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    THE MYTHS OF THE ISRAELI METHOD OF CARRY, or why carrying chamber empty isn’t so bad.

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    David Armstrong

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    THE MYTHS OF THE ISRAELI METHOD OF CARRY, or why carrying chamber empty isn’t so bad.

    Post  David Armstrong on Fri Nov 05, 2010 2:21 pm

    Arik asked if this could be imported from my blog The Thinking Gunfighter and I'm glad to do it. Hopefully it can be of help to others.
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    We’ve all heard the warnings. If you don’t have a round in the chamber you might as well carry a rock! A gun without a round in the chamber is just a hammer! Anyone who carries a gun with the chamber empty must be afraid of their gun! Not carrying with a round chambered means you must not have any training! Well, my friends, as with so many of the things we hear in the gun world the myth sometimes overpowers the reality.

    Let’s start with a clarification. Although often referred to as the Israeli Method or the Israeli Technique, carrying chamber empty (C3) is not restricted to the Israelis, nor did they develop it. It has gotten that label because of the fact that the Israelis popularized it as a method of carry and developed an entire method of presentation around empty-chamber carry. And their reasons for doing so are quite pertinent: a method of carry that allows safe carry with quick response time for (at that time) a largely untrained population with a very diverse variety of firearms. I use the term as one that is easily recognizable, even if not technically correct. I prefer referring to it as “Condition 3”, or C3 for short. The history of C3 goes back to the early days of the autoloader, and is still being written today.

    When autoloaders first came on the scene the normal and expected method of carry was with the hammer down on an empty chamber. The handgun would be drawn and the chamber loaded only when one was anticipating trouble, and the safety used as a temporary situation until the gun could be returned to its proper mode of carry, with the chamber empty. Lots of folks aren’t aware of it, but the 1911 was originally designed without any safety, as Browning felt it was irrelevant.

    The most important development in C3 history to me was the adoption of that method of carry by the members of the Shanghai Police under W.E. Fairbairn. As the result of a number of incidents, Fairbairn (along with Eric Sykes) began to develop a new way to bring Shanghai P.D. officers to a high level of expertise with their handguns given the limited amount of training time and resources available to them. This training included, in part, carrying the gun with an empty chamber and then chambering a round as part of the draw stroke. This proved to be quite successful and when World War II broke out Fairbairn and Sykes were tasked with training commando units in close combat, including pistol use. They chose the chamber-empty target-focused method that had worked so well for them at Shanghai P.D., and for many of the same reasons. C3 allowed a person to safely carry and adequately use a firearm with a very limited amount of training. Fairbairn also wrote several books which also served to popularize the chamber empty carry method.

    Chamber empty carry was the dominant method of carry for military, police, and civilians for most of the 20th Century. Toward the end of the century the rise of double-action autoloaders and the influence of Jeff Cooper’s Modern Technique made significant inroads, although chamber empty is still the dominant method of carry worldwide.

    So, with a history of successful use behind it why does C3 create such a storm of controversy? Critics argue it is too slow, that it can’t be used under many circumstances, and the myths flow like water. Let’s look at some facts.

    1. SPEED. The most common argument is that racking the slide during the draw is just too slow. The facts are that racking the slide is only one part of a complicated picture, and not a particularly important part from the perspective of speed. Let us assume that racking the slide adds a half second to your total presentation time (which is pretty slow, by the way). And let us assume that you can draw and fire at the 2 second mark. If the attack comes before you can draw and fire (2 seconds) having the chamber loaded or not doesn’t matter, as you don’t have time to draw and fire at all. If the attack comes after a 2.5 second time frame having the chamber loaded or not doesn’t matter, as you have time to chamber a round. Only if the attack happens in that critical time frame after 2 seconds but before 2.5 seconds does the chamber condition matter. Also the speed of presentation can also be affected by such things as type of holster, where the firearm is carried, and so on. Yet we don’t see a big fight over IWB versus OWB, or thumb-break versus open top, or appendix carry versus carry at 4:30, although each of those can impact the speed of presentation just as much or more than chamber empty versus chamber loaded.

    2. SAFETY. Another common argument is that you won’t be able to chamber a round under various scenarios. You might only have one hand available to you. You might be fighting off someone with your off-hand and wouldn’t be able to rack the slide. You might be shot in one hand and wouldn’t be able to use both hands to rack the slide. While there is an element of truth to those fears, let’s look at them carefully. First I would suggest that anyone who carries an autoloader should be capable of racking the slide and manipulating the firearm with one hand. If you can’t, perhaps a revolver would be more appropriate. The arguments for needing both hands to draw the gun are the same arguments that would be accurate in case of clearing a malfunction. But more importantly, this is only one side of the safety argument, and a questionable one at that.

    To truly look at the safety issue we need to move beyond the “I’m in a gunfight right now” mentality and move more toward the “What is the risk involved in carrying a gun day in and day out?” Let’s face it, for most of us the actual gunfight scene is not going to happen. If it happens it is going to involve a few seconds of our life. Admittedly they are going to be extremely important seconds, but we have to balance that against the thousands of hours we will carry the gun, and the thousands of times we administratively handle the gun. Only then can we do a proper risk assessment.

    Whether we like to admit it or not, mistakes happen. And even though we talk a lot about how if people will just follow the 4 safety rules, or if they will just get more training, an honest assessment shows that we don’t follow the safety rules all the time and even the best trained among us make mistakes. Fairbairn recognized this long ago and formalized a response: Keep the chamber empty until you need to use the gun, and then empty the chamber ASAP after you are done. Let’s face it, if there isn’t a round in the chamber the gun cannot discharge.

    Chamber empty lends itself to situations where there is a lot of administrative handling. Visualize the person who has to go into the Federal Courthouse several times a day. He has to unload and reload each time. Loading and unloading are the times that are the most prone to negligent discharge. Many shooters have said they want an empty chamber on their house gun because children or others may get hold of it. So they charge the chamber each morning and remove a round from the chamber each night. Perhaps these folks could be better served by maintaining the gun C3.

    3. FIREARMS. Lots of folks out there still have, and for whatever reason, still carry/use a firearm that is literally unsafe to carry with the chamber loaded. Noted firearms author Mas Ayoob discussed this in an article for Backwoods Magazine (Feb. 2007) stating, “You don’t want to carry a round in the chamber of any semi-automatic pistol that doesn’t have a firing pin lock. It’s not drop-safe.” Those include most autoloaders made before the 1970s, the first generation Smith & Wesson autoloaders, a number of inexpensive pistols like Jennings, Lorcin and Raven, and so on. Even some modern guns, in certain conditions, can be problematic. Ayoob (Guns Magazine, Feb. 2001) again says, “Condition Three does have its place for carry, however. If I am carrying a gun like a Glock, which does not have a manual safety per se, and do not have access to a holster which covers the trigger guard (as is strongly recommended by the Glock factory), and have to shove the gun into my waistband, I'll make sure the chamber is empty.”

    4. PERSONAL ISSUES. Here we get into an area that covers a multitude of issues. Some folks just aren’t comfortable with a round in the chamber. We all know that being comfortable about what you carry is important, so that personal preference and concern can matter. For me personally, I find the safety and long, heavy initial DA pull of some traditional DA/SA guns troublesome. When using firearms like those based on the Walther PP-design I find I actually get an accurate first shot of faster by racking the slide and firing SA than flipping the safety and then fighting through the DA pull. A friend has used a Browning Hi-Power for decades, and has always had trouble with the safety. For him, chamber empty works better.

    5. MINIMAL TRAINING. Sadly, many if not most gun owners do not train regularly. In fact, I’d hazard a guess that most gun owners don’t train much at all. And it was for those people that the Israeli Method was designed. Going back to Fairbairn, the chamber empty carry was designed to allow those with minimal training to safely carry a firearm. That was also the rationale behind the method early on for Israel. We do a lot of carrying and administrative handling of a firearm, not so much actual shooting. So recognizing that failure and working it into the system is a good idea. C3 carry recognizes that the danger to the carrier is as great as or greater from negligent discharge than actual attack by a criminal. By acknowledging this problem of minimal training by many gun owners and carriers we can then examine a carry method that reduces the danger while still allowing an effective response.

    To conclude, most people tend to look at problems from their own point of view, without considering that others might have different concerns, different needs, different levels of training, and so on. Failure to recognize this is harmful to open and honest debate, and in some cases becomes blatant elitism. From my position, I tend to suggest chamber loaded carry as the normal and standard default position, just as I tend to suggest a DAO autoloader as the standard default weapon for those who choose to carry an autoloader. But just as a SA auto might be better for some persons or for some situations, chamber empty might be better for some persons in some situations. There are advantages and disadvantages to each method. The Thinking Gunfighter looks at his own situation and tries to identify what maximizes his advantages and minimizes his disadvantages and makes an informed decision.


    Last edited by David Armstrong on Fri Nov 19, 2010 6:10 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Typo.)
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    Arik
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    Re: THE MYTHS OF THE ISRAELI METHOD OF CARRY, or why carrying chamber empty isn’t so bad.

    Post  Arik on Fri Nov 05, 2010 3:58 pm

    Thanks for the Article David and also thanks for accepting the invite. Welcome to the forums Smile

    I have seen Israelis draw and fire form C3 and it is amazing how fast they can do it and still shoot accurately.
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    Yehudah

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    Re: THE MYTHS OF THE ISRAELI METHOD OF CARRY, or why carrying chamber empty isn’t so bad.

    Post  Yehudah on Sat Nov 06, 2010 9:59 pm

    But your average Joe may not be able to be as fast and accurate. Personally, one in the chamber gives me that extra few seconds I may need.

    I don't want to end up a statistic because I didn't have the opportunity to rack it and tack it.


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    Arik
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    Re: THE MYTHS OF THE ISRAELI METHOD OF CARRY, or why carrying chamber empty isn’t so bad.

    Post  Arik on Sun Nov 07, 2010 3:02 pm

    Well the downside to C3 is that it requires two hands. Suppose one hand is injured? Suppose you can't get your other hand free?
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    Re: THE MYTHS OF THE ISRAELI METHOD OF CARRY, or why carrying chamber empty isn’t so bad.

    Post  Yehudah on Sun Nov 07, 2010 7:16 pm

    Although I think it's a great tactic.... I'll stick with what works for me.. because in the end, I"m getting older and slower... and I don't need to have to take extra steps to pop the idiot who wants to off me.


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    Re: THE MYTHS OF THE ISRAELI METHOD OF CARRY, or why carrying chamber empty isn’t so bad.

    Post  David Armstrong on Tue Nov 16, 2010 5:01 pm

    Yehudah wrote:But your average Joe may not be able to be as fast and accurate. Personally, one in the chamber gives me that extra few seconds I may need.

    I don't want to end up a statistic because I didn't have the opportunity to rack it and tack it.
    True, but that is only part of the issue, and I think it is a small one. We are talking about a fraction of a second difference in time, and that is not guaranteed. As mentioned, lots of things slow us down more than the racking does, but we don't talk about them as if they are a problem. And remember, one must balance the need for speed versus the improved safety.


    Last edited by David Armstrong on Wed Nov 17, 2010 11:58 am; edited 1 time in total

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    Re: THE MYTHS OF THE ISRAELI METHOD OF CARRY, or why carrying chamber empty isn’t so bad.

    Post  David Armstrong on Tue Nov 16, 2010 5:06 pm

    Arik S. wrote:Well the downside to C3 is that it requires two hands. Suppose one hand is injured? Suppose you can't get your other hand free?
    Again, that is an issue with a number of things besides C3 that nobody seems to care about. Personally, I think the "only one had" argument is the only argument with a strong basis, but when we look at the issue over the years it just hasn't seemed to be much of a problem in real life. And always remember that C1 has assorted downsides also. The trick is figuring out what is best for you in your particular situation.
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    Re: THE MYTHS OF THE ISRAELI METHOD OF CARRY, or why carrying chamber empty isn’t so bad.

    Post  Yehudah on Tue Nov 16, 2010 9:15 pm

    I don't agree.

    Pull

    Aim

    Fire

    ......if I have to spend the extra 2 - 4 seconds doing anything else......



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    Re: THE MYTHS OF THE ISRAELI METHOD OF CARRY, or why carrying chamber empty isn’t so bad.

    Post  David Armstrong on Wed Nov 17, 2010 12:01 pm

    Yehudah wrote:I don't agree.

    Pull

    Aim

    Fire

    ......if I have to spend the extra 2 - 4 seconds doing anything else......

    If you have to spend 2-4 seconds doing it, you are doing it wrong. The rack, as part of the presentation, shouldn't take but a fraction of a second. I found the average for untrained folks to be right at two tenths of a second slower with the rack, and fo rsome it was actually faster.
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    Re: THE MYTHS OF THE ISRAELI METHOD OF CARRY, or why carrying chamber empty isn’t so bad.

    Post  Yehudah on Fri Nov 19, 2010 1:37 pm

    Two equals in ability, speed, and surprise attack each other...... who wins? The one who draws and shoots, or the one who draws, racks, and shoots?

    I'll always keep a round chambered - I can't leave anything to chance.


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    Re: THE MYTHS OF THE ISRAELI METHOD OF CARRY, or why carrying chamber empty isn’t so bad.

    Post  Arik on Fri Nov 19, 2010 2:47 pm

    The only thing I am thinking is in rems of whether or not it's close quarters. It's one thing to draw and rack in one fluid motion whne you are a LEO pulling up when a burglar is coming out of a house, another when you are suddenly faced with an attacker who is literally in your face and one would have to draw and shoot from the hip which is something one must train to do. There are times when shooting through the pocket would be an option when carrying which is why i used to keep a .380 in a coat pocket during the winter time. You can walk with your hands in your pockets and be totally inconspicuous. in such cases, not sure if the condition 3 would be effective at all.
    On the other hand, we have trained to not first rely on the gun. For example during training we had a scenario where one of us had a training knife and the other a training pistol and you had to draw and shoot before someone could get to you with the knife ( hard to do) I had the knife and came at my partner and he kicked me square in the groin ( fortunately I had on a cup) and THEN drew his pistol. affraid

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    Re: THE MYTHS OF THE ISRAELI METHOD OF CARRY, or why carrying chamber empty isn’t so bad.

    Post  David Armstrong on Fri Nov 19, 2010 6:04 pm

    Yehudah wrote:Two equals in ability, speed, and surprise attack each other...... who wins? The one who draws and shoots, or the one who draws, racks, and shoots?

    I'll always keep a round chambered - I can't leave anything to chance.
    Well, we start with "all things equal" is almost never really "all things equal. As for who wins? Depends on who is fastest. Yes, there are folks who are faster doing the rack than the normal presentation, depending on assorted factors. And you are leaving plenty of things to chance with the chamber loaded. That is the problem with this issue, most folks think only in that very narrow "quick-draw gunfight" mode without considering all the other factors that go into carrying a firearm.

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    Re: THE MYTHS OF THE ISRAELI METHOD OF CARRY, or why carrying chamber empty isn’t so bad.

    Post  David Armstrong on Fri Nov 19, 2010 6:09 pm

    Arik S. wrote:The only thing I am thinking is in rems of whether or not it's close quarters. It's one thing to draw and rack in one fluid motion whne you are a LEO pulling up when a burglar is coming out of a house, another when you are suddenly faced with an attacker who is literally in your face and one would have to draw and shoot from the hip which is something one must train to do. There are times when shooting through the pocket would be an option when carrying which is why i used to keep a .380 in a coat pocket during the winter time. You can walk with your hands in your pockets and be totally inconspicuous. in such cases, not sure if the condition 3 would be effective at all.
    On the other hand, we have trained to not first rely on the gun. For example during training we had a scenario where one of us had a training knife and the other a training pistol and you had to draw and shoot before someone could get to you with the knife ( hard to do) I had the knife and came at my partner and he kicked me square in the groin ( fortunately I had on a cup) and THEN drew his pistol. affraid
    No disagreement. I think the key is to realize the very narrow time frame issue. Even in close quarters, if it happens in the time frame where it is too short to draw, C1 or C3 doesn't matter. If it happens in the time frame where you can draw and rack, C1 or C3 doesn't matter. ONLY if the incident breaks where you have to draw in that tiny fraction of a second between the two does it matter. I'd suggest that if they are so close you don't have time to rack you are probably better of going to hand-to-hand in order to break out of that closeness.
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    Re: THE MYTHS OF THE ISRAELI METHOD OF CARRY, or why carrying chamber empty isn’t so bad.

    Post  Arik on Sat Dec 11, 2010 11:37 pm

    Ok, I talked to Mike on Thursday, he said there is a way they rack the slide one-handed. Going to try and get him to fill me in on the details when he has time.

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    Re: THE MYTHS OF THE ISRAELI METHOD OF CARRY, or why carrying chamber empty isn’t so bad.

    Post  David Armstrong on Tue Feb 22, 2011 12:23 pm

    Just out of curiosity, Arik, did you get a one-hand rack down? What method did you learn from your friend, and what do you think of it?
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    Re: THE MYTHS OF THE ISRAELI METHOD OF CARRY, or why carrying chamber empty isn’t so bad.

    Post  Arik on Wed Feb 23, 2011 12:25 pm

    My understanding is, you draw and rack the slide against your thigh. I haven't practiced this myself yet and asked him to let me know if he can explain it in greater detail or send me a link..looking for something on you-tube but nothing so far.

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    Re: THE MYTHS OF THE ISRAELI METHOD OF CARRY, or why carrying chamber empty isn’t so bad.

    Post  David Armstrong on Thu Feb 24, 2011 1:53 pm

    OK, that is certainly one method, and my favorite depending on the gun. That one is pure friction based---you are pushing the top of the slide into your leg while pushing the frame forward. Gets a little tricky for small guns with strong recoil springs. I don't have much success with a PPK, for example, but my 1911, Glock 17 or S&W 39 it works great. If you have good sights you can also use the "hook" method, where you bring the gun up a bit, then push the top of the slide into your side while catching the rear sight against your belt or holster. Same effect using friction but a little extra insurance by snagging the sight for a little more purchase.
    Good Luck!
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    Re: THE MYTHS OF THE ISRAELI METHOD OF CARRY, or why carrying chamber empty isn’t so bad.

    Post  Arik on Mon Feb 28, 2011 11:13 am

    Well I had a PPk style Hungarian pistol (FEG) and i used it as more of a pocket rocket than anything. I really can't see using such a method for that kind of pistol. I would imagine this method is mostly good for full sized pistols like the Glocks 19 or 21 and maybe the 19 ( my personal favorite) I really like the old fashioned 1911 cocked and locked mode myself.
    In terms of every day carry pistols that are more compact, i dont think chamber empty is a good idea. Although we may disagree

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    Re: THE MYTHS OF THE ISRAELI METHOD OF CARRY, or why carrying chamber empty isn’t so bad.

    Post  David Armstrong on Mon Feb 28, 2011 11:50 am

    I don't say it is a good idea or a bad idea, it is a different idea. Whether it is good or not depends on a lot of other factors, such as the situation the person is in.
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    Re: THE MYTHS OF THE ISRAELI METHOD OF CARRY, or why carrying chamber empty isn’t so bad.

    Post  Arik on Sun Nov 06, 2011 1:21 pm



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    Re: THE MYTHS OF THE ISRAELI METHOD OF CARRY, or why carrying chamber empty isn’t so bad.

    Post  David Armstrong on Sun Nov 06, 2011 7:56 pm

    Good video. Yet in spite of the evidence we regularly hear folks saying that you cannot rack one-handed, or that racking one-handed is too slow, or you have to get into strange positions, etc.
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    Re: THE MYTHS OF THE ISRAELI METHOD OF CARRY, or why carrying chamber empty isn’t so bad.

    Post  Yehudah on Tue Nov 15, 2011 9:44 pm

    Simple fact: The average guy will get killed trying to chamber a round while trying to defend himself.

    You and other highly trained individuals can do this stuff... us average Joes' can't.

    So, for the record: It's faster for the average guy to pull his weapon and fire it than it is to pull it, rack it, and fire it.

    If we stand side by side, we will be at a virtual draw every time.... and I'm too old and slow to deal with adding another step to my protection.

    Case closed?


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    Re: THE MYTHS OF THE ISRAELI METHOD OF CARRY, or why carrying chamber empty isn’t so bad.

    Post  David Armstrong on Wed Nov 16, 2011 3:38 pm

    Yehudah wrote:Simple fact: The average guy will get killed trying to chamber a round while trying to defend himself.
    Actually, the simple fact is that thousands of "average guys" for decades have NOT gotten killed when chambering a round while trying to defend themselves. That is the hurdle those who oppose C3 have to get over....it has a long history of success.

    You and other highly trained individuals can do this stuff... us average Joes' can't.
    C3 has hung on so long and worked so well because it lends itself to the average Joe with little training.

    So, for the record: It's faster for the average guy to pull his weapon and fire it than it is to pull it, rack it, and fire it.
    But the difference in speed is small and rarely matters, and speed of presentation is only one part of the DGU issue.

    If we stand side by side, we will be at a virtual draw every time.... and I'm too old and slow to deal with adding another step to my protection.

    Case closed?
    Probably not! Laughing The C3 issue has to be looked at in the overall personal safety context, not just the "quick draw" context.

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