DSEi 09: Glock 17 with Thumb Safety

This Glock 17 pistol, with thumb safety, was designed by Glock for use by the British Army. It was on display at DSEi ’09.

Safety in the on position (the safety is the button above the magazine release)

This is not the first Glock designed with a manual safety. Glock has previously designed a Glock 17 for the Tasmanian Police force that featured a standard 1911-style thumb safety.

This safety works differently. In order to engage the safety, it is pushed through the frame with the thumb, much like the magazine release. Disengaging the safety is done with the trigger finger.

At first I thought what a ridiculous mechanism this was until it was explained to me that the SA-80, the British Army service rifle, has a very similar safety which is manipulated in the same way. Glock designed this safety so that it would be familiar to British troops. Very clever!

The SA-80

One problem I do see is an operator going for the magazine release and accidentally engaging the safety. At best it would make the magazine change take longer, at worst the operator could forget to disengage the safety and pull the trigger at a bad guy only to find nothing happens.

I do not know if the British Army are considering replacing their current service pistols or if Glock is just making sure they have a model ready if they do in the future.

Big thank you to Lusaka for the information and photos.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • Mike

    Even if it matches their rifles i’m not seeing how a manual safety is better than glock’s version built into the trigger.

  • DaveP.

    This reminds me of those “stab-proof knives” from England: a design fix for a nonexistant problem.

    Don’t want your Glock going off? Keep yer finger out of the trigger guard. Simple as that- and, Glock Derangement Syndrome sufferers, just like with a revolver.

  • SpudGun

    To be honest, the position of the safety and the magazine release will not be a problem for British soldiers. The vast majority of men and women who join the British Armed Forces have probably never handled or fired a real gun in their lives – except for maybe the odd double barrelled shotgun.

    Therefore, once trained, they will automatically know that the top button is the safety and the next one down is the magazine release. They don’t have previously learned habits to interfere with the thought process.

  • Tony

    I recall Glock manufacturing their G17 with a thumb safety in the past, as well. I believe it was for the Norwegian military, but I can’t be 100% certain. That one looked a lot like the slide release, only further back along the frame. (Functionally similar to a 1911 thumb safety, in other words. Which would make sense since the Norwegians used to use the 1911 before hopping onto the wondernine train.) It is said that safety did not work too well. Hopefully, they’ve designed this one with a little more care.

  • Matt Groom

    This is exactly the same mistake they made with the original M1 Carbine, which had a push button safety next to and just behind the magazine release. When troops went to disengage their safeties, they would inadvertently drop the mag instead. Stress does funny things to you motor skills. They later went to the flip style safety where vertical is safe and horizontal is fire.

  • I was under the impression that the British have been purchasing SIG P226 to replace the Browning Hi-Power.

    FWIW: There are folks who argue that the designers of the SA80-series should have stayed with the thumb safety lever used on the 4.85mm prototype models.

  • Whatever

    There could be advantages to having a pistol with a safety in a non-conventional place, especially for a pistol that normally doesn’t have a safety. If someone took it from you, they would probably have to take a moment or two to figure it out.

  • Who wants to post this on GlockTalk? I tried but I don’t seem to have posting privileges … don’t know why.

  • DaveP, very well said and I couldn’t agree with you more. Safeties, despite all the engineering they put into them, are mechanical and prone to malfunction eventually. The best safety devices in the world are you trigger finger and brain.

  • jdun1911

    From what Steve posted, the safety is engaged via the push button. To disengage the safety you pull the trigger right? So I am a lost to why it is needed because it function like a normal Glock with an added layer.

    For those that is not familiar with Glock. A normal Glock does not have a manual safety. When you pull the trigger the internal safety will disengage automatically.

    I can see this will cause a lot of trouble in stressful combat fights.

    For example:
    Primary weapon: Empty or Malfunction.

    Operator decided to take the Glock out and proceed to kill the immediate threat.

    He then reloads his Glock and put it on safety and hostler it. I think at this point the chance is high that he pressed the mag release instead of the safety. This will cause the magazine to dislodge. The operator will lost a full loaded magazine to the ground. He then has to repeat the process with a new Glock magazine, wasting precious time. Or worst he won’t notice it. That could be fatal.

    The operator then reload/clear his malfunction.

    • jdun1911, I think how it works is that the trigger finger is used to push it back through the frame, in reverse.

      I am not sure what technique is needed to push it back. One a two handed grip I cannot push my fairly long trigger finger to push down on the point where the safety would be without moving the grip of my right hand.

  • ParatrooperJJ

    Looks like a standard cross bolt safety just in a wierd position.

  • Absolute Obamanation!!!

  • norwegian fellow

    the norwegian military do not have a tumb safety on their glock’s.

    they use a standard glock 17. generation 1-2 and some generation 3 are in service today.

    other pistols in use is the HK USP 9 and .45.

  • Dave

    Norwegian fellow, Glock designed a G17 with a 1911-esque thumb safety for Norway. After testing it, Norway decided to issue the standard G17 with no manual safety instead.

    • Another Norwegian fellow

      The Norwegian adoption of the Glock is directly linked to the Swedish adoption of the P80, and no other glock were present in that competition other than the p80(stock G17). As the guns being replaced were at motley collection of 9mm german surplus(mainly p38 at the end), there was not any training in the M1914 manual of arms in Norway at the time(a wich was a one handed affair anyhow, not comparable to modern usage of the 1911).
      As for the Norwegian military using H&K USP, that is a load of crap, there are no .45 in Norwegian service,the last 11,43 aut. pist. M1914 were melted down around 2009 after 50-60 years of storage, what a shame.

      But I degress, have to say I was hoping for the M&P to be added to the UK armory. But what to expect of a pistol trial where bullet proof vests are mandatory for cold weather testing???

  • Karl

    In Belgium, the federal police try to replace the HP Browning. They open a market BUT the futur pistol in service must have a “active security” and not a “passive safety”…
    Dus, the glock comes in this market with this glock manuel safety.

    During the patrols, I use a glock 17 3rd generation, no manuel safety, with a TLR1 light… and I love it!!

    Sorry for my English language…