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WWII Pistol Training Manuals

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My day job is a full-time gun writer... I'm currently the HMIC of the blog at Ammoman.com, and I'm in the midst of doing an article on the origin on what's now known as "Israeli style carry." This is where a semi-automatic pistol is carried with a full magazine, but the hammer is down on an empty chamber. Using this method, the slide of the pistol is racked by the support hand on the draw, a round is chambered, and the target is then engaged. 

Other articles I've seen on this subject say that empty chamber carry started with Fairbairn and Sykes seminal work, "Shooting To Live," and they're right, it does mention that type of carry in their book. However, those articles also state that empty chamber carry was the norm for armies in WWII.

I have some questions about that, as this U.S. manual from 1940 states on page 19 that yes, you should carry your M1911A1 with magazine inserted but no round in the chamber when there is no chance of imminent action. However, when the you-know-what is about to hit the fan, it is recommended to charge up your pistol. 

Which makes me think that "Israeli style carry" was handed down to the Israelis from WWII British or Commonwealth training regimens. I can't find any definitive link that verifies this (yet), but it makes sense, given the Fairbairn-Sykes tie-in. 

Any ideas or links that I use to show how the Israelis chose this method of pistol carry? 

Thanks for your help,


Edited by Hawthorne
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Have you seen these?

The history of the Israeli Carry given here credits Fairbairn (and Sykes) with having institutionalized carrying empty chamber in the early 1910s in the Shanghai Police. Not only is the article most informative, but the comments have lots of fascinating things to say with how Israeli carry does and doesn't apply in Israel today.


This is a thoughtful analysis of the history, the pros and cons of the Israeli carry. Again, recommend you peruse the comments.



John Kettler

Edited by John Kettler
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