Empty Chamber Carry

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Duration:   3  mins

Rob Pincus discusses the concept of empty chamber carry and why it is important to carry your firearm responsibly when choosing to keep a round in the chamber. The trigger area should always be covered by a quality holster when a weapon is loaded for defensive use.

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35 Responses to “Empty Chamber Carry”

  1. Craig

    Bad things can happen if you try to chamber a round under adrenaline and extreme stress. Carry responsibly, carry one in the chamber…always!

  2. Gerald

    Carrying a gun for a private company means that I have to carry with an empty chamber. There are many times when I’m in a crowded situation and have to make an arrest and my gun can be exposed. I can’t take the chance that somebody will take my gun and start shooting innocents, or me. That gives me a split second to react and try to get my firearm back.

  3. Larry

    Disagree. You are arrogant and rude. I don’t believe I need to carry “hot”. Still America here and still free.

    • Eric

      Comes down to training which becomes muscle memory, many of you have said so. I know of a group of recently graduated active duty, reserve and guard 31B that have all been taught the same way I was: empty chamber carry, draw-rack-safety(off)-aim, fire if needed. What works for you is what works, as a result of your training and practice.

  4. Kevin C

    Empty chamber carry means no round chambered, right? Confusing title. Chamber a round or not?!

    • Van

      If you watch the video it explains everything. Carry with round chambered with trigger protected. Or if trigger is not protected, chambered round is a bad idea.

    • Jason

      If your instructor can only see one scenario and trains to that one possibility what are you learning? What does that say about their ability to a assess risk? That Ayoob guy can see it, eh, but maybe he is just some crackpot. The article above is pretty good, but the summary / conclusion is great. Be a thinking gunfighter

      “To conclude, most people tend to look at problems from their own point of view, without considering that others might have different concerns, different needs, different levels of training, and so on. Failure to recognize this is harmful to open and honest debate, and in some cases becomes blatant elitism. From my position, I tend to suggest chamber loaded carry as the normal and standard default position, just as I tend to suggest a DAO autoloader as the standard default weapon for those who choose to carry an autoloader. But just as a SA auto might be better for some persons or for some situations, chamber empty might be better for some persons in some situations. There are advantages and disadvantages to each method. The Thinking Gunfighter looks at his own situation and tries to identify what maximizes his advantages and minimizes his disadvantages and makes an informed decision.”

  5. jd

    I agree with Rob. As he says the keys is familarity with your gun and a holster that protects the trigger when you don’t intend to have it in hand for self defense.

  6. BJ Kea

    Hi Rob,

    I’ve been following you on the TV and Internet for years now. You’ve shown me a lot of technique when it comes to altercations and proper gun handling. I carry with an empty chamber and have been criticized by others for years for doing it. Good or bad, here is why I do it:

    First, I was trained that way (ok cheap and I could have been taught wrong)

    In some gun fighting scenarios where an assailant is going for my strong side holster and I’m not able to stop them, I have time to draw my edged weapon before they figure out their is no round chambered.

    Again going back to training, seek cover or concealment as a first option, Although not always an available first option in a gun fight seek cover first and then asses and engage.

    Finally, especially is Cover or concealment is not an option, then “get off the X”. I practice drawing my weapon, clambering a round an moving.

    I realize having a weapon with a chambered round allows for a quicker response and engagement, but I balance that with weapon retention and control. I could be out dated in my practice and way of thinking and may one day practice with a chambered weapon.

    I would like your thoughts on my comments above please.

    thank you

    Bj KEA

    • Craig

      If you carry empty chamber, you are giving the aggressor an advantage. Also, what makes us think we will get to use both hands to rack the slide. If you have to rack it with one hand, it is even more of an advantage to the aggressor.

    • Customer Service Techs

      Given the advancements in Modern Striker Fired handguns and good quality holsters available there isn’t a good reason for carrying a firearm without a round chambered. Even with tens of thousands of reps drawing and chambering you are training for a best case scenario that’s in your favor. What if you have to use your weak hand to control bystanders, family members, or one of your hands becomes injured? You now are holding a firearm that is useless and quite possibly become the primary target of the bad guy because you are holding it.

      If weapon retention concerns are not a good reason for carrying a firearm without a round chambered then select a holster that has retention features. Ideally, I would suggest getting into an Extreme Close Quarters class that teaches weapon retention. There are many other factors I could go into why carrying in this manner are a bad idea but hopefully you get the point. Here’s a PDN video you should check out on the topic http://www.personaldefensenetwork.com/video/empty-chamber-carry-000717/ <http://www.personaldefensenetwork.com/video/empty-chamber-carry-000717/>

  7. Just Sayin'

    Sick and tired of ALL the EXPERTS out there who think they should be the ones to declare “who should carry” or not, just because someone want carry C3!!!

  8. RC

    I’ve been in law enforcement for the past 12+ years. I always carry C1 and my handgun’s only safety is me. If the laws in your area don’t allow you the freedom to carry as we can in Arizona, then you may not be able to carry C1; but if you can, you should. Someone said they’d go up against anyone w/ a blunt object vs. them w/ C3 carry. That’s stupid. You don’t know the when, where, who & how of the attack that is coming. Most attacks aren’t that announced, they happen in moments and close at hand. The person with a knife in hand will win over the gun carry in C3 every time. This is what we (LE) train for, & the simple truth is people overestimate themselves when they have a gun. As to “would you let your 9 month old granddaughter crawl on your lap next to C1 holstered weapon?” YES!!!! She would be safe & I doubt she could wrestle it away. If the holster you have could let a baby or child remove it from your person, then it is not a good holster. My sidearm goes with me to church, movies, birthday parties, parks, banks, schools, etc, etc, etc. It is always C1 and it has NEVER fired itself. I am the safety. You should train, train, train; and be the safety. The only safe firearm is the one being used by a responsible owner.

  9. Guest

    I think it is very personal issue. If somebody is not in instant danger all the time then s/he has one more 1 second to put a round into chamber. So it is not so important to carry loaded or unloaded. In my opinion the real matter is training. By the way Rob wounded paper-man in the arm.

    • Justin

      Yes he did, but it wasn’t on his last shot. Look at the beginning of the video (7 holes) and the end (8 holes). The arm shot was there at the beginning.

  10. TexasRed171

    This logic is how we got Obama in the White House. Don’t be sheeple – being a “gun expert” who teaches tactical shooting everyday makes the guy no more an expert on C1 vs C3 than the pilot in the left seat of a B-737 is an expert on hijackings. The 2 subjects are NOT necessarily related. Think about it, don’t just blindly follow.

    Secondly, it is reckless and nonsensical to suggest that anyone carrying C3 isn’t rteady to carry a gun. What egotistical BS that is! Who is Rob Pincus to tell anyone what they can and can’t do? Shall not be infringed, remember? Sheesh.

    Thirdly, I taught karate for many years. As such, I felt reasonably safe being in places where others may not be safe. Does that mean everyone is safe going where I go? Nope. Pincus trains everyday and has good habits – not so for the average joe carrying a gun everyday in his job in the bank. That advice Pincus gives is shallow and reckless and may just get him invited to a lawsuit someday. When you use poorly-worded terminology that suggests only a noob carries C3, guess what, you encourage people to carry C1 when they aren’t ready. Bang. Everyone loses that scenario.

    Also, Pincus cannot possibly know all the myriad reasons that make C3 practical for some situations. Would you let your 9 month old grandaughter crawl all over your lap next to a holstered C1 1911? Do you think C1 is just as safe with a Glock as it is with a Sig Mk25? Of c ourse not, so let stop attempting the one-size-fits-all mentality.

    The scenarios Pincus presented are fantasy. I’ve seen many black belt instructors who couldn’t teach squat because their techniques were too dependent on a series predetermined reactions by the bad guy. Stats say you’ll go your entire life and never need to draw. If you do, stats further say you won’t need to shoot. Stats also say if you defy all those odds, chances are better that you’ll win tonight’s $420 million Lotto jackpot than to have all those conditions met and to also have C1 save the day. You’d be better off worrying about a lightning strike.

    Lastly, Pinus lost credibilty with me the day he sidled up to internet lunatic James Yeager.

    P.S. I hereby issue the follow challenge: I will challenge anyone to a duel, me armed with a C3-carried G17 and you armed with a “blunt object” or stapler. No takers? Didn’t think so, so lets stop making the gun community look stupid and stop making patently stupid comments.

    • Michael W

      I propose a different challenge that I think illustrates the point much better. You carrying C3 vs. anyone at anytime carrying C1. How do you feel now?

    • Justin


      Did someone go pee pee in your “Cheer”ios ?

      Rob shared with professionalism, you shared a rant. Not hard to figure out who the majority of us Non Sheeple will take advice from. But just in case, it’s not you!

      Knowledge is power, you must be pretty weak.

      Your BA needs an AA.

  11. Kenneth D.

    Never understood how some people insist that a round always has to be in the chamber, and equally insist that a firearm should always be stored unloaded. The same people will lock their defense weapon up when they get home. Really? That is when you are most likely to need it if you are a civilian. Isn’t an unchambered auto on your hip in the house far superior to any weapen that is locked up somewhere? Just asking . . .

  12. BRBruce

    I’ve never understood why people would want to carry a gun without one in the pipe. I’ve had people tell me they’re not comfortable carrying a gun with a round chambered. I usually tell them to go buy a good hammer, it’s cheaper. Go about it right or go home.

  13. Las Vegas Bill

    I don’t normally comment on these videos but, in my opinion, Rob has hit it right on the head. I’ve been carrying a Glock 21 and now a Glock 23 since 1996 and I never, repeat, never leave the house without it and one in the chamber. My holster protects the trigger and after all these years of carrying a firearm of some sort (I’m retired USAF, too), I feel very comfortable when drawing my weapon. When drawing my weapon, my trigger finger is parallel with the holster, or slide when out of the holster, and NEVER goes on the trigger until I’m ready to fire. That’s what muscle memory and practice will do for you. I’m very happy to hear from the ladies as I’m trying to convince my wife to get her concealed carry permit, again. She says it’s too much of a hassle to carry her weapon.

  14. Bennett Greenberg

    Rob, thank you for this video. It is an important message to get out. I tell my students “carry a gun not a paperweight”. There was a guy who “trained with the Mossad” who when demonstrating racking as he drew, launched the gun downrange. One more quick story. I warned a guy about the clip carry attachments for his KelTec and told him the only safe way to carry was with the trigger covered. It wasn’t much later that he slid the gun into his back pocket, was hitching a trailer to a truck when the crank got caught in the trigger guard and BANG. Now he is known as the guy who shot the truck with his butt.

  15. Travis

    I am a CHL instructor. We see more and more women coming into our classes each week. Recently they have outnumbered men. This video brings to mind the scenario of a woman carrying with a purse holster. Once she puts her hand inside the holster pocket on the back of the purse, she is really drawing from a holster with the trigger exposed. She is not going to have time to chamber a round and there is a risk of having the pistol being snagged coming out of the opening and causing the finger to contact the trigger possibly causing an ND and hitting a person beside or behind her.. Any thoughts?

    • MissinAlabama

      As a woman, I’ll try to toss in my cent and a half concerning a “purse” holster. Personally, my keys and firearm are NEVER carried in my purse. These are the two things I want on my person when out in public.

      My daughter will be getting her drivers license here soon. We recently went to the mall and had a conversation about why it’s never a good idea to have your keys (and when she is old enough) her firearm in her purse. At barely five foot two, if someone snatches my purse, I’m most likely going to lose the battle to keep the bad guy from taking my purse. If he runs off with my purse – well, that stinks, but what would stink worse is if the bad guy now had our address thanks to my license AND the keys to our house and car. I don’t even want to think about the bad guy also having one of my handguns too.

      I’d love to hear what other women think is the best way to carry their concealed weapon. I’ve never been comfortable with the idea of digging around in my purse to find my firearm. I prefer having it concealed on me with a round in the chamber…

      • LLC

        Another carrying woman here. I also will NEVER carry in my purse. It will always be on my body, concealed with round in chamber (home or out). Lately I have been switching between IWB carry and Flash Bang depending on the weather and which clothing I am wearing. Good thoughts on keeping keys on your person too. thanks.

      • Sheri

        As a woman who carries for defensive purposes I would never use a purse for a holster. I know that there are specially made purses for that purpose but I think that they are a really bad idea for several reasons. I agree with MissinAlabama about someone stealing my purse along with my gun and keys. I have had my purse ripped off my shoulder in a parking lot and someone ran to a car and got away. I am thankful that I did not carry at that time and have a gun in that purse. Also, there are many times during the day that I am not in the same vicinity as my purse. That presents two problems. One is that if I need the gun it may be several rooms away in my purse. Another is that it is vulnerable to someone else having access to my gun, especially children. My first choice is a belly band, I also use an IWB, sometimes ankle holster, and rarely and OWB holster. I find the belly band is the most easily concealed for me. I always have a round in the chamber and the gun ready to fire when I want it to. Just my two cents worth.

  16. DucatiRider

    All I have to say to this is look at the youtube security videos where the good-guy forgot to rack a round into the chamber and gets a click rather than a bang.

    When I pull the trigger, I want the gun to go bang. Pretty simple.

    • MuzzleHead Wayne

      I agree totally. A firearm without a round in the chamber is nothing more than a blunt object. As so many have pointed out you may only have a nanosecond to react. Will you remember to rack the slide? Or will you even have time to? This is a very personal decision that has to be made. If you don’t feel comfortable carrying with a round in the chamber, then I hope you have enough time to respond. Those that carry “responsibly” should have no problem with a round in the chamber.

  17. OldGuy, USAF

    I agree with Rob, but must disagree with Bill. In some situations you only have milliseconds to respond. Using a firearm in a life or death situation requires complete focus and reaction. Carrying an empty chambered handgun is like leaving your car in the garage without any gas in it…duh. If you are not confident enough to carry a loaded handgun, maybe you should consider not carrying one at all. Consider….some slides require a fair amount force to jack a round in. What if it jams? You just don’t have time to fumble with it to use it…or tell the bad guy, “Can you hold on a second while I load my gun?” If you were to use the method you outlined..”pushing the slide against you body”…..with S&W M&P 9mmC, not only would you rip your pants but the rear sight would do a real number on your leg. If you have misgivings about carrying with a round in the chamber…..get a revolver, load with 5 Rds. with the cylinder on the empty chamber. If you practice safe handgun safety rules, have the right type of holster and practice….practice….practice……you will be ready whenever the situation arises and not have to worry about jacking in a round to ready your piece.

  18. Bill

    I disagree. Having a chambered round is not practical in states where you must lock and unlock your gun to enter federal building and schools and the like. Even in NH, you cannot carry a loaded gun in a car without a permit but open carry is ok without a permit, so you must load it to go in a store. I have practiced chamberlng a round by pushing the slide against my body and pushing down and effectively chambering one handed no problem.

    • Rick R

      Can you clarify your message? I’m sure it’s my mis-understanding but that doesn’t make sense.

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