Should you carry with a round in the chamber?

The average gunfight takes place over 3 yards, lasts approximately 3 seconds, and involves no more than 3 rounds being fired. Picture yourself in such a scenario, do you think your attacker will allow you time to rack your slide, load your gun, and get yourself ready and in a position to return fire?

This is unlikely, to say the least, and one of the most powerful arguments in favor of always carrying, i.e. everyday carry, with a round in the chamber. In addition, keeping your gun unloaded means there’s one more thing that can go wrong. Loading a gun often requires two hands, which is never guaranteed during a firefight or high-stakes situation. Also, not everyone can handle the pressure of being under attack and still manage to load their gun.

Finally, you may want to retain the element of surprise. There are countless videos online whereby the attacker assumed their victim was unarmed and an easy target, only for them to draw and fire in a split-second, neutralizing the threat. Obviously, this is not an option if your gun is unloaded. To load your weapon, you will have to reveal it which compromises your chances of surprise retaliation.

The bottom line is if you carry a weapon for self-defence and intend on using it if and when the time comes, you will need your gun to be loaded constantly in order for it to be an effective tool against life-threatening attacks.

 In this video, you can see the ramifications of not keeping your weapon chambered

Is loaded carry safe?

Of course, there are genuine arguments against loaded carry. Certainly, in older times, guns were more prone to accidental discharge, which lead to numerous tragic fatalities and injuries. In addition, those who spend time around children who are untrained in gun safety should consider extra security measures if they carry a loaded gun.

However, nowadays the threat of accidental discharge is not as severe as it once was. Modern hammer-fired weapons utilize advanced safety mechanisms that prevent the hammer from dropping unless the trigger is pulled. Also, striker-fired weapons, such as Glocks, will have a trigger safety feature to stop any accidents from occurring. Finally, even dropping a weapon doesn’t mean it will go off. In the past, with older models, this was a serious problem, but today, modern firearms are typically drop-resistant.


However, as is always the case with mechanical systems, there are no 100% guarantees. Accidents still do happen and we urge everyday carriers who chose to carry chambered to apply the utmost care when handling their weapon.


The best way to achieve this is through constant training. Learn how to draw a weapon while maintaining complete trigger safety, and how to handle a loaded weapon carefully.


Is loaded carry legal?

The subject of gun laws and the legalities surrounding concealed and open carry are an ongoing debate in the US. For now, the general rule is that if you are permitted to open-carry, or concealed-carry (either with or without a permit) then you can keep your gun loaded and chambered.


Of course, several states ban open-carry outright, so there would be no way to carry a loaded gun without a licence or permit.


There is an ongoing discussion and court deliberation regarding the legal status of loaded rifles, especially if you keep a rifle in your car, and not on your person.


In the US, specific laws vary from State to State. See here for a full breakdown of gun laws. We also recommend keeping an eye on the ever-changing US gun laws and getting advice from legal professionals, before stepping out onto the street with a loaded gun.


Choosing the right holster for loaded carry

There are thousands of different holsters for guns to choose from, and picking the right concealed carry holster or open carry holster can be a difficult task. In addition, you also have to consider which holsters provide the most safety and security if you are carrying with a round in the chamber.


The main concerns when it comes to holsters for loaded carry are:


  • Trigger protection: Accidental discharge could be fatal when carrying a loaded gun. At Frontline Holsters, we stock gun holsters that provide advanced trigger protection, using upgraded head lock retention technology to ensure maximum firearm safety

  • The threat of being disarmed: If an attacker manages to take control of your holstered weapon, the consequences could be far deadlier if the gun is loaded. At Frontline, we engineer holsters to combat this threat, such as the Thumb-Break & SR™ KNG. This holster uses a side retention lock combined with a thumb break retaining strap to ensure total firearm security, yet, swift disengagement of these two mechanisms when needed for a smooth and fast draw - by the user.