Should You Carry with a Round in the Chamber? [Part 2]

Should You Carry with a Round in the Chamber? [Part 2]

By Brandon – Republished with Permission from Concealed Nation.

If you’ve ever asked yourself the question that’s in the title of this article, you’re going to want to give this a good solid read.

Quite a while ago, we posted a short and to-the-point article about carrying one in the chamber. We have decided to elaborate on this a little, as we came to the realization that many people who are starting out with firearms or completely new to them may not realize a few things when it comes to their concealed carry firearms.

How safe is it to carry with one in the chamber?

We’ll start with this: If you are carrying a modern firearm, it is extremely safe to carry your firearm with a round in the chamber. Features such as manual safeties, internal safeties, heavy triggers and FINGER DISCIPLINE will not allow your firearm to discharge unintentionally. A cocked and locked 1911 is no more dangerous with a round in the chamber than a revolver. We’ll stress this again: with a modern firearm, it will not discharge unless your trigger is pulled. However…

There are some exceptions to this, such as the type of holster you use (or if you don’t use a holster at all). Let’s say you have a flimsy holster that is not molded to your firearm and you go to re-holster. During re-holstering, part of the flimsy holster is folded over and gets into the trigger guard. This can, and has, depressed triggers and made the firearm go off. This is a negligent discharge. While very rare, it’s important that you are using a proper holster for your particular firearm. We stand by using a molded holster 100%, such as the Crossbreed holster pictured. Whether it’s a popular hybrid leather/kydex IWB holster or another type, having a holster that’s made to fit your exact firearm goes a long way.

Crossbreed Holsters

Let’s talk about Glocks for a second. Any Glock pistol has internal safeties that Glock calls their Safe Action System. These safeties are in place to do things such as, for example, not allowing the firing pin to move forward unless the trigger is pulled. It’s literally impossible for a Glock to discharge without pulling the trigger.

Revolvers. If every cylinder is loaded, a revolver always has ‘one in the chamber’. But, for some reason, people feel that it’s safer than a semi-auto. The hammer isn’t cocked so it can’t go off. Well, it’s the same with a semi-auto. While a Glock is in a ‘half-cocked’ state when the trigger is in the forward position, it will still never fire because of the information discussed  in the previous paragraph.

Take the test

If you’re still uncertain about carrying with one in the chamber, take this next piece of information into consideration. Every time you un-holster your firearm, how many times has the trigger been depressed once removed? The answer should be never. If this is the case, then it’s safe to say that if you were carrying with one in the chamber, you wouldn’t have a discharge during the day. If you’ve carried for a year every single day with an empty chamber and never saw your trigger depressed at the end of the day, that’s a good sign.

If all of this doesn’t ease your concern, you may want to get more familiar with your firearm and practice as much as you can. We aren’t saying that you should stop carrying, but if you ever need your firearm one day, racking the slide can either:

  • Take an eternity (because you’re caught off guard and have adrenaline running)
  • Cause a malfunction (because the majority of malfunctions happen when the slide is moving)
  • Not rack at all because you don’t have enough time and are already dead
  • Not rack at all because of a million different reasons

Watch the video below for even more information on this topic. Post any questions or comments using the comments section below.

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  • Eric

    I still don’t trust striker fired weapons, lol. I like hammer fired DA/SA for this reason. One in the chamber, hammer down, plus that first shot is a heavy pull.

  • cosmo007

    1911 one in the chamber and 8 in the mag, cocked and locked. The only way I carry, My little ones, KelTec don’t even have a safety and always one is in the chamber.

  • Mikial

    If someone is uncomfortable with carrying a Glock, XD, M&P, etc. with a round in the chamber, then switch to a different gun. My wife’s ATI 92 (Beretta clone) has a de-cocker. With a round in the chamber and the de-cocker/safety on, it simply cannot fire until you switch the safety off and pull the trigger for that first DA shot. After that, it’s SA.

    Personally, I carry a G21 or sometimes an XD45 locked and loaded. Never had one go off yet until I pulled the trigger. But, I also use a good Crossbreed IWB to secure the gun and protect the trigger.

  • Kilroymaster

    I would really like to carry an .45 automatic, But I find myself priced out of the market For automatics are way to costly (Like 3x to 4x greater than the .38 special………… So where do you recommend that I can go Shopping for a reasonable price .45…….. Here in NC

    • Mikial

      I haven’t bought a gun from a shop for years. Go on-line. CDNN, J&G, Cheaper Than Dirt, Sportsman’s Guide and a lot more have good prices. Or try Gun Broker, which essentially an auction site for guns. You will have to have your purchase shipped to an FFL for the background check to ensure you can legally own a gun, so make sure you have one first.

    • BenAround

      I have bought from grabagun dot com. They seem to have good prices. You can get a tier one semi-automatic for less than $500. Some even less than $400. You will pay less than $6 for shipping plus an ffl transfer fee of $20 or $25 and applicable local sales taxes when you pick it up at your local gun shop. I recommend the springfield xd mod 2 subcompact in 9 mm. .40 or .45. It is a great balance of capacity and concealability. Glock has pistols with similar specs (g26, for example). I just prefer the grip safety on the springfields but others may not. You can find reviews and comparisons on YouTube.

    • 2ThinkN_Do2

      3 to 4x more for a 45 semi-auto over a .38 special? You can pickup an M&P 45 for about $535, you can buy a Rock Island 45 -1911 for about $475, you can pickup a Ruger 45 -1911 for about $675. About the only 45 that costs 3 to 4x more are Wilson Combat, Les Baer and similar high end ones. You can buy a Kimber 1911 starting around $800. What’s a good 38 special cost, between $325 and $475. I am talking new firearms by the way.

    • bwall

      I got a Springfield xd45 for $500.

    • shawn jarman

      Have you tried a pawn shop? And gun shows, I bought a 1911 ultra compact .45 for $500 at one

  • Get A Grip

    Paranoia strikes deep,
    Into you heart it will creep,
    Starts when you’re always afraid….

    If you know you are going into a war zone, then yes. If you are going to a dangerous neighborhood intentionally, or live in one (Chicago’s south side?), then yes.

    Otherwise, you might want to ask yourself some more important questions about your life choices in travel, awareness, residence, associates etc.

    Practice, yes, practice so that “racking” becomes an automatic motion incorporated into the draw and be aware of your surroundings and the whereabouts of others when you go about your business.

    There are many examples of successful armed defense by people grossly un practiced with their firearm and who had to go retrieve it from another location before it could be used. There are also many examples of people who carry “one in the pipe” including LEO’s who have shot themselves in their daily routine!

    There are also those who would carry two in the chamber if they could just cause in case they need two immediate shots and it would be just so much more “macho”! Imagine being able to say; “Double cocked and locked, man!” You never know when the first one “in the pipe” may not go off and who can take the time to clear and rack a new one?

    • Mikial

      “If you know you are going into a war zone, then yes. If you are going to a dangerous neighborhood intentionally, or live in one (Chicago’s south side?), then yes.”

      You are discounting shootings and crimes in Wal Marts, movie theaters, schools, and a hundred other placers. Bad guys have cars. They can travel outside their immediate neighborhood, and in fact may likely do so because the pickings are better. And if they are a crazy, they could turn up anywhere.

      If you are depending on not being at risk because of the area you are in at any given time, or depending on your ability to recognize an immediate threat in time to draw and rack and react before the other guy does, then I wish you all the luck in the world.

      As for me, after years of military, law enforcement and private security in high risk locations . . . I think I would rather be ready and be counted paranoid by people like you, than be dead and have you consider me a reasonable person.

      • shawn jarman

        Very well put, couldn’t have said it any better

    • BenAround

      There actually is a double barreled Derringer type out there that meets the criteria of two in the pipe. But that is sold as a backup gun. Which you may well need when you jam your unloaded gun trying to chamber a round with an attacker on your back. But you are ridiculing the entire law enforcement community when you characterize carrying with a round chambered as paranoia or cowardice. The simple fact is that the need to chamber a round in order to prepare to neutralize an imminent threat takes time, makes noise, takes one hand away from being able to fend off an attacker who is reaching for your gun, increases the chance that you will jam your weapon, and divides your attention at a time when all your focus should be on the attacker. It is a lot easier to follow simple trigger discipline rules when you have all the time in the world to focus and be careful than to depend on having all the time in the world in an emergency to rack the slide, clear a jam, ask the attacker to please let go of your support hand while you load your gun, or simply forget to chamber a round and pull the trigger on an empty chamber.

    • Yoda’s Hat

      I don’t put up smoke/fire detectors when I’m paranoid about a fire erupting in my house. I have smoke/fire/CO detectors in my house IN CASE something happens.
      It is the same with carrying concealed (and loaded). I don’t carry concealed only when I suspect something dangerous/life threatening may occur. I carry IN CASE something happens. Crime involving weapons can happen anywhere at any time. That is fact, and no paranoia. The practice with firearms handing and firing is imperative, but when you have to react with deadly force while your fine motor skills leave you and adrenaline is flooding your body, you don’t need the extra time spent racking a slide. If there is a jam, you’re likely dead.

    • Alan Lynn

      If I knew before hand that danger was coming I would almost always avoid it, but bad things can and do happen anywhere and any time.

      Without being a psychic a gun is the next best thing.

      There is no place that is always safe.

  • Mike Martin

    I have carried with one in the chamber for 18 years and never had one accidently go off. The only time my firearm has gone off, is when I “intentionally” pull the trigger. This is with the M&P 40, S&W 659, G23, and a Bursa .380.
    Keep in mind all of the new modern firearms are tested by the manufacture to be cocked & locked, then dropped to make sure all of the internal safeties are working properly. The main problem with people having “accidental” shots is 99% handler issues (poor holster, unmaintained firearm, poor safety technique – finger on the trigger before ready to shoot). A firearm requires training and practice just like a car, chainsaw, jet ski, motorcycle, log splitter, skateboarding, skiing, etc. If you are going to carry, practice proper safety and drawing techniques. Practice, practice, practice……

    • Rick Fannin

      One in the chamber when carrying is no problem. The problem arises at the end of the day. When unholstering the weapon the chamber should be cleared if others have even the remotest chance of accessing the gun. Too many people get lazy and set the gun down without clearing the chamber. Young ones can not chamber a round but can pull the trigger. Too many kids have been killed this way. If you tend to get lazy, keep the chamber empty until needed. It may slow you down in a gunfight, but it might save a child.

  • Harry “Hershy” Orenstein

    I carry my P226 cross-draw. Here, in the Levant (MIDDLE EAST), dangers exist within the vehicle when driving or being driven or when entering/exiting vehicle or loading / unloading vehicle.

    QUESTION: Does one maintain the pistol whilst in the driving seat (1) chambered-holstered on ones belt or (2) chambered-mounted on a separate holster bolted to inside of vehicle in easier reach? Then reholster on exiting vehicle?

    • AmericanBob

      Yes. Carry 2 guns. One in each of the configurations mentioned

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  • Craig

    Depends on the gun. If you have a Glock or similar without a manual safety or double action trigger pull, then you should not carry with a loaded chamber. This is why I am smart enough to not own a gun that does not have a safety, or it at least has a hammer with a double/single action.

    • David

      I have a Glock and carry it every day and it has never gone off by it self.
      The reason for this choice was due to the lack of it having a safty lever to worry about when in a life and death situation, I feel the time it takes to fumble around and turn the safety off in a stressful situation could be the difference between live or die.

      • MARC P

        Very right my friend. Case in point, my high school history teacher was in vietnam in the ia drang valley (the valley of death), the actual battle of the mel gibson movie “we were soldiers” was about. He was involved in an extremely high stress situation, involving live fire, where he needed to return fire to survive. His rifle would not fire after several attempts. He turned to his srgt and said his rifle was jamed. His srgt replied and said “relax son, this is ‘safety, and this is fire’, ‘safety, fire’. He never made that mistake again, but it almost cost him his lift.

    • George Spaulding

      I carry a Sig P229 or FN FNP40, always chambered unless stored or being cleaned(and they’re never stored). Both are DA/SA but neither have a manual safety because I would screw that up under stress, even with a million practice draws. But I wouldn’t throw out an absolute ‘should not carry with a loaded chamber’ for whatever reasons because we’re all wired differently, train for our preferences, hone skills and find confidence in our own preferences, and carry safely with ‘+1’.

    • MARC P

      Tell that to 73% of law enforcement depts across the country and there would be a lot of police personel fatalities.

    • BJSWART

      Glock pistols have 3 safeties on them, you must pull the trigger for it to fire. I carry one of my Glocks everyday with a round in the chamber. I am sorry but, people who think that it is wrong to carry Condition1 need to reevaluate what they are doing and consider getting more training. One guy said carrying an empty chamber only requires him to be good once. Really??? Wrong perspective Sir.

  • consumer

    I carry one in the chamber of my Beretta all the time. I can testify that my safety does indeed work like it is supposed to since I fell down a flight of stairs and broke both my legs earlier this year. Oh, and I am a 5ft 63 yr old grandma.

  • AmericanBob

    I too was ill at ease carrying in condition 1 however i took a marksmanship class and then a combat hand gun 1 class and a yr later a combat 2 advanced course and now i cant imangine NOT carrying my pistol with out a round chambered. Training always fixes problems and fixes the mindset which is the actual weapon as the gun is only a tool

  • BlueBuddha

    It’s interesting how these articles & discussions never contain any hard numbers. For instance, how many Condition 3 carriers per year lose their lives due to not being able to chamber a round in time, or a malfunction caused by the attempt. How about even a single example?

    Here’s my numbers:

    1. I have young kids at home.
    2. In almost 50 years of life, I have never had to use my sidearm to preserve that life.
    3. The odds of a negligent discharge while handling my pistol multiple times a day, or of my absentmindedly laying it down and forgetting about it before locking it up, or of it working its way out of my holster when I fall asleep on the couch, or any of a myriad other scenarios which could endanger my kids, are infinitely higher than my odds of needing it for self-defense.
    4. The odds of my needing my pistol for self-defense, and then dying due to the extra second needed to chamber a round or a malfunction induced by that chambering are even more minuscule.

    Essentially, carrying Condition 1 requires me to be perfect every day, multiple times per day, or I’m endangering my kids – the protection of whom is my primary responsibility. Carrying Condition 3 requires me to be pretty competent once, in a situation that’s overwhelmingly unlikely to ever happen. When my kids are older my views may change, but for now I carry C3, and I practice C3, and the numbers add up for me.

  • Ken Pagano

    I have carried Israeli for almost 40yrs now…did so in the Military and as LEO and now as a civilian. If I have to “cross the line” then I go “hot.” But my training and experience tells me I am just as secure and even more safe carrying Israeli than any other fashion. If one follows the 4 Cardinal safety rules and carries Israeli there will never be a ND.

    • shawn jarman

      Excuse my ignorance but never heard the term “Israeli”, are referring to condition 1 or no.

      • Ken Pagano

        No, Israeli Carry normally is Condition 3 carry. Just do a quick search and you will find out all you need to know. If you wish some further info, contact me direct and I will send you something I wrote.

        • shawn jarman

          No need for further explanation, I understand what condition 3 means, but for me if ever my non-dominant hand is injured, don’t need to worry about trying to rack the slide, just my opinion, but. Condition 1 is the best way for me to carry, thanks for the reply on the term “Israeri”

  • firelooker

    I have always carried one in the chamber even with old fashioned SA six shooters.

  • wbarrettpowell

    I will admit to carrying condition 2. My carry was a little pocket .380 with a pocket clip.

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