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If You’re Nervous About Carrying With A Round In The Chamber, Try This


For many, carrying with a round in the chamber is a step that hasn’t been taken yet. The reasons vary, but it’s definitely an issue for a lot of people. In this article, I am going to discuss a simple thing that you can do to ease your mind.

If you came here to say something along the lines of “Carrying with an empty chamber is stupid” or “Why even carry if your pipe is empty?”, save it. This article isn’t for you.

If you’re still reading, I hope that you’re here for the tip in this article.

First, keep this in mind: For a modern handgun to fire, the trigger needs to be depressed. For the following example, I am going to be referring to Glock pistols as the example, since they have no external safety (aside from the trigger safety).

Try this:

If you don’t already, start to carry your firearm with the trigger in the forward position, shown below:


At the end of the day when you take your firearm out of your holster to put it away, chances are the trigger is still in that position. If it is, congrats, you did not ‘experience’ a negligent discharge. The word ‘experience’ is in quotes because we are under the assumption that a round was not in the chamber, rendering a negligent discharge impossible unless you racked the slide before the trigger was accidentally depressed.

Now, if you ever unholster your firearm and see the trigger pulled back, we have a real problem. Again, if your trigger is in the position shown below when you unholster, you need to take a serious look at your carry setup. Something or someone is pulling your trigger back:


If you are using a proper holster (by our standards, one that is molded to your particular firearm) and follow all of the safety protocols, a depress of the trigger should never occur if the firearm remains in the holster.


Another area of concern is holstering the firearm. This is rather obsolete given the scenerio above, but I’ll touch on it anyway. Holstering is something that everyone should practice on a regular basis. If you are still concerned with holstering with a round in the chamber, try the same thing as we just discussed. If you holster and unholster, and your trigger is still forward, you’re good to go. The main concern with holstering would be getting a piece of clothing inside the trigger guard, or a part of the holster itself. With the right setup and continued practice, this will become a non-issue.

I hope that this article helps at least one person who has been hesitant to carry with a round in the chamber. We’re all on different levels of carrying, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of.

You may also be interested in the following articles:

Is it safe to carry with a round in the chamber?

Should I Carry With A Round In The Chamber Part 1

Should I Carry With A Round In The Chamber Part 2

Why We Recommend Carrying With A Round In The Chamber (Warning: Graphic)

Categories: Beginners Guide, General
About Brandon Curtis | View all posts by Brandon Curtis

Brandon is the founder of Concealed Nation and is an avid firearm enthusiast, with a particular interest in responsible concealed carry. His EDC is a Glock 27 that holds Hornady…

Brandon is the founder of Concealed Nation and is an avid firearm enthusiast, with a particular interest in responsible concealed carry. His EDC is a Glock 27 that holds Hornady 165 gr FTX Critical Defense rounds, and rides comfortably in an Alien Gear Cloak Tuck 3.0 holster.

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  • SilverState

    Great column, and I’m glad you used the Glock as an example. Because it has no external safety, I am not a fan of newcomers to guns and CCW’s using a Glock or any similar gun for concealed carry. Better to practice taking off the safety than to have a negligent discharge.

    • Barry Newman

      2 years of everyday carry of a Glock 30sf or 21 st and no ND’s

    • Larry Card

      Carried a Glock 36 since day 1 with no problems.

    • JustASec

      The Glock, known as the pistol ‘too ready to fire’!
      Around PDs where the Glock is issued the term “Glock Leg” (which is a condition encountered when the Glock user ADs into his own leg, usually due to something foreign, such as jacket drawstring slide, holster parts, etc., snagging the safety/trigger as the gun is reholstered) is well known. AD’s and NDs with Glocks are very common as are lawsuits against GLOCK Gmbh. The lawsuits against Glock are always settled out of court by a payment to the suitor, with the proviso that he must never breathe a word of the incident or the settlement again!
      Gastin Glock was a skilled engineer, but he was not a firearms engineer, the Glock was his first design. He chose to integrate the only safety (not counting the hammer block safety in case the pistol is dropped) WITH the trigger! This is akin to integrating the brake with the accelerator in a vehicle.
      If you carry a Glock with the chamber loaded, just be aware of the pitfalls (and be sure to sue GLOCK GMBH when you have an AD/ND injury!)

      • blanjm5

        I’ve been seven years with my agency, which issues Glocks. I’ve never heard heard that term, nor had my weapon fire when I didn’t intend it to.

      • GT

        20+ years here, firearms instructor, LEO, Firearms dealer…never heard of an AD while in holster, drawing or recovering. People screwing around when they shouldn’t be?…heard of plenty.

    • kyle

      Carried a Glock for going on 10 years, 5 I carried a G22 and the last 5 I have carried a G23

      • SilverState

        Thanks, I guess. I’m just not sure what your point is.

  • abolds4397

    To me having a round in the chamber is one less step in case I need it. I have 2 weapons with external safeties (4 that don’t) and I keep them off, also one less step!

  • Matthew Land

    I tell people that don’t carry a round in the chamber to rack the slide before inserting the mag. This makes them still feel safe because there’s no bullet chambered. After every day I say remove the mag, point it in a safe direction and pull the trigger (there should be no round in chamber) causing an audible CLICK. After a week or so they realize the gun hasn’t automatically fired on it’s own and normally are quick to start chambering that round. If it’s that big of an issue they would be better off carrying a weapon with a safety or a revolver. I like my shield because of the safety when I’ve got it in a pocket instead of holstered. Clicking off the safety isn’t that big of an issue it it’s your gun and you’ve trained with it.

    • Publius 2015

      Good thoughts and no troll here, but what about the idea that having to rack the slide is the ULTIMATE “safety”? I have been considering carrying exactly as you describe for “training” newbies, as I understand it: Every morning rack and ensure no round in chamber, (extra step of pulling trigger to field-strip mode–proof that the gun cannot fire), and insert magazine, go about day carrying with magazine inserted but no round in chamber. In rare event that I ever needed to use the Glock, I would have to rack the slide to chamber a round (“take off the safety”) and there would be no chance of an accidental discharge. What is wrong with this approach?

      • T. A.

        The problem is that you can’t chamber a round when you are already under attack. Criminals won’t wait for you to become range ready before attacking you. They will approach from your blind side or distract you, assault you and run with your money. There is almost zero chance you will have the motor skills and opportunity to chamber a round after the incident starts. One hand will likely be engaged fighting off this assailant.

        • SilverState

          There are far too many possible scenarios to be fully prepared for every one of them. Some scenarios you are correct about in that you have no time to rack the slide but there are many where you would have time, particularly if you are paying attention to your surroundings and the people in your space.
          Training and lots of practice mitigates both the problems associated with carrying an empty chamber as well as one in the pipe. My primary concern is that people who are not used to being around guns and where safety is a decision rather than second nature, will have a lapse in attention that has serious consequences. Better to have a slightly longer response time until the gun is a part of them rather than a negligent discharge.

          • T. A.

            The problem with that is how do you know what scenario you will be dealt? if you get the one where you don’t have time to chamber a round then you die. If you have a negligent discharge there is very little chance anyone dies. Why would you intentionally be prepared for less scenarios than you could? Get a handgun with a safety and practice a lot, it’s the safest way to prepare.

          • T. A.

            I agree that new carriers should take plenty of time to be competent and confident though.

  • Jebediah1203

    I have a cz 75D PCR with a decocker. Round in the chamber but first round is DA, SA after that. Love it. Wish all guns had that option.

    • Larry Card

      I have a Sig P220, same setup, but it takes more range time to get used to that first DA pull and immediate transition to SA, not to mention training yourself to hit that decocking lever before holstering.

      Of course that’s the main thing right there, isn’t it? Training yourself to use the setup that you have?

  • alabubba

    I tell people that don’t feel safe with a round “In the Pipe” to carry a Revolver!

    • Cisco

      Exactly. A good revolver is not going to fire, until you actually pull the trigger. Jam-o-matics do have their good points, like increased capacity, but a good quality .357 magnum revolver, ain’t all bad.

  • Bishop Alexander

    This will sound outlandish, but for a while what I did with my Glock 27 was to remove the slide, chamber a round manually and then reattach the slide.
    Doing this kept the trigger in the rear position and the gun cannot fire accidentally.
    When you pull the gun all you have to do is pull or PUSH the slide just a little and the trigger would reset.
    I was doing this because I was using a Galco leather fitted holster and I kept thinking the holster was going to hit the trigger upon holstering.

    • T. A.

      One of the most dangerous things I have ever heard of. The firing pin is not supported and is free to slide forward and hit the primer (if you dropped the gun for example). Also many people have tried this and had the gun fire when reassembling.

      • Bishop Alexander

        Yup. Don’t drop your gun!

  • Jason Lessard

    I work with a man that has a very strong opinion about how unsafe it is to carry with a round cambered. He will also carry a revolver at times. I asked “do you also carry the revolver with an open hole?” He said yes, “I don’t like the idea of the hammer resting on a round.” I explained, his modern S&W snubby doesn’t work like that and I said “If you are worried about a neg. discharge you need to have the next hole open. So now your 5 shot snubby only has 3 in it and you have to pull the trigger twice to get off the first shot. I wasn’t arguing, just wanted to give him something to think about. (Would you carry a revolver the same way?)

    • JustASec

      Most people who worry about an AD or ND with a revolver are worried about the possibilty of the pistol firing when the pistol is dropped on the hammer, not accidentally pulling the trigger, as it takes a conscious effort to overcome the long heavy DA trigger pull of most revolvers
      This is mainly a historical concern, predating hammer blocks which most all revolvers (even SAO ones) have employed for years to ward off lawsuits.
      Of course hammer blocks can fail or break on a revolver, just as they can on any pistol.
      I would trust either a hammer-block equipped single action semi-automatic with exposed hammer (down) or a revolver similiarly equipped equally with a round under the hammer.

      • Jason Lessard

        Good info… Thanks. The other part of the story is his semi-auto is a Taurus with a DA/SA trigger. The DA pull is very heavy and rough. The gun also has a de-cocker and thumb safety. I ask, with all that, why not put one in the tube. I guess if a guy is still worried. a pad lock through the slide should do the trick.
        Again, not arguing or condemning. I’ve carries both ways. I got to the point i was more worried about having to rack the slide then shooting myself in the foot. I guess it’s a journey.

  • Barry Newman

    Great intermediate step good idea.

  • urbsdetector

    As a police officer and since retiring, I have carried a 1911 for 40 years and I remember being intimidated by the cocked and locked gun for a few weeks. But the man who trained me on that weapon made sure that I fired it and fired it and trained on it until it was a part of me. That cured me. It’s all about training and familiarity in my humble opinion.

  • Teddy

    I always found when buying a gun is to make sure it fits good in my hand, I don’t want it to big that I can’t keep a tight grip on it. Then I make sure I can reach the safety with my thumb without loosing grip. I also make sure my finger is comfortable on the trigger, I don’t want to have to stretch my finger to reach the trigger. Most ranges have rentals and I see if they have a gun I like and then I rent it and shoot at least 50 rounds through it. Then I buy it if i like it.

  • Mark Bigger

    I know many LEO’s who have had accidental discharges. Some have shot them selves in the foot or calve. One was cleaning a revolver and it went off inside the house, through several walls and killed the water heater. If I had a gun, I would not chamber a round when carrying. This is not a good idea if you are very experienced and expect a ” gunfight with a quick draw needed” Personally I feel safer not chambering as it only takes a mere second the grab and pull the slide back and let go. I would lose in a typical western style gunfight, but in most cases, you would have that extra second to pull back the slide during the draw. Many former LEO’s feel the same. It is just a personal preference and I feel much safer with an un-chambered round. This of course would not apply to a revolver.

    • AL

      Perps already have the drop on you even before you know it. Try playing out a scenario that some one was going point a gun or a knife on you. How much realistic time do you have to react. Many scenarios might give you plenty of time to rack the slide but how about that one time you are faced with fighting for your life or one of your loved ones and no time to rack. My advice is practice with unloaded firearm with the holster you use. The glock design as mentioned, the striker gets pulled back when the trigger is pulled. As long as nothing is pulling that trigger it is not going to go off. It’s a personal choice but best to play out possibilities so at least its a deliberate choice. When I first started carrying that was my concern too but training and knowing/ testing equipment really got me over the worries of carrying with one ine the pipe.

      • Mark Bigger

        I agree AL, and I may start chambering someday

      • Brent

        Also consider if you for some reason you have been shot or hurt in one of your hands or arm and can’t rack the slide, now that gun you carry with out a round chambered is useless. I would rather have to shoot with my other hand and have a chance then wish I had chamber a round. I carry a Kahr mk9 that has a really long trigger pull, probably as long as the double action on a revolver. Just something to think about.

    • GT

      I have known thousands of officers through the years both through being on the job and through my second / side career of a tactical firearms instructor. Gun talk always comes up because of the instructor part of my life. I have never heard of a LEO having an accidental discharge in a non stress situation that involved drawing or recovering (I can’t say its never happened anywhere or anytime because I’m sure it has, but, it is the least of our worries). I have heard of of people dying because they could not disengage a safety or rack the slide of their weapon due to stress induced loss of motor function. I was taught many moons ago to carry with a chambered round, I have never been taught otherwise in hundreds (thousands?) of hours of firearms training and I instruct students both basic and advanced to do the same thing. Just my thoughts and observations from about 40 years of regular firearms use and 20-25 of daily firearms use and interaction with other firearms users.

  • M. Snyder

    Keep your boogerhook off the bangswitch and you will be ok!

    • SilverState

      Thanks for the intelligent keyboard commando response. You have added greatly to the conversation. I’m sure that people new to concealed carry will benefit greatly from your wisdom.

  • maelstrom143

    I learned to have one in the chamber at all times. The time it takes to chamber a round for someone with small hands can be the amount of time needed for an intruder or aggressor to get close enough to do harm. Besides, the lock-and-load noise is a dead giveaway.

  • Ralph Rondeau

    Sorry folks will never ever ever keep one in the pipe. Not because of any reason too many things could go wrong.

  • Matthew Smith

    I always carried a springfield xd 9 subcompact with one in the chamber religiously because if a thief has a weapon on me (gun or knife) I don’t want to take the time to chamber one, just take the time to donate some hot lead. I now carry a sw airwieght 38 with a full cylinder, now my question is do people carry with the hammer back? I don’t cuz I can have the hammer back befor it out of the holster… stupid question but just wanted a census of sorts I guess…

  • Chris Lee

    I carried this way for a while when I started, it was a great confidence booster to see that my trigger wasn’t not accidentally engaged throughout the day. Now, I carry with a round in the chamber with all of my Glocks and don’t think a thing of it.

  • Guest

    I carry a Ruger .357 hammerless revolver. Just person preference I guess…I own several other semi-autos but I always go back to the revolver for CC.

  • Michael Cox

    For many years Military Police carried their 1911’s without a round in the chamber. They became extremely proficient at drawing and racking the slide to chamber a round when necessary. That is an option and it does work. People who think every encounter is going to require some kind of quick draw have not had enough experience to know better. If someone does not feel comfortable carrying a round in the chamber they should not be made to feel as if they are incompetent. It is not optimal but it is safe.

    • T. A.

      It doesn’t have to be every encounter that needs a quick draw. It only has to be the one that you find yourself in. Then you have an unloaded gun against an armed adversary.

  • Cory Hicks

    Being an Air Force LE I was astonished when I was assigned TDY to US SO COM under the US Army. I loaded at the barrel like normal, Load then Lock per AFR125-26. The barrel official went nuts. That is when I found the Army does not chamber a round prior to holstering, Lock then load. If this is your training then carry as you train, that is the Provost Marshall’s take on my carry. I was the only AF on site. I purchased my first Glock in 1992 and have carried it every day since fully loaded and pipe full. It like the location of carry, is up to the carrier and they should carry as they train. When you need it is not the time to think as you will revert to training before you have a chance to think.

  • mike b

    Great article. First time I am seeing. When I first started carrying I was nervous about the round in the chamber. Since I switched to a Galco for my SW MP 40 I don’t worry so much. Maybe the part time police officer that shot him self in the leg a couple months ago in my area would have benefit with your training regiment.

  • Patrick McInerney

    check this safety device for glocks if your nervous about carrying a round in the chamber google SIDERLOCK

  • Ricky Perky

    If it’s a revolver, I always have one empty chamber and keep the hammer on it. If it’s an automatic, I always keep one in the pipe to avoid having to rack it before bringing it into play.

    • T. A.

      You do not need to carry a modern revolver with an empty chamber under the hammer, that was an old west technique. Modern revolvers have a hammer block and cannot fire unless the trigger is pulled first. You are just shorting your self one round in a gun that already holds too few rounds. It is not any safer.

  • Brent

    Also consider if you for some reason you have been shot or hurt in one of your hands or arm and can’t rack the slide, now that gun you carry with out a round chambered is useless. I would rather have to shoot with my other hand and have a chance then wish I had chamber a round. I carry a Kahr mk9 that has a really long trigger pull, probably as long as the double action on a revolver. Just something to think about.

  • SouthernGuy8503

    I don’t carry yet, but I do have a Glock 19 for home protection and have taken to the range a few times. I keep a fully loaded Glock 17 mag in the gun at home, but never a round in the chamber and I do keep the trigger in the rear position.

    • GDrum

      I have a Glock 19 as well. It spent the past year as my every day carry. I still carry it, but have been carry my Shield more. It’s just an easier gun to carry. I keep them both in the same condition. They are both striker fired, one in the chamber at all times. The Shield has an external safely, but I don’t use it. My guns are ALWAYS kept in holsters. I don’t leave them hot, laying in my pistol safe, without the trigger guard covered. This way, if I have to quickly access the safe, I can easily and safely pick up a gun, pushing away the holster and its ready to go. No worries about having to rack a slide under pressure, (or having someone hear me racking it) Stealth is the way to go.

  • dc_dalton

    “For a modern handgun to fire, the trigger needs to be depressed.”

    And what firearm doesn’t need the trigger to be depressed to fire?

    • rkestes

      Catching an external hammer (with a full chamber) when reholstering could be a source of AD, to answer the question.

  • george George

    For some reason I have heard it was against the law to have round in chamber.

  • Amber cumberledge

    Im confused…once the trigger has been pulled on my pistol it goes right back to the foward postion, so what your saying makes little sence to me. If you could explain better why it would be in a different postion it may help. Im new to pistols to be sure..carried an m16 in the army but alway pulled the charging handle before firing, recently got my concealed permit but so far have left my pistol on the nightstand, safety on and unchambered. My husband works shifts and has “suprized” me out of sleep coming home early and twice i have been mostly asleep and run from my bedroom with a meat cleaver in hand so im worried id shoot him accidentally if im cocked and loaded. Suggestions?

    • T. A.

      In a striker fired pistol such as the Glock the trigger does not fully reset (move forward) until the slide fully travels to the rear and back forward, either by firing a round or manually pulling the slide to the read and releasing it. So, if you pulled the trigger on an empty chamber the trigger would remain to the rear like the picture above.

  • Publius 2015

    New CCW here. Serious question that I cannot believe I have not found discussion of yet using google. Would really appreciate any thoughts. My EDC is a Glock. Love it. We all know that, on a Glock, the trigger being pulled back is the only way to really know that NO round is in the chamber, right? If the trigger is forward, a round might be in the chamber.

    I am extremely safety conscious. I cannot have an accidental discharge (not only do I not want a hole in my leg, but in my career position, I cannot even have the embarrassment of such an event). I’m of the mindset that I’m not going to be doing any quick drawing and gun battling Doc Holiday style. In fact, most of the time I intend to carry in a briefcase (or my car), with my piece in a locked zip bag — two layers of “not readily accessible”. I don’t want to start a flame war on that aspect of my comment here. Am I less prepared for an ambush? You bet. But I figure that I survived 42 years on this earth without carrying at all; I am ready, with a loaded gun in a bag, for a movie theater type thing IF I’m not the first victim targeted by the madman. I am not ready for an ambush or if I’m shot first by a madman. I’m cool with that. I’m ready for a situation that gives me 10 seconds to get my Glock out of the bag, such as if I’m hiding in the back-left of the theater and the bad guy is shooting up the front rows first.

    Ok–my question: I want to carry “level 3” — magazine inserted, but no round in chamber. Is there anything wrong (including hurting my Glock) with inserting a loaded magazine into my Glock with the trigger pulled back (as it must be for field strip); the idea being that if I ever had to use the weapon, I would have a visual indicator that a round is NOT chambered and I need to rack the slide? Why don’t I see more discussion of this approach?

    The second-level reason for my question is the idea that as I gain more confidence, if I start carrying with one in the chamber from time to time — if the trigger is forward, I do not know if one is in the chamber (did I rack it that morning?) (yes the best approach would be to be consistent and know the status) — so I would always rack it anyway, and if one was already in the chamber, I would be ejecting and wasting a round?

    In short: I think carrying with a magazine inserted, but no round in chamber, with trigger back in safe position to remind me that one is not in chamber, is best way to carry UNLESS it hurts the Glock to insert the magazine (and rack the slide if needed in a real situation) with the trigger pulled back in field-strip mode. I can’t imagine this hurts the Glock, as after firing the last round with an empty magazine, of course, the slide stays back and the trigger is back, but one can insert the next magazine and then rack it with no problem (racking while the trigger is back).

    Thoughts? Why can’t I find anything on this approach? I am usually pretty handy with google?

    • T. A.

      There is no danger to the gun carrying like that or loading it like that. My only issue is that carrying like you do (in a briefcase and a locked zipper bag) you are barely armed. You will never have time to get that weapon out and defend your self, never in any scenario. Once the attack starts or shooting occurs you will be frozen and won’t have the mindset or motor skills to unlock a briefcase then unlock a zipper pouch and then load your gun. Not to mention off body carry (such as a briefcase) is the least safe method of carry. You don’t really take a briefcase to the movies, plus briefcases are often stolen just like purses. then a thief has your gun. The more time you spend with your gun in hand at home (unloaded when training) the more you will be familiar with the feel of it and be comfortable with having a weapon in the open around yourself. A tiny loaded gun on your person is a million times better than a hundred guns locked away where you can’t fire it in less than 2 seconds.

  • Franco Eldorado

    I suggested this exact procedure on a forum and you would have thought half the folks on the forum were on the way to my house to disarm me and take my permit.

  • Jon Murphy

    Thanks for sharing this. I’m new to the gun world and, although I have all the permits, I almost never carry. This article helped answer some of my fears

    • SilverState

      I would suggest carrying everywhere you can legally do so. Get used to having the gun on you and soon, you will feel naked without it. And I can’t overemphasize the value of quality training and lots of practice. There are shot timer apps for your phone so you can time yourself and measure your progress. If you get SnapCaps for your gun, you can do dry fire practice at home (just make damn sure the live ammo is nowhere near your gun when you do.)
      I’d also disregard comments from people that sound like tough guys. Carrying a gun is not the time or place to get into a dick measuring contest.

  • Jason Temple

    try, problem solved!!!!!