5 Reasons Not to Carry a Gun with An Empty Chamber
I have a couple of New Year’s resolutions … for security reasons. Below I will give 5 reasons NOT to carry a gun with an empty chamber.
First, I’ll make sure my car doesn’t contain gas until I need to use it. Heck, gas gets old and stanky and we all know it can explode if something strange and unexpected happens. I think if something urgent comes up like my wife going to work I can just replenish it really quickly and go to the hospital. No problem.
Simultaneously with my gas-on-demand plan, I’ll be pursuing the same winning strategy with the fire extinguisher in my kitchen. We all know that flame retardants can make a real mess if it accidentally goes off and I don’t have time to clean up that junk in my house. I’ll only charge my fire extinguisher with flame putter outter powder when I need to use it to put out a runaway wok full of General Tso’s chicken.
So what do you think Am I here on something big?
I suppose the same “load-on-demand” strategy could apply to self-defense weapons – you know, you carry your hidden carry gun around with an empty chamber.
If you ever need to use your gun for self-defense, you can always just break the slide to pound for a round, right? The only problem with this plan is that a load-when-you-need-it approach will potentially kill you.
The relaxation / safety lever of this Beretta 92 FS Compact is an additional safety level for carrying a chamber round.
In fact, the chances that this strategy will kill you are higher than “just maybe”. Just ask the family of the late Heriberto Aceves and his son Juan. Armed robbers confronted the couple in their supermarket and demanded money, with the gun whipping them. Aceves found an opportunity to draw his weapon in self-defense. There was no bullet in Aceves’ pistol, however, and while he was breaking the slide to drop one there, he was shot by at least one of the robbers. He fell to the ground and kept trying to get a round in his gun while mortally wounded. Aceves and his son were both killed before the robbers fled the scene.
Here are five reasons why you should always store a concealed carrying weapon in the “round chamber” condition, provided, of course, that it is designed for this use. It should be understood that all safety precautions (if any) should be activated according to the design of the weapon. To be very clear, these are empty chambers and safety devices are not disabled or disabled.
I do not have time for that
With a little practice, you can operate the slide of a semi-automatic pistol in tenths of a second. That sounds pretty good on paper, doesn’t it? You may be thinking, “Hey, if I’m attacked, it’ll only take a moment to break this slide so I can shoot back.” Stop and think about it for a second. The critical part of a violent encounter can only last a second or two. The time it takes to disassemble the slide and load a round is far too much to willingly get your attacker into a battle with the consequences for life and death. Why on earth would you want to respond to a violent attack that begins at such a time? Your attacker can do a whole host of bad things in those tenths of a second if you break the foil.
The reaction is kicked in the butt by the action
The villain in a confrontation is the actor who does the first acting. You don’t decide when the celebrations begin. In fact, you will almost always be in the enviable position of responding to evil’s actions so that you will be behind the performance curve from the start. Far behind. This concept goes to the heart of defensive shooting. You are defending yourself against an offensive action that you have not planned or started.
As a defender, you cannot do anything (by definition) until your brain receives input from the attacker’s action, determines that it is a bad and dangerous thing, ponders an answer, and commands the body to act. All of this takes time for your attacker to carry out all the previously planned actions. Do you see how you are behind the curve?
Even pistols without manual safety, like this Glock, can be safely carried with a round chamber. Your local police do just that.
While the numbers vary, it takes a person a few tenths of a second to respond to something – anything. If you are that far behind, why should you add another tenths of a second to your response time?
In the above case study, Heriberto Aceves was literally shot dead while smashing the slide of his pistol. If he hadn’t had to, he might still have been shot, but he would also have injured his attacker and greatly improved his chances of survival because he might have stopped shooting at the bad guy. Or, at best, he would have gotten his shot first and changed the entire outcome of the event.
If you need to put your weapon into action at high speed in response to a violent attack and you need to break the slide to do it, you need both hands. This is the normal way. Sure, there are ways to break a slide with one hand, but they’re slow and cumbersome by comparison.
Here is the problem. Both hands may not be available. There are endless reasons why your support hand could be occupied elsewhere. You may be pushing a loved one or child out of the way. You may be fighting your attacker while trying to draw your weapon. You may have a cell phone on your support hand calling for help. You may be trying to get out of a car. You may be trying to get in or out of another door for security. Do I have to continue?
Assuming you have two hands free to break a slide in the battle for your life is exceptionally optimistic at best.
Do you have both hands available to draw your pistol and break the slide?
Do you have motor skills?
It takes a lot of fine motor skills to draw and fire a weapon as it is. If you’ve got more adrenaline and all that ability to do simple things with your hands and fingers is going to the bathroom, then why add another manual step of skill?
In the case we are discussing here, you can see Aceves trying and failing to operate his slide after being shot. While it’s hard to tell in the store videos, it’s not clear if it was ever successful.
14.2% more capacity
Have you ever wondered why ammunition manufacturers display the capacity of their pistols in the form of 7 + 1, 10 + 1, or 15 + 1? This “+1” refers to the round that can be worn in the chamber. While we can’t speak of every pistol on the market, the vast majority are designed to be safely carried with a full magazine and cartridge in the chamber.
The loading order is straightforward. Fill out the magazine completely. Load it into the pistol and put the slide down for a round chamber. Make sure that all relevant safety precautions have been taken. Remove the magazine and refill it with another round to replace the chamber.
For compact guns with limited capacity, an additional rounding of the chamber is a welcome addition.
An extra round doesn’t sound like much, but I haven’t met any gunfight survivors who complained about too much ammo left over after a self-defense encounter. To put that real, consider a popular carry gun like the 9mm Smith & Wesson shield. The most compact magazine holds seven rounds. If you also carry one in the chamber, you have 14.2% more ammo available to save your life. I will take advantage of this, thank you.
Simply put, modern defensive pistols are designed to be carried with a cartridge in the chamber. Even guns with no manual safety on the outside have one or more on the inside to prevent accidental discharge from drips and the like. While the military back then recommended wearing the 1911 with an empty chamber, I don’t know of a single law enforcement agency that does so now. It’s just too risky, and even hideous government beagles are unwilling to send their peacekeepers onto the streets at such a marked disadvantage.