Should I Carry With One in the Chamber?

The decision to carry with one in the chamber should hinge on why a carrier has a gun in the first place. In emergencies, carrying one in the chamber can help you react faster, which enhances your chances of survival. 

Read on as we discuss whether or not you should carry with one in the chamber and why we feel the way we do.

Why You Should Carry With One in the Chamber

The decision to carry a chambered round should hinge on your personal preferences and reasons for carrying a firearm in the first place. If you’re carrying due to safety and self-defense, it’s best to have one in the chamber.

Chambering a gun means you’re ready in and when a situation presents itself (in case any is needed). While some might argue against carrying a round in the chamber, here are some of the reasons why you should.

Improved Reaction Time

This is a serious point for gun owners who advocate carrying with one in the chamber. The argument is usually based on the fact that guns are meant for emergencies. That is if you are forced to use a firearm to defend yourself or a third party, time is usually not on your side. Thus, having a round chambered can save you fractions of a second.

And in truth, there is usually little reaction time in emergencies since things tend to happen fast.

Gun owners who are pro-carrying with one in the chamber argue that the time spent racking the slide can prove costly, especially in life or death situations.  

Boosts Your Chances of Survival

As much as the media might try to portray otherwise, genuine gun owners never carry guns for show; instead, firearms are carried for safety as the last line of defense. And naturally, you’d want this tool to perform its intended task.

People carrying without chambered rounds have to rack the slide for the gun to fire, which requires both hands. In an emergency, having a chambered gun allows you to use both hands independently-one to draw the gun and the other to shove the attacker away. You won’t need to use both hands once you draw the gun. That’s enough of a reason in and of itself.

Allows You to Observe Gun Laws

Although contentious, some gun owners believe that carrying a loaded gun that’s ready to fire promotes the observation of gun laws. That is, the knowledge that you’re carrying a loaded handgun means that any shot, injury, or even death will come with repercussions, which in turn forces one to carry responsibly.

The knowledge that you’re carrying a chambered gun means you must be careful, especially after drawing the weapon. The awareness of the risks involved allows you to draw the gun only as a last resort. It may also help prevent haphazard gun handling.

Modern Handguns Come With Enhanced Safety Features

To avert the risks associated with negligent discharges, gun manufacturers are investing millions of dollars in improving gun technology, especially in regards to safety. Guns are coming packed with internal and external security features to ensure that shots are only fired when the trigger is pressed deliberately.

Glock pistols, for instance, come with three independent safeties, which include trigger safety, firing pin safety, and finally, the drop safety. Other people also like double-action revolvers because they can be safer for carrying due to their heavy trigger pills that prevent accidental firing.

Other safety features that you can expect to find in guns (depending on the brand) includes the following:

  • Loaded Chamber Indicator (LCI)
  • Decocker
  • Magazine disconnect
  • Safety notch
  • Grip safety
  • Manual safety

The argument is that these security enhancements are more than enough to keep you safe when carrying, provided you’re proficient in gun handling. Any fool can make a mistake!

A Good Holster Allows for Safe Carry

All advocates for carrying with one in the chamber insist on the need to invest in good enough holsters. With a high-quality holster, chances of dropping and negligently pressing the trigger or releasing safeties are almost certainly eliminated.

Good holsters should have completely covered trigger guards to prevent pressing the trigger. They should also be rigid enough to prevent external manipulation through the holster material. Therefore, it’s best to steer clear of nylon or cheap, low-quality products when it comes to gun holsters for EDC.

If you can trust your holster to withstand external pressure either when you’re crawling, running, or pinned to the ground, then it’s safe for you to carry with one in the chamber.  

Carrying With One vs. Without One in the Chamber: Which One Is Safer?

Safety is usually relative when it comes to gun handling. An expert gun handler will argue that he’s safer carrying with one in the chamber while a novice might insist walking around with a ready-to-fire gun is anything but safe. In the end, it all depends on your perspective and level of experience.

However, if you’re carrying a gun for self-defense purposes, then carrying one in the chamber is your best bet. Having a ready-to-fire gun at your disposal gives you the upper hand, especially if it is a CCW with the purpose of self-defense.

But if you choose to carry one in the chamber, you’ll need to make sure you are proficient and properly trained in safe gun handling. Forming a habit is all about repeating an action until it becomes normal. Avoid bad habits.

Whichever carrying option you choose, be sure to observe gun safety protocol to keep yourself, your loved ones, and all civilians safe.

How to Avoid a Negligent Discharge When Dealing With Loaded Guns

Invest in a Proper Holster

When carrying a concealed weapon that’s loaded, you’ll need to be extra careful to stay on the right side of the law. And a decent, well-reinforced holster is the first step to preventing external forces from triggering a gun on your behalf.

Ideally, the best holster should have a trigger guard that prevents accidental firing no matter whether you’re running, crawling, or even fighting for your life. It should also be tough enough to prevent external pressure or motion from interfering with the safety features. Check for holsters that are molded for your firearm and strong enough to withstand external pressure.

While it might be tempting to purchase cheap holsters to cut on costs, investing in high-quality holsters is highly recommended. A good holster will give you the peace of mind that your gun is safely tucked in and that you can access it whenever the need arises.  

Understand How Your Firearm Operates

How you’ll shoot with a revolver is completely different from how you’ll manipulate a Glock to fire. Therefore, don’t be in too much of a hurry to carry with one in the chamber if you don’t even understand how your gun functions.

If you’re handling a new gun, it’s best to train on it until you get used to everything about it. Experience may not matter when handling a new firearm. You’ll need to take your time to learn it so you can carry it with confidence. The reason for this is that most folks “think” they are more proficient than they are. Make sure you are good to go before taking on this responsibility.

If you’re concerned about the security risks associated with carrying a firearm with a live round in the chamber, then training and learning more about safe gun handling techniques is advisable. Invest in yourself and it will definitely pay off.

Always Assume You’re Dealing With a Loaded Gun

Treat every weapon as if it is loaded!

Just because your range buddy passes his unloaded gun to you doesn’t mean you should take his word for it. Mistakes happen.

Therefore, to be on the safe side, it’s best to always safety-check a gun before usage. As a rule of thumb, always safety-check a gun whenever you take possession of one. This rule should apply to everyone, even the gun guys, with decades of experience.

Avoid Pointing a Gun Aimlessly

Never point your weapon at anyone or anything you don’t intend to shoot or in a direction where a discharge may do harm!

It’s a novice mistake to aimlessly point a gun at something you don’t plan on shooting or if it’s safe to do so (there are always caveats). You never know whether the initial handler loaded the weapon or what condition the gun is in. A simple mistake might turn into a serious case with severe legal implications.

Therefore, whether loaded or unloaded, it’s best advised to avoid playing around with a firearm. In fact, you shouldn’t encourage anyone to joke around with any type of gun.

You should draw a gun only when it’s necessary. Therefore, when an opportunity to retreat or avoid a threat presents itself, take it without thinking twice as long as it’s safe and feasible.

But if the situation keeps on deteriorating, it’s crucial to think tactically before drawing your weapon. By tactically, we mean that you should weigh your options to determine whether drawing the gun will help neutralize the threat or make it worse instead. As Travis Haley says, “thinkers before shooters”.

Wrapping Up

Remember, in life or death situations, you may not have the luxury to think about your next move. Heck, even racking a slide can prove impossible if both your hands are tied up. So to be on the safe side, it’s best to carry with one in the chamber. 

Cody Martin

With over 18 years of federal law enforcement, training, and physical security experience, Cody focuses his time nowadays on both consulting and training. He regularly advises individuals, groups, multinational corporations, schools, houses of worship, and NGOs on security threats while conducting customized training as needed.

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