TSA confiscated guns and ammo (courtesybog.tsa.gov()

The blue-shirted goons at the Transport Security Administration (TSA) are on the front lines of airport security. They’re the brave men and women disarming otherwise law-abiding Americans inadvertently attempting to board an airplane with a firearm in their carry-on. In the TSA’s ongoing effort to stop the public from thinking of them as blue-shirted goons, the Agency publishes a blog. Needless to say, pics and stats on confiscated gats are the blog’s best bit. According to a chart published here, 35 of the 42 guns confiscated were loaded. Check this out: only seven had a round chambered. Who carries a gun without one in the pipe? You? [h/t Daedalus2189]

175 Responses to Question of the Day: Do You Keep One in the Pipe?

  1. I carry with one in the pipe only because my holster and gun (Cobra Gunskin and Glock 19) work together to prevent any negligent or accidental discharges.

  2. Always one in the pipe. God forbid you ever have to use the thing…. last thing I’d want to be doing is trying to rack a round first while fending off an attacker. Know that’s how ISI rolls, but that aint my thing.

    • ^^^ Yep, that.

      When my heart rate skyrocks, my vision tunnels down, and my hands feel like micky mouse hands, I want one ready to go. Now my giant mouse finger just needs to fit in the trigger guard 😀

    • I have always carried my Glock 19 with a round in the chamber. I asked my wife to do the same with her Nano. She said it was a big deal to her just carrying and that she was not ready to have a hot gun yet. I did not push the issue but let her get comfortable with it. We religiously shot at the range every week for the last year and a half since we bought our pistols. After only a couple of months, she started carrying with a chambered round on her own. Another problem cropped up though. One day I got her gun out of her purse to clean it and when I unloaded it, I noticed the mag was very light. There were only two rounds in it. The mag holds six plus the one chambered. The other four were in the pouch in her purse. Turns out that every time she unloaded the defense ammo to shoot target ammo, she would not replace the spare. That has been fixed now.

    • Obviously, folks who are forgetful enough to let a gun go through airport screening are dumb enough to carry a gun with an empty chamber.

    • The military does. Or they used to. I don’t know what they do now, but I’m darn sure they keep it empty do prevent accidental discharges.

        • I was told specifically that unless I was on base, in a vehicle, or dead; I was not to be caught without a round in the chamber. During a firefight is not the time to be worrying about loading a weapon that should have been loaded from the start.

          As a civilian, I keep my handgun in a very nice level II holster to protect against NDs, but I refuse to start a fight without a round ready to be fired.

          Even as a soldier, 99% of he time we were the second to fire. As a civilian, I assume that the other person will be the attacker and I will be defending myself or others. As such, I will be behind the ball from the get go and that is a very bad place to be. Having to chamber a round under stress, in a lethal environment, is a very bad idea as it takes away time to respond to that threat before it can get worse.

          Unless I have unloaded my firearm for storage, it’s loaded. Full magazine, round in the chamber, safety engaged. Anything else is just asking for trouble.

        • Varies significantly from unit to unit and from location to location. On the FOB or Base in Afghanistan most do “NOT”. In fact most dont even have a magazine in their weapon.

          That is WHY NDs happen in the military. Soldiers get used to having this “unloaded weapon” with them at all times, and don’t treat the weapons as “loaded”.

          Most will have a round chambered when leaving the wire, but have to clear upon returing.

        • As aircrew, we are not to have a round chambered. I am sure this was to prevent NDs but I believe that this disparity in military practice would most likely CAUSE NDs. Heck, our 52 year old aircraft can be heard leaking cabin pressure around the hatches at 29,000 ft. Scary part was it was above the engine noise. If we get another hole, we probably can’t maintain the cabin altitude.

          When I personally CC, you bet there is “one in the pipe”, cocked, safety on.

        • What the hell are you talking about? Those .38 cal snub nose Police Specials they issue out when we carried the mail were wheel pistols and were always fully loaded. Lets forgo the fact that the aircraft is moving at .50 to .75 mach with air blasting over the surface of the aircraft, then add in engine noise, hydraulic pumps and other assorted noises. If you can hear an air leak I’ll eat the soy bean out of the whiskey compass. More than likely what you are hearing is the air coming from the gaspers.

        • Thomas Reed: “Those .38 cal snub nose Police Specials they issue out when we carried the mail were wheel pistols and were always fully loaded.” & “If you can hear an air leak I’ll eat the soy bean out of the whiskey compass. More than likely what you are hearing is the air coming from the gaspers.”

          I currently fly now, so I am issued the M9 from the armory. I sure SOF can, and do, carry whatever the heck they want. When engaged in flight duties, we are in Condition 3. This is the standard carry condition (except when involved in direct combat). This may be a drastic departure in operations from the M13 snub nose pistol days of the 50s & 60’s.

          How could I hear an air leak: The airframe may be 50+ years old, but it has only been out of depot for about 2 years. The 4 engines produce almost 23000 lbf of thrust, (double the original model), 25% more fuel efficient than the original and 26 decibels quieter. Then, there is amazing technology commercially available used by the military. We use Bose A20® Aviation Headsets for working in the cabin. Proprietary Bose® Acoustic Noise Cancelling® headset technology electronically identifies and dramatically reduces noise. No, I don’t get any money from them. Essentially, you can carry on a conversation and hear other crewmembers fart nowadays. No so in a 1950’s or 1960’s version of the aircraft that sounds like when you last flew.

          With over 3000 hours in my current airframe, I could hear a “different” kind of hissing noise coming from the right over wing escape hatch. Part of the duties of aircrew is being situational aware of “unusual noises”. In my aircraft, there are no gaspers except in the boom pod and flight deck. Using crew resource management and investigating a noise with a second aircrew person, we determined that the hatch was not secured correctly before take-off and cabin air was escaping from the seal. As a safety precaution for the medical patients aboard, the cabin flight level was changed from 1400 ft to 1200 ft to add a safety factor for the pressure loss. This was after we placed several unopened battle dressings into the gap in the hatch, getting them wet with our water jug so they will freeze in place.

          The pilots may have a wet compass somewhere up front as a back-up, but usually they use the HUD (heads up display) for bearing. It’s up to you if you want a soggy soybean with stale compass fluid.

          USAF Security Forces, which I know nothing about, may vary.

          / he said in a very friendly way….

      • And it depend on specialty and branch. While in, SPs carried one in the chamber and safety off for the M-9. For M-16, an empty chamber with a full 30 round magazine inserted into firearm, at least until needed. You would be amazed how fast someone can charge and fire an M-16.

        • You mean like the Reserve SP that jumped out of his vehicle and leveled his weapon at my maintenance crew out on the hot spot? I was walking back towards my aircraft with an armload of stuff from bench stock and I look up to the SP yelling, “FREESE!” I drop everything I have in my arms ask him what the hell he thinks he is doing. Then he grins and says “I thought they didn’t have line badges, lucky for them they do.” I tell him to stay right where he is, then call for an active duty SP a Ssgt arrives a couple of minutes later and ask what is going on? So I have the moron explain his procedure to the Ssgt. The Ssgt then ask him to drop the mag and clear the weapon, that is when the round comes flying out of the chamber. The moron had a loaded 5.56 pointed at my crew, with a hot aircraft full of chaparral missiles in the cargo hold and 70,000 pounds of JP-4 in the wings. It doesn’t bother me that SP’s keep a round in the chamber, but stupid always pissess me off.

    • I agree for the most part.

      That said, I have yet to find a striker-fired semi-auto pistol whose trigger is as difficult to cycle as a double-action revolver. While a semi-auto pistol and revolver could both have 6 pound trigger pulls, you only have to apply that 6 pounds over a distance of about 1/16 inch to fire the striker-fired semi-auto pistol … versus applying that 6 pounds over a distance approaching 1/2 inch to fire a double-action revolver. That is a world of difference.

      If you carry a striker-fired pistol in a holster that completely covers the trigger guard, then I put it on equal footing with a double-action revolver.

  3. I do because I carry a small pocket gun in a pocket holster. I feel whatever max capacity I can get the better and it’s secure in my pocket the whole time. Very little chance of an ND.

  4. Anyone know when the last time the computers on the other side of the TSA’s firewall were scanned for kiddie-porn?

    • This is why TSA finds so many without a round chambered. These aren’t “carried” on the person through the gates, they are almost always in a carry-on bag or suitcase. Most people claim that the weapon was stored in the bag at some point and forgotten.

      • Does condition 3 allow for the M400 bolt to be locked back so you just hit the release? If not I wouldn’t want to have to do a full charge on an AR style under any kind of situation that required speed.

        • It’s all about muscle memory. My agency is the same. I carry my 870 and Bushmaster (pre-Freedom Group) AR closed bolt, empty chamber, loaded magazine (cruiser ready) per department policy & procedure. You would not want to carry the AR with the bolt locked back. It can slam forward from inertia. Unlike a handgun, if you were to hit a bump hard enough with a loaded chamber, they can “slam fire.” This is why many states (including mine, CO), have laws about transporting a “loaded” rifle or shotgun (our Colorado Revised Statutes define “loaded” as a round in the chamber). Look at a round you have chambered in an AR 15. Sometimes, you can see a little “dimple” in the primer from the bolt closing. There is not a firing pin block. It’s more of a safety issue than anything.

          When carrying on or off-duty, I always have a round in the pipe in my handgun. I also have a Condition 1 1911 (with light) in a Gunvault safe next to my bed and quick access to my long guns. No other way a handgun should be carried (if done by a responsible owner that has properly taken the time to train with their weapon).

        • Back to vertical rack vs horizontal racks. I keep my weapons fully charged and muzzle up in a vertical rack because it is easier to bring it into play a lot quicker. I have gotten the argument that a vertical rack will cause the weapon to discharge because the trigger is situated where a sudden jar will cause the trigger to fall and discharge the weapon. (Hint that is what safeties are for.) Taking the safety off when removing a weapon from the rack is second nature and automatic.) All I drive is rough washed out roads, with gullies and wash board conditions. Anyone that has ever driven these roads at high speeds chasing a thief knows how much a seatbelt means when it comes to keeping you in the seat and in control of the vehicle. In all the years I have driven oilfield roads, old farm roads and access roads I have never had a weapon go off. And, if it did go off I would rather it fire a round through the roof than go off and blow a hole in the side of the vehicle or my head but then I don’t have modified triggers. They come with 5 to 7 pound trigger pull and that is where they stay. It is called keeping your weapons clean, and in good working order. I have found that a lot of AD’s, malfunctions and misfires were directly related to poorly maintained, dirty or modified weapons. The majority of AD’s comes from not following the rules or getting sloppy with how they handle their weapons. Familiarity does breeds contempt. I have caught myself trying to cut corners and have had to stop and take stock of what I was doing.

  5. All my handguns have a round in the chamber, whether in the safe, in my holster or in my hand. An old gun guy told me years ago, after he realized I didn’t carry with one in the chamber of my 1911 and he asked me:

    “Why don’t you carry with a round loaded in the chamber?” asks Old Sam
    “Because I am playing it safe Sam.” I said.
    “Without a round in the chamber, you are playing it DEAD!” says Old Sam.

    I won’t ever forget that.

    • Agreed.

      On body, condition 1. Off body, condition 3.

      Even with the redundant safety of a 1911 pattern pistol, I feel that the chance of something defeating the safeties and contacting the trigger to be possible ( if improbable), and will clear the chamber and lower the hammer before stowing off body.

    • This is why I think they only recovered 7 with a round chambered. I don’t see too many people forgetting they have a gun on their hip/ankle/etc, but could somewhat easily forget they have a gun in their laptop bag; and said laptop bag gun likely doesn’t have a round in the pipe, since it’s off the body carry.

  6. My handgun, yes. On the shotgun, no but the mag is loaded and the action is open. All I have to do is pick it up, move the slide past the magazine release point and send it into battery. This is mostly as an additional auditory indicator that says, “Hey a**hole. Your sh**s about to get REKT. Get out.” that comes before the verbal warning. I’m okay with this since I home carry.

    • I keep my wall-leaner pump with a full tube, action open, safety off. If I ever need it to do the business (I hope I never do), it will be ready faster than I can say the word “fast.”

      All other long guns in the safe are unloaded for safety reasons, but with full mags at the ready on the top shelf of the gun safe.

      • I don’t do HD shotguns, but that technique sounds like it would actually be faster and more foolproof than action closed on a live round and safety on. Is that right? I mean, I might fumble for the safety, but close a pump action? interesting.

        • I think you’re right. Digital dexterity seems to get all wonky when situations go sideways, but gross motor skills seem to work okay. It’s probably faster and easier to rack than to deactivate the safety.

  7. I carried mine WITHOUT one in the chamber for the first year – until I felt comfortable. Then switched to Condition 1.

    • As it should be! I hear too many people preaching one thing or another. I firmly believe t the correct answer to this is to do what you are comfortable with.

    • Funny how we poopoo ‘feelings when it comes to security theater from the anti’s, but somehow some of us think feeling safe when it comes to carry condition is legitimate.

      “Gun-free zones make me feel safe”=”Condition One feels unsafe”

      Oh well.

      • We don’t “poo-poo” feelings unless they turn people into panty-soiling hoplophobic nitwits who want to outlaw our guns.

  8. I never leave them loaded in a bag. If it is on me, it is loaded, although I did carry an empty chamber for a few weeks when I first started carrying. I have gone both ways when putting it in the safe for the night.

    For those that lock up their edc at night, do you unload it? Leave it in the safe loaded? Put it in a holster inside the safe?

    • I put my everyday carry pistol in a kydex holster (without the belt paddle) when I store it off body in a secured location … and keep it loaded with “one in the pipe”.

  9. Absolutely! If it’s not chambered, it’s not loaded and of no real use to me.

    To those who carry with an empty chamber for fear of accidental discharge, perhaps you need to get some training or a different gun.

  10. If it is what you need to do to become comfortable carrying on a daily basis, it’s better than nothing. As long as you work racking the slide into your draw practice. In general your holster should cover the trigger, you should keep your mitts off your gun unless you intend to draw it, and your shouldn’t draw it unless you intend to shoot something, all of which should prevent NDs, but I can understand not carrying in condition 1 when you are just starting out.

    • When I first started carrying, I carried it completely unloaded (empty magazine, no round chambered), until I was comfortable with habitual, every-day carry, and daily activities (bend this way, reach that way, this shirt prints, that shirt rides up, etc.) – a couple weeks to perhaps a month. Then, I started carrying fully loaded, round in the chamber, safety off, which is how I have carried ever since.

  11. You mean a weapon can be carried on ones self, without one in the chamber? I’ve never heard of such a thing.
    [sarc]

    One in the chamber, hammer back, safety on(unless I’m carrying “Perfection”, then just one in the chamber).

  12. All auto pistols stored in condition 1 and carried in 0. All wheelguns carried and stored in condition 2. All long guns are stored condition 3. The only unloaded guns are muzzleloader blackpowder type…condition 4.

    Firm believer that unloaded guns get people killed… treat every gun as if it were loaded…. cause they are!!!

    Disclaimer… no children left in my home, but then there were the same rules applied with sufficient education and gun safes.

  13. Were these guns on the body or in the carry-on bag? If on the body, it’s inexcusable unless it’s an older gun with no firing pin block. If in the carry-on bag, the gun shouldn’t even be loaded. Especially if you plan on having your gear confiscated. Ammo ain’t cheap.

  14. on me or in the quick access gun safe – always hot and ready to rock

    off body or not in my immediate control – unloaded, but sometimes wth a full mag

  15. Yep, chambered round, safety off (P-64 it has a rebounding hammer). It’s always with me. I had a Zastava Mod. 70 .32 that had a rather loose safety lever, I finally figured the only safe way to carry it was empty chamber, ultimately sold it. Still kind of miss it sometimes, but it was not really very useful to me.

  16. I carry with one in the chamber, but if I ever become one of those guys who gets all snotty about it to those who don’t, please whack me with a newspaper. If somebody chooses to carry with an empty pipe, at least they’re carrying and it is, after all, their right to carry however they choose. Me, I can’t imagine trying to rack the slide under pressure. I typically carry an LCP. I’d have to do something phenomenally stupid to engage that loooooooong trigger accidentally.

  17. all mine are locked and loaded, on me or in the quick access safe. the wife asked me to load hers with a full magazine but not put one in the chamber. it’s in the safe too.

  18. That poor 938 =(

    I get the feeling that most of these guns were mistakenly packed in carry-ons, so not having one in the pipe would be perfectly reasonable. (Though if packed it should be unloaded entirely, the sort of person who can make this sort of mistake may not be higher functioning in the first place.) Remember that most weapons confiscated by the TSA were not brought intentionally. Total Terrorists Stopped by the TSA to Date: 0

  19. I carried with a empty chamber for about 2 weeks, the trigger never pulled itself, so I started topping off. 2 years later it’s still never “went off” without my deliberate involvement.

  20. Don’t carry so I can’t really comment. Would never carry a Glock or some other safety-less pistol with a round in the chamber.

    Murphy and I aren’t good friends so I try to give him as few possibilities to kill me as possible.

    • Holsters and safety rules are designed to keep Murphy away from your gun.

      I don’t want to be preachy. We all do what we’re comfortable with. But I would point out that about 65% of LEO in the country carry Glocks, and they all have a round in the pipe.

        • That all depends on your ability to comprehend statistics.
          Sure, we hear stories of police NDs all the time. That’s partly because there are OVER 1.1 MILLION of them in the US. I’m not convinced that as a group, their NDs per capita are higher than the rest of us.

        • Sure, we hear stories of police NDs all the time. That’s partly because there are OVER 1.1 MILLION of them in the US. I’m not convinced that as a group, their NDs per capita are higher than the rest of us.

          Well, LEO commit gun crimes at a rate an order of magnitude higher than non-badge-wearing, legally armed citizens who carry (openly or concealed). So, it is at least reasonable to suggest that the ND rate for LEO might also not be indicative of the ND rate for non-LEO.

        • Part of it may be the procedure for how an officer is told to check in and out his duty weapon. Some police departments require that their police officers use issue weapons and that those weapons be kept and maintained in a gun locker room. That you go to the gun room, get your gun and magazine out, along with your Barney round, that you usually drop into your uniform shirt pocket. You take your weapon out to the loading barrel, put the muzzle in the mouth of the loading barrel then load the magazine in the butt of the gun, work the slide to load a round in the chamber, drop the magazine put the pistol in your holster reach into your pocket and get out the Barney round, load it in the mag take your pistol out of the holster and point it into the mouth of the loading barrel and then put the mag in the butt of the pistol. There you are now ready to go to work. At the end of the day, you go to the loading barrel, put the muzzle in the mouth of the loading barrel drop the mag, work the slide to eject the round, (Do not catch the round) then work it a few more times to make sure that somehow the round hasn’t magically jumped back into the chamber. Then you lock the slide back so the chamber is open and visually inspect the chamber to make sure it is empty. Then you release the slide and while still pointing the muzzle in the mouth of the loading barrel you squeeze the trigger to release the tension on the spring. I don’t know who thought up this Mickey Mouse procedure or why they would think it would a safe and practical method of gun handling but they are out of their ever loving gourds. Sooner or later you are going to hear “BOOM”

          I was getting in to my patrol unit when just as I was closing the door I heard a loud bang. Well I open the door thinking that a rock had got caught in the door frame. Then I look up to see Ernie walking around the corner, held out his weapon and said, “It went off!” Ernie was a veteran of 20 years as a New Mexico, State Police, then another 20 years as the Chief of police for the City of Artesia he had never had an AD, until he started working at FLETC and had to do the FLETC gun Mambo. He looked at me then asked, “Am I in trouble?” I said, “Nope that is what the barrel is for.” Now if you are really stupid and think that you can circumvent the FLETC Mambo and shoot the carpet in the gun room then you can expect to get three days off without pay. That is if you are lucky and don’t kill someone in the process. Frankly I like it when I have my own weapon that I can carry back and forth between work and home. But then that is just me.

  21. Condition 1 across the board. I’ve spec’d manual safeties across the board to keep things consistent.

    First handgun I purchased was a commander sized 1911 with extended controls. Carried cocked and locked on an empty chamber for the first week to ensure safety would not disengage from body contact.

    Every holster I own is constructed of kydex, most of which I made myself. Rigid and holds shape, with no chance of worn leather collapsing in and hitting trigger upon reholstering.

    I did experiment with a belly band for exercise carry, but did not like the lack of retention and lack of trigger protection.

    I fly often, and I pack handguns often. Dealing with TSA in upstate NY when heading out has been easy. Every airport has a different protocol. Sunday I experienced flying out of DFW with a handgun and that by far was the worst yet.

  22. I never carry with a round in the chamber. Heard and read about too many negligent discharges. Practice racking the slide at the range. There’s little to no difference after you get used to racking.

    • I always carry with a round in the chamber and I have done so for 40+ years. I have never had an AD, this isn’t to say it won’t or can’t happen anyting can happen. Having done hundreds of AD reports, the one statment I have heard more than any other is, “I didn’t think it was loaded.” The most dangerous weapon is the one that you think is safe. I have always treated every gun I have ever handled as if there was one in the chamber. Doing so keeps me from getting sloppy. When you believe there isn’t a round in the chamber you are asking for an AD.

    • Personally, I always try to remind myself that range conditions will never emulate a real-world scenario where I am forced to draw my firearm. The biggest assumption I would struggle with is that, on the range, I always have two hands to draw my firearm and rack the slide at the time of use. Most scenarios I can imagine having to draw, one hand is occupied (holding a daughter’s hand, carrying something, etc.).

    • There’s a huge difference. Doing it at the range is one thing, but introduce life or death stress into the equation and it’s probably j

    • There’s a huge difference. Doing it at the range is one thing, but introduce life or death stress into the equation and it’s probably not going to go as smoothly as you would hope. Plus those extra fractions of a second could be the difference between life or death.

  23. Handguns that I’m using. Chambered. Shotguns and rifles I’m hunting with. Chambered. My house shotguns are unchambered. I tend to have grandkids running around my place. Unchambered shotguns make me more comfortable.

    Besides. I have real world experience causing a bad guy to unass the place by racking a shotgun.

  24. I have two pistols on or near me, both with one in the pipe, both in holsters to prevent negligent contact with the trigger. The 1911 is cocked and locked, safety engaged, the DAO Kahr has no safeties other than the long trigger pull.

  25. All my guns are always loaded, except when I’m cleaning or working on them. That way there can be no question in the back of my mind as to their status.

    I treat my guns as if they’re always loaded..because they are!

  26. Carrying Fairbairn-style (C3, which was not invented by the Israelis but was advocated and used by Fairbairn) is okay if you practice, practice, practice. And have two available hands. Time is not really a factor, since racking the slide on the draw doesn’t slow anything down if you practice, practice, practice.

    A hammer-fired pistol like a SIG with a decocker can be carried effectively and with great safety with one in the pipe, decocked (hammer down). The heavy initial trigger pull is safety enough. Revolvers are always ready to rock and modern ones with a hammer block should be carried with one under the uncocked hammer. Most striker-fired pistols can be a bit more touchy with their feathery trigger-pulls, so I can understand why some people want to carry them with none in the pipe.

  27. Most of the folks who carry with an empty chamber are simply acknowledging that they are basically incompetent with their pistol of choice. Perhaps the rest of us are better off that they do carry that way!

    • …of course you could also say that those who cannot rack the slide simultaneously as they bring the pistol to bear are simply incompetent. I can do it all in one motion with no real lack of speed.

      I’ve carried both with one in the chamber and one without, and I really don’t understand why this is something that the OC/CC community gets so worked up about so as to insult people who carry with an empty chamber.

      • Won’t insult you, but I will tell you that it is dangerous to carry that way. If you know it is loaded you will treat it as loaded. If you believe it is not loaded you will treat it as if it is not loaded even if you tell yourself “Always treat it as loaded.” I have seen it happen too many times. I always keep one in the chamber, and I always treat it as if it is loaded. Because it is. In 40+ years I have never had an AD, doesn’t mean I can’t have one, I am not so arrogant to think that I can’t.

      • I think the point is, those of us who carry do so because, “What if….?” Carrying a semi-auto, without one in the pipe, assumes that you will have both hands available to you. What if you don’t?? I’ve always carried with a round in the chamber. I don’t, and never will, understand the logic of carrying an unloaded firearm for personal defense. Think of George Zimmerman and where he might be right now had his sidearm not been ready to fire immediately upon clearing the holster. He’d be the one taking a dirt nap right about now.

  28. It takes 25/100th of a second to pull the slide back and load your wepon. That means that you will be 25/100th of a second slower than the person that already has one in the chamber. You can do a lot in 25/100th of a second. If you see me you can be certain that I have one in the chamber.

    • Racking the slide also requires two hands, and I don’t think it’s a safe assumption that you’ll have both hands free at the moment you need them.

    • Fortunately quick draw shootouts are exceptionally rare. Unfortunately they are probably rarer than negligent discharges. As Curtis said, it takes two hands and I’d add you could be in a pickle if your hands are sweaty, and it does take a 1/4 extra second (unless you practice extensively), but I still wouldn’t recommend against condition 3 for new carriers. The biggest problem is that new shooters could get careless and assume the chamber is empty when they forgot to remove the magazine before they checked. But after carrying for a month in condition 3 virtually everyone will realize that they haven’t had a single negligent dry fire and they’ll be comfortable going condition 1 or 2 (depending on the firearm they carry). But I have no beef with anyone who chooses to stick with condition 3. If you were truly worried about that 1/4 second you wouldn’t be carrying concealed in the first place.

      • Unfortunately the bad guy you meet already has his gun out when he walks through the door of the restaurant you are eating at or the grocery store you are shopping in. Thinking that a round in the chamber makes it safer is totally ignorant. Hint—It’s a gun! But hey I’ll be more than happy to put on your grave stone, “It’s his right not to carry a round in the chamber.” I have said this once and I’ll say it again. More unloaded guns have accidentally gone boom than loaded ones. And it is usually followed by the comment, “But I thought it wasn’t loaded.”

        • If you’re sitting at a restaurant and some guy comes in and starts shooting and you’re carrying concealed it will probably take 2 or 3 seconds to get your weapon out and on target, so if you’re that worried about that 1/4 second I’d assume that you’d be dead either way. Do you make sure to be seated with your back to the wall and a view of the entrance every time you dine out? How long does it take to get out of your seat, turn around, draw your weapon, properly identify the target (that’s not another CCW holder you’re targeting is it?), aim and fire? Perhaps you should skip the holster altogether and hand carry your weapon to save yet another 1/4 second? And I hope you’re packing a .44 magnum because one shot stops are very rare and you’re probably going to get shot in the 1/4 second it takes to reacquire the target in your sights and send a second bullet to the target.

          I believe I spelled out the advantages AND disadvantages of condition 3, but it seems you have reading comprehension issues.

  29. when i first carried years ago, i left the chamber empty. it was mostly a product of being new to shooting and also not really understanding just how impossible it is for the gun to “just go off”. I have long since wisened up.

    Surely i deserve some slack, i was only months removed from the people’s republic of NJ at the time.

    • Yep you do what you think is right. I have stated why it is unsafe to not carry with one in the chamber. When it goes bang just remember “I told you so.” Of all the AD reports I have done over the years, the most common remark I have heard is “I didn’t think it was loaded.” or the second best statment “I don’t understand, I never carry one in the chamber.” All you are doing is giving yourself a false sence of secuirty, and doing that with a gun is not very smart.

      • i’m not likely to remember anything that you have said, discharge (take some penicillin) or not. the question remains what do “you” do, and if collective only in the sense of you all. advocating for any one condition may cause inadvertent discharges.
        how about the guy above with the sa safety on one hip and the dao no safety on the other? my brain is too feeble to deal with all of that under stress. whatever the carry condition.
        my brain, as it is, is wired for pistols with sa triggers and frame safeties that are off when down. hi- power, 938. i prefer condition one. but i understand condition two… of utmost importance is to consistantly stay with one or the other.

  30. My CZs are either locked and loaded (condition 1) or hammer down (or half cock) on an empty chamber–and probably no mag in the gun, in other words totally unloaded. If I ever need to grab one RTFN!, I’ll grab one that has the hammer back. For all other purposes of course you chamber check on picking up the gun to verifiy that it’s loaded or unloaded (whichever one you want at the moment) anyway.

    The previous applies to guns lying around the house (no kids nearby). If its on my hip it’s cocked and locked. Except maybe at the range on “scenario” days.

  31. I carry with one in the pipe of a Sig P290RS which is hammer-fired DAO semi with a fairly long and heavy trigger pull (about 8 pounds). This gives the between-the-ears safety time to engage or disengage. In its most concealable form with the short magazine it is 6+1 in which case that +1 is a significant percentage of your defense. Sig also has a good grip extending 8 round magazine which gets used at the range but doesn’t conceal as well. If I did try to conceal a firearm with a grip of that 8 round size, I would make the small jump to something double-stacked with a 13+ round capacity.

  32. If you carry with a round chambered you will end up throwing a good round out during an I-mean-it-slide-rack when things get dramatic. J/K not a reflection on anyone’s choice. 🙂

    • You can always use the Martin Riggs patented thumb-cocking maneuver for dramatic effect. Unless you’re carrying a striker fired pistol.

  33. Personally, I do not trust a 1911 safety when carried cocked and locked. I know many people do it every day, perfectly safely, but it is not for me. Therefore, I do not carry a 1911. De-cocker and striker-fired guns I’m perfectly happy carrying with one in the pipe… and do so daily.

    • I carry my 1911 on half-cock. It works for me. I can easily thumb cock it on draw. I know, i practice it that way.

      This way I get all the advantages of one in the hole while carrying in a condition where it simply will not fire unless I want it to. Do any serious gunsmiths know any downside to this? (Mall ninjas need not answer)

  34. If it’s in position as a carry gun or nightstand gun, then it’s ready to go with a pull of the trigger. If it’s in storage at the front of the safe, it has a loaded mag with the action open. If it’s in the back of the safe, then it’s on the short list to get traded in for something else.

  35. Don’t have a pistol yet. But that will have 8 in the cylinder no safety. My shotgun stays cruiser ready with the mag full but chamber empty. There just isn’t a good enough way to cover the trigger to be cosy with that.

  36. When I carried my Beretta 92 I always had one in the pipe. My wife carries her Storm subcompact condition 3 and I won’t push her to do otherwise. I’m of the belief that if you live in a ‘safe’ neighborhood the odds of a ND are probably higher than actually having to pull the trigger, especially in any kind of quick draw situation, so I won’t criticize anyone who just feels safer without one in the pipe. That said I could see some people getting careless because their gun isn’t chambered and that could be a lot more dangerous than keeping one chambered anyway.

    • I agree with you… and nonetheless, I don’t believe everyone is correctly trained for a quick draw and accurate shooting at any time of the day and in any conditions. Unless you’re living in Afghanistan with permanent threat for your life (or similar conditions), there’s no real need to keep one in the pipe. The whole thing about saving “time” to shoot is quite ridiculous and/or paranoid. I’d first love to see how fast and how accurate someone will really be before to even consider saving some time. When I was in the military, we weren’t carrying with one in the pipe unless we were in mission. IMHO, it’s not safer to not have a round in the chamber (in regard of ND)… and it’s not safer either by having one in the chamber (in regard of quick draw). In both case, everything’s perfectly if you really know how to handle your guns.

      • Also, if you’re carrying concealed, there’s no need getting worked up about the 1/4 second it will take to rack the slide when it takes a full second just to get the weapon out of the holster. There are advantages though, mostly that you could flub up the rack, especially if your hands are sweaty or you’re in a panic. And just because you don’t keep a round in the pipe doesn’t mean that you should ever assume that there’s not one there anyway. I’m a revolver guy now though, so it would be kind of silly not keeping a round in each chamber.

        • Unless you are wandering around openly looking for a bad guy, then more than likely you are having to draw your weapon in response to a hostile act and you don’t get the luxury of drawing first or racking a round. You have walked into a situation where the bad guy already has his gun out and is deploying it, which already puts you behind the 8 ball. But then most people are not trained to deal with a sudden attack. No! That three day CCW course does nothing to prepare you for a real gun battle. That requires long hours of training and practice. If the average CCW came up against something like Aurora they will probably end up dead, killing an innocent bystander or both. Really bad guys have nothing to lose, they don’t care if they live or die, and will be much more bold in their shooting stance. They have the advantage of starting the fight and they don’t care who they kill, unlike you who has to respond to being shot at and be aware of the collateral targets around you. If the bad guy kills little Johnny it really isn’t a problem for him. If you kill little Johnny trying to stop the bad guy then regardless of your intent to stop the bad guy they will probably still put you in jail for manslaughter.
          Thinking that keeping a clear chamber is the safe way to go is great, but I have to ask. Why are you CC in the first place? If you are CC then to my way of thinking you are obligated to engage the bad guy. If you are not willing, prepared and actively training to do so, or you are so timid that you must carry your weapon unloaded with an empty chamber, then put your gun away, because you are useless. All you are going to do is get yourself or someone else killed. Cops carry with a round in the chamber for a reason. If you plan on responding with half the capability of a police officer when faced with a threat then you best do what the pros do or expect to get shot or get someone else shot. Believe me the bad guys are not going to be kinder or gentler simply because you are not a trained cop. If you are standing in line in a grocery store and someone walks in with a gun what are you going to do? Is now the time to think about racking a round in your weapon? Don’t expect him to wait while you pull your weapon out from under your jacket, rack the slide, and assume your stance. He is going to shoot you dead. I don’t care how many fantasies you have cooked up in your head. When you are faced with the real thing, the bad guy doesn’t care. If he is willing to use a gun to commit an act then expect him to pull the trigger at the first invitation. If you can’t get it through your head that you are carrying a dangerous weapon round, or you have somehow gotten it in your head that it will suddenly be safer without a round in the chamber you are one of the biggest fools on the planet. Let me give you a clue It’s a gun it’s made to kill, train with that in mind. If you can’t or won’t then put your gun away you are useless. If you are walking around with a gun because all your friends are doing it, or you somehow think it makes you look cool or you think it grants you some kind of what was it the moron said, “Empowerment?” then you are a world class fool.

      • @Phil

        I carry with one in the chamber precisely because I’m not in a war zone. I’m often walking around with one arm encumbered. I’m often in places where there are lots of distractions to filter out and the time to react to a threat ranges between minimal to non-existent. There’s also the off chance that–despite all good effort–I will be physically pinned-down. Finally, I live in a city where deadly home invasions are a nightly occurrence and I assume I would have very little time to react to a threat barging through my door armed and ready to do damage. In short, I’m in no position to make assumptions about my carry condition, so I always carry with one in the tube.

  37. No reason not to carry one in the pipe with today’s pistols. Even better, I like the extra security the grip safety on my XD-s affords.

  38. HAH !

    It depends.

    FYI, I and a bunch of other old fogies remember back before New Mexico passed its unfortunate concealed carry law………when carrying a LOADED concealed firearm was a low level felony…..but carrying an UNLOADED concealed firearm, anywhere, was a class C misdemeanor…..pay a $50 fine to the local traffic judge, pick up your pistol, and go home. I routinely carried my .40 Star in one pocket and my magazine in another pocket and never had a problem with any law enforcement folks.

  39. “…disarming otherwise law-abiding Americans inadvertently attempting to board an airplane with a firearm in their carry-on…”

    And if you think they’re all otherwise law abiding with no ill-intent, you really are as naive and ill-informed as you regularly portray yourself here. But back on topic, I carry one in the pipe. If I need to deploy a firearm, somebody is going to get shot and don’t have the precious few seconds- or even half seconds -to waste on chambering a round. On that note, I don’t carry a glock either and that’s all I’ll say about that.

  40. Honest follow up question… If you carry something like a Glock 26 with a ten round magazine and do not carry with one in the chamber are you causing unnecessary tension on the magazine spring? Should you carry 9 rounds instead? Kinda the same logic of M16 magazines with 28 rounds instead of 30.

    • I had a supervisor that insisted that we unload our magazines over the long change to let the tension off the springs. Then we had a rep from Springfield demonstrating the XD with the tracking device in the grip. The subject of releasing the tension from the mag spring was brought up and he said, “Unless the mag has been in a fire and the tensile strength of the spring has been compromised, it doesn’t matter if you leave it loaded or unloaded.” People still argue over it. But I have seen enough mags and pistols that have been loaded to the max with one in the chamber and left that way for very long periods of time with out problems. I also had a magazine for a glock given to me, it was fully loaded and locked up in a safe for over five years, I took it to the range expecting the rounds to misfire and was surprised none of them misfired. I was halfway expecting a round to stovepipe because the spring had been compressed for so long but it worked like a new mag, and was just as big a pain in the rear to load as a new mag. Really cheep guns have been known to have cheep springs and they can lose their tension. However, any name brand manufacture will be giving you a quality spring. So if you have a GLOCK, S&W, Colt and so on, don’t worry about it. Some of the WWII colt 1911’s might have springs that are a bit weak, simply because they were mass produced and some of the metals they were using back then wasn’t that great. Interestingly enough they were made by Singer Sewing machine, International Harvester and Wurlitzer. I have had several over the years, and unless they were reworked by a gun smith the damn things were so loose that they sounded like a maraca when you shook them. I would suggest that if you have an original 1911 with the original mag and it isn’t reworked, not to mess with it. It is probably worth more in it’s original condition with the serial numbers matching than it would be if it is reworked. You know what will cause the spring not to work properly? Lint, rust, dirt, and old gummy gun oil. So every so often it is a good idea to spray the hell out of it and get all that gunk out .
      As far as I know, weak springs in name brand guns are not a problem, Usually it is dirt and grime that will cause it not to fire correctly. If you are keeping it clean then it probably isn’t going to be an issue.

      • singer yes. as well as colt, remington rand, remington umc, union switch and signal, springfield armory (the old one), north american arms (the canadian one) and ithaca. neither international harvester nor wurlitzer ever manufactured 1911’s. or rock ola.
        rock ola did manufacture m1 garands. as well as ibm, national postal meter, quality hardware, saginaw and saginaw steering divisions of gm, standard products, underwood typewriter and winchester repeating arms.
        all m1 carbines were manufactured by the inland division of gm.

  41. Well, I didn’t read them all, but … I saw nobody point out that if there is not one in the pipe, the gun is not loaded.

    And yes, cocked and locked. If it degrades any part of the gun, the gun is poor quality.

      • The last AD I saw the guy said, “but there wasn’t supposed to be a round in the chamber.” That is the level of stupidity that comes from this kind of thinking. I have seen more unloaded gun go off on accident than I have loaded ones. If you are carrying around an unloaded gun and have accidently pulled the trigger then think to yourself,
        This is why I don’t carry one in the chamber, then you are an idot and have no business carrying a gun in the first place.

        • …All of which has nothing to do with responsibly carrying a round in the chamber. There’s a vast difference between that and “I forgot dem was loaded, jeb!”

  42. Kinda humorous how keyboard BAMFs are calling people scared/yellow/cowardly for not having a chambered round. Sounds awfully similar to grabbers calling concealed carriers scared/yellow/cowardly.

  43. Condition 1 on the hip, condition 1 on the nightstand. The only time I empty out is when I’m doing maintenance or smithing. This reinforces my adherence to Rule 1, and to the house rule: always hot.

    • That IMO is the biggest drawback to condition 3 – the risk of assuming the chamber is empty when it’s not.

  44. What is the point of carrying a gun without one in the pipe? If you don’t trust your gun don’t carry it. I carry a Cz P07 duty in .40 cal every day. Hammer down one in the pipe, 12 more in the mag. DA/sa. No safety. Keep your booger picker off the bang switch.

    • “What is the point of carrying a gun without one in the pipe?”

      Just playing devil’s advocate here, but… 99% of defensive gun uses do not even require a shot to be fired, let alone pivot on the 1/4 second it takes to rack the slide. It’s not like a condition 3 carrier is unarmed (like the vast majority of people).

  45. Since we know to treat all guns as if they are loaded, why not keep it loaded?

    I have trained so long drawing and firing with a round chambered, that I doubt I could every break that muscle memory. We all know the best safety is your brain, not something in or on the firearm.

    Depending what source you look at, gun fights are over in 3-4 seconds. With training it may only take .5 seconds to rack a slide but I could have gotten a shot off. Besides if you are in a struggle your unloaded handgun becomes a $500 club.

  46. I guess I’ll be the first to admit that since I haven’t been CCing very long I’m not totally comfortable with one in the chamber yet so I carry in what I guess (with a striker fired pistol) can be considered condition 1 (or 3?) – whatever condition a full mag/empty chamber is. Conditions seem, to me, to not correspond equally from the 1911 platform to a striker pistol. Anyway, I’m the wimp here and I’m sure as time goes on and I’m not shot in the meantime I’ll man up eventually.

    • Those “condition” numbers don’t map well at all to a LOT of guns that aren’t 1911s. For example, it’s impossible to carry a Beretta 92 in condition 1–if you put the safety on, the gun decocks. Conversely, you can’t put a 1911 into that condition (safety on, hammer down), either, so the Olde 1911 Guys (i.e., Jeff Cooper) who came up with the numbering scheme don’t have a number for that. what number do you give it?

      Condition 2 (hammer down on a loaded chamber) exists with both guns…(leave the safety off on the Beretta) but the Beretta will fire by a trigger pull, and the 1911 is a club until/unless you thumb cock it (or rack it and look like a doofus throwing away your chamber round). So is it right to give both conditions the same name? (By the way this page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeff_Cooper says that’s condition 2, others [http://thefiringline.com/forums/archive/index.php?t-5127.html, second comment by FUD] say condition 2 is all of this and with the safety on. Which can’t be true, because a 1911 can’t be put in that state, and 1911 people came up with the scheme.)

      Realistically there are sixteen possible “conditions,” every combination of mag in/mag out, round chambered/not chambered, hammer cocked/not cocked. thumb safety on/not on. I doubt there is a gun in the world that can be in all sixteen states. And this leaves out variations like half-cock (which is the state a CZ decocker puts the gun into–but not a Beretta decocker/safety!) and an empty mag. And how do you handle Glocks, which are half-cocked when there’s something in the chamber? (Obviously a Glock cannot be in any condition that involves a thumb safety being engaged.) And also leaves out the issue of which conditions the gun will fire from. A 1911 will only fire from condition 0. My CZ (with the safety, not the decocker) will actually fire from either condition 0 or 2. Fopr that matter, the decocker CZs will too, coming from condition 2-ish (the gun is half cocked, not hammer down) to bang by pulling the trigger.

      • Not a big fan of decocking a 1911. You should never pull the trigger with a round in the chamber. You are one slip of the finger away from an ND. Far better to carry it the way infantry were originally supposed to do it — In the holster with the grip safety engaged.

        • I agree, tdiinva.

          I can’t think of a reason why I’d ever want to decock a pistol capable of cocked and locked (1911s and HiPowers and CZ-75s with a safety), but I do have a technique which I think is fairly safe. However, it depends on the existence of a half cock notch that the gun will go to if the hammer is falling and the trigger is NOT being pulled. (I don’t even know if 1911s and Hi Powers have that. Need to experiment sometime.)

          There’s also no particular reason to practice the DA pull (if it’s a CZ-75, which does have second strike) on one of these, either; but I’ve seen people who insist on doing it. (NB: A CZ-75 with the decocker is different; you SHOULD practice it both SA and from half-cock.)

  47. I carry the way GOD told John Browning to make it … with one in the pipe and the safety on at all times … Unless I need it … In which case the safety come off as I draw and my finger slides into the trigger guard as my sights line up on target … And THEN … 230 grains of Hornady lead goes down range.

    • Actually, God told JMB that a grip safety was enough. It was the Cavalry Board that said not if a horse is involved. The thumb safety was added at their request.

      • And don’t forget that a few decades before God told Sam Colt to keep his SAA with the hammer down on an empty chamber because it wasn’t drop safe.

  48. I do a lot of patrol work that takes me out on farm roads, oil fields and Airport perimeters. I have a GMC Blazer K-5 because it is big, bad and ugly and seldom gets stuck, It also has big doors and a roomy compartment so I can get in and out easy. I carry a Glock 22, a Mossberg 500 tactical shot gun and a S&W M&P 15. All because they are short and or collapsible. Been thinking of getting the S&W M&P 10 because a couple of my co workers have been engaged at over 500 yards with high powered rifles. And when you are working in the desert 500 yards doesn’t look that far away. What I have now gives me long, (300 yards) mid and short range coverage. I’ll argue over shot gun rounds and different loads another day. If you have ever tried to chamber a round on a long gun inside a vehicle you know what kind of awkward that is. So I load them and rack them, lock em when I get out of the vehicle, or I take what I think I need with me, but I leave them chambered. If you get stuck inside the cab even in a big vehicle like the GMC blazer you are going to be trying to bring your weapon into action and the last thing you need to worry about is charging it. Same thing for my GLOCK, the last thing I need to think about if I have to engage some yahoo trying to walk off with $190,000.00 dollars worth of drill bit is racking a round into the chamber. Had a friend got his vehicle shot all to hell not to long ago, and he never had a chance to get out of his vehicle. He also shot a hole in the roof trying to get his shotgun around and a round chambered. Funny how no matter how much you practice, when people start shooting at you everything you learned just goes out the window. Or in his case the roof. But then what we do is slightly different that cop work or the average hunter looking to bag a Mule Deer. I always argued with him over horizontal racks vs vertical gun racks. I like a vertical gun rack because it leaves the gun in a position that it is easy to bring it into position either left or right of the vehicle. I think he is now coming around to my way of thinking. 300,000 miles on the Blazer, I am going to have to start thinking about another vehicle, but I don’t know of any vehicle that provides the ease of access or derivability that the Blazer does. I am hating the day I have to give it up. But it looks like it is coming sooner than later.

  49. Air Force Teaches one in the chamber on fire and holster secure I just went to M9 2 days ago, but when I start carrying then yeah one ready will be sop. but from memory I think when Security Forces responds to something supposed non violent they can be unsecured in the holster and if possible threat its low ready. NOT SAYING THIS AS FACT JUST WHAT I REMEMBER FROM AUGMENTEE TRAINING.

  50. Hawai’i so no carry of any kind – unless you sleep with the police chief….

    So only have Glock 34 out at home – full mag, chamber empty – I figure if I don’t have time to rack it, I’d be toast any way.

  51. Yes, of course. That being said, I used to work with a clown who would actually load a snap cap “for safety”.

  52. Who carries without one in the chamber? Most movie characters do so they can get the dramatic effect of chambering a round at the best moment

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