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Manual Safety or Not: Too Dangerous To Carry?

Fair enough. Obviously I get emotional on the topic. Its just that I have seen so much tom foolery with safeties on the gun range that I have a very very strong opinion on the subject. I HATE safeties on personal defense pistols. HATE. Like actually HATE them. And I try to get that point across to anyone that will listen.
 

Annihilator

SAINT
Founding Member
While I wasn’t a sheriff deputy when I worked at my sheriff dept, I had many chances of getting training with them, which I did, became there Glock armorer and did training with the special operations branch……basically our swat team, also had training from outside of the department, I have never heard anyone saying a manual safety will get you killed, don’t know where you came up with this ideal.
 

Bassbob

Ronin
While I wasn’t a sheriff deputy when I worked at my sheriff dept, I had many chances of getting training with them, which I did, became there Glock armorer and did training with the special operations branch……basically our swat team, also had training from outside of the department, I have never heard anyone saying a manual safety will get you killed, don’t know where you came up with this ideal.
Well, there is certainly the school of thought that in a high stress, life or death situation fooling around trying to get your safety off isn't ideal. It is something that people who utilize external safeties need to train for until it becomes muscle memory ( which we all know and have discussed here many times). When the adrenaline dump comes everything you know flies out the window and the only thing left you can rely on is your training. I think this is what bubbatime was trying to say, he just could have went about it much more tactfully.
 

Annihilator

SAINT
Founding Member
Well, there is certainly the school of thought that in a high stress, life or death situation fooling around trying to get your safety off isn't ideal. It is something that people who utilize external safeties need to train for until it becomes muscle memory ( which we all know and have discussed here many times). When the adrenaline dump comes everything you know flies out the window and the only thing left you can rely on is your training. I think this is what bubbatime was trying to say, he just could have went about it much more tactfully.
Agree, presentation is the key.
 

Bassbob

Ronin
On a related note, some of you may realize that I have a little bit of a shotgun fetish. I spend way more time training and on the range with shotguns than is practical. That time should probably be spent training more for likely situations with a handgun. Nevertheless, I like it and I do it. When I am running shotguns I utilize the external safeties. It is built in muscle memory. Not between combat or emergency reloads or anything, but on the range when I am stopping for whatever reason my finger instinctively heads for the safety. And as I am shouldering the gun my finger instinctively heads for the safety. Years and years bird hunting with my dad I guess.
 
On a related note, some of you may realize that I have a little bit of a shotgun fetish. I spend way more time training and on the range with shotguns than is practical. That time should probably be spent training more for likely situations with a handgun. Nevertheless, I like it and I do it. When I am running shotguns I utilize the external safeties. It is built in muscle memory. Not between combat or emergency reloads or anything, but on the range when I am stopping for whatever reason my finger instinctively heads for the safety. And as I am shouldering the gun my finger instinctively heads for the safety. Years and years bird hunting with my dad I guess.

Funny, that.

I wonder if our new expert eschews the safety on his long guns as well…
 

Bassbob

Ronin
Funny, that.

I wonder if our new expert eschews the safety on his long guns as well…
I think safeties on long guns are a different situation due to the lack of a holster that covers the trigger guard. I couldn't imagine for instance carrying an AR with no safety. And it does stand to reason that if one can train their muscles to instinctively click the safety off on those ???????
 

ECS686

Operator
Disagree.

I would say it is mostly about the training. If it was ALL about the training, then all the smart people would carry revolvers. They don't because training is important, but the equipment matters, too. And if you take 1000 people and give them good training with a 1911, and 1000 different people and give them good training with a Glock, then put them all through a bunch of high-stress self-defense scenarios, I would bet you real money that the 1911 group would have more instances of not firing a round when they intended to versus the Glock group. Because, every now and then, very occasionally, even a well-trained operator with a 1911 will fail to get that thumb safety clicked off or fail to get the right grip. Which was one of Mike Glover's points in his podcast.

Respectfully Theres good and bad examples on both sides. A lot of the shooters that can’t make a manual safety gun work is only maybe mediocre better with a Striker.

My experience (not saying I don’t see things that change my mind or still learn things) but in 36 years of teaching agency staff (and I taught some Agency Instructors at FLETC time to time) as well as shooting as well as running IDPA, USPSA and PPC matches. There’s a couple three factors.

1 not all manual safeties are equal. Some are way to small or just go on or off way to easily. 2 Everyone handles stress different. I have seen some solid folks become an un coordinated schmuck and the one you had reservations about step up like a champ.

3 the persons ACTUAL level of proficiency. In LE there was a 10% 80% 10% breakdown. Top 10 always wanting improvement trains on own time and dime. Middle 80 meet minimum agency standards by maybe 10 points and quips “good enough til next year” and the bottom 10 why agencies dumb stuff down.

I work a range and instruct in my retired years and civilian shooters seem to have a similar breakdown.

I have seen a lot of times the ones adamantly wanting a safety sort of need it because they will never practice enough to be proficient.

And a lot of times those Striker shooters criticizing every 1911 shooter can’t run their striker well enough to really be criticizing anyone.
 
Fair enough. Obviously I get emotional on the topic. Its just that I have seen so much tom foolery with safeties on the gun range that I have a very very strong opinion on the subject. I HATE safeties on personal defense pistols. HATE. Like actually HATE them. And I try to get that point across to anyone that will listen.
Honestly I pity your students since you are so opinionated. Find another job like maybe bagging groceries at a supermarket.
 

HayesGreener

Professional
Agreed with ECS686 on all points. ECS686 and I have similar experiences conducting training on the range with all types of firearms. If the platform is safe, you can work with it. It is all about the training and neuromuscular learning. Failure to train adequately results in many kinds of failures under stress, safeties being pretty minor in the overall scheme of things. The topic comes up at IALEFFI at every conference and there is a lot of science behind it.

You learn to ignore the loudmouths until you see them shoot. A lot of it is just talk from people who don't know what they don't know. I enjoy seeing the reactions of the young warriors to the superior marksmanship and gun handling of the old retired guy with a 50 year old service pistol. The proof is on the target at the end of the day. We should all be trying to improve ourselves and those around us.

We can all learn something here on this forum. Good natured teasing is one thing, but name calling and starting a pi$$ing match because you think you have the only right answer is counterproductive and nobody learns anything. Just the view from my saddle.
 

Sld1959

Professional
1) Safeties can get you killed
2) Safeties are failure points. You can accidentally activate a safety, when you don't want it. Or forget to turn it off, when you don't want it on.
3)There is video evidence, multiple cases, on the YouTubes, proving point 1 and 2 above
4) I would never carry a gun with a safety. I've carried guns for 20+ years. Newsflash! They are completely safe fully chambered, ready to go, in a proper holster. They will never go off. Train properly, and you'll find that safeties are failure points. I don't want failure points on my guns. I want the trigger to get pressed, and a bang to happen. Simple. No failure points.
5) Carrying Israeli method sucks too. If this is your method, again, get more training.
6) If you are uncomfortable carrying a fully loaded, chambered, plastic fantastic pistol like an XD, Glock, P365, etc, then you haven't trained enough.

You can have differing opinions on the topic. I too, have opinions on the topic. Mine is based on my world view, experiences, and level of training. You have differing opinions, and that's fine. Your opinions are based on what you know.

The 1911 (and other guns) has a safety. And some guys like to carry them. That's fine. The gun isn't for me. I've tried them and put $50,000 worth of ammo down range in them. I can operate them reasonably well and usually without issue. BUT. On a range, with paper targets, I do on occasion forget the safety. Id be terrified to forget the safety in a real world event when I only have micro seconds to respond. And its not just me. I spent 2-3 days a week on a gun range for years doing firearms training and I SAW with my own eyes, guys forget to flip that safety lever, 10, 20 times a day. When you spend that much time on a gun range watching folks, you begin to pick up patterns and observations.

I would never recommend a pistol with a safety, for self defense, for any of my students.

You may have a differing opinion, and that's fine.

The military requiring a safety on its 1911, Beretta 92FS, and now Sig P320, actually kind of proves my argument. The pistol , in the military, is a secondary weapon and training is severely lacking across all services. They have always required a safety for lowest common denominator level of training that they are able to provide.

The British army issues the Glock 17. The American army issues the P320 with safety. The AVERAGE British soldier is also far better trained on pistols, than their American counterpart. Why is the British army able to issue a Glock 17 without a safety, while the American top brass would be reluctant to do so? Navy Seals were (or are) issued Glock 19 pistols... and they obviously train on them (a lot). Its combat Tupperware. Its reliable. Its safe. Its holstered. It doesn't need a safety, in the hands of a trained soldier/operator.
yawn... when self proclaimed internet experts start citing you tube as thier "proof" I start checking out. Read enough here , next post...
 
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Sld1959

Professional
yawn... when self proclaimed internet experts start citing you tube as thier "proof" I start checking out. Read enough here , next post...
Which is not to say that there is no useful information on places like You tube. Simply the good nuggets are hard to discern from the utter made up crap spouted by other self proclaimed experts. One must be careful of such...

I did find a useful video on changing a Kias headlight bulb for my mothers car not that long ago. And seen several tasty recipes which actually worked.
 

HayesGreener

Professional
Which is not to say that there is no useful information on places like You tube. Simply the good nuggets are hard to discern from the utter made up crap spouted by other self proclaimed experts. One must be careful of such...

I did find a useful video on changing a Kias headlight bulb for my mothers car not that long ago. And seen several tasty recipes which actually worked.
Yep, you can even learn how to butcher and cook a ROOSTER on there...😉
 

Sld1959

Professional
Yep, you can even learn how to butcher and cook a ROOSTER on there...😉

And it's safe to carry no safety...

 

stuartv

Operator
I just want to give a last couple of thoughts on this. I know I'm not going to change most of your minds. But, hopefully, a few people will read this and give these things some thought based on the merits.

I am no expert. I'm not a shooting instructor. No LE or military experience. Just a regular schmoe that has been shooting a long time, shot a few pistol matches, had a little bit of formal training, and daily carried for years. If what I have to say makes sense to you, then my experience and background don't matter. If it does not make sense to you, then my experience and background don't matter.

1) A number of posts here are based on LE or military experience. That is really (seriously!) appreciated and fine, as far as it goes. But, at least in my mind, this question being discussed is one for people who are not LE or military. LE and military have their training and protocols and this forum thread is irrelevant to them. It's for the rest of us.

2) What LE and military do is not necessarily the same as what is best for regular schmoes. There are several reasons for that. One, their job is to go into bad situations. For the rest of us, that is not the case. Two, they have a raft of concerns about liability that the rest of us don't. I think that is true for professionals vs non-professionals in every industry. I teach scuba diving. As a scuba professional, the things I do and my concerns about liability are just not the same as a non-pro.

So, just as one example, because some LE agency somewhere decides that all duty guns need to have a manual safety that does NOT necessarily mean that it is a Best Practice for regular schmoes to have a manual safety. Similarly, if an agency says NO duty guns can have manual safeties, it does not mean that is a Best Practice for regular schmoes, either. The point is not which is best. The point is that what a LE agency does is NOT necessarily the example of Best Practice for a regular schmoe, regardless of what they do. They have different criteria than the rest of us have.

I'll go out on a limb and say that there is NO Law Enforcement agency in the U.S. where the training and tactics that they use have not been reviewed and approved by the agency's General Counsel, who has made sure the agency is protected against liability to the maximum extent possible. So, no LE trainer can say with full honesty that their agency's training absolutely teaches what is THE BEST possible practice. Anything they teach COULD be different in some way from what would be best, in order to protect the agency's liability. I'm sure someone will want to argue this, but until someone says "our GC said we can't have this in our training, but we do it anyway", I will be skeptical.

Regardless, the only point here is what I started with: What LE and military do is not NECESSARILY Best Practice for us schmoes.

3) Using LE and military training and tactics as models for regular schmoes also implies a presumption that I think is faulty. See point #1. They usually know well in advance when they are going into a potentially bad situation. That is their job. Us regular schmoes don't have the same operating parameters. We will almost never know when something bad is about to happen. If you are not military or LE and you know that you need to "be ready" you should have already been turning around and going the other way. LE has a job to go into the "bad parts of town." I don't have that job, so I don't do that. Posts have talked about "avoiding the situation in the first place" and I think that is key. If your spidey sense tingles, you exit before the situation develops. And THAT means that, if you ever do need to draw your weapon, it is VASTLY more likely to be the result of a surprise, versus what happens to LE or military.

4) The notion that if you train well enough and in sufficient amounts, you can "train out" the concern about manual safeties is one that is rendered completely obsolete (and wrong) by the modern study of Human Factors. Thanks to modern science, we know for a fact that humans are *gasp* going to make mistakes. And the more steps you have in a process, the more likely it is that the process will not be successful. I think it is simply indisputable that, with all other factors being equal, a process of draw, achieve correct grip, sweep off thumb safety, aim, press trigger, WILL have more failures than a process of draw, aim, press trigger. ESPECIALLY when the circumstances are that the shooter is suddenly, by virtue of surprise, in fear of imminent danger from a threat in very close proximity. And that is true no matter how well and much you train. Your training will improve performance, but it can never guarantee a 100% success rate.

I specifically mention very close proximity because we're not talking about LE or military. If the threat is not close, why are you going to guns instead of getting away? Yes, I know there are examples you can come up with where flight is not the correct option. I'm just making the point that MOST of the time, if you have no other choice but to go to guns, it seems very likely that the threat is going to be very close to you. Statistics for self-defense shootings (LE/military and other) all seem to support that.

5) From training I have had and reading I have done, the vast majority of self-defense shootings (for non-LE/military) are at such distances (i.e. close) that the time it takes to present the weapon and shoot is VASTLY more important that how accurate the gun is or what kind of sights it has. MOST of the time, the shooter wouldn't (or shouldn't) even take the time to achieve a sight picture. When the attacker is 5 feet away and coming at you, shooting from the hip before the attacker gets a hand on you is possible. The extra 1/2 a second (if you are GOOD) to get the gun up and get any kind of sight picture is the time where you lose the fight.

So, if you're carrying for self-defense, does it not make sense to set yourself up for the MOST LIKELY means of success? I.e. you are forced to guns, by a very close proximity threat, that has surprised you. The MOST likely process for success in that situation (as predicted by Human Factors) is to have the least number of steps in your process to defend yourself. Training hard and often will allow you to be successful with a 1911 a very high percentage of the time. But, training equally hard and often with a pistol with no safety other than a trigger dingus (but of equal quality) will allow you to be successful a slightly higher percentage of the time.

Or so it seems to me.

Note: My EDC is a 1911 and has been for about 30 years. *I* am so much more practiced with a 1911 than anything else, that I think my current choice of EDC is the most likely thing for ME to be successful with. But, that doesn't mean I can't read and understand the sense and the science of the situation. I can understand that if I put in the time to become as proficient with a Glock-STYLE pistol as I am with a 1911, I would be better off to change my EDC to that. But, I never owned a striker-fired pistol of any type until just last year. Always and only 1911/2011 guns (revolvers and 22LR stuff aside).
 

Annihilator

SAINT
Founding Member
I just want to give a last couple of thoughts on this. I know I'm not going to change most of your minds. But, hopefully, a few people will read this and give these things some thought based on the merits.

I am no expert. I'm not a shooting instructor. No LE or military experience. Just a regular schmoe that has been shooting a long time, shot a few pistol matches, had a little bit of formal training, and daily carried for years. If what I have to say makes sense to you, then my experience and background don't matter. If it does not make sense to you, then my experience and background don't matter.

1) A number of posts here are based on LE or military experience. That is really (seriously!) appreciated and fine, as far as it goes. But, at least in my mind, this question being discussed is one for people who are not LE or military. LE and military have their training and protocols and this forum thread is irrelevant to them. It's for the rest of us.

2) What LE and military do is not necessarily the same as what is best for regular schmoes. There are several reasons for that. One, their job is to go into bad situations. For the rest of us, that is not the case. Two, they have a raft of concerns about liability that the rest of us don't. I think that is true for professionals vs non-professionals in every industry. I teach scuba diving. As a scuba professional, the things I do and my concerns about liability are just not the same as a non-pro.

So, just as one example, because some LE agency somewhere decides that all duty guns need to have a manual safety that does NOT necessarily mean that it is a Best Practice for regular schmoes to have a manual safety. Similarly, if an agency says NO duty guns can have manual safeties, it does not mean that is a Best Practice for regular schmoes, either. The point is not which is best. The point is that what a LE agency does is NOT necessarily the example of Best Practice for a regular schmoe, regardless of what they do. They have different criteria than the rest of us have.

I'll go out on a limb and say that there is NO Law Enforcement agency in the U.S. where the training and tactics that they use have not been reviewed and approved by the agency's General Counsel, who has made sure the agency is protected against liability to the maximum extent possible. So, no LE trainer can say with full honesty that their agency's training absolutely teaches what is THE BEST possible practice. Anything they teach COULD be different in some way from what would be best, in order to protect the agency's liability. I'm sure someone will want to argue this, but until someone says "our GC said we can't have this in our training, but we do it anyway", I will be skeptical.

Regardless, the only point here is what I started with: What LE and military do is not NECESSARILY Best Practice for us schmoes.

3) Using LE and military training and tactics as models for regular schmoes also implies a presumption that I think is faulty. See point #1. They usually know well in advance when they are going into a potentially bad situation. That is their job. Us regular schmoes don't have the same operating parameters. We will almost never know when something bad is about to happen. If you are not military or LE and you know that you need to "be ready" you should have already been turning around and going the other way. LE has a job to go into the "bad parts of town." I don't have that job, so I don't do that. Posts have talked about "avoiding the situation in the first place" and I think that is key. If your spidey sense tingles, you exit before the situation develops. And THAT means that, if you ever do need to draw your weapon, it is VASTLY more likely to be the result of a surprise, versus what happens to LE or military.

4) The notion that if you train well enough and in sufficient amounts, you can "train out" the concern about manual safeties is one that is rendered completely obsolete (and wrong) by the modern study of Human Factors. Thanks to modern science, we know for a fact that humans are *gasp* going to make mistakes. And the more steps you have in a process, the more likely it is that the process will not be successful. I think it is simply indisputable that, with all other factors being equal, a process of draw, achieve correct grip, sweep off thumb safety, aim, press trigger, WILL have more failures than a process of draw, aim, press trigger. ESPECIALLY when the circumstances are that the shooter is suddenly, by virtue of surprise, in fear of imminent danger from a threat in very close proximity. And that is true no matter how well and much you train. Your training will improve performance, but it can never guarantee a 100% success rate.

I specifically mention very close proximity because we're not talking about LE or military. If the threat is not close, why are you going to guns instead of getting away? Yes, I know there are examples you can come up with where flight is not the correct option. I'm just making the point that MOST of the time, if you have no other choice but to go to guns, it seems very likely that the threat is going to be very close to you. Statistics for self-defense shootings (LE/military and other) all seem to support that.

5) From training I have had and reading I have done, the vast majority of self-defense shootings (for non-LE/military) are at such distances (i.e. close) that the time it takes to present the weapon and shoot is VASTLY more important that how accurate the gun is or what kind of sights it has. MOST of the time, the shooter wouldn't (or shouldn't) even take the time to achieve a sight picture. When the attacker is 5 feet away and coming at you, shooting from the hip before the attacker gets a hand on you is possible. The extra 1/2 a second (if you are GOOD) to get the gun up and get any kind of sight picture is the time where you lose the fight.

So, if you're carrying for self-defense, does it not make sense to set yourself up for the MOST LIKELY means of success? I.e. you are forced to guns, by a very close proximity threat, that has surprised you. The MOST likely process for success in that situation (as predicted by Human Factors) is to have the least number of steps in your process to defend yourself. Training hard and often will allow you to be successful with a 1911 a very high percentage of the time. But, training equally hard and often with a pistol with no safety other than a trigger dingus (but of equal quality) will allow you to be successful a slightly higher percentage of the time.

Or so it seems to me.

Note: My EDC is a 1911 and has been for about 30 years. *I* am so much more practiced with a 1911 than anything else, that I think my current choice of EDC is the most likely thing for ME to be successful with. But, that doesn't mean I can't read and understand the sense and the science of the situation. I can understand that if I put in the time to become as proficient with a Glock-STYLE pistol as I am with a 1911, I would be better off to change my EDC to that. But, I never owned a striker-fired pistol of any type until just last year. Always and only 1911/2011 guns (revolvers and 22LR stuff aside).
“I registered just to comment on this terrible fudd article. :rolleyes:(n)

Manual safeties can get you killed. I have seen numerous videos on YouTube of people getting killed in a robbery, when they forgot to switch their safety off. I have seen, daily, on the shooting range, people forgetting to switch their safeties off, and it taking 2, 3 seconds, or more, before their brain realizes what has occurred, and then they finally flick the safety off. Can people train to switch their safety off. Sure. They can. With repetitive motion, through thousands of repetitions. Or, they could just train properly on the latest plastic fantastic gun that lacks a safety.

Safeties are for untrained people.

If you are untrained, then buy a gun with a safety.”

Quote from bubbatime


This members post had nothing to do with LE, it was his own personal opinion, my post was meant to say all that I have never heard this in over 40+ years of shooting and moderate training, personally I feel comfortable with a manual safety on my pistols, but that’s me
 

stuartv

Operator
This members post had nothing to do with LE, it was his own personal opinion, my post was meant to say all that I have never heard this in over 40+ years of shooting and moderate training, personally I feel comfortable with a manual safety on my pistols, but that’s me

My post really didn't have anything to do with that guy's post.
 

Bassbob

Ronin
My post really didn't have anything to do with that guy's post.
No but making the assumption that you can’t train out the safety thing is ludicrous. It’s no different than saying you can’t train out keeping your finger off the trigger until you’re on target. You absolutely can. It helps if the safety is in the right spot. Say on a Shield. It’s the perfect spot to swipe down on the draw.

Anyway, anything, ANYTHING, can be trained out.
 

stuartv

Operator
No but making the assumption that you can’t train out the safety thing is ludicrous. It’s no different than saying you can’t train out keeping your finger off the trigger until you’re on target. You absolutely can. It helps if the safety is in the right spot. Say on a Shield. It’s the perfect spot to swipe down on the draw.

Anyway, anything, ANYTHING, can be trained out.

Have you ever taken a class in Human Factors? Or even read anything semi-formal on the subject?

Anyway.... I will fall back on the old "appeal to authority" argument.

The top practical pistol competition shooters in the world pretty much all shoot 2011s (in the competition divisions where they are allowed). Maybe not ALL, but pretty much all. And they pretty much all have the grip safety pinned. Do you think you train as much as they do? Do you think normal schmoes who carry concealed for self-defense are going to train as much (and as well) as they do?

And why do those guys have their grip safeties pinned? If you can actually train it out 100%, then why would any of them EVER need to have their grip safety pinned?

The idea that you can train something - ANYTHING - out to the point of literal 100% reliability, in a high-stress situation, where you may even be using one hand to fend off an attacker is what is ludicrous here. Basically, what you are claiming is that you can train well and then NEVER make a mistake. Ludicrous.
 
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