Some gun guys and gals claim manual safeties are a bad, bad thing, a dangerous hindrance. Others consider manual safeties necessary for responsible carry. It’s time for everyone to accept a few things about safeties.
First, it’s mostly GLOCK and other plastic fantastic owners and revolver carriers who say the manual safety is pointless/unsafe/potentially dangerous. Those who who argue the opposite side love pointing out the accidental and negligent discharges endemic to striker-fired guns (this writer is guilty of this). They mostly carry a 1911 or a DA semi-auto.
Each side argues that what they like is better than what someone else prefers. And it’s pointless.
Ever listen to truck fanboys argue Ford vs. Chevy? Same thing; both brands of truck get terrible gas mileage, few people who own them actually need a half-ton vehicle and both brands of truck are just as liable to break down anyway. Heck, people in Australia have literally rioted over “Ford vs GM” arguments; beer sales at the Bathurst 1000 race had to be limited to 24 per person per day to cut down on the fighting and yes, you read that right.
Here’s an experiment: take your dominant hand and hold it out in front of you like you’re about to give someone a handshake. Now wiggle your thumb a bit. My gosh. That’s so difficult. That’s all it takes to disengage a manual safety.
At this point, the peanut gallery will say, “Well it’s a different story under stress.” Or something like that. Prima facie, there’s something to be said for that. But the thing is that you’re supposed to train/practice regularly regardless of what gun you carry.
If you carry a gun with an engaged manual safety, part of that training and practice must therefore be deactivating the manual safety. That isn’t hard to do in the least. It fits into the draw very well, as a matter of fact.
What of real-world incidents where a concealed carrier or officer got themselves killed by not deactivating a manual safety? Back in 2009, Massad Ayoob wrote (in Tactical Life) that he was only able to find one example of a manual safety failure, injury (not death) resulting. A private citizen was wounded after failing to disengage the safety of his Walther .380.
Said citizen also admitted that he’d never practiced with his pistol.
Ayoob recounted several incidents in which officers were killed when a suspect got their gun away from them and shot them due to their duty pistol lacking a manual safety. He also found several instances in which suspects grabbed guns but weren’t able to shoot the disarmed officer because the safety was engaged.
He tested the speed of drawing a gun and firing with the safety on and the safety off, finding only a 1/100th of a second difference. Granted, Mas is far better trained than most shooters and indeed most police officers. But the point remains: with regular practice, there’s little speed advantage to be gained by going sans safety.
Ultimately, the fundamentals of concealed carry are largely the same for everyone, regardless of the platform involved. You need a decent holster with good trigger guard coverage. You have to follow the four rules, especially keeping that booger hook off the bang switch. And you should train enough to become proficient.
Instead of all the pointless bickering, let’s just enjoy the guns we have. Let the GLOCK people enjoy their GLOCKs and the 1911 guys pay too much enjoy their 1911s. Let the CZ people enjoy their CZs. And let’s even let snubbie fans relax in the retirement home enjoy their J frames, LCRs and Model 85s.
Sam Hoober is a contributing editor at Alien Gear Holsters, as well as for Bigfoot Gun Belts. He also writes weekly columns for Daily Caller and USA Carry.