Should You Carry Your Gun With an Empty Chamber?

posted on May 26, 2021

Some folks still persist in carrying their defensive auto pistol with an empty chamber. I suppose that some of them do this because an older family member with military service told them that was the way it was done. Perhaps someone with little defensive knowledge—and less gun knowledge—told them that this was the safe thing to do. The fact is that defensive pistol training has come a long way in the past 50 years. Beyond a doubt, carrying with an empty chamber is a bad idea—so bad an idea, in fact, that it could get you killed.

First of all, carrying with a round chambered is not a safety issue if you have purchased a quality defense gun from a reputable manufacturer. Further, it is not a safety issue if you have taken that quality defense gun and enrolled in a professional defensive school where you are taught to manage and handle your gun in a safe manner. Quality guns don’t go Bang all by themselves. It is nearly always the untrained individual who is holding it that is responsible for the negligent discharge. If you are going to carry a defensive gun, buy the best quality you can afford and learn to handle it properly.

You must also realize that the most dangerous criminal attacks occur at very close range and happen very quickly. So quickly, in fact, that you simply might not have time to chamber that round and defend yourself. This is not idle speculation on my part because there have been a number of documented cases in which armed citizens were killed before they could get that round chambered in time. Look them up on the internet if you feel like getting depressed.

The quickest way to chamber a cartridge is to use both hands. But the simple fact is that you might not have both hands available when you most need them. One or the other of your hands, or arms, might be held by one of your attackers. Or you might have already sustained a wound in your appendage. And, yes, there are ways to chamber a round one-handed, but these require more time and some additional skill. And time, particularly, is something you won’t have a lot of during a criminal attack.

Semi-automatic handguns are quite popular today for personal defense, and many other shooting disciplines, but they may not be the best choice for a particular individual. If, after receiving professional training, a person still doesn’t feel safe carrying with a chambered round, their best move might be to go to a double-action revolver. DA revolvers have been doing a yeoman’s job as personal defense guns for over 100 years.  However, a person still needs professional training in order to safely and effectively use one for personal defense.

This business of carrying with an empty chamber comes from people who, while they might mean well, really don’t know what they are talking about. They clearly don’t have the experience or knowledge to be discussing the subject at all. The sad news is that if you carry with an empty chamber, you have very likely lost the fight before it ever started. Get a good gun and some good training to go with it. And, finally, learn to fight smart. You won’t regret that you did.




Gun Safety: Squib Loads

Well, THAT just didn't sound right...what to do now?

Rising Shooting Stars: Emilio Carvalho

Competing with former Olympians and members of the elite Army Marksmanship Unit … Emilio is not your average teenager!

4 (More) Things You Didn't Know Affect Your Bullet

When it comes to long-range accuracy, there's much more at work than your aim.

Video Review: Savage 110 PCS Handgun

It's a bolt-action handgun that boasts rifle-caliber performance because it's based on the Savage 110!

NRA Family's Guide to Hurricane-Season Prepping

There may be a lot of wind and water on its way this year ... here's how to prepare.

Henry Repeating Arms Gifts $50K to Tunnel to Towers, Housing America's Heroes

In honor of the man who tunneled to the falling World Trade Center towers, Henry's donation is just the beginning.


Get the best of NRA Family delivered to your inbox.