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Conditions of Carry for the Automatic Pistol...

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Old 02-21-2011, 12:52 PM   #1
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Default Conditions of Carry for the Automatic Pistol...

The Conditions of Readiness from the late LtCol John Dean "Jeff" Cooper:
Condition 0 - A round is in the chamber, hammer cocked, and the safety is off.
Condition 1 - furthermore known as "cocked and locked”, means a round is in the chamber, the hammer cocked, and the manual thumb safety on the side of the frame is applied.
Condition 2 - A round is in the chamber and the hammer is down.
Condition 3 - The chamber is empty and hammer down with a charged magazine in the gun.
Condition 4 - The chamber is empty, hammer down and no magazine is in the gun.
With reference to the above, let us have a discussion regarding you and your new automatic pistol…what carry condition will you keep it in? Many novices and some vets, who should know better, opt for empty chamber or “Condition 3” carry - Lord, what fools these mortals be…here is why.

Before continuing, I would like to state that I intend no offence with my judgment on the procedure. There are some people who can draw, charge-pistol, and fire much faster than I can simply draw and shoot. Nevertheless, all things being equal, an additional step is an additional step. Nonetheless, what would occur if your off-hand were occupied when you needed your piece? There is a very good probability of this occurring in a close-combat situation and that is a fact.

Historically, W.E. Fairbairn, E. A. Sykes, the U. S. Armed Forces, most of the world’s major armed forces, and the Israeli SDF and CTU all touted this method, teaching draw, charge-pistol, fire methods, mainly for safety’s sake in training masses of people quickly with various types of semi-automatic pistols and this is somewhat understandable. The Israeli’s are moving away from this practice slowly but surely.

Believe me, the only way to carry a combat SA pistol is in its best state of readiness i.e. Cocked-N-Locked. For DA/SA and DAO, load that chamber people. If you are concerned over the pistol mystically discharging itself, try the following test that I use and recommend. Carry the pistol COMPLETELY EMPTY (no cartridges whatsoever) but in C1 or C2 (SA in 1, DA/SA in 2) around the house, for a week or so, in a proper holster, and see what happens. If it does not discharge, and it should not, then that should satisfy anyone and if not, consider another type of handgun as your carry weapon.

I honestly believe the whole issue revolves around the sight or thought of a cocked pistol in ones holster. All shooters, well most anyway, have safety pounded into them from day one until they meet their maker and therein lies the problem. Consciously or not, we equate “cocked” with “shoot”. For many I feel this causes the proverbial “brain fart” and thus the fear of C1 carry.

C2 or Condition 2 (a round is in the chamber and the hammer down) is, to me, acceptable for a nightstand drawer gun; C1 is the only way to carry a single-action automatic.

In conclusion, personally and with few exceptions, my take on Condition 3 carry (chamber empty, magazine full) is as follows; if you are concerned at having a round in the chamber, you need a better pistol, training, or both. To me, either one needs a firearm at the ready or one does not. A semi-auto, that is semi-empty, is only effective on a semi-threat.


The following pistol type/carry recommendations assume several points. First, that the owner of the weapon is not an idiot. Second, that said pistol is in proper and sound working order. Third, that some type of holster, which covers the entire trigger guard area, will always be used including a pocket holster. Fourth and last, that if the pistols owner-operator is not confident, regarding proper carry procedures, they will err on the margin of safety and seek professional assistance.

How YOU carry YOUR pistol is up to YOU, these are simply MY methods.

1. Single action semi-automatic pistols of the Browning pattern i.e. 1911, Vis wz35, Hi-Power or P35, Ballester-Molina, et cetera – My preferred carry condition: Condition 1 or cocked-n-locked.

2. Single action semi-automatic “pocket type” pistols w/external hammer i.e. the Beretta 950 Jetfire and Minx - My preferred carry condition: Condition 2 or hammer down, chamber loaded. Note, latter models do have a safety however, most carry these diminutive pistols in the pocket therefore, I use and recommend C2.

3. Single action semi-automatic “pocket type” pistols sans external hammer i.e. Various Browning/Colt/FN designs M1900, M1903, "Baby" Browning, M1908, M1910, M1912, M1922 and so forth, Ortgies, Sterling, some Astra models, et cetera – My preferred carry condition: In a pocket Condition 3 or chamber empty, magazine loaded. In a holster Condition 1 or cocked-n-locked IF you trust the safety mechanism of your particular model.

4. Double action/single action (DA/SA) semi-automatic pistols i.e. the Beretta M92, S&W M39 and M59 line, FEG AP-63/PA-63, Ruger P85, Radom P64, et cetera - My preferred carry condition: Chamber loaded, hammer down, safety off.

5. Double action only (DAO) and Safe Action type semi-automatic pistols i.e. Glock, Kel-Tec, Sig Sauer DAK, Taurus PT 24/7, many S&W models, most that offer a DA/SA seem to have a DOA counterpart - My preferred carry condition: Round in the chamber.

As you can see, there is a variety out there and they are all a bit different. READ THE INSTRUCTIONS that comes with the pistol and if none are with it, contact the manufacturer and they will send them to you free of charge. Until you intimately know your weapon do not assume anything, seek assistance from someone who really knows what they are talking about, supposedly a professional.

No you know why I recommend a double action revolver so much and I still feel they are best for casual shooters. They simply aren’t “tacti-kewl” but sometimes “tacti-kewl” can get you killed.

“Keep it simple and it will work every time.” - Col Rex Applegate
Take Care and Stay Safe,

"REMEMBER – What works for you may not, necessarily, work for me. Keep an open mind!"
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Old 02-28-2011, 04:14 AM   #2
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Both my XD40 and TC 380 are ready to go at all times. Both are hammerless D/A guns. I do not believe in carrying without having it at the ready at all times.

BEWARE!!! The toes you step on today may be connected to the ass you kiss tomorrow.

PM Tango about his upcoming SHARTFOO courses.
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Old 02-28-2011, 04:16 AM   #3
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I greatly admired the late Colonel.
“If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.”Samuel Adams
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