By John Sprague
There is a large contingent of gun users — many of them here — who are adamant that the only safety a gun needs is a little control over your booger hook. I would like to present an alternative view.
Manual safeties are not the enemy of readiness that some would have you believe. We can probably agree that the highest state of readiness a gun owner can achieve is to have a gun in each hand, forward of your body, pointing at anyone who might possibly pose a threat to your or your family.
Obviously, that’s not terribly safe or practical. So we have to start making a few concessions to bring our state of readiness into balance with practicality and safety.
Instead of lasering everyone who comes near us, we could leave one gun in the safe and carry the other in a low-ready position with our pistol pointing downward at a 45° angle. Since that’s only a little less practical way to ward off an attack, we can then practice transitioning from low-ready to on-target.
But if walking around with a pistol in low-ready all day doesn’t work for you – and I’m fairly sure it won’t – you might consider carrying your firearm (and I’m just blue-skying here) in a leather or thermoplastic holder thingy that attaches conveniently to your hip.
Now we’ve managed to increase the safety factor dramatically. At the same time, though, we’ve sacrificed a fair amount of readiness. So, as always, it comes back to training.
That means you’ll have to practice drawing your gun and transitioning to your target. You can carry this logic all the way to keeping your pistol secured with a gun lock, in a case, in the trunk of your car with the ammo in the glove box. The safety factor of this condition is, naturally, through the roof. But your state of readiness and the practicality of being able to defend yourself will have disappeared almost completely.
Somewhere in the middle lies your particular personal state of safety/readiness balance. Everyone needs to find their own acceptable equilibrium between safety and readiness. For some, a manual safety is one tick too far toward the safety side and away from readiness.
For me, though, it’s the perfect compromise. I practice for my state of carry. I use a holster. I use a gun with a grip safety. I use a gun with a manual safety, too. I practice and train for this carry condition so that if and when I have to use my gun to defend myself, drawing, disengaging the safety and bringing the gun to bear are part of one continuous motion.
I once found myself in a position during which I had to draw my weapon in a high stress, adrenaline-dump situation. When I pulled my piece, I flipped off the safety automatically. Why? Because I had trained myself to lift my conceal garment, establish a proper grip, draw the gun, flick off the safety and bring the sights up to the target – all in one fluid motion.
Lo and behold, what I had trained for is exactly what happened when the time came to use it. Some say that in a high stress situation you’ll become all thumbs and “forget” to flip off the safety. I beg to differ. I believe that what you train for, what you rehearse, what you drill into muscle memory is what will happen when it’s needed most.
If the manual safety tips your particular scale too far to one side then by all means, don’t use one. For me, the benefits and peace of mind a safety provides are perfectly balanced with the incremental reduction in readiness. Whatever you do, find your balance.
I neither like nor dislike safeties. I have carried revolvers, 1911s, Browning High Powers, Berettas (hated the slide mounted safety’s location) and Glocks. It is all about the manual of arms, and to be effective, you must practice with what you are using.
I’m a manual safety believer. Never missed a quail because of not getting the safety off on shotgun. Never know when it comes off or goes back on. Muscle memory because of practice. Also, external safety might give me an extra second or two to recover should bad guy attempt to take my gun and turn it on me. He probably won’t be expecting or immediately know to flick it off.
I read about a cop talking about witnessing a criminal taking the gun off someone and the manual safety being engaged gave them enough time to wrestle him down and take it back. He said, after seeing that, he would always carry with a manual safety.
Passive/aggressive…Passive safeties don’t get left out in the heat of the moment. Passive safeties don’t get moved to the wrong position inadvertently. Passive safeties tolerate a wider range of poor hand positions. Passive safeties don’t require additional steps during a situation where fractions of a second mean life or death (you know, yours, your loved ones). Manual safeties? When your entire attention is placed on the threat, when it’s time to go full on aggressive…ain’t nobody got time for that.
Yep… That’s why all of those WWII-era weapons were completely ineffective. Under that kind of stress, no one would possibly remember to disengage the manual safety. If only the firearms manufacturers back then had your enlightenment. 🙂
Hi Connie. My remarks are in reference to self defense scenarios involving today’s handguns. These scenarios invariably involve civilians in totally unexpected situations that go sideways in seconds. You know, where someone is going about their business with no expectation of what is about to happen, that it is about them and it is going down right now. IRT 1911’s, if it is a single action handgun, then hell yes, there had better be a manual safety. But judging by what I commonly see people with, I’m gonna say there ain’t a whole lot of 1911’s that are going to get involved in self defense scenarios. The overwhelming majority will be polymer framed handguns that require a deliberate pull of the trigger to discharge because of their included passive safety features. And I still say that is a good thing.
I carried a 1911 for nearly 25 years on and off duty. Never forgot to wipe the safety off, or put it back on. Even in high stress. Also never forgot where the brake pedal was in a high speed pursuit. Despite what some believe, everyone should have training.
Your wrong on all counts. If handguns came under the jurisdiction of the Consumer Safety Commission no Glock or copy cat of a Glock would have ever been allowed on the market. Australia and some European Countries outlawed importation of the Glock until they put a factory manual safety on the gun and Glock has had a factory manual safety available for years but not to the American Market. The result has been countless unnecessary deaths and cripplings.
Some U.S. Police departments had so many accidental discharges they scrapped out their Glocks for safer designed weapons. Weapons that had a manual safety or a double action only mechanism (13 lb pull etc.) and also a take down system that did not require a person to pull the trigger to disassemble the weapon which is another one of Glocks unsafe major FK ups.
Glocks and copy cat brands have been known to go off even in their holsters while getting into a vehicle for a variety of reasons. Re-holstering a Glock or copy cat Glock weapon have injured and killed numerous people. One girl who was a fast draw competitor blew off a large portion of her leg re-holstering a Glock and is now a cripple for life.
In one of the gun rags last year a cop got out of his vehicle and his Glock accidentally discharged shooting an innocent man sitting in the passenger seat and the stop was only for a minor burned out tail light bulb stop. The list of accidents is endless and deadly.
Last year a housewife was shopping with a striker fired Glock or copy cat Glock and her 2 year old reached into her purse and grabbed her handgun and blew her head off before she could get the gun away from him. Another deadly tragedy that never would have happened if the gun had a manual safety or a long hard double action pull. Again the examples go on and on and on and the grave yards are full of tragedies just like this.
A cop in Chicago came home and was undressing. He threw his Glock down on the bed and his 4 year old girl grabbed the gun before he could stop her. She accidentally blew her head off. Another accident that never would have happened with a gun with a manual safety or long hard double action pull.
A police chief reached across hid desk to get his Glock and drug it over the table and the trigger caught on something and he blew his thumb off proving how absolutely worthless the trigger safety is on a Glock. Its totally useless and does not work period.
Pages and pages could be written on accidents and needless deaths with Glock type weapons. They far exceed the accidents with safer designed firearms.
Vlad, in all of the situations you named, someone deliberately caused the trigger to be pulled or carelessly allowed a foreign object to activate the trigger at which time the trigger worked as advertised. Safety or not, you can’t fix stupid.
You never anticipate useing a carbine or a rifle for a threat encounter? I don’t know of many of them tha don’t have a safety.
Justsomeguy, prefer a rifle to any other weapon. Well, if I were upwind and had standoff, a .5 pilot in device might do.
there is not one incident, if you have trained with your equipment, where a manual safety will slow you down.
nor is there a documented incident of it having done so.
but there have been plenty of documented incidents when a manual safety has stopped the bad guy who has grabbed the gun because he could not figure out the safety.
it is similar to the reason i drive a manual transmission … it is theft proof to the modern thief.
When I started shooting IDPA in 2012, I had just come out to watch a friend. He brought his Colt 1911 and said “you get a better view from the firing line.” I said, “I don’t know your pistol.” He said “you know The gun.”
I did know the platform, having been introduced to it at the tender age of 17, by a short haired, gravel voiced man in San Diego. I had shot it off and on through the years, but had never tried to draw it quickly from concealment.
The buzzer went off for the first time, I drew smoothly, the safety came off as the pistol came up, I squeezed the trigger as the sights lined up and I was hooked.
Left out – I did not have to think about taking the safety off.
I don’t have to ‘think’ about taking the safety off either. Just like the shotgun bird hunter, I never have to think about it. It just comes off automatically when a bird goes up — same with a bad guy! Whenever I hear arguments like this — I may be wrong but wonder if it’s coming from someone who hasn’t done a lot of shooting with firearms that have manual safeties! I grew up with a safety on every gun I ever handled or shot — so it’s ingrained into my DNA!
@David, Well you are luck to have such great DNA and upbringing, but not everyone is so fortunate. Not everyone was raised with guns around, I never owned one until recently, I know many like me. This safety/no safety issue will continue as the 9mm vs .45 debate will. What works for some may not work for everyone. Guns are not made by Henry Ford, so you can get one in another color than black, and without a safety.
It seems there are “many” police officers, and firearms instructors who have negligent discharges from firearms who no manual safety. I prefer DA/SA decocker type hand guns. The manual safety was created because humans are not perfect. People who have no manual safety on their handgun will never tell a soul when they accidentally pull the trigger on their empty gun during practice.
They are just lucky. And so is the person on the other side of the drywall. You are the negligent person if you don’t practice with your non manual safety weapon. Most people don’t have the $$$ for range fees, ammo, and personal time to go to a range weekly or even monthly. So dry fire with snap caps.
ps. I do own a henry rifle. They have no manual safety. And I practice with it all the time.
There have been many more that have had an ND with a gun with a manual saftey.
I haven’t seen anything but anecdotal evidence for either type having more or fewer ADs. Can you site your evidence for this?
scroll up and read my post about accidental discharges with Glock and Glock copy cat weapons. All the examples were taken right out of the old GunWeek newspaper as well as even some of the Gun Magazines as well as News Reports on the nightly news on TV.
This is not true. I have looked into this for years before I got my carry and there is no evidence I could find beyond opinion to suggest manuel safeties are more dangerous. In fact the only study I could find about this is LAPD study of their swap from 92fs to Glocks and the ND rate was significantly higher with the glock, although this possibly biased as the glocks were new issue. In other words manuel safety is ATLEAST as safe as no safety, and possibly more safe.
Training matters the most though. Im pro safety for me however.
Manuel safeties are the best in my view. He’s right there to remind you to take the safety off and put it back on.
Doing the job American safeties won’t do.
I’m a huge supporter of Manuel safeties, wont carry a non-wheelgun without one. That said, my only negligent discharge was with a gun with a manual safety.
Muscle memory can work against ya nearly as much as it can work for ya sometimes 🙂
Firearms are more mechanically safer than they have ever been. But the human element is always present. If you remove the safety, then the human operator must practice, practice, practice. Because human error can’t ever be removed. (smile)
The way I see it, a manual safety is a carryover from early days of firearm design there the weapon could discharge inadvertently without the trigger being pulled. With modern handguns, that’s not really a concern. My major problem with manual safeties is a mechanical design concept.
Is it something that can interfere with the intended function of the machine? Yes.
Is there a solid reason for that thing to be there that cannot be mitigated with other less failure-prone design elements? No
So if there are other ways to keep the gun safe, why add an extra piece that makes it less likely to fire when intended?
History has proven you wrong, very wrong and the grave yards are full of people who carried Glocks or copy cat Glock type weapons as well as people accidentally shot by people carrying Glocks.
Scroll up and read my post about actual cases published in Gun Week, Gun Magazines and broadcast on the evening news. The deaths and injuries go into the hundreds and hundreds since Glock first came on the market with their lack of a manual safety and idiotic unsafe take down system.
I have read about so many of them down through the years I cannot even remember all of them anymore because there were so many.
I have guns with slide safeties, frame safeties, and no safeties. I don’t carry the ones with manual safety. Guns with manual are home defense duty. Your mileage may vary.
Berretta did a review (found on well armed woman) where if you look at the details, it looks like about 30% of the time, people either freeze up or forget to turn off safeties. (Link is effectiveness of calibers).
Safeties that follow the old Calvary standard, (down to arm) I have no trouble with. My guns with NATO safeties (up to arm) I always screw up on and must keep as only range toys.
I always recommend no safety to new shooters after reading that report.
I like a good manual safety. But I agree that all thumb safeties should sweep down to arm. It’s very easy to program that motion into one’s aiming process. I’ve got two that sweep down, and one that rotates up.
Seems like a pretty simple dilemma to me. Do you want an 11 pound trigger with a 3/4″ pull? Then there’s no reason to add a manual safety. Do you want a short, crisp 3-1/2# trigger? Then you’re going to want a manual safety. Nobody carries a 1911 without a safety. Nobody gripes about the safety on their bolt gun with the 2# Timney trigger. The only dilemma comes when you split the difference on the trigger.
Why not have a light trigger pull with an external safety but disengage the safety whenever you holster it in a holster that covers the trigger. Best of both worlds.
Obviously, re-engage the safety to unholster except when drawing to fire.
Probably the best solution is just to pick a platform and train with it. It won’t take long before you’re swiping the safety without thinking on the draw.
One little discussed advantage to manual safeties is the potential to inhibit someone who gets their hands on your weapon. Years ago I read an article (I think it was Masaad Ayoob) that detailed several cases where cops were saved when the perp who got their guns couldn’t figure out how to get the safeties off.
Best comment. 🙂 (I don’t have emojis)
This is fine practice for many people but it limits you to only carry the method you train with.
What if you carry both types, say a striker fired weapon for duty but prefer a single action for personal carry? Disengaging the safety after holstering doesn’t increase risk on a 1911, for example, as far as I’m aware.
Correct me if I’m mistaken.
I’ve had guns with & without manuel safeties. The ones without a safety had a lonnnnng trigger pull. I’m OK with either one. The Taurus 709 I sometimes carry has an easily flicked off safety and a glock-type trigger(and a good trigger reset). I’m fairly new to all this but adaptable😏
When I carried my EDC 1911 in condition one, I always trained myself to automatically draw with my thumb on the external safety in addition to squeezing the grip safety. Since I’m much older now and the loaded 1911 seems a bit heavy for EDC, I’ve switch to a .380 with defensive ammunition and only a grip safety.
Time wise, the draw is almost the same but to me seems a little quicker because of eliminating the ES, only squeezing the GS and also, because of the lighter weight of the .380.
That’s just me but, I feel comfortable with that. Have a great day everyone.
jram01 said, “That’s just me but, I feel comfortable with that.”
There’s your answer fellows. Only YOU can determine what is comfortable for you relative to safety and any other aspect of carrying. If we can train to keep our finger off the trigger until on target, then we can also train to manipulate a safety.
Semi-autos without a manual safety don’t even get a first look when I go shopping for a new gun. It isn’t optional, it’s mandatory. So far as I’m concerned, the lack of a manual safety renders a gun defective.
The shooter is defective, not the gun.
Safety with ANY firearm resides BETWEEN YOUR EARS. It is not based upon the presence or absence of any manual mechanism. Off target, off trigger, period, end of story.
Actual History has proven you wrong. Your saying you have never made a mistake and can never make a mistake. The graveyards are full of such people. Its called Social Darwinism.
People shoot themselves when holstering a gun without a manual safety when using Glock or Glock type weapons.
They shoot themselves when handling the gun .
They shoot themselves when they lose their balance when they have such a gun in their hand.
They shoot themselves when trying to take the gun apart for cleaning.
And with the unsafe Glock take down system they often shoot themselves because they forgot to check the chamber and they have to pull the trigger to take the gun apart.
All this human error does not usually result in an accident with safer designed weapons.
Here is an example of a very safe weapon the H&K P30s. The gun with its manual safety engaged lets you safely rack the slide or safely unload the gun. The Gun can be carried with the safety on and hammer cocked or in the super , super safe mode of safety on and hammer down plus its double action mechanism (about 12 lbs of pull). You have many options with this gun and you have zero of those options with the suicide Glock type weapon. Its an accident waiting to happen and happen it does over and over again.
See my above post on actual tragedies that never would have happened with safer designed weapons that have manual safeties and safer take down systems.
The “safety between your ears” has a a very poor history of effectiveness. (Speaking in general and not attempting to insult anyone in particular.)
I’ve owned a Gold Cup for more than 30 years. From the beginning, it never occurred to me not to use the thumb safety. The gun’s normal state is cocked and locked with a full magazine and loaded chamber. After this many years, the safety naturally comes off as I raise the gun toward the target and goes back on as I return it to the holster. It’s not something I have to think about.
Usually, I don’t accept the argument that training can overcome an inherent disadvantage. It’s like telling a sprinter that it doesn’t matter if he starts from behind his competitors, instead of even with them, provided he trains himself to run faster. Well designed thumb safeties are an exception. JMB got it right on the 1911. Any safety that works differently from that is a bad design that constitutes a real disadvantage.
Guns aren’t dangerous. They are unforgiving. Make a mistake with one and the only thing standing between you and disaster is dumb luck. A good manual safety replaces dumb luck. The problem with a safety built into the trigger is that anything that pulls the trigger will fire the gun. It doesn’t have to be your finger. A long, heavy trigger pull helps but still isn’t a complete solution.
This matter is like caliber wars. MB advances this discussion. Home defense gun owners should have a manual safety. I think average home defense gun owners should have a single action revolver. Cocking them is such an overt action it makes it the best safety. Experts, would be operators, and well trained carry gun owners would probably have the same manual of arms for carry and at home. The average, and prospective average, home defense gun owner does not carry. Is not an expert, would be operator, or well trained.
And the single action revolver points one handed better than other hand guns. Sights are not relevant for average home defense gun owners. Pointing is. Making the first shot count is the most important thing. A second slower in firing after having to release the safety or cock it, is of secondary importance. The prospective average home defense gun owner is a hole in the market. They are decidedly turned off by the array of manual of arms that come with semi-automatic handguns, fine as these are.
But they are not reading this blog.
The big issue I have with most manual safeties is how flat out un-ergonomic they are.
Some interfere with a proper grip. Few are made to enable/disable once you have a proper grip.
I remember a time when the standard drill for safely parking your car included putting the shift lever in either ‘1st’ or ‘reverse,’ setting the parking brake, and turning the front tires into the curb when facing downhill, away from the curb facing uphill.
I remember when the starting drill for your car included setting the manual choke ‘just so,’ and letting the coil warm up by turning the key on for a few seconds before stepping on the starter button on the floor, with the clutch pedal down and the shifter in neutral.
Shockingly, for those of us who don’t drive cars with manual transmissions, carburetors, and ‘make-and-break’ ignition systems, all of those old standards are no longer necessary.
Of course, if your handgun relies on a design that is over a century old, and has a ‘choke’ (well, manual safety, but it’s the same sort of thing, isn’t it?), a clutch, and a manual transmission, you don’t really have a choice other than to use those things, right? After all, it’s easy to learn how to drive a manual transmission, so why not get one? Just because modern automatic transmissions are simple, reliable, and get better mileage than ever before, why not rely on technology from a hundred years ago?
Next, we shall learn that churning our own butter can save money, and how sheeps’ bladders may be employed to prevent earthquake.
You’re not wrong.
I like manual transmissions, manual safeties, and revolvers too
The Savage 1907 was a striker fired design….well over 100 years old.
Gaston did not invent the striker design. He designed a polymer framed pistol with a pre-cocked striker. 10 years after HK designed a polymer framed trigger cocking striker fired pistol.
Not many new designs. Bigger “invention” was folks learning to keep the finger off the trigger until they were ready to fire. Anyone around in the 80s remember the numbers of reported NDs went up when cops started toting Glocks.
The main thing a manual safety gives is an additional layer of safety when reholstering a pistol.
Good words John.
I switched from a single action semi to a DA revolver because when I didn’t practice for even a short time I occasionally forgot the safety and occasionally missed finding it’s red dot upon extension. I had dreams about forgetting the safety even. I, unfortunately, am an inconsistent practicer. Sometimes I practice drawing and dry firing everyday and shoot twice a week for months. Other times I go weeks without doing either. So, it is a simpler gun for EDC for me. Now I only worry that I will leave snap caps in it;-)
Glock leg: (noun) A medical condition caused by the interaction of loose clothing with an intrinsically safe action, without the moderating force of an external hammer or manual safety.
The manual safety makes a light trigger compatible with a holster. It has nothing to do at all with the function of a pistol after it leaves the holster or before it goes back in. And it’s not there to keep your finger from pulling the trigger. It’s there to keep everything else in the universe besides your finger from pulling the trigger.
I wonder if anyone tried this approach:
a manual safety that can be overridden with an extremely heavy trigger pull. Let me know if it’s stupid.
In some instances, a “heavy” trigger IS the “manual” safety, revolvers are a perfect example…8lb DA, 4lb SA…
Been carrying a 1911 for a long time, training and practice makes muscle memory, so I don’t even think of flicking the safety off, it’s all automatic…
I dont have a problem with a manual safety.
That said, the 1991 style safety is the most reflexive of manual safeties.
I can work the safety on my SR9s like a 1991, so I use them.
I cant work the safety on my Beretta 92 like a 1911 so I us it to decock.
Older Walthers and Berettas have no firing pin safety and can fire when dropped.
The same is true of “Series 70” 1911s. There is no internal firing pin safety so they are not drop safe.
But as usual, many folks want to inflate there own preferences by berating others.
If you dont think a 1911 is a viable defensive pistol, you’re an idiot. The same is true for a Glock or other pre-cooked striker pistol. They all work if the owner is willing and able.
What I always wondered is why so many people who think a manual safety on a pistol is bad but are ok with a safety in their goto AR self defense rifle.
I’m one of those people. Long guns aren’t carried in holsters. A manual safety is good for preventing stuff from catching the trigger and causing an unintended discharge. Handguns are typically carried in a holster that covers the trigger, therefore a manual safety is redundant on a handgun.
So you think in the heat of the moment that you will remember to disengage the safety on an AR which you have to reach for but not an easily accessible safety on a 1911 or BHP.
The 1911 has grip safety so by your holster logic you need to engage a safety on a 1911 when it’s in the holster.
I guess when Colt, & Browning, invented all those weapons the safety was just an after thought?….doubt it,,,even the ol west cowboys and badmen carried their SIX shooter with FIVE rds in it and hammer on an empty cylinder…but each to his own, its your leg, groin, balls, etc….
I suggest you do a google search on this. I have seen videos and read of accounts where people have attempted to holster a Glock type gun and the trigger caught on the holster and set it off shooting them. Even worse was the video that showed a guy that succeeded in holstering his Glock but a fold of the edge of the holster caught inside the trigger guard and when he sat down in his pick up truck and shifted his weight while seated the holster then pressed harder on the trigger and set the gun off blowing a nice deep trench along his leg and a huge hole in the floor of his truck, that hole could also of been through his leg if he had shifted a little more to the right.
Single action pull with no manual safety equals accident waiting to happen.
Stopped reading after I read “booger hook.”
+1 for a stupid term.
Amen to that! A low class term for a low class neighborhood.
Welcome home then.
My main dislike for a manual safety stems from how small they are on some pistols. I’d have trouble operating some of them normal conditions, much less under duress. Now, I’m not talking about 1911’s here, mainly the subcompacts that have a safety. That’s one of the reasons I like my XD-s; as long as you have the proper grip, it’s good to go.
Adding to your comment, think about trying to operate that non-ergonomic safety with gloves on!
I only carry handguns without external manual safeties. Aside from the fact that you could have difficulty swiping the safety off on your draw (with or without gloves), that external safety could snag on clothing and totally disrupt your draw. And we have not even talked about the added possible difficulty of swiping off that external safety if you are entangled with your attacker in a contact situation.
The solution for eliminating an external manual safety is exceedingly simple:
(1) Always carry your handgun in a properly fitting holster that secures your handgun snugly and covers the entire trigger guard.
(2) Always clear garments and cordage from your holster area before inserting your handgun in your holster.
(3) Always position your feet, legs, and holster such that you cannot shoot yourself or anything else of extreme value if something does somehow actuate the trigger in your handgun while you are inserting it into your holster.
Note that you should religiously observe all three of these practices even if your handgun has an external manual safety!
“Always” is not possible…
Agreed Coyote you are correct.
The cocked single action gun without a manual safety is an accident waiting to happen and happen it does many times. When you ask the people who claim that the pre-loaded striker fired guns without a manual safety are safe to carry and then ask them if they would carry a revolver with the hammer cocked back they suddenly realize how dangerous the pre-loaded striker fired auto pistol really is.
Apples and oranges.
The single-action trigger on a quality revolver is, what, just under three pounds and moves about 1/1000th of an inch before it breaks? Whereas the single-action trigger on striker-fired semi-auto handguns is betweeen 5.5 and 6 pounds and moves on the order of 1/2 inch before it breaks. There is a world of difference between a 2.8 pound trigger that breaks without any movement and a 5.8 pound trigger that breaks after pulling the trigger back 1/2 inch.
I have both with and with out. The first model LC9 has a safety that is a total pain in the butt. So small that, even with much practice it still is hard to use. The operator is the best safety, or carry a SA revolver.
Even single action revolvers can have handling issues. The late Skeeter Skelton used to carry a Colt SAA in his belt without a holster. At one point someone casually said to him…’do you always carry your revolver cocked?’ In the process of sitting down in a chair the movement of the gun against the chair cock the hammer and he’d been walking around with it unawares. He was startled to say the least
For over 35 years all my carry guns have been 1911s. Recently I bought a few plastic guns. 6 different brands. Ive kept the PPQ-SC and Canik. Rest long gone and the 1911s back on my belt. Im so used to a safety. These plastic guns just dont feel right to me.
All of my carry guns are third generation Smith and Wesson in various calibers.
Operating the slide mounted manual safety takes a little praftice. Actually hitting a target takes even more practice. Practicing hitting the target enables practicing operating the safety.
This being said, my home defense and truck backup pistol (in biometric lock box) is a Gock with a couple of 33 round clips. Ditto for home pistol. The wife’s PS-90 home defense carbine has a safety.
I hate to sound ignorant, but what is the make and model of the pistol in the last photos?
Ruger Security 9 maybe?
“Some say that in a high stress situation you’ll become all thumbs and “forget” to flip off the safety. I beg to differ.”
You can certainly differ when it comes to yourself, but this happens. I’ve seen it plenty, and not even in ‘real’ shooting environments (also happens with simunitions). Doesn’t happen to everyone, every time, but it is something to consider.
Not sure how the authors ridiculous initial premice and belittling attitude to those in the stricker fired crowd, will get any converts to his point of view.
Why do many gun owners think other gun owners that dont share their opinions are moronic idiots?
I dont have an issue with a manual safety, it can easily be trained for. My issue is with the grip safety. On many 1911’s if your grip isnt perfect the damn thing doesn’t disengage. This fact is why many competition shooters pin the grip safety in the disengaged position.
I go to the range at least once a week if not, twice. Had my 1911 for few years and never had a GS problem. Check the firearm internally at least once per year. Check it out or bring it to a qualified gunsmith for a look see.
its not a mechanical issue. when doing sub 1 second draws and reloads, moving fast, shooting fast etc in a USPSA competition everyone shooting a 1911 or 2011 eventually gets a grip that doesnt disengage the grip safety. its not just me. most USPSA shooters using a 1911 or 2011 pins the grip safety
I like my decocker & double action.
At least one large advantage to thumb safety I never see mentioned. It forces your thumb high on the draw, and besides adding some leverage over the muzzle from the thumb, it also prevents your thumb from pressing down, pushing your support lower on the grip.
I often see in a string of fire as the determination intensifies, the support hand can get displaced downwards by the thumb. Changes and weakens the whole grip, leading to inconsistencies.
Personally I do not release the safety on the draw. If the guns out and I’m waving it around but haven’t decided to shoot, I am reassured by its being on. When the decision to shoot is made, the safety is released as I firm my grip during the trigger pull.
I don’t consider it an “extra step” at all, more it is part of forming the grip. To forget it I’d have to forget my grip. Of course the grip and safety must fit you well to have it work so naturally. I do have guns where it takes contortions for me to release the safety. I don’t carry those.
I fell down running with a rifle once, yup my finger was on the trigger but the safety was on.
Great article, thanks!
And good comments from all.
I just don’t touch the trigger unless the safe is off and that has to be very important reason.
Different times different situations.
I had a peace officer friend who had a leather holster for his 1911 with a leather strap that snapped across between the cocked hammer and firing pin. He NEVER used the weapon’s safety, claiming that was “just stupid,” if he needed to draw and fire he didn’t want to waste time. He claimed that the retaining strap was his “suspenders” to go with the safe “belt” of a holstered 1911 that couldn’t misfire. Since his motion to draw the weapon automatically brushed his thumb across (and opening) the snap securing the strap, I saw ample evidence that the strap was not an impediment to his draw. He never had a misfire.
I carry a S&W 9mm that doesn’t even have a traditional safety, but that same logic applies.
I agree with John Lovell. Look up John Lovell thumb safety you tube….John is a fantastic firearms instructor… ex Army Ranger. He presents an excellent view of why an external safety isn’t the safest option…..
Chevy or Ford? Blonde or brunette? Glock or 1911?
Personal preference, IMO, is second in importance only to training. 200 rds a week? 50 rds a year? Or 6000 rds a month, we all have a responsibility to be proficient on the platform we carry. Getting there is different for all of us. Ego and false confidence have no place around guns.
Confidence comes with training, training builds skills and confidence…seems like a no brainer.
Noobs or LE with 30 years on can be equally reckless, majority of the time either because of inexperience, lack of training or complacency.
Complacency scares me most of all among that list.
Wanna carry a gun? God Bless you, but if you are going to be armed do so in a smart and responsible way.
Safety? No safety? To each his own, what’s right for you may or may not be right for someone else.
I’ve shot a 1911 so many times I can’t tell you when I click off the safety when drawing, or really when I put it back on when holstering. Likewise, I have carried a HK P7 and squeezing the front strap safety is no big deal, you just grip the gun like you are actually going to shoot it and manage the recoil. I have a gun with the lever on the face of the trigger, and that is no safety – if your finger is on the trigger, it will go bang. I have guns with both the heavy DA / light SA and the long takeup, neither is really a safety, just safer, if you know what I mean. And I still have my thumb on the frame of all of them like they have a safety there.
The only safety I’ve found that’s worth a hoot is that on the 1911. Intuitive easy on/off, almost automatic function with the least of training.
Folks brought up some excellent points on using the safety. My Shield thumb safety is not easy to operate; too small and I really have to move my thumb back to operate it. My LC380 thumb safety pivots is located towards the front, instead of the back, also not easy either. This becomes more problomatic, shifting the thumb back to flick, when drawing and shooting one handed. But two handed shooting, no prob. Yes, practice is all i’d need, but my other 2 dedicated carry guns don’t have thumb safeties. In an attempt to K.I.S.S. , I don’t practice using the thumb safeties for carry guns.
I won’t criticize anyone who carries without a manual safety. I’ll only say that I feel more confident carrying with a manual thumb safety – with all my little grandkids around, I lean in favor of caution. Is that a bit of a tradeoff, sacrificing some readiness for additional precaution? Without a doubt. In my case, I’ve minimized that cost by building muscle memory – thousands of repetitions in drawing the firearm, sweeping the safety up with my thumb each time (suggested by a great instructor). Practice, practice, practice.
Last year, I had to draw my firearm under stress. Everything turned out OK, no shooting involved, bad guy ran as soon as I started to draw the gun. But I definitely did not mess up anything in the draw, including any issues with sweeping up the safety. Didn’t even have to think about it at the time. Because muscle memory overcomes any disadvantage to readiness caused by using a manual safety.
My takeaway in the context of this discussion: while you’re closer to ready without a manual safety than you are with one engaged, you can eliminate that difference through building muscle memory.
For EDC, striker fired pistols with no external safeties are more reliable and safer than DA/SA handguns with external safeties that you carry cocked and locked with a three pound trigger. Six pound double action triggers are safe pistols. Untrained, unpracticed users are dangerous.
If your guns are range toys or competition toys, make as many mods as you see fit. But if yours is an EDC piece, leave it factory. It may surprise a few people, but the gun manufacturers actually know what they are doing.
My personal preference is double action, no external safety in a level two holster. Whatever your preference; train and practice or it is you that becomes dangerous, not the handgun.
Use whatever handgun system ensures compliance for YOU.
I have a manual safety on all my handguns but one, only because the Ruger LC9s did not come with a manual safety at the time of purchase. I carry a Ruger SR40c with a manual safety. I have split the fine hair between a manual safety and no safety. I use the safety everytime I reholster my handgun. Once it is in the holster I flip the safety off, check it on occasions during the day to ensure it is in the off position. I also train to slide the manual safety into the off position everytime I draw my handgun. When I take my gun off for the night I make sure the safety is on.
Slide mounted safeties suck. Frame mounted safeties that can be disengaged at the draw like a 1911 don’t suck. Passive safeties that are mounted to the trigger are not safeties, they are a lawyer trick and might as well not even be there. Revolvers don’t have non-safe safeties, so why do Glocks?
I am absolutely a manual safety fan. To say that a properly designed safety can’t consistently be operated by a reasonably proficient shooter is the same as saying that same shooter can’t swap a magazine, clear a malfunction, or clear a covering garment. It’s true there are gun owners without those abilities, but they are not ready to be out in public with a dangerous tool. Also, there are poorly designed manual safeties. Should I mention poorly designed holsters?
I believe the manual safety has a critical role at the point where I perceive the majority of unintended discharges during weapon use occur — while unholstering and while reholstering. When attempts at speed lead to inadequate grip and distractions allow obstructions to perform in place of your trigger finger. The gun comes out only if I have reason to shoot, and the safety is off as soon as I’m clear of holster and cover garments. When I no longer have reason to shoot, the safety is on before I get involved with putting the gun away. Neither requires anything like the amount time and thought for a shoot/no-shoot decision, or to orient to the holster mouth.
I figure that if you are running around or having conversations with your finger on the trigger, you also ought not be armed in public — that’s what “index” is for. The safety is for the transitions between holster and index.
The only times I can recall being surprised by an engaged safety at the point of firing is when I have finished or decided to not shoot and have not reholstered — but then resume the intent/need to shoot. I have not managed to train myself out of a two mode habit: “gun out = safety off” or “safety on = gun done” — so I try to reinforce the habit I have. YMMV.