Women and CCW: Is Your Chamber Empty?

Conversations like this go a long way in preparing us for decisions we hope we never have to make.

posted on November 8, 2022

Several years ago when I was the editor of AmericanRifleman.org, we posted an article by Sheriff Jim Wilson called “Empty Chambers.” It immediately went viral and launched our web analytics into the next stratosphere. The "Condition One" topic has long legs, and today is still discussed, debated and debunked among the various CCW groups.

I was reminded of that blog for two reasons. One, I have recently started a daily CCW routine, and I have been experimenting with various methods of carry. During my dryfire practice, it occurred to me that at least one holster gave me pause to consider how safe it was, as the draw required a somewhat aggressive yank, and wasn’t easily accomplished with one hand. I planned to stuff this very fitted holster into a large but secure pocket in my yoga/walking pants. Yet I found myself questioning, “If I had a round in the chamber, could this result in a negligent discharge?” Since I diligently practice all of the firearm safety rules, the answer was probably not, but the thought crossed my mind, if only for a few seconds. I then was subjected to a silent, stern lecture from a voice in the back of my head—which coincidentally sounded a lot like the deep-voiced Texan, Sheriff Jim Wilson: “If you aren’t going to keep a round chambered, what’s the point?” I adore and respect Sheriff Jim, so I’d hate to disappoint him  …

Previous discussions on this subject seem to be pretty black and white. Either you carry with a round in the chamber, or you don’t carry (a third option is to swap to a double-action revolver, which is a whole different discussion …). No room for negotiation, let alone expressing the reasons for experiencing doubt or perhaps better said, lack of confidence, even for beginning CCWers. Otherwise it’s like you’re not carrying at all. I get it, I truly do, and that may ultimately be the right call.

The second reason this blog topic came to mind was pure coincidence. While poring through the fantastic Langdon Tactical’s Discover Discussion series of videos, hosted by Aimee Langdon, Sarah Hauptman (PHLster Holsters) and Tessah (Armed & Styled), I noticed they broach this topic. But I almost missed it since it makes up the second half of their video titled, “How Proficient Do I Need to Be?” The women segue into this controversial topic with non-judgmental empathy, and again, no coddling. They actually outline reasons why CCW holders might not chamber a round (especially new ones), making this black-and-white issue more of a grey one.

They have succeeded again in making me feel part of a community of brave women who are traveling down the same path toward responsible CCW. Sarah Hauptman even gives a shout out to Annette Evans, who has written a series of articles for NRA Women (including my all-time favorite, “On Her Own: You Are Worth Defending.”)

Sarah pretty much wraps up this video discussion best by saying, “You don’t know what your worst day is going to look like.” She is absolutely right. None of us do, so having conversations like this go a long way in preparing us for decisions we hope we never have to make.

Ann Y. Smith, Editor in Chief


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