By Doc Duracoat
I’m amazed by how much hate I get when I admit to carrying my concealed weapon “Israeli style” with a loaded magazine and an empty chamber. Any safety, if present, is set to the fire position.
Please don’t comment with phrases like “you might as well be carrying a club” or “ the only safety I need is between my ears.” It sounds exactly like the empty phrases anti-gunners use when open carry is discussed. “Blood in the streets,” “every argument becomes a gunfight.” These are unthinking responses.
Let’s see where we can all agree.
We all agree an everyday carry gun should have proper self defense ammo and it should be broken in and in good working order. Here in Florida, open carry is only allowed while hunting and fishing, so concealed carry is the only choice for daily carry. The only argument is in what condition it should be carried.
I will start by saying that I concede that carrying with an empty chamber requires two hands to rack the slide. While there are one-handed methods to rack the slide, these are advanced techniques.
If you’re carrying something when attacked, you need to drop it. Dropping your items is actually a good distraction while you draw. If the item you’re carrying is a baby, you might want to set it down more gently. Although I will say that as a pediatric anesthesiologist and a father, I have seen more than one baby dropped with no ill effects (to the baby). Still, avoid if at all possible.
Another argument against empty chamber carry is the possibility of short-stroking the slide and having a misfeed. This is certainly possible. The answer is to practice drawing, racking and firing until it becomes part of muscle memory and can be done without thinking.
I don’t agree that Israeli carry is any slower than chambered carry. Most ranges near me don’t allow practicing drawing from a holster, so most people never practice this vital skill. Dry fire practice with snap caps can help, but there is no substitute for live fire drills.
Outdoor practice on private property is possible, but few people here in South Florida will have access to open land. A local range allows customers to draw in one bay. You tell them you are going to practice drawing from concealed holster and you can open the half door of the last bay. Please note the holes in the floor and the door from people pulling the trigger too soon.
I practice drawing and racking every time I shoot, and am faster than many of my gun buddies who never get the chance to practice this vital skill. I don’t claim to be a fast draw artist. I just practice to be smooth in my draw. That’s much faster than a person without much practice hurrying their draw.
Please also remember that the Israeli carry draw is to pull the gun from the holster and rack the slide as you present it. This takes the same amount of time as drawing and presenting a chambered gun. Even with a round chambered, you have to draw and present the gun.
Let’s do a thought experiment where it’s two seconds slower the rack the slide versus what I call GLOCK-style carry. You get a shot off in one second and I need three seconds. We are both attacked with a knife at time zero. Between zero and one seconds we are both stabbed. Between one and three seconds, you get off a shot and I do not. After three seconds we both are blasting away.
I accept that there’s a window where I don’t get off a shot and someone else does during the two-second window. I accept that penalty for the extra safety Israeli carry offers.
A gun with an empty chamber CANNOT have a negligent discharge. A child can pick it up and pull the trigger and nothing will happen. You have to make the conscious decision and have the strength to rack the slide.
Negligent discharges are far more common than armed self defense. I ask TTAG how many readers have had a ND? I expect it’s a significant fraction, if not a majority. I handle my gun twice each day, when I put it on and take it off. Sometimes more if I have to enter a legal gun-free zone. Each time is a potential ND.
Let’s talk about actual gunfights and the need for one more round. I always see gun capacity measured as 8+1 or 10+1. That +1 is the round in the chamber. It’s almost never needed. As a matter of fact, reloads are almost never needed.
The best analysis of citizen armed self defense is the one by Claude Werner of five years of Armed Citizen articles in the American Rifleman magazine (you can read it here). The results are fascinating. These are citizen-only, no law enforcement shootings from 1997 to 2001.
Of 482 incidents, there were only three reloads. One of those was an escaped lion, shot with a .32 caliber and required 13 shots. The average number of shots fired was two. In 80% of the incidents, the citizen had time to take their firearm from storage, often from another room. People on the web worry about being ambushed, but you will likely be aware of an impending assault.
I don’t presume to tell others how to carry a concealed weapon. As I do the calculus, I choose the added safety of Israeli style carry and accept the penalty of one less round and the need for two hands. I think the chance of short-stroking the slide and misfeeding a round is extremely unlikely due to constant practice.
As a final note, I would like to say that the most important thing is to always have a gun with you. Know the laws in your state so you know when you cannot shoot. Practice drawing and live firing and keep your situational awareness up.