Wilson Combat Bill Wilson Carry 1911 vs. Glock 30SF: Safety


Glocks are safe. Of course they are. If you keep your finger off the trigger, a Glock will not fire. Never. Not once. Ever. Adhering to that simple rule, you could carry a Glock in your hand all day long—from breakfast to lights out—and never experience a single dangerous moment. Save the one where the SWAT team finally catches up with you at the CVS pharmacy counter. 1911s are also safe. Same thing, right? A 1911′s trigger will fire with a fraction of the finger effort required to torch the primer of a cartridge in a Glock, but if you keep your finger off the trigger, the 1911 will be just as inert as a Glock. So it’s a tie. Only not at all . . .

In terms of safety, there’s one obvious differences between a Wilson Combat Bill Wilson Carry (BWC) pistol and a Glock 30SF “combat” gun: the safety switch. The Wilson Combat has one, the Glock doesn’t. OK, yes, strictly speaking, the Glock does have a safety device. It’s in the trigger (of all places). Gaston’s mob describes their “Safety Action” trigger thus:

The “Safe Action” system is a partly tensioned firing pin lock, which is moved further back by the trigger bar when the trigger is pulled. When the trigger is pulled, 3 safety features are automatically deactivated one after another. When doing so, the trigger bar is deflected downward by the connector and the firing pin is released under full load. When the trigger is released, all three safety features re-engage and the GLOCK pistol is automatically secured again.

Click here for a YouTube explanation of how it works. Bottom line: you pull the trigger on a Glock and the gun goes off. Otherwise, you can drop it like it’s hot or throw it at a wall and the bullet ain’t gonna do the FPS thing. According to the 1911 folks that’s not a safety, this is a safety:

At the risk of stating the blindingly obvious, to fire the Bill Wilson Carry pistol, you have to flick that little switch downwards. (Provided you remember to switch it on in the first place.) You also have to grip the gun. And then pull the trigger. If you grip the gun “properly,” turn off the safety and press play, the gun will fire. If you don’t do all three, it won’t. Same drop test. Same brick wall.

So the “extra” safety makes the BWC safer than the Glock 30SF yes?

If you’re talking about safety from unauthorized users, then yes, the 1911 is safer than the Glock. A bozo bad guy—which describes the majority of the species—who grabs your 1911 to use it against you in the heat of battle will most likely forget to turn off the safety. With a Glock it’s less sturm und drang and more pull-and-bang. And?

I’m not a cop nor do I play one out on the street. I carry a concealed firearm. My main strategy for dealing with lethal threats: run like hell. Keep my distance. Put something between me and the perp or perps. Generally, I try to not let anyone with ill will get close enough to take my gun. It happened once. It won’t happen again.

So holster retention is not a major concern. If it was, and I carried a Glock, I could overcome the “problem” by wearing a retention holster. But I don’t. Because my ability to deploy my weapon quickly and effectively is a higher priority than preparing for the possibility that I’d encounter a literal gun grabber.

For the reason shown in the video above, in the heat of the moment, I don’t want to add an extra step in the de-holstering process. Nor do I want to screw the pooch in the “switch the safety off and THEN fire” process. Yes, there is that . . .

If you train yourself to draw and ready a 1911 properly, the 1911′s safety switch is not an issue. It may not offer any significant advantages, but the little lever isn’t an impediment to your ability to bring the gun to bear on the bad guy. You pull the gun from the holster, immediately flick off the safety and Bob’s your uncle. Do that a few thousand times and on a regular basis and you’re good to stow. As long as you maintain trigger discipline.

Touch a 1911′s trigger in combat and the gun WILL fire. Not press. Touch. In a high stress situation, you won’t have enough fingertip feeling or presence of mind to put your finger on the trigger and not fire the gun. I repeat: a Zen master may be able to rest his or her fingertip on a 1911 trigger in combat, while moving, without shooting. But not the average schmo.

As the rabbi’s pal says, “The 1911 is the best handgun in the world to shoot someone with but the lousiest NOT to shoot them.” Consider those words carefully. I didn’t carry a 1911 for a self-defense gun until A) I was confident that I wouldn’t put my finger on the trigger until I was ready to destroy my target and B) I was confident that I wouldn’t fire inadvertent “double taps” (a.k.a., closely paired groupings).

That required two years of training and thousands of rounds. And it’s still a leap of faith, ’cause I’ve never been in that kind of life-or-death high stress situation.

In contrast, the Glock 30SF offers an additional safety layer against [the shooter's own] potential failure. Not that you would, but you could rest your finger on the Glock’s trigger in an armed self-defense scenario with a far greater likelihood of NOT negligently discharging your weapon. That margin of error could save an innocent life or, at the very least, not waste a precious bullet.

For most people—who don’t spend near enough time training and may not have much in the way of gun-handling chops—the Glock 30SF is far safer than the Wilson Combat Bill Wilson Carry pistol (or any 1911).

With a Glock 30SF, a shooter doesn’t have to “remember” to switch off a safety. All they needs is trigger control, muzzle discipline and some tactical awareness. The Bill Wilson Combat pistol owner needs an extra level of expertise. In exchange, he or she gets a slimmer firearm (easier to conceal) and additional accuracy. Which is, of course, a whole ‘nother kind of safety.

As always when it comes to firearms, the key safety difference lies between the ears.

[Click here for Wilson Combat Bill Wilson Carry Pistol vs. Glock 30SF: Accuracy]

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About Robert Farago

Robert Farago is the Publisher of The Truth About Guns (TTAG). He started the site to explore the ethics, morality, business, politics, culture, technology, practice, strategy, dangers and fun of guns.

33 Responses to Wilson Combat Bill Wilson Carry 1911 vs. Glock 30SF: Safety

  1. avatarTodd Price says:

    I agree with everything said in this article. Good writeup.

  2. avatarSean says:

    In the end, it’s all about training. Same applies to DA/SA.

  3. avatartdiinva says:

    All gun owners are idiots, or more properly, all gun owners are capable of being an idiot just for an instant and that is all it takes for something bad to happen. A gun that does not have a “cannot fire” device is an ND waiting to happen. How many times have we read about an LE with a Glock having an ND? My rule is that if the gun doesn’t have a true safety it’s not in my arsenal or my house.

    • avatarRobert Farago says:

      A gun with a “cannot fire” device is a gun with a high likelihood that it won’t go bang when the average shooter tries to use it to defend their life. On the range, I see people switch the safety off and never switch it back on until they’re ready to go home. What are the odds they’ll forget to switch it off in the heat of battle?

      I also see people who switch the safety off and leave it off and forget about it (as is natural with some of Ruger’s Chicklet-sized safeties). Which increases the possibility of a negligent discharge. Or does it?

      All I know is that the average shooter needs something fool proof. A safety ain’t it.

      • avatartdiinva says:

        There is only one safety device that is effective — the gun owner who knows and understands the four rules of gun safety. Mechanical devices can and do fail. However, a mechanical safety is the last line of defense against people acting stupid and I will reiterate that each and everyone of us is capable of careless behavior with a gun. You can train yourself to safe or unsafe the gun as a reflex action. I can unsafe my 1911 before I ever get it into firing position and I safe it without thinking when I rack the slide/reload even if I am doing a rapid fire drill at the range. If you can’t do that then perhaps you shouldn’t have made a decision to walk around with a gun.

      • avatarPatrick Carrube says:

        “All I know is that the average shooter needs something fool proof”….

        Come on now! When you try to make the world idiot-proof, the world just makes a better idiot.

    • avatarCharles5 says:

      Based on your reasoning, that all gun owners are capable of being idiots, what is to say that they won’t fail to use the safety properly? I’m willing to bet that most ND’s happen when someone is playing around with their gun (i.e. drawing, holstering, dry-firing etc.) I know of someone that was practicing drawing, bringing the sights on target and dry-firing as quickly as he could. The gun was unloaded and everything was fine. Since he was using a 1911, he had to manually rack the slide every time to bring the gun into battery. He would re-holster, then draw, aim, fire. Then, he switched holsters (trying an brand new IWB). Curious about how the holster would wear with the added weight of a full magazine, he inserted a loaded magazine (not racking the slide) and holstered it. He played around with the position for a little bit and then practiced a draw and fire (remember no round in chamber). He remembers seeming confused when the hammer wasn’t cocked. Forgetting that he had loaded live ammunition just a few minutes before (Remember, he had been dry firing over half an hour), he racked the slide, engaged the safety, and holstered the weapon. He then quickly drew the weapon, disengaged the safety and proceeded to shoot a hole in his living room wall. Fortunately, no one else was around and nobody was hurt. ND’s happen because someone is not situationally aware, not because of the presence of a safety or the lack thereof. I do not believe that people accidentally squeeze the trigger. They intentionally pull it (for whatever reason). You can’t pull the trigger and get the satisfying click sound if the safety is on, can you? No, you have to disengage the safety to pull the trigger in many cases, so off with the safety (why not, they don’t think the gun is loaded. If they knew it was loaded, why pull the trigger?). If you think a “cannot fire” device provides any additional layer of protection to a ND, you are sadly mistaken.

      • avatartdiinva says:

        Where did I say that I thought a firearm could be made in such a way that there is no chance of an ND. I said just the opposite we all have the capability to do something stupid with a gun.

    • avatarNemesis says:

      Quote: “My rule is that if the gun doesn’t have a true safety it’s not in my arsenal or my house.” then “There is only one safety device that is effective — the gun owner who knows and understands the four rules of gun safety.” Endquote. With all due respect, you just neutralized your argument of having a mechanical safety on a firearm at all. Personally, I have a M&P 9C that I carry that has no safety whatsoever. I have a very high awareness when I handle this pistol, knowing there is one less safeguard in place, being the mechanical safety, versus a slight bit more comfortable in “depending” on a weapon with a “dual” safety, like the Springfield XD with trigger and backstrap safety.

  4. avatarChaz says:

    Yes, plus I have the NY-1 trigger spring which makes my G30 trigger firm but still with an OK release (it’s not intended for bullseye competition after all). In training with this pistol I once managed a sub 1.5 second draw and double-tap into the A zone from 15 feet. One of my pre-OFWG-aged friends beats that time with his Kimber. So… is it the Kimber or is it the youth? ;->

  5. “Safeties are not to be trusted. Like most mechanical devices, they can fail.”

    This is usually drilled into everyone’s head in any proper firearms safety or hunter education class. The only true safety is your finger, and it’s connection to that pink mushy thing between your ears. I don’t need no stupid levers and buttons to fiddle with or forget their on or off. Just something to keep the gun from going off when dropped (which Glocks have) which has happened to me now and then. Also, not every 1911 has a drop safety depending on the series you’re using.

  6. avatarKurt Schneider says:

    Because of the trigger, the 1911 is not a good pistol for the beginner. It’s an excellent pistol, and some of the best shooters in the world (both competition and combat) use it, but it’s not a good ‘starter gun’.

    Because of the weight balance, the Porsche 911 series is not a good car for the beginner. It’s an excellent car, and some of the best drivers in the world (both race and street) use it, but it’s not a good ‘starter car’.

  7. avatarankle says:

    Two comments: 1) I know it’s in the dictionary as a “suitable alternative”, but really… “thus” wasn’t adverb enough for you, and you had to go adding a silly “-ly” to the end of it?

    2) How much does your gun’s accuracy really matter? I mean, provided it hits paper at 5-10 yard, isn’t that enough for the average encounter? Minute of bad guy and all that?

  8. avatarScott says:

    I personally just don’t like the way DAO semiautos feel. However, my concealed carry weapon is a .38 revolver. It likely will be ’til the day I die (of old age-not for a lack of bullet capacity). I train more than most and I still don’t trust myself not to screw it up when some big ugly jumps me.

  9. avatarSam Adams says:

    I love the design and carry either a G27 or G30sf whenever and wherever I’m able; they’re everything a combat/defensive pistol should be, and nothing it shouldn’t. Whether Glocks are safer (or not) than any other design (including the 1911 from a variety of manufactures) doesn’t come down to the presence or absence of an external switch. Such a difference is really a training issue (as touched on in the article). That is, if one trains on their firearm of choice, and is in the habit of following firearm safety (including the famous four rules), either pistol mentioned in the article (as well as others) can be used safely. That being the case, safety is not necessarily a gun design issue (poor designs notwithstanding), but a user/training issue.

    The Glock design often gets a bad rap for the omission of an external safety. Yet, few ever consider that a person who has experienced a ND with a Glock may very well likely have (or will) experience a ND with any other design. This is primarily due to the high probability that the user who (for example) employed poor trigger discipline using a Glock, would be equally likely to employ poor practices with other firearms. While this may seem speculative (and, admittedly, very well may be), one’s habits and practices are what keep people safe, or get them in trouble, much more than “external” factors.

  10. avatarGlockslinger says:

    Numbers don’t lie; Glock owns some 70% of the law enforcement market, and that’s for good reason: reliability and value. Most of the stories of LEOs having ADs were when they transitioned from revolvers. You can twirl your loaded snubby, but try that with your G17 and lead is gonna fly. This article is a good comparison, but leaves out a couple of important points, that being one. The other is cost; you’ll save hundreds with the Glock, and your group sizes won’t be all that different.

  11. avatarAdam says:

    @Robert

    Ok, so does the 1911 have some device on it that automatically (i.e. without user intervention) engages the safety when the gun is not needed for self defense or other shooting (practice) purpose?

    If not than we can just STFU about which gun is “safer” than the other because for a “manual safety” to be effective you have to actually use it and I’m not entirely convinced that people do 100% of the time. In fact isn’t it true that many law enforcement agencies mandate that their officers to carry 1911s, in condition zero – full mag, round chambered, hammer cocked, safety off?


    If you’re talking about safety from unauthorized users, then yes, the 1911 is safer than the Glock. A bozo bad guy—which describes the majority of the species—who grabs your 1911 to use it against you in the heat of battle will most likely forget to turn off the safety. Very young or stupid children face a similar obstacle when messing about. With a Glock it’s less sturm und drang and more pull-and-bang. And?

    Your joking right? Mr. “your gun belongs on you or in a safe” is saying that the 1911 is safer in the hands of an unauthorized kid because it has a manual safety… Wow, guess you don’t need that bio-metric safe you’ve been pimping to keep the kids hands off you heater since you’ve got a gun with a manual safety. Not.

    This (and others) whole argument over which is safer is fallacious, your making shit up so you can have another blog post. Why is it fallacious?

    Because every single one of the reasons that you say make the 1911 safer can be overcome with the training and not being irresponsible.

    1911 safer because less chance you’ll shoot when you don’t want to – you know as well as I do that the process of drawing your weapon is the same if you have a manual safety or not. That is to say, by the time you have the gun on target the safety should already be disengaged as it would be with a a Glock style pistol. The upshot is that you have to maintain the same trigger discipline with a 1911 as you do a Glock.

    1911 safer from gun grab – if your worried about that get training on weapon retention.

    1911 safer because BG who may get a hold of your gun won’t know how to disengage the safety – your just hoping that the BG does not know how and/or does not have the time to figure it out.

    1911 safer around kids – your kids should not be able to get their hand on it in the first place, if your that irresponsible you should probably not have a gun.


    In exchange, he or she gets a slimmer firearm (easier to conceal) and additional accuracy.

    Stop that. The 1911 (specifically the Wilson Combat) might be more accurate in your hands but that does not mean that it’s more accurate than any other pistol, in everyone else’s hands. Until you put both guns in a ransom rest and and run through hundreds of rounds, rinse and repeat, than you cannot talk about which gun is more accurate.

  12. avatarWilliam Robert says:

    Come on guys – it’s a gun. It’s supposed to be dangerous, or you don’t want it. Comparing a Glock Safe Action with a 1911? Good for blog discussions, but neither is better nor worse – they’re just different. Now with that being said, and with the exception of the G36, if Glock made a 5″ barrel single stack 45acp…

  13. avatarPete says:

    And can we note that the original Glock 17 (from the 1980s) had about a 3.5-lb trigger pull once you depressed the firing pin lock? And there were a fair number of instances where LE personnel shot a handcuffed suspect with their new Glock 17, because they had their finger on the trigger and were under a lot of stress at the moment?

    This is why Golck increased the trigger pull to around 8.5 lbs (called the “NY trigger” because the NYPD requested the change). And this is why in 1990 or so Glock sent a new 8.5-lb trigger/connector kit to every purchaser that had an early Glock, and offered free installation of this “new, improved” product.

    And why you can now find after-market Glock trigger/connector sets for sale to IPSCC and IDPA competitors that will reduce the trigger pull on their currently made Glocks to 3.5lbs or so.

    • avatarAdam says:

      @Pete


      And there were a fair number of instances where LE personnel shot a handcuffed suspect with their new Glock 17, because they had their finger on the trigger and were under a lot of stress at the moment?

      One has to question why anyone would have a gun pointed at someone who is handcuffed. Of course it’s easier to blame the gun than to think that overall lack of training, irresponsibility, or intent were the result of the NDs you described.

      • avatarPete says:

        Didn’t mean to excuse the LEO holding the Glock – these were definitely negligent/poor training issues. Just wanted to point out that the light triggers were changed by Glock because of the liability issues resulting from the NDs.

    • avatarDrew says:

      I wish Glock sent a new 8.5-lb trigger/connector kit to every purchaser that had an early Glock. They only sent me a postcard saying they would do the work if I sent them my G17 gen 2 frame. I didn’t want to pay the postage so I still have the original setup.

  14. Mechanical safeties don’t make a gun safe. A gun is only as dangerous as it’s operator. Just like a car! Only ‘they’ are not after our cars so much and cars with dangerous operators kill more people in the USA every day than are killed by guns.
    Just saying

  15. avatarRalph says:

    There’s no such thing as a safe gun. There are only safe owners.

    • avatarRobert Farago says:

      Yes but—some machines are inherently safer than others. A Volvo is safer than a Ferrari. Any Ferrari. Although a Volvo owner is more likely to have a heart attack behind the wheel. See how that works?

  16. avatarCoyote Gray says:

    Interesting video insert.

    And at the risk of ignoring the point of the post, TTAG recently posted an article demonstrating how a bad guy with a knife, will get you before you can pull your pistol; In distances of up to 10 feet.

    The instructor in the video identified his own biggest problem: “I don’t have good unarmed skills”.

    You want your best odds of surviving a “surprise” attack, spend less time on the range practicing quick draws, and more time in a ring or on the matt practicing quick strikes and creating distance.

    However, be warned. That type of training might require you to sweat a whole lot more than you would shooting at beer cans in an open field.

  17. avatarRich Keagy says:

    Glock safety: So simple a toddler can disengage it.

    • avatarNam Marine says:

      A toddler should NOT have access to your firearms………period!
      P.S. The “safety” should be between your ears!

  18. avatarNam Marine says:

    PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE! End of lecture! For what its worth, I have a Glock 30 SF for CCW, and a beautiful Colt 1991A1 in stainless for Home defense. Love them both for different reasons! The only thing they have in common is they both leave a very LARGE hole when I use Winchester RangerTalon’s in 230 gr. +P.

  19. avatarNam Marine says:

    Everybody, just because a person with a Glock is a Police officer, does NOT mean they have a clue about correct firearm control! Many Police on the streets only practice once a year to qualify. Many Police Departments are VERY lacking in proper training with firearms! With the current economic conditions,these problems will NOT improve!……………….Happy Motoring!

  20. avatarMike says:

    The New York trigger wasn’t a solution to a problem. It was done to try putting a bandaid on a training issue, namely that cops don’t.

    The NY trigger is actually a great way to make things worse. Let’s take a marginally trained shooter (I’m being generous) and give them a gun with a heavy trigger. NY cops already have a hit rate around 50% inside 3 yards (and it gets worse from there), so let’s give them a heavy-ass trigger that makes them throw shots low, wheeee!

    For the record, marketing is the reason Glock has such a big share of the LE market. They’re OK handguns (brilliant building them with that funky grip angle, too – once you’re used to that, you’re ruined for other pistols), but not really any better than a Sig (except the 250), an M&P or any number of modern pistols.

    The Glock isn’t any safer than the 1911, either. Finger on trigger only when you’re ready to fire. That’s one of the four basic rules. Practice, practice, practice. If you don’t want to practice, don’t carry a gun… or become a cop.

  21. avatarB-RAD says:

    Why not have the best of both worlds? Put a manual, 1911ish safety on your Glock like I did. Its not that I don’t trust myself, It’s that I just don’t trust myself to be super vigilant at all times. It all comes down to your personal preference and comfort like anything- cars, women, houses..etc. ….It’s YOUR ultimate responsibility……YOU decide!

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