Empty-chamber carry. Some people refer to it as Israeli Carry (which is funny because you don’t actually carry an Israeli with you), and among the naïve and the uninitiated this method of carry is the hotness. On the one hand I blame the lack of confidence that new firearm carriers experience when they just start strapping a handgun to their bodies for the first time. Everyone starts somewhere, and this anxiety is completely understandable. On the other hand there are certain instructors (a term looser than Charlie Sheen’s morals) who actively teach this method of carry, for completely bullshit reasons, usually demonstrated with more hissing than a pit full of angry Mozambican spitting cobras.
The “reasons” given as to why Israeli/Empty-chamber carry is supposedly the way-to-go are as follows (you may want to sit down for this):
- Carrying a firearm with a round in the chamber is unsafe. This leads to negligent discharges, which cause injury and death.
- If your firearm is taken from you, you will be able to take it back from the criminal before he is able to chamber a round by employing some sort of martial art technique.
- You are capable of drawing, racking the slide, and firing just as fast, or even faster (I shit you not) than you would be able to if you were carrying one-up.
Oh boy…let’s start curb-stomping these in sequence.
Modern firearms, and by that I mean anything that includes a drop-safety, are designed to be carried with a round chambered. They do not simply go off by themselves, not even those Glocks that people seem so deathly afraid of (must be because they are Austrian). You (or something) will have to squeeze the trigger before the firearm will discharge. It is that simple: no trigger-squeezy, no bangy-bangy. The blame for negligent discharges lie solely at the operator: if you handle the firearm in an unsafe manner, suffer from bad trigger-finger discipline, and/or use low-quality and cheap holsters, you are setting yourself up for a ND regardless of whether or not you carry with an empty chamber. What you need to do is go get proper training from an accredited instructor, not a weapon with an empty chamber which doesn’t even remotely begin to address the fundamental problem you are experiencing.
As to the reason that if your gun is taken from you by your attacker, he then won’t be able to shoot you with it because he would first have to rack it (just like you would have to do, but anyway, who cares), but you will now have the advantage (mind blowing, I know) because you know Mystic Mountain Krav Maga and will proceed to judo-chop the living daylights out of his solar plexus (because that is how you roll) and retrieve your gun from his carcass. Because your bear hands (see what I did there?) are lethal weapons and illegal in 90 countries. Or something. Sorry, and excuse my Francaise, but fucking really? Really? Your entire system of self-defence relies on you expecting to be disarmed, hence the empty chamber, and then for you to retrieve your weapon by making use of unarmed combatives? Wow. Just wow. How about just learning some basic weapon-retention skills instead? What if you are attacked by more than one guy? Are you going to judo-chop all of them? If you want to argue this with me, fine: I am amazed that they allow you access to a computer in the zoo.
The third excuse for carrying in this method actually blows my mind. Now somebody get me a good medium and page Isaac Newton, but if you genuinely believe that you can perform three sequential actions just as fast or even faster than you can perform only two of them, then you are either an Immortal Space Wizard from Dimension X, or you have a really warped perception of reality. Now listen here: unless you are capable of doing really perverted stuff to the space-time continuum (in which case what on Earth are you doing reading this blog?) there is no way that you can draw your weapon, chamber a round by racking the slide, aim, and fire just as fast as you can draw, aim, and fire. No ways. If you believe this nonsense, then you had better ask your school for a refund on all those physics classes you took.
Folks, by carrying with an empty chamber you are setting yourself up for failure from out the starting blocks. I know of a gentleman who was a victim of a violent home invasion in Johannesburg, and because he carried with an empty chamber he could not respond to the threat effectively. He was shot dead as he attempted to chamber a round. Carrying empty-chamber has gotten people killed. Believing that you will have time to rack your handgun’s slide under duress is a dangerous fantasy, and it is likely clung to by people who have never been in a fight for their lives.
Last year I did an article about the reality of knife attacks, and just how fast and brutal they tend to be. I don’t care which Psychedelic Sacred Way of the Brofist school of martial arts you attend, but if somebody attacks you with a knife you are going to bleed…unless you are exceptionally lucky. Blood is slippery, and wounds hurt and distract. Anyone who has ever simulated racking a slide with slippery hands, or racking it with one hand, will tell you that this is not a situation you want to find yourself in then people are actively trying to kill you. One-handed slide racking is an emergency malfunction clearing technique, yet people who carry empty chamber may have to use this as their only method to get their gun into the fight. Your other hand may not necessarily be injured, but it may very well be occupied with trying to keep your assailant away from you, and you will be forced to rack the slide with one hand regardless. People who carry with loaded chambers do not have this concern to fret about.
Let me give you a quick reality check: with my incident last year I literally had milliseconds to respond to a deadly threat. There was no time to rack a slide. There wasn’t even time to properly aim. When things go south, they do so faster and more violently than you can possibly imagine. What people are taught in McDojo’s around the country pertaining to fending off a violent attack doesn’t even come close to simulating reality. If I carried with the chamber empty, and innocent person would be dead today.
There are exceptionally good reasons why internationally acclaimed instructors like Frank Proctor, Massad Ayoob, Mike Pannone, Larry Vickers, and Pat Rogers (RIP) do not teach empty-chamber carry: they have all walked the mile in hostile territory, seen and experienced things that by far most people have not, and have figured out what works and what does not work. The fact that they unanimously and independently conclude that empty-chamber carry does not work should tell you something. To not take anything away from local South African instructors, and we have some fantastic and knowledgeable people here, not a single one of our acclaimed instructors teaches empty-chamber carry. Because it is a bad idea and does not work.
Please don’t be another victim of this carry methodology. It has gotten people killed before, and will likely do so again. Understand your gun and its workings. Understand your carry set-up. Most importantly, understand why the safety sits between your ears and not on the frame of your gun.