Condition 1 carry vs the “Israeli Method”

Carry Conditions

Auto-pistols can be carried in various conditions of readiness. First defined by the legendary  Lt Col John Dean “Jeff” Cooper these conditions are commonly accepted to be:

  • Condition 0 – A round is in the chamber, hammer cocked, and the safety is off.
  • Condition 1 – known as “cocked and locked”, means a round is in the chamber, the hammer cocked, and the manual thumb safety on the side of the frame is applied.
  • Condition 2 – A round is in the chamber and the hammer is down.
  • Condition 3 – The chamber is empty and hammer down with a charged magazine in the gun.
  • Condition 4 – The chamber is empty, hammer down and no magazine is in the gun.

These conditions are/were designed with a 1911 style pistol in mind. The Glock with no external safety (but with its “safe action” safety measures) technically cant have the thumb safety applied so it’s condition when loaded and chambered is a matter of debate amongst handgun afficinados but it’s commonly accepted that a Glock is in “Condition 1” when loaded with a round in the chamber.

With these definitions in mind, a common debate amongst pistoleros is the argument over which is safer for defensive carry, condition 1 or condition 3?

The “Israeli Method”

C3 carry is commonly referred to as the Israeli Method. Some people believe that it is safer and no less effective to carry the pistol with a magazine inserted, safety off, and no round in the chamber. When needed, the shooter draws, racks the slide on the draw stroke and fires.

Carrying in Condition 3 is not restricted to the Israelis, nor did they really invent it. I remember having to carry in Condition 3 quite often as a USArmy Military Police Officer (both when I was issued a 1911 and the M9). It’s gotten that label because the Israelis popularized it as a method of carry and developed an entire method of presentation around empty-chamber carry. The philosophy is that C3 provides a method of carry that allows for a largely untrained population with a diverse variety of firearms.


Detractors of C3 carry state that carrying with an empty chamber is a symptom of insufficient training and confidence. Adding an extra step to make the weapon functionable is slower and needlessly adding complexity to a high stress situation. Secondly it requires two hands, or a riskier one-handed “rack” that again adds needless complexity that C1 carry does not.


An argument against C3 carry based on pure speed is relative. The above video is pretty damn fast and I’d say plenty fast enough for combat application.

I tried comparing my own speed with the two:

Not really being practiced at the “Israeli Method”, even my draw is not excessively slower, but I did short stroke the slide a few times or fumble it in some other manner. I’m just not practiced…but should I be? I can’t see the wisdom of investing practice time into C3 deployment when I’m trained to carry C1.

In regards to the two hand necessity though I have to side with the doubters.

One hand deployment

Look at what this Police Officer faced.

Officer Cress shot and killed alleged DUI suspect Errol Baker on Sunday. For over one minute, Cress battled with Baker after pulling a gun on the officer. The trooper punched Baker several times, once causing him to drop the 45-caliber handgun. Baker retrieved the gun and fired, narrowly missing Cress. The trooper then grabbed his own gun, firing a fatal shot into Baker’s head.

Right around 1:40 after wrestling with the BG for what probably seemed like eternity, the suspect pulls a gun and fires over his shoulder at the cop. The officer draws one handed and shoots the BG in the head. Sure if he was carrying C3 he could have raked the slide against his belt or something, but that’s a murphy laden disaster waiting to happen.

There are simply too many instances I can think of where having to rack a slide in a CQB scenario will simply be too slow or physically impossible. Watch what Gabe Suarez has his students doing in this video:

Start around the 3:00 mark. Do you really want to face a situation like those in C3?

I see the “what will you do if he’s attacking you with a bat” question as being very legitimate. Since most gun fights start out at bad breath range you may very well be faced with those types of examples far more often than you would like. Adding having to chamber a round to make your weapon usable is just adding more problems to the situation vs solving any.

Some say “If he’s attacking you with a bat or knife you should deal with that using empty hand skills then gain distance and deploy your gun”. Sure, you MAY be forced to resolve the H2H issue without your firearm, but when carrying condition 3 you have just put yourself into a situation where thats going to be the fact. Like it or not. You have effectively taken the gun out of the equation for all intents and purposes.

And comparing one handed stoppage clearing in a SHTF situation to forcing yourself into a situation where you will have no choice but to chamber one handed is apples and oranges. You train one handed manipulations as a “God forbid I ever have to do this in real life” type of thing, not as normal operating procedure.

In the end, I just don’t see the risk of misfires in a modern auto-pistol being significant enough to warrant carrying unchambered. It’s more a matter of the carrier not feeling comfortable or well enough trained than it is anything else IMO. I also think that there is a dose of “It’s Israeli so it must be high-speed” going on.


23 thoughts on “Condition 1 carry vs the “Israeli Method””

  1. A lot of the ‘high speed’ Israeli stuff originated from desperation and necessity. The ‘old timer’ Israeli fighters had crap guns that were unreliable at best (same with rounds I imagine) because of horrible budgets/support. Carrying Con3 and all the tactics/techniques around that were steps toward safety. Some of the old/beat up revolvers (and possibly autos) would either go out of battery and/or actually fire unintentionally because of bad springs/mechanisms.

    You make a great point about the current state of firearms changing that factor when it comes to carry condition/procedures.

  2. I still can’t figure out why they tip their pistols over like that when they run empty. Check out that top video. You see that technique over and over again. I would think that the intent is to dump out any loose brass but that technique usually goes with a hand sweep too.

    1. Seems like ‘tradition’ isn’t just in the recreational martial arts… I don’t see a reason for that wrist flip after firing either. If you asked 90% of the people who are shooting ‘purely’ in this style, I’d bet they’d be able to tell you the party line and/or even just say ‘that’s what we were trained to do’ sort of like the “Blue worm” conversation we’ve had in the past.

      1. The reason for the flip is, If you observe, The weapon is brought up to eye level, Flipped to the side allowing for visual insertion of the magazine, all the while never losing situational awareness.

        My friend a Retired Sgt Maj. Special Forces operator, Firearms Instructor, retired Police officer, showed me this method and it works well.

  3. The only people I’ve ever known who carry or advocate carrying in Condition 3 are people who do so out of fear. If you train properly to keep your booger hook off the bang switch until you’re ready to shoot, carrying in Condition 1 is safe. If you don’t train properly, you aren’t safe no matter how you carry.

    1. Agreed Mike. Tom mentioned it in the original post too, but that type of carry/training is really meant for the ‘lowest common denominator’ level of training. If you have to train generally trained, basically qualified shooters, this is the ‘least liability generating’ way of doing it. Statistically, it reduces what they use to call “Shoot Granny” situations and/or Friendly Fire accidents… so you can see where the bean counter mentality is focused. Reduce risk with minimum cost instead of invest in training/time/higher standards….

    2. Then you do not know very many people who work armed for a living.

      The Israeli’s are the cream of the professionals in the art of security protection.

  4. Hello Guys,

    The entire carry-ready situation depends for the most part on how someone was trained and what type of firearm is being carried. The SA ACP type of handgun is going to be different than the DA autoloder which in turn will be different again from the DA-only handgun. Each carry method has it’s strengths and weaknesses, but in the end it is the training and practice that make the biggest difference between people with regard to effectiveness. My preference is based on my training and I am so totally aware of that fact because my first handun training program involved a revolver and my instructors were totally distainful of the auto pistol.

  5. Here’s the problem. I’m now 70 years old with a disabling back injury. H2h combat is not an option, but then being able to afford a high dollar pocket rocket isn’t either. I bought 2 fa’s. A Phantom Arms .25 cal auto & a .40 cal Hi Point $50 bucks each. It isn’t my training concerned about. The 40 has internal hammer & a safety that is gravity fed to the firing positon, so a round in chamber iss completely out of the question. Also keep the firing pin spring active all thme might use it to fail when needed most. Now the 25 seems to be similar to the 1911action, so cocked and locked or condition 1 might be okay, however I don’t trust the safety if of dropped, cause if I’ve pulled it out I sure need it but if my artheritis kicks in I don’t want to help the attacker by dropping it & shooting myself or worse a by stooder coarse maybe they need shooting for not helping an ol’ fart

    1. Sam. I don’t mean to imply that C3 carry is bad “per se” and certainly there are some situations such as what you describe where it may be the lesser of two evils. But I stand by my belief that it’s not optimal.

  6. I stick with condition 3 simply because a FNP 45 has no external safty like an early glock. but i can cock and fire pretty damn fast if needed. doing condition 1 with no thumb safty give me hives :)

  7. So I carry a Barretta 92fs. I normally carry in condition 0 but with the hammer down in single action like cat. 2 Would this be considered 0, 1, or 2?

  8. I am 64 years old and the1911 at my waist right now is in condition 1 with one in the snout and the thumb safety is on (ambidextrous becauause I’m a lefty (handed not politically)). It is the way Browning meant it. Draw, flick the thumb and plug in and play….The original point and click interface.

  9. I call bs on even calling it the usrali method as the populirization of condition three and mist commonly found nation doing it was the
    soviet union… The TT-33 had to be carried by troops in vondition three as it was a single action with no safety at all
    And carrying in condition three continued even after adopting a dual action pustol with a decocker …. Yes even the makarov was carried in condition three as was instructed by tje soviet army they even invented a special holster to chamber a round by racking tje slide when witjdrawing a wrapon….

    Calling it the israili method is just wrong in every way….

  10. Hey there, I am familiar with firearms but not trained with any weapon so well.. but I have an important point to make to the experts.

    The Israeli Carry method is important to consider when you think of being disarmed by someone untrained. If you drop your gun or it is taken, an untrained person may just point it and try to pull the trigger. Most people do not know how to operate general firearms. I know it is not a perfect reason, but it is one reason to carry one extra step from fire-ready.

    1. I prefer to be ready for a more likely scenario… like armed conflict being sudden, violent and not on my timetable vs worrying about every possible situation like carrying condition 3 being an advantage if disarmed.

      1. I do not fear death so much that I would risk killing an innocent person, quite possibly a child, by an accidental discharge of the weapon. If you don’t have time to rack it, you don’t have time to aquire a legitamate threatening target and make a decision to fire. An empty pipe never killed anyone. The world is full of dead people killed by an accident of someone who thought they were experts, or worse, knew they were.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s