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Old February 26, 2013, 11:22 PM   #1
db4570
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Re-thinking my carry/safety rules

In my quest for my perfect carry gun (I started another post several weeks ago on this that I got a lot of help on) I am back looking at a Ruger LCP. I have owned guns, including handguns, for 30 years, although I have only ever carried sporadically.

One reason I switched from revolvers to autos a few years ago is that I want a manual safety, which the LCP doesn't have. Although it seems everyone insists it is perfectly safe to carry a gun chambered with no safety, it's just something I've never been 100% comfortable with, even in my revolver days.

Please stop right now if you're going to say "the only safety you need is between your ears" or "the trigger pull on a DAO is so long and hard there is no chance it will go off accidentally". Yes, I know. We've all heard those things countless times. I'm trying to get past that. As I said, maybe I'm being obsessive, but I'm just not 100% comfortable with it.

So what I'm thinking about doing with the LCP is carrying it... prepare yourselves... unchambered! Here's my justification. First, I figure that carrying ANY type of gun is a drastic improvement in preparedness over nothing. Having one that I am 100% comfortable carrying means I'll be carrying a lot more. Second, I am rarely in a place where I feel I need fast-draw instant-access, like being jumped. Instead, I have been places where it looked like something weird might be going down, and it was nice to have a gun as a last-ditch backup plan. The difference getting a shot off in two seconds instead of one second hasn't seemed to enter into the equation. Third, the chances of being shot or otherwise injured so I couldn't rack the slide with my free hand seem extremely remote.

So, if we can refrain from cliches and armchair-urban-soldier fantasies, I'd like to hear who else might carry like this, as well as well-reasoned arguments for why I shouldn't.

Thanks!

David
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Old February 26, 2013, 11:32 PM   #2
shootniron
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Let me begin by saying that I do not carry my guns on an empty chamber. However, some people for various reasons make the decision to do just that. To them and you, it is your prerogative to carry YOUR gun in any condition that you deem appropriate for you and the situations that you are likely to find yourself in.

I am not sure that I could contribute anything that you have not previously heard, that would prompt you to reconsider.
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Old February 26, 2013, 11:49 PM   #3
carguychris
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Quote:
...the chances of being shot or otherwise injured so I couldn't rack the slide with my free hand seem extremely remote... So, if we can refrain from cliches and armchair-urban-soldier fantasies, I'd like to hear... well-reasoned arguments for why I shouldn't.
I have close personal knowledge of an incident in which a crook pulled a victim partway out of an open car window by the left arm and another very strong crook started repeatedly punching the victim in the face. This went down in seconds; another gang member had acted as a decoy and drawn the victim's attention outside the right-hand window, thus preventing the victim from seeing the other two gang members rush the left side of the car. While the victim was being beaten, the decoy got into the passenger side of the now-unlocked car, at which point the would-be victim drew a gun and fired, ending the attack. (I won't tell you more details than that.)

If the victim had been carrying the pistol without a chambered round, the only thing he/she could have done is thrown it at the perps, who probably would have shot him/her with it.

This is the reason I will not carry without a round in the chamber, and also the reason I no longer pocket-carry while driving. I want a handgun and not a HANDSgun.

The S&W Bodyguard is very similar to the LCP but is equipped with a thumb safety.
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Old February 27, 2013, 12:15 AM   #4
Loronzo
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Have you looked at the Bodyguard 380? As Chris said its very similar in size to the LCP but does have a safety. I'm unfortunatly a leftie so I rarely use the safety however mine is usually in an ankle holster with a thumbrake as a Backup so I don't personally feel the need to have the safety on. (The built in laser is also a plus) At the end of the day having an unchambered Gun IMO would be preferable to no pistol at all, if that's what makes you feel comfortable just make sure to practice a lot to draw and rack the slide as you do (you also limit yourself to one less round as a result and MUST have both hands free).

A good holster can add a lot of confidence to offset not having a safety, or you could always look into another semiauto that does has a safety. At the end of the day only you know what works best for you. I'm not ashamed to admit that when I first started Carrying my XD I had the same issue as you and I carried it on an empty chamber for almost a month, then started carrying it loaded around the house and a short time later I built up the confidence to keep it loaded at all times (Again getting a good holster was the first step, for me).
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Old February 27, 2013, 12:20 AM   #5
JimmyR
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Have you done any research into the Israeli Draw method? There is a range near me that offers classes in it, but I must admit I don't know much, other than it is a style of carry in which you chamber the round while drawing the weapon from it's holster. If you feel that carrying with no chambered round is best for you, this might be worth your while to investigate.
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Old February 27, 2013, 01:06 AM   #6
nazshooter
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Re: Re-thinking my carry/safety rules

Quote:
Originally Posted by db4570 View Post
Second, I am rarely in a place where I feel I need fast-draw instant-access, like being jumped. Instead, I have been places where it looked like something weird might be going down, and it was nice to have a gun as a last-ditch backup plan. The difference getting a shot off in two seconds instead of one second hasn't seemed to enter into the equation. Third, the chances of being shot or otherwise injured so I couldn't rack the slide with my free hand seem extremely remote.

David
Do what you want but in my state you pretty much cannot draw until your life is already in imminent danger and that seems like a terrible time to be adding time/steps. Needing a gun is a pretty rare event for most of us but it seems like you're preparing for that even more rare event where you both need a gun and see the trouble coming in advance.
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Old February 27, 2013, 02:18 AM   #7
AndyWest
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You should definitely carry your weapon however makes you most confident and comfortable. IMO that's THE most important thing. But no need to call chambered carry points "cliches and armchair-urban-soldier fantasies".
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Old February 27, 2013, 02:37 AM   #8
chris in va
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I carry my Kahr unchambered while paddling on the river. It's the only time that happens.
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Old February 27, 2013, 06:40 AM   #9
/dev/1413
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I haven't posted a lot here in terms of my personal opinions, but this topic is one I've pondered lately myself. Most of my experience with guns is target shooting, with some plinking and varmint hunting. Safety was ingrained in me by my grandfather who taught me to shoot, and safety has been the central theme for me in terms of every aspect of how I've handled guns.

For me, my reasons for looking at carrying are due to changing times, different social dynamics, etc. - many of which cause me to feel that the places I travel, visit, vacation, eat, etc. aren't as "safe" as they were.

I've never been in a face-to-face situation where I felt my life was threatened, but in a few where things could have gone differently. As I watch the news, see what goes on even in my own neighborhood, etc. I find that the predictability of my world is in doubt.

So, for me, the whole point is to be ready for something unexpected, and when I prepare for the unexpected I think in terms of worst possible scenario. Loaded, ready to fire with one finger.

In taking the CCW class, I found a completely different perspective on how to prepare to carry, why one would carry, what comes first when carrying. If you feel the need to carry, you should feel the need to be as ready as possible to use it when necessary to defend life. Defending life isn't safe.

My lesson was: not ready to defend life to the fullest, don't carry.

Again, just my opinion.

-ralph
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Old February 27, 2013, 06:53 AM   #10
ScottRiqui
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My take on it is that you don't know what the circumstances will be when you have to rack the slide, and a failure to feed can happen at the most inopportune times. With one in the chamber, at least you're almost certain to get one successful "bang".
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Old February 27, 2013, 07:31 AM   #11
specs
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If needing a safety why not buy a pistol which has one? I often ponder why some do not realize that a DAO semiauto is exactly the same as a DAO revolver? The revolver generally has no safety, but people do not seem so concerned about it.

Trying to rack a slide while under stress with wet britches and sweaty hands, one of which might be trying to fend off an attacker can easily result in a "short stroke" which will render your pistol useless at the one time ever when you will need it to save your life.

My LC9 actually has safeties galore, but I do not engage the safety when carrying.

Better to carry a big stick, it's ready to go at all times.
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Old February 27, 2013, 08:10 AM   #12
dajowi
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You should seriously consider that circumstances may bear out the fact that you may only get to make that "mistake" once. That is why I always carry with a round in the chamber.
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Old February 27, 2013, 08:17 AM   #13
nixfix
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Beretta PX4 Storm with one in the chamber and the safety off. Nice, strong DA pull is the real safety here, yet you can join a gunfight with one hand. Bonus for you is that you can put the safety on in certain environments to make you feel safer.
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Old February 27, 2013, 08:23 AM   #14
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1. Unchambered? I'd think about a revolver then, as you're basically going old west cowboy style. This used to be a time honored tradition as (supposedly) cowboys etc. would put their hammer on an empty chamber in the cylinder as they didn't trust it enough. Put the hammer on an empty chamber. If it helps your mind then cool. You still have five rounds and it won't affect your trigger pull or anything. I'd recommend this as your best option if you already liked revolvers. Jframes are nice and tiny.

2. Alternatively, get yourself a pistol with a nice manual safety and a good holster. As you mentioned LCP I'm thinking you're looking at small pistols in the .380 range. I'd recommend a Sig 238 or Colt Mustang. Both have good manual safeties. If you're uncomfortable carry it for a week cocked and locked, but have the chamber empty. I too had this concern for quite a while. I did this for a week and was comfortable enough to go full cocked and locked by day 3.

Having said all that the wife is still not comfortable as much as I have bugged her about it. She carries without one in the chamber and we practice a fast draw and simultaneous cocking. I'm not happy but its that or nothing so I'll take that.

EDIT: Here's a youtube of the Israeli Draw method. It may be helpful if you keep the route of an automatic with an empty chamber.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bszh2PSEB7w

Last edited by zincwarrior; February 27, 2013 at 08:35 AM.
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Old February 27, 2013, 08:26 AM   #15
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I carry a semi-auto un-chambered in my home with the kids around, etc., otherwise I keep it chambered and ready with the safety (if it has one) off. I used to think playing it safe was better but with more experience I agree with the others that with a sufficiently heavy DA trigger, a good holster that covers the trigger and proper trigger finger control, the odds of having something bad happen are reduced enough for me to feel safe. But for me having to draw the gun, rack the slide (hopefully without a FTF under stress) and aim in situations that happen so fast, and are so unpredictible is just adding an un-necessary layer when you need to be able to act by instinct.

There is one small good point about your way though - if someone gets the drop on you and gets your gun you may be able to get away before they figure out how to shoot you with it.
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Old February 27, 2013, 08:37 AM   #16
zincwarrior
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Quote:
I carry my Kahr unchambered while paddling on the river. It's the only time that happens.
I would think a paddle would be better than a Kahr for canooing though...
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Old February 27, 2013, 08:50 AM   #17
JNad
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It has already been said, it's YOUR gun and YOUR life, carry how you are comfortable.

My only contribution is this, what about something like a Springfield XD line pistol for chambered carry. No manual safety to forget, but has both a grip safety and a longer "not quite double action" pull with a firing pin block for added drop safety. You really really really have to mean to do it, to make one of those go off. That is also true of many other guns, but I just wanted to point it out if it was an option to you.
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Old February 27, 2013, 09:21 AM   #18
db4570
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I'm really pleased and impressed with the positive and well-reasoned responses. I switched my forum usage to this one from another (un-named) one for just this reason. It seems like a much more mature crowd here.

I may be coming around to carrying chambered, without a safety. One thing I am striving for is consistency, so if I carry it a particular way I want it to be in that condition all the time so I know what to expect without thinking. And I want all my guns to handle essentially the same. It is instinctive for me to draw the Beretta or CS9 and flip the safety up. So carrying chambered is actually much more consistent with that.

BTW, that S&W Bodyguard 380 would fit the bill except for one thing: it is one of the ugliest guns I have ever seen. No offense to those of you who own and love one, but after owning the most beautiful handgun ever made (Beretta 92) I'm spoiled for life.

Although I never imagine myself in a quick-draw situation, I accept that it is better to be prepared to fire rather than fumble with racking the slide. I hadn't thought of the possibility of FTFeed in a high stress situation. I also remember an article I read some time ago that took a close look at street crimes and interviewed the victims of them. Almost all of the victims said that the attack happened so suddenly and without warning that it was totally unexpected. In other words, there were no obvious warning signs. Which makes sense.

Thanks for the input.

David
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Old February 27, 2013, 09:55 AM   #19
carguychris
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Quote:
...that S&W Bodyguard 380 would fit the bill except for one thing: it is one of the ugliest guns I have ever seen. No offense to those of you who own and love one, but after owning the most beautiful handgun ever made (Beretta 92) I'm spoiled for life.
Prefer Beretta styling? I have a potential solution for that- find yourself a Beretta 70S. It's wider through the grip area than the LCP or BG380, but this potentially aids controllability. It's a single-action pistol with a thumb safety, like a SIG P238, but can be found much cheaper. The main issue is that they've been out of production for a few decades, so they can be tough to find, as can spare mags; also, some shooters greatly dislike the peculiar crossbolt mag release.

FWIW the Beretta 70 (no "S") aka Jaguar is similar, but it has an alloy rather than steel frame, and is .32ACP or .22LR rather than .380ACP; some early-production 70's also have a queer crossbolt safety. I mention this because you'll sometimes find a 70S incorrectly labeled as a 70 and/or a Jaguar, or vice versa, although this is technically incorrect. When browsing online classified ads, I typically search for all 3 names (70, 70S, and Jaguar), then check the slide markings and safety type of the individual pistols.
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Last edited by carguychris; February 27, 2013 at 09:58 AM. Reason: info added...
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Old February 27, 2013, 09:57 AM   #20
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Quote:
Although it seems everyone insists it is perfectly safe to carry a gun chambered with no safety, it's just something I've never been 100% comfortable with, even in my revolver days.
It appears to me that db4570 is uncomfortable carrying any handgun with a round in the chamber. No matter how many safety features it has.
That being the case, his only option is to carry an empty gun, and hope If it is ever needed he can load it in time.
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Old February 27, 2013, 10:04 AM   #21
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Anyone can say anything about "their" personal experiences and talk your ear off, but ultimately it's up to you to carry how you want. You certainly don't need others approval/denial for something that will ultimately determine your safety.

Looking into that form of carry (non chambered, no manual safety) to be proficient at it would be a good advice as JimmyR suggested.
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Old February 27, 2013, 10:36 AM   #22
db4570
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Quote:
It appears to me that db4570 is uncomfortable carrying any handgun with a round in the chamber. No matter how many safety features it has.
That being the case, his only option is to carry an empty gun, and hope If it is ever needed he can load it in time.
I am glad this post got twenty replies before the first senseless one. Where the heck do you get THAT from? Where in my post did I IN ANY WAY say I would be uncomfortable carrying loaded with a safety? You are making things up out of thin air simply to provide yourself an opportunity to post something obnoxious.

David
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Old February 27, 2013, 11:17 AM   #23
Gaerek
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Quote:
It appears to me that db4570 is uncomfortable carrying any handgun with a round in the chamber. No matter how many safety features it has.
That being the case, his only option is to carry an empty gun, and hope If it is ever needed he can load it in time.
So, this is basically the Internet mantra of, "If you don't have one in the chamber, you might as well not have a gun."

As with the OP, I was actually surprised how many reasonable responses there were before this one. This is a touchy topic, and I've seen it degenerate very quickly.

An unchambered gun is better than no gun. If you can't get past the mental block of carrying a gun with a round in the chamber (condition 1) and the only other option is not carrying at all, then carry unchambered. I don't recommend it, I won't do it, but I also am well aware that having a gun (in any condition) is better than having no gun. The irony here, though, is that because you aren't 100% comfortable carrying a gun with a round in the chamber, you are less likely to have an ND as a result, because you're going to be more aware of the fact.

The thing to remember is that you need to be fully aware of all the limitations of carrying an unchambered gun. You need to practice drawing and racking. You need to practice racking with only one hand (and practice this with both left and right hands).

You had mentioned this in your original post:

Quote:
Second, I am rarely in a place where I feel I need fast-draw instant-access, like being jumped. Instead, I have been places where it looked like something weird might be going down, and it was nice to have a gun as a last-ditch backup plan. The difference getting a shot off in two seconds instead of one second hasn't seemed to enter into the equation. Third, the chances of being shot or otherwise injured so I couldn't rack the slide with my free hand seem extremely remote.
The problem with this thinking is that in most cases, you are attacked quickly, and in a place you would least expect it. I've had 2 close calls in the last two years, once when I was attacked while in my car (long story) and I wasn't carrying, and the other I wasn't attacked, but an incident occurred that was so peculiar, that I couldn't think of any other reason this person acted the way they acted unless I was being targeted, and only my aggressive stance and verbalization kept him from doing something stupid (I wasn't carrying because I was on a Disneyland vacation with my family). Both were places I would never have expected it to happen, and in both cases, it happened so quickly that I had little time to react. In the first instance, my only reaction was to step on the gas, and get out of there, but if I couldn't have done that for some reason, I likely wouldn't have had time to get to my gun before the guy was bashing in my window (if I had been carrying). In the second instance, the range was so close that I would have probably had to fight him off with my weak hand while drawing, if it came to that (if I had been able to carry).

My point being, don't think that by being in a safe place that you're actually safe, and that you'll have time to react.
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Old February 27, 2013, 11:18 AM   #24
redhologram
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I say do what makes you the most comfortable and where you feel you are the most responsible, safe carrier. At the end of the day, it's your personal decision whether you decide to carry chambered or unchambered. It's not for me, or anyone else, to tell you how you should be carrying your weapon in that regards.
I am sure you have looked at all the pros and cons of carrying both ways to come to your decision. It's certainly not one that can be taken lightly as we all know.
I carry chambered 6 +1. That's my personal decision. My gun does not have a safety on it. But like you I weighed out pros, cons and situations and decided that was best for me. I'll even go out further on a limb here and say this. My gun is always on me. (except when I'm sleeping or in the shower and then it is very close by). But even my 13 yr old son knows the status of my gun and how to use it (very well I must add) and as a last resort should a situation ever come up where someone grabs me to where I can't get to my gun but he can (do I think that will happen, no, but do I try and plan for the unexpected, yes), it's chambered and ready to where all he has to do is pull the trigger.
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Old February 27, 2013, 11:47 AM   #25
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David, I had the same nervousness about it when I started carrying back when MO instituted CCW.
After a few days it wears off when you believe its not just going to go off on its own.
You already know it wont go off on its own, but knowing and believing are sometimes a little different.

I carry a LCP daily, along with a PM9 and a Glock 27 on occasion.
I will not buy a carry pistol with a manual safety.
Keep it holstered at all times to eliminate any chance the trigger could be hit, snagged, pulled or whatever.
That includes even at night, while dressing, etc.. pulling it from the holster everyday for storage exponentially raises the risk of a AD/ND and will wear the finish off of it straight away, too.

My ccw's are all always loaded and always stay holstered 100% of the time unless I'm shooting it or cleaning it.
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