Originally Posted by DoyleTheDog
So I just got an M&P .40 after going out to the range with my coworkers and shooting many different pistols. I plan on taking a gun safety course pretty soon, but I did have one question about safety. If I insert a fully loaded mag into the gun but do not pull the slide back yet, is the gun safe to carry? Pretty sure the answer is yes, but I'd hate to find out the hard way....
Firearm safety is the number one thing to consider when purchasing a personal firearm. A complete understanding of the four basic Conditions of Carry will help compliment common sense and attention to detail. These conditions can be applied to all firearms and vary based on the type of firearm you are dealing with. I will stay on the topic of handguns.
Ready for Action
In this condition, the handgun has a round in the chamber and a loaded magazine in the magazine well. This condition is the condition just prior to firing. The thumb safety (if applicable) is engaged. In order to bring the pistol into action, the operator only needs to put it on target, and complete whatever steps are necessary to fire.
Ready for Danger
In this condition, there is a round in the chamber and a full magazine in the magazine well, like condition one, but the safety is off and the hammer is down. Handguns without external hammers, such as the XD and Glock, cannot be carried in condition two.
This condition is not recommended because the gun must be cocked before it is ready to fire, making it slower than condition one. In addition, if the gun is dropped on the hammer, or the hammer slips, there is a possibility of the gun discharging.
In condition three, the chamber is empty and a fully loaded magazine is in the magazine well. This is the carry method for many military organizations in the world. In order to fire, the slide needs to be reciprocated to chamber a round.
Many people feel that this method of storage is safe for children, but I do not recommend it as the only safety measure. This is an excellent condition for a backup weapon in a locked safe.
In condition four, the handgun is completely unloaded. The magazine is removed from the gun. The slide can be locked back for completeness, but I recommend letting the slide forward and the hammer down for long term storage.
No matter what condition you prefer, a gun safe is essential to firearm safety, especially if there are children around. I personally carry in condition one and think it is foolish to carry in any other condition. When I am not carrying, I leave my guns in condition one, but they are locked in a safe and inaccessible to others. In the end, it is your responsibility to determine the safest manner to handle and store your firearms.