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For the most part, The People of the Gun have little time for “Israeli carry.” They scoff at the idea of carrying a pistol with an empty chamber. “Why add an extra step to a defensive gun use, especially when adrenaline is flowing and time is short?” Safety? “Keep your finger off the trigger!” Yes, well, let’s take a look at the history of this carry method and current state of Israeli method in Israel.

So-called Israeli carry pre-dates Israel. Empty-chamber carry was adopted and popularized by legendary close quarters combat self-defense instructor W. E. Fairbairn. Fairbairn considered the relative frequency of administrative gun handling vs. actual gunfighting and declared chamberless carry to be the best method with the highest gun safety for people with limited training. 

Fairbairn institutionalized the method for the Shanghai police in the early 1910s. His 1942 book Shooting to Live With the One-Hand Gun spread the gospel of empty chamber carry. 

For most of the 20th century, “Israeli carry” was the standard for military, police and civilians. The state of Israel was created on May 14, 1948. Its fighters/civilians carried their handguns in the “traditional” manner, without one in the chamber.

In post-war America, with the development of modern drop-safe semi-automatic handguns, World War II veteran Jeff Cooper and others argued against empty-chamber carry. American law enforcement and civilians followed suit.

Most of the rest of the world didn’t switch to carrying semi-automatic pistols with a round chambered and it still hasn’t. While there are a few Israeli military units that carry pistols with a round chambered, Israelis continue to carry in real life without a round chambered. They use the support hand to manipulate the action and put a round in the chamber. 

First, it’s highly discouraged to carry with one in the pipe for civilians, most military and the police. For another, empty-chamber carry satisfies the same goal that inspired the practice in the first place: sidearm safety for carriers and bystanders.

If you’ve been to Israel, you may have noticed the large number of people carrying firearms, including double action pistols and double action revolvers. Armed soldiers (on and off duty), security, police, and the Mossad are everywhere. I haven’t seen a more openly armed populace with modern firearms anywhere in the world.   

Despite the fact that Israel is surrounded and regularly infiltrated by its enemies, the likelihood of an attack by a terrorist or criminal are low. According to Macrotrends, Israel’s murder rate in 2019 was 1.47 per 100,000 people. In the U.S., it was 5.07. 

Most of the altercations that Israeli police officers deal with are physical; gunfights between police and armed criminals are almost non-existent. (Israeli police don’t wear body armor.) Additionally, most terrorist acts don’t involve firearms and or bombs as they did during the second intifada.

There’s another important factor: Most Israelis who carry a firearm don’t carry because they want to. They carry one because they have to. This tends to reduce the sense of personal responsibility for their firearm. All of which means that the odds of an Israeli being injured or killed by a negligent discharge are higher than the chances of facing a similar fate at the hands of a terrorist or armed criminal.

In the past year in Israel, with the frequency of car-ramming and stabbing attacks by terrorists, carrying a firearm with a round chambered or not, didn’t prevent any of these terrorists from being neutralized.

As for the delay caused by carrying with an empty chamber, racking and then firing . . .

To qualify for duty, all Israeli military commandos and police units must meet an Israeli draw standard of 1.2 seconds for placing the first round on target at eight meters with a handgun. That’s starting with an un-chambered pistol, no round under the firing pin. I doubt that most chambered-carrying U.S. gun owners can match that at the gun range, much less in the field under pressure.

As a former IDF soldier and current U.S. civilian, I always carry chambered and train my students to do so as well. But I fully understand those who choose to carry with a loaded magazine and without a round chambered, whether for safety or psychological comfort, and regardless of each particular gun’s safety mechanisms.

In the end, your ability to defend yourself and neutralize a threat won’t come down to whether or not you carry your defensive firearm with a round of ammo chambered. It will depend on the way you train, how often, and the circumstances surrounding the altercation.

 

Ron Grobman is the founder of Tactical Fitness in Austin, Texas.

 

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67 COMMENTS

  1. “must meet an Israeli draw standard of 1.2 seconds for placing the first round on target at eight meters with a handgun. That’s starting with an un-chambered pistol, no round under the firing pin. I doubt that most chambered-carrying U.S. gun owners can match that at the gun range, much less in the field under pressure.”

    I can

      • 26.247 Feet = 8meters aboutish.

        1.2 sec to hit the target? anywhere on target? how big is target? 1.2 sec is pretty fast for a standard ‘Murican’ human silhouette. Where are the shooters hands at start of timer? in surrender hands up position? or hand on the weapon ready to draw?

      • I don’t run around making videos of my self doing things that are normal for me. All I can tell you is lots of practice … the one who gets to the finish line first, intact and alive, is the winner.

        The trick is, basically, to develop greater control, especially fine and streamlined motor skill control, of your shooting process and refine it instead of trying to practice for speed. As you develop greater control and refine it the speed will come.

        • My draw to A zone is 0.8 at 7 yards and I can back that up on video as a ranked USPSA competitor.

          I don’t believe you’re capable of doing a 1.2 draw, rack and shoot to any part of a standard target inside of 5 yards.

          I think you’re a liar, and I certainly don’t need you telling me how to be fast or efficient.

  2. My issue with empty-chamber carry isn’t so much the extra time it takes, rather the potential to induce a malfunction when trying to chamber a round under stress; additionally, my other hand might be occupied with any number of tasks I deem useful at the time I draw my pistol, like maybe putting something (my arm) between my head and the crowbar my assailant is swinging at me.

    • “my other hand might be occupied with any number of tasks”

      This is what tears it for me. It’s the same reason I practice drawing without having to move my shirt out of the way first- if my offhand is free and I’m just standing there then why did I draw the gun at all?

    • @Carolus,

      Completely agree. My support side arm/hand might be in the grasp of my assailant and unavailable to rack the slide, or perhaps wounded and lacking the necessary strength, or blocking the blows of a 2×4 being swung at me, or holding a loved one behind me in a protective posture. or…

      I carry with a full mag and one in the pipe.

  3. This article shows a lack of familiarity with the Fairbairn book.

    In it he suggests Israeli carry AFTER all of the safeties of a 1911 were removed.

    The guy was a mad lad – he would carve off the trigger guards for revolvers and chop the barrels.

    Either way – we have a word for people who carry without one in the chamber: Dead.

  4. Empty chamber is how I carry (and train)unless I’m in a situation I believe to be highly likely to need my firearm like carrying large amounts of cash.

    You don’t need to like or agree with the way I choose to carry but it wouldn’t hurt to acknowledge it’s a viable way for many of us in low risk environments to minimize risk of ND. I read on here some of your opinions everyone has had or will have a ND, but so far I am in the haven’t had one yet. If the day comes when I needed that extra second or second hand then maybe I’ll regret my decision. Until then, I’m going to keep doing it.

    • Same here. Now if I am stuck in traffic and I see the reason is mostly peaceful rioters are smashing out windows of vehicles up ahead, I would certainly chamber a round immediately.

    • Buy a Ruger…20% more ammo, it will handle heaver loads, and you just about can’t wear one out.

      • I’ve got a super blackhawk. 44 I hunted with a couple times. Haven’t scored with it yet. The SAA is a gen 2 colt i pieced together. Shoots good with medium power hand loads.
        I carry it on days I identify as a cowboy

  5. When will they make a movie about a really cute meth-crazed cartel Rottweiler that ate his handler and is now working on the general population?

    Dunno, but if he has latched onto one of your hands, that empty chamber thing just ain’t safe.

    In Israel, armed bystanders are likely to be available to aid you – in Austin, getting good video may be the bystanders priority.

    On the other hand, many modern firearms are as simple to operate as squirt guns when a round is chambered.

    In conclusion – 1911 platforms, carry cocked and locked, sorry, not sorry.

    Striker-fired platforms, you have personal decisions to make. Especially if you think an agent of chaos could get successfully grabby…

    The DA revolver equivalent of empty chamber carry is to load the cylinder such that the hammer falls on an empty chamber the 1st time the trigger is pulled, making it necessary to pull twice to fire.

    The cultural bias embedded in all of this is exposed by the fact that nobody ever does it this way.

  6. The author of this article fails to highlight a GINORMOUS consideration in the empty-chamber versus loaded-chamber debate: whether or not your semi-auto pistol has a light single-action trigger or a “duty safe” double-action trigger.

    If your semi-auto pistol has a “duty safe” double-action trigger with a decocker, I see absolutely ZERO reason to carry with an empty chamber when you can can chamber a round, decock the hammer, and be ready to go with your first trigger pull being double-action. To claim that this method of carry has any negative safety implications is the same as claiming that carrying a modern revolver with all cylinder chambers loaded is somehow less safe than carrying with an empty chamber in your cylinder.

    Now, if your semi-auto pistol only has a light single-action trigger, then I believe there is plenty of room for a rational debate on the merits-versus-risks of carrying with an empty chamber. That is a separate argument.

    • “If your semi-auto pistol has a “duty safe” double-action trigger with a decocker, I see absolutely ZERO reason to carry with an empty chamber…”

      Preach it.

      I, personally, am not comfortable carrying striker-fired appendix carry.

      If you are, rock on…

      • I carry AIWB, chambered. But then, my EDC is equipped with an additional trigger safety, so it provides that peace of mind for me. I can lift up my shirt, draw, switch the safety off, and put a round on target with one hand in 1.8 seconds.

  7. Okay, so which is it? Do they carry with an empty chamber because they are too under trained to be trusted with a chambered round or are they so highly trained that they don’t need to carry with a round chambered?

    In my book it is stupid to carry a gun you are unsafe with, if you are unsafe with a pistol you are likely unsafe with a revolver.

  8. I’ve carried a condition 1 single anction automatic all of my adult life. Condition three is much slower, but it can used effectively. Witnesses the Israelis and the South Africans. Win enough gunfight and you’ll believe in what you were taught also. BTW, if you can draw from condition three, (even assuming a decent holster) and fire a zone 5 hit in 1.2
    seconds at. 8 meters? You sir, are a master. I’d like to see that.

  9. If you’re limited to carrying a single action only semi auto pistol with no grip safety, do not own a quality holster to safely secure that weapon while you’re carrying it, and have little or no training or experience with modern semi auto pistol basics, the yes, by all means carry without a round in the chamber because you’re not likely to prevail in an armed encounter anyway, and everyone else in close proximity to you is probably a lot safer. This article is definitely a contender for the TTAG dumbest contribution of 2022.

  10. Will somebody please slap the snot outa tge idiot in the leas pic for charging a slide WITH HIS FINGER ON THE TRIGGER !!!

    What a fool.

  11. Much of this is just silly. if you’re concerned about the gun you carry having an accidental discharge then you are either carrying the wrong gun or the wrong holster. Do what you want. Choose wisely.

  12. Those who are dumb enough to carry pre-loaded striker fired pistols like the Glock makes it mandatory to carry the gun with the chamber empty as they are unsafe to carry with a loaded chamber. Of course the paranoid Neanderthals of the far right have cranial cavities 3 quarts low on a 2 pint cavity, they will tell you with a straight face that “An accident will never happen to me because I never made a mistake in my life and never will. Most of these Morons can be found 6ft under at the nearest graveyard, their evolutionary level has not yet even reached that of a Cretin.

    Of course trying to rack a slide under pressure for the average low brow far right cretin who never practice with a gun will often result in the slide not being pulled all the way back that can also cause a jam.

    And of course if one of your hands are injured trying to rack a slide becomes problematic.

    Another practical use of the Israeli method is if you are in a very dangerous area and when sleeping need to have a gun in bed with you. Only the Israeli method is safe, no other method is. I have seen even single action guns get their hammer accidentally cocked back by a constantly turning sleeping person.

      • Yeah they pawned him off on me. Someday I’ll tell the story and tell you why he’s the way he is. His tenuous relationship with reality is partly my fault. I never signed up for any of this.

        • So YOU’RE the one who dropped him on his pointy little head so many times!! Well, with his ‘personality’, I can certainly understand that, but you sure didn’t do the rest of us any favors.

    • dacian the demented dips***,

      No, you blithering idiot, it’s called ‘practice until you develop muscle memory’ – but you’re too lazy to practice, to stupid to learn, and have no memory. I suspect you are the only ‘living’ acephalic in history.

  13. My XDs has one hell of a stiff recoil spring, and I can just see myself trying to rack it in a DGU situation with my OFWG fingers. It isn’t going to happen.

  14. I have no issue with Israeli Carry. If I carry a gun with no thumb safety, I keep the pipe empty. I consider odds of an accident, way higher than odds of a gun fight.

    Fortunately, I don’t buy pistols without thumb safeties, so this is not big deal to me.

  15. Bullshit, bullshit and more bullshit. Right here in ttag and in other sources we can find many instances where folks with no training, some of who had never fired a gun prior, have survived their moment of truth and beat the bad guy.

    The bad guys are mostly ignorant, low iq rejects that would vote dem and join the ss/antifa if the ss/antifa were not so racist and classist.

    Quit trying to make the average American street thug into a Superman. It ain’t so.

    • Our forum clown, Jethro the Janitor’s, two favorite words of which he never bothered to look up the definition.

      Fas·cism———–This is you Jethro
      /ˈfaSHˌiz(ə)m/
      noun

      1.
      an authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government and social organization.

      An·ti·fa———-

      Hey Jethro I am proud to be with Anti-Fa and so were WWII G.I’s as they called themselves Anti-fa but what would a high school dropout like you Jethro know about any of this.
      /ˈan(t)ēˌfä/
      noun

      1.
      a political protest movement comprising autonomous groups affiliated by their militant opposition to fascism and other forms of extreme right-wing ideology:

      • Really? Did we let your buddies at Nuremberg define what they claimed they were? Your actions and words are those of a fascist. You saying it ain’t so proves nothing. Your actions do.

        You’re proud to have been with the ss/antifa when they burned minority owned businesses. You are also proud of the fact that the ss/antifa are white, privileged little racists.

        Your actions define you, dacian, not your lies.

        • To Jethro the Janitor

          If you had bothered to see the news about Portland it was your buddies the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers that looted and burned businesses as they posed as Black Lives Matter. It was verified by the FBI that caught them. But of course why bother to tell you anything as will say “Do not confuse me with the facts it does not fit by far right agenda”.

          Try again Jethro the Janitor you failed.

          And by the way Jethro you know as much about Nuremberg as you know about rocket science which is a big fat zero. We have a high school dropout trying to give us all a lesson in History, that is really rich.

        • Really, bro? The fbi says it happened? There are not enough oath keepers and proud boys nation wide to throw a good bday party. Let alone a riot.

          You are a liar. And a mighty poor one at that. You are a fascist. Worse than any oath keeper or proud boy. And you’ve actively attacked businesses owned by minorities and lied to blame others.

        • to Jethro the Janitor

          Quote———– And you’ve actively attacked businesses owned by minorities and lied to blame others.——-quote

          I can use your statement in court to sue you for everything you have .

        • dacian the demented dips***.

          “I can use your statement in court to sue you for everything you have .”

          Umm, NO, you mouthbreathing, paint-chip eating catamite, you can’t, for two excellent reasons:

          1. Truth is a complete defense to a libel charge; and
          2. You can only “win” your lawsuit if you can prove damages. In libel cases, “damages” can only occur if there is provable adverse impact to employment or reputation. Since you’re a useless f***ing freeloader, living in mom’s basement and living off her social security check, adverse impact to employment ain’t a possibility. And since your “reputation” around here couldn’t get any worse if you tried, you’d fail that one, too.

          F*** off and expire, you ignorant, uneducated @$$clown.

  16. It makes sense in the international world of having mixed firearms, some of which are old and or have questionable safety features.

    In the US however it doesn’t make sense. Plenty of modern reliable firearms are available with good holsters to make carrying with a loaded chamber the more sensible option.

    For those new to carrying who may be nervous about it, I suggest start with a revolver. That’s what was advised to me when I first started carrying long ago and it helped me learn and be competent and safe with handguns.

  17. I carry with a loaded chamber every day, I am confident and comfortable with my firearm handling skills.

    That being said, in my own experimentation and in videos I’ve watched by people like Paul Harrell I have found that with proper technique it only takes a quarter to a third of a second longer to draw and charge the gun. That is about the same speed advantage I have seen with appendix carry over hip carry, so it might be a good compromise to use both to mitigate the concerns with each of them.

    The big problems with empty chamber, in my opinion, are
    1) The need to have both hands available
    2) The greatly increased difficulty of deployment during a physical altercation, and
    3) The greatly increased likelihood of inducing a malfunction from either short stroking or loosing your grip on the slide.

    I think that a DA/SA or DAO autoloader or a double action revolver are probably better choices than empty chamber, but I have no problem with people who don’t carry with one in the pipe, so long as they train hard on nailing that draw every time.

  18. The fact is that the great majority of Americans never practice drawing from concealment.
    Here in south Florida there is only one range that will allow you to practice drawing your gun from a holster.
    When I shoot on private property with my buddies, I find that I can get a shot off even with an empty chamber faster than they can because I practice drawing and racking the slide constantly.
    I am lucky to have access to private property where I can draw and shoot.

    I accept all the drawbacks of empty chamber carry because for me the added safety outweighs the drawbacks

  19. The author ignores that early Israeli and pre-Israeli military had a hodge-podge of equipment. Some pistols had frame safeties, some had slide safeties, some had grip safeties. Some were double-action, some were single-action. Carrying with an empty chamber, full magazine, and racking the slide pretty much works for them all. Israeli carry allows minimal training, especially with people who aren’t going to familiarize themselves with their gun.

    Being able to a get your gun into the fight with one hand has many advantages. A couple days ago, there was an article about training and drawing with your support hand, in case your dominant hand is injured. If the attacker is close, you may need to use your support hand to hold off the attacker or defend your head while you draw. If the assailant gets you to the ground, you may have trouble drawing, much less snaking your hand between your bodies or reaching both hands around the attacker to rack the slide.

  20. Simple question: With your life on the line, do you want to 1) draw with one hand and present with two as one motion; or 2) draw with one hand, charge the pistol, and then present with two hands as two motions?

    I don’t think I need to answer the question myself. Morons may.

    Of course, some people don’t do anything all day but practice because they are 1) firearms Youtube video channel owners, or 2) professional trainers, or 3) competitive shooters, or 4) all three. None of whom qualify as ordinary concealed carriers.

    You can not expect the average concealed carrier to train sufficiently to be able to do a complex motion under stress without 1) sacrificing speed and reliability, or 2) spending a small fortune in time and money on practice. Is it advisable to spend a fortune in time and money on practice? Sure – if you have it. Otherwise it’s not relevant to the discussion about the average concealed carrier.

    I’d also like to see a comparison of number of accidental discharges per capita in one year vs number of concealed carriers. I suspect that the number of accidental discharges is so low as to be irrelevant in the consideration of whether to carry with an empty chamber. Most of these discussions are devoid of actual statistical facts.

  21. I myself never felt comfortable carrying a 1911 cocked and locked, that’s why my EDC is an 1873SA clone.
    Oh striker fired, nope dont have one, dont want one. Why?, lots of reasons.

  22. I think this was re-hashed and solved thirty years ago. If you are afraid of a self loading pistol carry a revolver. You must be able to fight with one hand, against a blunt weapon, knife, or gun fire at close range. Dont carry without a holster and carry a round chambered.

    Drawing and racking the slide is fumble prone and likely to cause an accident.
    A few hours of range time demonstrates reality versus the opinion of couch potatoes.

  23. So, we are supposed to completely forget everything else that is relevant to carry and argue about one thing?

    We don’t consider single versus double action? Striker fired vs traditional hammers? Holsters? Carry position? Training? Nope… just whether or not a round is chambered. And if you have made a decision on carrying without a round chambered, you should suggest extensive drills in presenting the weapon.

    If you ask me what condition the soldiers and MPs under me carry their weapons, my first question is going to be in what situations?

  24. What HAS every shotgun totting person in a MOVIE or TV show taught us?
    That the chamber is empty, and the slide must be racked. Is this not Israeli carry?

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