One of the highest debated issues in the concealed carry world, next to open carry vs. concealed carry, is to carry a round in the chamber or not. People will line up on both sides of the issue.
Those who defend not carrying a round in the chamber preach about it's safety. Not carrying a round in the chamber does indeed provide you a 100% chance of not having the gun go off in the holster. There is no doubt about it. Not having a bullet in the chamber would make a discharge in the holster impossible. There are also the safety concerns if you took your gun and holster off that a child could get ahold of your firearm and accidentally fire a round hurting themselves or others. However, that is the biggest pro when it comes to an empty chamber.
Round in the chamber
There are many more pros to a round in the chamber. The most obvious, of course, is speed. Without a round in the chamber, it's going to be hard to draw your gun, rack the slide and fire a round on target faster than just drawing and shooting. That being said, speed will be relative to the shooter. There are some gunslingers out there who are crazy fast, so they might be able to draw the gun, rack the slide, and fire quicker than you can with a loaded chamber. The point, though, is what can you do? It's not about the fact that some of the best shooters in the world can do it fast. It's about what you can do.
Another pro of a round in the chamber is that it only demands one-hand to fire. Can you charge your pistol and load a round in the chamber with one hand using your belt or even the bad guy's face? Yes, technically, you could. The problem is that doing that slows you down more, and if you have to be close enough to the bad guy to rack the slide off of him, then you could get fatally injured before you even get in the fight. If your assailant has a knife, he could be stabbing you while you try to charge your pistol. Knife wounds are no joke and could easily be fatal.
The third pro of a chambered round has to do with shooting from retention. In a retention shooting position, you could be getting mauled by your attacker. Imagine fists, knives, or a baseball bat being swung at you. Now imagine you're up against a wall with nowhere to go. With a loaded chamber, all you have to do is clear the holster and point it toward the bad guy and fire. Now, if you are unloaded, you have to rack it and fire from a retention position where you cannot present out onto target, then more than likely, you wouldn't survive the scenario.
Should I keep a round in the chamber?
In our opinion, the pros outweigh the cons for keeping a round in the chamber. We tested out the speeds on the range with a shot timer, and Grant, our Chief Instructor at GunSpot, was over a half-second faster. For our test, we shoot at a leisurely 5-yard distance which would be about as close as you'd want to be to an attacker while having to rack the slide.
We hope you consider carefully carrying with an empty chamber. If you are concerned about a negligent discharge in the holster, here are the two things you can do to avoid this. First off, carry a gun with an excellent reliable track record. Look up guns that have been drop tested and never fire. If you don't know of one, Glock is always an excellent bet for safety and reliability. Second of all, you need to have a safe holster. Don't get a cloth or leather holster. You need to get a holster that is tough and will hold its shape. This will protect your trigger from being pulled. As long as your trigger guard is completely covered and your holster has a good firm fit, you will be safe. There are several good holster options out there, but the one we have grown to like the best is the Tulster line of holsters. We also promote appendix carry because we think it's a faster draw. So, we really like the OATH line of holsters from Tulster. These are quality holsters with good positive locks, and they ship out super fast. If you have a reliable gun and a good quality holster, there is no need to fear carrying with a loaded chamber.
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