This is a constant debate across social media and firearm message boards alike. Should you carry your firearm with a round in the chamber? In my opinion, if you are not carrying in condition 0, meaning one in the chamber and the safety disengaged, you are not prepared for a deadly force encounter. One of the most common phrases you will hear from victims of violent crimes is “They came out of nowhere”. William J. Lewinski, Ph.D., Director, Force Science Research Center, has determined that a criminal can retrieve a gun from their waistband, point and fire in 9/100ths of a second. A trained individual, upon perceiving the threat, will take 31/100ths of a second to pull the trigger. This time includes 25/100ths for perception processing time and 6/100ths of a second for reaction time. The criminal is not subject to the processing time, he has already made his decision. Fractions of a second will determine whether or not you will survive a deadly force encounter.
I have heard people argue that they have trained to rack and chamber during their draw. I absolutely advocate training, but it is nearly impossible to train with the level of stress and adrenaline that will be present during a deadly force encounter. I understand that we train to build muscle memory, and it is that muscle memory that we will rely on in these times of stress. However, it is my opinion that training to rack on your firearm during your draw only creates a greater possibility for failure, malfunction, and human error. You may even find yourself injured and unable to rack the slide to chamber a round. Even if we have our response queued up and ready, the odds are, we will still be reactionary and behind the curve. One of the quickest methods of firearm self-defense is shooting from the hip, or instinctive shooting. This is not an option if a round isn’t chambered.
Ultimately, you don’t have to dig very deep to find multiple examples of victims losing the defensive battle because they did not have a round chambered. The argument that it is somehow safer to carry a firearm without a round in the chamber is farcical. Most modern firearms were designed for condition 0 carry, and they come with some form of built in drop safety. The risk of a negligent discharge doesn’t outweigh the risk of losing the defensive battle, especially considering that time and odds are already against you. Perhaps, rather than spending the time training to rack a round on your draw. You should consider training and education that will make you feel more confident about carrying your firearm in condition 0. After all, those fractions of second could be the difference between life and death.