Pictured is the loaded chamber indicator on a Ruger SR9. You can read our Ruger SR9 review here.
As you might have guessed from the title of this post, I’m not a fan of loaded chamber indicators. At best, they are an unnecessary part of your gun and should be ignored. At worst, loaded chamber indicators can contribute to bad safety and operator habits.
What are they?
A loaded chamber indicator, as the name suggests, is a safety device on semi-automatic handguns designed to alert the operator in some way that a round is in the chamber. The idea that loaded chamber indicators impy is:
- Red flag IS visible, gun is NOT safe. “If you squeeze the trigger, I will go boom.”
- Red flag NOT visible, gun IS safe. “It’s ok to squeeze the trigger, I’m safe.”
Why are they there?
Loaded chamber indicators are added to guns presumably to make them more compliant with gun safety requirements, regulations and laws in some of our more non-gun friendly states.
The goal in adding a loaded chamber indicator is clearly safety, but do they make guns more safe? I contend that this protectionist intent can actually lead to bad habits, both from a safety perspective, and from an operator’s perspective.
Loaded Chamber Indicators and Gun Safety
If you remember the four rules of gun safety, you will remember that rule number 1 is that guns are always loaded. If you are relying on a loaded chamber indicator to tell you when your gun is safe, aren’t you ignoring rule number 1? And what are you doing with the gun when the red flag isn’t up that you shouldn’t be?
So from a safety perspective, I don’t see this adding any value, and I think it can actually lead to a false sense of “safety” which in turn could lead to bad habits.
Loaded Chamber Indicators and Gun Operation
So what about gun operation? Oftentimes you will hear people say they like loaded chamber indicators because they provide a visual and physical indication that the gun is loaded.
While I buy this argument to a certain extent in some situations like low light, personally, I would never rely on the little red flag. I would instead perform a proper press check to verify a loaded chamber.
What Do You Think?
Agree? Disagree? Maybe I’m missing something…let me know in the comments!