Can Concealed Carry Be Loaded?

By Marvin Marroquin Updated: 01/28/2023 5 min read

When making the decision to carry a gun, it’s normal to consider all the risks involved. Many people want to know is it okay to carry a loaded gun?

Carrying a concealed gun should absolutely be loaded at all times. A loaded gun is crucial in a self defense situation. You don’t want to waste time loading a gun if attacked. Also, there are many safeguards available to prevent accidentally firing your weapon.

We’re going to take a look at the legality of carrying loaded, why it’s so important in a self defense situation, and why you should carry with one in the chamber.

Carrying a loaded pistol is legal

Before you consider carrying a concealed gun, you should consult your state’s gun laws to verify if it’s permissible. Every state is different and the laws may even vary from city to city. Some states have what’s called Constitutional Carry, where a state issued permit to carry is not required. The idea here is that the Second Amendment is a sufficient permit. At the time of writing this article, there are 15 states that are Constitutional Carry and 5 others have considered becoming one.

There are other states that are designated as Shall Issue or May Issue states. A Shall Issue state will issue you a permit as long as you meet certain requirements. In most cases, this means you’ll have to pass a federal background check and may even have to take a course on gun safety and/or training. A May Issue state doesn’t guarantee you a permit. Honestly, it’s more likely they will not issue you a permit, like New Jersey for example. Currently there are 39 Shall Issue and 9 (including D.C.) May Issue states.

Once you’ve confirmed with your local gun laws that you can conceal carry a pistol, with or without a permit, rest assured that there are no states that prohibit carrying it loaded. The only thing you need to consider is which type of ammunition is legal to carry, but that’s a topic for another article.

Carrying loaded is crucial for self defense

Simply put, if you are in a self defense situation, every second counts. There are already so many factors that come into play when defending yourself, including reaction time, fear, hesitation, thinking, adrenaline, loud noises, etc. You want to be able to cut out anything that will prevent you from eliminating a threat, even if it can save you half a second. Loading a gun is the one thing you don’t want to waste time doing during those crucial seconds.

So many things can go wrong if you need to load your gun quickly. You could easily drop your magazine. You could fumble the magazine and completely miss the magazine well of the pistol grip. You might not fully insert the magazine, causing a malfunction. The list goes on. On top of all that, you’d still need to rack the slide to chamber a round. These are all crucial seconds that could’ve been spent getting on target for a clean shot.

Tactically speaking, loading your gun uses both hands. You may not always have both hands available to load your weapon. You may need to fight off an attacker while drawing your weapon. Even worse, you may have already been injured or shot in one arm. Drawing your weapon and getting on target takes one hand with enough training, sometimes that’s all you’ll have.

Carrying a chambered round is just as crucial

As I mentioned earlier, there are so many factors at play when using a gun in self defense. You don’t want to spend time racking the slide to chamber a round. It’s just better to carry one in the chamber. This way, you can focus on cutting down your reaction time, unholstering your weapon safely, and getting on target quickly.

Some people advocate for using the “Israeli Carry” or “Condition 3” method. This is where you carry a loaded magazine but without a chambered round. Many military forces do this and it isn’t exclusive to just Israelis. But this method is for safety reasons more than anything.

Some people fear that carrying a chambered round will make an accidental discharge more likely. First, let me assure you, most modern pistols are designed with several safety features built in making it highly unlikely to experience an accidental discharge. Most modern pistols can even be dropped without accidentally discharging a round. Conceal carrying a holstered pistol is completely safe. Which brings me to my next point…

A proper holster will safeguard against accidental discharges as well. Many people fear that the act of unholstering a pistol might make your finger slip on the trigger and cause a discharge. Most holsters securely cover the trigger area making it difficult for the finger to accidentally slip on the trigger. Again, modern pistols also have physical safety features on the trigger itself to prevent accidental discharges. It’s really all about choosing the right pistol and holster combination, and then train yourself to holster and unholster your weapon safely and quickly.

Conceal carrying a loaded weapon gives you an advantage over carrying unloaded. Every fraction of a second counts when you’re in a self defense scenario. It’s a highly stressful situation and a loaded gun may save your life.

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Marvin is a nonpartisan, unapologetic, no-compromise advocate of the Second Amendment. He encourages his readers to value the principles of individual liberty and responsible gun ownership. He enjoys going to the range and helps people feel comfortable around firearms. Our Second Right is an outlet for his passion of firearms and the unalienable right of self defense.