rack the slide on a semi-auto pistol

Concealed Carry with an Empty Chamber is Safer | Myth

rack the slide on a semi-auto

For some it is an accepted situation for ‘everyday concealed carry’ to use a semi-auto with an empty chamber.

If and when the time comes, the slide of the pistol will need to be racked to chamber a round.

The problem is this: criminal attacks will usually happen very quickly and unexpectedly. Often from close range.

The bad guy has the first move. Then it’s on you to realize it’s happening, and to react and overcome the attack. This may happen in seconds. And reaction time is crucial.

There may not be much time to draw a handgun and respond.

If there’s an empty chamber involved, there’s additional steps in the reaction process – and time to rack the pistol’s slide. And to do it under the duress of extreme stress and adrenaline.

Might those extra seconds possibly cost you?

Is an Empty Chamber a Safety Issue?

Those who carry with an empty chamber probably feel safer, and that’s why they do it.

The issue though is this: a gun will not shoot by itself. Ever. The issue is the handler.

Safe handling and carrying techniques are a must for anyone who carries a firearm.

The only time that a pistol will go ‘bang’ is when the trigger is pulled. If your finger isn’t in the trigger guard, the rest is simply safe handling.

Negligent Discharge – Do this and it Won’t Happen

Practice your draw (with an empty chamber – check it twice before you begin). Repetition over time until you are comfortable. Ideally you want this to be habit, without thinking about the steps in the process.

You should already know to never put your finger on the trigger until ready to fire (and you’ve identified the target and what is behind it).

If someone isn’t comfortable with everyday carry with a chambered round in a semi-auto, then maybe a double-action revolver is best in that case.

Here’s some advice from Shooting Illustrated magazine:


The defensive shooter should carry a handgun that he or she feels confident in and one that is ready to go when it clears the holster. Taking the time to rack a pistol slide in the middle of a gunfight is time that you simply can’t afford to be wasting in the first place.

ShootingIllustrated

What are your thoughts on this?

Continue reading: Semi-Auto or Revolver for Concealed Carry

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64 Comments

    1. PS:
      Not sure who is “racking” that slide in the photo, but talk about a death grip on that sucker……

        1. Ken;
          Did not figure that was you, I am surprised it’s a Beretta stock photo though.

          BTW, another good article, thanks, keep the followers thinking.

      1. PSS:
        See where that same person has his hand/little finger on the slide?
        Notice it covering part of the ejection port?
        What happens if it already had a shell or casing in the chamber?
        Would it not hit his finger and probably/maybe cause a “jam”?
        PLEASE learn the proper methods of firearm handling…. IT”S important

          1. Lauren;
            Naw, the liabilities are too great if someone messes up and comes back on Ken “well he told me to do XYZ”

        1. Okay, leave it to the audience… looks like I’m going to have to change the photo. Maybe tomorrow I’ll take my own picture and update it…

    2. Well and if im using an expensive hammer, i would rather it be my Stiletto titanium framer, much more effective, full swing with the claw end fist,
      Ouch

  1. Everything I once HAD, had a round in the chamber. Rifles, semis, shotguns.
    Safeties on (if equipped) finger off the trigger….
    ALWAYS ASSUME A G U N IS ALWAYS LOADED.

    If you CC, I assume for a purpose.
    To stay alive when Shtf.
    That one/two seconds of racking a round, could have a different outcome.
    Plus it is an additional step, when time is critical. Will you remember to rack one in, when the Shtf? Nope. Your mind is focused on the $hit.
    They draw, you draw, they fire, you forgot to chamber.

    If you’re not comfortable carrying a loaded weapon, why carry?
    And/or take additional safety courses.
    It could save your life.

  2. As a old slow civilian I carry dry chamber ,,as a Marshall I carried hot , with a auto , or wheel ,serveing warrants things got goosey fast , but now I believe the time to Jack a round is worthwhile ,a AD is all to easy ,don’t tell me about training , and more training ,it happens to the best of us sooner or later ,,I’ve been in some nasty situations ,that was my job ,if you don’t have time to Jack a round you have gotten sloppy , or too tired,,and yes I have packed the same colt 1911 since 1965 ,might say a old friend ,,,

    1. You must be really old, because only the old-timers that were still in law enforcement when I started in the late 80s and early 90s carried empty chamber in their 1911s. Most learned this bad habit from the military. As far as “it happens to the best of us sooner or later” is dead wrong. Those who it happened too failed to follow the basic safety rule, period!! However, in your defense the training on semi-autos back in the 90s and before sucked especially in the military and law enforcement. Ok, military still sucks to this day when it come to training on pistols outside of special operations.

      1. Gray one ,,,,old as dirt ,,,,old enough to remember being able to buy a hand gun as a kid that had the cash ,at 12 yr old ,, a ruger 44 black hawk. (that was before the super ) Guy at the hardware store called my mom to see if it was ok , but then I remember having to tell the operator the telephone number to make a call ,,simpler times ,,,,,yep old as dirt ,,remember when we were proud to be a vet , and WW2 vets in parades on 4of July ,old enough to be shocked by the reception we had coming home from nam ,yep old as dirt ,,

        1. Gray one ,,,,on thinking about it I may have been a little older ,like 13 or 14 at the most. In high school we would run over to safe spot and go shooting on lunch break ,, we had reloading classes in after school shooting club , my times have changed ,,old as dirt sounds better and better ,,,,,,,,can I call you kid or sprout? HA. HA. remember don’t take things too seriously ,

      2. – Gray One,

        As one of those the military taught to carry with an empty chamber on a 1911A1, I think I could have some small say in this matter.

        I did so out of habit when I was assigned to escort a young captain carrying a rather large payroll in a briefcase. When he asked me how I was carrying, i responded “Condition Three” (safety off, loaded 7-round mag, chamber empty). He then asked me where my extra magazines were, in case he needed to get them off of my dead body. (At that time, the payroll officer didn’t get to draw a weapon from the arms room, plus this was in Germany. I was also his translator, driver, and roughly half of the cash he was carrying was in German Marks. Since my clearance was much higher than his, I was also carrying a large bag of classified material as well)

        After that discussion I immediately began carrying that Singer (yes, it was a WWII Singer sewing machine model) Condition One with the safety off, a loaded chamber and a full 7-round magazine from then on.

        When I left the Army, I still felt like I had a 1911-shaped dent in my ribs from that tankers’ rig (yes, I still have it) and walked slightly tilted.

        That said, I am only responsible for my own and my family’s security today. My preferred carry for now is a 4″ Ruger Speed-Six .357 revolver in either a shoulder or cross-draw holster. Just what I learned with to begin with. I do not feel at all handicapped with having only 6 rounds versus the three 7-round magazines I had then. I do have 2 speed-loaders, but just like the extra magazines, its only the ones already in the weapon that matter.

        – Papa S.

        1. Gray one,-I began my leo career in 1970, many of my colleagues carried semi-autos, mostly 1911’s (including me). I knew of no one who carried on an empty chamber. A large number of my colleagues were military veterans, as was I.

          I have to laugh when folks point to their military training as to why condition three is the best way to carry a pistol (by the way, the military did not call it “condition 3” as you know. They didn’t confuse the young recruits by mentioning any other options than carrying on an empty chamber. Empty chamber good, cartridge in chamber bad). Like many here, I had to qualify with the 1911 pistol in basic and again in AIT (eleven Bang Bang). This “training” consisted of 4, count them four hours of class room followed by enough range time to run two hundred men through a 50 round qualification. Contrast this with the two week, 80 hours of training with the departmental issue mod 10 Smith and Wesson in our police academy and required twice yearly re-qualifications of 8 hours each.

          Not saying the Army way is without merit, especially considering the task of training folks of limited or no skills in a very short period of allotted time. As we used to say, “there’s a right way, a wrong way, and the Army way”. Which means, if your in the Army, you do it their way, even if it don’t make a damn bit a sense.

          Towards the end of my leo career, the department had transitioned to semi-autos only. Old heads were allowed to continue carrying revolvers if they chose. Weapons were carried “hot” at the firearms training center at all times. You entered the center locked and loaded, and left the same. Anyone caught “jacking” a round into the chamber prior to a course of fire was immediately disqualified and required to undergo an 8 hour remedial training session. The only time you “jacked” a round into the chamber was when loading during a course of fire, or when you were loading a weapon after inspection, while standing over a clearing barrel.

          1. DENNIS,,,dry or hot ? Most folks on this site including my self don’t have or take the time for more or any training ,,, and most will avoid a situation requiring being in a gun fight ,,,I’ve been LE , and seen the dark side of such ,, I do not approach the issue of hot or dry as LE, but as joe at home,, 30 minuets from aid or help ,, the risk from a AD is greater than a armed conflict ,,don’t even think about holding the joe at home to the same standard as LE ,,,one of the reasons I left LE was the imperial might addtude that creeps in to LE thinking ,,, I have had some rather heated exchanges with friends still in LE about just that ,,, my 28 years in gov did not make things better for the average joe ,
            The truth be known we (LE)have payed too high a price for too little
            Tea and chocolate

          2. Old homesteader,

            Not casting stones, just pointing out how woefully inadequate most “firearm training” is when compared to the enormous responsibility that comes with carrying. This includes the two weeks given in the academy. I used to, only half jokingly, tell friends that two weeks of intensive firearm training in the police academy basically taught us how to put 50 people in a line with live ammo without them shooting each other.

            In this state, the firearm proficiency requirement for a basic CC license is a test of 5 rounds at five yards, no time constraints, hitting a 8″x11″ target at least three out of the five shots. You would be surprised (no, you probably wouldn’t) how many folks I’ve met that point to the fact that they passed that test proves their gun knowledge. Scary.

          3. – Dennis,
            Yes, I am quite aware the military did not call it “Condition Three” for exactly the reason you mentioned. I had LE training as well, in which it was typically used for semi-autos. My training was on a S&W M&P revolver, which followed use of Dad’s .22 revolver and my uncle’s Mod. 19. The captain, who later became as close a friend as an officer can with a sergeant in his admittedly small section, simply reminded me that it was my life I was playing with and I was the guy in charge of how I carried my weapon and I would be the one in charge of it should I need to use it. That job included the “extra duties” that still result in my coming up as a “former Federal Agent” on LE computers.

            – Papa

          4. Papa,

            I hear ya on the “permanent dent” from carrying. I’ve shared before about the nerve damage I have in one hip and leg from so many years of carry. That’s one of several reasons I have for not carrying a full size duty type weapon unless conditions dictate that I would be foolish not to. I spend the majority of my therapy time with compact and sub-compact handguns, because that’s what I carry. My extensive time in therapy has put me at a level of proficiency with these downsized weapons that keeps me from feeling the least bit under-gunned. I know that most folks can’t dedicate as much time to therapy as I do, but hey, I thoroughly enjoy my therapy. I don’t golf, play cards, climb mountains, or drink with the guys, nor do I apologize for being pretty good at what I do enjoy. Using a weapon to defend myself again is of low likelihood, but the ability to do just that is a benefit that comes with my therapy.

            Did I mention that I’m a world class possum control expert?

            A man finds fun where he can. I’m smiling right now.

  3. I would even pose this question depending on the situation if the aggressor is right on top of you it may not be wise to pull your pistol at all if there is not enough reaction space. Ken posted an article about the 21 foot rule that was tested by LEO instructors in an 1980’s video.

    If they are on top of you you will find yourself in a hand to hand struggle over your own firearm with the perp.

    It might actually be faster to draw your EZ open flip open blade pocket knife from the top of your pocket without being noticed too much. Then thrust the blade into the aggressor’s stomach or diaphragm draw back a repeat until he goes down.

    I practice for this using a training knife and a sand bag. the fluid motion of your thrust is important. Follow up thrusts you can pick your target Kidneys, throat, other vital arteries.

    this blade would be for close quarter only. 21 feet or less. Stuff can happen real fast I speak from experience.

    Most people that get mugged allow the mugger to walk right up on them without challenge. This goes back to Ken’s other articles concerning situation awareness.

  4. To each their own, as the saying goes. One has their owe opinion.

    An AD is truely accidental?
    Prove it.
    If you don’t know what you are doing. What the circumstances/outcomes may be. Don’t carry.

    Can’t jack a round under pressure. Sloppy, tired?
    My jack a round is after the first mag is empty, if so be the case/circumstance.

    And training/additional training for newbies is worthless?

    Law enforcement always carry with a dry chamber?
    Well of course they can put 45 rounds into a person with a cell phone in hand…no consequences.

    My old friend is what I carry. At any given circumstance.
    Understand it, know it.

    I never had to pull on a person serving papers.
    But there were a few dogs….and if one was gnawing on one of my hands/then to the face…I was sloppy/tired. I couldn’t rack one in.
    Always carried dry…..just as a precaution.

    OH
    Nothing personal

    1. Just a couple examples of dogs and serving papers. People are not the only animals.

      1. Dog with the unhappy, pissed owner I just served. Unpleased owner…Unleashed dog tripped me up as I went to my vehicle to leave. I didn’t go down, but things could have gone bad. And I’m not talking the happy to see you and stay to.play dog.

      2. A notified person was away from home at the time we agreed to meet. Their dog was outside, loose. Unlike the previous times. The dog came at me, several times, after I exited the vehicle. And drew blood on my weak hand. In a non aggressive manner, I approached the door. Keeping my eye on him.
      Had that dog torn flesh….and pop.
      and maybe it could have been the weak hand it had attacked, as not to be able to chamber a round.
      But of course you have the behind the knee rack, under the arm rack, the God have mercy rack, and the ohh $hit rack.

      Ramblings of ……fill in the blank

      1. JOE C ,,,,,we were in harm’s way by choice ,,think that’s different from someone just going about there daily coming and going ,,,,I never felt naked having to Jack a round ,had a newbie shoot his foot in my car (POV),he was sure the safety was on ,,,do you know how much paperwork that made ?ever see someone shooting that forgot to off the safety? Just keep squeezing and squeezing ,, had one drop a mag and reload ,was sure he had emptied ,,, these were well trained people ,just green to the real thing ,,
        I don’t see having to Jack a round as a problem ,in fact you know that , and will try to settle things peace full , and if you point shoot the first shoot I think I’m just as fast as the guy that comes up to a weaver ,on the first shot even jacking the first round ,i went to the extreme of super gluing the thumb safety out ,,OBTW the IDF teaches empty chamber ,and that the first shot counts
        Tea and chocolate

        1. OH
          Well…
          You have your examples,
          I have mine, but not as glorious.
          So even your trained partners f up, but yet you express training means nothing…..to the average citizen?

          Yup, settle peacefully, but I will not take the time to jack when my/other’s lives depend on it.

          If there is a reason to pull it, there needs to be an extra intent of your deeds to the perp, by pulling a slide back??? OMG

          IDF. Pafoowee

          Ohh what the hell
          Beer and a smoke

          Livin’ healthy ya know

          1. As we all CC’s have taken such IDF training…..
            Just saying.

            Let alone taking the qualifying training JUST to pass our CCW requirements.

            Splitting hairs in past posts here,
            maybe.

            I, for one, congratulate any and all civilians that take advanced classes with firearms….

    2. Law enforcement officers don’t carry empty chambers for the record. They may have back in the 80s but not today.

      I personally don’t care if you carry empty chamber. I’ve taken many guns off bad guys with loaded magazines and empty chambers. I would prefer a gun fight with a bad guy that’s running an empty chamber semi-auto, just saying. Heck, while we’re at it lets have an empty chamber under the hammer of your revolver!!!! Win-Win!!!!

  5. Carry with one in or not, depends on where I am, what I think the environment could possibly be, stay flexible, hopefully stay vertical. Carry caliber selection depends on the same. The ahole dectector is decent, the unpredictable random numbnuts is the worry.

    1. I don’t agree with the concept of carrying one in the pipe sometime. I carry dry but others can do what they want. I just feel it would be more confusing to go both ways and have to remember whether I was hot or not

  6. Modern handguns are are inherently safe. To my knowledge, there are no modern handguns manufactured in, or that can be imported into the country, that don’t have passive hammer blocks, or hammer transfer bars built into the weapon that will prevent discharge if the weapon is dropped. (exception would be some single action “cowboy” type revolvers). I’m going to point out some things everyone should consider on the topic of carrying an empty chamber in a handgun carried on your person for the purpose of surviving a deadly attack.

    There are many scenarios where you might feel the need to pull your weapon that would give you plenty of opportunity to take that second or so to “jack” a round into the chamber. Remember this though, if I’ve decided to make you my target, that I’m gonna kill you, I can draw my gun and put three rounds into you before you can react, pull your weapon and rack a round into the chamber. Not brag, just fact. Not because I’m all that fast, but because of human reaction time.

    So, ok, that’s an extraordinary situation to find yourself in. Let’s say you’re in a parking lot of a business establishment. You hear a gunshot. You suddenly realize, there is a man standing there with his gun in hand, looking around frantically. You start your draw, while trying to locate cover. The bad guy zeros in on you and starts firing at you, hitting you in the arm or hand before you chamber around, or get behind cover. You suddenly realize that appendage is no longer working. Sure, it’s possible to work the slide in this condition, I practice it occasionally, but it’s anything but quick, smooth, or easy, and it don’t get a whole lot easier with practice.

    We live in a world of TV and movie depictions of gunfights. Folks fantasize about how a gunfight will go down with them involved. Hollywood gunfights are choreographed and unfold for minutes or longer. Fact is, the overwhelming number of actual gunfights seldom last longer than a few seconds from reaction to end. The good guy is almost always starting at a disadvantage, because they are reacting to someone else’s actions, meaning they are playing catch-up.

    I could give you a hundred scenarios, some that I was involved in, most that I cleaned up afterward. The first scenario I described, I was involved in……except I was on the receiving end. I survived, only because he was committing suicide by cop. He pulled the trigger on me three times…..on empty chambers of a Smith and Wesson model 19, .357 magnum…. the other three chambers were loaded with hollow points. We were less than six feet apart, talking to each other when he made his move. I reacted, my draw was so fast I have no recollection of even going for my pistol. I was three trigger pulls and three hammer falls too late. From beginning to end of the encounter? Maybe two and a half seconds.

    The second scenario, with a few differences (very few),was played out in an incident involving a good friend and fellow officer, and the rookie officer he was training. They were inside an establishment when a citizen ran inside yelling that a man in the parking lot was brandishing a gun. They went outside, confronted the man who was firing a .22 semi-auto rifle. Both officers were drawing their weapons as the suspect turned and opened fire on them, striking my friend in the groin. Both he and the rookie returned fire with their brand new 1911 Colt Commander, .45 acp’s. They both missed as they were trying to get behind cover, my friend already grievously wounded. Both of their pistols jammed on the first shot (another lesson for a later time, as to why they jammed). The bad guy calmly walked over and shot the rookie in the head a point blank range, killing him instantly as they both struggled to clear their stopped weapons. The suspect heard responding officer’s sirens approaching and fled. We caught up with him after a high speed chase, engaged him in an exchange that he did not survive.

    Make your own decision on how you carry your weapon. I will add no disadvantages to what’s already a bad situation.

  7. I carried a Walther PP .32 concealed, and a 6″ fixed blade Gerber, and some 4″ Throwing Stars.

    I had special jackets made, which looked casual, but were designed to hide several lethal weapons, which even a pat down would not discover. The pistol was carried over my left peck, near my neck, in a special padded pocket with a concealed access, which looked like a shoulder seam of the coat. I obtained the pistol from the outside of the jacket, and did not need to reach inside it, as one does for a shoulder carry.

    In the twin, right side, pocket, I carried three throwing stars, which were heavily waxed, so they clung together and did not rattle, but would peal off like a deck of cards when used. Why throw a knife, when you can throw a star? They always stick, near and far, and can really throw off a persons concentration. No real talent to use, and you can really put some arm in the throw. If you can hit the guy with a tennis ball…you can hit him with a star. Mine were flat black and could be slipped between your fingers and held there..as you raise your empty palms toward the bad guy. In the dim light of most combat locations, the black line of the star melds with the lines between your fingers. Your hands looking empty and raised high, you are now in a position to use the star…..

    The coat also concealed a metallic wire garrote, whose T-handles were hidden in the coat’s collar and felt like, and acted like, a cosmetic collar stiffener. The wire loop passed thru a button hole in the center of the back, just behind the neck, and spread around my back in a fine loop, just by its natural tension.

    The coat was blade resistant over the vital areas of the back and front torso, via a metal mesh sewn inside the garment. If needed, ballistic inserts could be inserted into make the coat more BP, but, I never used these.

    The Gerber I carried reversed in the small of my back at the belt line. This they could find, but this did not matter..it just made people feel better when they found it..built their confidence I had been disarmed…which was kool.

    The jacket was fashionable for the times I used it. It was designed to allow me to access my weapons sitting down in a restaurant booth, or in the cramped seat of a car, a crowded bus, or train, and from any position. If I was forced to raise my hands by some bad guy, the very act of raising them to the level of my ears, placed both my hands in the exact position I wanted them to be..as this position allowed me to pull the desired weapon, of the THREE available in the coat, in a SILENT INSTANT.

    Using Titanium alloy weapons and special close range ammo, improved the system.

    I thought of making several versions of this jacket for the market, all of which presented a totally casual, non-threatening, fashionable look, while functioning AS a jacket…with its additional features. Naturally, one didn’t need to load the jacket with weapons..and the hidden pockets could still be used for other items. But, I never did.

    By the time the jacket lost it’s appeal, I had moved on to better things…and was no longer so concerned with being so lethal..as I had removed myself from the undercover situations compelling such a garment.

    What one must consider in concealed carry…is that you are not suddenly Superman..for doing so.

    If you are in a bar, and your side vision detects the muzzle of a .12ga shotgun coming through the door into the bar…your first instinct should be to move your body to a place where it may survive the first shot. THEN, go for your stuff.

    Nothing would attract ME, if I were the guy with the shotgun, more than characteristic movements of some fellow fumbling around for his pistol, which is in an inside the pants holster…as he is sitting with four people in a tiny booth…all of whom are not Ninjas.

    Duck first, then pull. As you are most likely going to have to survive the first shots fired.

    Carry fully loaded and ready to go, else keep it in the trunk of your car.

    Otherwise, learn effective knife fighting techniques and unarmed combat responses designed to kill and maim…NOT control..the enemy. And, when you go…you go 100%..without hesitation.

  8. A lightning fast draw is not the best choice in every situation. A reach for a concealed carry weapon by a slow natural arm movement might be more appropriate in many situations where a clumsy quick draw by a novice would attract immediate response.

  9. My first job being armed, I was sworn and carried a badge with my gun along with the responsibilities that go with the job. The department made the determination as to what we carried and how we carried it. ( via department issue and holster issued with duty weapon.)

    Off duty carry was quite literally the Wild West in California. I was a last of a generation that was trained on revolvers prior to the invention of the Glock prototype handguns. The last job saw me doing car stops with the Smith and Wesson 4006 with a round in the chamber and the safety was off.

    I got so used to carrying a revolver that I still carry an autoloading handgun with no safety, round in the chamber, in a concealed rig when I carry concealed. When you pull it, you just want the darn thing to work. ( because when you pull it, odds are, you are going to have to use it right now. Discussion is over and de-escalation failed some 1.5 seconds ago.).

    Perhaps some of the diciest CCW jobs were the private security jobs I took and worked in the months immediately after the termination of my police work. I worked at a variety of security jobs within fixed facilities as well as mobile transport jobs.

    One of the steadiest employers that always paid me cash and never made mistakes or unreasonable demands upon us security staff were: Strip Clubs. Laugh if you will but it was the steadiest gig for several years while I went back to school to get a professional license.

    Before I put on my CCW firearms each night, I put on a front and back panel kevlar vest and made sure my cell phone was charged up. The bartender and the DJ’s made sure we had our hand signals down and then and only then would I holster my loaded firearms on my person.

    I carried a 5 shot hammerless revolver in the weak side pocket of my sportcoat and had a single stack 9mm on my dominant side in a IWB holster made by Alessi. I accepted the facts that fights will break out and my jurisdiction ended at the front door of the establishment.

    They hired me for my maturity and judgment and kept me on for those same reasons. ( note the emphasis on maintaining good communications and cooperation with fellow employees.). When a person gets cut from the police department in the aftermath of a shooting or several justified shoots, You can no longer work for most public agencies. As I found out, Private Sector is more than happy to pick you up and offer you a job.

    Living in an upper floor apartment, I kept a big can of kitty litter by the front door for the purpose of pointing my pistol into as I loaded the round into my striker-fired pistol. When I returned home each day, I would unload my pistol inside the front door with the muzzle pointed into the barrel of kitty litter. The kitty litter was there to stop a bullet in event of catastrophic failure of the weapon or a simple brain fart on my part. I saw no reason to shoot my downstairs neighbor.

    The only people I know that are trained to carry and shoot with a holstered weapon on empty chamber are …the Israelis.

  10. Some thoughts on the wisdom of using the “IDF” as a good reason for carrying on an empty chamber.

    Several folks have pointed to the “Israeli method” of carrying a pistol with an unloaded chamber. Yes, the Israeli military is one of the most highly trained and efficient fighting folks around, and we can learn a lot from them. Does anyone know the history of their adaption of the requirement of not carrying a round in the chamber?

    Actually, the “Israeli method” is the “W.E. Fairbairn method”. Faibairn was tasked in the early 1910’s with training the Shanghai police force in weapons use. Semi-autos were new technology, had none of the modern safety features we enjoy today, he was teaching their use to a people that had no experience with firearms, and he had to train them quickly without them “accidentally” killing him or fellow trainees.

    Fast forward to the late 1940’s. The Israelis are on a crash course to organize a defense force. Their population was small, few had any prior experience with weapons, and their arsenal was made up of every imaginable small arm they could smuggle into the country. How to train novices quickly and safely in the use of weapons when the students are armed with many varied firearms, safely? Adapt the method that W.E. Fairbairns stressed in his now widely read book on the subject.

    That’s the “why” of the “Israeli method”. There is more to how it’s implemented. The Israeli military and police are required to be able to put the first round, on target, at eight meters, in 1.2 seconds, starting with an empty chamber, in order to pass qualification. Question, how many of those who recommend the “Israeli method” have ever put that time requirement on themselves? Actually tried it? Yes, I can do it, but it takes practice………and it’s much harder to do with age and arthritis. So, why would I put that extra burden on myself in order to employ a method that addresses a safety issue that no longer exists with modern weapons?

    One other thing. Israel has one of the most highly trained and armed societies on the planet. Most everyone has gone through military training and were trained using this method. In fact, the law in Israel makes it illegal to carry a weapon with a round in the chamber. Like many archaic practices, it will be slow to change.

    1. Dennis: Compliments to you for your excellent explanation of the topic discussed. Well written and thought out.

      My question to you in your professional opinion, for the novice (that means almost ALL of us) CC holder is it better to carry a revolver, or a semi auto?

      Thanks!

      1. Most people that carry a round in the chamber have a manual safety that gets in the way. If you feel that you must carry with a round in the chamber at all times then you have already likely failed. This means you are not prepared to deal with the extra 7/10ths to 1 second it takes to move the slide as you draw.

        Most people don’t want to die. So if you choose to make yourself a target plan on being one.

        Once you are in a situation that you must put one in the chamber that means you are committed to ending someone else’s life before they end yours. If that .7 seconds matters that much you have already failed on so many levels (situational awareness, knowing to run and hide before fighting preferably Friday m cover and not just concealment, etc) that it doesn’t matter that much. You are likely so poorly trained to go with the insufficient anticipation and awareness of awful that is happening you’ll be shot twice before you take aim.

        Plus the added benefit if someone gets your firearm from you they can perforate you that much more expediently.

        I rarely wander around with one in the chamber. But I have. All of my wandering pistols (P224, P226, P320 in some flavor) have no safety and a rear sight that is sufficient to use a belt, pocket, heal, shoe, calf, table, etc to operate the slide on.

        1. Pinky ,,,,,, I agree ,,,my first adventure in the world of deadly force I was three weeks before my nineth birthday ,i had time to load a mag and Jack the slide,aim and fire , he did cut my shirt , but I’m here , he is not ,,,,i made a life of it with a weapon,first as a SEAL ,later as a deputy US Marshall , and have had some close calls ,to this day I carry dry chamber in my autos. In my Smith 19 I do carry a full load ,,, the above was the reason I went to college and got a educational in some thing of a different vane, I’m glad I did that , I could comment more but that would start a up roar , ,,,,,,,
          Time to go watch the cows bask in the sun

      2. Kenny,

        Thanks for the kind words. To answer your question, I always stress simplicity for those just starting out with concealed carry. With a quality double action revolver, you need not concern yourself with external manual safeties, how to deal with misfires, or clearing a jammed action. This leaves you with more time to concentrate accuracy and safe handling of your weapon.

        I deal with the likely realities first, extreme possibilities last. Reality is that the concealed carry citizen is much more likely to find themselves having to defend themselves against a single attacker than a horde of crazed zombies. The first person who hits their target is, by far, the one most likely to survive a deadly force encounter. That’s true whether they are carrying a .22 revolver or a state of the art .45 race gun with a 20 round IPSA magazine with quadruple mags waiting on their gun belt.

        Carrying a revolver eliminates a lot of concerns. They are much more forgiving in ammo selection, lack of proper lubrication, tolerance for dirt and grime that collects on a gun that’s carried a lot, but shot seldom. They are inherently safe. If a round fails to fire, pull the trigger again, no drills to learn to get it back in action. Yes, it’s slower to reload in most cases, but, there again, I believe that statistics say the average civilian gun fight lasts two and half shots at distances under 10 feet. A quality double action revolver, in a reasonable caliber, will handle most encounters and is a decent choice for novice or expert.

  11. I have never pulled a gun on anyone but I have had them pulled on me. Thank God I was never hurt. This is why I always carry with one in the chamber and the safety on. I do not trust the safety on guns. I always use the safety but the real safety is in the way you handle the gun. You should learn and practice how to handle a gun safely before you strap one on.

  12. My advice to those that are making the decision of revolver or autoloading pistol is: Go with what is most comfortable for you.

    This means practice with live ammo. At least 200 rounds of full power, live ammo. This also means dry fire at home with empty brass.

    I used to recommend the revolver myself but that is my own bias having been the first weapon I was trained on. For the past 10 years, there has been a huge change in the marketplace out there that concerns all shooters:

    You can now buy a Glock or Glock-clone for hundreds of $$ less than you can buy a revolver. Reliability of these new pistols is right up there with the old revolvers as well.

    If a person has $1000.00 to spend on 1 gun and ammo to practice with and 2 boxes of defensive ammo, I would rather see that person buy a relatively low priced gun with good reliability and spend the remainder of that money on ammo, range time and/or training in which to practice. These days, buying good, inexpensive, reliable personal defense weapon is possible. ( 3 decades ago, our options were more limited.)

    In practice out there: Work on being smooth before you work on being fast. Smooth and safe means you always return home with all your fingers and toes. Speed will come in time and with practice. Smooth means working on eliminating wasted motion during the draw.

    I will see you at the range.

  13. Carry method is not a substitute for training.

    Those that I know from here lack proper training and therefore confidence.

    In our monthly pistol matches often the difference between 1st thru 6th is tenths of a second.

    I know IDF as well as others from the area in different agencies. They are beat hands down in time to first shot and not by tenths of a second. It’s significant and apparent.

    The 80s and early 90s the United Stated military was notorious for no round in the chamber. The difference between the IDF and the US was IDF trains and it showed in matches with both rifle and handgun when starting cold. It showed with the Norwegian forces vs us as well. 2-5 seconds difference was common at the end of the shoot.

    Many law enforcement agencies here today are split. They carry in chamber with handguns and not in long guns. They keep those in “cruiser safe” mode.

    Be trained, be confident and carry often.

  14. I knew a guy who carried a Walther PPK with the chamber empty AND ON SAFE BOTH! I asked him if he had already made funeral arrangements. Before I knew that he asked for help putting Pachmayer grips on it. I had to ask him about the last time he’d cleaned it because there was enough lint behind the hammer to prevent it going all the back in double action. He expressed great surprise when I pulled the trigger guard down and field stripped the piece. He’d never had it apart to thoroughly clean it NOR had he ever read the literature that came with the gun. I didn’t try to teach him, I referred him to an NRA instructor.

  15. My last argument against carry with an empty chamber:

    Each autoloading pistol may have its own idiosyncrasies.

    I have a Kahr CW9 that I love to carry in an IWB holster. With a round in the chamber, the pistol has a max magazine capacity of 7+1 in chamber.

    Ever since I bought this weapon and tested each of the 3 magazines for it, this weapon can have a failure to feed from the magazine if there are more than 5 rounds in the magazine. ( only when the initial racking of the slide is by hand.). Rate of failure to feed initial round is on order of 2-3 for every 20 times I try this. This is the only idiosyncrasy of this particular handgun and it is not enough of a limitation for me to leave it at home in the gun safe.

    Part of my familiarization with any of my carry handguns involves stress reloading as well as operating the weapon bind folded and ambidextrously.

    This compact pistol fits my hand and I have yet to have a failure to fire and cycle since I have owned it after firing the initial 50 rounds of ammo through it. This is why it is one of the weapons I choose to have on me when going into the path of risk or danger.

    (This pistol is a Glock clone and many Glock clones can be jammed when the shooter holds onto the slide while chambering the first round. This is called: “riding the slide” and the best procedure for loading your pistol is letting the slide go and letting it snap into place with the shell in the chamber.).

    I choose to live with the limitations of this pistol and work around the one limitation I discovered about it through many practice sessions.

    I hope those who carry and are on the side of justice do likewise with their carry pistols of choice.

    1. That’s most likely going to be the result of a weak recoil spring. It’s failing to return it to battery properly. The mag springs are placing more tension up than the recoil spring is pulling forward.

    2. Just like a mechanic wouldn’t try to make a living with Harbor Freight tools or a chef with Coleman camp cookware… You shouldn’t be trying to protect your life with something that doesn’t work every time as intended. Poop happens, but when you know you’re going to poop the bed that is not acceptable.

      I pity the fool that just lets the slide go when trying to be covert. You might as well just scream “pick me pick me”.

      1. Pinky,,,,the sound of the slide is supposed be followed by the sound of the weapon going off ,and don’t you just love the sound of a 870 being racked ,,rule of thumb , if the weapon comes out it goes off , was told that by the old timer that broke me in ,, he also hated autos ,packed a Smith 27 made my learn to love a Smith 19 ,told me learn quick so he could retire,, I still have the 19 and his badge.on his last day he dropped a box on me ,said here kid you might need this , If he was still around he would be well over 100 ,,,,,and he was the reason I went to college and learned something different than LE ,,,,

        1. I carried a Model 27, Highway Patrolman, in a shoulder holster rig for a time, under my suit. It was an anvil, but it always worked..and the bullets found the target as if they were self guided, like magic. Incredible weapon. I did switch to a Mod 19, just for weight savings..before deciding the Walther PP was all I needed.

          I love all those old Smith & Wesson revolvers.

          1. Ision ,,,,love and TRUST my Smith’s ,,when he retired the old Marshall gave me his 27 and the 19 ,, he wanted my airweight and he got it ,,the 27 is a S frame not the normal N frame ,,6″ I later picked a 29 N frame 6″ your right about the anvil , but my then 8 yr old learned to shoot with them , and shoot well ,,something else to learn is to spot trouble and stay out of way

    3. Calirefugee,

      Good post. You did a great job of describing the “idiosyncrasy” on your little Kahr pistol, an “idiosyncrasy” that is fairly common, as you know, with many quality pistols. By describing like you did, you passed on some knowledge that will help those who are less knowledgeable about semi-autos, and are willing to learn. Thank you for adding your years of “hands on” experience to the conversation that edifies the reader who is willing to learn.

      Who would have known that a simple question about whether to carry a weapon on an empty chamber or with a live round would cause such controversy over a practice that was taught over a hundred years ago to address the question of how to train quickly and safely, large groups of people from varied backgrounds and levels of intelligence, in the use of a then “new technology” weapon? Weapons that at the time had not evolved to include built in safety devices to eliminate the “problem” of quickly trained, inexperienced troops having mental lapses on the use of manual safeties, or possessing passive hammer/firing pin blocks to prevent discharge if that weapon was accidentally dropped.

      Calirefugee, your posts have never given folks advice that would steer them wrong, nor have you ever taken a “smarter than thou” attitude. No, you offer solid advice based on extensive personal experiences and on expertise gained from hands on doing. Good job, especially in passing on the wisdom of not “riding the slide” when chambering a round. Looks good in Hollywood shoot ’em ups, extremely bad advice for real life.

      I would hope that folks put my advice, and the advice of others, to the test themselves in peaceful settings. Personal experience trumps someone else’s “advice”, hands down.

  16. Ok
    So not to be pissy and offend anyone.
    Revolver vs semi.

    Isn’t a revolver always loaded hot? Unless a person leaves out the correct round on the cylinder??

    So what is the difference?

    (Yes a revolver is more dependable)

    1. If I am offended, is that my problem or yours? Ha ha! Just messing with you. Revolver versus semi, some ladies and others have a problem with racking a semi auto. Can you change out a barrel as fast as loading a magazine? Pro’s and con’s of both.

    2. The tradition of leaving an empty chamber under the hammer of a revolver is in case you DROP the revolver, while fumbling for it.

      The Colt .45 Peacemaker, and the Colt .45 ACP Model 1911, had a tendency to hit the ground hammer first, with the muzzle pointed at the guy who just dropped them.

      The fixed “beak” firing pin on the 1870s Peacemakers was fixed to the hammer itself, and not floating in the frame. When dropped the impact often broke the tiny hammer spur, holding the pin away from the primer…and discharged the weapon. So, it was safer to have the chamber under the firing pin empty, as the hammer had to be manually cocked to fire the weapon, and the empty chamber would automatically rotate when you did, providing a chamber with a bullet. Many times, the empty chamber was where the owner would place a bank note, or even a brief Will & Testament. They figured, if they had to use all 5 rounds, and died anyway, this could be of use toward a proper burial.

      1. – I did not mention it above, but thanks to the GCA of ’67, the first handgun I personally owned and brought with me to my marriage was a 7 1/2″ .36 Navy Colt copy made in Italy. (My DW’s father had a 9-shot .22 H&R revolver which she had shot a few times, and he ultimately lent it to her on an indefinite loan.) That cap-and-ball revolver was the first ‘large’ gun she had ever fired, and we put a lot of black powder through that thing. Still have it, it is sitting on the shelf in the safe right now. It spent a lot of time loaded in the early days of our marriage, and it served to protect both of us more than once. It is, however, the poster child for leaving the chamber under the hammer unloaded. Drop it, and it will fire! Like you said, pointed right back at where it came from.
        I dropped it one time only, prior to our marriage. Both the gun and I were new to each other. As it happened, I was loading it and had only a cap on the nipple, no powder or ball.
        Believe me, just that cap going off was enough to send my 18-year-old self to go change his pants!

        – Papa S.

  17. Response to Joe C.

    You are right! When working with concealed guns on my person, both of them are loaded hot with a round in the chamber and all chambers loaded.

    The only and primary reasons I am gradually transitioning to Glock clone is as follows:

    1) Modest increase in magazine capacity in a compact package. ( 8 rounds versus 5 rounds.)

    2) Glocks or Glock clones are now cheaper than a revolver by order of at least $100.00 per weapon.

    3) It is easier and faster to recharge an empty autoloading pistol with a full magazine as opposed to recharging an empty revolver.

    Still, there is one use where there is no replacing the shroud-hammer revolver: firing from within a coat pocket or from the confines of a purse or closed bag.

    This is why I still carry both in high-risk security work or plainclothes assignment. If I had the money and resources for only one, I would start with a compact, shroud-hammer revolver. I have a Ruger LCR that fits the bill these days.

  18. I have loved reading all the comments, and this has given me a lot to think about.

    I carry unloaded around my place. I figure the snake I am going to shoot will wait for me to rack a round.

    I have not gotten my CCW yet but have thought long and hard about carrying loaded.

    I got much more comfortable doing this at my two visits to Front Sight, and since I did not shoot my foot off (yes, something I was concerned about!), I think if I carry outside the property I will be fully loaded.

    If I am going to take the time to 1) practice and 2) carry, I should expect the worst and be ready for it.

  19. As I live on the high prarie my normal on property carry is a sw 19 sw27 or sw 686 with snake shot in 3 and 125 357 in other 3.

    In town glock 19. Always round in chamber. 147 g hollow points.

    I remember why we carried 1911a1 empty most needed serious armorer work. M9 just was leadership paranoia. In group loaded hammer down same as sig m11. That’s why double to single action transition. If I’m carrying it I might need it don’t always have two hands

  20. Carry dry quicker to die, if you can’t trust yourself to carry a hot weapon how could you trust yourself to chamber a round under stress and pressure. You have a greater chance of a AD when you chamber a round than most any other time.

  21. Action ALWAYS beats reaction, and unloaded firearm after you have been attacked means that the bad guy just traded up in his weapon system!!

  22. I recently saw an advertisement for an added on belt clip for handguns. I’ve owned a few and I don’t really like them. They are handy, but my only drawback is the trigger is exposed, possibly snagging the open trigger, unlike carrying in a holster.
    Using one of these would be the only time I would not have a round in the chamber.
    JMO

    1. Joe c,

      I fully agree, not based on personal experience, but on practical knowledge. I, too, have seen those pocket clips advertised, but from appearance only, I can see a few glaring reasons why they would not work for me.

      One is the fact that I’m left handed. To my knowledge, all those side clips mount on the right side of the pistol, where my thumbs rest against the frame. That alone would keep me from using one.

      Another reason is, it places the pistol partially exposed above the pocket, which sorta negates the discreetness of pocket carry.

      They are advertised to also be used as an inside the waist band carry method. I can see this…maybe, if you are wearing a tucked in shirt and another outer garment to conceal.

      And you point out a very good reason, the exposed trigger.

      They may be the cat’s meow for some folks, just not for me, and for the reasons given.

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