CCW Lifestyle Series #3 – Should You Carry With a Round in the Chamber?

San Diego County Gun Owners Undesignated 5 Comments


The following is part of a continuing series of articles intended to provide a starting point for those new to concealed carry. There is much to learn and great satisfaction to be had but figuring out where to begin can be daunting for newcomers. The intent of the series is to provide useful information for those beginning the transition to the concealed carry lifestyle.

You’ve found your perfect holster; you’ve got the right gun belt and you have your gun and concealed carry permit. You’ve got your carry style and clothing figured out.

Here we’ll address your next big decision; should you carry with a round in the chamber? Everyone who is new to concealed carry goes through this exercise. Most people only handle a loaded firearm on the firing line at the range. As a concealed carrier you’ll be handling a loaded firearm daily in your home and occasionally in other locations. There will probably be some apprehension involved in the beginning.

Most firearms instructors and experienced concealed carriers will say you should carry with a round in the chamber. There are a number of reasons for this. In a self-defense incident you may not have time to chamber a round or you may not have a hand free to rack the slide. You could be injured and unable to operate the slide or you may induce a malfunction in the stress of the moment. The added step of chambering a round adds unnecessary risk.

For examples of how quickly self-defense incidents develop visit John Correia’s Active Self Protection channel for narrated videos of real incidents. It’s surprising to see how fast conditions change from normal to life threatening and how very little time there is to react. It’s unlikely you’ll have time to chamber a round. Here is a real example of what could happen when attempting to rack the slide during an incident.

There is also an argument for carrying with an empty chamber. One consideration is safety, especially if you appendix carry. Another is that if someone takes your gun you may have some additional time to react while they deal with the empty chamber. Lenny McGill of Lenny McGill’s GlockStore explains his reasoning for his carry method in this video. Lenny has a great deal of experience and a very high skill level. Carrying with an empty chamber works for him.

Additional information on loaded chamber vs unloaded chamber can be found in this earlier article on the subject. Whichever approach you choose the key is to get the training and develop the skill to carry confidently and safely. If you choose loaded chamber, then have a skill level such that you can always safely handle your loaded firearm. If you choose unloaded chamber practice enough so that you can always draw and chamber a round quickly and effectively.

The right to self-defense is a basic human right. Gun ownership is an integral part of that right. If you want to keep your rights defend them by joining San Diego County Gun Owners (SDCGO) in San Diego, Orange County Gun Owners (OCGO) in Orange County, San Bernardino County Gun Owners (SBCGO) in San Bernardino County or Riverside County Gun Owners (RCGO) in Riverside. Support the cause by listening to Gun Sports Radio live on Sunday afternoon or on the internet at your leisure. Join the fight and help us restore and preserve our second amendment rights. Together we will win.


©2020 Joseph T Drammissi


Comments 5

  1. Being a Veteran and having carried weapons on 6 separate combat deployments the answer is simple: Yes. Any gun is carried for one purpose; Self defense, to do so you must be in a position to react faster than the opposition (bad guy). A weapon which is carried without a round in the chamber is considered a “dead man’s gun”. You will never win in a gun fight when your weapon is not ready to fire and the barrel looking you square in the eye is. Carrying in any posture other than ready to get to work is nothing more than posing…. Posers lose in a gun fight!

  2. I’m starting a “go fund me” to send Larry to Antarctica just to carry a gun around.
    It seems a shame not to pick up that 7th continent.

  3. Larry is absolutely correct.. we called condition three (mag in, empty chamber) a “dead man’s chamber” at CSTI, where we trained everyone from local LE to special operations teams. Consider the recent videos from the church in White Settlement, Texas: the first man shot had a handgun on him, but took too long to get it into the gunfight and he was killed. You don’t get extra seconds (not even split-seconds) to put your firearm to work when you’re in a gunfight that you didn’t choose to start – and by definition, civilian good guys don’t start fights.

    I respectfully disagree with Glockstore’s Lenny in his video. Also, don’t press the trigger like he does after unloading – it’s a totally unnecessary and an unsafe habit with a striker fired handgun. If you’re not comfortable carrying appendix with a round in the chamber (a reasonable fear… ), find another location you can confidently, discretely and effectively carry with a round in the chamber. A little force-on-force reality-based training will quickly cure someone of a dead man’s chamber habit, once they realize they “died” 10/10 times that day.

  4. I always carry with the chamber loaded and can’t imagine a situation where I wouldn’t. I might’ve carried empty when I first started 10+ years ago, but I quickly got over that paranoid stage and now view the weapon as a tool that will only go off unintentionally if you’re negligent.

    It might be a different story if you didn’t have a mechanical safety, in that case I’d probably carry empty.

  5. …or….you could just carry a revolver, like a Ruger LCR (preferably in .357) and not worry about having a round chambered (they are always “chambered”) nor having the safety on/off (there isn’t one)…

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