When we carry a concealed weapon, there are many choices that we have to make. Pick the right gun, the right holster, find the clothes that won’t expose it, find a way around gun free zones and overly sensitive colleagues and relatives that don’t support your life choices. But there is one more choice that we have to make – should we carry a round in the chamber in our defensive firearm?
The question is not as easy as you might think. While many Americans will answer yes to this question, in other parts of the world having a round in the chamber is prohibited by law, even for law enforcement personnel (for example, in Russia, where I happened to grow up, but also in China and many other places).
If you ever worked for international security corporations, even in places like Iraq or Somalia company’s standard operating procedures usually strictly prohibit security officers to have a round in the chamber. I spent a lot of time talking about it and heard more than once: “Who needs a round in the chamber when you’re in the armored vehicle? Anyone who insists on having a round the chamber is crazy!”
And I won’t even mention Israel. Their shooting methods are highly regarded among professionals and one of the pillars of “Israeli combat shooting” is an empty chamber. Back in the day, I received some training from Israeli instructors, here is a short demonstration of some of the techniques they showed me.
Also, we always have to think about safety. The reason why we are carrying a firearm is to be safer and we should do everything possible to make sure that we won’t harm ourselves or loved ones with our own weapon.
In fact, some weapon manufacturers will recommend not to carry a round in the chamber for your own safety.
OK, so should YOU carry a round in the chamber? Every person should find the answer for himself/herself. I can only share my opinion, even if someone will find it highly controversial. Here it is:
If you are just an average law-abiding citizen with limited or minimal training, you carry a weapon for personal protection and you live in the US, where, let’s face it, chances of you being attacked are relatively low, there is absolutely no reason to not carry a round in the chamber. Or, let me rephrase: you should absolutely carry a round in the chamber at all times.
When you don’t train a lot, your shooting and weapon handling techniques must be as simple as possible. Draw the weapon – point it at a bad guy – press the trigger, it does not get any more simple than that. For someone who seldom trains with his weapon, the introduction of a whole new step into this process is one of the stupidest things you can do.
Also, there are many situations when you will have to do some funky joggling to actually chamber a round and get your gun into action, for example when you can only use one of your hands – another hand might have to hold someone or something.
And it’s not just the fact that you won’t have time to rack the slide. If you’re not trained, it is likely that you forget about racking the slide altogether. Also, keep in mind that racking the slide is one of the best ways to induce a stoppage – I’ve seen it happen so many times I lost count.
But is there a time and place for carrying a weapon with an empty chamber? Yes, there is, but that place is outside of the US with its unique gun laws.
1. Your country or company does not allow you to carry a round in a chamber
I know it sucks, but it is not worth losing your job over. Train to rack the slide after you draw and be good at it.
2. You carry a handgun without a holster
I understand that it sounds ridiculous for an average CCW holder in the US. But in other countries, where the government does not allow you to carry a weapon, you don’t want to have an empty holster on your belt when you’re stopped on a street. Also, holsters might be unavailable in some places. Personal experience.
3. You carry a ridiculous pistol
If you carry a mil-spec Soviet Tokarev, it does not have a safety. That is why I did not, sorry, I meant “would not” carry it loaded. Again, not something you will ever have to do in the US. But in other places, it might happen.
In conclusion – if you have a modern handgun, good holster and live in the land of the free – carry a loaded weapon and enjoy it. There is no reason not to.
An unloaded gun is only good for dry fire, but if you want to use it for personal protection, you better make sure you have enough training and confidence to carry a loaded firearm.