In Praise of the Absence of a Manual Safety

manual safety pistol

Chris Heuss for TTAG

Contributor John Sprague gave us his take on the manual safety in the piece entitled, In Praise of the Manual Safety.  In it, Mr. Sprague says that a manual safety strikes the perfect balance for him in terms of safety versus a reduction of readiness. Good for him.

Real world experience has driven me to the opposite side of that equation for everything except 1911-style pistols when it comes to manual safeties.

manual safety pistol cz 75

JWT for TTAG

As a long-time instructor, for most users, I advocate not using the manual safety that your (fill in the blank) gun has on the side. Yes, I know that for some people who borders on complete heresy, akin to claiming that Bigfoot doesn’t exist.

Why have I become a staunch parishioner in the Church of Leave the Darn Safety Off?  Because I’ve seen countless people fail to disengage it, or engage it by mistake during training. In the real world, keeping things simple (of KISS fame) improves survivability. And increasing survivability for the good guys remains a good thing.

Remember, a bad guy can cover 21 feet in well under 1.5 seconds. I’ve seen men in their 70s do it. And I’ve seen young people do it in under one second. If a bad guy can cover 21 feet in 1.5 seconds, how long does it take him (or her) to cover 9 feet?

The official answer is not very (bleeping) long. A whole lot faster, in fact, than most people can internalize that something’s wrong when they pull the trigger and nothing happens.

While I hope Mr. Sprague will never have to discover that sometimes “muscle memory” goes right out the window with stress, I’ve seen it plenty of times.

manual safety 1911 2011 sti

JWT for TTAG

Sure, on a square range low-stress environment where targets don’t shoot back, it’s easy to remember the fundamentals – including usage of the safety. On the other hand, when the body alarm condition kicks in, things change. When the adrenaline flows and your mind goes into survival mode, remembering that safety may not happen.

In fact, in the body alarm condition, even some gross motor skills become cumbersome…things far bigger than forgetting to disengage that little safety lever.

In force-on-force training, we expose students to a mildly elevated stress levels. The stress comes from fear of getting stung by airsoft pellets. While it’s not nearly the pain penalty of a Simunitions round, it still hurts – especially on bare skin.

Couple the fear of getting stung with some decent acting from role-players and just that bit of stress makes people do strange things.

In our “Firestarter I” scenario, a religious nutcase verbalizes his/her intention of burning the demons out of a teenage girl who’s screaming for her life. The aggressor pours “gas” (water) from a can and then accesses a lighter to set the sinner on fire.

GSL Defense Training/TTAG photo by John Boch

This good guy not only had his Illinois Concealed Carry License, but he also had additional training in his background above and beyond the 16-hour Illinois CCW training requirement. In other words, this wasn’t his first rodeo using a handgun. I’m pretty sure no one taught him that particular grip.

What’s more, his faux pax wasn’t even a momentary one, either. He took three or more steps holding that gun in a very odd position.

GSL Defense Training/TTAG photo by John Boch

When I asked him about that unique grip, he didn’t recall anything odd about his support hand’s placement.   Then I showed him a series of photos.

He told me if I didn’t have the pictures, he would have denied ever putting his support hand on the back of his gun. Clearly, his “muscle memory” relating to the fundamentals of gripping a handgun failed him when his brain and body went into the body alarm condition.

Here’s a Front Sight graduate’s reaction to an armed mugger.

GSL Defense Training/TTAG photo by John Boch

Our good guy failed to pick up on the pre-violence cues in one of three role-players in the scenario. Because his cues were ignored, the bad guy produced a gun and proceeded with a mugging.  Using a pretty respectable shooting stance at that.

Instead of submitting to the robber’s demand for “the money,” the good guy drew down (yes, on a drawn gun). Big mistake, especially when done out in the open. Obviously, it didn’t end well for him.

GSL Defense Training/TTAG photo by John Boch.

And look at that grip. All that excellent Front Sight skill-building and muscle memory work went right out the window in a cascade of failure when this guy thought he was going to die. While I’ve never attended Front Sight, I’m pretty sure that’s not their high-speed, low-drag grip.

We all know how everyday gun owners can use guns defensively with success. In fact it happens with great regularity.

Trained or not, the greater the complications involved with deploying your gun, the more likely Mr. Murphy (of Murphy’s Law fame) will show up for you. It’s why instructors recommend not carrying a different gun for each day of the week. It’s also why I recommend avoiding handgun models with manual safeties. And if yours has one, carrying it in the holster with the manual safety disengaged.

Do some self-critique. Anything that makes a rapid deployment more complicated or difficult than necessary should fall into the “liability” column for you. (Safety engaged? Check. Empty chamber? Check squared, in fact. Gun left in the car or at home? Checkmate and forfeit.)

What else can go wrong with safeties? During malfunction clearing drills, manual safeties can get re-engaged without you even realizing it. Then you squeeze the trigger, nothing happens, then you have to figure out why.

In that time, your opponent could be closing on you, stabbing you, beating you or shooting you. Ditto for weapon retention.

If you and a baddie are in a life-and-death wrestling match for control of your gun, the manual safety can easily change position. Of course, magazines frequently end up on the ground during attempted disarms as well. And if your gun has a magazine safety and won’t fire without a mag inserted, well, suddenly you have a paper weight.

By and large though, anything that slows down deployment from a holster falls into the liability category. Yes, things like not carrying a round in the chamber or forgetting to disengage the safety can cost a good guy or gal their life. Like these two armed robbery victims.

Speaking of “thinking” about disengaging the safety: if you have to think about disengaging the safety, you need more training and practice. We instructors don’t call the optimal state of shooting competence “unconscious competence” for no reason.

One of my fellow instructors summed up the goal of practice and training: We don’t train until we get it right every time. We train until we can’t get it wrong.

If you’re going to carry your semi-auto pistol with the safety engaged, you better train until you can’t get it wrong coming out of that holster. Otherwise you risk a street criminal leaving you bleeding out, face-down in the dirt somewhere if you believe you’ve mastered the manual safety when you haven’t.

comments

  1. avatar Prudiikal says:

    While I understand what the author is saying, I love the location of my 5.7’s safety, right where my trigger finger goes when I’m drawing it.

    1. avatar Scott Free says:

      OT, but do you carry your 5.7? And if you do, do you like it? It always seemed like an interesting carry choice to me.

      1. avatar Prudiikal says:

        I do carry it. Either in a drop leg, or on the waist (the holster is removable from the drop leg). Its a great gun, ammo is roughly the same as 45 auto, very low recoil, easy disassembly and a reversible mag release. I hornady v max for my defense rounds, and its cheaper than getting 45 or 9mm since the 5.7 boxes are always 50 rds. ammo can be tricky to find, i live in alaska and only 2 or 3 places sell it.

  2. avatar tdiinva says:

    Why do you exempt 1911 safeties? Just curious because I agree. I find the safeties on modern striker fired guns to be too small and too flush. And then the infamous wrong way safety on FS-92 and M-9

    1. avatar BerettaGuy says:

      You don’t flip those safeties up. You sweep your thumb down as you would a 1911 and it’ll disengage. Don’t believe me? Try it on a Beretta, P38, etc. Don’t have a link handy, but Yankee Marshall talked about this in one of his videos.

      I carry a 92 series. Before the G conversion kits came out, I carried decocked and safety off. I was too cheap to hunt for a G slide. Decocked hammer (and modern 92s is fully resting on the slide, not half cock like SIG or HK, etc) means zero energy to strike the firing pin. Only way it’ll go bang is if you put energy into the spring by pulling the trigger. Dropping it on the hammer will not induce an accident because of inertial firing pin.

      1. avatar tdiinva says:

        What are you talking about? You engage the safety on a 92 by pushing down. That’s the wrong direction.

        1. avatar BerettaGuy says:

          If you sweep your thumb down and fwd, the shape of the safety is such that it’ll flip up. Try it; it might surprise you.

        2. avatar BerettaGuy says:

          Rereading my original comment, I can see I wrote it poorly. The safety does indeed move up to disengage. But the thumb motion to disengage is the same between 1911 and Beretta: down.

        3. avatar tdiinva says:

          The Browning safety design is ergonomicly correct. The natural tendency is to push down when you draw, not sweep up. If the first safety you learned was the 92 then I can see that it would seem natural but one of the biggest gripes soldiers have about the M9 is inadvertently safing the pistol. The original frame mounted safety was a much more ergonomic design.

        4. avatar BerettaGuy says:

          To disengage Beretta’s safety, you push your thumb down and the safety will move up. Sounds weird, but it works.
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YExmUVvOqd8

          I agree with you about engaging the safety when working the slide. I’ve done it before. I’ve learned to grab the front of the slide near the scallops and have burned myself with a hot barrel. Beretta really should have been a G from the get go.

        5. avatar jc says:

          Uh… no. The Beretta safety disengages with the same thumb sweep as 99.9% of all guns. Maybe you don’t have the right technique.

          To ENGAGE the safety is different on a Beretta, but disengagement is the same thing you teach everyone. All the time, every time.

  3. avatar Jay in Florida says:

    Said it all in the 1st paragraph. Only handgun that needs a safety. Is a single action style. And not even that style if ones dumb enough to carry it with an empty chamber. All a safety does is slow one down on any other style handgun.

  4. avatar Forrest Adcock says:

    “Because I’ve seen countless people fail to disengage it, or engage it by mistake during training.”

    Then shouldn’t you, as a trainer, be doing the job they are paying for and training them rather than arguing against gun safety simply because you don’t want to bother to train people to use the equipment they purchased?

    You even attempt to make that very argument later on in the article, saying “if you have to think about disengaging the safety, you need more training and practice.”

    Your article needs to be rewritten from an honest viewpoint. Simply say “I’m a trainer and I don’t want to train people to use equipment I personally don’t use.”

    1. avatar NM says:

      As an instructor, I’ve always felt that part of being responsible about what I do is helping students have an informed perspective regarding equipment that takes into account the amount of time and desire they realistically have and will devote to training.

      Remember, an instructor doesn’t train someone to a level of proficiency – they help them prepare to practice to become more proficient. If I have the sense that a student isn’t going to train to a sufficient level of proficiency with a gun that could work against them in the thick of it, I will suggest alternatives. I make it a point to have this kind of frank discussion about training and gear privately with every student I teach.

      The ones who are a danger to themselves and others are those who do not train enough but still think that they are good to go because they understand the concepts of shooting intellectually. They fail to grasp the fact that you cannot spend time in a defensive encounter thinking about your gear – your focus needs to be elsewhere!

      Of that group, the absolute worst are those who play “here’s what I’m carrying today” and choose to mix and match guns like fashion accessories. That is an absolute recipe for failure considering your life may very well depend on your ability to operate that gun instinctively and effectively under extreme time pressure. That is when ergonomics and familiarity with a particular manual of arms is really tested.

      I am of the mind that almost any gun will do if the person carrying it is prepared mentally and physically to get the job done. Some guns, though, are easier to master and simpler to use and that is what I personally favor and recommend in most cases.

      1. avatar tdiinva says:

        I think most instructors today do not know how run a gun with a safety so they don’t how to train people properly. A manual safety is disengaged on the draw. Your thumb naturally rests on top of it when you take proper grip. It’s easy to practice. It’s very natural on a Browning design.

        I will repeat my observation from yesterday that instructors who denigrate the manual safety on a handgun have no similar issues with a safety in defensive long gun like and AR where the safety is not in a natural position the way it is on a Garand design. If you think that you will forget to unsafe a 1911 or BHP then you will certainly fail when you grab your AR.

        1. avatar Seans says:

          Why do you keep bringing up this dumb arguement. No one argues against a safety on a long gun cause it doesn’t sit a holster when you go hands free. If my pistol was on a sling bouncing around my kit. Yeah I would want a manual safety.

          This doesn’t even get into the major difference between a rifle and pistol is almost always going to be used in a emergency where you don’t know what state you are going to be in physical when drawing. It’s easy to injure your hand. Plenty of AARs were written in GWOT about that issue. Seen it plenty of times in training using Sims and force on force. Dudes injure their hand and can’t figure out why their gun doesn’t fire until the whistle blows and they realize their thumb is point in the wrong direction.

        2. avatar tdiinva says:

          Except only a dummy thinks it’s a dumb argument. Many people keep their AR or AK in their bedroom just in case of the bump in the night. When someone breaks into your house in the middle of the night its a high stress quick action event. You have the same amount of time to get yout defensive firearm ready whether it is a pistol, shotgun or rifle. If you are going choke with a pistol safety you are going to choke with rifle or shotgun safety. Try thinking through before declaring someone stupid.

      2. avatar Hush says:

        A weapon’s instructor can only guide the student via instructions and demonstrations. It is the responsibility of the student to pay attention and practice what they are taught.

  5. avatar possum, destroyer of arachnids says:

    And grind off the front of the trigger guard. You don’t want to be fumbling around trying to get your finger in the Bang hole under a high stress situation.

    1. avatar Flub Dub says:

      You sir are gold.

  6. avatar DrDKW says:

    OTOH, If his Glock had a manual safety, (or a different take-down procedure) perhaps my friend, a retired cop, wouldn’t have blown a hole in his SUV’s dashboard while he was disassembling the gun.

    1. avatar Shire-man says:

      Since the dawn of time you’ve always had to empty a gun before you could clean it. Suddenly this changed with the introduction of the Glock and now everybody wants a pistol that’s moron proof?
      Drop the mag, rack the slide, look inside, repeat. Three or four times if you want. Problem solved.

      1. avatar American Patriot says:

        Actually it takes one intelligent person to rack the slide one time, once the chamber rd ejects it is now clear. 1 barrel 1 rd so checking it 3 or 4 times and expecting to see another rd come out is just idiotic.

        1. avatar Shire-man says:

          Maybe. I still do it. If for some reason I didnt drop the mag working the slide more than once will show me. If I half ass the slide I might not get a full extraction. I’m okay with doing something idiotic if it takes an extra second of my life.

        2. avatar Cartman says:

          I rack 25 times, every time. Obsessive/Compulsive Disorder.

        3. avatar Bob in IN says:

          Not if the mag is still in the gun and full. Now you will see another round and another…with each rack.

        4. avatar American Patriot says:

          You didn’t follow the conversation…..In clearing a weapon the FIRST thing you do is remove the mag……..Here’s your sign!

    2. avatar 1ronman81 says:

      Is your friend in the habit of regularly disassembling firearms without ensuring they’re cleared? Sounds disingenuous to blame a mechanical device for his dumb ass mistake. Pretty sure he broke a rule or two there, just sayin.

    3. avatar Be Warned says:

      We can call him a moron all we want, but be warned. A wise and excellent old shooter once said to me, “It’s not a matter of IF you are present for a negligent discharge, but WHEN. Shoot enough rounds through a lifetime and you will witness one, and the likelihood that it will be you is very high.” Everyone has a slip of mind now and then, especially in a profession where you load and unload literally untold hundreds of thousands of times in a lifetime.

      1. avatar 1ronman81 says:

        Not saying your friend’s advice is wrong, only pointing out the idiocy of blaming the gun (which functioned as designed) for a bonehead move by the operator.

      2. avatar David Walters says:

        Here’s a funny (or a not-so-funny).

        My wife’s a nurse case manager for a company that helps Federal workers return to work as quickly as possible (due to supervision) after an injury. She is helping on an account with the DHS and which includes the Customs and Border Patrol personnel.

        One of the long-time agents (don’t know if it was C or BP) who was cleaning his service pistol and shot off one of his fingers.

        Her job was to assign that injury to a long list of injury and procedure codes (ICD-10 if you must know) and she and a fellow nurse were on the phone in the room I was in discussing which one was appropriate. My wife was distressed as she really couldn’t find an injury code which applied to shooting yourself.

        Then I heard her say, “I can’t find the code for STUPID AND CAN YOU HELP ME”?

        I laughed my butt off.

    4. avatar jc says:

      He keeps a table, cleaning rod, patches, cleaning solvent, lube in the front seat?

      He’s extraordinarily efficient. It takes me half a room for all that stuff and the sink for clean-up.

      1. avatar Cartman says:

        I keep all that cleaning stuff on the coffee table, and repair parts in a couple of ammo cans sitting next to and under the coffee table (divorce will do that for you).

        That’s how, while cleaning one of the CZs and trying to repair the Shield, while answering the phone, and at 73 years of age, I sent a round grazing a Coke can, hitting a fan, and through the living room window. Thought I should give up shooting due to senility, but I love to shoot as much as other retirees golf. So I moved the cleaning and repair equipment upstairs to the bedroom with the safe and the reloading equipment on the workbench, and will only take one gun out of the safe at a time.

        Nephews, grand kids, and great grandchildren all laugh at me, but at least I was honest and used myself as an example of stupidity in handling firearms. None of them get excited at the prospect of shooting with me anymore, but they all come around when they want reloaded ammo at cost.

        1. avatar David Walters says:

          Isn’t divorce liberating?

          I did it 2X.

          Some girls don’t like me but ENOUGH CERTAINLY DO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          Then I men my perfect mate and have 36 years of water under the bridge. It’s been absolutely great to find, for me, the greatest person in the world as a spouse.

          Keep at it. Don’t give up. It’ll work out for you.

        2. avatar Good on You says:

          Cartman I think it’s great that you admitted and told the circumstances of your negligent discharge. There are FAR more of these than even are recorded in the media, because most get swept away in embarrassment, and I don’t blame them, but I think if more shooters were able to see how common these truly are, they would realize that safety features do very much matter and that there is NO ONE so savvy as to be entirely immune.

        3. avatar possum, destroyer of arachnids says:

          Hell I’ll go shooting with you, I don’t care for Coke that much anyway. Now you go to punching holes in my Old Milwaukee’s Best I might get pissed.

  7. avatar Michael says:

    I grew up on DA revolvers. Always shot them DAO. When factory/gunsmithed spurless, DAO’s became common on the east coast in the late ’70’s, early ’80’s they made all kinds of sense. When carrying Browning P35s and Colt 1911a1s I always carried condition 3. Same thing, it made all kinds of sense. When Glocks came along, something clicked for me. No external safety, iffy trigger pull, but fast and hit where I pointed them. I’m staying with Glocks and internal hammer, DAO, J Frames. They go bang every time and don’t require a different manual of arms. I’ve got my mind made up, please don’t confuse me with more facts. Your mileage may vary…12…

  8. avatar former water walker says:

    Meh…I’ll keep using my safety. Practice makes perfect.

  9. avatar Hmmmmm.... says:

    I haven’t found disengaging the safety to be at all the major issue it is portrayed to be among the tactical set in our time. Just as I haven’t discovered the mythical “extreme snappiness” of the .40 or the “modern design” 9mm load that obviates the importance of all other calibers up to an including .44 magnum, lol. Here’s the truth: you are far more likely to encounter some woeful expedient of Murphy’s Law while carrying a handgun than you ever are to have to quickdraw and use it in normal civilian life. You are more likely to have a small child put their hands on your person, or get the gun caught on something, or have a holster failure, or be careless, just once, than you ever are to have to play Gregory Peck a la High Noon. Look up the real stories, not just the ones the NRA sends out. There are untold negligent discharges every year. If the safety takes thought to disengage, that is a part of its purpose. Also, once again, training to automatically swipe down with the thumb coming to target is not hard – I do to the laughter of my friends even on firearms with no safety. Comically, the 1911, especially a Series 80, given all the other obstructions in the way, is one of the least likely to need a safety. Ever look at the workings of the safety on a Springfield XD??? A tiny, thin, foreign-made spring is what keeps your pin retracted.

    1. avatar Cartman says:

      Proudly manufactured in oh …..uh…..Croatia.

    2. avatar John in AK says:

      Gary Cooper. ‘High Noon.’

      Gregory Peck was not in ‘High Noon.’ ‘Yellow Sky,’ yes. ‘The Big Country,’ yes. ‘The Gunfighter,’ even. ‘Stalking Moon.’ ‘How The West Was Won.’ ‘McKenna’s Gold,’ with Julie Newmar (Yum!).

      Just not ‘High Noon.’

      I suppose you’ve noticed that throughout the big shoot-out segment at the end of ‘High Noon,’ Cooper is using a big ol’ Colt swing-out DA revolver in the close-ups instead of the 1873 he starts out with. . . and that he would’ve missed the Lead Bad Guy holding his spousal unit hostage, in the Big Scene, because his gun, now magically a SAA again, goes off while pointed at the street.
      It’s always something.

      1. avatar Hmmmm.... says:

        John in AK you are absolutely correct I got my stalwarts wrong, lol. I probably went there because of the Gs… It was Gregory Peck who shot the dog in To Kill A Mockingbird. (I always heard they really did shoot that dog for that scene, by the way.)

      2. avatar MojoMedicineMan says:

        Right!
        Love my Western collection and the ones that got the guns right or period correct. Clint Eastwood was always adamant about this early on and I remember him mentioning this during an interview once.
        You mentioned the movie “The Big Country”. One of the best for old school actors. Imo, ”Burl Ives” stole that movie from everyone, awesome. Also, we rarely ever get to see Chuck Connor as a bad guy and he also did a werewolf series back in the latter 80’s where he was the senior werewolf and people were after him all the time, he was old, wore a patch on an eye and was evil as hell. Fabulous actor!

    3. avatar jc says:

      You had a good comment going, until you started the XD diatribe.

      1. avatar Hmmmmm...... says:

        Go and look for yourself. I have nothing in particular against the XDs, they are just some of several striker fired weapons I have owned, and if you look at what is keeping your sear elevated and retaining the firing pin under tension, it is only a tiny toy-type spring, and I must say this, IT ISN’T EVEN A CAPTURED SPRING, but one resting retained merely against the bottom of the shelf. Think about that. If we are going to talk about safeties, we have to talk about firearms engineering.

  10. avatar Raimius says:

    Go one way or the other. If the gun has a safety, practice using it. You don’t want to have it unintentionally engage and then not have practiced disengaging it–especially under stress.

  11. avatar merlin says:

    i have firearms both with safeties and without … and enjoy them both.
    however … the argument i’ve always found odd … is the argument of forgetting to take the safety off in a stressful situation.
    we remember to load the firearm.
    we remember to properly holster the firearm.
    we remember to draw the firearm correctly.
    we remember to keep our finger off the trigger.
    we remember to point the gun in a safe direction.
    we remember to notice behind the target.
    we remember to line up the front sight in the rear sight.
    we remember to place the sight picture on the target.
    we remember to squeeze the trigger.
    we remember to reset the trigger.
    we remember to reload a new magazine when empty.
    we remember to check for bad guys left and right before re-holstering.
    we remember … ad nauseum … but for some reason … we just can’t remember to disengage the safety.
    why is that ?

    1. avatar pwrserge says:

      Because fine motor control and attention to detail are the first things to go during an adrenaline dump. If you feel confident you’ll always remember and be able to sweep that safety, good for you. For me, it’s yet another thing that doesn’t need to be there that invites things to go wrong. Never underestimate the demon Murphy.

      One you get used to carrying a gun without a manual safety, it quickly becomes a non-issue. Modern guns don’t go off if you don’t put your booger picker on the bang switch. The fact that so many people manage to “spontaneously” develop Glock-ass, to me, speaks more to the attention to detail of the people involved more so than the design of the gun.

    2. avatar Hehehehehehehe says:

      The real answer as to why we can’t remember?? Sales. Sales and internet hive-mind behavior in the gun community. Also, any .357 load coming out of a snubby is basically the same as a .22 magnum so give up. 🙂

      1. avatar jc says:

        My God, you must not handload.

        1. avatar Hehehehehehehe JC IS A DINGUS says:

          My God, you must attract a lot of ladies with that rapier’s wit and lack of comprehension of sarcasm and nuance.

    3. avatar Hush says:

      Memory is a wonderful thing when one is young. Add decades of age and what one remembers may decrease. Reducing the number of things to memory may be a necessity as one ages and not adding even one more such as, is the safety on or off! To date, I have never been in any stressful shooting situation and am in no hurry to so be; but, in reality I don’t know how I will react and can only hope I will do the right thing. However, I know I don’t need any extra thing to do in the process of protecting myself and others including operating a manual safety. Look at the comments by those who have and consider their advise. Every time I pick up a gun my trigger finger stays out of the trigger well. But, I do NOT manipulate the safety lever when I pick up a gun with a safety.. Therein lies the difference: it is simply automatic for the trigger finger to go parallel to the barrel, but it is not automatic that the safety is engaged/disengaged every time a gun is handled. Every time and occasional are not equal in memory.

    4. avatar Cartman says:

      Huh Merlin, what’d you say? I forgot.

  12. avatar Manse Jolly says:

    I became a Glock fan later in my life. Thought they were cheap plastic crap when they first came out in the US.

    I have a Springfield 1911 in the safe that I’ve had forever, like it alot but….

    I carry a G19 and the only way it will be possibly replaced is with a Gen 5.

    Don’t want anything that Sgt. Murphy could screw with.

  13. avatar WI Patriot says:

    There’s a lot to be said for wheelguns…

    1. avatar Applause says:

      The best and most perceptive comment on this thread.

  14. avatar Darkman says:

    I mostly carry a Shield 9 with a manual safety. Sometimes I carry my original EDC a Ruger P89 hammer down. When I’m at the range. I train from the holster thru the shot exclusively. The secret to not making mistakes is to train for how you plan on using the tool. And yes even with practice mistakes can be made. I simple choose to rely on my ability to perform when needed. I go to the range 2-3 times a month rain/snow or sunshine and practice dry fire every day 10-15 minutes. So to each their own but remember the key is to Practice Practice Practice. Keep Your Powder Dry.

  15. avatar Thixotropic says:

    Yep.

    Carry my Glocks loaded and ready to go and my 1911’s cocked and locked.

    Carry my CUSTOM 1911s in custom thumb-break holsters so that taking off the safety is a practiced natural. Could it still happen? You betcha.

    When I first started carrying my G32 some 20 years ago, I was afraid of an unintentional discharge, so I carried it with an empty chamber. After a five day pistol course at Clint Smith’s Thunder Ranch in West Texas, where I fired some 1400 rounds out of Clinton Gun Ban 10 round magazines, I was trained and confident enough to carry with a loaded chamber and the Glock ‘Safe Action’ trigger.

    In my view, carrying ANY defensive handgun with an empty chamber is a training issue. GET SOME!

  16. avatar Brian says:

    I carry an HK45 with manual safety, the safety is also a de-cocking lever like most modern firearms. The only time I have the safety on is when I am returning the firearm to the holster. When I carry the safety is disengaged.

  17. avatar TexTed says:

    I generally disagree with Boch’s writing style, his articles frequently come off as whiny, but in this one he’s spot on.

    The only manual safety that’s worth a warm bucket of drug-addict feces is the grip safety. That keeps you safe from Glock leg, and doesn’t require thinking about or the mystical magical “muscle memory” that somehow keeps forgetting.

    I had a 1911-style pistol I carried, and I hated that stupid safety. Couldn’t carry without it, and even in controlled shooting scenarios I forgot to switch it off more times than I can count. It just happens. But it doesn’t happen to me anymore, I got rid of that POS.

    I carried Glocks for a while, but sorry Glockaholics, Glock-Leg is a thing. Fingers aren’t the only thing that depress triggers, and the Glock has no protection at all from a bulging holster or some other situation. I don’t carry Glocks anymore.

    The grip safety is safety perfection. It eliminates Glock Leg, it provides an extra degree of safety when your brain shorts out, and it never has to be thought of, considered, or muscle-memorized. It doesn’t need to be trained for, it doesn’t care if you forget your training, it’s always there and always doing its job. Grip safety for the win.

  18. avatar Manse Jolly says:

    “….In our “Firestarter I” scenario, a religious nutcase verbalizes his/her intention of burning the demons out of a teenage girl who’s screaming for her life. The aggressor pours “gas” (water) from a can and then accesses a lighter to set the sinner on fire…….”

    Interesting….was there some news report that this was pulled from or just something someone imagined?

    I’m not saying good or bad…..just interesting esp if the intent is to shock someone out of their comfort zone.

    1. avatar BradD says:

      I like the idea in the second test, a sort of Kobayashi Maru if you want to do nerd speak. I’m sure most students will go in assuming every test or scenario can be ‘won’ and there is a right/wrong way to do thing. If someone has your flat footed and dead to rights, pistol on you, you’re not going to outdraw them. The goal of the test isn’t to win, but to lose the least.

      Sometimes things aren’t as cut and dry as the whole pouring gas and screaming; one example is the Senator Gifford shooting. If I remember right, one bystander disarmed the shooter and had him pinned to the ground, using the shooter’s gun against him. When the police showed up, he was almost lit up. Sometimes not taking action is better than just ‘doing something’.

  19. avatar brucew says:

    If only someone could design a safety that you don’t need to be trained to disengage. One that would prevent the gun from firing even if the trigger gets pressed when engaged, yet it automatically disengages when you grip the pistol to fire. 😉

    1. avatar TexTed says:

      Exactly.

  20. avatar Kap says:

    H&K DA/SA or cocked and locked with safety on, best of all worlds!

  21. avatar PWinKY says:

    Totally agree with Boch’s line of thinking here, with one exception. I don’t EDC any guns with a safety. I understand that the safety can be left off, I just don’t like the idea that it could get bumped and accidentally switched on. I train to draw and fire; no dicking with a safety.

    All the people claiming their training will take over and there’s no way they’ll have trouble getting their safety off are simply rolling the dice. Anyone that’s ever been in a super stressful situation or a life and death situation understands the things that happen to your body. Why introduce one more point of failure? Look at those screen caps provided above! Those are people that train more than I do and they can’t even remember to grip the gun properly!

    Your trigger finger is your safety. Follow the 4 rules ALL the time and you’re good to go.

    1. avatar Please Keep It Holstered says:

      People will often react as they are trained and as their culture teaches them to react. This is why many people “flop” to the ground when shot. Ever see those studies? People see people in movies flopping down when hit, and so do it even when not particularly badly wounded. Pistol rounds don’t knock people down, psychology often does. And so when Youtube tactical goons go around telling themselves and everyone else that the natural state of man under high stress is to forget everything and start shitting himself, guess what these guys are gonna do?? You hear this so much these days. STRESS!! It sounds like a bunch of essential oils moms debated vaccination policies.

  22. avatar David Walters says:

    I snatched a Taurus .45 from my father in-law which he bought illegally from a pawn shop (he’s a felon) when he let on that his daughter and son in-law had stolen $30K from him through an elaborate scheme (the son in-law is an accountant and I imagine the charge is true). He is (was) a tiny oriental guy and I’m a rather large Central Texas German and ex-Marine infantry officer. I know how to disarm someone.

    Anyway, I don’t particularly like the Taurus .45 and also carry a small 9mm. It’s accurate enough, although it’s of an ancient profile. But it’s not without virtue. I carry it with a round in the chamber and off safety. But I have no worries because it has a de-cock and a very heavy trigger pull. So, it’s my primary carry arm.

    It’s a perfect compromise between carrying a gun on safe or not. A strong pull on the trigger, forgetting accuracy for the first round, puts the gun in action. And, subsequent rounds can be fired as quickly and accurately or inaccurately as needed.

    I like to think the first round is to get the opponent to commit to movement and subsequent rounds are to take them down.

    So, this discussion about safety use is lacking because it didn’t mention what to my mind is the the obvious compromise, a de-cock.

    Perhaps it’s been mentioned above in the comments. But I don’t have time to read them before commenting.

    1. avatar MojoMedicineMan says:

      Good job David W.
      Your good kin to have around.
      I have relatives that have had the same thing happen and they are immediately set on getting even or back at someone. Not worth your freedom. Grudges are too heavy to carry around and if your a patient person? You will usually see karma coming up on them. You can run, but you can’t hide from the big K.

  23. avatar B.D. says:

    Since nobody has done it yet:

    *Holds index finger up and curls it in a trigger pull motion* “This is my safety.”

  24. avatar Brian says:

    Does GSL Defense still offer those type of classes, and is a schedule available?

  25. avatar MojoMedicineMan says:

    This topic is s bit all over the place, but I will share a story. Anyone here here ever have one of those old pos Remington nylon 22’s? I hated them! Always something going wrong with them. My good friend and I, thirty years ago were road hunting rabbits, etc. He had one of these and I repeatedly (pun intended) told him to get rid of it or that I would just use a hack saw on it for him and dispose of it. He thought it was cute, because it fired full auto occasionally and the safety didn’t always work. I cringed ever time I seen the damn thing. One old winter afternoon were doing our thing and we see game on his side of the road, so he hyped up and just grabbed the nylon, which was pointed at the floor on his side towards his right foot. He immediately puts his finger on the trigger and goes to get out and puts stress on the trigger just as the muzzle was resting over his right foot while wearing a winter “moon boot”, remember those? lol
    Three or four rounds went off into his boot and the floor of the car and it was loud and I had opened my door to roll out quick, but it was over. Shot himself in the foot near his toes and some into the floor of the vehicle. I cussed him right off the bat! Put the black nylon in the trunk, unloaded. He wrapped his tube sock around the wounds and we proceeded to finish the hunt on the way back to his girlfriends place who didn’t believe his story and why weren’t we at the hospital? She freaks as he shows her and explains why we weren’t at the hospital. Now most of you know why this well known insurance agent and proponent of all sorts of safety issues and involved community social issues in smaller size town didn’t go to the hospital. To this day, he still has the cruddy bloody tube sock to show people, especially kids, now that he’s learned his lesson. The nylon was properly disposed of the same day after the accident.
    Since then, he got a 10/22 and went with bows and black powder rifles and pretty much sticks to deer. I clean and inspect his weapons for him to this day, lmao.

  26. avatar DaveDetroit says:

    The only safety which matters is the human mind. I cc revolvers but also target shoot with semi-auto Beretta 92. I don’t want anything on my cc weapon which detracts from its reliability under not-ideal conditions, which might include using it in weird positions, one-handed or off-handed. There are a number of up close scenarios where one hand may be “busy” fending off an attacker, protecting someone you are with, or whatever. I like revolvers for their simplicity and rock solid reliability. In a cc weapon, mechanical safeties aren’t an asset. If your gun requires a safety to be “safe” then rethink your carry weapon.

  27. avatar BradD says:

    I would have to say this: if your pistol has a manual safety, and you don’t train to disengage it, then get rid of it somehow. It’s a personal opinion that mainly comes from my experience with my M9 service pistol. Some are good, some are bad, and usually the safety sucked on them. My coworker and I would regularly be sitting down to eat or in the office and point out, “Your safety is off”.

    My biggest fear/concern would be having the safety flip on while you are carrying throughout the day. If you aren’t training to take the safety off and the safety is on, you’ve cost yourself time. Plus confusion as to why the pistol didn’t go bang when you thought it should go bang. Even if I was going to leave my safety off as a matter of practice I would still make sure to sweep that it was off before pulling the trigger.

    While I doubt that it happens a lot or that the chances of it happening are high, I wouldn’t leave it to chance. If your practice is to keep the safety on and you draw and its off, nothing to worry about. If you practice to not take it off but it’s on, then you have an issue.

  28. avatar Christopher Erickson says:

    P7M8. Problem solved.

  29. avatar Charlie says:

    I’m an old revolver guy, and I like the “Point and Shoot” simplicity of revolvers. In 1984 I got to handle a H&K P7 M8, and while I liked the squeeze cocker design I found it fatiguing to keep it activated.

    About that time I also encountered the newly imported CZ-75 (Pre B) and Sig P226 DA/SA handguns, and I was sold! I still have both of them.

    Someone is going to say that the DA/SA design is inferior in some way, but the only other system that makes sense is the striker fired handguns, and I don’t like them.

    Charlie

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