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You ask, I answer

Reader Ash:

Whatís wrong with a loaded chamber indicator? Iíve found them useful for verifying weapon status in the dark, as opposed to a press check.

Nothing, if they’re done right. In this particular case, I was talking about the Ruger MKIII’s which is just a horrible design. It inconveniently protrudes and is a hideous color. I have loaded chamber indicators on a Para LDA and a Smith and Wesson M&P9. And they’re good designs. But I don’t use them.

I donít buy the Ďany added complexity invites mechanical failureí argument for a modern firearm.

I don’t buy that either but I have binary mentality when it comes to guns. If you want it to go bang, pull the trigger. If you do not want it to go bang, keep your boogerhook off the bangswitch. Anything else is extraneous fluff that I don’t want to be bothered with. Like TD said Is gun. Is not safe. Oh and stop touching it.

17 Responses to “You ask, I answer”

  1. Fred Says:

    My favorite loaded chamber indicator is on my Walther P1. It’s unobtrusive and in a decent spot. Others I’ve used have tended to be kinda sucky.

  2. ZK Says:

    The witness hole on the M&P is great. It’s the one chamber indicator I count as a ‘feature’ and not a bug.

  3. Mad Saint Jack Says:

    Few years back saw a Ruger MKIII suffer a case failure and blow the LCI out the side of the gun.

  4. Canthros Says:

    I think the loaded chamber indicator on Steyr’s M-A1 series guns contributed to the reliability problems I’ve had with mine, actually. The extractor, which has since been redesigned, is probably the primary cause, but, IIRC, they’ve since dropped the LCI.

  5. Rivrdog Says:

    Second the Walther. My pre-war PP has a simple pin that protrudes into the hammer-shroud area of the slide, and is both visible and tactile. It is felt from the BACK of the pistol, so it is safer to grope for. It can be used while the pistol is holstered, too.

  6. aeronathan Says:

    “any added complexity invites mechanical failure”

    As an engineer, I’m here to tell you, you better believe that increasing the number of parts in a system increases the probability that the system will fail.

    A firearm is full of components that will cause the entire weapon to fail if the component. That’s what’s known as a single failure model.


    P(s) = the probability that one component is successful
    P(S) = the probability that the system (firearm) is successful
    n = the number of components

    The single failure model is: P(S) = P(s)^n

    Assume your components typically have 99% chance of operating correctly.

    For n = 2, your weapon only has a 98% success rate, despite the 99% reliability of components.

    For n = 10, your weapon only has a 90% success rate overall.

    That model is a little simplistic since different parts have different failure rates, but the basic premise is the same, the math just gets a little more involved.

  7. Shootin' Buddy Says:

    “Whatís wrong with a loaded chamber indicator?”

    1. Weakens the design.
    2. Can complicate trigger honing.
    3. Provides false confidence (don’t trust them), see Rule #1.

  8. Sigivald Says:

    Hideous color?

    From Ruger’s website it looks like it’s body color with a dab of red.

    If it’s that offensive, a bit of paint or a Sharpie will fix that right up.

    Shootin’ Buddy: #2 I can see. #3 isn’t a problem if approached properly by the user (and mechanically, I’m not sure how it could be “wrong” if properly designed, though I’ve never looked at the Ruger one).

    But #1? On a Mark III?

    Those pistols are overdesigned like a damned tank, if they’re anything like my Mark II. The LCI isn’t going to cause mechanical failures due to weakness, I’m betting.

    Mad Saint Jack: What happens if there’s a failure and there’s no LCI (eg. in a Mark II)? A blowout there might count as a feature, if the alternative is more destructive or actively dangerous.

    (Then again, while I love shooting my Mark II, I wouldn’t buy another one. The disassembly and reassembly make my Luger look normal and sane and easy.)

  9. Jeff the Baptist Says:

    “As an engineer, Iím here to tell you, you better believe that increasing the number of parts in a system increases the probability that the system will fail.”

    I’m also an engineer and completely concur.

  10. Mad Saint Jack Says:

    “What happens if thereís a failure and thereís no LCI”

    A quick Google search seems to say not much:

  11. Sebastian Says:

    On early versions of the Mk.III, if you dropped the gun and it landed on the chamber flag, they would go boom, because they made contact directly with the rim. Ruger fixed the problem by spring loading the indicator, but it’s something that shouldn’t be bothered with, as it’s not a feature as far as I’m concerned. It also complicates cleaning the gun, because it can’t be removed.

  12. Ian Argent Says:

    You know – I have no fricking idea what the LCI on my Glock looks like when loaded; because the only time I chamber is at the firing line at the range, and I’m far too busy looking at the sights to look at the LCI.

    If I want to know if the chamber is full of boolit (as I do every time I pick the thing up), I crack the chamber. I wouldn’t trust the thing even if I did carry, which would necessitate keeping a charge in the chamber…

  13. Matt in AZ Says:

    In response to Ian Argent; the Glock LCI is a raised portion on the extractor that will protrude past the flat of the slide when a round is chambered. It is intended to be a tactile check when lighting conditions preclude a visual chamber check.

    I think that the point of this whole goat rope is to point out that a “saftey feature” that includes unnecessary parts and possible points of failure are a bad idea. However, a LCI, if done properly is a good thing to have as one can see and/or feel the condition of one’s peice without a press check. The Ruger MKIIIís LCI is horrid but then again it is very similar to form and function as the Springfield XD.

  14. mikee Says:

    Next up on GUN PARTS: THE COMMENTS! The 1911 grip safety, fact or fiction?

  15. Ian Argent Says:

    Thanks @Matt. I figured it was from the manual, but nice to have confirmation.

    It literally never occurs to me to check *that*, though.

  16. Ash Says:

    Thanks for the post. Definitely some points I wasn’t aware of!

    How would people rank the XD/XDM LCI design?

  17. Gene Hoffman Says:

    Really crappy design of LCI’s is being foisted on manufacturers by California DOJ. They hand the gun around the office (to people with no firearms training) and ask if its loaded or not.