Conditions of Carry
First, let’s define the five possible modes of carry, or what condition of readiness the firearm can potentially be in.
The late Col. Jeff Cooper, father of the Modern Technique of the Pistol, described the five possible conditions of a pistol using the terms “Condition 0,” “Condition 1,” etc. These conditions are listed in the order of readiness the pistol is in.
In Condition 0, the pistol is ready to fire; In Condition 1, it is one step away from firing, and so on down to Condition 4, which is a ‘transportation’ mode, about as far away from ready to fire as possible, short of disassembly.
These conditions apply primarily to the 1911-style semi-automatic pistol, which was his favored combat pistol. I have added my explanations and descriptions to his definitions of the Conditions.
Condition 0: A round is in the chamber, the hammer is cocked, and the safety is off. In this condition, the pistol is ready to be fired.
Condition 1: A round is in the chamber, the hammer is cocked, and the manual thumb safety on the side of the frame is applied. This condition is also known as “cocked and locked,” and is the recommended method of carrying a holstered 1911-style pistol. Condition 1 allows for the fastest presentation of a pistol, it is also the safest condition for a 1911 pistol to be in (with the exception of Condition 4, which is for transportation only).
Condition 2: A round is in the chamber and the hammer is down. There is no reason I can think of for a 1911-style pistol to be in this condition. It’s silly, and it’s downright dangerous.
Condition 3: The chamber is empty and hammer is down with a charged magazine in the gun. In order to make the gun ready to fire, the operator must rack the slide to simultaneously chamber a round and cock the hammer. I believe this is also referred to as the “Israeli” style of carry, and that they are trained to rack the slide after drawing from their holster. I cannot say if this is true; but it seems to me a lot of extra motion, involving both hands. That cannot add efficiency or speed to the draw stroke.
Condition 4 The chamber is empty, hammer is down and no magazine is in the gun. The only time any of my guns are in this condition is when I’m taking them into a gun store for sale or repair, or flying on an airplane.