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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.

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  1. Meh… it’s just one more thing to get jacked up. Negligent discharges are a training issue. Manual safeties are an attempt to overcome a training issue with a hardware solution. That’s a horrible idea all around. Now that an external safety is not required to prevent actual firearm malfunctions, excluding them is proper dogma for those worshiping at the altar of the demon Murphy.

    • I don’t worship at the altar of the Demon Murphy. I perform rituals, like checking an unloaded firearm to see if it is loaded, in an attempt to banish the demon.

      There are also blood sacrifices. I don’t think the sacrifices are effective.

      • You can always tell when a writer is an amateur gunslinger, and didn’t quite do the entire research diligence. The fact is that with all the newly minted carriers these days and the ubiquitous carrying of no thumb safety strikers like Glocks, they do happen to have the statistical edge on ADs, especially on the improper holster positions/draws (another huge debate these days) or posture/movement situations like getting out of your car and getting it hung up in the seat corner or seatbelt and bang! Which wouldn’t have happened if the manual safety was on. But after actively carrying and shooting more years than most modern gunslingers were alive, I’ve never had a problem in high stress active situations. With either the DAO strikers or hammers with safeties. And at one time or another I’ve carried everything but the kitchen sink.

        The interesting thing is that unconsciously when there wasn’t any big debate on such things or even any kind of casual discussion among comrades in arms except maybe Ayoob in some of his magazine articles which were mostly tactics, I and most other professional ‘carriers’ after years and years found themselves carrying one in the chamber hammer down and safety OFF for all practical purposes when using double/single pistols. This is the way I always carried my 92FS and any other single/double pistol. And early on in my misspent youth, after a few months of warfare ‘seasoning’ my team never had the safety on when carrying their M-16’s in single file while on hot patrol. No one actually discussed it or learned it as part of any training, it just became the way we carried on line. But the fingers were OFF the trigger at ALL times, even in the forward ready position, until ready to blast. And I don’t recall any AD’s at all or injuries until the shooting started and, of course, that was another dynamic where another kind of problem arose called friendly fire casualties, which is a dirty little secret nobody likes to talk about to this day, in all actions.

        When in the ‘rear’ or in non active combat official areas, we removed the round in the chamber and inserted the magazine back in. All places we entered had barrels with sand in them and you were required to poke your rifle barrel in and get the trigger finger itch out of your system before you entered and just to make sure you did have an empty chamber. Then you slung your rifle with the barrel usually down or up and away, never pointing at anyone, and proceeded with your non-active combat business.
        The point being that if you’re a really serious gunman or gungal the only safety you need is to learn-and never forget- that you ALWAYS keep your itchy trigger finger OFF the trigger until you are actively engaged and ready to fire.

        Once you do, a manual thumb safety is superfluous. I carry a G 20 C these days in large crowded public places like the big airshow i’ll be traveling to this summer with 16 rounds of specialty loads and a spare mag. And the issue of safeties to me, won’t mean a thing one way or another. And I’ve never had an Accidental Discharge, and I never will. And because of my training and experience I should be able to take out any terrorist or criminal active shooter within my view as rapidly as possible with NO collateral damage.

        • Two comments on this thought:

          “The point being that if you’re a really serious gunman or gungal the only safety you need is to learn-and never forget- that you ALWAYS keep your itchy trigger finger OFF the trigger until you are actively engaged and ready to fire.”

          1 – “the ONLY safety you need…” —- We’ve all heard the motto about redundancy, “two is one, one is none,” coming from the professional class of gunslingers.
          2 – “if you’re a REALLY SERIOUS gunman…” — a similar, analogous assertion would be that roads could be built on cliffs without guardrails because really serious drivers know how to work the steering wheel.

        • Bad analogy. Guardrails don’t prevent the car from driving. An off switch on a gun does prevent firing.
          A guardrail is more comparable to a berm on a range.

        • Point taken, but nevertheless, whether we are talking about a person controlling his trigger finger or steering wheel, to asset that no other external safety should ever be needed logically means guardrails are superfluous.

        • “I don’t think manual means what you think it means.”

          Operated by human activity?

          Which of the three GLOCK safeties can operate without any human input?

          Trigger Blade?
          Requires external pressure (finger? trash?, clothing?)

          Fireing pin?
          Requires external action that needs to be protected against

          Requires external action that needs to be protected against.

          Lying in a drawer, loaded, the safeties provide nothing. Manual (human) action is required before the safeties provide safety. There is no getting around the fact that the trigger blade safety requires manual action to de-activate, same as M9 and M1911.

          Just sayin’

        • I carried my 92FS the same way, primarily because of those horrible slide-mounted safety levers, which I always hate on pistols. I want to be able to work it with my draw hand. Even Taurus knew they sucked because they moved them to the frame on their clone pistols.

    • Not disengaging the manual safety is also a training issue. The lack of a manual safety is also just one more thing to get “jacked up” too. I fear that you are confusing your preference for propriety. If you can produce a convincing scientifically rigorous study that proves a better outcomes for guns without manual safeties, that would be a different thing. Unfortunately, no such study exists and even if it did it be unlikely to prove that one type is equally appropriate to different individuals. The opinion of excellent instructors does not qualify as proof either, it is still anecdotal evidence. I myself have had nightmares about not disengaging my safety and recently switched to a revolver to eliminate that concern but I don’t think because I thought it best for me, that using a revolver was best for everyone. I am pretty sure it is not, in fact.

      • Jacked up in the mechanical failure sense. One more part that doesn’t actually introduce additional value besides helping negate a training issue by creating a new training issue is just one more point of failure for your mechanical design.

        The way I see it, if your training is squared away, you don’t need a manual safety. With that taken as an axiom, said safety introduces a point of failure that doesn’t need to be there. The fact that disengaging the safety adds another layer to your training just goes to prove my point. Basically, you’re getting rid of one training issue by introducing a new one and also adding a point of mechanical failure.

        • Serge, respectfully, shooting a firearm, with or without a manual safety, just isn’t that difficult. I don’t need to be “squared away”. I just point and shoot. If the firearm in my hand has a manual safety, I flip if off first.

        • True, but all man made things fail sooner or later. Ones with more fiddly bits tend to fail sooner than ones with fewer fiddly bits. If an external safety doesn’t serve a critical function like preventing a mechanical failure (something unheard of in modern guns), why have it there at all? The one thing that striker fired guns have going for them is mechanical simplicity of design. To get a good feel of just what I’m talking about, detail strip a Glock to its bare frame, then do the same with an m9. Fewer fiddly bits mean fewer things to break when you really need them to function. As an engineer, I’m a big fan of streamlined minimalist design. To get me to add a mechanical safety to a pistol, you’re going to have to have an argument a lot better than “shitty training resulting in Glock ass syndrome”

        • do you use exclusively the hangun and rifle with the fewest moving parts ?

          If not you are making excuses to justify your purchase, which was likely very emotional, first impulse. Now you are making up excuses why it us best.

        • All else being Equal? Yes. That’s why you won’t find a piston AR in my collection. The point, however, is a basic design philosophy. Every part has to serve a critical purpose or add value. It’s one of the things that pisses me off about the Vector. In the 21st century, there is zero reason to have separate safety and fire selection controls.

        • “With that taken as an axiom”

          Heh, that’s a fancy way of saying “If we all just accept my stated opinion as unassailable fact, then you’ll clearly see that my position is the objectively correct one, based on the facts I just invented out of whole cloth.” Not exactly intellectually rigorous. Is it that hard to admit that this is just your preference, and if other people like it the other way, that’s okay for them, and neither is necessarily right/wrong, and if they are, there’s no way to prove it at this point?

    • Remembering back to the days on patrol in a hostile environment, with adrenalin rushing, I am more than happy that we had manual safeties on both our rifles and pistols. If you have not been there then it’s hard to imagine how many times our own troops would have been the target of someone who was on edge and a twig snapped. And if one fired, the rest soon followed before someone realized they were shooting at ghosts. With safety on, and a round chambered, it only took a second to release the safety and fire. This was true of both rifles and handguns.

      And I am very happy with my J Frame Mod 60.

    • Go ahead, carry your 1911 cocked but not locked. Riiiigghhht.

      The author is right… no “right way.”

      Whatever you chose to carry will dictate how you should train. If you chose not to train, and you die… well, darwin wins a few now and then.

      It’s really that simple.

    • Negligent discharges are a training issue? And are an attempt to work around a lack of training with a hardware fix? Wow, I hope you don’t really believe either of those statements. As he points out so clearly in the article, a manual safety can be easily manipulated during the draw with no real lack of loss in speed. So why is having one a bad idea? IT sounds like you are the one who is advocating less training. After all, having a manual safety that is properly trained with has been demonstrated to be just as fast. But you want them just taken away from everyone? You DO realize that a lot of people are NOT going to train enough with their guns, right? You realize that in this real world we live in, people are carrying guns that probably should NOT be. I, for one, want them to have safeties on their weapons if they want one. I have been carrying concealed and competing for 25 years now, and I still prefer a manual safety unless I am carrying a revolver–which I don’t carry in the first place.

  2. I own and frequently shoot handguns with and without safeties, and have never had an issue with manual safeties. As far as I can tell, the folks arguing that one or the other is meaningfully superior are just trying to justify their own preference.

  3. I had a customer whom had his Beretta 92 taken from him and his arm broken in a home invasion robbery. The issue wasn’t that the firearm had a safety, it was that he had a firearm with a safety and didn’t train with it. Whether you have a safety or not, training is more important than what gun you prefer.

    • Exactly. Train with the gun/guns you carry. I carry a non-safety equipped M&P or a revolver. When I buy a 1911, if I decide to carry it, I will train to flick the safety off. To each their own. Just train, train, train until you firearm of choice is just an extension of you. Like shaking hands with an old friend, it just feels natural.

  4. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve seen Marines (including me) forget to rotate the selctor/push the cross bolt to “fire”…. it happens, training and all.

      • That’s what happens when you operate with tactical operators that operate tactically. Us POGs, on the other hand, tend to see silly things happen far more often. Fortunately, few people care how good you are with your rifle when you’re an idiot savant when it comes to laying demo. You might have a hard time when it comes to promotion points, but that’s about it. I’ve seen a guy get stuck as a career lance corporal due to getting a string of pizza boxes for his rifle quals. It was sad, really, the guy knew more about being a combat engineer than most of our Sergeants, but could never quite scrape together the composite scores to make E4.

      • I’ve seen soldiers load magazines backwards. Your comment is bad and you should feel bad.

        I will admit to an unexpected three round burst a time or two. Damn lefties.

        • I’ve seen major manufacturers load magazines backwards in their promotional literature.

    • Just another safety. If you are in danger of losing your weapon in a scuffle or forced to give it up for any other reason a quick push of a button drops the mag to the ground and renders the firearm safe – will not fire.

      I fail to see how people get so worked up about this.

      • Because it’s more shit on a mechanical device that doesn’t need to be there and introduces yet more points of failure.

        • Which is why Serge uses only the most mechanically simple firearms in his arsenal. Break action hammer fired guns only. He’s in the process of designing a slam-fire gun to eliminate his reliance on those complicated and failure-prone trigger mechanisms.

      • Because lawyers and politicians are telling us that it MUST be there whether it’s needed or not. Even if it was something we actually kind of liked, being told we have no choice makes most of us default to “I hate it and you can’t make me.”

      • That’s interesting. I had never thought of that. Weirdly, my two .22’s have the interlock, and my two 9’s don’t; even though legal in CA.

      • Because I’ve seen several Calguns threads about Sig 226s have a failed interlock that completely disabled the gun until it got to the workbench.

        Thank you for reminding me to uninstall mine when I get the chance. (CA gun in IN)

  5. I’ve never understood the hatred of manual safeties. It’s a personal preference but I don’t think they are a hindrance at all if used properly. Is it really that hard to remember to flip the safety, even in a stressful situation ? It takes no time. It’s like forgetting to pull the trigger. It’s just something you must do to make the gun go bang.

    • You only have to forget the safety once to make a big impression.

      Mine happened during a pistol competition (stock gun). I was a VERY experienced shooter, but I did a lot of switching between different pistol types on a regular basis. No more switching, no more safeties for me.

      I’ve also seen folks shooting Glocks or no-safety M&Ps who normally carry/practice with a 1911 or other safety-equipped handgun draw and then pause while their “safety-educated” thumb searches in vain for a safety that isn’t there (also in competitions).

      It DOES happen, and let me tell you, it’s not a good feeling when it happens to you.

      • “It DOES happen, and let me tell you, it’s not a good feeling when it happens to you.” This statement is begging to be taken out of context.

  6. The first gun I ever shot had no manual safety. It’s how I learned, so I’m not changing to something else. I don’t like manual safeties, but I’m not going to belittle anyone for preferring safeties. Unless I was going to belittle them anyway.

  7. The real issue is the quality of the safety, not whether or not there is one. A small, hard to flick safety, like the ones found on too many “modern” handguns, can get you killed. They’re too difficult to deploy. Slide mounted safeties that flick “up” for fire are IMO more difficult to operate than “down to fire” frame-mounted safeties.

    And revolvers don’t need safeties at all. Which is why snubby fans live long enough to relax in the retirement homes, you smug bastard.

    • Well that and the fact that, in their day, the snubby carriers only had to worry about a few injuns coming over the hill.

    • Agree 100% Ralph. Small wheel guns only have one disadvantage, five rounds, but that’s why they make speed loaders.
      If I was planning on taking long summer night walks in the middle of gangland, then I would prefer to tote my 92, but I’d still carry my LCR for a back up.

  8. Anyone, and I’m looking at you guys, who doesn’t have a manual safety with size relative to the caliber of the gun is just a doofuss. Only a doofuss would carry a doofuss gun that doesn’t have a safety for safety. Moses said safeties were unnecessary. Army was smarter, so the holy gun had two! It’s all about safety. Even gun manufacturers who produce guns without safeties have ports in the frame for a safety, because they know safeties are safe.

    What’s in your wallet?

    • “Even gun manufacturers who produce guns without safeties have ports in the frame for a safety, because they know safeties are safe.”

      It has little to do with safety, it’s smart business sense that allows them to sell in markets where a mechanical safety is required by law for sale.

      That, and their corporate lawyers advise them to include it for reasons of liability.

      {Picks up NAA Mini}

      I’m looking allover for that port, and don’t see one anywhere on this gun.

      Please, kind sir, could you point it out to me?

      “What’s in your wallet?”

      If I knew you personally, and you knew my twisted sense of humor, I well might reply, (with a smile on my face),:

      “You’re mom’s phone number…” 😉

      • EDIT – I’d like to note *today*, Monday, is the last date of the SCOTUS term.

        Cross your fingers, toes, and anything else for luck that SCOTUS Justice Kennedy announces his retirement.

        So we can all do *this*:

      • “If I knew you personally, and you knew my twisted sense of humor…”

        Given the above, perhaps a second read of my comment would be in order?

        Just to be safety?

  9. In the 1980s I was an active IPSC competitor. I shot nearly every weekend, did 100 full draw dry fires every night, and was certain that I would always drop the safety on my 1911 as my front sight came up to the target. Muscle memory? I had it after 40,000 draws (still do). But, but at every IPSC match, someone jerked their barrel down-up and fired by dropping the safety on the trigger the pressed a moment ago. We giggled. Then it happened to me. Three times in three weeks. Then it went away.
    Then I fired a Glock 17. I was amazed at its fit (to my hand) and dead on accuracy. And I knew I would never point it in earnest and watch the barrel jerk down.
    The Glock became my daily carry gun. The 1911s became range only guns.
    The 1911 is great when you can unsafe it in the trench before you go over the top and thereafter shoot everything that moves. But I have only one life and today I will shoot in earnest in 1.5 seconds from concealment at a deadly threat. No brainfarts allowed.

  10. Meh…I came to all this gun stuff after not shooting in perhaps 40years. Pardon me but I like a manual safety. Not slowed down either. Is a manual safety necessary with a Glock-style trigger? Beats me…and I’ve had a revolver and more than one semiautomatic pistol with no safety…

  11. “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.”

    That oversimplifies the problem. The problem is two fold. One, does one train to automatically or instinctively wipe of the safety during the draw/ removal from holster/ pick up from table or gun safe? Two, if the answer to One is “yes,” then does one walk around with a gun with the safety off in cases where one walks around with a drawn gun?

    Answers to safety use doctrine must take into account ALL variations of use and whether one makes wiping off of a safety an automatic function or one in which conscious decisionmaking plays a role.

    Further, bear in mind that many users are new. Sometimes questions or problems such as these are beyond them. They want and need simple answers.

    • Why would one “walk around” with a drawn gun with the safety ON?

      I would exclude situations, such as at the range, where it would be appropriate to have the safety on with the gun out of the holster. But in a combat or potential threat situation, if the gun is drawn it is because it’s to be ready to use and safety on would be incorrect.

      If you draw a weapon, the issue is whether it is for immediate or potential combat use or not. If not, leave the safety on. If it is, take it off. If the threat is over, put the safety on and holster the weapon. Simple.

      • Where I work, we are trained to do things like building search or felony vehicle stops with weapons at low ready, safety (if equipped) on. Safety comes off if you need to fire, back on when you stop firing. The idea is that if you slip or have an involuntary reaction like clenching your fist, you don’t torch a round off into the ground. Not saying this is gospel for everyone, but I feel it works well.

        • I learned not to automatically disengage the safety upon draw after TTAG’s AI set me straight. There’s some good advice around here. Yours included.

        • Whether or not there is a “safety switch,” having your finger ON THE TRIGGER is the only real problem if you are walking around with a drawn gun. The natural response to stress is to clench your hands… So, the simple answer is to follow the rules and keep your finger along side the barrel UNTIL you are actually on target and ready to shoot. This has always been true, and no manual “safety” changes that.

        • The point is whether or not “wiping the safety off” is intended to be an automatic or conscious action. If automatic, then training will help it to occur all by itself. If conscious, then there is a chance that in the heat of the moment it will not occur, as the conscious mind will be, presumably, fairly occupied.

          Often times the “just do it this way” advice leaves out the wide variety of usage scenarios which present themselves in real life. As many of us have heard, some people claim up to 1 million or more defensive gun uses per year. Anyone think that they follow the same script? They don’t, there are a wide variety of scenarios. So, little things like when safeties are offed and when trigger fingers enter trigger guards become big deals. The doctrine, if it is such, must be correct in all cases, or, if not, admitted that it’s not.

  12. The 1911’s light not-to-say-hair-trigger makes me glad it has a safety. It’s a psychological thing, but then what isn’t?

    As for forgetting to switch off the safety during a stressful situation — one more thing that can go wrong — I agree: training is the key.

    Some shooters who have 1911’s have trained to the point where they thumb off an invisible safety on their striker-fired pistols. FWIW.

    • Even after the training time it took for me to stop riding the slide stop on my VP9 I still would flick it on my draw like I do the safety on my 1911. Muscle memory is a weird thing.

    • The one thing that would concern me about carrying a 19 11 is the fact that safeties sometimes actually disengage themselves all by themselves. (I have experienced this myself.) This phenomenon is most common with ambidextrous safeties, but either way, if you’re relying on a safety you should be just a little paranoid about this phenomenon. You may be carrying cocked and unlocked.

      • It has happened and it’s scary.

        I always check the safety when unholstering for administrative purposes.

        • I carried a Beretta 92fs and a Ru ger P95 for a while. Both have the much maligned slide mounted (ambidextrous) safety (which I actually kind of like). I don’t think it ever happened with the P95 but it happened a couple of times with the Beretta. Even with the 11 pound DA tri gger it definitely caught my attention. If the safety is on the inside only I don’t think it’s too likely though.

          Inversely, there people who don’t like the slide safety so they carry with the safety disengaged, which I think is a mistake. If the safety can magically disengage it can also magically engage, which would have you fumbling over it right when the lead starts flying.

      • The 1911 has a grip safety in addition to its thumb safety. Whats the chance that both will be accidentally released in the holster?

        • True, but… you instinctively disengage the grip safety on the draw.

          Basically what I’m saying is that all the safeties in the world don’t add up to much in comparison with good tri gger discipline.

  13. ‘Ever listen to truck fanboys argue Ford vs. Chevy?’

    As a former lifelong Chevy guy, Chevy took $85 billion in taxpayer money – Ford didn’t. End of argument.

      • Fuck Chevy. I hope they go belly up again and this time the taxpayers aren’t forced to pony up.

        BTW, Fiat (Dodge) can ES&D too.

        • Have run all three.
          Never liked Chevy.
          Ran mostly Ford, but with Fords diesel problems since they started building their own diesel motors in 2003 or so, have no use for them either!

          Last two have been Rams, first the Italian V6, and now the Cummins!

    • GM took 85 billion in US taxpayer money to sell Chinese made cars in the US and put a GM stamp on them. GM no thank you.

        • Guv, my last company Ford was made in Canada. What % of parts in your American made vehicles are actually made in America?

          At least my Toyota doesn’t lie about where it came from.

        • I think you misinterpreted my comment. Toyotas are at least just as ‘American made’ as any of the big three. Although, since the 1970s there’s been a 25% tariff on imported ‘trucks’, so of course they would be…

      • True dat, but in fairness I just heard that Ford just scrapped their plans for a plant in Mexico for the Focus and are moving that to China. I think the American plant is retooling to build Exploders or something.

  14. If anything, I believe not having a manual safety forces me to train with my pistol more responsibly. Knowing there is nothing between me and a bullet heading down range has ingrained some very good habits. Doesn’t mean having a manual safety is wrong.

      • Oh that’s nice. Thanks for your opinion. But that’s all it is, an opinion. You may not know this, but I have already thought about your opinion before I formed my own. True, those habits you should have “anyhow”. But that doesn’t mean you knowing there is no backup to stop stupid doesn’t help build them. If you need manual safeties to help you stop stupid, then perhaps you shouldn’t use a gun at all.

      • So the trigger pull determines whether a gun needs a safety?
        Do elaborate, please.
        All the 1911 guys complain about heavy striker fire triggers then insist they need an off switch.
        Where do you draw the line on insistence?
        What length of pull, take up, reset, weight? Where is your demarcation point?

  15. I personally prefer manual safeties, and just learn to flip them off (not like that) as I draw. I carry an SR9C, which has a safety that everyone complains is too small. Maybe it’s just me, but I have no problem with it. I can swipe it on and off with the side of my thumb just behind the knuckle while maintaining my grip. Pretty much the same story with my 1911. That’s not to say I would never own a gun without a manual safety. The fact that all of mine have them is just the way it worked out.

  16. Wow, I’m left handed and carry a M&P Shield with a manual safety. I never come anywhere near it and don’t think I could put it on by accident if I wanted to. I guess that’s a good thing for being left handed. Sometimes I activate the safety if I am taking it out of the holster for one reason or another. I’ve never forgot to deactivate it when reholstering.

  17. No manual safety, no sale. Had them on every firearm I have ever owned, and used them. No apologies to anybody.

  18. Not a big deal. Learned on a 1911 so it’s automatic even after carrying/training with an M&P in most cases.

    I don’t carry a 1911 or other gun with a safety w/o a bit of immediate practice with it to “refresh” my thumb but it’s no big deal. It’s only an issue to those who’ve never had a gun that had a manual safety.

  19. Or, know what ? . . . you can have a manual safety and not use it. While my primary carry piece is a striker fire, I occasionally carry a Beretta 92 with the safety disengaged. The heavier double action first shot provides all the safety I need to prevent a ND. (And yes, I train with it like that.)

  20. When given the option, I take the safety (provided it isn’t a horribly designed one) because it’s a relatively trivial gunsmithing job to render one always off, but effectively impossible to add one.

  21. Perhaps one of the “safeties are evil” people could explain what the practical difference is between carrying a Glock and carrying a 1911 with the safety disengaged, with respect to safety. Both still require a trigger press to activate. Would you feel safe carrying a 1911 “cocked and un-locked”?

  22. Indexed against frame is really all you need, in my opinion. My older brother was borrowed my Ruger SR 22lr pistol and pushed safety to disable trigger after any round. Finally made me so annoyed called him to the bench and showed him how to place his trigger finger so he would not wear out my safety. He usually does not listen to women but he damn sure did that day. He was having too much fun shooting my mouse gun! Also understand that 22lr hits the rim
    BTW: when you load 10 round magazine it will cock the pistol, if you just keep shooting the trigger pull will be a very manageable 5 to 7 pounds. If you have a monster heavy pull, there something wrong with that particular pistol.

  23. I know this article is about handgun safeties, but why is it such a big argument when I’ve never seen anyone rushing to remove the safety from their AR or shotgun? Is it only the trigger being bumped by foreign objects while slung? One could argue that if your trigger is snagging on everything while you walk around, maybe you should be more careful how you walk. Is there an untapped market for double action rifle triggers to allow removal of the manual safety?

    Think about it, every M4 and M16 across the entire DoD has a manual safety, and as a former infantryman I can say there are some people in the infantry so dumb it would get my comment deleted if I described them properly. I never saw anyone have trouble forgetting to take their safety off when firing, or following an ass kicking or two from a squad leader, any trouble putting their weapon back on safe when they were done firing.

    • I totally agree with your thoughts about rifles. However, Newbies who just got their Concealed Pistol Permit are probably most worried about shooting off their Junk, or letting one loose through their femoral artery. One half dozen for each. carry your EDC with a manual safety if that makes you feel better. Other wise, just train with a “ready to shoot” heater.

  24. All this rhetoric makes me appreciate my Glocks all that much more. Safeties are just one more thing to train on, and one more thing to commit to mussel memory. My Glocks have eliminated that part for me altogether.

    BTW, I think this whole blog / article is stupid.

  25. Revolver. Manual safety. Striker fired without a safety. Bolt action. Lever action. Double barrel. Pump gun.

    Specialization is for insects. If you cannot pick up any of the major handgun, rifle or shotgun types and run them without a training class from uber operators you’re doing it wrong.

    You should also be equally comfortable with a stick or an auto. And you should know which end of a horse to hand the apple to.

    • Yeah, but that bolt action striker fired double barreled revolver man… jeeze it’s a trip the first time.

    • Well, automobiles are much more standardized than firearms. That said, my Japanese auto has the gas filler on the left side, American auto on the right side; wiper stalk turns on downward on the Japanese, but upward on the American.

  26. While I tend to agree that it’s personal preference Ralph makes a good point. Not all safeties are the same.

    I simply stopped using a safety other than as a de-cocker when I carried a 941 Jericho. That small, hard to push up lever on the slide was not something you were going to get off (at least not with my hands) one handed while drawing and it was stiff enough that “missing” it was a real possibility.

    I’ve carried that over to my USP but with a caveat. I carry it with the hammer down and one in the pipe with the safety off just like the 941 BUT I thumb brush the safety when drawing to shoot and train to do so because the oddball thing about at USP is that if you carry safety off and do something like sit in a car the safety can engage without you knowing that it’s done so. It doesn’t happen often but it can happen and has happened to me.

    Personally I don’t find Glocks sketchy but I can understand how some people do. My preference for carry is either a striker fired pistol or a DA/SA with the safety off. However, if I’m going to remove the gun from my holster for admin purposes I engage the safety before the draw (unless it’s a striker fired gun obviously), do whatever I’m doing and after I reholster I knock the safety back to “off”.

    The only real issue I have with safeties is that I don’t see why people carry with them on. The gun ain’t just going to go off by itself in your holster (If that’s a concern then get a new holster!) and you should be training yourself not to put your finger into the guard until you’re on target and ready to fire.

    Mistakes can happen on either end I suppose but that’s just my preference. One less thing (hopefully) between that “Oh, shit!” moment and the gun spitting bullets.

  27. A great deal of the issue with manual safeties is glossed over by gun users, most of whom appreciate very little of what goes into the internals of gun design.

    Some guns simply need manual safeties, period. Some manual safeties are poorly designed – eg, the Remington 700, for example. Some safeties are very well designed – the Mauser rifles, and subsequently, the Winchester Model 70 was (IMO) the pinnacle of bolt-action rifle safeties, as examples.

    Some handguns needed to be loaded in a certain manner to be considered ‘safe’ – eg, the original Colt SAA. You were thought to be flirting with danger if you loaded all six chambers in the cylinder – because if you dropped the SAA on its hammer, or snagged the hammer sufficiently hard, even with the hammer not cocked, most likely there was going to be a discharge. So lots of people loaded one, skipped one, loaded four, and then holstered it – and now your hammer was over an empty chamber. So now, for you kids, this is how you load an old single action revolver: Pull the hammer back to half-cock, and leave it there. Open the loading gate. Load one, skip one, load four. Then (this is NOT OPTIONAL), pull the hammer back to full cock and then lower it. You’ll be on the empty chamber. Do not just lower the hammer from half-cock without pulling it back to full cock.

    Oh, your single action doesn’t require this any more? You should thank Bill Ruger.

    Guns like the 1911, Browning Hi Power CZ-75, et al, should probably have a manual safety, and their designers designed one in, because dropping the gun onto the hammer might well cause a discharge in some of the earlier designs – even if the hammer is in the half-cock notch. In guns with exposed hammers, you need either a transfer bar type safety (ie, the hammer cannot transfer the blow through to the firing pin unless the trigger is fully pulled when the hammer hits), or you need a manual interlock to make sure the hammer is either locked back on something substantial, or the hammer is blocked and cannot ram the firing pin home on a live round. In the 1905-1911 trials, the US Army wanted their new sidearm to have two safeties – they’d had their fill of the Colt SAA’s issues, and they wanted accidental & negligent discharges cut down to be much more rare. So the 1911 and the Luger, which was one of the 1911’s competition, both had a manual safety and a grip safety. Go look – don’t believe me. The .45 ACP Lugers submitted for testing to the US Army had a grip safety. When you look at most Lugers made for European customers, you don’t see a grip safety – only the manual safety, which wasn’t all that convenient to flick off. The potential customer in the 1911 trials (the US War Dep’t) wanted a grip safety. Period.

    Many modern exposed hammer guns often not only have a manual safety, that safety now doubles as a decocker – further reducing unintended discharges. Gone are the days of thumbing the hammer down whilst pulling the trigger – and possibly slipping. Now you could just flip a spring-loaded lever and the hammer would drop on an interlock that prevented any firing, and you could holster an exposed-hammer semi-auto with a dropped hammer.

    In the Glock-type striker design, what is actually the safety holding the firing pin rearwards from being able to be dropped onto the primer is also the equivalent of the sear under the hammer spur – pushing the safety block up and out of the way allows the striker (firing pin) to launch forward and hit the primer. It is an elegant design from the standpoint of parts reduction, but it has a side effect of giving one a sub-par trigger (when compared to hammer/sear guns). One can argue that these gun designs don’t “need” a manual safety, because there is no external hammer to suffer an external blow, there is no sear with minimal engagement under the hammer, there are no rotating points for the sear & hammer that can come out of alignment or adjustment with wear, allowing the hammer to fall off the sear, there a bunch of issues missing that make it pretty much a requirement on external hammer guns to have a manual safety.

    OK, well, if a striker-fired pistol doesn’t really need a manual safety, then why does the Luger have a manual safety at all, never mind a grip safety on top of the manual safety in the 1911 trials? The 1908 Luger is basically a striker-fired pistol… betcha didn’t think of that, did you? Why does it have a manual safety, especially when if you leave the safety on and really pull on the trigger, you can break the internals of the trigger/sear mechanism on the Luger? Why does it have a manual safety that is so unergonomic? Because the German armaments board required a manual safety, that’s why. Same reason why the Mauser 98 has that huge claw extractor, when Peter Paul Mauser had other ideas that looked more like the post-64 Winchester Model 70. It wasn’t a matter of ‘need’ – it was a matter of what the ‘customer’ wanted – just like the grip safety on the 1911 and other handguns for that competition.

    We can easily argue that the ergonomics on the Luger meant that people were going to be flailing with the manual safety on a speedy draw-to-fire. We can argue that the safety/decocker lever on the Beretta M9 isn’t such a hot piece of ergonomics. But that’s a much harder argument to make on the 1911. If you’re not able to flick the safety off a 1911 on a draw, you probably lack the co-ordination to drive a manual transmission car as well. I’ll NB that manual transmissions have become a theft prevention device on cars these days, such is the level of ignorance of all things manual in the population.

    I honestly don’t understand all this theorizing about someone forgetting to pull off the safety on a 1911. When I used to shoot IPSC and on the weekends I would run my 1911, if I wanted to speed up my presentation or I didn’t want any possibility of the safety causing a failure to engage, I just left it off. It still had a grip safety in place, after all. In large part, I think a great deal of this postulation and academic arguing is due to kids being spoiled. All these arguments about the relative merits of this semi-auto vs that semi-auto is such a first-world problem. People who theorize about such things sound very much like a bunch of teenage girls getting pissy about their goddamn smart phone not updating their Facebook page fast enough, and how much better the iPhone or latest Samsung phone is than the competition. Feh… Only 40 years ago, arguments about manual safeties were unknown – because most all semi-auto pistols had a manual safety. Back then, cops shot lots of criminals dead, homeowners shot lots of intruders dead, Marines and the US Army shot pleeeeenty of the enemy dead – with semi-autos that had manual safeties. Matter of fact, I just met a Marine who served in Vietnam, who to this day maintains that the 1911 is the single best pistol in the world, period, will brook no arguments whatsoever. Why? Because when he volunteered to go down into tunnels in Vietnam to find Ho Chi Charles underground, all he had was a 1911 and a flashlight. Oddly enough, he didn’t even mention the manual safety in his recounting; he thought the 1911 was a grand pistol, reliable, compact, easily reloaded, cleared of any malfunction in complete darkness, and it lobbed a bullet that settled arguments “very quickly.” One might not think it to look at this gentleman today, but I’m reasonably certain he clanks when he walks.

    The pistol-with-manual-safety issue is vastly, vastly over-blown, IMO. This is not a situation like one of those O/U or S/S shotguns where it sets the safety to ‘on’ every time you break open the barrels, and when you forget to thumb the safety off before you mount the gun in a trap competition, you then have to pretend that you had a gun malfunction to get an alibi, or you just fess up to being a vacuous pile of dung. Been there, done that, with some old and very high-dollar shotguns, and looked perfectly stupid doing it. Don’t want to deal with the manual safety on a 1911? Leave it off. If you’re using a proper holster for a 1911, it will have a piece of leather between the hammer and the slide, providing you yet another level of safety.

    Then again, I don’t understand a great many things that seem to be of paramount and noisome importance to modern gun owners. Any more, I am a stranger in a strange land…

    • ‘Oh, your single action doesn’t require this any more? You should thank Bill Rug er.’

      Going by memory, but it seems I recall that WFR wasn’t the actual inventor of the transfer bar safety, though he certainly did popularize it. It escapes me know who did invent it, but I’m thinking it was someone at Colt.

      • In my recollection, Iver Johnson was the first gun maker to introduce the transfer bar safety, on their “Safety Automatic” flop-top revolver, introduced before 1900. I think it was chambered in .22LR, .32 Smith and .38 Smithl. I seem to recall that the anarchist that shot POTUS McKinley used an Iver Johnson flop-top. BTW, I-J also introduced the “blade-in-the-trigger” safety mechanism on later Safety Automatics, which was then make famous by Glock on their pistols. While I-J didn’t make nice guns, they had a couple of ideas ahead of their time.

        To my knowledge, Ruger was the first guy to introduce the transfer bar idea to single action revolvers. I don’t seem to recall Colt using a transfer bar on their 1873’s or variants until the later 1990’s. Ruger introduced his transfer bar system to his single action revolvers in 1973, and offered to retrofit it to previously produced Ruger revolvers for free. If you have an old Ruger single-action, you can still send it in to Ruger, even today, and they’ll convert it.

        Whatever the dates of introduction, Ruger’s single action revolvers with the transfer bar safety were the first widely-produced single action revolvers where you could load all six and shove it into your holster and quit caring about whether your hammer was over an empty chamber or not. Ruger set the expectation of the market. Today, when I explain to folks why you never load all six in a Colt SAA or faithful clone of the original, many people look at me like I’m a Victrola and they’re the RCA doggie – then they say “My dad/uncle/brother/grandpa/etc has a single action revolver, and he loads all six!” and I then say “I’ll bet they own a Ruger, right?” … and that’s how I get a reputation for being clairvoyant.

        • ‘If you have an old Ruger single-action, you can still send it in to Ruger, even today, and they’ll convert it.’

          And they’ll send you your original parts back too, which you’ll want to save because the unconverted ones seem to have a higher collector value.

          I must have heard of the Iver-Johnson transfer bar at some point.

        • The I-J company made both cheap(er) guns and bicycles. A head-scratching combo, but there we have it.

          I-J, as I said, seemed to have several ideas ahead of their time in safety, but their products were not “nice” guns by any stretch. There was nothing remotely like the nicer S&W’s or Colts in their lineup. Their guns were cheap (not inexpensive, but cheap), functional, and rarely thought of as something worth much time or effort to preserve. If you find one of their flop-tops today, in good shape, it might set you back all of $125, maybe as much as $150. Of all the I-J’s I’ve seen at shows or in pawn shops, I think I’ve seen only one that appeared to be in really nice shape. Most of them look as tho they had a hard life of neglect and disuse.

    • This comment makes the article cry and run home. Thank you Dyspeptic Gunsmith.

      May I humbly suggest that many would garner new outlooks and great enjoyment from you simply posting your previously written comments into a blog article of their own. This would, in my opinion, be better reading than all of the other articles I’ve read here for the past year.

      Thank you.

    • Another enjoyable DG’s comment. Thank you, sir.

      I do wish to point out that

      >> a bunch of teenage girls getting pissy about their goddamn smart phone not updating their Facebook page fast enough

      have some point.

      If firearms were designed like modern internet-based services and applications, using same disproportionate bandwidth and hardware resources, we would live in a pretty strange world. .22 LR would have belted case with 40gr capacity, mounting a scope would require three layers of rails (a bolt action will boast 11mm rail section mounted on drilled and tapped holes, with picatinny-to-11mm converter mounted on top, with some NewPicatinny-to-picatinny rail adapter and NewPicatinny rings), and we would enjoy powders, cases and steels capable of handling 9000 MPa pressures, only to have measly muzzle velocities because bullets will be solid unobtanium-tugsten nanoalloy, grinding through rifling with great effort.

    • I don;t comment much anymore but I feel great pleasure in DG’s detailed comment. I have been essentially saying the same things that he said here since I started visiting TTAG. He has always thrown far more weight than me so people will actually get the message this time.

    • Sir, thank you! Civil, dispassionate discourse, and well-written. Do you publish articles in any magazines? “We are not worthy!”.

      • I have started work on it, for real. I have the chapter on hand tools done (this has taken much of the last six months of ‘spare time’), and I’ve completed my first pass on workbenches, vises, workholding and the like. Next, I’m working on abrasives and polishing media and how to polish metal, and polish guns in particular.

        My goal is that late this year, I get going on the chapter on machine tools for the gunsmith – and I’ll start with grinders (belt, wheel, and surface) and then work my way into lathes (which will be the largest section on machine tools) and then mills. If I keep grinding away at it, I might have just the section on tools & machine done by a year from now. I’m putting in lots more information than most books on gunsmithing will have on just the selection and evaluation of machine tools – eg, “OK, you want a lathe for gunsmithing. What, exactly, should you be looking for in a lathe?” and then “how do you tell a good used lathe from a clapped-out POS?” That alone will be 20 to 30 pages of writing, with photos and diagrams. Then weeks of editing it down, making sure I’m not boring people with arcane details that concern almost no one….

        Some of the chapters will borrow heavily from handouts and material I already have written for my intro to gunsmithing classes, so some of the basic material is already done in areas like blueing/browning/filing/woodworking.

        My goal for late next year is to start in on actual gun issues, which even now, I’m having trouble sorting out – where to begin, how to build from one completed area of knowledge to the next, etc. I might just start with older black-powder guns, their lockworks, etc. After all, most BP guns were made with manual tools. After that, it’ll probably be shotguns, which can also be made almost entirely with manual tools. I’m looking forward to the chapter on shotguns, because most gunsmithing books have little to no information on shotguns – at all. I figure to make the chapters on shotguns worth the price of purchase for those chapters alone.

        I’m not going to lie: It’s going to take awhile. At the rate I’m going, it might be 8 to 12 years…

    • Overall, a great comment, DG. I do want to point out one thing, though.

      DG said: “When I used to shoot IPSC and on the weekends I would run my 1911, if I wanted to speed up my presentation or I didn’t want any possibility of the safety causing a failure to engage, I just left it off.”

      This single line makes two critical points: Even when considering an experienced shooter like DG, it was faster to engage without using the safety, and “…any possibility of the safety causing a failure to engage…” is another way of saying a shooter might either forget to disengage the safety, or miss disengaging it during a high-speed draw-and-fire stage. Despite his skill and experience, he was worried about a safety slowing him down, or interfering with his ability to engage that first target, no matter how briefly.

      If an experienced shooter like DG is concerned about either or both of these possibilities, what chance do mere mortals like the rest of us have in getting it right? Especially during the stress of an actual defensive shooting, which probably exceeds the pressure of most pistol competitions…

      • Let us please understand the situation there: In IPSC in those days, I would have a holster, attached to my belt, which dropped from my belt, that allows me to “sweep” the pistol out of the holster. It was most decidedly not the type of holster I would use to carry a gun outside of a IPSC shooting competition.

        Further, I was shooting against the clock – for those who haven’t shot IPSC, you’re score is determined by a) your power category, which would determine b) your points per hit zones (A through D, A being the highest # of points), with more points awarded for shooting a “major” power factor pistol (.45 ACP, .40 S&W or a .38 Super, 9×21, 9×23 loaded pretty hot), c) divided by time. When you divide by time, even small decreases in your time would result in improvements in your overall score.

        IPSC is a game – arguably the first of the “running, jumping, shooting, squeaking” games. I’d never be using the holster I used for IPSC on the street, I wouldn’t be using a compensated pistol on the street, I wouldn’t be using a red dot or holographic sight on a carry gun, and I probably wouldn’t be using the types of loads I used for IPSC (semi-wad cutter 185 grain pills pushed to high velocities with enough powder to really “light up” the comp) for carry. Heck, the last race gun I ran was a EAA Gold Team Witness in 9×21 – it holds 19+ (as I remember) rounds in the full-length double-stack magazine and has a four-port comp and a 6″ barrel. I would run the gun maybe without the manual safety on, so that I didn’t lose even a fraction of a second in the stage time to flip it off. In the end, leaving the safety off probably netted me almost no time gain, but I thought it might. The point is, IPSC is a game, and the gear, holsters, sights, techniques – are all about optimizing your score.

        I wouldn’t carry or use any of those IPSC-optimizing things on the street. Nowadays, I’m using a 1911 for carry much of the time, and I run it with the manual safety on. I’ve also carried Glocks in 9 and .45. (Model 19 and 36, respectively)

        Matter of fact, I can’t even remember the last time I had that 9×21 EAA out on the range. I think it was 2009.

        • Sorry, DG, I don’t think you can reasonably talk your way out of this one.

          You don’t mention the HUGE shelf-sized extended safety levers that I know were also in-vogue in IPSC during this time frame. And your concern about being as fast as possible in a competition surely isn’t more urgent than a person wanting to be the first to get shots on target in a life-defending situation.

          Despite your experience and high level of skill, you were still at least slightly concerned with a safety slowing you down, or getting missed completely during a stressful high-speed presentation. Same as many defensive-oriented shooters, and rightfully so, as they (probably) don’t have your experience, and definitely aren’t using your bare-bones open-front competition holster or any huge extended safety levers when carrying.

  28. Quote Hoober: “And let’s even let snubbie fans relax in the retirement home enjoy their J frames, LCRs and Model 85s.”

    The companies that pay this person for snide and insulting commentary would be better served by firing him immediately. The products that he hawks may be good, or bad, but I, for one, will never contribute to Hoober’s maintenance. 🙁

    • Yes, that annoyed me as well, but I figured my rant was already long enough.

      #1 issue why I recommend revolvers to some people: their muscle tone has deteriorated to a point where they cannot [safely] rack a semi-auto, period, end of discussion. Older women, most especially, have this problem. A used, serviceable police-turn-in Model 10 or similar older S&W wheelgun in .38 Special, loaded with modern ammo, is what gives them their armed self-defense. They can still be had under $400, which is cheaper than a new Glock. These people won’t be down at the range, training with some ex-SEAL, and doing tactical scans left & right when they’re done “engaging the target.” They want a gun with a simple manual of arms, they need it to have lower recoil, and it needs to be operated, from loading to firing to unloading, by people with little grip strength and upper body strength.

      I grow weary of these poseurs and Tacti-kewl Timmy’s who claim that there’s only a couple of semi-autos and calibers that anyone should ever consider – and if you consider anything else, you’re just a witless moron.

        • Yes, that’s one of the arguments for a revolver – the .357 has excellent penetration. But many .38+P rounds have very acceptable penetration as well. You don’t “need” a .357 for a bedside gun – it’s nice, but not necessary.

      • I think it’s lost of a good many shooters these days that learning the manual of arms, the eccentricities, and the tactics behind employment of various and even obsolete weapons is a whole lot of fun, and adds depth of understanding to the use of more common or modern designs.

        The refrain is usually something about how this confuses the skills needed in a fight…to which I say what fight? DGUs are uncommon, those that become fights even more so, and haven’t I already trained well beyond the skills needed in a DGU and well beyond my conceivable opponents?

        I think that subconsciously some shooters are really training to take on other serious shooters, not the ttpes of people who actually jack cars, rob stores a d mig people in the street.

        A few years ago a newish instructor asked me a couple of questions that made me suspect what lay behind them. I had just done a bit of exbibition shooting and even impressed myself that day. His real question was ‘what happens if a guy at my skill level and one at yours decide to gunfight here inside the room?’ My answer was that we would most likely be found there together, bled out. He may have a way to go in his combat pistol skills, but already was more than good enough to hit, and hit fast and often. Did he think that in the moment of truth another 20 years behind the gun would allow me to do some kind of Jedi stuff that would negate his ability to shoot me over and over again? Have I been training wrong all this time?

        The point is that killing people with guns isn’t very hard, and it doesn’t take a great gun or shooter, just a mediocre gun and a basically competent shooter will do. I feel like this fact isn’t something those of us who select and train and select and train like to think about much; that after a point most reach early on, we really aren’t getting much better from a DGU perspective, and 20 more years of firearm advancements and training aren’t likely to up our survivability anymore than the first year did.

        • Once again, Amen.

          If your only reason for owning a firearm is “Red Dawn” or “Hans Gruber” you’re in for a long, unfulfilled fantasy life.

        • While I may not be happy with my performance on the range, as long as I’m within “minute of bad guy,” I’m satisfied.

      • This is the main reason I started carrying a wheel gun, I have some arthritis in my hands, am a very senior citizen, and find it difficult to rack the slide on many simi auto’s. Although I can rack the slide om my 92FS without difficulty. This is because there is something to grab on to at the rear of the slide, and I don’t have to squeeze the living shit out of it to get it to move.

  29. I have to transfer a firearm from a holster on my body to a bag, drawer, and glove box on average a couple of times a day. It is not always feasible to take the inside wasteband holster with it, so I appreciate the benefit of a manual safety. Every handgun I carry has it, and several handguns I don’t carry on my person don’t have them (for example the nightstand gun in a rapidsafe).

    This means I train that if I am drawing from concealment I train to swipe the safety off and it takes no time.

    All of my rifles have safeties and I don’t have a problem with them either. If I happen to swipe my thumb down the side of one of my Glocks by accident, nothing bad will happen.

    I think there is a much greater danger of someone forgetting sight alignment, trigger control, and knowing what is beyond your target in a high stress situation, versus sweeping off the safety. And if you say you train in all those things to make them muscle memory, then you can’t use that same argument to go against the safety.

  30. You have to get the safety lever to be just the right size, shape, and resistance to be safe, reliable and comfortable (Don’t forget that the safety lever is pointed in towards your body when the gun is holstered).

    I’d rather deal with a heavier trigger pull on a striker-fired or double-action-only gun rather than spend a whole lot of time and money trying to find the perfect fit with a better trigger pull and a manual safety.

  31. A lot of people who own guns with safeties think that having a safety is a substitute for training. As far as shooting yourself with a gun that has a safety, Didn’t ole Tex (I just effin shot myself)Grebner shoot himself using a 1911? Yeah that manual safety and grip safety didn’t HELP.

  32. You may call me crazy, but I think you should stay away from offending ~50% of the gun owning readers and ~50% of the truck owning readers before they even scroll down to see the rest of the stuff you typed that’s not very ground-breaking. YMMV

  33. This is why I carry a 1911 in level 0. It’s still got a grip safety right? The first pistol I carried was an M9. Still like the sa/da. Never use the safety….

  34. tired PotG clichés I could live the rest of my life without reading again:
    “keep your booger hook off the bang switch”
    “just the sound of racking the shotgun will scare them off”
    “what part of shall not be infringed don’t you understand”
    “if you shoot them outside just drag them back into the house”

    so very tiresome.

      • “What part of “shall not be infringed” don’t you understand?”

        Oh, yeah. We hear lots of shouting about that, “Congress shall make no law..” phrase of the first amendment. That one is an absolute, also. Just not as important, right?

      • I get tired of hearing it because, with many, it is the beginning and end of the conversation. It’s like going to a theology debate between a bunch of Christians and only shouting “Jesus is the Lord” repeatedly.

        When someone does it, and it is their entire point, it’s like “thanks for adding nothing to the conversation” or “see you in prison for all the felony charges we will be convicted on.”

  35. Just to correct the info about Bathurst (and it wasn’t specified in the article you posted) but the alcohol restrictions are the DAILY limit for people coming onto the mountain for the race which in full are:
    One carton of full strength beer or full strength premixed drinks in cans only (24 can); OR
    One carton of mid strength beer (30 cans); OR
    One cask of wine (up to four litres); OR
    One bottle of spirits (750ml – plastic bottle only).
    So multiply by 4 to get the max total booze limit for each race goer. Consuming 96 beers in 4 days, or 16 litres of goon, is (since the limits were brought in a number of years ago) been unofficially known as the Bathurst Challenge down here in Australia and it is relatively easy to achieve if you start at breakfast and work at it consistently througout the day.

    Having completed a few of these myself I can tell you it is all about hydration and ensuring that every 3rd-4th drink is water to ensure you don’t dehydrate and start feeling like crap on day 2 or 3.

  36. Says arguments about manual safety vs. not are pointless.

    Spends the next seven paragraphs making arguments in favor of manual safeties.

    I see.

    • Maybe the writer should have stopped at saying, “My thingy is better than your thingy should not be a thingy. Just stop, already.” And let it go at that.

  37. “it’s mostly GLOCK and other plastic fantastic owners and revolver carriers who say the manual safety is pointless/unsafe/potentially dangerous.”

    Chicken or the egg?

    “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.”

    Haven’t seen any reliable research proving Glocks are proportionately more likely to be involved in an ND. And there is no research to prove a manual safety eliminates the chance of an ND.

    “Each side argues that what they like is better than what someone else prefers. And it’s pointless.”

    And yet, here we go again.

  38. I am fairly anti safety but I would gladly take one over a needlessly long trigger pull on a semi-auto pistol that is supposed to “act as the safety”. And can we all not agree that magazine disconnector “safeties”, or whatever you want to call them, are the work of the devil?

    On a separate but related note this whole article in my mind is an advert for an automatic holster for those that open carry. The only big problem I see with those, at least on paper, is you lose the +1 capacity.

  39. Beretta 92 / 96 cause plastic pistols are the problem, and you need a hammer.

    A slide mounted safety where the center of the firing pin is rotated out of alignment is (also) what you need.

    The ARMY went with the Sig Sauer 320, but they’ll be back. By then Beretta will have produced a Gen 4.

  40. A gun only needs one safety: your finger. If it is not on the trigger, the gun won’t shoot. It’s really that simple.
    If you have a solid holster with good retention and a trigger guard that won’t collapse there is no way how it would be engaged inside the holster. So issues can only occur during the draw. And it’s a little more logical and easy to just not pull the trigger during draw than to let loose with the only finger on the left side of the pistol grip to fumple on a piece of hardware that you wouldn’t need if you wouldn’t fumble but just gripped the gun safely and without a finger on the trigger.

    • Years ago while hunting pheasant in Southwest Kansas, we got out of the vehicle early one nice and crisp 10 degree morning and loaded our shotguns. My dad had just put 4 rounds into his Auto-5 and pushed the button to let the bolt go forward and load the first shell into the chamber. The safety was on and the barrel was pointing down and away from anyone else. It went bang as the bolt closed. No finger was on the trigger. It was a simple mechanical failure. That was in 1978 or 1979 if memory serves me correctly. That was the first mechanical failure I have witnessed, but not the last. It was not operator error and it was not predictable. If it is mechanical, it could have an error some time. I use safeties, I like safeties, but I don’t believe that safeties cannot fail. No mechanical device is failure free forever, nor are humans failure free. Accidents and failures will someday happen to everyone if they shoot enough. Practice and more practice with good muzzle and finger discipline are important in order to minimize the risks inherent with potential mechanical or organic failure.

    • A fine choice.

      “Let’s make it as difficult as possible to shoot the pistol, both accidentally AND when we need to defend our life.”

      “Furthermore, let’s use two different trigger pull weights and distances, and make the shooter switch back and forth between them, depending on the shot number and/or whether or not the pistol has been recently de-cocked.”

      “Finally, we should have the de-cocking mechanism also serve as a safety, but only on SOME designs, and not others.”

      Yes, a fine choice. Good luck with that.

      • I get your point but don’t totally agree. The advantages of the DA/SA outweigh most of what you said. However, folks should carry what they are comfortable with.

        • Training and long-term exposure can make people comfortable (or at least, more comfortable) with dang near anything. You might want to look into that; there’s really no rational reason for a competent person to limit their effectiveness by carrying a traditional DA/SA pistol in this era.

          And as you age, your ability to manage that heavy first-shot pull is going to seriously degrade. Better to embrace a more easily usable system now and form some good solid habits with it, than wait until you are forced into changing at a much later date, when you are less adaptable.

  41. I know someone who pulled a gun out during an argument with a spouse. They said it was OK because they thought the REVOLVER had a safety….

    The only “safety” that really counts is the grey stuff between your ears. I carry a J-frame in the summer, Beretta 92 in the winter. From what I read, it seems re-holstering is the most dangerous time for an accidental discharge, not including some idiot showing off his dad’s gun and putting his finger on the trigger….

    I still love my J-frame for carry. It conceals nicely and has plenty of power in a close-up confrontation which is my most likely scenario here in Detroit.

  42. A whole lot of hullabaloo about nothing. If you prefer a weapon with a safety by all means use one. Been shooting for 50 years. Every gun I own has one. If you don’t like them then don’t use them. Why waste your time arguing over which is right or better. Spend Your Time Practicing. Practice will save your life. Safety or Not.

  43. I use an HK 45, it has an external safety. When I holster the gun for carry I disengage the safety. When I take the pistol out to put it back into storage I engage the safety before unholstering it. Simple it works added layer of protection

  44. The true answer to this is training. I started off carrying (and owning) nothing but 1911s. I became so used to the draw and thumb swipe motion that when I landed a Law Enforcement job I caught myself thumb swiping the non existent safety on the left side of my County issued Glock 22 as I came out of the holster. I don’t carry a 1911 anymore and I haven’t in a long time, I now carry a CZ75 SP01 off duty. It has a safety but I carry it at half cock and that has become my new muscle memory.
    The only time talking gear is relevant to this isssue is when recommending a defensive firearm to someone that you know for a fact no matter how much you emphasize it they are not going to get to the range and train on a regular basis. In that case I normally point these people (family and friends mostly) in the direction of the striker fired guns and text them a copy of the 5 rules with number 3 (finger straight and off the trigger) in bold. I helped my aunt pick a M&P9c, and my mother a Glock 19, both of whom are very satisfied (if not practicing enough) with their defensive handguns. My father didn’t listen to my advice (because he’s what I call an askhole) and bought a Kimber that I have watched him forget to disengage the safety on. He practices more than my mother though so there is hope for him.

  45. The Army wanted a thumb safety on the 1911. And Lo the Thumb Safety was added by St John M Browning.

    Personally, I think a manual safety is a requirement in a SA, less of a requirement -depending on trigger pull- on a DA/SA and not that big of a deal on a revolver. YMMV

  46. I don’t know the details about the supposed test between draw and shoot times, but at 1/100th of a second, there is no doubt in my mind that it is simply experimental error and has absolutely nothing to do with the manual safety.

    This is also based entirely on the real purpose of the safety. The manual safety serves as an extra precautionary measure to prevent ACCIDENTAL discharges when handling the firearm outside of active use (though is not necessary with proper handling). Another words, if the gun is drawn with the purpose of firing, either in self defense, target shooting etc. the safety is off by the time it has cleared leather. The safety does not serve the purpose of preventing NEGLIGENT discharges when acquiring a target, aiming etc, which falls strictly the user’s trigger discipline.

    The manual safety also provides NECESSARY protection on long guns, (and potentially drawn handguns) in situations were the firearm is not actively being fired and where movement such as tripping and falling could cause loss of control, or foreign debris to impact the trigger and cause discharge.

    As mentioned a safety can protect from use against the owner by theft due to the assailants ignorance or impairment but should strictly not be relied upon.This can be assisted by other levels of retention in the holster and are more relevant to LE personal who have a much greater risk of this type of scenario.

  47. The best advice I got and give now is try as many types of pistols that you can and decide on a platformed that is most comfortable for you. You can always change your mind later. I started with wheel guns because they were the simplest for me to operate safely and are adequate for most self defense situations. I moved on to Springfield xd’s…. the two passive safeties work well for me.

  48. To me, it’s all about personal preference and what you believe works best for you in your individual situation.

    As for me, I prefer no manual frame or slide-mounted safety because I want the ability to start firing one-handed, if I choose, as soon as I rotate towards the target after clearing leather without disrupting my shooting grip to use my thumb to take the safety off, and without having to reach over with my support hand to the location of the rotated firearm to take the safety off with the support hand.

    I’m safe because I keep my finger off the trigger until I’m on target and ready to fire.

  49. I quit reading at “it’s mostly GLOCK and other plastic fantastic owners.” Really, if you can’t write a professional article without injecting snide comments, don’t expect to be taken seriously.

  50. Considering the unlikelihood of being involved in a situation that requires drawing one’s pistol in self-defense (let alone pulling the trigger), it could be argued that arguing about this topic amongst ourselves is irrational.

    That said, training yourself in the efficacious use of whatever firearm you choose to carry is wise (and fun), if not strictly rational–rational in the academic, Economics use of the word, that is.

    So I guess it follows that arguing about this topic amongst ourselves is fun too…it must be for all the passion folks seem to have over something so seemingly innocuous…

  51. I can’t believe over 170 people commented on this. Send your thoughts to the gun manufacturers, otherwise it’s all moot.

  52. Now watch everyone foam at the mouth. LOL

    I’ve been shooting since age five. I’m going on sixty-eight.

    I’ve also carried since my late twenties. Just don’t ask ’cause I’ll ignore it, not by choice but because of necessity.

    I’ve also had a lot of tactical and other related training at camps throughout the decades and prior to that in the military during Nam as well.

    And now to my point, or rather the anger that will now be spewed at me.

    I don’t always carry the same firearm for EDC. The routine dictates that for me. Not all my arms have safeties. All were purchased based on what was in stock at the time. (not all, but more or less)

    As such, because of training, tapering off training, old age, things changing, body changing, I no longer carry one in the pipe. I’m old, but skilled enough to rack as I’m un-holstering.

    Is it as fast as one in the pipe, cocked and loaded, cocked and locked, unlocked and whatever my old brain is missing? The default answer is no.

    Will it be fast enough in a deadly altercation? Maybe. Maybe not.

    I only know that I personally feel safer that way rather than no weapon at all or carrying one in a state that I personally dislike, whether it be mentally discomforting or, as many will no doubt say, just plain inept and not worthy of carrying for lack of self-confidence. Again, because of my skill levels and time with armaments, my abilities are not at issue here, nor are my mental capabilities.

    Time changes things and time changes us all. When I was in my teens and twenties, I was immortal and had no sense of mortality. But because life is so fast and fleeting, I find myself going to bed at age 16 and then suddenly swinging my legs outta’ bed every morning staring at this old stranger in the mirror. It goes that fast.

    So my point is, because I.m not physically the same man I was decades ago, does it make me wrong to adjust myself (and I’m not talking about my junk package for the smart bucks) with things as I go on?

    The same question could similarly be applied to this blog engagement. Just think about it for a bit.

    I’ll sit back to look at the fireworks, smarmy remarks and accusations fly by with some maybe even foaming at the mouth and blaspheming me. lol


  53. If its not a da/sa with a heavy first pull i got to have a safety. You can work your finger discipline until ya get a cramp but you just cant train a stray piece if clothing or drawstring from somehow getting near enough to the holster that it gets in the trigger. Heck ya cant even put a finger on the hammer when re holstering a striker fired gun. So all you know is bang then blood. Most of us will fire our guns 10s of thousands of times at targets but if we are smart we never have to fire at anything more deadly that a rabid raccoon. So why risk you hide on guns that if not handled perfectly will bite ya. And heres the kicker ive seen striker fired guns with a trigger safety and a lever. Quick tip you don’t have to use the lever if ya dont want to. No safetys isnt to uncomplicate things, its so a gun can be made cheaper. If you made it this far thank you. I yend ti ramble

  54. Wether manual safety or not, don’t mix training and EDC with both types of pistols. Your muscle memory will get confused, guaranteed. Pick one type to EDC and train with and stick to it.

  55. The reason I like a manual safety is what if something were to happen (things happen) and somehow my gun ends up out of my control somebody comes along, not knowing anything about firearms, and picks it up the wrong way BAM! I know people are going to say be more careful blah blah but things happen to the best of us. If you train to disengage during draw its second nature. I prefer to have that little extra safety. I hadn’t even thought about the scenario if someone gets the gun from your holster but that’s another great point. Now with most guns you arent even given the option anymore.


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