There is no place for a manual safety on a modern defensive handgun. There, I said it. And I make this statement not as an expert pistoleer or gunfighter (although in my head I am both). I base this opinion solidly on common sense alone.
Ok, before you start throwing rotten fruit, let’s backup. I am not telling you what gun you should or should not carry. I’m not telling you what condition to carry your gun in – whether it is Condition 0 or Condition 5 Alpha Zulu (my personal favorite: it involves holding a round between your index and middle fingers so you have an spare handy in case you run dry).
What I am saying is that between a gun with a safety and a gun without, all other things being equal, the shooter who doesn’t have to disengage that manual lever will always be faster (and more accurate).
Seriously, manual safeties were meant for handguns that have the potential to shoot a hole in your femoral artery with nary a sideways look. They are a holdover from the days of keeping one chamber empty in a single action revolver. A time where you worried that if you dropped your gun it might actually discharge a round. Does anyone actually still worry that their gun will go off if they drop it?
Manual safeties are artifacts from a time where holsters were made of leather and had a flap and a button. Flaps and buttons I say!
Manual safeties on defensive pistols should be put out to pasture or at a minimum relegated to dramatic pauses in Hollywood movies where the hero (or villain) loudly flicks his thumb as if to announce: “Yes, I am going to shoot you now”. Oh, by the way, now that I have your attention Hollywood, I hope to never hear the cocking sound of a striker-fired pistol again – I’m looking at you, Will Smith.
But John Moses Browning would be rolling over in his grave!
Or would he? Clearly Browning was a genius mechanical engineer and inventor, but what would he have said about the Glock 19? If he could have designed the Hipower or 1911 without a thumb safety, don’t you think he would have? Do you think after he pulled that polymer Austrian trigger he would have turned to the Glock designers and said, “Hey, this gun is great, but do you know what it needs? A thumb safety. You know, to slow this whole defensive shooting process down a bit.”
Yes, I get the fact that Glocks have “manual” or “external” safeties too. But you all know exactly what I mean: That little extra lever that stands in between your thumb and certain death. I also know that there are big differences in the way the actions of a manual safety gun and a non-manual safety gun operate. What I’m saying is that handguns with external safeties have a place – like in a museum or at a parade.
Get on target and pull the trigger. No thumb safety. No decock lever. No loaded chamber indicator. No magazine disconnect. Pick a quality holster and skin that smoke wagon.
You want irony? Given the opportunity, I’d carry a 1911 on duty in a heartbeat. Because that gun is just freaking awesome.
The safety is dead. Long live the safety.