TES: Loaded or Chambered.

When you conceal carry should you keep your firearm just loaded or chambered? This is a question that has faced a lot of debate. And since we like to ruffle feathers here we’ll join in. Of course if you’ve ready any of my other articles you probably know what the answer will be:

It Depends!

I know you think that’s a cop out. But it’s not. There’s a lot of dogmatic preaching in the firearms instruction industry and everyone has their preference, but as I’ve said before and will say again, the best answer is whatever you train to work with. If you practice racking your slide right after a draw then you’ll be fine. But of course resolving this debate isn’t that easy, so let’s look at the pro’s and con’s of carrying loaded or chambered, and let you decide for yourself.

Loaded or Chambered?

loaded or chambered

First, what do these terms even mean? You here them a lot, but do you know the difference?

When a gun is loaded it has ammunition in it. A round may or may not be in the chamber ready to be fired, or a round may be in a magazine. When a gun is chambered there is a round in the chamber of the gun waiting to be fired. So a chambered firearm is a loaded firearm, but a loaded firearm isn’t necessarily chambered.

The debate though focuses solely on whether you should conceal carry a firearm that has a bullet in the chamber or not. So let’s look at the pro’s and con’s of each.

One In The Chamber


  • No need to rack the slide, or turn the cylinder (for you crazy revolver loving folk out there). You draw your weapon and you’re ready to go.
  • 1 More Round. If you carry with one in the chamber that gives you one more round in your firearm.


  • Weapon is loaded so you have to be “extra careful” when handling.

None in the Chamber


  • Accidental trigger pulls won’t equal a negligent discharge.


  • One less round in the firearm.
  • Firearm is not ready to go immediately

So the lists could have been a bit longer but honestly the discussion surrounding whether you should carry loaded or chambered isn’t that deep. Those who argue for one in the chamber base their argument on the fact that you’re ready to go immediately. Those who argue for keeping one out of the chamber say that it’s safer, and racking a slide doesn’t take that much time.

For Your Viewing Pleasure:

I’m going to side with the one in the chamber crowd here. Triggers don’t pull themselves, unless you have a Taurus (See Above). So if you’re following the 4 rules of gun safety your firearm isn’t going to discharge. And while racking a slide doesn’t take much time, you may not have any time between drawing your firearm and needing to shoot. So I think you should keep one in the chamber and be ready to go at all times. Of course this means you need to take the following safety precautions amongst others:

  • Always have your firearm in a holster. Always. Holster. Always. Don’t “Mexican Carry” or just throw a chambered gun into your purse. If something catches the trigger and it goes off you’re going to be in big legal trouble, if not medical trouble. You also run a huge risk of injuring those around you. Safety is paramount with firearms, so practice it.
  • If your firearm has a safety, use it. There can be an entire post written just about whether you should have a safety or not on your carry firearm, but if it’s there use it.
  • Don’t play with your trigger. I know we all like to admire a fine piece of mechanical engineering, and after safely clearing a firearm one of the methods for admiring the firearm is pulling the trigger (you can dryfire a striker fired weapon, I swear). But don’t do it with your carry weapon. Don’t admire it. Recognize that it’s a tool for self defense and using it for anything other than what it’s intended can lead to unintended and greatly undesired consequences.

Of course there are advantages and disadvantages to both methods of carrying and ultimately you have to decide for yourself, what you’re comfortable with. But remember when seconds count, every little thing that increases your response time can become the difference between life and death.

What do you think? Do you carry loaded or chambered? Let us know in the comments below, and as always stay awesome!


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