Carrying with a round in the chamber or not was previously always a debate for me and in the shop I hear all kinds of reasons why some do and others don’t.  Almost any professional tells you that if you are carrying you might as well have a round in the chamber otherwise you’re less prepared, and missing out on one round of capacity.  Depending on what you’re carrying that one round might be a substantial percentage of your capacity!

So why do some carry without one in the chamber?  For me it was a simple matter of comfort.  Despite logging nearly 1,000 hours of professional instruction and carrying for a few years the thought of accidentally touching off a round during the excitement of the moment frightened me.  Fate was kind enough to put me through a few firefights and so I have the advantage of having experienced just how sensitive, and how insensitive we can become to noise, movement, our own finger strength etc while under duress.  What if I bump into something, am startled, or some other what if and I end up hurting an innocent and going to jail?  The culprit in our mental anguish is the, “what if”.  We are carrying because of what ifs in the first place.  Perhaps the least rational choice I’ve heard is from those who decide before they leave the house if they need a round chambered for the day or not.  I can see that for a small percentage of the population it may make sense to think about the day’s duties and have an inkling as to whether or not they need that round, but for most people I highly doubt it.  If we had premonitions that today would be the day to have a round in the chamber but yesterday wasn’t then we’d also likely be able to just avoid the situation in the first place.

It’s not outlandish to simply practice so that racking the slide is a part of your presentation, but it is outlandish to think that doesn’t slow you down some.  This conundrum was always with me until recently.  After our Zastava trip I came to really like the idea of a decocker.  Zastava of course essentially copied Sig Sauer’s P229 and then added in some of their own features, but regardless it’s a great gun.  Load the pistol, chamber a round, and decock so that you now have a round in the chamber, but a long, heavy double action first trigger pull that is not easy to accidentally fire.  Sequential shots are short and light single-action.

Enter the Walther P99.  Unlike many other striker-fired guns the Walther P99 (and the Turkish copy Canik TP9) can be decocked and recocked like a traditional DA/SA hammer-fired gun.  This provides the user with the modern niceties of a polymer striker fire without the Glock-style “Safe Action” trigger or an obtrusive external safety.  I realize that this is a “six of one, half-dozen of another” argument, but for me it was the argument that finally made me comfortable carrying with a round in the chamber.  I’d love to hear from you, the reader, as to how you carry and what your rationale is.

My review of the ingenious P99AS can be seen below.  How America missed out on this gun is a wonder to me.  The design is nearly twenty years old at this point and yet the concept blows the mind of many as if it’s a futuristic design.

Photos by Author: Graham Baates