This blog may seem like I’m anti “condition one” carry, but that isn’t the case. What I am is anti dogma. Condition one isn’t a magical talisman that will allow you to survive a lethal encounter. Condition one is just a way to carry a weapon. Condition three is just a way to carry a weapon. There are trade offs and advantages, and the people who dogmatically preach condition one often fail to recognize that in so many cases condition one or not is entirely irrelevant.
Off the top of my head carrying a round in the chamber is irrelevant if…
You are attacked by a sniper. (can’t Observe)
Hit on the head from behind with a baseball bat. (failure to Observe)
Suicide vest attack. (failure to Observe)
Suicide car bomb attack. (failure to Observe)
Shot from behind. (can’t Observe)
Unable to identify attacker. (failure to Orient)
Unwilling to engage attacker behind human shield. (failure to decide)
Attacker already has gun drawn and shoots. (failure to act)
On an aircraft and not an air marshal. (disarmed by law)
Inside a courthouse and not a bailiff or LEO. (disarmed by law)
Inside a prison as a guest. (disarmed by law)
Slower on the draw than the other guy. (failure to act)
Unable to hit on first trigger pull. (failure to act)
Your attacker is a law enforcement officer “just doing his job.” (even if you win, you lose)
So in which situations does carrying a round in the chamber actually help? The answer is more limited than you might think.
In any situation where when a shot rings out you don’t have to immediately take cover, such as a training range given by all sorts of instructors who say that if you aren’t comfortable carrying with a round in the chamber you need to more training. The fact that these instructors are asking you to buy their product shouldn’t peg your BS meter at all…
In a quick draw contest. Having one in the chamber is a definite plus in this scenario.
In a “real world tactical situation” where your attacker is observed as a threat, and you’ve oriented on the threat, and have decided to use lethal force, having a round in the chamber shaves a half second on firing.
Outside of that, the half second advantage doesn’t mean a dang thing. Just because your pistol is ready to fight doesn’t mean YOU are ready to fight.
If you really want to be more tactical more better all the time, you should work on situational awareness. This is the first two steps of the OODA loop, and shaving time off here is more important than the half second slide rack, because even in situations where you are DISARMED BY LAW you can increase your odds of surviving.
Evidently 2014 was “the year of Situational Awareness training” since the vast majority of search return hits for “situational awareness drills” returns resources from that year…
Many people who have been through “significant emotional events” come through on the other side with a temporary boost to their situational awareness, and it is overwhelming. It is like being autistic, experiencing the world without a filter, every sight and sound crashing into you all at once. This is not a good way to live, please trust me on this.
What training your everyday situational awareness is meant to do is give you a “casual mindfulness” so that you are more in tune with your environment and less “inside your own head” concerned with things other than your environment. Now everybody has hard days, and days when they are distracted, but if you can recognize the person coming at you casually in the parking garage is not anyone you’ve seen before rather than Jim the Janitor you normally see this time of day instead of “someone’s walking this way, just like every day prior” in your mind then that is a win.
Getting you into the fight faster is better, whether you carry in condition one or not. Getting YOU into the fight faster increases your tactical choices WHETHER OR NOT you even have a pistol.
It is fun to practice your fast draw on a square range. It is fun to feel like you’ve done everything you can to be ready once you leave the range. But it isn’t fun to get hit on the back of the head with a steel pipe. It isn’t fun to get shot in the back because you couldn’t hear the police officer order you to drop the knife (Seattle woodcarver incident for anyone who wants to Google that).
It isn’t very fun to practice awareness drills. In fact it is often downright discouraging. But they are essentially free, and even those tactical trainers who advocate that you carry in condition one as dogma will agree that situational awareness is key to not getting into a situation where how you carry is irrelevant.