Should you carry with one in the chamber?

The advice that I would give to someone who is apprehensive about carrying a firearm in condition one is this:

If you are new to concealed carry and are concerned about carrying in condition one, take your time by wearing your holstered, loaded firearm around the house. Get used to how it feels, how it impacts wardrobe choices and how your range of movement might be affected (sit, stand, reach, bend, etc.)

At the end of the day, reflect on your experience with carrying your firearm and consciously remember that your firearm didn’t fire a round (hopefully! YIKES) while resting in a secure holster and without you purposefully pressing the trigger.

Many new concealed carriers (like me 20+ years ago) actually think that everyone in public knows that they are carrying a firearm. They are self conscious and constantly worry about guns “going off”.

The truth is this: If you do not carry a round in the chamber, when an attack occurs, you have a lesser chance of returning fire in time than you would if you were in condition one.


That’s true. Unless you only have one hand. Then what?


Exactly this ^^.

If you are grappling with someone in close who has an edged weapon or who is in the process of executing a gun grab from you, your support or strong hand may be engaged in the fight while trying to get or gain control of your firearm to engage your attacker from in close retention.

That’s going to put you into the deficit category even further if your chamber isn’t loaded. The premise of the so called “Israeli method” is that every self defense deployment of your firearm will come with your attacker at a distance. Let’s also remember 21 foot rule as described by Lt. John Tueller.

I’ll keep one in the chamber, thanks.


Then you use your belt or holster or boot or any hard surface to rack the slide.


OK I enjoy being the contrarian when the heard is all running off the cliff together. It’s important to listen to other positions we disagree with in order to keep from being sucked into confirmation bias echo chambers. Even when the heard is going in a very logical direction.

100% agree that carrying with one in the chamber is the best option for the vast majority of situations.

But is not having one in the chamber really worse than not having a firearm at all as many here suggest? In some circumstances I think it could be. If you try to draw in a situation where you do not have enough time and/or space to rack the slide you would have been better off running or fighting with your hands. But I would rather ask a criminal for a second to rack the slide then for however long it would take me to go home and get my firearm;) Seriously though there are many self defense situations where you have or can make time to draw and rack. In these cases a gun you need to rack is way better than no gun at all.

A few situations where you may be better off without one in the chamber-

1 You serve in Israel and are required to carry that way.

2 You insist on carrying a handgun stuffed loosely in a purse, pack or aiwb without a holster.

3 You are doing activities in public that could result in the firearm falling from the holster, like a certain FBI agent showing off his disco moves at a night club.

4 You are unwilling to carry a firearm with one in the chamber for whatever reason. You should be free to carry however you are comfortable.

If you do choose to carry without one in the chamber it is best to practice drawing and racking from multiple positions and one handed, off handed etc. until it is a completely automatic response. And you need to run mental scenarios of the situations that you should not even attempt to draw because of the significant disadvantage you are in when you do not have one in the chamber.


The chance of someone grabbing your gun is perhaps the strongest argument for not having one in the chamber. I would also argue that if someone is on top of you like you describe your efforts should be focused completely on getting them off of you and gaining some distance instead of fighting them off one handed while trying to go for your gun, even if you have the advantage of a round in the chamber.

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So let me get this correct … you advocate not having a round in the chamber of a firearm because you feel it would somehow be safer if an attacker were to execute a gun grab?

My years of training in CQB and handgun retention training vehemently disagrees with that premise. And to clarify, I used the term “in close retention” to engage your attacker. I didn’t say gain distance. If I’m grappling over a gun, when I get control of it, I’m not going to stand, assume a shooting stance and engage. It will be from retention (i.e. very, very close).

Unloaded, your sidearm might as well be a hammer. And your contrarian approach on this topic is muddying the waters for people who truly come here seeking solid and proven advice.

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Yep, I was thinking about this sometime back as I walked my dog, leash in hand. I don’t want my options to be A) keep the dog safe and not be able to defend myself, or B) let my dog potentially run into traffic so I can rack my gun.


Absolutely not advocating empty chamber carry. Just saying a situation where someone gets your gun is one of the very few cases where not having a chambered round would work in your favor.

Sorry for misinterpreting your scenario. A lot of people like to primarily teach and practice using one arm to fight off an attacker while trying to draw with the other. I think this is a flawed strategy in many scenarios.

Drawing and shooting from retention before the attacker is all over you is likely the best argument for having one in the chamber.


I will too. Was trying to make a point it seems everyone that does not carry with a loaded chamber seems to forget. It’s that “what if” that could get you killed. What if you’re carrying a baby. What if your attacker shoots first and hits one of your hands. There are countless ways you can all of a sudden only have one hand….and no round in the chamber.



I read the only reason the Israeli carry with an empty chamber is because that’s the LAW in Israel. If they are going into a fight and they know it, the chamber is loaded.



There are 910 replies with an estimated read time of 133 minutes .I just found the “Summarize” button! :sweat_smile: :sweat_smile:


Yeah… and the summary is:

  • You have to carry with one in the chamber…
  • No, you don’t have to carry with one in the chamber…

It is fun to read the posts, because most of people are trying to tell others what is right…and there are only few people who are trying to explain that maybe other option is also right… :face_with_hand_over_mouth:


I learned long ago not to tell someone “adult & non employee” what they must do!

This is because I’ll likely get ticked off when they don’t do it.