should you carry with one in the chamber

Should you carry with a round in the chamber?

Imagine removing your handgun from the holster, pointing, aiming and pulling the trigger. It can seem like it happens in slow motion when you’re in a stressful situation. Your mind is trying to comprehend everything going on, your heart is pumping and you’re trying to do anything you can to stay alive.

What if, due to the stressful circumstances, you point and pull the trigger and hear…


or feel nothing but a limp trigger?

Would your stomach drop a little? I know I would freak out. Not every situation allows time to remove your weapon, rack the slide, grasp the gun with both hands again, point, aim and shoot. Would the thought of this be solved by always having a round chambered? The answer is "yes." 

Milliseconds count. When the term “loaded” means a round in the chamber and you need to carry, either open or concealed, with an unloaded gun, training to be faster with your draw will be very important. Carrying this way isn’t for everybody though.

In some cases it's not legal. Deciding to carry with a round in the chamber can have benefits as mentioned above, but depending on the style handgun you’re carrying, you might want to consider all of the risks.

Part of the decision to make with some weapons is, to carry the weapon with the hammer cocked and ready to fire or not. Does carrying with your hammer back make it more likely to accidentally go off? Is it safer to carry a hammerless semi automatic pistol if you’d like a round in the chamber? Let's talk a bit about both styles.

Make sure to reference the laws for your state about the term “loaded” refers to. Take a look at the gun laws by state   HERE.   The term can vary from state to state thanks to legal-speak. No matter what you read in forums and blogs and see on the news, following the wording of the law of the state you are in is a must.

One In The Chamber with a Semi Automatic Handgun

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Guns like your Glocks, Springfield XDS, Smith and Wesson M&P and many other semi auto pistols have an internal hammer. Common concealed carry guns are hammerless. Without diving into the action (e.g. dual action only), a semi-auto can allow you to remove it from the holster and fire until the magazine is empty.

Many semi-auto handguns have an alternative safety. The Springfield XD series, for example, needs your hand gripping the handle and pulling the trigger at the same time for the gun to fire.

There is a grip safety as well as a trigger safety. When one of these isn’t depressed, the gun doesn’t fire. For me, I like these point and shoot type guns for concealed carry. Less to think about in a stressful situation the better.

Carrying with the Hammer Cocked

carrying 1911 hammer cooked

Some people carry one or a variant of it for both concealed and open carry. Guns with an exposed hammer usually let you pull back the hammer and put on the safety to allow the gun to be in a ready to fire position. Carrying with your hammer cocked is similar to having one in the chamber in your semi-auto handgun. The time saved can be life or death.

A professionally designed holster will prevent accidental discharge, take time to find the holster that has been specifically engineered for you handgun here: Concealed Carry Gun Holsters

While some people are very comfortable carrying this way, personally I’m not.

I feel like the slightest bump could let the lead fly right into my thigh. On top of the fear, I think it would take slightly longer to fire. Training will always increase your speed, so don’t discount a gun you like because it’s a little slower. Train more with it to gain speed and comfort.

Is There A Right Or Wrong Way to Carry a Handgun?

how to carry a ccw

When you train with the gun and one in the chamber or not, the answer is no. Carrying your self defense weapon, be it concealed carry or open carry, should be as ready as the law allows. Every millisecond you can eliminate from your draw to firing is a better chance you will be the victor in the situation and not the victim. There is no wrong way as long as it’s within the confines of the law and you are comfortable with it.

There’s a fine line between what’s legal and illegal though. Know the laws for the state you are in and do not cross the boundaries.

You are more likely to have a run in with the police at a traffic stop or accident than you are a situation where you would draw your weapon to save your life. Even though there are some seemingly useless laws out there regarding guns, having a legal way to defend yourself is better than having nothing at all.

About The Author

Trevor Dobrygoski has been a freelance copywriter since 2009. He has written about many different topics over the years. His 9-5 is outfitting police and other public safety vehicles with all of the equipment the law enforcement and other first responders need to save lives. When not working and writing, he is coaching, refereeing and playing soccer.