Should I Carry with a Round in the Chamber?

Photo Credit: Hegshot87 via YouTube

When it comes to the debate – among instructors and enthusiasts alike – of determining if it’s better to carry with a round in the chamber or not, I’ll be explaining my side of this debate in order to give you some points to consider.

Let me be clear: regardless of what you decide to do, it still boils down to proper training on a continual basis (notice that I said “proper training” and not just “training”). This also applies if you utilize your external safeties (if your firearm has any), which I’m against the use of external safeties but we can discuss that in a later post. So, here’s why I stand on the side of carrying with a round in the chamber.

As best explained on page 174 of Concealed Carry & Home Defense Fundamentals by Michael Martin, here’s what happens while you’re under stress when you encounter a self-defense situation: along with the effects of endorphins, “adrenaline forces a constriction of blood vessels to force blood, oxygen and glucose to the major muscle groups and away from the skin and extremities (ex: fingers) to allow us to run faster than we’ve ever run, or fight harder than we’ve ever fought. The manual dexterity that we’ll lose under the effects of adrenaline just happens to be the same dexterity that’s required to manipulate holster retention devices, safeties and slide releases.” With that said, you have less than 2 seconds to draw your pistol, aim and pull the trigger. Now, if you have to also rack the slide because you never had a round chambered, then that adds additional time between the moment that you draw your firearm to actually pulling the trigger. Why would I want to add additional steps when it’s a matter of life or death and every second counts? This is why we trained with the intention of carrying with a round in the chamber back when I worked for a private protection and security contractor. If you’re worried about accidently pulling the trigger, remember to follow rule #3: always keep your finger off the trigger and outside the trigger guard until you’ve made the decision to shoot.

A training tip regardless if you decide to carry with or without a round in the chamber: while using only snap caps (a.k.a. dummy rounds…NO live ammunition!), attempt the ‘Slap, Rack and Roll’ after soaking your hands in a sink full of water and ice cubes for one to two minutes. Another exercise that you can do is perform some sort of cardio exercise such as running to increase your heart rate and then attempt to perform the task of ‘Slap, Rack and Roll’, again, without live ammunition. These will give you a small taste of what the real thing will feel like if you find yourself in a defensive situation.

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