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Reader Miguel Vallenavedo writes . . .

I spend a good amount of time reading various firearm-related articles, whether it’s online or in print, and I have some points that I would like clarified and to hear readers’ opinions.

There’s the school of thought out there that you need to carry a spare magazine, generally speaking, certainly for a reload, but also in case you have a magazine failure or other stoppage. In the same vein, the “experts” say that if you don’t carry with one in the chamber, you’re not ready to pack a pistol and need more training.

There seems to be a contradiction here.

I’ve heard and read the various “experts” prescribe carrying one in the pipe due to the loss of fine motor skills in an emergency and the lack of time to chamber a round when seconds count during a “critical dynamic event.” (That’s one of my favorite expressions from the experts…I had to look that one up. I guess using the term fight/confrontation is too simple when you’re vying for readers’ hard-earned dollars.)

I think we’ve all read/heard/seen videos regarding what I’m talking about. We’ve also  seen comments to that effect whenever there is an EDC pocket dump post here with no visible spare in the photo.

My question is simple; if I don’t know when a fight is coming and I won’t have time to draw and rack the slide to chamber a round, how would I possibly have the time to do a mag change during a “critical dynamic event?”

Remember, the confrontation is probably happening at night with no flashlight, no weapon-mounted light, multiple attackers shooting at you and your draw hand/arm is injured and bloody…and your magazine fails, all while your wife is putting groceries in the back of the truck and the baby in the car seat.

So which is it? Will I have time for a magazine change? If I do, I should have time to rack the slide, shouldn’t I? I know one is the first response and the other is in the event of a failure, but if I don’t have time to load a round, how will I have time for a mag change, let alone a tap/rack/bang?

Your help is greatly appreciated (and please don’t get me started on what “condition” I should be in).

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  1. Here we go again. Everybody will swear the way they carry is the ONLY correct way. Really now, why not let each person decide what’s best for them?

    • “why not let each person decide what’s best for them?”

      Why? Because unless they take training, they are ignorant of the options and their pros and cons. The comments on this blog and other shows that amount of ignorance in gun owners is staggering.

      PS: the internet is the worst place to learn gun safety, tactics and techniques.

      1. The more you learn about gunfighting, the more you realize how much more there is to learn.

      2. The more you learn about gunfighting, the less you want to be in a gunfight.

    • I don’t know about anyone else but this seems like a pretty sweet band name.

    • Idiots often think they know what’s best for them, that doesn’t make it so. While I’m not suggesting that it should be illegal to carry a particular way, I’m not going to pretend it makes sense for the sake of someone else’s pride.

      • The idea is that one -Might- need to insert additional ammunition. (And, if you do need more ammo, it being back at the house isn’t going to be super helpful.)

        That’s the major message, the rest is just details..

        If the assailant is also armed, and firing, everyone is going to get shot. You can’t stand still (the way that most people train) against an armed opponent. Most ammunition, and impact points, will not prevent an already-armed opponent from returning fire.

        Unless the opponent can be reliably shut down via initiative, the fight should be performed by firing while moving off-line and hopefully to cover. It is from cover that additional magazines would be the most usable without incurring exposure to fire.

  2. You know what the definition of ‘Expert’ is? X is the unknown factor and Spurt is nothing but a drip under pressure.

    People, normal everyday people, with little to no training have survived and prevailed against hardened criminals. And they do it virtually everyday. Some have never fired a shot until they kill or drive off a bad guy.

    Remember that ‘firearms trainers’ are in a business. Just like any other business owner they have to profit to survive. And also remember, you’re not going to get ‘trained up’ in a week end or week long class. Unless you live in the gun world, as the trainers do, then you have a job, family, social contracts that you need to devote time to.

    IMHO safe gun handling is the prime training needed. We handle our guns a lot more than we fight bad guys.

    It may not be fair but it’s probably safest to view every firearms ‘expert’ as a snake oil salesman or carny barker until you have proof otherwise.

    • Agree 100% about safety vs. other kinds of training. Instead of teaching operators to operate, teach the four rules, basic gun handling, and familiarity with the main types. Teach safe gun storage practices, cleaning procedures, care, and maintenance. Teach that guns are for everyone, and that everyone who uses a gun should respect it and the people around them while they’re using it. Of course there’s not as much money in it, but there’s a lot more value.

    • This stupidity of jwm’s comment is just one example of why the internet is the worst place to learn about guns

        • Or perhaps Ps2. I sooo can’t wait to ask him about the 6 letter word for the dangerous end, but since I caught him mixing up his sock puppets, Ps2 has been loooong gone. He seems to know when the heat gets too high, it’s time to move on. The same as all criminal types do. They aren’t much for brain power, but when it comes to knowing when and how to run away, they are sly like a fox.

        • TTAG censors are back again. Won’t let me ask DD THE 6 letter question. Can someone else try? See if it’s only me, or is TTAG running interference for the Ps2s and Vlads now?

      • Hey, DD.
        I have a crossword here that I just can’t seem to complete. All I need is a 6 letter word for: “The front end of a firearm”. Can you help me out?
        Just DD please. Nobody else. He knows it, I’m sure. He won’t need any help…

        • Well, it looks like DD, much like Pg2 and Vlad, are utterly incapable of answering this simple little question. Everybody here knows the answer EXCEPT for these three self proclaimed firearm ‘experts’.
          Anybody want to calculate the odds of that happening? That three DIFFERENT ‘people’, purporting to give advice on firearms, don’t know what the dangerous end is called?
          If they’re just three sock puppets, though… well, all of a sudden it makes perfect(albeit dishonest and unethical) sense.

    • I think a lot of people underestimate a good knife. It appears to me that most training is geared towards active shooters, terrorism, home invasions, etc… where the attacker isn’t in your face. Don’t get me wrong, that’s good stuff to know too, but the most common kind of violent crime you’re likely to encounter is a mugging/robbery, or an encounter with a violent asshole looking to pick a fight with anyone. Those kinds of attacks happen right up in your face or behind you suddenly. In that situation you may not be able to draw a gun, but pulling a knife and getting stabby will get anyone off of you.

      • Agreed. I never leave home without my knife. Just bringing it out kept 2 guys off me one night on public transit.

        Nobody wants to get stabbed.

      • It’s virtually impossible to get a permit to carry a tactical knife in Florida. You’d think that a permit to carry a handgun would include a knife… no way.

        • Huh? I live in FL and I carry a knife everywhere I go, and so does everyone I know, to include people in LE.

        • Yeah. In FL it’s a concealed Weapon permit.

          So….a gun, a knife, and a sap….good to go.

      • I’ve been thinking some basic hand-to-hand training designed to teach a couple of moves to get someone off you or get a step or two so you can draw might be worth more than a bunch of tactical handgun training. Both would be better I guess, but it makes sense that a smart criminal isn’t going to telegraph the attack.

        Anyway, what’s most practical for someone who isn’t an athlete or interested in investing what it take to become a real martial artist? Krav Maga? Something else?

    • Thank you for your trenchant observations there.

      People do so need to remember that firearms/defense trainers are in a business….

  3. I’m with Yeti. Carry whatever you like and feel comfortable with, and take all of the ‘expert’ advice over to the round file and dump it all in. There might just be a few useful nuggets mixed in with the bath water, but the vast bulk of the written word today is just salesmen reading a script.
    They have psychology experts hired to write that copy to make you feel all afraid and incompetent. That’s the frame of mind that makes you want to buy something (ANYTHING…) to get rid of the feeling that they, themselves, caused. It’s just their game. Be aware of it. Don’t play that game.
    Just read the writing… very carefully… and then reject anything that sounds stupid. Upon close inspection, you will find that the pile to reject is pretty large. Like anything that says that cheap AR 10s are made of stamped steel. Anybody that makes blanket statements like, “never…”, “always…”, etc. Anytime you run across fifth grade mistakes and/or blatant arrogance in the first few paragraphs… well, seldom does a writer get any better as he drones on and on … and on and on…
    Just reject that one and continue on searching for a good instructor who doesn’t have a car in the current race, and so doesn’t have a vested interest to hide.

  4. I carry condition -2: round in the chamber, hammer back, gun in hand at low ready, combat isosceles stance, at all times. Hard to text and drive or hit the head, but I’m ready. Seriously, as a psychology guy, fine motor can go away in an adrenaline dump. I plan on being able to draw, aim, fire… or at least draw, point, fire… and I carry a 642 or Shield (no safety) regularly. I view a spare mag as more rounds if needed on my semiauto, and a malf would probably be tap, rack, bang, carry on. A sustained gun battle is not what I’m preparing for, otherwise my AR would be slung and spare mags would be in my vest! I’m looking to stop an immediate problem and/or get the threat to look at alternatives to bleeding like leaving. Only had to draw to make one run… my only real defensive gun use so far!

    • +1. Having been in thousands of gunfights myself, I can attest to the efficacy of constantly carrying your EDC around at the low ready isosceles. While it may be hard to drive and eat, it is actually really easy to piss…. standing up atleast…. NOW, don’t get me wrong! I don’t go around expecting a gunfight or anything. if I was expecting a gunfight, then I WOULD be carrying a rifle.

      That being said; ever since Freedom Week out here in California I’ve got in the habbit of carrying mags with capacities that God intended. The more bullets, the more betterrer. Train, train, train. Learn to trust or distrust your gun/mags/ammo/(most important) YOURSELF and adjust accordingly.

      • Fukking noobs. I have a suitcase nuke hooked to a deadman switch with me at all times. I die and the whole area dies with me.

        When the Devil meets me I want that fool to be afraid.

        • Now that’s funny. I personally would go with the conceal carry grenade like that guy in uncommon valor.

      • “Having been in thousands of gunfights myself,…”


        So, how many wars have you been in, Rich?

        And how many tours in each?

  5. You may not have time for anything, but you should prepare as if you will. Personally, I carry locked and loaded. With a reload. Others may feel differently. If I can have it, why wouldn’t I?

    • The only real certainty is death. You really don’t have to pay taxes. If you don’t mind dieing in prison.

      • If you own a profitable business and are an intelligent business person . You will not pay any income tax. It should be figured into your business model so as your customers pay. All of your taxes. That’s how the system is gamed by the millionaires/billionaires. As for carry condition:Situational Awareness ON, Loaded Hot, No Safety, OWB, Spare Mag. Professional,Polite and A Plan To Kill Everyone I Meet. It’s a crazy fuct up world out there. Better to be prepared than regretful. Keep Your Powder Dry.

      • Everybody pays taxes, even rich people. They buy things that are subject to sales tax. They pay real estate taxes on their homes. They pay ad velorem taxes on their cars. They pay excise taxes on their gasoline. Etc. Etc. Etc.

        Everybody pays. That’s the nature of the RICO conspiracy that we call government.

        • All paid by their customers. Simply part of the profit model. That’s what the average person fails to realize. Especially when they believe life is fair and everybody pays. The whole reason for the convoluted tax codes is to conceal the game. Because people fail to educate themselves on the realities in life. It is much easier to keep them disinterested and ill informed and thus easier to control. Nothing personal toward You. Just the way things are.

  6. The reality is if you have a magazine failure in most situations, you will probably be beat. The thing is that’s only a possibility in a gunfight, and you carry a spare mag in the off chance that you do have opportunity to change it.

    Carrying without a round in the chamber guarantees that you will have to manipulate the slide in order to be ready. That’s an entirely different Beast: on the one hand you are preparing for a negative possibility, on the other you are guaranteeing that you will have to have time to bring the weapon into working order.

    If you’re comfortable with that risk, then you can carry without One in the Chamber. But there’s no contradiction in saying you should prepare for a possible negative outcome while also saying you shouldn’t rely on having time and ability to rack the slide.

    • Well put, Mr. Teddy.

      If you have to reload, hopefully you’re on the way to cover…and moving targets are harder to hit than stationary targets, BTW. If you don’t have an extra reload and you get worst case, well, there you are.

      On carrying with an empty chamber, your call. I’ve practiced it; I’ve hung out in Israel and discussed the practice at length with Israeli experts. The issue is 2-fold — “task loading” and physical manipulation of anything when you’re under intense stress. When you’re adding tasks, it’s useful to think of those tasks as lines on a graph. The vertical axis is the difficulty in completing the task; the horizontal access is the number of task. We all tend to think that adding tasks increases difficulty in an arithmetic progression…think of a straight line ascending at a 45 degree angle. Realistically, task loading tends to follow a geometric progression, a line that curves steeply up. Briefly, the more tasks you add, the harder it is for you to perform the task well. And that difficulty level goes into the stratosphere pretty quickly. I found in my experimentation that racking the slide is easy-peasy until I started ratcheting up the stress (add a timer). Pretty quickly I came to a point where I was failing 20 or so percent of the time…that is, the slide slipped out of my hand, I short-cycled the slide, I griped the slide in the wrong position. In a real fight, that is catastrophic failure. In general, I believe in controlling risks you can control. Carrying on an empty chamber introduces a potentially serious additional risk to an already risky situation.

      Michael B

      • Once again your points are important. Glad to have your feedback Michael. I havnt always carried an extra magazine but after several decades of reading the professionals in the field…Ayoob, Smith, Farnam ect Ive started carrying at least once extra magazine. I think it was Clint Smith who said that a fight will last as long as your ammunition.

  7. Sometimes you’re the windshield, and sometimes you’re the bug. The objective is to avoid being the bug. If you figure out how to do that guaranteed 100% of the time while living a normal life, please let me know. 🙂

  8. Well this guy is an idiot. This is apples to oranges.

    Sure it might be difficult to change a mag under stress, just as it’ll be difficult to chamber a round under pressure. However, if you get a failure in a firefight would you rather not have a spare mag to reload? It’s not a guarantee that you can, it’s an option in case you can.

    Carrying without a round in the chamber puts you at a disadvantage from the get-go. You might be able to rack the weapon, but you might not either.

  9. Responding to a rush / blitz by surprise, how fast n simple u respond can matter. Stopping ongoing determined assault when they don’t stop or drop from the first shot fired takes … more.

    Different situations. The best answer for either situation depends on how you assess the odds and aspects of each, so different answers even then.

    – If you think you’ll never get jumped, n besides you’re all calm dexterity-guy if you do, carry empty chamber. (And people will argue with you.)

    – If you are all trick shot under pressure, carry your max 5, or 6, or whatever is allowed this week, n you’ll drop all the zombies in the pack (of not more than 5, or etc.) (And people will argue with you.)

    About, About Carry State
    The stuff everybody agrees with sounds cliche. Be aware. Have some measure of plan. Prep for the obvious. Gunny people think armed is better than not when someone comes at you to harm you, so “be armed” follows. Non-gunny people think you’re too safe, stupid, n worthless to gain from any of that, and acceptable loss for whatever they gain from “No guns for you!”, besides.

    Ambush, and after are different things. And neither of those is the most common D G U, of bad guys dropping their plan when the realize their target is armed.

    Maybe the scarier a gun looks, the better it works for deterrence. Nobody tell DiFi, Bloomie, Rep-Nukem and co; they might have to rethink their policy. Unless, of course, their policy prefs have nothing to do with you staying alive n unharmed.

  10. I’d recommend watching active self-protection on YouTube. Lots and lots of videos of shootouts. Good Guys winning sometimes losing. After watching some of those videos then you’d have a better idea of what works and what doesn’t. There will be people getting shot and some people even dying.

    • Agree, I watch with the sound off usually. Better for concentration and seeing the visual cues if they are in-frame. Watching how everyone | inc bystanders react.

  11. . Over the years I’ve learned this, it doesn’t really matter what gunm you’ve got, what holster, how you carry, or how your grip is. What matters is getting the drop on the other guy, and that’s all about situational awareness.,

    • I went through all of the responses hoping to find the “ounce of prevention” Kudos Mr. Fudd Possum, kudos.

      Why isn’t situational awareness more of a fundamental skill that is included with intermediate training? (or along with basic gun handling)

      Knowing what (or whom) to look for, and recognizing higher risk factors could generate several seconds to prepare, get to cover, or avoid an encounter altogether.

      Time is a fleeting asset, make the most of what you have.

      • “Why isn’t situational awareness more of a fundamental skill that is included with intermediate training?”

        Because it doesn’t sell well. People seriously interested in such a skill set will work on it on their own. They’ll play mental games with themselves/others that they’ve found freely available on the web or found in other ways. They’ll buy and read Left of Bang etc. Offer a SA course and very few people will take it/pay for it. In that regard it’s kind of like martial arts. Martial arts have loads of benefits immediately plus secondary and tertiary benefits but a lot of people will say they “don’t have time” for that because, really, they don’t want to take that class for some reason. Their preference, nothing particularly wrong with it, but they’re not being entirely honest with themselves either.

        For better or worse the focus of self-defense firearms training is the firearm. Part of that is allure and part of it is that this is fun as compared to a bunch of mental exercises to improve your SA/information retention/information processing abilities. This is why there were, and probably still are, lots of ads for those “It feels like games but it trains your brain” services on TV.

        It’s like working out. Few people like working out simply to work out. Some people will do it because they see the benefit but it’s still working out so they kinda drag themselves to it. Few people are gym rats just because they like going to the gym. Fewer people invest in having such equipment in their house. So it’s often more effective for the general population to trick them into doing something healthy by getting them to pick up a habit that gets them active and exercising without realizing that they’re doing it or to get them to add small things to their daily routine, like taking the stairs a few floors rather than taking the elevator. Then it’s fun rather than work or it’s not such a PITA that people won’t do it. And small increases over time get results without feeling like you’re working your ass off.

        • Speaking of working out. I’m quite proud of myself, after the truck wreck I was pretty gimped up. Started out 2 push ups was it, to hell with the pain, this shoulders going to fix or break,,Up to 25 now, took a month, next month 50.

        • I had basically the same kinda situation last fall when I got out of the hospital. Five knee pushups was my max. Six months later sets of 50 normal pushups were the norm and my bench was back up to 100+lbs.

          Really, especially with injury, I think that the whole “flow” concept really does work the best since you end up ultimately doing more over time so at the end of basically any time period greater than 1, you’ve done more than you would have maxing yourself out to the point you had to take days off.

          Hope you feel better and continue to improve. Gotta stay on your toes with all those spiders (and pickups) out there (another recent story from Australia where a huntsman spider got one of your buddies). Damn bug was big enough that my first thought was “A 10 gauge goose gun suddenly seems underpowered”.

      • “Situational awareness” is important but impossible to have at all times. I know a bit about it, not only from the war, but now I’m a C/O. I absolutely have to maintain it as much as I can, but even after years and years of it, I still find myself in positions where it’s like “shit, that guy would’ve easily got the drop on me”. It’s impossible to be “on” all the time. The best advice I can give on the subject is use your eyes. Don’t focus on one person, don’t get into eye staring contests with dudes either, during confrontations. I can not stand when I see people do that. When I’m in a confrontation I’m looking behind the guy, and at hands, feet, and quick glances to my sides. I don’t worry about that macho stare in the eyes crap people do. Even during regular conversations people always look at me weird or ask me why I’m always looking around and not at them while I’m speaking to them. My favorite is, “is there something going on behind me man what the hell?” That comes from the inherent environment of corrections though. I’d say that has made me more situationally aware then even Iraq did. Being alone and surrounded by convicts will do that I guess.

        • Good advice. Personally, I usually look at hands and hips. IME, feet can misdirect but hips have to show you the truth or the person will fall over when they try to move. [Unless they’re Barry Sanders.]

          SA also can be compromised by things you have to do. Like today, one of the dogs snuck up on me while I was running a string trimmer and wearing double earpro. Wouldn’t have mattered if I ditched the earpro because the trimmer is loud enough that the dog would have snuck up on me anyway, I’d have been surprised and have damaged hearing. That’s one where you can’t really win, you can just try to make up for it by looking around as much as is reasonable.

          As you said, you can’t be “on” all the time. Not only is it exhausting to the point of being impossible other things can and will get in the way.

        • Redneck Weed eater, a goat, a chain , a collar and a cement block.

    • Yup. Same thing I’ve learned.

      I’ve preached here at TTAG again and again that people should invest more learning and training in “reading” the street, “reading” situations, noticing people and their movements, their “tells” and actions that telegraph upcoming actions and intents.

      IMO, such knowledge is worth as much as having a second gun on your person.

  12. If you don’t feel comfortable with carrying with a round in the chamber, the don’t do it. In my testing the actual time difference isn’t very much (.2-.4 seconds on average for me,) but you need to be aware that the likelihood of a malfunction increases quite a bit.

    There’s no doubt that carrying with a round in the chamber is quicker and has less of a chance to fail than carrying without one in the pipe, however the difference is not that great, and can be somewhat mitigated. For example carrying appendix with an empty chamber can be, with practice, about as quick as carrying on the hip with a chambered round, and reduces any risk that carry position may have to zero.

    As long as you practice and avoid the slower draw types like pocket carry or ankle carry, condition 3 carry seems ok to me. That being said, we’re I concerned about carrying with a loaded chamber I would personally opt for a revolver.

    As for reloads, if I’m carrying something with 10 rounds or less I carry a spare, using something like a Neomag or a Clip draw it is so easy there’s no reason not to, but I don’t see a need with a 13 or 15 round mag.

    • Dear Drew:

      You asset you can rack an empty gun in .2 to .4 seconds. Show me that .2 to .4 rack as part of draw, rack, fire compared to draw and fire. Put it up on a YouTube video.

      Unless your draw and fire is at 4 seconds to start with.


      • John, it’s been about 2 years since I spent any real time practicing that technique, so I decided to do some dry fire with snap caps to see if maybe I didn’t remember the times correctly. After about two dozen draws each way my average draw from concealment at the appendix with a P320c in a kydex holster with one chambered was about 1.8 seconds, my average with a slide rack was about 2.2. This is a pretty easy thing to test for yourself with a shot timer. If you pattern the movements and rack at the waist as you raise the gun it can be pretty quick.

        As I mentioned in the first post, though, it is far more prone to failures which is why I don’t carry that way. I had three malfunctions in my testing just now, but I didn’t count them as part of the speed dataset because they are irrelevant to that specific point. Had you read my entire comment you would know that I don’t advocate for that style of carry, and think people afraid of loaded chamber carry should consider carrying a revolver instead.

        If you still don’t believe me and insist on a YouTube video I will film one the next time I get to the range. Having averaged between .4 and .5 seconds difference after not practicing the technique for a couple of years I have no doubt I had managed to reduce that when I was practicing it daily.

  13. Will I have time??? Dunno but 20 minutes ago I was sitting in a Wal-Mart parking lot waiting for my family when 4 young brown fellow’s came running at full-speed through the lot. And quite close by…dunno what they were up to but I had my trusty pistola handy(it’s Brazilian). And it’s south of Chiraq. James Yeager put out a video claiming “better to have NO gun than NO training(by him I ASSume😄).

  14. A reload?

    If you don’t make through those first few moments, you won’t need it.

    Training? The fewer skill sets you have, the more luck plays a role in surviving a deadly fight.

    Sure, there are plenty of people without much (if any) training that survive the fight. And there are some in prison because they f*cked up. And even more are dead because they f*cked up.

    I carry the gun to make myself difficult to kill. I enjoy training on tactics and gun handling to make myself even harder to kill. What’s more, I am well-versed in the judicious use of deadly force so I’m difficult to convict by an anti-self-defense prosecutor afterwards.

    As for teaching to make a profit, LOL. The quickest way to make $50,000 in firearms instruction is to start with $100,000.

    Our team is comprised of experienced, knowledgeable and skilled (all volunteer) instructors who enjoy empowering good people. The skills we’ve taught have helped easily a dozen or more of our past students navigate their own potentially deadly force encounters. A couple of home invasions, multiple potential muggings, and a carjacking or two. Just off the top of my head.

    And several of those folks directly credit what they learned with saving their lives.

    But who needs training? Because untrained people do just fine everyday. Except when they f*ckup.

    • And trained people never mess up….like pulling a pistol instead of taser….or dumping half a mag at a moving perp and killing an innocent in a grocery store.

      Nope….. never happens.

      Each situation is its own world. Training is good …not a god.

      • Both those incidents were cops…. you think they are “trained”?? Silly YOU. They WENT to training classes, that does NOT mean that they LEARNED anything. Lots of people buy guns, go to a range and figure out where the cartridges go in, where the bullet comes out, and what to do with their empty brass…. then put on a holster and THINK that they’ve got it all. Cops are NO DIFFERENT. I’ve got a badge, and a gun, and a vest… I’m all set! They never think about ANY of the skills they SHOULD practice every DAY until muscle memory and “mind-set” are in sync. First time they have to draw they freeze…. and die. Situational awareness AND proper mind-set are only the START of something worthwhile called “surviving”. Then? Practice, practice, practice. Rest. Repeat. There is no replacement for “rounds fired” to learn where you are “pointing” your weapon. using targeting lasers is good, live fire is better. Also? Get used to the REPORT of your handgun… it’s something you need to EXPECT in a D G U… when you are NOT wearing hearing protection. Give it some though… and Practice!!

        • Around here…40 hour training for taser…dont know what else you could cover about tasers after thar.

          Point is…police do have a lot of training for each individual skill set or task. How they put all those together is up for guesses.

          No substituiton for experience. But most of us will never be in enough gunfights to be an expert.

          Those who been in combat understand armed encounter but fro a much different perspective.

          I dont walk around with heightened awareness like someone in Islamabad and neither do most cops.

          I’m sure harness cops in Chiraq burn out after just a couple of years or just give up.

    • Please take note of all of the “I know it all”, arrogance and blanket statements included in just this one post. All the hallmarks of one who is desperately trying (and failing) to cover up that he knows so little, that nobody would ever pay him for such ‘knowledge’ if they wised up.
      Wise up, and dump this useless advice into the dust bin where it belongs.

      • Amen, Ken!

        Please don’t enroll for any classes we teach.

        Unconscious incompetence is bliss.

        • Says the one who insinuates that it isn’t possible to add only .4 second to a draw with an empty chamber. You know better than that, it’s been right here in your own pages:
          “To qualify for duty, all Israeli military and police units must meet a standard of 1.2 seconds for placing the first round on target at eight meters with a handgun, starting unchambered.”
          This is well known to anybody around guns. So, you have shown yourself to either be completely ignorant of your subject, or a paid liar. That’s between you and whatever god you believe in, but I’ve got a damn good idea which one it is.
          I’m not helping you to fleece the sheep, am I? Perhaps you could try being honest (for a change). Try it. You might like the way it makes you feel…

    • “…A reload?
      If you don’t make through those first few moments, you won’t need it…..”

      If you don’t make it?.. ..you will not need anything anyway, so thats a true statement.

  15. If this guy can do it, in that situation, against those people… It will really be up to the opponent to allow you to…

    • If you watch that video carefully, it actually looks like the dude wearing the Green Bay Packers jersey actually screws up his first attempt to rack the slide on his handgun.

      Watch it carefully and listen — and watch it three times. It sounds like he tries to rack the slide unsuccessfully and then rapidly racks it a second time successfully. This is consistent with what you see and hear, as well as with how long it takes. If he had racked the slide successfully the first time, he should have been able to start firing in less than one second. Instead, it appears to take him about two seconds. (I have practiced drawing, racking, and firing in one smooth motion and my intermediate step of racking the slide is almost imperceptible because it is so fast and fluid.)

      While the alleged attacker was able to eventually rack the slide and sling lead before the police could return fire, it took longer than necessary and allowed the police to get enough distance that the alleged attacker appears to have missed.

      • The guy had a large universal pouch like holster and was carrying without one in the chamber. The shooter was able to load his gun and kill a firefighter [he didn’t have time to run to cover]. He was also able to grab a woman across the street to use as a human shield. The woman was shot by police in the shootout.

        That guy overdosed on drugs on a bus and was saved via Narcan. He was not allowed to have guns. He was on his way to court. If he can operate under such conditions, I think most practiced gun owners can do fine.

        That guy knew he was going to die that day once they tried to search him, he made that decision before they asked him to lift his shirt. Imagine the adrenaline he was under being surrounded by cops knowing he is either going to prison for a very long time or he is going to die shooting.

        I think drawing from concealment is harder than racking the slide after drawing. I have seen guys die because they couldn’t get their gun out. One guy got his shirt stuck on his gun.

  16. I operate on simple risk mitigation. (Remember that risk is a combination of how likely a bad event is to happen and how bad the outcome of that event is.)

    As for keeping a round in the chamber, let us consider how to mitigate risk:

    With a round in the chamber, the risk of negligent discharge totally depends on the firearm and how you carry it. Carry a Glock without a hoslter in your belt (Mexican carry) or in your cargo pants pocket and your risk of negligent discharge is quite high. Carry a Glock in a properly fitting holster on your belt that secures the firearm and blocks anything from actuating the trigger and your risk of negligent discharge is effectively zero.

    Without a round in the chamber, the risk of you screwing up your action to rack the slide upon drawing for a defensive encounter is fairly high. Your hands could simply slip off the slide due to poor grip, you may not be able to use your off-hand at all because you are blocking your attacker, or (even worse) your attacker strikes your off-hand first and you are physically unable to rack your slide. All three of these possible outcomes are well within the realm of possibility.

    Since it is exceedingly easy to carry a handgun in a properly fitting holster which reduces your risk of negligent discharge effectively to zero, there is no reason to carry without a round in the chamber and assume the associated, fairly substantial risk of being unable to rack the slide properly. Therefore, carry with a round in the chamber in a proper holster to minimize your risk.

    As for spare magazines, you may very well not have time to swap magazines. Nevertheless, there is ZERO risk in carrying a spare magazine and some risk (however small) if you do not carry a spare magazine. Therefore, carry a spare magazine to minimize your risk.

  17. Dumb question. You reload because you have to, you’ve expended all of your bullets. Hopefully you did manage to find hard cover or the other guy is done, because if not you’re probably fucked. If you’ve decided not to carry a spare mag out of some fatalistic idea you’ll never get to it in time, well I guess it’s your choice to not have the option.

    In comparison, you’re not forced to carry without one in the chamber. You’ve chosen to make things more difficult for yourself.

  18. The problem I see, the INEXPERIENCED are the ones that tend to carry with external safeties engaged or no round chambered. I have a friend who wanted to carry and does now but with ZERO training. Hell, he can’t even field strip his own pistol for cleaning. He has the Ruger LC9s He carries with the safety engaged and thinks that in an emergency personal safety situation, he can pull his weapon and flick the safety off.
    Only problem, with no training the reaction to a fearful situation is usually is quite different than what people expect to happen. That’s why police train and train. You will hear officers recount after a defensive gun use how “training kicked in” Many times things happen within a few seconds. There is no time for thought, its muscle memory and training. That’s the reality of fear. With fear, the brain reacts instantly, sending signals that activate the nervous system. This causes physical responses, such as a faster heartbeat, rapid breathing, and an increase in blood pressure. Blood pumps to muscle groups to prepare the body for physical action (such as running or fighting). Skin sweats to keep the body cool. Some people might notice sensations in the stomach, head, chest, legs, or hands. These physical sensations of fear can be mild or strong.

    When my buddy says he can just flick the safety off, I gotta say he’s been smoking crack. He might have time but the reality is that if he suddenly needs his weapon, with no practice drawing, disengaging the safety and firing, his success is greatly diminished. People just don’t know what they don’t know.

    As some have noted here in comments, situational awareness. Situational awareness is EVERYTHING.
    It provides a huge tactical advantage and time. It removes the true enemy SURPRISE.
    I carry a P229 in .40 appendix and have practiced a lot including formal training. I have practiced drawing and presenting my weapon thousand and thousands of times. With heightened situational awareness at my most vulnerable times, my chances of winning a deadly encounter is incalculably increased. It’s basics, that’s the reality of it. “Chance favors only the prepared mind”

  19. We have seen many instances here on TTAG where people have used guns to successfully defend themselves.

    Some LEO and run of the mill citizens.

    Attacks happen to PEOPLE, not just people who are prepared.

    Without a gun, you have a poor chance of surviving an attack with a deadly weapon.

    A gun (any gun) is no guarantee but often sufficient to give fighting chance.

    Watching videos of encounters, it seems to me the biggest advantage armed defenders have is the attack doesnt expect them to be armed.

    So some bastard, coward attacking a store clerk momentarily craps themselves as the defender is shooting their sorry ass.

    Not like combat or a SWAT entry where the aggressors are primed for a fight.

    Will you be ready for everything? Probably not.

    Having a gun is the entry fee to defense IMO. Training to draw and fire in a variety of circumstances is always good.

    Being aware of what’s going on around you can help avoid many situations, but not all.

    Have a gun and figure out how to deploy it.

  20. If you will or won’t have time to do something is dependent on the situation and on your reaction/reaction time to it. Since we don’t know the future it’s not possible to say “Yes” or “No” to the question of if you’ll have enough time for X in a given situation with a nearly infinite number of variables.

    Personally, I carry with one in the pipe and I carry a spare because I personally feel that those things provide me options that I want and do so for minimal cost in terms of safety, wight and volume. I may not need them or I may not have the time to take advantage of them but if I do I prefer to have the options on the table. I like options and I like the ability to cover mistakes, those are two things I’ve learned the hard way in my life, fortunately without getting myself or someone else killed (at least to date). However, they’re my preference based on that experience and that doesn’t make them rules. I mean, I don’t pack my entire garage worth of tools into my car every time I drive to the gas station, so obviously I admit that there’s a limit to how far you can rationally take this.

    That said, ttidiva and I have talked about this in the past and his points are perfectly valid. The vast majority of the time you won’t need a spare mag, true, because the vast majority of the time you won’t need your gun in the first place and most of the time just displaying it will run the BG’s off. Just based on those two facts alone it’s pretty safe to say that you won’t need more than 5-6 shots most of the time. That wheel gun or micro-compact will get the job done probably 99.99% of the time in the civilian world.

    Honestly, I would tend to look at this like insurance. Insurance is great and all but it’s not free so you need to think about how much insurance is rational on your budget and makes sense for what you’re insuring. At a certain point you’re just pouring resources down a rathole.

    So I would say: Options, you want them, right up until they start to cut into other options which may or may not be gear. For instance: a place where discovery is a problem you might sacrifice a full frame pistol with a spare for a compact with no spare or even go smaller so that you still have the option to go to that place. If that place is where you work or where you have to go to pick up the kids or something then that’s an entirely rational choice.

    There are also another set of options which are “free” in terms of weight (but not time) which is developing a set of skills that enhance your ability to get away with less in terms of physical objects on your person. These can go with you anywhere. They cannot be taken from you and they cannot be detected by other people. They overlap with the stuff you carry and give you the ability to do things even as you start to strip away what you’re carrying by preference or by necessity.

    Be honest with yourself about your needs, capabilities, desires and root reasons for doing things. There’s nothing wrong with saying “That’s just the way I like to do it because that’s what works for me” in most cases but when you’re honest with yourself sometimes you find that you did something just because you didn’t really think about it or because you were nervous about doing it another way that actually might be better for you. That’s normal, novelty makes us all a bit nervous but as the guy at the radio shop I use says on a regular basis “You’ll be an old hand at this in no time”.

    Regardless of what you choose to do don’t do it because some “expert” or jackass like me told you to do it. Try it if you want and see if it works for you. Keep the things that work and discard those that do not.

  21. The answer, as with all things in life before experiencing them, is a firm and definite maybe. Maybe you’ll have time, maybe your training will kick in, and maybe I’ll win the lottery and finally have the extra cash and vacation time to take one of those super operator courses. Since I don’t really know I’ll put the lotto ticket money towards ammo, carry as often as possible, and try to self train some of this stuff.

  22. Confrontations aren’t one size fits all. You might be ambushed and have to react immediately, or you might hear gunshots down the hall and have time to fortify a position. You might be on your own or be with someone you feel obligated to protect. Gunfights aren’t like duels or shooting ranges. Don’t stand still and trade shots. Like any fighting, “get off the x.” Move, improve your position, create or close distance, seek cover and concealment.
    I see spare magazines as serving 3 purposes: more ammo for extended fights, replacement for a damaged magazine, and counterbalance for the weight of the holstered gun. The first is unlikely unless you are able to get cover, face multiple assailants, or you’re gun has little capacity. The second probably won’t happen, especially if you examine and use your equipment frequently, but it’s still possible. The third use is all the time, and it’s especially helpful for pocket carry or other modes where you don’t have a stiff, quality gun belt. The first 2 cases need practice to be if any benefit. Carrying a magazine is trivial compared to the gun, and even if you think there’s a 1 in 1000000 chance of using it, I wouldn’t want to lose the millionth gunfight because I wasn’t prepared.

  23. People who never practice with a basket ball sometimes make a basket, people who never swung a golf club sometimes hit a hole in one, people who never used a baseball bat sometimes hit a home run.

    People who are good at those things practice and have coaches/trainers.

    Do what ever you want but people who want to be good at something learn how to do it and the practice to keep there skill level up.

    Be what ever one well work the best for you.

    • You can use basketballs and golf clubs for self defense if you like…..

      I’ll stick to a gun.

  24. Lol @ this comment section.

    The answer is both yes, and no. Scenario dependant.

    Get over yourselves keyboard commandos. Everyone on the internet has some training advice.

  25. What you describe is something that only YOU can answer & do what you feel you need to do. It’s your life, you make the decision. All I know is if you don’t feel comfortable carrying 1 in the chamber I myself probably wouldn’t feel comfortable being around you with a gun! Your biggest safety is between the ears & if you haven’t been around guns long enough or shot enough maybe you should just carry a phone!

  26. The correct answer to the question is: it depends.

    There are no guarantees in any conflict. No one can tell you if you will “have time” for anything – or tell you how anything else will go including “will you die?”

    If you need a mag change due to a malfunction at the start of or in the middle of an armed conflict, you might well die. Then again, if you need a mag change because you’ve fired your 10-20 rounds in the magazine (never carry a revolver with five or six rounds), you might not die because the opponent is likely gone to cover and you probably have, too, as the fight is clearly not being resolved either way.

    What you do in planning for a conflict is consider as many possibilities as you can and then try to develop procedures to deal with each of those possibilities. Unexpected quick attacks can happen – so you carry with a round loaded. Magazine malfunctions can happen – so you carry another mag or a second firearm.

    This is just common sense. Making it into an “either-or” dichotomy is just irrational. There is no contradiction here.

  27. The reality is, in a self-defense encounter, you might have enough time… but you might not.

    Which scenario is better to be prepared for?

    Carrying with a round in the chamber requires less time and effort to get the gun into play. Some malfunctions are quicker to address with a spare mag.

    Believe me, if you find yourself behind the time curve in a fight for your life, you’ll wish you had every tenth of a second you could get.

  28. I carry a Glock 21 one in the pipe and I carry cross draw in case someone tries a car jack carried this way for years situational awareness a must

  29. My only question, after reading all the bullshit here, is why u wouldn’t give urself every edge u possibly can?

    Yes u should train, hard and well. But not everyone, actually very few, either have the time nor the inclination to become PROFICIENT in martial arts. Yes, it is easier to become proficient with a gun. Firearms instructors are not snake oil salesmen, although there are some, like whatever profession you are in. (Bad cops ever?) Just people tryin to help other like minded folks and tryin to make a buck. If u can safely carry condition 1, why not? A second can mean the diff between living and dying. Use what you can, always carry, practice as much as u can with what u carry. Carry spare ammo, a knife, and a flashlight. Y not be prepared? By all means try to avoid ANY confrontation, ESPECIALLY while carrying. Be aware and smart. Think of possibilities and act accordingly. But for God’s sake, just like the progressive “commies”, don’t preach to me about what YOU think I should do. I will train as much as I can, carry what/how I see fit, and will use my BRAIN b4 my gun if at all possible. But YOU don’t/can’t know what will confront me, or when. If u do, pls let me know ahead of time so I can dress/act accordingly.

  30. It’s totally up to you. It’s not this vs that it’s just a train of thought. Every situation is unique and you want to be as ready as possible. I believe that’s what they mean when they talk about carrying a round in the chamber. As for your comparison between a round in the chamber and a spare mag, I don’t think they’re the same concept. The thought on keeping a round chambered is, much like you said, a time thing and a tactical decision. Most gunfights occur up close and are quick. I honestly don’t think you would have time to chamber a round, and I think you would be exposing your weapon to BG. The spare magazine is just that; it’s an extra. A just in case. A spare is plan b. The whole concept of chambered vs not chambered is plan a. In my thought, you’re at a huge disadvantage if you aren’t loaded. To me, why risk it when every second counts. In a situation where you have to load first, you’re starting at a disadvantage. When you need a second magazine, you’re in a pretty bad spot anyways. But based on my experiences with tactical training, there is no single way to do anything.

  31. 3rd generation S&W with a round chambered.
    I have nearly no risk of an accidental discharge because the pistol features an external manual safety that not only blocks the hammer but rotates the firing pin out of alignment with the cartridge primer.
    Does having to disengage the safety increase the time it takes me to draw and fire?
    However; if I allow a situation to escalate to the point where I have to draw and fire on someone who already has a gun on me I am screwed unless he misses anyway.

    Situational awareness is paramount.

  32. I wonder if responses this far down are read? Guess it depends on the interest of the Author. Good, Bad and Ugly. Try what you like, change as you progress, ignore the foolishness.

    This is what you need to know.
    Your situational awareness puts added seconds into your response time. Read faces, watch hands and people movement. Odds are you will be bite by a sharkwhile being struck by lightning is more likely then a suprise shooter attacking you first.
    Get proficient, know how to operate and feed your handgun flawlessly and in total darkness. With confidence, you won’t question loaded chambes, safeties or mag changes.
    Defensively: an empty chamber is an unloaded pistol or a short loaded revolver. Don’t start off in a bad situation with a self inflected disadvantage. Don’t short load pistol mags either. Do carry spare mags with larger capacities if available. Use revolver speed loaders.
    Even if you carry a full size 17+1 capacity, carry an extra mag. You can’t predict events but you can add some cushion. Carry 2 reloads(min) if capacity is less than 7, their small anyway. Its also prudent to have extra loaded magazines in your vehicle as resupply point.
    Mag changes during the first exchange of gunfire, if you go down, stay in the fight Don’t give up oe even look for/at an injury: you need to keep firing on the threat, reload, keep shooting till its over. If your up: MOVE, Shoot get distance/cover reload during lull in action, retain partial mag(s). Fast misses just make noise, efficient hits count.
    You don’t learn it all in a day but you can practice dry skills every day.

  33. Conflating time to change mags with time to chamber a round is the epitome of stupid.
    If you aren’t bright enough to figure out the difference between the two issues you have
    NO BUSINESS owning or carrying a firearm….you’re an idiot.

  34. Another jerkoff just stirring the pot. You got me to click, enjoy your participation trophy.

  35. This is one of the more idiotic arguments I’ve seen on this topic, and that’s saying something. The comparison between carrying unchambered and packing a spare mag is particularly mind-numbing.

    If you carry unchambered you are actively setting yourself up for failure at the beginning of the gunfight; carrying a spare magazine sets you up to rectify a failure later in the gunfight. The two are so far removed that I can’t believe someone would bring up such a ridiculous idea.

    Note that I don’t see it as necessary to carry a spare mag when going about daily business concealed. But if someone carries a spare magazine they lose nothing in terms of reaction and gain a possible option. Carrying without a round in the chamber offers no such benefit except to someone who has a poor gun or poor competence such that they can’t be trusted to not pull the trigger.

  36. This is dumb. There isn’t just one, single type of self-defense scenario. Just because in some of them you won’t have time to chamber a round or clear a failure doesn’t mean that they will all be like that. You don’t know what your future encounter will be like, so be as prepared for as many reasonable alternatives as possible. What you consider reasonable and how prepared you are is left up to you and I really don’t care.

    • My thoughts exactly. The OP creates a false dichotomy while also falsely implying that time is some sort of either or commodity across different events while at the same time implying the availability of time is fixed and invariable throughout a given even.

      I submit that an event which begins with someone stabbing you is not the ideal time to be loading your gun, but that having expended half a magazine into your attacker you may well have purchased enough time to clear a malfunction by changing mags before you’re opponent is able to resume the attack.

      I also submit that anyone who honestly can’t grasp the advantage of carrying a loaded gun over an empty one while being also stymied by the idea that spare magazines are useful items ought not be the OP at a gun blog.

  37. Balance. That’s my reason for carrying a spare mag. The weight and bulk of the spare, plus my wallet and my cell phone on my left side comes close enough to the weight and bulk of the firearm on my right side that my legs don’t feel unbalanced.

  38. There is no perfect way, not even a right way, only better and worse ways, and even those labels are subject to so many variables as to be meaningless without substantial context.

    Everything one does must be reflected upon in context, and context is variable and often difficult to define.

    Then , everything is also a compromise.

    Finally, taste and opinion matter, as do purpose and priority, and lifestyle, and ….

    All we are ever doing as EDCers is stacking and restacking the odds of our being victorious in the event we become involved in an uncommon occurrence which we are trying to avoid.

    Just having a gun grants a huge advantage, and some liabilities. Having rudimentary training grants increased advantage and perhaps reduces some liabilities. Carrying with a round in the chamber enhances advantage while marginally increasing some liabilities and potentially greatly increasing others. Having a spare magazine increases advantage but perhaps not enough to make it worthwhile for some.

    There are some nearly universally good ideas and some that are virtually always bad ideas, but even then there are exceptions.

    It seems to me the only safe advice to offer is go at your own pace, learn as much as you can, assess you equipment, ability and needs dispassionately and honesty, then proceed however seems most advantageous.

    If this bland advice sounds like it’s applicable to most things in life, that’s because it is, and to some degree it’s what everyone is attempting to do in basically every situation.

    All that being said, and to the OPs original inquiry: Generally it is better to have a round chambered as there may not be opportunity to do so once the need arises or doing so at that time may give away much of your advantage and as chambering may induce a malfunction it should really be done well in advance inside your safe zone.
    You really should carry a spare mag, as changing mags is the quickest and surest means of correcting the most likely malfunctions, and the down sides of having one are very low, but it is a less critical issue than the former.

    Also, unless your purpose is clickbait, it’s asinine to even suggest that there is a disconnect between the advice to carry chambered and to carry a spare mag. Both are attempting to mitigate the same problem; jamming. The very assertion that if there isn’t time for one there will not be time for the other is disingenuous at best, and outright deliberate obtusity at worst. In a life or death encounter you cause your self a problem with the empty chamber while the magazine change is only ever eventual: that is, you’d only do it because you had to.

    If we were discussing sports or some similar pursuit that didn’t carry potentially fatal consequences the OPs approach would be acceptable, but muddying the waters through which people will swim for their survival is as dumb as it is dangerous.

  39. If I was carrying a revolver this question wouldn’t even apply. So simply by carrying a semi-automatic why wouldn’t you carry it fully loaded One in the Chamber? Just like a revolver.

    Are striker-fired guns less safe compared to heavy trigger revolvers?
    A double action single action semi-auto would seem to be the great compromise between the two. I think.

    Which is why I carry a Ruger P89. With One in the Chamber.

  40. I carry with spare ammo in my mouth so I can keep both hands on the gun and spit rounds into the chamber dynamically.
    Yeah. I’m a low drag operator.
    My course costs $1500…buy my merch.

  41. On a more serious note:

    I would never describe cycling the action as a fine motor skill – it’s a fairly gross motor skill.
    The 2 simple reasons you should become accustomed to carrying with a round in the chamber are:
    1) there is no guarantee you will have time to cycle the action
    2) there is no guarantee you will have an available hand to cycle the action with

    For (1), I have commonly heard people talk about ‘situational awareness’ giving them time to draw and cycle the action a la Israeli-style. Situational awareness is great, but you are not perfect and there are no guarantees you will see a problem in time.
    For (2), I’m not even necessarily talking about having been shot/stabbed or otherwise having a disabled arm. You might have fallen into an awkward position and are supporting yourself with the other arm. You might be fending off the attacker with an arm. Heck, you could have injured your hand/arm in a prior accident somehow – a fall and a break/sprain. There are any number of plausible scenarios that would take your other arm out of the equation for at least a while, rendering it useless for cycling the action. That could be a critical life/death factor.
    Carrying a hot weapon isn’t macho bullshit, despite the best efforts of some jackasses out there. It’s a smart move.

  42. If you live in a world of What If, then a round in the chamber maybe advantageous. We train to carry and we train to avoid the What If situation. The environment dictates the situation and it will dictate us how to respond to it. The Use of Force is in play once you take your gun off the holster and there will be consequences. A lot of the available training today offers a combat mind set as if you are in a war zone when you leave your house. It’s a little over board in my opinion. We need to train how to defend our lives appropriately with personal defense mind set and not combat war zone mind set.

  43. You have to be kidding. You don’t have time to rack the slide or reload, but you have a choice on the first.

  44. The bottom line is how do you practice? Do you practice by drawing your weapon, pressing out and taking a shot? Or do you practice by drawing your weapon, racking the slide as you press out and take the shot? Carry to match your practice.

    For 30+ years I carried a 1911, cocked and locked. Never had a problem. I practiced so that after the draw and gun rotated forward the safety was flipped off as I pressed out. I generally carried one spare magazine and also practiced reloads on the firing line. Then for a year I carried a Springfield XD Mod. 2. They have no slide safety. I practiced weekly drawing and coming onto target.

    The XD is a good gun, but the first time at the range with the 1911 after a year, I drawed, rotated and pressed out for the shot and nothing happened. Yep, I hadn’t practiced flipping off a safety in a year. Embarrassing at the range, could be deadly in a defensive situation.
    Carry the way you practice.

  45. These comments are comical, for the most part.
    How about TTAG prints everyone’s physical address beside their screen names for when the stupid catches up to them?

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