when I get a new gun or holster


I agree that the number one safety is knowing how to handle your weapon. A new owner should practice putting their trigger finger along the slide until it becomes second nature. And as stated in the article, the proper holster will provide such training as most of them have the release button in line with the trigger finger pressing said release and forcing the finger to stay straight as the weapon is pulled out of the holster. You will only go for the trigger if you are lazy in your training and just can not resist curling that finger and placing it inside the trigger guard. Perfect practice makes perfect carrier. Not a Marine but a US ARMY vet. I took that oath and so far no one has relieved me of that oath. Carry safe/Carry always.


For a decade and a half, while on duty, i carried a round in the chamber and safe off on my M9. When I got my first glock though, I didn’t trust having a round in the chamber for the longest time, due to the holsters available.
If you get a good kydex holster, you really don’t need to worry about accidental trigger pull.
For those of you with kids, if you need to pull that pistol to save the life of your kids, don’t you want to know you’re able to neutralize the threat immediately?
If you say you don’t carry with a round chambered because you don’t want your kids to get a hold of a loaded weapon, I agree. If it’s on your person you shouldn’t have anything to worry about. When you disarm, clear your weapon (pointed in a safe direction ) and half load it out lock it up.

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My personal preference is to carry without one in the pipe. Neither my Glock 23 (.40 cal) nor my Sig Sauer SP2022 (.40 cal) have a safety. I have been in high stress gun fights (military) and I feel confident I can rack the slide within a millisecond. In a combat theater, no way, but in the civilian world, unless someone has targeted me for assassination, that extra millisecond will not make a difference.
More power to those who do carry with a round chambered, I just prefer the other option (in a civilian world)

jim marcum

I agree with you. I have never carried with a chambered round. Even my revolvers keep an open cylinder. I don’t think it would make a measurable difference if and when I have to use the weapons for self defense.


Smart, even with a revolver. Also makes a last line of defense if god forbid somehow a toddler were to come across. What I mean is, I will never leave a loaded firearm unsecured. But playing devil’s advocate, if they did, they would NOT know how to rack the slide and thus prevent a negligent discharge. Same applies with a revolver


More like 500 milliseconds or more…….. But, even for those who carry one in the chamber, they might have a safety engaged so, the question is, what can people do faster: rack or release the safety…….


Safety, it can be swiped off during the draw process easier then bringing the second hand up to rack the slide.

Ken Pagano

Carry how you like, but I have seen far too many NDs from the trained professionals. I have carried and taught the Israeli method for almost 40yrs. It is a safe, effective and proven method. For the average civilian there is no better method, IMHO.


I wholeheartedly agree. In a civilian environment, unless you are targeted for assassination, you will have more than ample time to rack the slide. Israeli special forces know their shit, if they can get away with racking the slide, so can you (the average gun owner)
As an Army infantryman, I was not issued a sidearm. As far as I am aware, neither are my Marine Corps Infantry brothers. Yet I see tons of posts on this very thread talking about Marines always carry with a round in the pipe.
Can my Marine Corps Brethren answer on who are issued side arms?

Je Vois Tout

I served in the Marine Corps in the 1970s. Generally, staff NCOs, officers, tankers and helicopter flight crews were issued sidearms. As a 2531 (field radio operator) I was issued a sidearm as well. I still had to qualify with the M16 every year in addition to my M1911.


Although not issued a sidearm in combat as an Army infantryman, during my tour of South Korea, when on guard duty of Freedom Bridge, that spans the Imjin River, I carried a Colt 1911 (.45 cal) sidearm at all times and had an M16 that stayed in the guard shack (unless needed) We shared duty with ROK soldiers (Republic of Korea military) as well as KATUSA’s. Military service in Korea is compulsory, the poor kids are drafted into the ROK Army and the rich kids are assigned to American units and called KATUSA’s (Korean Augmentation To the US Army)
Anyway back on point, when carrying the .45 on guard duty, we were required to carry UNLOADED, with the magazine in your opposite cargo pocket of our BDU’s. So I am a right handed shooter, I was required to carry the magazine in my left cargo pocket

Je Vois Tout

Yeah, when carrying in the field our pistols were always unloaded with full magazines in their pouches. I always felt that if we ever needed those weapons there would be a slight pause while we found our ammunition, loaded and chambered and finally got ready to engage. In your case there were political considerations as well. Mustn’t piss off the North with an accidental discharge, no?


Well to be clear, Freedom Bridge is a few kilometers away from the DMZ and the MDL. Accordingly we had no North Korean Mirrors (as is the case on the MDL) but those are largely ceremonial in any case


Thats why they invented that little latch on the side or grip, it called a safety….even the old cowhands carried hammer on empty cylinder…Molded holsters are uncomfortable, but best option for carrying with a loaded weapon…


I carry using a Sneaky Pete holster, with a Baretta Tomcat .32 ACP. (Not my first choice, but it’s small, powerful, and surprisingly accurate for such a small handgun.) I carry with a round in the chamber.

I also have several handguns scattered arouond the house, hidden in plain sight, easily gotten to if you know where they are, but inaccessible if you don’t.. Every firearm has a loaded magazine and one in the pipe.

My mother lives in my home (retired and disabled). She has had to use one of these emergency handguns when a couple kids decided to have some fun and break in. They didn’t like looking down the steady barrel of an M1911! Mom called the police, while keeping the kids at gunpoint until the police arrived. Turns out one has a history of raping old women, the other of killing old people. Now she carries ALL THE TIME, not just out of the house..

jim marcum

a cop recently pulled over an elderly lady. when he ran her plates her concealed carry status came across his computer as well. he approached her car and she gave him her license and concealed carry permit. the cop asked the lady if she was packing. she said yes. he said what do you have. she said I have a glock 40 in my purse, a Judge Defender in the middle console and a 357 Smith in the glove compartment. the cop says gee lady what are you afraid of, she said ‘not a damn thing’.

Randall Sobien

First, yes, I do carry with a round in the chamber.

Second, this is more a point of curiosity, but something that would likely help people to know. I’ve heard that with many striker-fired pistols, when you chamber a round, the striker is only partially cocked (how much depending on the individual gun), and often not enough to make it fire if it should slip for some reason. Can anyone confirm or debunk this?


I carry a semi auto and prefer one in the chamber. How many times have you been shopping and left a store with both hands empty? Would you be willing to drop that $40-$60 worth of liquor or that $300-$500 flat screen TV if you walked out and into a situation where you needed both hands to rack and load your semi auto?


Why are there still articles on this subject? If you carry an unloaded gun, chances are you will not be ready when the time comes to use it. If you do not feel competent to carry a gun with a round in the chamber, particularity with the availability of DAO pistols, then you may not be ready when that moment comes. No matter what people may try to convince themselves of, it takes a lot more time to draw and rack a slide than to draw and shoot . . . and the bad guy usually already has his gun in his hand.


It is unsafe to not have a round in the chamber.