Why I don’t Carry Empty Or Chambered

There are many gun arguments among gun owners, but I feel perhaps the most contentious is around concealed and open carrying.  The root of the argument is whether to carry with a round chambered or not.

Initially I was part of the ‘not’ crowd.  Some of my thoughts were:

  • Racking a slide can often be enough intimidation to scare away an attacker;
  • I do not want a negligent discharge;
  • If stopped by police, it seems better to announce the weapon is loaded but not chambered;
  • My muscle memory after years and years of shooting was more familiar with unloaded weapons.

Of course, this view has a bunch of pros and cons.  And, yes I have seen the video of an attack where the shooter had no time to even rack the slide and the nasty outcomes of that.  But again, my personal pros seemed to outweigh the cons.

That’s when I started realizing this isn’t really a black or white situation.  We do not need to always be chambered, and we do not need to always be empty, either.

Risk And Reward Balance

To me, the decision comes down to risk profile.

While at home, when I feel the risk of one of the kids somehow (I know people say never, but accidents do happen) got ahold of the gun is high, I can keep the chamber empty.  I mean the risk of someone entering my home and me not having the situational awareness to get the gun and rack the slide seems pretty remote.  So chambered risk is high, unchambered risk is low.

However, once I leave the house, I rack the slide and chamber a round.  The risk is higher out there than at home, and the risk of accidental discharge is lower.  So it makes sense.  The moment I come home and remove my holster, I simply eject the magazine and the chambered round.  I am back into a lower risk profile.


And, after concealed and open carrying for many years, I can say my weapon has never had an accidental trigger pull or negligent discharge.

I call this approach of chambered and not chambered hybrid carry.

This approach makes the most sense for me.  I can weigh all the risks of chambered and empty, and adapt the scenario to the associated risks.

Hopefully, this approach will also put to bed one of the most contentious arguments in the gun world.  Hopefully.


One thought on “Why I don’t Carry Empty Or Chambered”

  1. I largely agree with your method, and have done the same in the past. The only concern is that by having two possible conditions of the weapon, in a stressful (or forgetful) moment, I may forget which condition is currently in force.

    Having a 1911, I now usually carry in Condition #1 (magazine in, round chambered, safety on). We don’t have any kids around, and our dogs lack the necessary thumbs to unlock the safety, so I’m not as concerned about little ‘uns getting hold of it. With the 3-step safety of a 1911 (in order to fire, the grip safety must be depressed and the slide safety switched simultaneously before the trigger can be pulled), a lot of things have to go wrong for an accidental discharge. Not that they can’t, but it’s very unlikely if proper attention is given.

    Part of this proper attention, in my view, is to always carry it in a consistent manner. For me that’s always Condition #1. I always know it’s cocked and locked, and therefore never get mixed up.

    That said, I’m for whatever works for you and your particular carry weapon.

    Best Regards,


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