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Old January 19, 2014, 09:37 PM   #1
groverdill
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Empty chamber for safety - good idea or not?

Since I'm still quite new to the world of guns, I have a question/comment about a thread I was reading over in the tactics and training section. There's a thread about concealed carrying in a condition 3 status (full mag, no round in chamber). Would carrying a revolver with no round in the.......umm, is there a term for the chamber that's next in line to fire??? Active chamber? Chamber #1? Danger hole of doom? Well, you folks probably know what I mean. Essentially you'd have to pull the trigger twice to fire. Would that be considered condition 3 for revolvers? And is there any good reason to do that? Thanks.

Mike
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Old January 19, 2014, 10:02 PM   #2
hAkron
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I can see no benefit to carrying a modern DA revolver in this manner.
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Old January 19, 2014, 10:07 PM   #3
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I personally would not have an empty chamber in my revolver. Keep in mind if the hammer is lowered then the chamber that is lined up with the barrel is not the next round to be fired as the cylinder will rotate to the next chamber in a double action revolver.
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Old January 19, 2014, 10:10 PM   #4
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If it's a recently made revolver with the incorporated drop safeties, my question would be why would you do it? What purpose would it serve?
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Old January 19, 2014, 10:10 PM   #5
shep854
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The empty chamber under the hammer is good practice for Colt Peacemakers; with those guns a sharp blow to the hammer could drive the firing pin forward with enough force to fire a cartridge. It's also practiced with Colt clones, and is required for Cowboy Action Shooting competition.

With modern revolvers that have rebounding hammers and frame mounted firing pins, it's unnecessary. You can safely load all the chambers.
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Old January 19, 2014, 10:16 PM   #6
Againstthewind
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Wyatt Earp

I recently read something about this, but someone would have to check my facts. There was a common myth about the wild west that people carrying a gun would leave one chamber empty. The article or whatever said that it was a matter of choice, but there were documented instances where the gun fell out of the holster and discharged killing someone in the bar. Also there were stories about Wyatt Earp or someone like that firing six rounds in a fight before reloading so he obviously didn't leave one chamber empty. I am not sure how relevent that is to current guns, but it seemed on topic.

Last edited by Againstthewind; January 19, 2014 at 11:55 PM.
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Old January 19, 2014, 10:18 PM   #7
Bob Wright
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When I carried a DA revolver I loaded all six chambers, with such guns as S&W Model 586 and Model 19. Now that I carry a Ruger Blackhawk (Three Screw) I load only five rounds, leaving an empty chamber under the hammer.

As to autos, I'm not too experienced with them hardly to qualify a suggestion, but have carried a Colt Gold Cup .45 ACP with one in the chamber and cocked and locked. And with no qualms whatsoever.

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Old January 19, 2014, 11:32 PM   #8
DannyB1954
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The newer guns have a safety built into them that prevents the firing pin to move if the gun is dropped. If your gun has this drop safety there is no good reason to carry with an empty chamber. On Semi Autos I used to carry with an empty chamber until I noticed at times problems loading the first round.
Modern guns will not go off until the trigger is pulled, so now I carry fully loaded, safety on, and holstered with a trigger protector.
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Old January 19, 2014, 11:43 PM   #9
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Againstthewind - that last statement really peaked my interested. I always like hearing other people's thoughts on SD, so if you even want to rant, send me a PM.

To the OP - there are several type of semi-auto pistol. From a blog, "The philosophy is that condition three provides a method of carry that allows safe carry for a largely untrained population with a diverse variety of firearms." If you're carrying random, potentially unfamiliar semi-auto guns, you may not know the difference between a DA/SA gun, an SA gun and a DAO gun. Condition 3 carry renders all of these guns safe in a carry situation.

For modern double action revolvers, there is no reason to carry condition 3, and some of the benefits of it aren't even possible with revolvers. The biggest "safety" on a DA revolver (other than an educated person handling it) is the heavy trigger pull. Much like a Glock, tapping or brushing the trigger will not set the gun off (unlike a 1911) unless it's cocked which it should never be in any sort of carry or SD situation.

Forcing yourself to pull a heavy trigger twice doesn't really make too much sense. That would be like loading a dummy round as top round of your magazine. Unless you're wildly untrained or carrying in an extremely dangerous way, the trigger on a revolver is never going to get pulled accidentally, and pulling the trigger is the only way to make the gun fire.

Hope this helps.
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Old January 19, 2014, 11:58 PM   #10
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Over 100 years ago Iver Johnson advertised their revolver with the tag line "Hammer the Hammer" to show how effective their new safety actions were. No myth about carrying the hammer down on an empty chamber with the Colt SAA, Ruger M1875 and S&Ws of that era, 40 years ago Ruger dropped their Old Model in favor of the New Model due to problems caused by ignoring 100 years of gun handling lore. Don't know about Wyatt Earp loading 6 rounds, some years ago I saw the late great Joe Bowman loading 6 rounds in his Old Model Rugers though he was firing blanks and fired them very quickly.
In my day (1967-1971) Army practice was to carry the M1911A1 with the hammer down on an empty chamber, but that was due to the inadequacy of Army training and not design flaws in the pistol.
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Old January 20, 2014, 12:31 AM   #11
Webleymkv
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While carrying revolvers and semi-autos with empty chambers may seem like similar practices, there are actually very different reasons for them. The only revolvers which require an empty chamber to be carried safely are 19th century designs like the Colt Single Action Army or S&W No. 3 and modern replicas thereof. These guns have either inadequate or non-existent safety features to prevent a sharp blow to the hammer from igniting a round in the chamber aligned with the barrel. Just about any quality DA revolver made in the last 60-70 years will have internal safety features which make the gun firing without the trigger being pulled all but impossible.

The practice with semi-autos comes from the action of the trigger and general mistrust of the then new-fangled self-loaders when they first became popular for military use in the early 20th Century. Most early semi-auto designs such as the Colt 1911, Luger P08, and Mauser C96 Broomhandle are single-action which means that the hammer/striker must be manually cocked (either by physically cocking the hammer or cycling the action of the pistol) before the first shot can be fired (the automatic cycling of the pistol will re-cock the hammer/striker for subsequent shots). While most of these early semi-autos had manual safeties, applying the safety still left the hammer cocked and many did not adequately guard against the possibility of an accidental discharge if a sharp blow to the hammer should shear off the sear. Because of this, many people who were used to revolvers simply didn't feel comfortable carrying around a cocked pistol so keeping the chamber empty became standard procedure for many armies.

Even later on when double-action semi-autos like the Walther P38 became available, many still chose to carry them with the chamber empty because their safeties were awkward to operate, the DA trigger was perceived to be too heavy, it simplified training, or just "because that's how it's always been done." A notable example of this is the so-called "Israeli method" in which the pistol is carried with an empty chamber and the slide cycled during the draw stroke. This method was developed because, at the time, the Israelis had a myriad of different types of pistols with different sorts of safeties, but empty-chamber carry worked for all of them.

All that being said, modern semi-autos and revolvers have numerous safety features which make the gun discharging without a pull of the trigger, outside of some exceedingly extreme and bizarre circumstances, all but impossible. Unless you're carrying some sort of vintage gun or one of questionable quality, there really isn't any good reason not to carry it with the chamber(s) loaded. My standard advice is that if you do not feel comfortable carrying your handgun fully loaded, you're probably better off selling it to finance a different gun that you feel more comfortable with.
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Old January 20, 2014, 12:41 AM   #12
DannyB1954
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Against the wind, Some of the old revolvers had notches halfway between the cylinders for the hammer to rest in. If the gun dropped, no harm done. When the hammer was pulled back the cylinder would advance to the next chamber.

I seen this on a youtube hitchcock45 video.
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Old January 20, 2014, 01:35 AM   #13
jason_iowa
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Condition 3 is suicide in defense situation. Like others have said in a "modern" firearm there should be no issues in condition 1. I deplore manual safeties of any kind and only carry DAO pistols and DA revolvers for self defense.

Practice Practice Practice your clear, draw and fire with an unloaded weapon and when you get to the range or in the field you will have no problems.
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Old January 20, 2014, 08:05 AM   #14
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Regarding Mr Earp, if he KNEW he was heading into a fight, he might well have loaded #6. It would be the smart thing to do.
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Old January 20, 2014, 08:29 AM   #15
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suicide. can we say suicide.....?
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Old January 20, 2014, 09:09 AM   #16
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.

The only revolvers that are dangerous with a live round under the hammer are those older designs that don't use a transfer bar, or some other mechanism, to preclude the firing pin hitting the primer should the hammer/spur receive a direct blow (whether from dropping the gun or something hitting it) - especially single-action revolvers like the Colt SAA, Old Model Rugers, and various imported SAA clones.



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Old January 20, 2014, 09:32 AM   #17
Jim Watson
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Quote:
Essentially you'd have to pull the trigger twice to fire. Would that be considered condition 3 for revolvers? And is there any good reason to do that?
Ah, yes, I heard that in an old Police Story tv show about 40 years ago. The old street cop told the rookie: "Of course you carry your gun with an empty chamber under the hammer, but you should also carry it with the next one empty. That way if some crook grabs it, it won't go off the first try and you have time to draw your backup gun."

The first is not necessary with any modern DA revolver (Modern beginning with Colt about 1908.), the second is Hollywood stupidity. I bet Joesph Wambaugh who got it started was not in charge of technical advisor.
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Old January 20, 2014, 10:12 AM   #18
Garycw
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Empty chamber for safety - good idea or not?

Quote:
Originally Posted by groverdill View Post
Since I'm still quite new to the world of guns, I have a question/comment about a thread I was reading over in the tactics and training section. There's a thread about concealed carrying in a condition 3 status (full mag, no round in chamber). Would carrying a revolver with no round in the.......umm, is there a term for the chamber that's next in line to fire??? Active chamber? Chamber #1? Danger hole of doom? Well, you folks probably know what I mean. Essentially you'd have to pull the trigger twice to fire. Would that be considered condition 3 for revolvers? And is there any good reason to do that? Thanks.

Mike
HUH?... Pull trigger twice to fire. I've never heard of the chamber on a revolver"hole of doom" to the left of hammer empty. Some old school train of thought was a empty chamber directly if front of hammer empty incase dropped on hammer. It's really not necessary in modern revolvers. But never the chamber to the left requiring two shots to fire. In a SD situation you would either 1. Be dead or 2. Two shoot the guy while he's laughing. Would the train of thought be that if your gun was taken away you'd have an extra cpl seconds to live? Personally if someone pointed a revolver at me and it clicked on first round, they'd be eating it before the second attempt.

Edit:> that would be to the right.

Last edited by Garycw; January 20, 2014 at 07:47 PM.
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Old January 20, 2014, 10:13 AM   #19
Jim March
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Quote:
I recently read something about this, but someone would have to check my facts. There was a common myth about the wild west that people carrying a gun would leave one chamber empty. The article or whatever said that it was a matter of choice, but there were documented instances where the gun fell out of the holster and discharged killing someone in the bar.
Read "Sixguns" by Keith. The most common accident with a no-safety piece loaded six-up was when somebody pulled a heavy saddle off a horse and it came down landing on the hammer of the gun.

Anybody smart loaded five-up unless they knew they were headed into trouble. It is very likely the Earps and Doc Holliday loaded up full on the way to the OK Corral to confront the Clanton gang. Any other time, no.

Now, that said I carry a modern version of a "Peacemaker" (Ruger New Vaquero) loaded with an empty chamber under the hammer, but that's so that on the first shot my muzzle-gas-powered automatic shell ejector doesn't spit out a live 9mm round! Once the five in the chambers are shot and an empty chamber passes in front of my magazine just left of the hammer, the mag will start autofeeding. I use a 2rd mag for holster carry (7 round capacity out of the holster) and 9rd mags a foot long for reloads . But I'm the sickest puppy out there as far as wheelgun mods go...
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Old January 20, 2014, 10:19 AM   #20
Snyper
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Quote:
Some of the old revolvers had notches halfway between the cylinders for the hammer to rest in.
NAA Mini Revolvers also use that feature
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Old January 20, 2014, 11:01 AM   #21
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When I was taught how to shoot revolvers - abut 50 years ago - it was on an old SA. I was taught to carry on an open chamber. BUT . . . that was drilled in to me to do - especially while hunting. I've always done it on cap and ball SA revolves but they are a whole different animal.

I carry a S & W Model 36 for CCW - it has a 5 round cylinder - it also has all of the modern safety features built in. I carry with all chambers loaded - I'm comfortable with 5 . . . not comfortable with 4.

I really don't see a purpose of an empty chamber on a modern revolver with the safety features they now have. Personally, I feel better with a wheel gun with all chambers loaded . . much more so than I would be carrying a semi-auto all set to fire. That's a personal thought though and I know many carry in that manner with a semi . . . what can I say? But . . I'm more comfortable with wheel guns due to my shooting history. I'm just old and set in my ways!
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Old January 20, 2014, 11:13 AM   #22
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With a modern revolver that has a hammer block, or transfer bar there is no need to leave an empty chamber in the cylinder. You need to know your gun. My early 70's Super Blackhawk does not have the safety modification as I want to keep It original. So when I carry It hunting I leave the hammer down on an empty chamber.
With a semi-auto It makes no sense to have an empty chamber at all. A semi-auto with an empty chamber is an empty gun!
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Old January 20, 2014, 11:37 AM   #23
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Just out of curiosity, what specific model are you using? That could put an end to a lot of speculation.

That being said, I'll join in. The only guns I ever pack not fully loaded are a couple Cimarrons I carry in the woods, for the not-drop-safe reasons mentioned above. I even live on the edge with my two pre-war Smith & Wessons, and have them fully loaded. They live in the safe most of the time, and would only be carried in the woods in full flap holsters.

Modern guns, load 'em up.

As far as the first trigger pull falls on an empty chamber? No way, no how. If I'm needing to pull that trigger, it's going to be for a reason. I assume, and I hope I never have to find out first hand, that I'm not going to want to waste time or lose a round on target.

I will go one step further and point out that the gun is, or at least should be, secured in a holster or sitting unmolested in/on a nightstand or wherever you keep it. If you are going to handle it in a not-about-to-shoot type situation, it should be fully unloaded and triple checked. Even then, the four rules still apply. I'm not suggesting that you don't already know this, but safety, safety, safety never hurts to mention.

Good luck, hope you get comfortable and be safe.

Last edited by 9mmfan; January 20, 2014 at 11:43 AM.
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Old January 20, 2014, 11:48 AM   #24
groverdill
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Great answers! I'd say that's an overwhelming "NO" to carrying with an empty chamber. Like I said in the original post, I'm new to shooting, but I kind of figured it would be undesirable to leave a chamber empty on a revolver. The conversation that initiated my question concerned semi-autos and the possibility of accidental discharge while drawing, and I wondered if it carried over to revolvers as well. That, combined with this video, had me curious.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SEuBXWujeYQ

Heh, by the way, that's not me in the video. But I think that shows one of the biggest fears of people who are new to the world of guns and shooting. Accidental discharge. But with a revolver's heavier trigger pull, the chances of that happening would be minimal, wouldn't you agree? Thanks for all the input. Feel free to add more. I'm all about learning from others who are more experienced than me.

Mike

To 9mmfan: I'm not carrying yet. I'm on the verge of purchasing my first handgun, so this was just an observation/question from a new shooters' perspective. Still learning the basics.

Last edited by groverdill; January 20, 2014 at 11:57 AM.
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Old January 20, 2014, 12:06 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by groverdill
...the possibility of accidental discharge while drawing...
That's why you gotta practice. Empty gun. Ammo and magazines in another room. Double check that the gun is empty. Triple check. If you get distracted or interrupted, check again. That finger should be indexed along the frame above the trigger guard until you are on target. When you grip the gun, your finger should be laid straight along the outside of the holster.

Booger hook off that bang switch. Any time you are handling that gun when you are not about to shoot.

Read that again.

That needs to become ingrained in your mind. It should happen naturally. It will carry over to when you pick up a drill or a bottle of Windex. It'll make you laugh when that happens.

When you are finished and ready to load up the gun, say it out loud if it helps. "I'm finished practicing, and am reloading." After that, don't fiddle with it.

Not trying to preach, just trying to help a brother out. Some lessons come harder than others. Something about learning from other folk's mistakes rather that your own. I will readily admit to complacency and being in a hurry ended up with a .32 caliber hole in my mattress. You don't forget something like that. I know my wife won't let me. Rightfully so. I think she just wants changing the sheets to be a "me" thing instead of an "us" thing.

Just saw your edit. Good for you for asking questions before launching into this. That's a good habit to get into. Good luck, and find you a nice piece. Then, pictures!

Last edited by 9mmfan; January 20, 2014 at 12:33 PM.
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