Sheriff's Tips: Empty Chambers

Discussion in 'Training' started by lklawson, Dec 21, 2015.

  1. lklawson

    lklawson Staff Member


    Sheriff's Tips: Empty Chambers
    by Jim WIlson - Friday, October 9, 2015

    Lately I have been hearing that a number of people are carrying their defensive semi-automatics without a round in the chamber. I suppose that this is most often done with a thought to increasing the safety of the handgun and avoiding a negligent discharge. However, it considerably defeats the purpose of the defensive handgun.

    A criminal attack often comes from very close range and with very little, if any, warning. A person simply may not have time to chamber a round in his or her pistol before the attacker is upon them. In addition, chambering a cartridge requires the use of both hands at a time when the support hand may be busy trying to fend off the attack or pushing a loved one out of the line of fire. From holster to on-target, one should be able to operate a defensive handgun with only one hand, should that become necessary.

    Some folks are concerned about a single-action semi-automatic having the hammer cocked back. I was too, back in the Dark Ages. But I took the time to get some professional training and learn the pistol. I soon found that they don't go off by themselves.

    Others are concerned about the fact that striker-fired pistols—like the Glock—have no external safeties. And they have heard stories about people who have accidentally shot themselves. Well, let me let you in on a little secret ... those are not accidents. They are nearly always a case of negligence—that is, someone fooling with the pistol and causing the trigger to be depressed when they didn't intend for it to be.

    In the case with any of the autoloading handguns, a good defensive instructor can teach a person to operate it safely and to carry it with a round in the chamber. Regardless of those people who think they are a born shooter—Wyatt Earp Jr.—nothing will benefit the defensive shooter like professional training. And proper and safe manipulation of the defensive handgun is an important part of that training.

    Regardless, there are those who just don't feel comfortable carrying any sort of semi-auto pistol with a round in the chamber. The solution is a simple one and it has been around for well over 100 years. Of course, I am talking about the double-action revolver. When the DA revolver is fully loaded, no springs are depressed and the hammer is not cocked back, yet it is ready to go at a moment's notice. A person who carries a pistol with an empty chamber is telling the world that they don't know what they are doing. I hope that those folks will get serious about their personal defense, get some professional training, and carry whatever defensive handgun they have confidence in. Whatever gun they choose, it should be ready to go when the attack comes.​

    Peace favor your sword,
  2. rmuniz9336

    rmuniz9336 Member

    Really good advice on that one.

    If a chambered round causes you issues, by the time you draw, and chamber a round, it'll be too late.

    One of the thing I used to teach my young MPs (one division let us carry the pistols with a magazine in, but no round in the chamber, the other wouldn't even allow us to carry it with a magazine in _ note, this is garrison, not combat operations) was that in addition to being really proficient with a firearm, they better know more than a little about unarmed self defense. A man with a knife can easily cross ten feet or so in the blink of an eye, and will be on top of you before you can draw. Fortunately, we had the services and expertise of a young lady who was extremely proficient in those matters. Most had a hard time taking her serious initially (right up to the point she kicked their butts), but once they did and they listened to he, there were few matters they could handle with self defensive moves.

  3. I don't carry, currently, ( yet anyhow - I've been safe enough, so far..), but I've often thought about this subject. I have come to the conclusion that if my life is in danger, enough to feel the need to carry, I will carry 'cocked-and-locked '. Any weapon needs to provide easy access and quick handling.
  4. Outlaw

    Outlaw Supporting Member

    The only time I keep an empty chamber is in my bedside weapon. I read of a case many years ago of a guy that slept with his weapon under his pillow. One night while having a nightmare, his daughter came in all excited and started shaking him. He awakened from his nightmare, pulled his weapon and readily killed the girl. Even though we don't have kids at home now, that thought sticks with me. I presume it could just as easily happen with ones significant other. We have dogs that bark. That gives me ample time to shuck one in to the chamber when needed. When it comes to CCW, I always chamber a round. Some goes for the blunderbuster beside the bed also. :eek: I guess it's just a matter of preference.
  5. lklawson

    lklawson Staff Member

    Bedside safe? If you're not awake enough to tap in the code, you're not awake enough to identify a threat.

    Peace favor your sword,
  6. histed

    histed Supporting Member

    While I love that it is both easy and cheap to get a CCW in PA, it does set up situations where untrained people are carrying something they are very unfamiliar with. Years back I had a SA Firestar 9mm and could not come to terms with the "cocked and locked". Sold that and got a SD9VE - no more issues. I know if I'd had the proper training I still have the Star. Good article, Kirk. Thanks
  7. I feel the same - my C9 is bedside, in my open range/pistol case, loaded mag inserted with safety on. My two boys are grown, ( 17 & 21), the eldest lives on his own. No grandkids yet.. ( oldest son is engaged..)
  8. tallbump

    tallbump Supporting Member

    That's what I did. I got the safe before I even got a firearm, and I practiced the code so it became muscle memory.

    As far as one in the pipe..I first carried the C9 that way, but kept a loaded chamber after a while, for the reasons mentioned.

    My buddy who works in a LGS said a guy was in the other day and wanted a Bodyguard with a manual safety. Planned on carrying it with the safety on and an empty chamber. My buddy told him he wouldn't sell him a gun if he was that afraid...right or wrong, it is what it is
  9. lklawson

    lklawson Staff Member

    Well, that was pretty dumb. Find the guy a gun he likes and then work to educate and train him.

    It's clear that the guy didn't really know what he was doing if he wanted to keep it Condition 3 with a safety on. There's no point in that and is analogous to locking an empty barn. Instead, he insulted and belittled a prospective customer and potential advocate for firearms rights. At worst, he should have explained why you don't need to have a safety on while in Condition 3 and then explained how safe Condition 1 carry is on most modern firearms and then offered or recommended a specific training class.

    Peace favor your sword,
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2015
  10. bluharley

    bluharley Member

    Those things happen fast. Mine has one in the chamber, no safety, ready to go.
  11. ArmyScout

    ArmyScout Supporting Member

    In 1960 I was in Korea stationed just SE of the Imjin River Freedom Bridge with the 1st Cav. One of the weekend details was main gate security. So all the newbies had to qualify on the M1911. When on Main Gate detail we carried a holstered M1911 but the ammo was in a drawer in the Main Gate Shack.
  12. undeRGRound

    undeRGRound ROLL wif Da MOLE! Supporting Member

    Learn the Weapon. Any quality handgun can be safe,
    in the properly trained hands...
  13. lklawson

    lklawson Staff Member

    Stupidest thing I've heard all week.

    Peace favor your sword,
  14. shepherd321

    shepherd321 Supporting Member

    I normally only carry 1 round in my pocket.
    On a side note I did have an AD with a 1911 in my house.
  15. tallbump

    tallbump Supporting Member

    You mean.... a negligent discharge :jk:


    :sorry: I couldn't help it :eek:
  16. Zeroturner

    Zeroturner Member

    I keep one in the pipe in my Glock 19, plus a spare magazine loaded with Speer Gold Dot 124 Gr., +P, JHP's - same in my pistol.
  17. shepherd321

    shepherd321 Supporting Member

    Might have been negligent. Had a gunsmith that supposedly was a 1911 expert do a trigger job. The hammer fell about 10% of the time, so I didn't notice it until after the N.D. At least I was using gun safety and when loading was pointing it at the floor.
  18. tallbump

    tallbump Supporting Member

    No worries. I wasn't picking on you.

    That's sort of one of those running issues here, like 9 or .45 or magazine vs clip LOL

    Since you didn't say otherwise, I assume no one was hurt. I also assume you learned your lesson.

    Fari enough, end of story
  19. duster066

    duster066 Supporting Member

    When I decided to carry an auto I looked for a double/single action so I could carry it like a revolver, chambered, hammer down, safety off. I'm not worried about what the bad guy might do. I'm worried what I might do while stressed to someone who doesn't deserve to be shot. I've probably had a dozen or more inadvertent discharges at the range with single action triggers. These weren't accidental or negligent. These are discharges that happened before I wanted them to. Pointing a loaded good single action gun at a target is about 99% of shooting that target. I like the idea of a long heavy first pull. It forces one to think "shoot" before the gun is shot. I'd bet there are three types of single action shooters. Those who have had an inadvertent discharge, those who will, and those who don't shoot enough to be relying on one for defense. Watched Hickok45 have one the other day. Lol