If you want to start a “grab your popcorn” debate in the gun world, a good way to start is by talking about carrying with the chamber full (condition 1 for 1911 lovers) or empty. (condition 3) At Active Self Protection we believe that each person has to make that decision for themselves, but as for me and for what I teach, I believe that the best way is to keep the chamber full if possible. This video is why.
Why is chamber full a better defensive setup?
1. Chambering a round takes both hands. Everyone teaches chambering with both hands because that is the fastest way to do it, until some goofy holster makes the rounds again that is impractical and not helpful for concealed carry. If your support hand is engaged in a bad guy or holding a child or is injured in earning your draw or otherwise engaged, you’re out of luck. Sure, range masters will teach using the rear sights to hook on the edge of your boot or belt or whatever, but those are small targets and someone is stabbing you or bashing your head in.
2. Chambering a round takes time. In the life-or-death struggle of a gunfight, you’ve got the rest of your life to get your gun on target and rounds in the bad guy. In most gunfights, you might well have the time to chamber a round. But as these examples show, you can’t guarantee that, and under the duress of deadly threat you might not have the time. To me, that’s not worth the risk.
3. Chambering a round is risky. We see two examples here of people trying to chamber a round under stress, and both fumble the chambering and it makes their blaster puke. If you haven’t done it 10,000 times with 0 malfunctions, there’s a good chance you will short stroke your gun and put it out of the fight at your greatest moment of need. You might not; you might do it great. But why take the risk?
4. Chambering a round is unnecessary. Modern striker-fired semi-automatic pistols are all designed to carry with a round in the chamber, as are all modern revolvers (those that have a transfer bar). Heck, the 1911 design is over 100 years old and is designed to carry with a round in the chamber!
5. Chambering a round reduces your gun’s capacity. I recognize that in a standard capacity modern double-stack semi, that’s not a high percentage of available ammunition. That’s why I put this one at the bottom! 🙂Nevertheless, it is a concern. The only time you have too much ammo on you is if you’re on fire or drowning, so in my VP9 I would rather have 16 than 15 in the gun. I have never heard of someone finishing a gunfight and lamenting having too many rounds, but we’ve seen several where people perished for having too few.
It’s a personal decision for sure, and I would rather someone carry with the chamber empty than not at all. But for everything we see here, chamber full is the method for me.
Attitude. Skills. Plan.
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