Question of the Day: How Many Safeties Do You Need On A Gun Anyway?

I carry a Glock 30SF. As far as I’m concerned, its “safety action trigger” simply means my handgun won’t go off if I drop it. Otherwise and in any case, I reckon the safety is between my ears. Which is just how I like it. Truth be told, I don’t want to have to remember to do anything in a defensive gun use other than unholster, point and shoot. Otherwise, I’d be carrying a 1911. That said, if I didn’t have to pop into MA on a regular basis, I’d be schlepping a 19-round Springfield XD-M in 9mm—which has a grip safety. So, what about you? Would you carry a gun with a frame-mounted safety, be it a Mossie lever gun with triple safeties or a 1911 with the two? Or are you one with the Glock and similar?

comments

  1. avatar Daniel says:

    The first time I went to the range to practice threat drills with my safety’d M&P, about half the time I’d draw it, pull the trigger, and nothing would happen.
    The next thing I knew I was on the phone asking S&W for some safety hole plugs. Once I got ’em, the safety came out permanently.

    Safeties on defensive guns are a dangerous compromise. If you have kids, just be a responsible adult and lock up your gun or carry it on your hip all the time in a holster that will resist other hands trying to pull the gun free.

    1. avatar mtyd05 says:

      sounds like a training issue to me

    2. avatar WLCE says:

      dont feel bad. I have seen experienced people mess up Beretta and 1911 safeties during those aforementioned drills.

      “this is my safety” *curls trigger finger 😉

  2. avatar Don says:

    I like them simple for self defense like Glocks, XDs and revolvers. I love shooting 1911s but I would need quite a bit of practice before I was confident relying on me to disengage the safety every time, but that’s me. If you’re favorite carry piece has a safety and you can reliably run that equipment then go for it!

  3. avatar tdiinva says:

    The argument against the safety is that you will forget to disengage it when the SHTF. The anti-safety faction believes that you can train yourself to keep your finger away from the trigger and rely on the 5″ between your ears but you can’t train yourself to sweep down with your thumb to disengage the safety when you draw your weapon during a DGU. The muscle memory required to do the latter is a lot simpler than the former.

    The human element is the weak link in the safety chain and we all can have lapses that leads to a ND. People who say “that won’t happen to me” are the prime candidates for failure. You always want a redundant safety system that protects you from yourself. The combination of a grip safety and trigger safety like the XD/XDm or a physical lock like a 1911 is far better than the non-safety on a Glock.

    1. avatar Accur81 says:

      Counterpoint: I’ve CC’d Glocks for 12 years, as well as on duty – carry (well, in armored trucking back in the day) for a year. No problems. I need a fighting handgun that’s set up for fighting. If you want a safety, go for it. I don’t.

      1. avatar Totenglocke says:

        I need a fighting handgun that’s set up for fighting.

        “Or you could take a minute to talk – you know, de-escalate the situation?!” ~ Marcus Burnett

        Seriously though, the way you worded that makes it sound like you go out every day looking for a fight.

        As for safeties? The military has used guns with a manual safety for over 100 years and they do a lot more fighting with their guns than you do with yours.

        For an open carry or range gun, no, I don’t feel the need for a safety. For concealed carry, I feel more comfortable with a safety (even just a grip safety) because I’m far more likely to have something accidentally catch on the holster and pull the trigger while concealed carrying than open carrying.

        1. avatar Accur81 says:

          Actually there are times at work when I go out “looking for trouble.” Even if I’m dealing with bad people, de-escalation is the best route to take (usually also a good tactic when talking to the wife!). I’m on audio and video during every enforcement contact, and my actions can and will be reviewed for tactics and sound professional judgement. If I’m on the news again, I want to make a positive headline.

          Sure, there are experts and professionals who like manual safeties, and vice versa. I respect expert opinions, and I repect my own personal experience.

          Speaking of which, I personally know an officer who was not able to return fire in a shooting because he was not immediately aware that his manual safety had switched on. He did not die because his partner shot and killed the armed suspect. Shot were fired on both sides, but thankfully only the bad guy was killed. By the time that the first officer realized that he had accidentally activated his safety, the whole shooting was over. I was at the scene a few minutes after the shots fired call went out.

          Yes, additional training would have helped the first officer. He was not and still is not a world class shooter, but his partner and I have been in some casual shooting competitions.

          For me, expert X and military Y can preach the merits of manual safeties on firearms all day long. I don’t mind them on AR-15s (which I’ll take hunting on Saturday morning) or long guns. On a fighting handgun, I don’t want or need them. My work gun does not have or need one, and neither do my CCW Glocks or Smith 340 PD.

          Thankfully, I’m free to shoot pretty much whatever handgun I chose, and you are free to do the same.

        2. avatar tdiinva says:

          If it’s so ludicrous then why do we see so many NDs from trained professionals? You don’t have to be a good shot to safely handle a firearm. By the way it’s not a myth. A German soldier was far more likely to encounter an American carry a 1911 than a shotgun. When SGT York ran out of rifle ammo he switch to his sidearm.

          Accurr81:

          I can see how someone can accidently engage thr safety on the M-9 if the are used to a 1911 or S&W. The Beretta safety is engaged by pushing down instead of up.

      2. avatar tdiinva says:

        There are a lot dead Germans, Japanese, North Koreans, Chinese, and Vietnamese who would dispute your characterization of the 1911 as a gun not set up for fighting. In the First World War the Germans feared the 1911 more than any other infantry weapon in a close in Trench fight.

        As mtydo5 said above failure to disengage a safety is a training issue. Here is a suggestion. Spend fifteen minutes a day for 10 days practicing sweeping the safety off during a draw. It will be an automatic reflex and you will do it without thinking.

        1. avatar WLCE says:

          Mentioning the 1911 during the first part of the century is a red herring, therefore, it is no relevant to the discussion at hand.

          The Germans also did not fear the 1911 in WWI. That is a pretty blatant fanboy myth (kudos for being the first one to mention that). Now the pump action shotgun on the other hand…thats a entirely different issue.

          Perhaps the manual safety is a training issue; somebody with a safety like Glock still would have a decisive advantage in that it is one less thing to potentially mess up during fight or flight. Believe me, folks do mess up manual safeties in training all the time.

          The idea that the muscle memory from keeping your finger off the trigger is more difficult than manipulating your thumb to take off as safety is also ludacris.

  4. avatar speedracer5050 says:

    Me personally I don’t have a problem with 1911 style safeties. I have 2 1911’s that I alternate ccw with, a S&W Mod67 and a EAA Zastava M88 9mm that I alternate occasionally and all are equally safe and quick to the draw and point provided I do my part.
    That being said my normal carry 1911 has an ambi thumb safety since I carry and shoot both right and left handed and during the draw my trigger finger naturally lays along the slide and my thumb is on the safety as I am clearing the holster.
    Is just a natural movement to me but then again I carried a 1911 for most of the 15yrs I was an 11Bravo.
    I would say what’s comfortable to you and what you feel confident and safe with should work. Just remember the Main Safety is sitting on your neck, if you will always put it to it’s best use!!!

  5. avatar Jake in AK says:

    I am issued a Glock 22, .40cal as my service weapon for work- so I use and can appreciate the glocks version of mechanical safeties.

    I carry for self defence a 1911 manufactured by Para. I actually like the frame mounted mechanical safety. I know as a mechanical bit, it can, and will eventually fail. I still like it- and I carry round in chamber, hammer back, safety on.

    I’ve been shooting 1911’s for so much of my (short) life, that it is natural to disengage the safety as the weapon comes up to target, and to re-engage the safety as the weapon goes to low ready, to holster.

    I think I like the safety because I am used to it- I have never had a negligent discharge with the glock, nor with the 1911, and so there’s no diference in experence there.

  6. avatar Average_Casey says:

    I started off wanting safeties and now carry a pistol without one (Sccy CPX-2). I’m a little biased though because I hate right handed safeties because they don’t work for a left handed shooter like myself. If there are ambi safeties on a gun, I’m fine with it but am fine without a safety too.

    1. avatar speedracer5050 says:

      Another reason I like my 1911’s. Being a natural lefty I now shoot right and left handed and both of my 1911’s have ambi safeties that I installed with just a little time and effort. Purchased two Nighthawk Stainless Ambi Safeties and took about an hour and a half to have them both put I’m and function checked before going out and popping a few targets.
      Just wish that I could have had them on our GI Issue 1911’s in the Army.

  7. avatar adam says:

    !I carry a beretta px sub compact. It has a amdi safety . If its not on me its in the safe. That being said it makes me feel better knowing if someone got a hold of it, its one more step till it goes boom. Maybe when they get older I will change but I am happy with my thought process at this time

  8. avatar jwm says:

    As a revolver man I’m most at ease with a pistol that has no manual safeties. The only auto I have with a manual safety is my Makarov and I just can’t bear to think of parting with it. It’s reliable as an AK and more accurate than I am.

  9. avatar Johnny says:

    I have safeties on my safeties to make sure I don’t accidentally deactivate my safeties.

    1. avatar Gyufygy says:

      Yo Dawg, I heard you like safeties…

  10. avatar ST says:

    I used to be the champion of “safeties are great”. I carried 1911s and other Cocked & Locked brand handguns comfortable in my ability to defend myself from the degenerates of society.

    Then I watched a First 48 episode that was utterly heartbreaking. In summary, a gentleman and his girlfriend in Dallas met up with someone to buy a car off a craigslist ad. That ‘ someone’ tipped off an armed robber who pulled a gun on the buyer and demanded his cash. The buyer went for his CCW piece and got made by the crook, who then shot the man dead in front of his girlfriend.

    Taking off the safety may seem quick on the competition range and at home dry firing. In real life your first sign of trouble may be a loaded gun at your temple. I don’t like using TV as a guide for practical decisions, but that episode in addition to other reasons are why I sold my 1911 for a Glock. I’m happy with the trade off, as the real weapon-and the safeties thereof -is in the mind and not on the firearm.

    I

  11. avatar Mike in NC says:

    Not counting “drop safe”, I like to have ONE feature on each firearm which CAN be used to prevent light accidental contact with the trigger from setting off a round. For me, this means a mechanical safety on my SA firearms or a long DAO trigger pull. I utterly despise those multi-piece safe triggers with extra little bits that I know will fail in such a way as to prevent the firearm from going bang when I need it to. I have a similar negative reaction to any “lock” which I cannot remove and toss into a box or round bin.

    1. avatar Mark N. says:

      Totally agree. I wonder, out of the few number that occur each year, how many NDs involve small children and Glocks. Or cases like the father who managed to kill himself in front of his kids when something got hung up on his glock trigger when he tried to holster it.

  12. avatar Gs650g says:

    New Jersey would like a keypad linked to the authorities that requires an activation code. And they have a law on the books mandating electronic gun locks as soon as they are commercially available.

  13. avatar WLCE says:

    I never liked manual safeties once I gave up my 1911 fanaticism a long time ago. Even with my HKs, they have been equipped with LEM triggers.

    Personally, I like the SIG and HK P30 set up, with a manual decocker.

    If you can proficiently operate a safety without any issues, then keep it.

  14. avatar h rap says:

    why are there no rifles without safties?

    1. avatar Mr. Lighter says:

      I have a bolt action .22 that doesn’t have one.

      1. avatar jwm says:

        My Marlin 30-30 was made without a safety as were generations of winchester lever guns. The French military issued at least 2 bolt action type rifles, the Lebel and the Mas 36 that were designed without safeties.

  15. avatar ST says:

    I used to carry safety equipped guns, and thought life was good in the world of 1911 cocked and locked-dom.

    Then I saw a First 48 episode which was all but heartbreaking. A permit holder got killed in front of his girlfriend in a Craigslist robbery setup. The perp had the guy dead to rights, and pulled the trigger when the victim reached for his legally carried weapon in self defense.

    After that episode I thought long and hard about carrying a pistol on safe. It may be a split second to disengage it, but we all could face a situation where the first sign of trouble may be a gun pointing at our heads. If the bad guy’s got the drop, a split second can be the difference between surviving and your family starring on their own A&E episode.

    Based on that and many other factors, I traded my Taurus 1911 for a Glock and am happy for the change.

  16. avatar JAS says:

    All guns being condition one, awareness is the critical key, especially so holstering a Glock. I actually find myself sweeping the left side of a Glock with my thumb when I bring it up to target at the range. With 1911s I ALWAYS engage the safety after racking a round at the range, This forces me to disengage the safety as the gun comes up to the target, EVERY time. It is automatic after hundreds of iterations. Not for every one, but It is a LOT safer.

    J.

  17. avatar Aharon says:

    How Many Safeties Do You Need On A Gun Anyway?

    Rephrase: How many gun owners should not have a physical safety on their gun?

  18. avatar NR says:

    When I forget to disengage the safety at the range, it’s not because I forgot that it’s there. It’s because I forgot that I had engaged it. There’s no real reason for the safety to be on while the gun is sitting on the bench. That’s why I forget to disengage it when I pick it up.

    My carry gun doesn’t have a safety- but if it did, I don’t think I’d be very likely to forget it, because I’d have made darn sure it was on before I holstered it. The safety is *supposed* to be engaged while the gun is holstered, so I know I have to disengage it.

    Does that make sense?

    I like the idea of a grip safety. It just makes sense. But if I were to buy a new carry gun, I wouldn’t pay much (if any) attention to manual of arms. Glock, XD, SAO, DA/SA, DAO, revolver… that’s all secondary to how it conceals, fits in my hand, capacity, etc. They’re all good, as long as they shoot.

  19. Love my Springfield XD here! Easy to use, fun to shoot. What more can you ax?

  20. avatar Greg in Allston says:

    The only essential safety on a firearm is the one that resides between the user’s ears.

    1. avatar Hoth says:

      It’s comments like this that make me slowly back away, pack my shit up, and leave the range.

      1. avatar WLCE says:

        yes, the brain. really? so it is more logical in your mind to be dependent on a mechanical devise rather than using the brain?

        comments like that make me count my blessings i dont need a public range.

    2. avatar Mark says:

      The only reliable “safety” is the operator. Mechanical safeties introduce pointless complexity in design, manufacture, assembly and operation as well a a false sense of security in those who rely on them.

      1. avatar Hoth says:

        BS. The next time you go to a range take a look at the ceiling and then get back to me about how reliable “operator” safeties are. I have owned many guns over many years and have yet to experience (or know anyone who has experienced) the failure of a mechanical safety.

  21. avatar Cigr says:

    If you want a good solid reason for having an external safety simply google “glock leg”.

    1. avatar rosignol says:

      …as near as I can tell, one of the primary causes of ‘Glock leg’ is a cop getting pumped up on adrenaline and forgetting to take his finger off the trigger before returning the weapon to the holster.

      If the cop is in a condition where they forget to take a finger off the trigger when reholstering, it seems unlikely that they will remember to engage an external safety.

    2. avatar WLCE says:

      that kind of logic (blaming the inanimate object rather than the idiot human) is also used by anti gunners.

  22. avatar JLR says:

    Long guns are fundamentally different, as they can’t be carried in a holster which protects the trigger guard. While I see no reason for a manual safety on a handgun, there’s a reason why you won’t find any long guns without a safety.

    That said three is excessive..

  23. avatar Jacobs says:

    As a GLOCK owner, if I get the urge to put my gun on “safe”, I’ll drop the mag, clear the chamber, then pull the trigger and re-insert the mag. When I pick up the gun, it feels identical to a misfire or a jam because the trigger is depressed. So I rack the slide to reset the trigger and I’m good to go.

    That goes hand-in-hand with regular shooting anyway where I sometimes use inert bullets to simulate a jam — then clearing the jam under pressure becomes second nature – which is the same as taking the GLOCK off of “safe”.

    I do see value in the idea of a safety on a handgun, if just to keep the trigger from getting pulled as it is yanked out of the holsters. But then again… “three-finger drawing” should probably be practiced enough that “un-holster discharges” don’t occur.

    On a lever-gun… I could get by with no safeties for two reasons; first, I often keep empty brass in the chamber with the self-understanding that when I fire my lever guns, I rack the slide before each shot as opposed to after. Second, lowering the hammer gently should make the gun inactive, forcing the user to either thumb the hammer back before shooting, or to operate the lever which would also cock the hammer. Additional safeties are superfluous, and provide false sense of safety at best, and at worst, an impediment to firing under pressure.

  24. avatar Mark N. says:

    Single or double action revolvers do not need a safety, as long as there is a transfer bar or an empty cylinder to protect against drop fires. But every semiauto pistol needs at least one, and preferably two safeties, one being a drop safety and the other to safe the pistol while reholstering or handling the firearm. As I understand it, the 1911 was designed with only a grip safety; the thumb safety was added at the insistence of the Cavalry, which was afrid that troopers could injure themselves or their horses while trying to reholster on a running horse. Makes sense to me.

  25. avatar Greg Camp says:

    The trigger pull weight is what makes the difference for me. Double-action triggers generally are heavy enough to require no levers or switches to keep it from going off without the shooter meaning for it to do so. Single actions that get holstered while cocked need to be locked. Of course, Glocks are so “special” because they’re single actions that run around half-cocked–the reason that I recommend casual gun owners away from Glocks.

  26. avatar Bill from Texas says:

    Get a Sig DA/SA…problem solved

  27. avatar big john says:

    Sr9 – manual safety. Sr9c – manual safety. Bersa Thunder .380 – manual safety. Taurus pt22 – manual safety. I must like guns with a manual safety… though, truth be told, I didn’t consider that at all when I bought the pistols. I bought what I wanted. I’ll adapt. In an ideal world, the user doesn’t adapt to the hardware. But, with limited resources, one makes concessions. The perfect pistol is probably out there. Until I find (and can afford) it, I’ll stick with the guns that fit me best and train to use the them effectively.

    1. avatar flyboy says:

      I agree. I carry the SR9C and I love it. I also practice drawing and turning the safety off during the draw. You know, the old, “you play like you practice” thing. There are plenty of arguments about how quickly you should be able to draw and shoot, but I think situational awareness is key. It’s been said here several times before, and I agree that it is probably THE MOST important aspect of our daily concealed carry lives.

  28. avatar Jan says:

    I used my hi power for the first time on my third idpa event earlier this month and my initial concern was forgetting to disengage the safety. (Too much static range time and m&p the previous match). But after the first stage I totally forgot the issue and thumbing the safety became second nature as soon as I get a firing grip when drawing.

  29. avatar justice06rr says:

    “The only safety necessary should be the one between your ears.”

    That statement is overstated and not ideal. C’mon, that means we are actually trusting each gun owner to be a smart and responsible shooter, (Gasp!) which in reality, not all gun owners are. Some type of safety is fine–if you train with it and become proficient with your firearm. If you don’t want an external safety i.e. Glocks then its falls on you to train and be proficient in keeping your finger out of the trigger until you intend to shoot.

    For me, I think a grip safety is good, as in Springfield XD/XDM’s. Thumb safeties are fine, just know how to use them. A second blanket of “safety” is fine on a firearm as long as you know when to engage/disengage it.

  30. avatar APBTFan says:

    Born and raised on Hi-Powers and 1911’s. It’s what I know and what I like. You could give me a Glock and I’d still be be trying to swipe off a safety when I draw it and my strong hand thumb would be awfully lonely. I can’t get past not having a manual safety locked when I holster a gun. I recently bought a Taurus PT-709 Slim for home carry and one of the pluses for me was a manual safety.

    If a fella is cool and comfortable with a platform sans manual safety – by all means go for it. It’s all about what you’re comfortable with!

    1. avatar AlphaGeek says:

      You could give me a Glock and I’d still be be trying to swipe off a safety when I draw it and my strong hand thumb would be awfully lonely.

      You’d quite like the H&K USP variant-1, then. I find it very easy to transition between USP and 1911, with the added feature of a decocker on the USP. You have to press the deckocker far enough down that there’s no worry about actuating it just resting the strong-hand thumb on it 1911-style. And even if you did, you can just do a DA trigger pull on the next shot.

      From what I understand the successors to the USP (P30, HK45, etc.) also have the same setup.

      1. avatar APBTFan says:

        Sounds interesting. Thanks for the tip.

  31. avatar Morseus says:

    AF training tells me to carry the M9 with a round in the chamber, safety off.

  32. avatar speedracer5050 says:

    @Morseus..Army training told us to leave the M9 in the arms room and take the 1911, M4 and the Mossberg 500A’s we had. When we first got the M9’s in 85 or 86 we had a lot of problems with sand and dirt getting in and gumming up the works plus mag problems.
    First time to the range the Ball ammo went straight thru the pop ups without knocking them down.
    Kind of unnerving to see when the .45 would knock the popups over with authority.

    If I were a Mall Ninja I would want so many safeties the pistol would look like a TactiCool AR with a ton of unneeded shit hanging off of it!! 😉

    1. avatar Ben says:

      I didn’t give the grip safety much of a thought when I bought my XDm, but after having it for a while I realized that if I reholster without pressing the grip safety it would keep the gun from discharging even if a piece of the holster or my shirt found its way in front of the trigger. I liked the idea so much I bought an XDsc for carry.

      The Glock AD that stuck out the most to me over the years was when a guy’s well worn leather holster got in front of his trigger while getting in or out of his car. He was still somewhat seated and the bullet went through his butt, the car seat, and the floor of the car. A grip safety would have kept that from happening. Not for everyone, but it is for me.

  33. avatar Greg says:

    I think it all boils down to training to become comfortable with what you choose to CC. I shoot USPSA Single Stack (1911) 2-3 times a month, and CC a Kimber Ultra. I have no problems with the safety, and actually prefer the manual safety of the 1911. Maybe because I’ve shot it so much it’s become engrained in my muscle memory.

    1. avatar Tom says:

      I wouldn’t feel comfortable carrying with my 1911 without the safeties which is an automatic on/off at this point but, I have no trouble stuffing my snubbie and it’s heavy double action trigger in an appendix carry holster.

  34. avatar Alan Rose says:

    Every time I pick my sidearm up or draw from my holster (that’s at least twice per day, to put it in the holster and then later back into the lock box) I sweep the safety down and pause a moment before re-engaging it. That trains me to sweep it under stress, and also to not automatically re-engage under stress.

  35. avatar racer88 says:

    I cut my handgun teeth on a Glock (19). Since then, I’ve acquired 2 more Glocks and a few other non-Glocks. I EDC a G27.

    I don’t like safeties, personally. They get in the way as additional steps. For a defensive carry gun, I definitely don’t want a safety.

    At home… my bump in the night gun (FNP-45T) is in the quick-access safe with a round chambered, safety off, double-action (hammer down) – or “Condition 2.” If I need it, I want to “grab-n-go.” There is no reason I can think of to have the safety on.

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