I speak with new concealed carriers on a regular basis, and it’s no surprise that I get many questions that people tend to ask out of the gate. One of the questions that comes up the most is; How safe is it to carry with a round in the chamber?
I’ve covered this topic on numerous occasions, and maintain a calm discussion each and every time. By calm discussion, I mean that I never tell someone that they are ‘dumb’ or ‘crazy’ for not carrying with a round in the chamber? It’s completely counter-productive, because they are typically new to concealed carry and have legitimate questions. Every time I bring up this topic to the masses, I see comments flood in that make the people asking the questions feel inadequate and stupid.
Instead, let’s give them meaningful information that they can use to decide how they’d like to proceed. After all, it’s their choice as to how they carry their firearm.
I can sit here and tell a person that carrying with a round in the chamber in any modern firearm is safe, but it won’t ease all of the concerns. It takes experience, knowledge and training to be confident with a firearm, and no one possesses this in the beginning. In short, we should never be telling someone that it’s a silly question.
Getting to the point, there are some facts that are going to be laid out bluntly. With these facts, decisions can be made. In the end, I’d like to see everyone carrying their firearms safely and securely with a round in the chamber, because it’s the best way to be ready for a defensive situation quickly.
1. You Aren’t As Prepared As You Could Be
If anyone ever says that a firearm with an empty chamber is the same as holding a brick, they’re simply wrong. Sometimes. While there are situations where you wouldn’t have time to chamber a round, there are also situations where you would have the time needed. However, this time is not guaranteed, and many other issues could come up.
In stressful situations, you may find yourself unable to rack the slide. Your body may simply say ‘Nope, not going to happen’, and you’ll fumble trying to work the slide. This is a dangerous situation that you’d never want to find yourself in.
Having that first round chambered will completely negate the need to ‘get ready’. If your firearm is ready to go, all you should need to do if a situation arises is to simply draw your firearm. That, in itself, could prove to be difficult depending on how close your threat is, and having an empty chamber will only add to the time needed to get ready.
2. Either You Don’t Trust Yourself Or You Don’t Trust Your Firearm
Let’s have an honest moment here. For those who are hesitant to carry with a round in the chamber, it’s typically one of two (or both) things that are holding them back. Let’s take a look at each and discuss;
- You Don’t Trust Yourself – This is usually a result of a lack of training. Having faith that you won’t pull the trigger of your firearm is important, but that’s not always it. Maybe you’re suspicious of the holster that you’re using and believe that there’s a possibility that it could depress the trigger. If that’s the case, a simple solution is to use that holster and firearm, unloaded, for a week. If the trigger is ever depressed during the time you’re holstering or carrying, I’d be incredibly surprised. If it’s not depressed, then you should gain some confidence that your firearm will not go ‘bang’ when you don’t want it to. Training is another important part here, and you need to have confidence in yourself and your firearm. This is accomplished through training, of course, and it’s an incredibly important aspect of concealed carry.
- You Don’t Trust Your Firearm – This one is easier to talk about then the above. If you simply don’t trust your firearm, there has to be a reason. If it’s because something about it makes you feel uneasy, such as a lack of external safeties, then it’s probably time to get a different firearm to carry. If it’s because you don’t trust the firearm’s mechanics itself, such as the internal safeties of a Glock, then it’s probably best to educate yourself about those systems to give yourself piece-of-mind. As stated before, no modern firearm should fire without the trigger being pulled.
Knowledge and training, again, will help with not only this journey, but any journey that you ever take with firearms and concealed carry. Whether you’re 1 month into concealed carry or 40 years, there’s never a reason to stop learning or to stop training. They must always remain for you to remain proficient.
3. You Doubt The Outcome Of A Self-Defense Situation
Here’s another truth bomb to drop on yourself if you haven’t already; If you find yourself in a self-defense situation that you play out in your head, you might be doubting yourself as to whether or not you’d actually have time to chamber a round. We have seen many videos over the years that show a split second to react, and there is no way that those situations would allow the racking of a slide. It’s proven that time simply does not allow it.
Use that doubt as a step to get more familiar with yourself and your firearm, and how the two can work safely together. It’s better to have this doubt when playing a situation in your head, verses an actual situation in real life. Once it happens, there’s no reset.
I always take a mild approach with new concealed carriers and never tell them that they’re making a stupid choice when they decide to carry without a round in the chamber. It’s not up to me, or you, to tell someone else what they should feel comfortable with. Of course it’s safer to carry hot than not, if you ever need to draw your firearm, but it’s also important for confidence to be with us at all times.
If that confidence at first comes in the form of an empty chamber, it’s certainly better than not having your firearm with you. However, the ultimate goal for these people is to carry with a round in the chamber, and that will never change.
If it’s been, say 3 months, and you’re still carrying with the chamber empty, it’s time to hit the range with a professional trainer so they can stomp out those fears that are hindering you from using your firearm in the manner in which it was created to be used.