June 25, 2017

One In The Chamber

If you have your CCW permit, do you carry with one in the chamber?  When I first got mine I didn’t.  I told myself that, if needed, I would be able to get one in the chamber fast enough to be effective.  Thank you Lord that I never had to find out, but I feel pretty confident that I was wrong.

I had a few reasons but they boiled down to a lack of confidence.  I had been to the range a few times and was proficient in putting holes in cardboard, but the idea of carrying with a round loaded made me uneasy.  It’s not that I thought it might just go off.  I knew better than that.  If the gun is only going to fire when I pull the trigger, then the problem is me.  Once I understood that, I examined why I wasn’t confident and rethought my opinion that I would be able to get a round in the chamber fast enough.


Anatomy of a Gun Fight

I don’t know if this is true or not but it sounds accurate to me. I have heard this figure a few times in the self-defense circles; “in the average gun fight there are three shots fired in three second in the space of three yards.”  I have heard both yards and feet, but nine feet seems like a more believable distance to me than three feet.

I wish I could say I was a very quick draw.  In truth, I haven’t spent a lot of time practicing drawing to make it sink into muscle memory.  I also carry concealed, so I always have a jacket or shirt over my firearm.  Add these two things to the mix and a good bit of that three seconds has been chewed up just getting the weapon out of the holster.

It is possible to fire a shot immediately after you draw the gun and before you are in a typical stance.  This could only be done if there is one in the chamber.  If you have to chamber a round, you’re now under immense stress, bringing your weak hand over to chamber a round.  Do you think you can do that fast?  Get some dummy rounds and try it out.


Situational Awareness is a Must But it’s Not Enough

While it might be true that the average gun fight last three seconds, my guess is that the clock starts once the first shot is fired.  There is almost always a sign before violence erupts.  If you are using Cooper Color Code, you are actively scanning everyone to determine if they are a threat.  You can then either escalate the code or deescalate, based on your judgment.  While this may be true, that only means you are aware of the danger before it erupts into violence.  Situational awareness is a must, but it is not enough.  It will let you know there is going to be a fight, but won’t put rounds in play faster once you’ve drawn.


Good Habits

I have always practiced good habits with any firearm; finger never on the trigger until I am ready to fire, never pointing the gun at something I am not willing to destroy, etc.  I have carried with one in the chamber for some time now and it hasn’t just gone off on its own.  I haven’t shot myself in the leg when I unholster the gun at home.  I do, however, remove the magazine and take the round out of the chamber once at home.

Do any of you who are more experienced with firearms have anything to add?


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  1. I never unload any gun except to clean it, even at home. My wife knows this and my children know this. They are all grown now and we’ve never had a problem with loaded firearms in the home. I have taught my children and employees that there are no such things as accidents, only carelessness that cause undesired results. Think about it. Accidents are caused by carelessness.

  2. Chris,

    There is definitely a progression that people go through when they start to carry a gun regarding what is comfortable for them. Your decision to carry with a round in the chamber is an important and logical step in that progression. The next step will likely involve carrying the gun on your person and chambered even while at home. Home invasions happen every day all over this country. I can’t help but think of how irresponsible I would feel (and actually be) if I were to be unprepared to deal with a home invasion, particularly since I already have the tools in place. As Paul said, keep it loaded, and keep it handy.

    • Chris Ray says:

      you make a good point, but I have given it thought and for some reasons I’ll not go into, for now keeping it close and unloaded is the way it is.

  3. I always carry hot. My XDs don’t have any real safeties on them, so they work similar to a 16 shot revolver. I too, keep my guns loaded, ready to go. The shotguns and AR are on safe.

    Practice, practice, practice. It is inconvenient to wear your daily work clothes to the range and practice drawing, shooting, moving and reloading under more realistic conditions, but it is very valuable training.

    As for the draw, I occasionally have my wife double check that I have an empty weapon, then she’ll sit behind me in the family room, and call out threats that I have to draw the weapon from street clothes and get a shot off with this laser bullet I use for dry firing practice that shows exactly where I would have shot had it been real.

    IDPA matches and the practice they require is also very good training, since it is built around concealed carry facing “real-life” scenarios.

  4. If your going to carry unloaded might as well carry a pocket full of golf balls!

  5. Don Johnson says:

    When with the sheriff’s dept. we were required to keep one round in the chamber at all times. Just that one or two seconds in a gun battle can make the difference in if you go home that night or if the undertaker takes you home with him. The most important thing to remember is that most ammo jams and malfunctions are caused by having a dirty weapon. Keep your weapon clean, because someday your life may depond upon it.

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