It always amazes me that with all the knowledge available instantly through the internet or any medium for that matter, people still don’t take the initiative to make informative decisions on important factors in their daily lifestyle. One that we will cover in this write-up is the question of, what condition a firearm should be in when they decide to take the giant leap and carry a firearm concealed or open carry for that matter. I am not here to tell you which way to carry, I am just here to inform you of all your options so you can make an informed decision for the situation you wish to satisfy.
A handgun has different conditions that it is at any particular time. Most people just think of handguns being loaded or unloaded. Loaded and unloaded conditions are just the beginning and depending on the type of handgun their are other issues you have to deal with. The list of conditions are as follows and then we will break each one down in more detail:
- Condition Four: Chamber empty, no magazine, hammer down.
- Condition Three: Chamber empty, full magazine inserted, hammer down.
- Condition Two: A round chambered, full magazine inserted, hammer down.
- Condition One: A round chambered, full magazine inserted, hammer cocked, safety on.
- Condition Zero: A round chambered, full magazine inserted, hammer cocked, safety off.
Not all handguns will be able to achieve every condition mainly because of different pistol action mechanisms and safety features. Some firearms are meant to be carried in certain conditions and with other models, it will not be practical to carry it in the same condition.
Condition Four: Chamber empty, no magazine, hammer down. Pretty self explanatory. All handguns can be put into this condition. This is the condition it should be in when handing a handgun to someone or accepting a handgun from someone. At the point that you accept a handgun from someone, the first thing you should do is open the slide and verify that it is definitely a condition four handgun. This can also be a storage condition. If the handgun doesn’t have a hammer, then after you check the chamber and let the slide go home, pull the trigger to release the stryker or firing pin.
Condition Three: Chamber empty, full magazine inserted, hammer down. The difference from condition 4 and 3 is that in 3, a full magazine is inserted in the handgun. The chamber is still empty and the handgun is not cocked. Some people like to carry handguns in this way. The handgun does have a loaded magazine inserted but it is not in battery. The slide would have to be racked to load a round in the chamber before a handgun in this condition could be fired.
Condition Two: A round chambered, full magazine inserted, hammer down. Not all handguns can be put in this condition. A stryker fired or safe-action pistol like a Glock cannot be decocked. A double action or double action/single action handgun such as a HK USP or Beretta 92 and even a single action 1911 can be carried in this condition. Carrying a 1911 in this condition is not recommended because of the need to manually finger cock the hammer before being able to fire. In a stressful situation, your finger might slip of the hammer and cause a negligent discharge.
Condition One: A round chambered, full magazine inserted, hammer cocked, safety on. This is what is referred to “locked and cocked” The hammer is cocked back and safety is on or locked. All you have to do to fire handgun is take off safety and pull the trigger. In the case of a Glock or stryker fired handgun without a safety, it would be a condition zero not one.
Condition Zero: A round chambered, full magazine inserted, hammer cocked, safety off. This is just like condition one except safety is off. Glock, SA XD/XDM or M&P Pistols without safeties go from condition three straight to condition zero. This is also called “cocked and unlocked”
So there you have it, 5 conditions to meet anyone’s fancy. I really suggest that before you actually start carrying a concealed firearm, you take the time to figure out which conditions your firearm can fit into and which condition fits your lifestyle the best. What works for somebody else doesn’t necessarily mean that it will work for you. Keep in mind that there is no such thing as an accidental discharge, if a round goes off from your firearm, it more than likely happened because you were negligent in manipulating/handling that firearm.
With conceal carry powers comes great responsibility, take the time to know your firearm and its capabilities. It might save your life some day.