Readiness (or carry) Conditions
I've been around guns off and on for most of my life, but when I started looking into my new pistol buy I started hearing about condition 1, condition zero, etc. So after a little research I found the following info in wikipedia (where else?) and provide you the link to the write up. Hopefully it can clear up some confusion for some other new folks.
The Link. Jeff Cooper - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Cooper favored the Colt M1911 and its variants. There are several conditions of readiness in which such a weapon can be carried. Cooper promulgated most of the following terms:
Condition Four: Chamber empty, no magazine, hammer down.
Condition Three: Chamber empty, full magazine in place, hammer down.
Condition Two: A round chambered, full magazine in place, hammer down.
Condition One: A round chambered, full magazine in place, hammer cocked, safety on.
Condition Zero: A round chambered, full magazine in place, hammer cocked, safety off.
Some of these configurations are safer than others (for instance, a single action pistol without a firing pin safety such as a transfer bar system should never be carried in Condition 2), while others are quicker to fire the gun (Condition 1). In the interest of consistent training, most agencies that issue the 1911 specify the condition in which it is to be carried as a matter of local doctrine.
This firearm condition system can also be used to refer to other firearm actions, particularly when illustrating the differences between carry modes considered to be safe for various actions. For example, DA/SA is designed to be carried in Condition 2, which is not safe for 1911s without firing pin safeties.
As for me, my choice will be Condition 2 with my Bersa since it is a DA/SA pistol and some folks get really nervous if they see you have the hammer back. But that's just me.