Condition One Carry: Carrying Cocked and Locked
Mar 10, 2017
Condition One Carry Is Safer Than Most Think
The truth is that carrying in condition one, also known as cocked and locked, is not only completely safe, it's actually one of the safest ways to carry a handgun, especially with modern firearms. The appearance of a hammer to the rear gives some the impression that there's additional danger, but this is not actually the case.
Granted, not all pistols are capable of this manner of carry. It requires the presence of a manual safety in lieu of the passive trigger safety that's so prevalent these days.
Carry Safety Mechanisms For Condition One
Naturally, condition one carry means the obligatory mention of the 1911 safety mechanism(s), since that pistol platform is the most commonly used for carrying in condition one. Guru of all things handgun Jeff Cooper certainly advocated it, along with the 4 laws of gun safety.
The 1911 has a passive safety in the form of the grip safety, which has to be depressed in order to be deactivated. If the gun isn't being held, the grip safety blocks the trigger from moving.
When the hammer is cocked and the manual safety engaged, the trigger sear is blocked and thus is prevented from falling unless both safety mechanisms are deactivated and the trigger pulled.
John M. Browning designed the 1911 pistol to work this way, since the manual safety cannot be engaged unless the hammer is cocked.
The Series 80 design also includes a firing pin block, which functions as a drop safety. Thus, a Series 80 1911 pistol (not all are, make sure you check which your 1911 pistol is) has three safety mechanisms deployed at once when carrying in this manner.
Any Pistol With A Manual Safety Can Be Carried Cocked and Locked
Any pistol, whether it's a hammer-fired single action pistol (such as the 1911) or a double-single action pistol or a striker-pistol with a manual safety, can be carried cocked and locked. While Cooper's strict definition may not apply, the spirit is that a pistol must be loaded and cocked, needing the safety to be removed and the trigger pulled to fire. In short, two mechanical actions from firing.
In fact, some are designed to be carried in this manner.
Obviously, the Browning High Power, being a John Browning design (and at least partially derived from the M1911 pistol) is capable of Condition One Carry, though it lacks the grip safety.
Cocked and locked carry is possible with a number of double/single action pistols, though they must have a manual safety for it to be possible. The CZ-75 pistol, for instance, employs a manual safety that can only be engaged in single action mode, though this pistol can be carried in double-action mode by manually decocking the hammer. The same is true of the many CZ clones out there, such as the Baby Eagle, Tanfoglio Witness, SAR Kilinc 2000/B6, Tri-Star/Canik S-120 and so on.
Some DA/SA pistols, however, have a decocker only (Sig Sauer) or a decocking safety that decocks the hammer AND safeties the pistol. The latter are common on Berettas and other pistols with a Walther-derived safety mechanism.
Striker-fired pistols are capable of cocked and locked carry if equipped with a manual safety, such as Smith and Wesson M&P pistols equipped with a manual safety, Walther CCP, Ruger SR and American series pistols, the FN FNS series if equipped with manual safety and so on.
Potential Dangers With Condition 1 Carry
What dangers exist if a person decides to carry in Condition 1? When it comes to a 1911, the greatest danger is posed by Series 70 models that lack the firing pin block, and the possible "danger" comes in the form of a drop-fire. Mind you that it's not that common if carrying with a decent gun belt and holster.
With some of the other aforementioned pistols, the thing to be aware of is the positivity of the safety. The 1911 design works very well as the safety mechanism is very stout and has obvious redundancies. Deactivating the safety is really only possible if you mean to do it.
However, not all pistols have as stout a safety mechanism. Some safeties can be deactivated by dropping the pistol, depending on the strength or weakness of the design. As a result, make sure that a safety catch is firmly activated, and that holster carry doesn't deactivate it inadvertently.
Lastly, if you're going to condition one carry, practice deactivating the safety when you shoot. That way, should you need to, you can rely on muscle memory to take off the safety should you ever need to deploy a handgun in self-defense.
About The Author
Born in southeastern Washington State, Sam Hoober graduated in 2011 from Eastern Washington University. He resides in the great Inland Northwest, with his wife and child. His varied interests and hobbies include camping, fishing, hunting, and spending time at the gun range as often as possible.