Chambered v Unchambered

Chambered vs Unchambered

A lot of people out there are still carrying unchambered and this is a very unsafe, verging irresponsible thing to do. The only “valid” argument isn’t even valid. In this article We’ll be discussing some of the truths, myths, and incorrect assumptions about carrying chambered.

Let’s hit the only “valid” argument out of the water first. The argument of “The Israelis do it”, is a very poor argument to make. First, a lot of militaries follow outdated principles and rules; such as firearms not being drop safe. This is the primary reason a lot of militaries worldwide, not just Israel, do not allow their soldiers to carry with a round chambered. Second, and possibly more important, they carry rifles. Their primary means of self-defense is not a handgun, it’s a long gun. As an individual not carrying a rifle on them at all times, your handgun becomes your primary means of self-defense. Not having it at the ready when drawn is potentially a deadly decision.

If you are a fan of what has been coined as “Israeli Carry” chances are you’re saying;
“It only takes a second to draw and rack the slide. I bet I could get a shot off faster than half the people that carry with a round in the chamber.”
Let’s take something into consideration… If you’re drawing your gun it typically means your day has turned to shit and you need it immediately. Reaction is always slower than action. Maybe, just maybe, you are able to get a shot off faster than a person with one in the chamber on the range; but real life isn’t the range.

One of the biggest “defenses” I see outside of “The Israelis do it” is: “Well I don’t live in a war zone, so I don’t need to carry chambered. Maybe you should move.”

Using this same logic… you shouldn’t be carrying a firearm in the first place. I hate to say it, but that’s the reality of it. Trouble arises everywhere, everyday. Criminals do not keep themselves to certain parts of town and incidents of rage aren’t exclusive to certain areas of the world. Bad people, bad situations… they’re everywhere. Why would you want to give up the advantage of having a round chambered when you absolutely needed your gun?

“If you carry chambered you’re more likely to have a negligent discharge.”

This really speaks to a persons comfort level around firearms and their own insecurities with their own abilities. If you keep your finger out of the trigger guard until you’re ready to fire and make sure the path back into the holster is clear… you won’t have a negligent discharge.

A majority of the people I see saying this are people who have extremely bad, verging nonexistent trigger discipline. Every time you pick a gun up, your trigger finger should be on the frame of the weapon until you’re ready to shoot. If you do not have this trained as muscle memory, as much as I hate to say it, you have no business carrying a firearm. You’re a walking liability.

“I don’t carry chambered because I will chamber the round if it comes to that point.”

If you’re drawing your gun, you’re committing to “I will kill you if you continue.” Yes, a gun being pulled can dissuade a person from continuing what they’re doing. Are you really placing bets on the human element of chaos to be in your favor?

“Yeah, but you’ll unintentionally shoot them if they stop because you have a round chambered.”

How will I unintentionally shoot them if my finger isn’t on the trigger until I’m ready to shoot? Again, this speaks more from a person’s insecurities with their own abilities, and their lack of training.


“I’m uncomfortable with carrying a round in the chamber.”

This is the most honest and sincerest reason to not be carrying with a round chambered. There’s nothing wrong with being uncomfortable with something you aren’t familiar with. Before you decide whether or not you will, I highly recommend taking an entry level self-defense course that requires you to draw and re-holster.

Recommendation aside… If you aren’t someone whose willing to become comfortable with it, go buy a six shot revolver. When you carry the revolver, carry it with the 2nd cylinder empty as that’s carrying unchambered with revolvers. Unlike with semi-autos that require effort to make it ready to defend, all you have to do is pull the trigger a second time and the weapon will discharge.

“But revolvers are outdated and have poor capacity.”
Alright, fair, however, that capacity doesn’t mean anything if the user doesn’t get a chance to use it. Reaction is always slower than action. That being the case, why are you going to add to your reaction time more than you have to? 100% of the time, I would take a revolver with one cylinder empty over a semi-auto that doesn’t have a round chambered; because I don’t know what could happen.

Now, if you’re wanting to get more comfortable with carrying chambered, here’s how you can do that (I’ve suggested this to a lot of people and a good percentage have started carrying chambered). Before you put your magazine into your pistol, rack the slide, and cock the action. If you’re carrying a DA/SA pistol, leave it cocked. If it’s an SAO pistol (like a 1911) I would recommend leaving the safety off.

Carry your gun this way for a week and count how many times it would have discharged if. For striker fired guns, the tell is a dead trigger. For hammer fired pistols the hammer will be down. If you have any number greater than 0 it means one of two things. 1. You need better gear (a different holster). or 2. You need a different/modern semi-auto.

At the end of the day, the only thing preventing you from having a negligent discharge is what’s between your ears. Become familiar with your weapon and train with your weapon.

There isn’t a single credible professional self-defense instructor that would recommend carrying without a round in the chamber. It’s reckless to carry a firearm without a round chambered; especially if your loved ones may depend on your firearm being ready to defend. Remember, when you’re carrying a gun you’re preparing for the absolute worst case scenario. What sense does it make to prepare for the best of the worst by carrying without a round chambered?

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