Condition 1

Condition 1

“You keep a round in the chamber?!?”

“Umm.. yeah.”

“Even for home defense?  I mean… for home defense, you would not keep a round in the chamber right?  You want the extra time in case you decide you don’t want to shoot.  Having to rack the slide gives you that extra time.”

“No… I keep a round in the chamber for my home defense guns too.”

“Really?!?!  isn’t that dangerous?”

“Tell me… what are rules number 1 and 3”

“Ugh…All guns are always loaded, and keep your finger off the trigger unless your sights are on target and you’ve made the decision to shoot.”

“So… how doesnotkeeping a round in the chamber allow you to do things you otherwise would not do.”

“I guess it doesn’t… it’s just… really?? you keep a round in the chamber?”

(If you have arrived here from our newsletter continue reading here:)

This little dialectic took place during our last CCW classes.  One of our clients, was trying to wrap his head around the idea that carrying with a round in the chamber… actually having a round in the chamber at all,… was a good idea.

During the academic component of the class on Saturday I did my best to convince him of the logical consistency of keeping a round in the chamber.  In gun wonk talk we call this “Condition 1”… sometimes called “Cocked and Locked”…cause… well… it kinda sounds cooler.

The conditions are listed below:  They were developed by the late Col. Jeff Cooper for use in describing the condition of the  1911 pistol… to a greater or lesser degree they can be adapted for use with any semi automatic pistol.

Condition 0 : Round in the chamber, hammer cocked, safety off

Condition 1 : Round in the chamber, hammer cocked, safety on

Condition 2 : Round in the chamber, hammer down

 Condition 3: Chamber empty, hammer down, loaded magazine in the gun… 

(This is the way they carry in the movies, so that the hero has to dramatically rack the slide before going into action.)

Condition 4: Chamber empty, hammer down, empty or no magazine in the gun… this is what you call a paper weight.

Our client was convinced the only “Safe” way to carry would be in condition 3.  This makes sense.. it was in line with a whole bunch of movies he had seen.  It is also… and this is a truly unfortunate reality… in line with the course of arguments from many county prosecutors that have sought to levy criminal charges against gun owners that have used their firearms in defense of their lives.

“Not only did the defendant have a gun near him…he had a round loaded in the chamber!!!

(hmmm… maybe that is a direct result of the extensive training that the defendant has undergone.  Training that is in line with the protocols that the bailiffs in the court room also have undergone… in fact counselor, can we ask the bailiff if he currently has a round in the chamber?”)

So… the next day we headed out to the live fire range for the students to qualify on their guns.  Frank.. our condition 3 specialist had his Beretta all ready to go.

During the third string of fire I watched as he got flummoxed attempting to do a speed load.  His empty mag came out, but he used his thumb to release the slide stop before seating the next magazine.

Yeah… it was ugly…but but opportunity to prove a point!!!

“Frank… You have a loaded magazine in your firearm, but you don’t have a round in the chamber”

“Oh crap!”

He went to rack the slide.

“No… wait… go ahead and return your gun to the holster in it’s current condition.”


Once Frank was situated and the line was clear I leaned in to talk to him.  “Ok Frank, here is the deal.. you have a firearm on you with a loaded magazine, but no round in the chamber.”

He nodded his head listening to me, and looking at this target 5 yards away.

“Kavon is going to call “gun” for all you guys in a couple of seconds.  When he does you are going to need to draw your firearm, rack the slide, get a round into the chamber and get two shots on target.”


“Frank,… if any of your classmates get shots off on their targets first, before you get your shots off I want you to take that as you were hit.”


“You did your best to convince me that it was a good idea to carry with an empty chamber yesterday… here is your chance to prove it.  Get a round into the chamber and stop the threat.”

Needless to say, by the time that Frank had come out of the holster, racked the slide, and gotten shots on target, most of the other students were already done shooting and doing their tac-loads.

As he slowly returned to the holster he glanced over to me.

“Point taken”.


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