Gun Myths: Carrying 1-Up is Dangerous

The Internet is an equal opportunity source of data. Some of the information we come across is genuinely informative and useful, whereas in other cases the material is not just inaccurate but downright dishonest and harmful. Unfortunately the amount of times that bad data and outright lies go viral vastly outnumber that of good and truthful information.

Don’t believe me? Go check your Facebook newsfeed, I’ll wait.

Self-defence and firearm related information is of course not excluded from this phenomenon.

The difference between inaccurate information about self-defence and firearms versus inaccurate information about what species Bruce Jenner’s dog is, is that the former can land people in serious trouble. Bad advice has gotten people arrested, seriously injured, and even killed. What makes it worse is that such outcomes are entirely avoidable.

This is going to be the first in a series of gun-myth rants, since the issues at stake are too involved to just lump together in one single sitting. Without further ado, let the games begin.

Carrying 1-Up is Dangerous

The source of this one was an instructional video I came across on the internet in which the trainer made a couple of bizarre claims. First off he states that carrying “one-up is the number one cause for shooting accidents,” and that he “just don’t believe in it.” He then goes on to say he can teach his students to draw from concealment with an empty chamber, rack the firearm, and shoot “as fast or even faster than when carrying one-up.”

Usually I would let this sort of thing slide, I mean there are plenty of terrible instructional videos out there on the Net after all. The problem is that I have seen this Empty Chamber Club of so-called “Israeli Carry” become rather fashionable as of late. Why is it a problem? Because it is bullshit.

Dissecting the Problem

Firstly, the instructor in question provides no source for his statistics. None. Zero. Zilch. Not even in the video description. It is obviously a thumb-sucked nonsense stat that he pulled from a convenient orifice, purely for the purpose of supporting the flawed dogma that forms the foundation of his training. By the way, he isn’t nearly the only guy who teaches this shit: there is a whole smorgasbord of them out there.

Also saying that a round in the chamber is responsible for firearm accidents (which is bullshit) is exactly like saying that petrol in a car’s fuel tank is responsible for motor vehicle crashes. It is such an irrational and circular argument, that I feel stupider for putting it down in writing.

Secondly, if you think that you can draw, rack, and fire faster than you can just draw and fire, you need to go back to school and redo maths. Unless you are capable of bending the space-time continuum there is no physical way for you to do three separate actions quicker than you can do just two.

But that isn’t even the crux of the bigger issue.

Real-world violent encounters don’t run like scripted events practiced in a dojo. The aggressor has the advantage of surprise and is the initiator of the attack, meaning that you will immediately start-off on the back-foot. Creating distance, and thus time, to clear concealment, draw, present, and accurately fire will be challenging enough for you under duress. Adding a further required step to the sequence to get your gun into play, and so doing sacrificing vital time, is foolhardy. Especially so if such an extra step is completely unnecessary.

To make matters worse, if your one hand is unavailable to rack the slide due to it being injured, or covered in blood, or presently occupied in trying to keep the bad man away from you so that he doesn’t stab you in the kidneys, how do you intend on racking the slide? On your belt or shoe? Whilst under attack? Good luck with that.

Trying to chamber a round under duress also increases your chances of screwing it up and causing a misfeed, which you will now have to find time for to clear. While disagreeable people are busy shooting at you. Or trying to stab you to death. Or sitting on your chest and clawing your eyeballs out.

All of this unpleasant and unnecessary drama can be completely avoided by simply carrying a round chambered.

A Question of Design and Ability

All modern service pistols can quite safely be carried 1-up. The Walther P38, which predates World War II, was designed specifically to be carried decocked with a round chambered. Even the Colt 1911, a design which is over a century old, can be safely carried in Condition 1. There is no reason why you, in the year 2015, cannot carry 1-up in your Glock or HK or CZ or S&W. Really, there isn’t.

Instead of spending all that time practicing ridiculous draw-rack-present drills, rather acquire good trigger-finger discipline and buy a high-quality holster: those two elements together will make you a far safer gun owner than any empty-chamber mumbo jumbo.

But you don’t have to take my word for it.

I did a fairly extensive internet search to find out what serious firearms instructors from across the Pond think of the whole empty chamber schtick. It was quite a difficult endeavour, because they simply don’t talk about it. At all. Frank Proctor, Mike Pannone, Larry Vickers, Massad Ayoob: all of them teach Condition 1 carry in their CCW classes. No mention of empty chambers or magic spells.

After some more scratching and searching, I managed to find Massad Ayoob talking about empty chamber carry. And if you think he likes it, I may have bad news for you:

“However, I’ve never recommended that a defense pistol be carried chamber empty, unless it was an obsolete or el cheap design that was not ‘drop safe.’ I carry with one in the pipe, so does every law enforcement agency I know of in this country, and for several good reasons already stated by others on this thread, it is what I continue to recommend.”

Why doesn’t a single one of these highly experienced, highly decorated, and highly regarded instructors ever mention empty chamber carry? Because in the USA it is a non-event: experience has long ago proven that the best way to carry is with one in the chamber, end of story.

I have also yet to find a single acclaimed South African instructor who promotes empty chamber carry, so it appears that everyone who knows what they are doing are firmly on the same page.

End of Story

We are all adults at the end of the day. If you want to carry empty chamber because it is your personal preference, for whatever reason, fine. It is your choice after all.

However, if you tell me that you do it that way because that’s the way “the Israelis do it”, you are doing it wrong. Also don’t tell me that carrying my firearm with a round chambered is dangerous. Because then I will tell you that walking around without a brain is dangerous, and that you must please stop eating my crayons.

Millions of gun owners carry firearms with rounds chambered everyday world wide without causing a negligent discharge. Thousands of South Africans do exactly the same. If it works for them, it will work for you too.

Carrying 1-up has saved lives. It will continue to save lives. Don’t dismiss a method that works simply because of the dogma spread by people who don’t know what they are talking about,


9 thoughts on “Gun Myths: Carrying 1-Up is Dangerous

  1. Or only unsling his weapon after he was fired upon. Oh and he must be over 25 years old as well. See my posts on Facebook Page GOSA.

    There are of course those videos that show some idiots that shoot themselves by accident. Thus the problem is that they lack proper training. Then carrying one up will not be a problem. Just do not hand firearms with safety off under the table to a friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Horses for courses. I would rather a fool carry condition 3 than shoot him/her self while “de-cocking” a firearm. if you carry one up, leave the hammer back if there is no “de-cocker”. That is my belief and a truth for me. If you have to manually “”de-cock” at least do it where you are not going to hurt someone else or their property. What you do to your property or body parts is your business.


  3. Good advice. If your FA is capable of being carried one-up you should do so. Especially here in SA where you are very likely to be facing multiple assailants in the same encounter.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. There is one popular argument for empty chamber carry that you did not cover. The “I carry empty chamber in case I have my gun taken away from me” crew.


  5. I’m not sure I fully agree here. Carrying in Condition 3 (C3) is as legitimate an option as those who carry in Condition 1 (C1/1-up). The Israeli draw-chickenwingcock-n-fire is a great alternative for people who wish to carry C3 as it includes full body indexing. I’ve seen ordinary people under pressure exit a vehicle, use the Israeli draw and put rounds on target reliably at 20m. (Equally I’ve seen people miss at 5m whether 1-up or C3).

    I do agree, however, that it’s a myth that 1-up is inherently more dangerous. User error is often the issue, which may be minimised in C3. Modern weapons are designed to reliably be carried 1-up. A regular inspection of one’s weapon ought to ensure that mechanical failure is not the reason for accidents.

    It’s best that people train according to the condition their weapon is carried in–so concealed if self-defence and 1-up or not based on preference. I wouldn’t expect an untrained person, irrespective of how they carry their gun, to do so.

    Liked by 1 person

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