A lot of people think the USA is alone in allowing citizens to carry handguns for self-defense. That’s not quite true; in both my home country and Germany, where I’ve spent much of my life, it’s possible to be issued a concealed carry permit if there’s a real threat to your life. It’s certainly much easier to carry in the USA though, and so it’s become an endlessly controversial topic. A lot of this controversy is predictable – anti-gun proponents arguing against the whole principle of personal protection weapons – but there are debates among people who actually carry, too. One of these has popped up on this very blog recently and I thought I’d like to talk about it a bit more.
What’s being discussed is the best state to carry a handgun in – loaded (with a magazine fitted but a clear chamber) or made ready (with a round chambered). There are valid arguments on both sides and many of them revolve around training; one of my fellow bloggers here, for example, argues that if you’re not confident enough to carry a weapon with one up the spout the answer is more training. I completely agree with that – if you’re not confident enough to carry a ready weapon you shouldn’t be carrying at all, because a weapon you’re not comfortable enough is as good as in your opponent’s hand already. However, I do think there are some good arguments for carrying loaded.
When I deployed on operations, I kept my rifle loaded but not made ready, with very few exceptions. When I was in Iraq, we had to drive down to Kuwait City quite regularly and I’d make ready before the trip – in a vehicle there’s no time to faff around if a contact happens. When I was out on the ground in Basrah, however, I kept it loaded and, usually, slung around my back. That made me visually non-threatening to the locals I was trying to talk to, and also gave me a series of escalatory steps I could take if things started getting interesting. Here’s one example.
One day I was attached to an infantry platoon that was working Basrah’s central market. I had my own job to do and was basically just tagging along so I had some protection, but when the platoon commander decided to arrest two Iraqis who were selling counterfeit Viagra, I was another guy with a rifle and I was ordered to join the cordon. We sure needed a cordon because the locals weren’t too happy at seeing their little blue pills being taken away, and an irate crowd began to form. As there were less than 30 of us, with four open Land Rovers and no heavy firepower, this was a bit alarming. The crowd, which quickly swelled to a couple of hundred, started to close in on us as we fell back on the vehicles and got ready to leave. My place was on the last Rover and as I climbed up into the back hands were starting to reach in, trying to grab one of the bags of pills. I stamped on a few fingers, but then someone grabbed my leg. That was a line I didn’t want crossed, so I raised my rifle and made it ready. The two riflemen in the back with me had made ready before leaving camp and were already covering the crowd with their weapons, but that wasn’t having an effect. The sound of my bolt picking up a round, however, did. The four or five men trying to snatch the pills backed up a pace, and seconds later we were rolling out of there.
This experience translates to civilian life. Sometimes it’s definitely best to have a chambered round. If you’re out with small kids, for example, you’re likely to be holding one of them when the SHTF and you’ll only have one hand for the weapon. The same goes if you’re driving; you need one hand for the car. In these circumstances you can’t make ready easily, so you need the weapon to already be in that condition. If you’re going to have both hands free, however, there are real advantages in being able to visibly escalate the threat. Once you’ve drawn a ready pistol, if the aggressor doesn’t instantly back down you only have one option left and that’s to pull the trigger. If there’s any kind of standoff, however, working the slide is a very visible – and audible – final warning, and it can make someone rethink their attitude. There are enough stories of home invaders who changed their mind when they heard the slide of a 12-bore being pumped, after all.
At the end of the day, whether you carry loaded or ready is up to you, but don’t feel that the highest state of readiness is necessarily the best. Making ready isn’t a step that needs to slow you down at all; if it’s really urgent and you have two hands free, you can do it as you bring the weapon up into a fire position (that’s where training comes in). Other times it’s a way of saying “I really, really mean this” that can’t be ignored. Look at your own situation and don’t be reluctant to change states – make ready when you get into your car, for example, and make safe (empty the chamber) when you get out. Work out what’s best for you, be confident in your training and ability, and stay safe.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.