Speaking of Glock vs. 1911 safety, I’ve received an email from a member of our Armed Intelligentsia who’s asked to remain anonymous. The headline is from the subject bar.

“I just found out that a friend of mine had a negligent discharge. He was hiking with his kid, carrying a Glock 27 [not shown]. One of his kids scraped a knee, so he stowed the gun unholstered in his backpack while he took care of the injury. At the end of the hike, he put the backpack between two young sons in the back seat . . .

Later in the day, one son threw a toy onto the backpack, somehow causing a discharge.  Obviously something pushed the unprotected trigger. Perhaps something got wedged into the trigger guard? The .40 caliber bullet missed his other son by three inches (he was in a car seat).

The story is somewhat suspicious, but my buddy is sure the older son was not handling the gun based on how it was laying in the pack when he found it. Note: the gun owner’s been working around/handling guns his entire life and pulled several brain dead moves here:

1.  Unholstered, loaded Glock
2. Loaded gun placed in bag and forgotten.
3. Loaded gun placed in proximity to kids.

My wife is completely shaken up by this incident. It doesn’t matter that he did a lot of things wrong here. To my hoplophobic wife, that gun “went off.” My odds of carrying with her approval are swirling around the toilet. This is partly why I carry condition 3. I want that extra step to prevent ND in my situation.”

61 Responses to “A 1911 on Safety and Unholstered Would Not Have Done This”

  1. Guns are intelligently designed but they rely on the owner/user to be deployed or safely stored. I know several people who carry Glocks where ever they go. They all use holsters. The police departments they work for require a holster for off duty carry. For many departments these off duty holsters must be “approved”. That usually means a snap to keep the gun from falling out and exposing the trigger to unwanted pressure.
    ….Very happy no one got hurt.

  2. To the anonymous emailer: have you ever fired a glock? The trigger pull is long and fairly heavy. Not as heavy as a DA revolver, but not something you could do by accident. Furthermore, the “safety” lever in the center of the trigger needs to be fully depressed. IOW, something the size and shape of a finger has to go into the trigger guard and apply pressure directly backwards in order to fire a Glock.

    Guns don’t just “go off” but curious kids often play with guns.

    Occam’s razor applies here. This story smells.

    EDITED TO ADD: Note the “story displacement” here. This didn’t happen to Eric (the poster.) Nor did it happen to Eric’s Friend. “Friend-of-a-friend” is the classic form of internet BS stories.

  3. Holster holster holster… IF this story is true, it makes my head hurt.

    I’d also go so far as to say that anyone who carries a in condition 3 to prevent a ND needs to get training, or switch to a different handgun platform they are more comfortable with.

    As a side note, while it would be a little harder I think a 1911 could theoretically go off in a similar situation.

    • This would traumatize me. My kids are my life.

      Stupid, stupid mistakes on multiple levels.

      And nothing at all wrong with carrying in condition 3 to prevent an ND or ANY other accident.

      A father and his sidearm are much more likely to be in the vicinty of children where a little extra precaution should be taken, than in the vicinity of a “bad guy” where condition 2 or 1 will be merited, or any more/less beneficial than condition 3.

      • Generally when I talk to people carrying in condition 3 I get the impression it’s because they are uncomfortable with either their firearm, or their own skills concerning the handling of that firearm.

        And I think there’s something wrong with that. You should be comfortable with both your weapon and your level of training, and if you aren’t something needs to change. If you still want to carry condition 3 with a handgun you are comfortable with, that’s your choice.

  4. Simple machines do not have brains, necessitating the use of the user’s own. This is a big responsibility. If you cannot live up to this responsibility, maybe crocheting would be a better hobby.

  5. The story smells, first off. But, assuming it’s accurate, it’s still the result of idiocy. What kind of moron puts an unholstered, loaded, Glock in a backpack?

    Yes, a 1911, cocked and locked, wouldn’t have done this. That said. I’d still rather not have to worry about flipping a thumb safety and negotiating a grip safety when my life is in danger. That’s why I carry DA/SA or striker fired pistols without external safeties.

  6. OMFG – someone pulled the trigger on an gun and it went of! Why are we surprised?

    I agree with others – this story smells. Give me one reason that you’d need to remove your gun to tend to a scraped knee…

    The question now is how much is Wilson Combat paying Robert/TTAG to make shit up in order to lambaste an inanimate object for the actions of animate (and stupid) humans.

    No, seriously because you (Robert) cannot possibly think that it’s ok to put a gun, any gun, in a bag sans a holster and then place that bag where a kid can have access to it. Sure a 1911 may have not discharged when the trigger was pulled if the safety was on (and working) – but would a 1911 in a bag where a kid could get it make what this “friend” did any less irresponsible, or any less stupid?

    • Adam, my man. I am beholden to no man or corporation. WC doesn’t pay me enough to cover my ammo cost. For one range session. As for keeping a gun in a bag, OBVIOUSLY NOT. How many times have I railed against handbag carry? Dozens. A gun is in a safe or in a holster on your person. I have never, ever wavered from that position. Why would I?

      And I did not make this shit up. I don’t make shit up. Actually, I tried and found that I’m about as good at fiction as I am at long division. The headline came from the email. I’ll put quote marks around it to make that clear. Er.


      • As for keeping a gun in a bag, OBVIOUSLY NOT. How many times have I railed against handbag carry? Dozens. A gun is in a safe or in a holster on your person. I have never, ever wavered from that position. Why would I?

        This post as it stands seems to indicate that if it were a 1911 then carrying it in a bag – sans holster – would be ok. Furthermore it seems to indicate that if you had a 1911 in a bag it would be ok to let your kids play with bag and gun because the 1911 has a manual safety.

        I know the post and title are a quote… but since you don’t say otherwise so I’m assuming the implications are intentional. Especially since you said the same thing regarding kids playing with 1911s in the post you linked to.

        BTW – I don’t have an issue per se with carrying in a bag. I’ve done it before, with the gun secured in a holster (a Glock) and made sure the bag stayed with me.

        As to why you’d waver from your position – a $3000 pistol is a good theory.

        Lastly, I think it would be a stretch to believe that a person as stupid and irresponsible as this “friend” would use a manual safety.

        • Why would Wilson Combat (maker of $3000+ 1911s) want to make Glock (maker of $400-500 handguns) look bad?

          That’s like Porsche wanting to make Honda Civics look dangerous.

        • Um, market share. Really, if someone handed you a $3000 gun and asked that you make it look good it seems logical that you’d go after the biggest fish in the pond. The best way to do that is to go after that big fishes weakness… or in this case perceived weakness.

          And let’s throw that $3000 1911 in some mud along with the Glock and see which one comes out able to fire… without a 2 hour cleaning. I’ve noticed Robert has not does that test.

          Oh, and I bet the Honda spends a lot more time on the road vs. in the shop compared to the Porsche. Not that there’s anything wrong with 1911s or Porsches.

        • Although they’re both handguns (or cars in the case of Civic/Porsche), they don’t run in the same circles nor compete for market share. Wilson Combat does not give a crap about Glock, because they’re selling to a different client. Just like companies like Porsche or Ferarri could care less what features Honda added to the Civic last year, or how reliable the Civic is.

          Let’s say that you’ve convince me, a potential Glock buyer, that Glocks are dangerous. What is more likely? That I go look at guns that cost $3000+? Or that I make a more lateral move and check out guns in a similar price range ($500ish)?

          Your conspiracy theory could come off halfway believable if you were saying that a company that produces sub $1000 1911s (Springfield or Colt for example) was pulling the strings here, not a high end company like WC.

        • And yet… Robert has written at least two posts (that I can recall) comparing the two pistols.

          All I’m saying is that Robert trying to get us all in a circle-jerk over the WC 1911 everyday by posting fallacious articles is a bit… odd.

        • Maybe cause it’s two pistols he’s familiar with considering he owns a Glock. Hmm… Robert bought a very nice Wilson and he wants to compare it to the other gun he owned for a long time. Clearly a Wilson Shill.

  7. My Official Lawyer Bullshit-o-Meter is yowling in high dudgeon. Now you know why hearsay is so so widely disregarded as evidence.

    BTW, I’ve always believed that Austrian guns are very sneaky and like to go off on their own. I don’t trust them and I hate their little sausages. Italian guns are romantic and love pasta, but they’re very loud, especially at dinner. German guns are accurate but we have to do exactly what they tell us and they make us carry our papers with us at all times.

    Are we done with the sentient guns malarky?

  8. One of his kids scraped a knee, so he stowed the gun unholstered in his backpack while he took care of the injury.

    I strongly suspect that no holster was involved in this sad tale of woe.

    I have seen medics working on a casualty still carrying their M-4, M-9, and 50 plus pounds of other gear the Army makes you wear; all while under fire.

    Sounds like someone was doing the Britney Spears.

  9. If we assume the story is true (and I’m gonna be combing snopes for this one), a random backpacked object that situates itself in the trigger guard of a Glock can more easily sweep off a 1911 safety. And as you have pointed out, from there it’s just a scant 2 to 3 pounds to BANG.

    Everyone’s overlooking this fellow’s other major error. Once he finished tending to the injury, he should have re-holstered his Glock (and what kind of holster was he wearing that was so constricting he couldn’t have tended to a boo-boo with the gun nestled within?). Always maintain control.

    • “a random backpacked object that situates itself in the trigger guard of a Glock can more easily sweep off a 1911 safety. And as you have pointed out, from there it’s just a scant 2 to 3 pounds to BANG.”

      I assume you mean the 1911 thumb safety.
      There is the other one, the grip safety.

      Either way, there are two safeties in which both must be utilized before a 1911 goes BANG.

      • Exactly. Even if the safety had been knocked off a 1911 there would still be the grip safety that would need to be engaged before something in the trigger guard could set it off.

        Not to say the story is true or not but I do believe it would be far harder to make a 1911 go off than a glock by dumping them both in a bag filled with random objects and shaking the hell out of it.

  10. I feeling vindicating in an if true sort of way. The owner did something stupid and because the gun lacked a safety on something other than the trigger it “went off.” Whether something caught or the bugger pulled the trigger doesn’t matter. If the gun had a safety and if it were engaged no boom would have happened.

    For those who believe that this is hard to believe because of a Glock has a heavy trigger pull just remember if a lever-like object gets caught in the trigger guard it doesn’t take a lot of force on the lever to generate 12 pounds. The Greeks figured this out about 2300 years ago.


    • Whether something caught or the bugger pulled the trigger doesn’t matter. If the gun had a safety and if it were engaged no boom would have happened.

      Manual safety is irrelevant. Kid should have never gotten his paws on the gun in the first place.

      • “Manual safety is irrelevant. Kid should have never gotten his paws on the gun in the first place.”

        Do you live in an alternate reality where careless behavior never happens?

        The reason that you have a safety is to put another layer of protection between the gun and irresponisible/careless behavior.

        • Manual safeties aren’t child safety locks. I’ve seen a 4 year old kid pick up a paintball gun, disengage the safety, and proceed to paint a wall.

          Luckily it was only a paintball gun.

        • Since you believe that safety is futile, I take it you always leave your guns sitting around safety off and loaded.

        • No…

          I believe that any manual safety can be defeated even by small children (or possibly the contents of a backpack) so to counter that I keep my handgun either on my person, or locked up and unloaded.

          I carry 1911s (with the safety on thank you very much), but I don’t consider the manual safety to be a “layer of protection” against a child shooting themselves with it, if it is, it’s a VERY thin layer.

        • I am going to make this easy. Someone picks up a Glock and pulls the trigger. The gun goes off. Same person picks of a 1911, M-9 or other gun with a safety engaged and pulls the trigger. The gun doesn’t go boom. It is a layer of protection which requires a positive action before the gun can fire. It doesn’t prevent every ND but it prevents a lot of them. A Glock or similar firearm is not as safe as one with a safety.

        • Like I said, if it’s a “layer of protection”, it’s a very thin one that I’ve seen circumvented by 4 year olds. And who knows how old these “young” kids are? They could be old enough for dad to have taken them shooting. I know I was shooting by 7 or 8.

          You think kids are stupid? They watch us and imitate our actions, a kid can watch his dad fiddle with a 1911 (or any handgun) enough to understand how to disengage the safety, therefore removing that “layer of protection”.

        • @tdiinva

          So, let me get this straight… in your reality it’s ok to leave guns lying around kids so long as it has a manual safety. Got it. Ok. Thanks. Remind me not to let you around my kids.

          In your reality kids are to stupid to flip a switch, never mind they see the action demonstrated thousands of times in everyday life (like flipping a light switch on).

          In your reality anything that you perceive as unsafe is unsafe for everyone. In your reality facts don’t hold any value.

          Got that about right?

        • Adam:

          I live in the real world where people do dumb things. I guess you are the only one with a 0 failure potential.

          Just curious, have you ever served in a combat arm, been a LEO or gone hunting?

        • I’m not interested in getting into a fight, or anything. But I think it should be pointed out that people will do dumb things with a gun that has a safety that they wouldn’t do otherwise. I know a guy who used to be in the habit of engaging the safety and then pulling the trigger to make sure it was properly engaged. What could possibly go wrong?

          That doesn’t mean that safeties are bad. But the fact is, if you try to make things idiot-proof, someone will build a better idiot.

          Glocks try to be idiot resistant by keeping things simple. 1911s try to be idiot resistant by placing a safety between the user and an ND. I don’t want to be shot by either, and I figure that one similarity outweighs the differences. Either way, you gotta use your brain.

  11. And even if this story is a load of horse hockey, everyone *should* be frightened by it. How many times have I changed out of my work clothes with my gun laying on the bed (just for a second, to be re-holstered for home carry) before I realized, “Crap! All it takes is one phone call or tattling brother or other distraction and I’ve left the room with a loaded firearm within reach of kids!” Yes, I’ve taught them better, but why take chances? I’ve lost three pairs of sunglasses, a cell phone and several DVDs on the roof of the car while I strapped toddlers in. I put a safe in my top dresser drawer and that’s where my gun and knife go when they’re not on me, even if just for a moment. (When the oldest is 16, my car keys will go in there, too.)

  12. The point of the story is that every firearm should be under the owner’s direct control at all times. The safest way to to this is a proper holster that covers the trigger. “On the body, or in the safe.”

    I too believe there was no holster involved in this incident, either before or after the gun was placed in the bag.

    The other take home message is this: firearms require vigilance. Negligent discharges are human errors, and the best way to prevent them is forming and practicing safe handling habits all the time, every time, no exceptions. One ND can change your life in many, many unpleasant ways. We should fear the consequences.

    Unfortunately familarity can breed contempt, and humans are distractible creatures.

  13. One of my guns is a Glock 26. I thought long and hard about the Glock philosophy of gun safeties before I bought it, but in the end, I had to have it – the Glock, to me, represents a utilitarian concept of engineering that appeals to me. Ugly, but it shoots just about where I aim it every time (and the “just about” part is attributable to me, not the gun), and it shoots a bullet out the front every time I pull the trigger. Never misfired once in thousands of rounds. I bet I could drop the gun onto the freeway and let it get run over a thousand times and let it get packed full of sand and road salt, and if I found it a month later and shook the big chunks out, it would work fine.

    But I still installed an after-market trigger safety. The entire concept of “the safety is on, and if you pull the trigger it’ll fire” baffles me. With the add-on safety, the Glock now uses the exact same two-step pre-flight that every other gun in the world uses: “click off safety, pull trigger.”

  14. “My wife is completely shaken up by this incident. It doesn’t matter that he did a lot of things wrong here. To my hoplophobic wife, that gun “went off.” My odds of carrying with her approval are swirling around the toilet.”

    Not trying to be a jerk, but that’s a great example of why I’m opposed to marriage. I refuse to give up my rights just for occasional socially acceptable sex.

    Go ahead and carry the gun anyways – if she complains, use the Evil Dead 2 line – “Good, bad…..I’m the guy with the gun”.

    • Just don’t marry an idiot and you’re fine. Too many people do that. Marry someone you wouldn’t mind hanging out with for the next 50 years. If they have serious issues with guns, I probably wouldn’t hang around that person over much.

      • Eh, even then, we all know that women have an innate need to control others. You may consider them to be “little” or “not important”, but I guarantee that she’ll try to control you.

        Women try to pass it off as “compromise”, but their definition of “compromise” means “the woman gets whatever she wants and the guy gets screwed (not in the good way)”.

      • My sympathies are definitely with the wife, here. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that she’s probably not hoplophobic at all- she probably just knows enough about her husband to know that it won’t be the last time he’ll be “distracted”.

  15. “Just don’t marry an idiot and you’re fine. Too many people do that.”

    And thank goodness for that. Gives guys like us a fighting chance .

  16. I agree with the posters above that a pistol should remain on your person if loaded.

    If stored in a bag, it must be unloaded with nothing in the chamber.

  17. Why were the details about the person killed by the “designed only to kill” inanimate object taking matters into its own hands omitted from this post? Is part 2 yet to come?

  18. Gun?
    Children?
    Backpack?

    That combination should set off unsafe-storage alarm bells.

    I carry a Glock. If I had to store it in a backpack–with even the possibility of an ND, I would prove it safe, check it again, and keep the mag in a pocket.

  19. Robert Farago does not make shit up and is not being unduly influenced by gun manufacturers. I have not doubt about that at all.

    But this story is BS. It stinks to high hell. Booboo treatment does not require the removal of firearms. Sticking a toy in the backpack is not a magical trigger for the gun considering the amount of force required to pull the trigger.

    This Christmas, I am going to start a campaign to get GI Joe with the kung fu grip taken off the market before he kills someone. The nerve of that toy to pull a trigger and endanger the lives of those sweet, innocent children.

    Hey dumb-butt, you think your wife may not want you carrying a gun because your friend shot a hole in his car while his kids were in it? You know, I don’t call these people friends.

  20. -Glock is not the only gun maker that makes guns sans a “makes me feel better” switch. In fact I’d say that most (if not all) of the poly pistols made today lack a manual safety.

    -Remember revolvers? Revolvers have never had a manual safety, no one gripes about them not being safe.

    -ND = Negligent Discharge. Our friend Webster says this about Negligence:

    a : marked by or given to neglect especially habitually or culpably
    b : failing to exercise the care expected of a reasonably prudent person in like circumstances

    If you have and ND, that is your gun goes off when you don’t want it to, it’s because you were being negligent. Modern guns, properly taken care of, do not go off by themselves. End. Of. Story.

    -A gun is only as safe as the person in charge of it’s safety.

    -Can anyone provide data to show that Glocks (or guns that use similar safety systems) are involved in more NDs than guns that use manual safeties? If not than anyone saying that Glocks (or the like) are unsafe is basing it off pure anecdote. Anecdote may inform your opinion but it is not a substitute for facts.

  21. @Scott.A

    My point went right over your head. You said:


    Although they’re both handguns (or cars in the case of Civic/Porsche), they don’t run in the same circles nor compete for market share.

    So, if it’s so dumb to compare a WC 1911 and a Glock… why has Robert dedicated so much time and effort to such a dumb task?

  22. After an extensive career investigating and working as an expert witness in accidental shooting cases, and having carried both cocked-and-locked 1911’s and Glocks for many years each, I do not agree that an unholstered 1911 with the “safety engaged” would not have gone off in a backpack that was first worn, then thrown in the back seat of a car, with other items then thrown in on top of it. The same kinds of movements and forces that can pull a trigger can, even more easily, disengage a 1911’s safety, which is completely exposed when the pistol is unholstered. No handgun should just be thrown into a backpack unholstered and unsecured in some way. The gun owner here was not just negligent, he was reckless.

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