Carry Hot or Not?
What condition should your pistol be in as you carry concealed? That question is asked at almost every 100-level class we teach. A lot of our students are surprised and a little uncomfortable when we reply, 'chambered, with the safety on.' But couldn't it accidentally go off? You bet it could, but the likelihood of that happening is very minimal as long as you act responsibly. Let's talk a little about why we should carry with a chambered gun, and how to do it safely.
Why do you want to carry in the first place? I know why I carry. It is a symbol of being free. I also carry for protection. If you are carrying for protection, then you should never draw or present the gun unless you have decided that you need to use lethal force.
It will not be like the movies where everyone has time to whip out a gun or two, stare at one another, engage in some trendy dialogue written by Quentin Tarantino, rack and chamber your gun about twenty times and then start shooting. It will be fast. As soon as you realize that there is a threat and that you will need to use lethal force, you may only have seconds to act. Most likely, you are already behind the power curve. You should draw and shoot till the threat is no more, or your loved ones could be no more.
Why anyone would choose to carry with an empty chamber is beyond me. You may not have the time to chamber a round. The so-called “Israeli method” (loaded mag and empty chamber), is basically adding a self-induced malfunction to the draw. That is just one more step for you to perform under stress. Now add the fact that you could be wounded or have the use of only one hand and arm for any number of reasons. Your problems have now just been magnified because of the choice not to carry a loaded pistol.
In the last few years, there have been attacks that were caught on video in Israel. Some of them show knife assaults with victims being stabbed repeatedly while someone is chambering their pistol to respond and end the attack. Fixing a self-induced malfunction when your life, or more importantly, someone else’s life is on the line, is not the most intelligent thing to do. Most of us have been mentally conditioned to think that a loaded gun is bad. That is why even good people, who should know better, still make a face when we say that they should carry loaded. Think about it: 50 years ago, 100 years ago, it wasn't that big of a deal. The key is to do it responsibly. So, if and when that time comes in your life, both you and your gun are ready.
One of the things you should do is get yourself a good holster that you can wear. My concealed holster of choice is a Hybrid made by Viper Holster, but there are plenty of other good holster makers out there. You want one that is stiff, like thick leather or Kydex. Not one of the flimsy or easily bent one made out of thin nylon or something. Not only does a good holster retain your pistol, it also protects it. With one of the flimsy types, the safety can accidentally be bumped off, or worse. Sure, they can hold your gun, but offer little in the way of protection. Plus, with a stiff holster you can use it to rack your slide or do other things if you are injured. If you keep your pistol in a purse or bag of some kind, you will want to keep it in a way that it will be free from clutter.
The next thing you need to do is to practice the Draw. Make sure you can present your firearm smoothly, without any clothing or other obstruction impeding the draw. Practice over and over. Every time I carry, I practice a few times before I walk out the door. Make sure you are comfortable with the manner in which you carry your firearm. Walk around, stretch, make sure that it is secure with all your movements. You should feel confident as you carry the pistol.
Now, go to the range and train. Go with a buddy and let them watch you and help make sure you are safe. Start slow, with no ammo. Dry-fire till you feel comfortable. Then load and go hot. Make sure that everything you do with the draw is safe. Go slow with just single shot, then do controlled pairs. Your draw should be slow and methodical. Once you get reps in, you will gain confidence and experience. With that experience you can speed up the draw.
The bottom line is, if you feel too uncomfortable carrying hot, then you are not trained enough. You should not be carrying a gun at all. Get some training, by us, or by someone else. Get the self-confidence you need, and then carry hot. Our cities and streets are safer if you do.
Thanks for reading,