Whether or not to carry Condition One, that is, with a round in the chamber and safety engaged, is an argument that comes up in discussion very often with the guys I work with. Fortunately, I work full time with a bunch of other military guys so firearms is a constant topic of discussion. There are many arguments on both sides of carrying loaded or unloaded, but for my carry preferences, I’m only comfortable with one option.
One guy I work with in particular, I’ll call him Blake, carries a firearm—usually a Ruger SR9c—everywhere he goes. It’s always in the car with him, or on his hip or in his book bag when he’s outside of his house. But, he never carries with a loaded chamber. His reasoning behind that choice is that he is afraid his gun may accidentally discharge, potentially harming himself or those around him. He feels that it iseasy to draw his pistol and rack the slide to chamber a round, should he ever need to. For those not familiar with the SR9c, It is a polymer framed pistol, with a [manual] external safety, a Glock-style trigger safety, and a firing pin block. The firearm also has a loaded chamber indicator that sticks straight up just forward of the rear sight. I understand that mechanical safeties can fail, but if this was a regular, or even semi-regular occurrence, we would hear about it often on the news, and Ruger would sell a lot fewer firearms.
For me, it’s a Glock 19 with a round chambered, all day, everyday. My Glock 19 is usually accompanied by some sort of weak hand back-up pistol, typically a Ruger LCP, generally carried in a pocket holster, also with a round in the pipe. I wouldn’t want it any other way. While it can be easy to chamber a round when needed, if a concealed carry firearm has been drawn in self defense, it is already too late and that second you may need to chamber a round could mean the difference between life and death. Another thing to consider is that in a self defense situation, adrenaline is pumping which causes you to lose a lot of fine motor skills. You are likely to have sweaty palms, and the skills needed to run the slide, although they may have initially seemed easy, may, in fact, become very difficult. The fewer steps that have to be taken to save your life the better. Additionally, if one hand is disabled, perhaps because of holding off an attacker, it chambering a round will be even more challenging.
I understand both sides of the argument, but only carrying with a loaded chamber works for me. Modern day firearms are built to be safe. Most often, those who I’ve talked with who choose to carry without a round chambered are folks who are newer to concealed carrying a firearm and maybe do not feel completely comfortable with carrying a loaded gun. I know I felt that way when I first started carrying. The best advice I can give to get past that discomfort, if you’re interested, is to know your firearm like the back of your hand. Practice as often as you can with your firearm, whether it be dry-fire practice or range time. The more you are familiar with your pistol the more comfortable and effective you will become. Knowing that I have the comfort of regular practice with my Glock, I maximize my odds of surviving a self defense situation. For me, that means carrying everyday, with a loaded chamber.