To “Top-Off” or Not…that is the question

Quite often when teaching classes, we allow a portion of our class to be dedicated to open discussion about topics of practical firearm safety issues.  Last week, one of our students brought up the conversation of “carrying with a round in the chamber.”  After a rousing discussion with the class, we decided that it was important to share a few views from PSA on this highly debatable topic!!!

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If you are considering “topping-off” procedures for your carry pistol, it is important that you understand a couple of things buckaroo!!  Although it is important to note that carrying a firearm for protection is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to sneeze at, carrying with a round chambered is even more serious!!  Carrying with “one-in-the-hole” is cause for even more safe handling procedures and requires even more training!  Like my dear old granny used to tell me:  Practice makes perfect!

One of the most conventional methods of “topping-off” your carry pistol is by way of tactical reloads.  Most easily put, a tactical reload is completed by: 1) simply racking the slide (with a full magazine already inserted…thus placing a round in the chamber); 2) releasing the used magazine; and 3) replacing it by inserting a fully-loaded magazine from your mag-pouch.

Another method of “topping-off” your carry pistol is to: 1) rack the slide (with a full magazine already inserted…thus placing a round in the chamber); 2) releasing the used magazine; 3) loading a round in the freshly released magazine (thus re-filling this magazine); and 4) re-inserting the magazine.  ***  One thing you NEVER want to do, is to lock the slide back, and manually insert a round into the chamber by hand, and then release the slide to the firing position.  This is a dangerous process of loading a round into the chamber as the round may not seat correctly, and thus cause malfunctions.

As safety is of paramount concern when carrying a firearm for protection, it is imperative that shooters realize the importance of training and practicing while carrying in this condition. Understanding the capabilities of your firearm (DA vs SA vs DA/SA; 1911 manual of arms; etc) is essential to safely carrying…..especially if you are a shooter that decides to carry with “one-in-the-hole.”  If you are like PSA’s C.F.O. then the 1911 is your favorite platform to carry!!! Likewise, you are quite familiar with carrying with one in the chamber.  These pistols, and those built on similar manual of arms, are designed to be carried “locked and loaded.”  For all of the uninitiated….”locked and loaded” is when those of us that tote a 1911 have one in the chamber, have the hammer cocked, and have the safety ON.   (An example is shown below)


***  If you are unfamiliar with firearms and want to learn more, PSA strongly suggests that you find, enroll, and attend a comprehensive and reputable firearms safety course. Firearms safety is all of OUR responsibility.  

We want to thank you for taking out the time to stop by our lane at the shooting range!!  We hope that you enjoyed your stay and hope that you stop back by early and often to catch up on all PSA updates!  We truly hope that we were able to hit the target, and if you ever have any questions please don’t hesitate to shoot them our way!!  We look forward to shooting the breeze with you soon again!!

And as always….remember to watch your six and stay low!!!

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