The ONLY Time To Carry Without One In The Chamber (And Why)


One of the questions that those new to carrying a firearm for daily protection ask is whether it’s a good idea to carry with a bullet in the chamber, ready to fire as soon as you pull the trigger (assuming that you don’t keep a safety engaged while carrying).

It’s a good question. After all, most people who legally carry firearms carry because they want to be able to protect themselves and their loved ones if someone else initiates violence that is turning potentially deadly.

To confuse the issue, though, many have heard stories of the Israeli Defense Forces (Israel’s military) training to carry without one in the chamber. In other words, the IDF reportedly trains with the racking of a pistol’s slide as part of their draw stroke while pulling it from the holster. Some may argue that this would be a safer way to carry all the time because there would, then, never be any possibility of a negligent discharge if the pistol is dropped, for example.


What’s the best answer?

Fortunately, if you’ve asked that question, you’re, apparently, not the only person who has wondered that (I certainly did when I first started carrying). And Massad Ayoob, whose qualifications to comment on the subject makes for a long list, thankfully, brings us his thoughts. You can watch that video below.

I love Ayoob’s answer to the question about whether you should carry with one in the chamber: “Only if you want to be fully prepared to survive with the thing.”

I also love how Ayoob covers the history of why the IDF trained to carry without one in the chamber and how safety features in the last several generations of semiautomatic pistols have made them generally safe to carry with a bullet in the chamber.

So, the answer to the earlier question is: You would only carry without one in the chamber if you’re carrying an older firearm that is not drop safe or if you carry a revolver.

The only question, now, is are you willing to do what it takes to train for carrying with one in the chamber and to do what it takes to get used to doing that. Because the life that you save by doing so may be your own.



  1. i guess a 1911 gov. .45 70 sereris should not be carried with one in the chamber

    • that should be left up to you, if you prefer it that way, I do not not. it’s really a personal Decision / Preference. Having been in a shooting where Milli seconds count, 2nd place is not a place to be..

  2. Best explanation I have ever heard for the reasons to carry with a chambered round. Well presented, backed up with good detailed facts. Thank you for making this excellent presentation.

  3. This question really depend on the handgun model. A Ruger Security Six for example has a tab that covers the firing pin from being touched by the hammer, unless the trigger is pulled, in which case the tab drops down.

    So with this model, as well as many other, you could drop it on the hammer on concrete, and the round in the chamber would NOT be fired.

  4. Let us not forget that the object of the exercise is to shoot the other person before “it”shoots you. Not to shoot one’s self thus causing the other person feel somewhat useless and without equity.

  5. Well to be honest I live just seconds outside of east Cleveland. If you’ve watched the first 48, then you know what I mean. On a professional level, no I wouldn’t keep one racked n’ ready to go. But in this world, anything can pop off. You gotta stay focused around here. People get shot n’ killed here every single day. And you will not here about it on the news. Cuz the cops are scared to come around here. When my dad died my moms gave me my dads walther ppks 9mm. And yes I conceal carry here.If peeps know you they’ll Look after you:) Anyone else, shit…

  6. Well some guns have very good saftys on them others do in the old school(back when all the hand guns were revolvers it was Common to leave one chamber empty for the view of them at the time the saftys weren’t very safe.that is where it all orgenated from.

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