Editor’s Note: This is the first entry in our 12-part Armed & Ready series from Richard Nance and Handguns magazine. The series covers a range of personal defense and CCW topics. See links below for the other entries:
- Do You Carry Enough Gun?
- Carry Guns in Gun-Free Zones
- Bad Breath-Distance Gunfighting
- When You Can’t Pull the Trigger
- Don’t Aim in a Gunfight
- Why Does the 2nd Amendment Matter?
- Don’t Make a Cop Shoot You
- Hammer vs. Striker: Which Do You Need?
- Don’t Fight Blind
- Family Held Hostage: Do You Shoot?
- Why You Need an AR for Home Defense
What’s a sure way to get yourself killed with your CCW handgun? Here’s a hint — it’s one that you think will make you safer. I’m talking about carrying with an empty chamber. While this might seem like a safer option, don’t make this mistake.
Look at it this way. If you’re driving a car, do you think you’ll have time to put on your seatbelt right before a crash? Silly, right? Well, that’s pretty much the same thinking behind carrying your self-defense gun with an empty chamber.
When It Counts
While you might be able to perfect drawing and chambering a round quickly under ideal conditions on the range, in a real-world situation where you are facing a threat it will not be so easy. When you are in a deadly confrontation, your body experiences significant physiological changes — the duress dysfunction — that will affect your ability to act.
Under these conditions, you will most likely forget or be unable to execute the process of not only drawing your pistol, but also cycling the slide manually before lining up on the target. If this is the case, you may fumble while attempting, or even worse forget and pull the trigger on an empty chamber.
Proving the Point
To prove this, I went out to the range with a Springfield XD-S Mod.2 9mm pistol and a shot timer, and ran some drills of a standard draw with a loaded chamber as well as drawing and firing from an empty chamber. As I suspected, the difference between the two was notable. And remember, this was on the range under controlled conditions.
Why start with a disadvantage? A good, quality pistol like the XD-S Mod.2 from Springfield Armory is designed to be safely carried with a round in the chamber. The result is a capable defensive tool that is safe but ready to be engaged at a moment’s notice when you’re facing a threat. Don’t make the mistake that could get you killed.