Condition 2

So JP over at the Empty Mags Podcast takes one of my posts, and turns it into a show topic on 1911 carry.

Now JP talks about all the conditions of 1911 carry, and talks about them specifically with the M1911 pattern pistol. I won’t riff much on what he said because he was pretty much spot-on. I will say that M1911 pistols can discharge if the hammer is down on a live round unless the gun is on the half-cock notch. Furthermore JP points out expertly that it is an ergonomic nightmare to deploy a 1911 and fan the hammer on the draw. It can be done, and its less of a pain than say Condition 3 carry where the slide is racked on the draw. Personally I believe that when I NEED my gun, seconds count, and I want to be able to take as much advantage of that as possible, so I carry in Condition 1 (cocked and locked) because I can quickly, and safely deploy the pistol with one hand. Now my HD gun is in Condition 3 with an empty chamber because its not on my person. Other than that Its cocked-and-locked, or being cleaned.

Still JP doesn’t talk much about OTHER models of guns. Now I’ll note that the 4 conditions of readiness were made specifically for the M1911 pistol so there is really a LOT of gray area in the carry methods. Like how does one consider the “Safe Action” striker fired guns? Like your Glocks, or your M&Ps, or Kahrs. Or guns like the Para LDA or the Ruger LC9 where the hammer is partially charged just like the striker. These guns are KINDA cocked, and KINDA not. Frankly I see a long and not-quite-as-heavy-as-necessary trigger pull as close-enough for carry like a true DAO gun like my S&W642 revolver that has a completely concealed hammer. Same for guns like the Springfield XD or the Walther PPS which the striker is 100% cocked, but for mechanical reasons I’m unaware of the gun mimics a partially-charged striker on the trigger pull. I also consider these guns to be essentially DAO, so for all of them their ONLY method of carry is Condition 2. We can argue mechanics, but logistically its Condition 2.

All revolvers, be it a modern Double-Action, or an Oldschool Single-action are carried Condition 2 (tho SA guns without a transfer bar, or hammer-block safety they’re KINDA carried Condition 3 as the hammer should be lowered on an empty chamber).

Also traditional hammer-guns can have some extra issues as well, like a traditional Beretta gun, or other guns with a decocking safety where the gun can have the hammer down AND the safety on, which you can’t do with a 1911 that has a safety that blocks the hammer. Now while I don’t think its smart to carry a SAO gun like the M1911 with the hammer down, there are some DA/SA guns that have a 1911-style safety that blocks the hammer. The best example is the traditional CZ-75, now I haven’t done much work withe the 75, but overall I think its a VERY groovy gun, I own a CZ-82 which has a similar operation. The 82, and its .380/.32 ACP cousin the CZ-83 are REALLY cool and affordable guns, that give you a Double-stack compact gun in a light caliber. When shooting my 82 I find my hands are a bit too big for manipulating the thumb safety on the gun. If I were to carry my 82 I’d lower the hammer on a live round and holster. Now the CZ-82 has both a hammer block safety AND a rebounding hammer so its VERY safe to carry in this way, still this DOES mean pulling the trigger on a loaded gun. Now easing the hammer down, and maybe keeping a finger between the hammer and the firing pin will make you mostly safe, I’d still get myself a bucket and fill it with sand and just keep the muzzle pointed down into the bucket while I decock, and the sand will stop just about anything. But while carrying the gun will be in condition 2 and the safety cannot turn on, and to fire you simply draw and make a double-action trigger pull. Of course guns like this, or guns that use a 3-position safety like FNH and H&K among others you can choose to carry the gun hammer back, or hammer down safely.

With guns that have no manual safety at all but are DA/SA like most Sig Sauers or the Walther P99 Condition 2 is the only game in town.

That’s one of the first steps to finding what carry gun is best for you, how would you like to carry. Me personally I like a crips SA trigger pull every time with a manual safety that I can swipe off and hold off while assuming my normal firing grip. Of course the M1911 is the king of this but there are many guns that are similar.

Also I very much like an identical DA trigger pull for every shot, and I like that with a trigger like that no additional safties are required, so guns like DA Revolvers, and guns like the Glock and M&P appeal to me.

Some people prefer the added safety of having a manual safety to disengage as WELL as that DA trigger pull. So long as you train with it, there isn’t much problem with that. Further if the gun you have has a Decocking safety or a DAO trigger and a manual safety it might be wise to practice sweeping the safety off on the draw in the event that it gets bumped on in your travels.

So yeah, Condition 2 can be cool, given that your gun is designed to be carried hammer-down, and has a DA trigger that doesn’t demand you fan the hammer before you fire. Certainly I love it in “DAO” type guns like Glocks, M&Ps, and Kahr, and in Revolvers, and I’m a fan of the classic Sig Sauers, and I have no problem with the Walther P99 (tho frankly I find that piece to be a very Vanilla gun with very little that knocks my socks off).

And I like it LOADS better than Condition 3 for carry as you are dependent on having a 2nd hand to rack the slide, and you may only have one hand available in a time of need.

So go Listen to JP’s Podcast, and Go carry your guns!

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0 Responses to Condition 2

  1. Jake says:

    And then there are also guns like my Taurus PT-145, which doesn’t have the ability for Condition 2 carry – it’s single action, striker fired, always 100% cocked, with no way to decock it with a round in the chamber, but it does have a thumb safety. It’s either Condition 1 or 3, and that’s it.

    Considering that it has a firing pin block, transfer bar and (invisible) trigger safety, and that manual safety, I’m perfectly fine with carrying it in Condition 1. Barring a significant change in the laws of physics or a strong improbability field, there is absolutely no way for it to go off unless the trigger is pulled.

  2. Robert says:

    I’m no sort of 1911 expert, but wasn’t the Series 80 firing pin safety designed specifically to prevent discharges caused by the pistol falling and striking the ground muzzle-first?

    • Weerd Beard says:

      Yep. Also the S&W1911s, as well as the Kimbers have Schwartz-style firing pin blocks (similar to the series 80, but the 80s run on the trigger, the Schwartz runs on the grip safety) these will also prevent the gun from discharging in condition 2 from a drop or a blow.

      Still what’s the possibility of a dropped 1911 landing on its muzzle with enough force to compress the firing pin spring AND dimple a primer? Frankly I’d feel perfectly comfortable carrying around an oldschool Series 70 gun with just a standard firing pin and spring in tow. (Springfield, as well as Ruger, and several other 1911 makers use the old firing pin design, but have made the pin out of titanium, and use a heavier pin spring so that only the hammer falling can touch off a primer.

  3. JP says:

    One thing that I had planned to mention, that I failed to do so was that I would much rather carry in condition 3 than 2, because racking the slide is a gross motor skill, thumbing the hammer is a fine motor skill. Guess which one you’re more likely to flub under stress?

    • Weerd Beard says:

      I hear what you’re saying but Tam makes a good case against that. Really anything using your fingers or hands is “Fine” and if you can work the trigger you can rack the slide.

      Still with condition 3 you can still short-stroke the slide and either chamber fresh air, or worse do a 3-point-jam. And again you need two hands to safely rack a slide (I’ve seen videos of people using a belt or a pocket and its scary.) The wounded-man drills are much more involved, and should be saved as a last resort when you’re wounded and weren’t able to save the day with the pills in your gun.

      Still I don’t consider a SA revolver or Derringer as an appropriate defensive gun, nor do I think a SA Pistol like an M1911 should be carried in Condition 2. So Condition 2 should be left for the DA guns.

  4. MattW says:

    I know two people who carry the XD/XDm in “condition 3” because they dont trust the drop safety to prevent the striker from engaging a live round. Personally I think the safety is completely adequate and have no hesitation about carrying my XD in “condition 1/2”. I agree that seconds count when trouble rears its head and the increased chance of error when racking the slide under stress is too risky for me.

    • Weerd Beard says:

      I think anybody who thinks ANY modern gun being produced in today’s litigious society could be at ALL dangerous if used properly is being more than a little paranoid.

      Even companies like Ruger and S&W who have recently recalled guns because of “improper drop safeties” had a grand-total of ZERO accidental discharges across the board.

      As you can see from Tam below the Standard-pattern M1911 CAN discharge if dropped on the muzzle to a hard surface from about 6’….but with all the 1911s out there, and who knows how many have been drop-tested, how many AD’s are out there?

      I would have no problem carrying an XD, and I would NOT buy one of the variants with the thumb-safety. Also I’ll note that current XDm variants are not offered with the thumb safety.

      That being said, confidence is a HUGE issue, and I think I’ll write a post about that because I’m gonna go long.

  5. Tam says:

    I will say that M1911 pistols can discharge if the hammer is down on a live round…

    As the 1911 has an inertial firing pin, this is incorrect.

    About the only way for a C2 M1911-pattern pistol to discharge would be for it to be dropped straight onto its muzzle from a distance high enough for the FP’s inertia to overcome the FP return spring. This height obviously varies based on how worn out the FP return spring is (and you do change it every time you replace the recoil spring, right?) but is usually 6′ or more.

  6. Jack says:

    I’ve got a couple 82’s and agree with that as the carry method.

    I like that the safties are ambi (left hand shooter) but they’re a bit hard to get to.

    The sand bucket is a good idea. For a bunch of things. Could give a pretty good “safe direction”.

    • Weerd Beard says:

      Well the safety on the 82/83 is really easy to use like a 1911 if you have small hands. I have big hands, so its not an easy reach, so I’d just go Cocked-and-locked, and just use the safety as a secondary safety device.

      • Jack says:

        You mean condition 2 ;p

        And yeah, big hands here too.

        • Weerd Beard says:

          BTW when I run the 82 I find that my thumb overshoots the mag button by a bit, but I find my index finger from the other side runs perfectly on the ambi release.

          Neat little gun, and despite the controls being very similar to a m1911 I run it totally differently.

      • Jack says:

        Just remembered, I took a defensive pistol class with it, and used it 1911 style.

        Hitting the safety eventually gave a hotspot on my thumb.

        Afterthat I did all my classes with a 1911 and never had that problem.

  7. RedeemedBoyd says:

    Great post. I’m glad to see one written that covers the options as detailed yet concisely as yours.
    My typical carry piece is the Walther P99QA in .40. (Occasionally I’ll carry my .45, but I have reasons for not.) So when you said it’s a ‘vanilla’ gun, I had to laugh. When I bought it, I wasn’t looking for anything to knock off my socks, or impress me. I was looking for something I could easily conceal (check, it fits in nearly any pocket I have, and disappears with IWB holsters), had no hammer to snag while being drawn from concealment (check), no manual safety (check – I am the safety on my guns, I’m more confident in my handling, than the mechanical safety not ever failing), and 10 rounds or more in the stack (check). The price was right on it, so I wasn’t expecting it to wow me. But after taking it to the range a few times, doing a few draw-and-fire drills, and the like, I fell in love with it.
    There’s nothing astounding, or over-the-top amazing about it. But after having put thousands of rounds through it, I can say it’s probably the most reliable handgun I’ve ever owned.
    As far as carrying it, Condition 1 is impossible because there is no safety on it. Condition 0 is the other option. I only carry it in this condition if I happen to have to be somewhere I would rather not be. Around the ‘Burgh there are parts of town where ‘my kind’ are not welcome. (read ‘white’) Unfortunately if I’m required to be there, I will opt for that carry condition. Otherwise I’ll go with one in the chamber, de-cocked. Cocking this piece is easy to do with one hand, and I’ve drilled on it (because that IS my carry method of choice) so as to become proficient with it. When I was drilling several times a week I was able to draw from concealment, change position (for cover, or advantage, etc), cock, and have two rounds in center mass on a target 27 feet away in under 1.5 seconds, with just one hand. Not the fastest possible, but I’m satisfied with that speed.
    Most importantly, that drilling made me understand the process I had to follow when drawing, and made it second nature to me. Muscle memory is key, and it’s strong. That has given me the confidence to carry daily and be perfectly aware of what I need to do in my next ‘SHTF’ scenario.

    Oh, and the really cool thing about the Walther?!?!? IT HAS A RAIL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11111eleventy!1

    • Weerd Beard says:

      Great comment, and I’m glad you love your Walther. I know more than a few guys who carry a P99. I’ll also point out it was the best gun Jame Bond every packed on camera! (In the books he had a 1911 with him from time-to-time)

      One big question is why bother cocking the P99? As far as I’m concerned the DA pull is quite decent.

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