There are many ways to do something right the wrong way. For instance, carrying a handgun for self defense is the right choice for many people, but with an empty chamber is the wrong way.
Comfort is a State of Mind
This came about through conversations I recently had in two different states. It was interesting this subject could be brought up within a week across so many miles. Both conversations were centered around carrying concealed and both had comfort at their core. The users were not comfortable carrying with a live round in the chamber. This is a more common occurrence as we see more people entering the concealed carry world. I don’t see as much wrong with this idea for the simple reason many who would not carry are carrying. Granted they might not be doing it the way I would, but it is a start. My belief is as they grow as a student they learn more about the best way to manage their carry loadout. With time they realize there is a better way.
In One Ear and Out the Other
It is important to understand why folks are not comfortable. You can tell them what they are doing is not ideal, even wrong, but you more than likely will not make any headway. When I was asked this question I wanted to understand the reason so I could better address the issue. If they are afraid to carry a live round in the chamber because they don’t feel safe is it because of their holster. If they don’t like the idea of carrying a live round in the chamber holstered inside the waistband then carrying on the waistband may be a good way to breach this obstacle. If they are concerned they may shoot themselves then explaining how to safely draw from the holster is a great place to start. Many times what seems simple to many is overly complex and intimidating to others.
Highest State of Readiness
In some cases, there is the notion during a lethal force encounter you will be able to chamber a round to bring the handgun to the highest state or readiness. My suggestion is to always holster a handgun for self-defense in the highest state of readiness. Make this part of your loading procedures; which will help build familiarity. This familiarity will bring confidence in the process. The reality is while there may be some who can do it scripted and planned they are largely based on having both extremities available. While you may be able to use a one handed technique why would you engage “hard” mode so early in a critical incident. Time is of the essence and no matter the technique, all things being equal it is slower.
The Ready Position
Perhaps the biggest issue for me is how carrying an empty chamber greatly reduces your ability to draw your handgun to a ready position. All to often we forget this very important skill. Yes, you may need to draw your handgun and go straight to the target to stop the threat. If you opt to carry an empty chamber you give up the utility of drawing to the ready position. You of course, could charge the handgun and return to the ready, but then what will you do if the threat is stopped and you have to holster up. If you were willing to holster a loaded handgun in that situation, why not start that way. Of course, the flip side is you are not and then feel compelled to unload to re-holster. Something else to consider is if you do charge the handgun have you escalated the situation. If you are looking at charging the handgun akin to racking the action of a shotgun there are bigger issues beyond the scope of this article.
If you have concerns about carrying a handgun then try to address the root cause. Use education and training as your roadmap to overcoming anything that could give you a false sense of security.