I recently got a letter from a SurvivalBlog reader who sounded confused about what “Condition One” means for a single action (SA) auto pistol. So I’ll presume that it is time to backtrack a bit and post a short piece on the standardized Model 1911 “Condition Codes.” These were originated by Col. Jeff Cooper. OBTW, these terms are also applicable to most other semi-auto pistols with exposed hammers:
Condition 0 – Ready to fire: The pistol has cartridges in the magazine, a round is in the chamber, the hammer is cocked, and the safety is off.
Condition 1 – The pistol has cartridges in the magazine, a cartridge is chambered, the hammer is cocked, and the safety is in the up (safe) position. Also known as the “cocked and locked” carry condition.
Condition 2 – A cartridge is in the chamber, the hammer is down, and the pistol has cartridges in the magazine.
Condition 3 – The chamber is empty and hammer is down, but the pistol has a full magazine. This condition is also known as “Israeli Carry.”
Condition 4 – The chamber is empty, hammer is down and no magazine is in the pistol.
Condition 1 is recommended for concealed carry.
Condition 2 presents potential safety hazards and is not recommend for either carry or for storage.
Condition 3 could possibly be warranted for open carry in some localities where unknowledgeable people might be agitated if they see you carrying a “cocked” pistol in a hip holster. But be advised that Israeli-style carry requires two hands and more time to get the pistol into Condition 0. (Ready to fire.) The need for two hands could be a problem if you are holding something in one hand, injured, or engaged hand-to-hand.
Condition 4 is how I store our pistols in our gun vault.
It is noteworthy that by SOP, any firearm that comes out of our vault is immediately loaded. Everyone in the family assumes that any gun seen here at the ranch anywhere outside of the vault is loaded at all times, and it is treated as such. Avoiding ambiguity helps reduce the chance of accidents.