My views on frame-mounted safeties have evolved. At first I was all like “it’s just one more thing to go wrong during an adrenalin dump!” And “the only safety you need is between your ears!” And then I started getting into 1911’s, with their dust mite light triggers.

“An extra level of safety isn’t a completely terrible idea,” I’d opine. “It’s all about the training!” I’d insist. And then two things happened . . .

First, I unholstered my 1911 and discovered I’d disengaged the safety before holstering the weapon. Second, I tested the new Smith & Wesson M&P M2.0 — a striker-fired polymer pistol with a frame-mounted safety. The kind of set-up that I used to consider tits on a bull.

My bottom line: you should be able to shoot any handgun quickly, efficiently and accurately. As Huck Finn said, you pays your money you takes your choice. Where’d you spend your money: handgun with or without a frame-mounted safety, or both?

Recommended For You

91 Responses to CapArms Question of the Day: Frame-Mounted Safety?

    • That is the correct answer. That is also one of many reasons why 1911s suck…sorry all you Wilson Combat ass kissers.

      • Not a big 19 11 fan but I don’t hate them either. I did put Wils on Com bat springs in both my GP 100s though.

      • No, a safety is just something to trip over and get you killed in a high stress situation, or get snagged on something like a loose thread. DA means you’re ready to go right now, and it gives you 2nd strike capability. That further expands on why 1911s suck.

        • You have a point about DA never stopping you from shooting.

          Because safeties don’t “get snagged on a loose thread.” If anything, the problem is that they come off accidentally, or (at least with me) putting on the safety at every possible opportunity. YMMV.

        • Throw in a rotating cylinder and your second strike comes down on a fresh primer.

      • If speed is the ultimate factor we’d all be shooting SAAs. Otherwise, gu ns don’t accidentally cock themselves but safeties do occasionally get flipped off (or on) unintentionally.

      • Thumb safety is just a kind of drop safety; the safety which disengages at the same time and in the same direction as trigger pull is not a very good safety IMO…

    • No frame mount.

      Yes DA / SA.

      If you pull your safetied Berretta 92/96 from your shoulder holster the safety flips off.

        • Make sure to get a white suit and pastel V-neck T-shirt to complete that “Miami Vice” look. I think most Beretta 92 shoulder holsters come with a coupon for such an ensemble…

    • DA/SA is TERRIBLE. Worst trigger system ever invented. I’ll take a thumb safety SA/Striker over a DA/SA every day of the week, twice on Sundays.

      • Thanks for your in depth analysis. You’re opinions will be considered and filed appropriately.

    • Amen! And those tacticool wussies who complain about that first DA shot need to spend more time on the range and less time on the internet whining about having to learn to deal with two different trigger pulls.

  1. No safety on a striker fired gun but I really want one on a hammer fired one. Just my preference. ALL safeties should be thumb up to engage, thumb down to disengage. Period.

        • It’s personal preference but I’ve carried striker fired pistols every day with no manual safety for years. At work I’ve drawn down on plenty of people with a glock and it’s never gone off when I didn’t want it to.

  2. They add width, eff that, especially the ones on both sides at once. One on the left that could be switched would be less obnoxious.

  3. I, too, am a 1911 guy, so that answers that. However I own, shoot, and carry guns with and without thumb safeties. Like you said, you should be able to shoot anything reasonably well. And before someone says something about consistent training, blah blah blah, I’m so habituated to the thumb safety that my thumb sweeps that spot even with a revolver.

    • I’m with you Drew. My early training on center fire handgun was with 1911s, and to this very day my thumb sweeps the ‘safety’ on anything I’m trying to shoot, whether it has one or not.

      In fact, I’ve often marveled at how I automatically flip of the safety when drawing to shoot but leave it on when drawing to administratively handle. It’s not a thought process, more like what’s often termed ‘muscle memory’.

      For me though, accuracy has always been second to manual of arms and general gun handling skills. Don’t get me wrong, I like to hit what I aim at, and quickly, but that is still secondary to keeping the gun running through the fight. I don’t like for their to be anything left to think about, so that loading, corrective actions and fireing are all automated processes. It’s smooth, it’s fast, and it’s hard to do it wrong when the hands do all the work on their own.

    • Same here – I grew up with frame-mounted safeties, training on the 1911 at 17 yo in boot camp, so that is “normal” to me. As I bring a pistol up on target, my thumb automatically swipes off the safety on my 1911 or Firestar. (also SA w/frame-mounted safety) without thinking. As you said, muscle memory.

      But when I’m carrying the M&P or Kahr, my thumb automatically swipes off the… bare spot on the slide/frame where the safety lever should be! But that’s OK – I’ve found it doesn’t slow me down at all, there’s no pause when the thumb hits empty air. No confusion. If the safety is there, it’s now off – begin firing. If there IS no safety, just begin firing. And when finished firing, or disengaging for any reason, my thumb swipes that lever back up – also without conscious thought. Sweet.

    • Oh, and BTW… without getting into the reasons why some feel they are or are not the best firearm (I’m not going there!), anyone who says “1911s suck!” is pretty childish… Really? That’s how you express your opinion, by sounding like an immature teenager?

      Sure, there are legitimate reasons why a 1911 may not be the best choice for a particular person, but to dismiss the entire class of guns as “sucking” indicates to me that you’ve probably never even shot one. Grow up.

  4. Right now, I’m still getting used to carrying a condition 1 striker fired gun having transitioned away from my heavier DA/SA daily carry. With a lighter trigger like what you find on most striker fired guns (when comparing to a decocked DA pull) you have to be very mindful of the four rules of gun safety.

    External safeties are a bit of an evolutionary throwback in gun design from hammer fired guns that could very easily ND. If you’ve used a striker fired SAO (let’s not get into the semantics) gun, an exetrnal safety is just going to introduce training scars. It’s why I stopped carrying my 1911s rather quickly. I just couldn’t add the extra motion to my presentation reliably enough to be comfortable with it.

  5. Ideal setup is a DA/SA with decocker ONLY.

    Well you can’t really get that on a gun small enough that I’ll carry it. So, heavy long DAO it is (oh, hello Ruger LCP).

    • Roger that. DA/SA. My dream would be a my beloved P07 (set up as decocker) shrunk to the size and single stack of my Shield (which is the non-thumb safety model). That would be my ultimate EDC weapon.

    • might be heavier or wider that you want to carry, but the CZ 2075 D Rami is a subcompact SA/DA with a decocker.

    • I love DA/SA. My dream would be single stack version of my beloved P-07 in the size of my EDC Shield.

      • Smith and Wesson made a pistol like that back in the 90’s but with the slide mounted safety. (Some were decocker, some were dao with no safety)

        Nice reliable handguns that were only slightly larger/heavier than a shield.

    • Wifey was looking for her first carry gun and if thats what you’re interested in i would highly recommend the sig p224 that we (read I) purchased for her. It points nicely is very ergonomic and the weight offsets the snap of the fo-tay

      • The P224 is an enormous gun, especially for IWB or pocket carry.

        Somebody else reminded me about the Springfield Armory XD-E, which might be exactly what I want. Single stack plus DA/SA.

    • Beretta Cheetahs are DA/SA with decocker and are sized just right for carry. A lot more shootable than the tiny LCPs too!

      No one should by anything from traitorous Springfield. Buy from anyone else please. That is unless you don’t mind companies that don’t care about your 2A rights.

  6. I started on a 1911 style so my thumb just floats right to them without thought. I just wish My MP shield had one a person could actually trip with their thumb! that thing is so small, in a pinch I’m worried I’ll miss it.

  7. Carry a Glock, of some sort or the other, every single day. In the cargo pocket, it goes in a pocket holster, in the pants, a holster. Draw, point, shoot. Nothing to fidget with, nothing to worry about.

    If I ever go DA/SA, it’ll be decocker only. I really don’t see a point to a safety, unless it’s a 1911.

  8. If this really is an issue with a shooter; seems to me the answer is the revolver. The next best is a cz type with the hammer down on a loaded chamber.

    • I see this as primarily a problem for new shooters and for those started on pistols w/out safeties. If you start on pistols with safeties, and really learn them, that ‘wipe the safety’ motion never really goes away.

      • Agreed. I learned on 1911’s, and didn’t shoot anything else (handgun wise) for several years. The motions and habits of dealing with a single-action, condition 1 pistol will serve you well whatever the action is on a pistol.

        I now carry a DA/SA CZ clone (Sphinx SDP Compact) and the tendency to keep my strong side thumb high on the “safety” (now a decocker) is perfectly fine and changes nothing. I have never accidently decocked the gun, as the motion to decock is a LOT longer a motion than clicking off the safety, and I don’t have to change my grip or trigger discipline. Win/win.

        If you didn’t grow up on 1911-style pistols, and learned on a striker-fired gun or double action, I can see where a manual external safety would be a problem. It just isn’t for me. Different strokes, for different folks, right?

  9. Makes you wonder when the last gunfight was won by a quick draw artist. I carry so i;ll have a firearm if and when i need it. All this mall ninja opinions from the peanut gallery of gun owners about condition 1 or 40 surely explains why gun shop owners are such miserable PIA’s to deal with. Dont like safety’s? Run a wheelgun why dont ya!

  10. My EDC is a Ruger SR9c that has both the Glock style trigger bar and a frame safety. I trained without the safety and had no issues whatsoever in 400 rounds of practice fire from the holster, so I’m confident that I can draw and fire safely without dealing with the frame safety. As a result I have a routine of holstering the pistol and then disengaging the frame safety. When I unholster at the end of the day I engage the safety first. Excellent way to improve safety of handling the pistol other than in firing mode, IMO.

    As with Glocks and all other pistols with that little gizmo built into the bang switch, you GOTTA practice trigger discipline and make sure nothing gets between the pistol and the holster before you put that sucker back in the pouch.

    • I bought LC9 and removed frame safety (and mag disconnect) before I ever took it to the range. I hear and support your choice, but I could really see myself, after years of training and practice always ignoring the safety, needing the gun and somehow encountering the safety, not even knowing what was wrong, why my gun would not shoot. If I’m not going to use it, I want it GONE!

  11. It doesn’t matter to me. My only stipulation is either all my guns have one or none of my guns have one.

  12. D/S, WITHOUT DE-COCKER!
    De-cockers are the single most unnecessary addition to a gun ever designed!
    I am 80 years old, and have “de-cocked” more guns than most people have ever fired and not one single discharge!

    Safety, it depends.

    Personally, I have NO use for a 1911 in any case.
    The ONLY way I would carry one would carry one, would be “hammer down”, and that can get you killed almost as quick!

  13. I prefer a frame mounted safety when it is offered on the type of sidearm I’m considering. If I can’t have it, I will settle for a grip safety. I am really not happy with the level of safety provided by the ubiquitous Glock safe action system and clones. Too many people shooting themselves in the leg, including LEOs who presumably have reasonably good training.

  14. Nobody is perfect and a separate safety (or my preferred DA action) makes your gun a little more forgiving. Better to train for a safety than risk a bullet to the leg unnecessarily.

  15. Grip safety. Doesn’t add width, doesn’t require thought or training, but protects against accidental trigger presses, floppy holsters, drawstrings in the trigger guard, little kids killing their moms in Wal-Mart, etc.

  16. There is no right or wrong answer and it is all personal preference and many want another layer of safety on their handgun. I find the safety on my HK P30L to be terrific and robust. Not sure I like the tiny external safety that some pistols have however. I am hoping HK brings the VP9SK with safety to the USA.

  17. I carry a semi-auto pistol with no frame mounted safety. My holsters which cover the entire trigger guard are the primary safety. My secondary safety is my brain and handling … with heavy emphasis on muscle memory for my trigger finger to rest along the slide above the trigger area until on target and ready to fire.

    I would like to have a grip safety if one did not appreciably reduce reliability.

  18. Springfield XD. The grip safety is the best of both worlds. Extra safety when it’s needed most — reholstering and administrative handling — and automatically ready to go whenever you’re ready to pull the trigger.

  19. I like the Safety on my SR9 and 9c. I’m used to it.

    I don’t have one on on my Glock 43, LCR, or LCP. I’m used to it.

    Long trigger vs short, heavy vs light, DA vs Striker – all the same – if you’re finger is on the trigger, you are likely to pull it under stress. If you don’t believe this, you are naive. You will stroke through a 12 pound trigger like butter if startled under stress.

    I have plenty of time to snick the safety when presenting the weapon. Putting the gun on-safe quickly is not really an issues. I’m not into speed re-holstering but it is nice to have a safety in case something gets caught in the trigger on re-holstering..

    If you think you might forget to disengage the safety, practice more or carry something without it.

    No trigger system is inherently “safe”. Don’t pull the trigger and it wont go off.

    However, If you pistol is not drop-safe, you are an idiot. I have seen Glock replacement triggers with no safety paddle that will often fire when dropped (momentum – that’s what the Glock safe-action trigger was designed to prevent, why Ruger re-called their original SR9 pistols.). These triggers used to be in game guns but have made their way into carry pistols. Fail.

  20. Meh…I came to shooting late in life. I’ll carry my lowly Taurus 709 cocked and locked. Quite EZ to flick off the safety. And carry in my pocket with a Nemesis.

  21. I like frame mounted safeties with the proviso that they work as well as the one on my Gold Cup. Even though I’m careful, it’s comforting to have something more than the trigger guarding against an AD. I’ve never had a failure to fire because I forgot to flick the safety off.

    I have nothing against grip safeties but find that I depress the one on my Gold Cup before it leaves the holster and don’t release it until the gun is all the way back in again. That means it can’t prevent an AD during reholstering.

    • …so long as your trigger finger is OUTSIDE of the trigger guard, you won’t ever get an AD while reholstering.

  22. I’ve trained with my LC9 to disengage the safety on the draw. But I’ve always wondered at all the people who complain about the safety even being on the gun, even going so far as to say they wouldn’t buy it for that reason. The trigger pull is so long you can easily carry with it disengaged without worry. That’s how I would carry but I have small children and I prefer to be a little extra cautious with them around.

    • Takes about 5 minutes to remove the safety, or reinstall it. Somewhat longer if you want to remove the mag disconnect also, still under 15 min. Doesn’t affect the grip safety, which was a factor in my purchase of the LC9. Instructions/demo on the web, easy to find and follow.

  23. I prefer no manual safeties, but that doesn’t stop me from carrying an SR9c on occasion. I also have a second hand P07 that had been converted to a thumb safety that doesn’t bother me too much.

  24. preferred whether da, da/ sa or sa, ese.
    took some getting used to the slide mounted de- cocker on the makarov’s, kinda neat tho.
    and that “obsolete” s&w 3915 or whatever in da only could work.

  25. I carry a M&P Shield 9mm with a safety. I’ve practice my draw at the range and dry fire so much that I can’t pull my gun from my holster without taking the safety off. It’s become second nature. I also carry on occasion a Ruger P89 with the decock feature. Both systems work fine for me and whatever you use is fine. Just remember to practice practice practice. The best gun you can have is the one that you are familiar with. Everything else is just opinion and preference. Shoot straight and shoot often.

  26. Try a few things. Measure your time to first shot. Most people are pretty slow, especially with DA/SA or SA/safety.

  27. I’ll go against the norm here, I’m sure I’ll get the normal flak about it.

    I have and prefer Beretta style slide mounted safties. It’s how I started and I know the system. I train to swipe the safety off on my draw, and it is second nature.

    I don’t think it matters what your safety setup is, as long as you know it and train with it. My personal opinion.

  28. If I had to choose, no safety. But I’m indifferent either way. Being in Canada, I’ll never use the handgun for defensive purposes so getting it into action quickly isn’t really important to me.

  29. My carry gun is DA/SA with a decocker for winter and the summer gun is DA/SA with no safety. I’m not a big fan of safeties, but frame mount is far superior to slide mount. Yuck!

  30. My first firearm purchase was an XD. While I think it is safer than a Glock, I don’t feel particularly safe handling it except under strict range conditions. I.e. it is empty unless I’m about to fire downrange.

    I just picked up a CZ 75B. The FFL transfer agent told me she just dumped her Glock for a CZ 75BD. I was a bit surprised to find that the 75B safety is only operable when cocked. I’d really like to have the option to have a chambered round, decocked, and the safety on. Only the old ones worked that way.

    Oh yeah, the grouping of 20 rounds from a bench rest is about 10 times better with the CZ than my plastic fantastic.
    ________

    Final point. No one talks about this (did I miss it?) but why is it that Sig does not sell any P320’s with a manual safety, but they will sell several millions of them with a manual safety to the Army. Because the Army is so stupid??? Does anyone believe that?

    • If I were to guess its because the Army doesn’t trust their troops to avoid ADssss

  31. It is near universal practice here in the U.S. to carry with a round in the chamber
    So the question of safety on or no safety is argued constantly
    ” Israeli carry” with a loaded magazine and empty chamber, safety ( if present) off is ignored
    Glock leg is a real thing
    Negligent discharge is a real thing
    An empty chamber gun cannot discharge
    Yes, it does take another 1 second to rack the slide, and you could short stroke under stress.
    It does take 2 hands
    I choose to carry empty chamber for the extra level of safety
    At least I have a gun with me!
    The Israelis have stopped lots of terrorists and street criminals with empty chamber carry

    • I do the same thing. I practice and find it would be closer to 1/4 second load a round in the chamber.

      Due to the area I live it it is extremely unlikely I will ever need to use my firearm in self defense but I feel good having it with me and it is a lot better than having it at home in case it is ever needed.

    • I have seen you tube videos showing Glocks being drawn empty, racked on the way up to present on target chambered in 1 motion (using 2 hands). It takes a little practice but its doable in less than a second from holster contact. Personally I like to carry a 1911 chambered, cocked and locked as it was designed.

  32. All my personal handguns have been DAO or striker-fired without thumb safeties. As a result, I often forget to turn safeties off (or back on) when handling guns that do have them. It’s one fewer thing that can go wrong in a DGU with my guns, but makes for bad muscle memory overall, I think.

  33. I have a striker fired, with trigger shoe and frame mounted safety. I don’t use the FMS, but rely on the trigger shoe and half cocked striker. Never even close to a ND and my thumb brushes over the FMS to ensure it is not accidentally engage.

  34. I prefer the thumb safety because it provides a best way of re-holstering you gun and not worrying about shooting yourself because the holster folded or clothes get in the trigger area. After I’ve holstered then I will flip the safety off. Same thing when I take it out of the holster I put the safety on and can lay the gun down without much worry.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *