Deputy Sheriffs, Lieutenant Colonels, and the Manual Safety: Context and Grey Matter in Pistol Development

Earlier this week, my fellow TFB writer Pete M wrote a post arguing that a manual safety has no place on the modern defensive handgun. I think he’s right for the most part, but I’d like to explore something he didn’t consider.

Pete’s point is well-made, I think, but he ignores the squishier elements that have changed since then and now, stuff of the sort ‘twixt people’s ears. Pete argues that manual safeties existed to prevent early automatic weapons from firing when dropped. Perhaps the insistence of manual safeties during the early 20th Century was less a problem of the firearms then not being drop safe, and more a matter of grey matter. We should ask: How did the military officers (especially), police (to a much more limited extent than now), and civilian shooters (almost nonexistent besides gentlemen carrying smallbores in their pockets and practicing with popguns in their parlors) think about the problem, what issues did they prioritize, and how did they train?

Indeed, far from being unsafe when dropped, the 1911 sports a grip safety which prevents just such an accident, regardless of the position of the manual safety lever. You can drop the pistol, chamber loaded, safety off, hammer cocked, on the ground all day long and it will not discharge. That is, until while handling it your finger snakes into the triggerguard and you cause an ND…

That brings us to a much more critical factor: Gun safety training back then was in its infancy. Patron Saint of Gun Safety Lt. Col. Cooper wouldn’t even be born for another decade; the invention of his Four Rules would wait for another half-century after that. A manual safety, then, essentially stood in for Rule 3.


Sort of like this.


To add even more context, LA County Deputy Sheriff and pistolero Jack Weaver (who practically invented modern combat shooting) was eight years behind Cooper to walking this earth, and even the FBI crouch wouldn’t be developed for several more decades in 1910. The shooting forms of the day when the 1911 was being developed centered around a stance more akin to modern Bullseye competition than what we’d today consider practical shooting: Slow, deliberate, and – without using the support hand – demanding of a crisp, light trigger pull for maximum accuracy. Such a trigger, even today, begs for a manual safety, or at least a double-action/single-action set up.

So maybe it was less a case of the technology not having caught up to reality as it was the doctrine and training. The infancy of safety rules and training, and prevalence of what were already by then obsolete pistol shooting techniques meant that manual safeties were really essential for pistols in the early 20th Century.

We can see a similar case of this kind of doctrinal influence in an example from military service rifles. Consider the French MAS 36 rifle, a weapon of absolutely impeccable design for its class, but one that lacks (as Glocks do), any manual safety, or indeed even windage-adjustable sights. These features weren’t absent because of any technological advancement making adjustable sights and safeties obsolete, but due to the specific French doctrine at the time. For safety reasons, it was beaten (in many cases literally) into French soldiers that rifles would be carried with no round in the chamber; ergo a manual safety was superfluous and only added cost to a weapon being used in that context. Likewise, the French held that the individual had no business adjusting his rear sight, that was something done at the armorer level, and the lack of any windage adjustment ensured a soldier wouldn’t accidentally knock his sight from zero.

Going back to pistols, I am a member of the Glock collective (assimilate or die!); I abandoned several years ago my CZ-75 – an excellent handgun that I carried cocked and locked – in favor of the safety-less fantastic plastic. For me, the “working” handgun needs no safety; in fact, I find that I tend to be more respectful of (and therefore safer with) guns that have no “safety net” than those that do.

But it’s all a matter of context.

Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He is also the author of the original web serial Heartblood, which is being updated and edited regularly. He can be reached via email at


  • Darkpr0

    I’d be down to see how many actual accidents occur on platforms with different carry methods. Cocked and locked vs DA safety-less would be interesting. Whether such data exists I do not know. But it would be a good read.

    Edit: And I’m talking straight data. No interpretation. No conclusions. Just some good, hard science.

    • Bill

      That dataset doesn’t exist. I’ve searched and searched and searched. I debated taking up a study as a grad degree thesis in psych/human factors, but settled on something not nearly as complex.

      One of the issues in a quick and dirty survey were potential issues about respondent honesty and transparency. NDs are one of those things that a lot of people don’t want to admit or acknowledge, and indeed in some agencies are career-enders while in others they are essentially laughed off.

    • SlowJoeCrow

      The closest study that comes to mind is the recent report on LA County Sheriff’s department NDs, which spiked after switching from Beretta M92s with DA/SA triggers and manual safeties to Smith & Wesson M&Ps with no manual safeties and effectively SA triggers.
      The gist is that like many US police departments, guns are frequently drawn and brandished as a threat display and LA deputies were trained to ” get on the trigger early” so when they lost the stupidity savers of the thumb safety and long heavy DA trigger pull, their bad habits resulted in lots of NDs. The most egregious example was the guy using his pistol mounted light to direct traffic, by waving his gun around with his finger on the trigger.
      The takeaway is if you keep your gun holstered until you need it and keep your finger off the trigger then a light trigger pull and no safety is fine. If you treat a striker fired pistol like a double action revolver you get either lots of NDs or a ridiculously heavy trigger pull like an NYPD Glock, which gives horrible accuracy (Empire State Building, 9 bystanders shot) and still won’t stop poor handling and ND (Peter Liang).

      • Kivaari

        Like many large agencies training is inadequate. Individual officers touching off rounds like that is not acceptable. Don’t blame the equipment, as they don’t go bang without that finger.

        • nicholsda

          And even when they do intend for the firearm to go off, the FBI reports say they will miss 70-80% of the time due to lack of training. That is a lot of rounds in the wild.

          Tonight’s attack in Israel showed a person doing a deliberate job of shooting. Bet their rounds went right where intended, the terrorist. One of them was known to have been shot by an Israeli police officer.

      • Kivaari

        The guy directing traffic with a pistol needed time-off. I’ve seen cops doing traffic stops with a pistol mounted light. That is bad performance.

  • Bullphrog855

    Manual safeties aren’t completely useless. Long story short, I’ve woken up from rem sleep in the middle of the night and had my finger unintentionally slip into the trigger guard before. If it had a lighter trigger at the time, who knows. An event that immediately made me kinda wish I had a master arm switch and got me to trade in for a M&P with a thumb safety, which in return made me more comfortable about a trigger job. Plus it’s cool to say “Cocked and Locked.” That event may be a bit situational though.

    No one is wrong in saying that guns don’t need them, but they don’t lose anything by having them if you train for it, which is why I don’t get the passion against them. The only liability is for people who don’t train for it, and that’s fine for me. I prefer stick shift for the same reason.

    Honestly I think the vocal push against manual safeties is just some macho man epen stroking BS as it’s hard to find any substantial points when the discussion is riddled with satire and fallacies from what I believe is a vocal minority.

    (That last sentence isn’t aimed at you, rather a general observation. You’re article is great and talks on some often over looked points)

    • Thanks for your keen observations and kind words about the article.

      I am not anti-manual safety, as I have come to accept that handguns are simply deeply personal items and there’s not “one size fits all” option in that field… Which doesn’t stop me from recommending Glock 19s as a default starter pistol, if only because they are good handguns with solid resale value.

      For me, Glocks (and their clones) really are the right option. Having a consistent “clicky” trigger pull is something I have learned to shoot accurately and quickly over the past few years. For others, a single action with manual safety is the right answer, and for others DA/SA is where it’s at.

      There’s no perfect answer that fits everyone.

      • Kivaari

        That Glock 19 is about as perfect as it can get. The choice comes down to do you want a black one, an OS green or flat dark earth frame.

        • It’s a great handgun for a lot of purposes, but not all handgun users have the same needs. Beyond ergonomic considerations, you also have departmental requirements, environmental (exposure) considerations, and plain ol’ usage differences.

          • Vanns40

            Hmm, not all users “have the same needs”? I thought our one basic need was to stay alive? :). Sort of jerking your chain but as a retired LEO who has put hundreds of thousands of rounds through a Glock 19 and a Glock 23, been dragged around through gravel, dirt etc and never had either fail I will tell you that pistols without a user active safety (one that requires the user to actively to something to deactivate it) are, almost without exception, faster on the first draw & timed first shot. Speed is not always a prime consideration but when it is, combined with the required muscle memory and time to take off a mechanical safety, it can mean the difference between eating breakfast at home or having friends and relatives paying respects with dishes of food to your family.

          • Kivaari

            That is why I prefer Glock pistols over most others. I like DA revolvers, as they work like a Glock, and the opposite.

          • Kivaari

            You missed it. If we are talking about that most basic issue, OK. But, not everyone has the same need. A hunting handgun or Olympic rapid fire 25m pistol needs things not needed on a Glock. BIG picture thinking.

          • Vanns40

            True but you wouldn’t normally use the guns you mentioned for defensive use. They could be, of course. My competitive target pistols remain in the safe, my Glocks stay around the house. You and I may be picking nits to the same end. 🙂

      • Kafir1911

        Your last sentence is very much in the ten ring.

    • Pete M

      I agree with your last sentence. Most people don’t care what someone else carries.

    • Kivaari

      I can’t understand why you would have a gun at hand while you are asleep. I am not recommending keeping any gun under a pillow. It should b accessible with thought required. I have never had anyone I know wake up from REM sleep to find their finger in a trigger guard. Even in the field doing RON the gun isn’t in my hand.

      • Bullphrog855

        I didn’t wake up to find my finger in the trigger guard, I woke up and grab my gun and my finger slip in unintentionally.

        It was an emergency and I was dazed and confused. You can’t control every little event that happens in life, things happen unintentionally that are out of our control and we’re not always at our 100% as human beings, specially when you’ve just woken up from sleeping like a dog.

        • dreadnought61

          Slip that thing in a Sticky or Nylon holster just so that an “unintentional” finger slip can’t access the trigger. It’ll keep oil of your sheets too.

        • Vanns40

          The Secret Service did a study on that back in the early 80’s. They found that they decreased the incidence of ND (didn’t call it that back then) if agents had to get out of bed and walk five feet to retrieve their gun. That five feet was enough for their brains to clear.

          • That’s why the “house carbine” is roughly five feet away, chamber empty with a loaded magazine. By the time I get it into action, I’m significantly more awake.

            And the “nightstand pistol” is in a GI flap holster (and since hitting the thumb break is *already* part of my “drilled into subconscious action” draw stroke, the additional thumb break is installed), and is a DAO – no locks to fail or screw up, but the two or three seconds it will take to get out and the more.forgiving trigger provide a safety margin against half-awake stupidity. (The ALICE belt it is on also has a spare mag pouch and flashlight, on the theory that I can “grab and go” – sling Pancho Villa style, if necessary, and in my underwear, I’ll have gun, light, and spare BBs).

          • Kivaari

            We called gun “accidents”, “Negligent Discharges” since I was an adult in the 60s. Just like there are no car accidents, there are crashes.

          • Kivaari

            That WAs my point. It should take thinking to get the gun into use if you are sleeping. I would not keep a gun next to the bed just sitting there. I want to have to get up and take distinct actions to get the gun going. The USSS had the right idea.

    • Safety’s or DA/SA really are preferable when it comes to a holsterless nightstand/drawer/glovebox pistol for precisely this reason, thanks for sharing.

    • n0truscotsman

      I run both, having a preference for striker fired when the shtf, although I think you make good points about why manual safety will still remain popular.

  • Don Ward

    No. The fact is that Peet EM was simply wrong.


    End of story.

    There are plenty of reasons why in the 21st Century an individual would want a handgun with a safety. This is mainly because when using and carrying a handgun and storing it there are a variety of situations where it would be foolhardy to carry a handgun with a live round in the chamber without a safety, particularly when many models of modern handguns have a relatively light trigger pull.

    The multiple benefits of having a safety on a handgun – to me – far outweigh the one positive of not having a safety and that’s maybe you can draw and fire the weapon an umpteenth of a second faster.

    • m-cameron

      ummm….no, he wasnt wrong……

      you shouldnt need to rely on a mechanical device to protect yourself from being a tard and pulling the trigger….

      if you are properly trained, there is no need for a safety on any modern firearm.

      • RealitiCzech

        The best mechanical safety is a rigid holster, which covers the trigger, that you leave the gun inside until it’s time to shoot.

        • Kivaari

          Yep. I don’t know of a holster made for Glocks that leave the trigger exposed.

          • nicholsda

            But too many Darwins pocket carry. Or butt crack carry.

          • I’ve seen a custom.leather holster with a cutout trigger guard area for a Glock. Hanging on a floppy, cheap, thin belt.

            Of course, the dude also had one of those silly “Concealed Carry” fake badges on the same belt. I’d be willing to bet he had his gun loaded with some silly boutique ammo with a name like “Devastator” or “Annihilator”. ?

    • Pete M

      Period? End of story?

      I’ve carried guns without safeties in the US, on almost every continent, on hundreds of planes, on helicopters, on boats, on ships, on mountains, in the water, at weddings, on horseback, on freaking roller coasters – for almost two decades. Not once have I ever worried that they were going to go off without me pulling that trigger.


      That’s where I stand. Carry what you want Don, but you are the only one here telling people what they can cannot do.

      • Don Ward

        Am I the one who wrote the words “There is no place for a manual safety on a modern defensive handgun”?

        No. I am not.

        Like I’ve said, there are multiple reasons why a person would choose to have a handgun with a manual safety in the 21st Century for a variety of everyday and realistic scenarios.

        If you do not choose to do so that’s fine. That’s up to you. But it seems a bit elitist to pass judgment and pass broad judgment on those who do prefer having a manual safety.

        • Pete M

          And, as I have now stated three times before, you missed the joke. I wish you well, safety and all.

          • Bullphrog855

            “I wish you well, safety and all.”

            That’s pretty clever

    • sean

      If there is “situations where it would be foolhardy to carry a handgun with a live round in the chamber without a safety” then maybe you shouldn’t have a chambered round. Plus it only takes a “umpteenth of a second faster” to chamber a round. But when you really really need your gun it WILL be a panicked situation and you never know how you are going to react, you may not even know how to disengage your safe in the heat of the moment, no matter how you think you train.

      • Swiping the safety is part of my draw stroke, since I carried 1911s for almost twenty years. I even “swipe the safety” on revolvers.

      • Kivaari

        You might be surprised how calm and controlled you can be when you really need your gun out. Just wait until the bad guy is cuffed and stuffed, and all of a sudden the adrenaline hits those leg muscles start to spasm. Been there, it’s ugly.

  • Anonymous

    Dear Lieutenant Colonel Cooper: thank you for your service, now will you please stop haunting me from the grave through articles and Internet forums.

    Just kidding, but I seriously thought from the title that I was going to be reading and article of “cooper said this”, and “cooper said that”.

  • I like me some manual safety. Gives me a place to rest my thumb

  • Don Ward

    And the number one reason for having a safety is that you’ll never know when James Yeager or one of his “instructors” will rip your loaded firearm out of your hand, toss it on the ground and stomp on it.

    • PK

      I feel as though I’m actually better off not getting this reference… did someone who calls themselves an instructor, and offers classes in exchange for money, truly do something so incredibly unsafe for all those involved? That’s simply mind-boggling levels of idiocy.

      • Pete M

        Sadly, yes.

        • PK

          That’s simply beyond the pale.

          • Pete M

            Google: “tactical response negligent discharge”

            Although I’d use another word than negligent.

      • iksnilol

        Yup, what Pete M said.

        I can give you the short gist of it: “Instructor” had the students throw their pistols on the ground and then walked upon them. This was done to show that weapons are meant to get dirty and used as tools. Problem was he stepped on his own pistol and fired a round.

        EDIT: Obligatory Yelp review:

        • Kivaari

          Wow. I’d heard his name, I hadn’t heard that incredible story. The guy is still in the business? If so, where, so I can avoid the state.

          • Tennessee, IIRC. And if you question his competency online, he might well challenge you to a duel.

            No, I’m not kidding. He actually posted a duelling contract.

    • Tom

      Have not heard about that one before and if it was any other name than Yaeger I would have thought you where joking or referencing some movie but rather sadly its a case of yes I can see him doing exactly that.

    • RealitiCzech

      I’m gonna take a TR class soon, what armor should I bring for my truck?

      • Don Ward

        I recommend only the best armor that you can scrounge using leftover bathroom tile, tar and scrap metal you stole.

        • Michael Valera

          OMG that is so awesome, such genius! He’s like a trailer park, Einstein… who needs them fancy degrees?!?

          One drawback is that armor only covers about 1% of his fat, bulbous, Jaba the Hutt-like body.

    • Joe Goins

      He said that it was a Sig P250 or P320. I bet it wouldn’t have gone off it it was his trusty Glock. After all, all guns should be Glocks. 🙂

      • Kivaari

        OR defensive pistols should be as easy to use as a Glock. Like DAO pistols and revolvers.

  • wetcorps

    I love how I can always tell an article is from you just by looking at the title 🙂

  • Just the facts

    I started my LEO career as an MP with a progressive Provost Marshall who had us carry thumb-break holsters instead of military issue flap ones while we were on garrison duty. We carried them cocked and locked. I became a civilian LEO in 1980 and at that time, and for several years after, approximately 1/3 of all homicides of police officers were committed using the officers own sidearm. I believe the development of better retention holsters and weapons retention training has lowered this grim statistic but always thought a manual safety may give an officer that extra second he needed to get out of danger from someone unfamiliar with his weapon trying to use it on him.

    When my agency transitioned from revolvers to Glocks I stated at the time and still wish for a magazine disconnect. A Glock is currently what my son carries on duty and I still would design it with a disconnect if it were up to me..

    • ozzallos .

      A magazine disconnect? Ewwww, gross.

    • I have no use for a negligent discharge switch (i.e., “magazine disconnect”) in a pistol.

      Anything you have to *unclear* a previously cleared pistol to drop the hammer/striker in is going to increase the odds you flub the clearing process while distracted. And in real life, people frankly don’t always maintain that 100% attention to detail we preach. Especially not when you’re dealing with large organizations using “one size fits all” gear solutions.

      • Just the facts

        That you have no use for it is fine but my original point was related to cops saving their own lives by hitting the magazine release before losing control of their own sidearm, something that has been documented as working for an officer on more than one occasion. It was not mentioned as a way to prevent negligent discharges but rather, intentional ones.

        • retfed

          See my comment a few down re: the Illinois State Police and mag disconnectors.
          I personally don’t like them, but I can see why a lot of people would.

          • Kivaari

            ISP used a huge flapped holster carried cross-draw fashion. Washington State Patrol used a cross draw holster for around 60 years. It made the gun easier to be snatched. Facing and struggling with a suspect put those big M28s within easy grasp of the bad guy.

        • I’m personally aware of more negligent discharges linked to mag disconnects than I have ever heard of people being saved by being able to drop the mag and disable the pistol. Heck, I’m aware of as many cases of someone having to fire the round in the chamber while a mag was not inserted than I am people being saved by the mag disconnect. Likewise, numbers of cops saved because they merely flicked the safety on, and the perp couldn’t figure out why the gun wouldn’t shoot.

          Magazine disconnects are an idea that emotionally appeals, but fails the test of logic. Arguing about the *extremely* rare cases where it helped is like arguing you shouldn’t wear seatbelts, because of a handful of cases where people survived (and there are a few such cases) because they *weren’t* belted in.

      • nicholsda

        With my S&Ws, you do not have to clear them again. There is a little lever on the slide that takes care of that and you can drop the hammer safely with a mag in or out. One of which is a S&W 5906 police trade in.

        • True. A DA gun with a decocker, or a true DAO that doesn’t need to be decocker, doesn’t suffer *that* particular problem.

          However it still has the following downsides:

          1. Another mechanism to fail and tie the gun up. I’ve had that happen to me, thankfully it was on the range.

          2. Mag out, round in the chamber, but have to fire a shot RIGHT NOW! Which has occurred to cops, and ive seen more cases of this scenario than cops who were saved because they punched the mag out and disabled the gun. (For that matter, the reports of incidents I’ve read seem to indicate that your typical dirtbag can’t figure out a thumb safety, either. I’ve read multiple reports of cops who flocked the safety on before losing the gun, and the perp *could not* figure out how to make it go bang – again, I’ve read more such events than cops saved because they punched the magazine out.)

          3. People are, sadly, still people.ove read plenty of reports (and actually seen several morons in person) of people who how safe the magazine safety was by pulling the trigger with a loaded chamber. Some of them got an unintended loud noise because either the safety failed, they forgot hey had reinserted the magazine at some point in their “demonstration”, or they plain forgot the gun they had in their hand *didn’t have a disconnect*.

  • ozzallos .

    I’ve had with and without. I prefer some form of purposeful, manual engagement as opposed to one being placed just on the trigger where most accidents happen anyway. I’ve never been convinced this is a good idea and probably never will be.

    I’ve also seen arguments against grip safeties, but have never personally encountered that one-off scenario where I haven’t been able to actuate it. If I can’t for some reason, I’ve chosen the wrong firearm, but I’ve never, ever been able to not actuate a 1911 or XD grip safety. Likewise, a simple change in grip means I can holster it with -zero- chance of glock-leg.

    As far as a full up manual thumb safety, I’ve got no problem with them. They’re useful in handing weapons around when either of the above two safeties can be accidentally defeated by negligence or chance. Frankly, I classify Glock enthusiasts as idealists in that respect, living in a world where random chance doesn’t happen and they aren’t ever prone to user error. It’s a great gun and does exactly what it sets out to do, just that it leaves zero room for the above possibilities.

  • Brocus

    Between all the little accidents that happened to me throughout my life I have enough self awareness to know I’m far from perfect and an additional little lever to prevent some really bad ones from happening appears like a preferable choice. I’ll leave the 4# triggers with no safety to the mall ninjas and hope they only accidentally shoot themselves.

  • A Fascist Corgi

    Or maybe the supporters of thumb safeties are using their brains. A statistical analysis of accidental police shootings has shown that thumb safeties significantly reduce accidental shootings. The opponents of Condition 3 carry and thumb safeties act as if human beings are cyborgs that never make mistakes. All of the people running around with Glock-type pistols with loaded chambers and no thumb safeties are dangerously arrogant, unthinking morons in my opinion. I can’t count the number of times where I read about accidental shootings where the person would say things like “I was a highly experienced and responsible gun owner. I never in a million years thought that I’d make a mistake like I did that day.” Making the decision to trust yourself is one thing, but to use your public platform to advocate that the masses should be running around with loaded Glock-type pistols is criminally irresponsible in my opinion. You’re going to get people injured and killed. If flipping a thumb safety off during a deadly encounter (an extremely unlikely event to begin with) throws you for a loop, then you’re an idiot.

    • Another quality comment from our resident Nazifur.

      • A Fascist Corgi

        At least when I do a handstand my stomach doesn’t hit me in the face.

  • Pete M

    Awesome. Well done NF. Training trumps technology.

    Humor aside, my post was meant as a conversation-starter. As there are few absolutes in this world, I’d never suggest what gun another person shound carry. Train. And I mean really train. And carry the gun that fits you best.

    Want a mind blower? A former agency of mine preached and practiced not using a safety on all guns in the arsenal – 870, MP5, AR15.

    Confirm an empty chamber – close on an empty chamber – pull the trigger – insert magazine. The safety is never used until after that first round is fired.

    (And I still use this procedure more most of my personal long guns)

    • Bjørn Vermo

      That is obviously the only safe way to carry a firearm. Never chamber a round until red alert. Train enough that you can chamber the round while getting the gun into firing position. Flip on safety when situation is cleared. Empty chamber when backing down to yellow.
      Norwegian police do not follow this military doctrine, their carry their Glocks with a round chambered. The number of reported accidental discharges is alarming. The possibly unreported are worrying.

      • That’s nice as long as you have two free hands available at the intant you need to draw, and you have the time necessary to rack the slide.

        Sadly, there are many shooing incidents in the US that how that one or both of these conditions may not be met in real life. People (generally uniformed cops) who find themselves grappling with a suspect, and then find it has become a lethal force situation, come to mind.

        • Bjørn Vermo

          I see your point, but then I think there is something wrong with the procedure. I know nothing about police work, but guarding a prisoner, setting up a roadblock or guarding an object all require training in proper procedures including overwatch. It should not be too different in the police world. No man should ever operate alone (unless in a Hollywood movie).

          • Kivaari

            “No man should ever operate alone”, is seriously flawed. Over 90% of the time on the street, I never had a partner. If there were more men on the street, they will be spread around so calls can be managed better. It is easy to have 5 calls “staked” when you have to stop a DUI. Most US cops work in departments with 10 or less. Having a partner is wishful thinking.

          • nicholsda

            And that is why in today’s rush by the cops to get to the local general airport there were 3 vehicles rushing there. All of them were in cars/SUV alone.

          • Kivaari

            Those cops had patrol areas they were assigned to. If something goes down and requires more people, they leave the patrol zone and backup the others. You could have twice as many cars on the road compared to doubling up.

          • So, every cop should call for backup before trying to pull over a speeder, go investigate a suspicious situation, or, in fact, respond to every call? Even disregarding the vast areas of the US, where backup might be half an hour way or more, it isn’t even feasible in cities.

            Plus, cops have been just *walking down the street* when they find themselves dealing with a violent subject (or even attacked by surprise).

      • Kivaari

        The pistol needs to be ready to fire one handed, in an instant. Cops that have NDs, have not trained enough. If you are fighting a suspect-opponent trying to keep you primary pistol in the holster, you may be able to get to a back up gun using your other hand. We normally carried a S&W Centennial (DAO) in a front pocket, opposite the belt gun. If you are trying to survive, you don’t want your guns not fully ready.

    • Bill

      The Rem 870 is essentially useless in real life fighting and does nothing to render the gun drop- or strike safe. I have my basic trainees use it administratively only

      • Erich Von Topp

        I think there’s been a bunch of people since 1951 that wound up full of buckshot that would disagree with you there.

        • Bill

          Poor sentence structure on my part – it should have read “The Rem 870 crossbolt safety.” I use multiple 870s and they are fine guns, just the safety is worthless, if not dangerous to the user.

  • politicsbyothermeans

    I carried an XD-45 compact daily when stateside. I felt that the series of safeties were excellent. I never once failed to engage the grip safety. I loved that I could plausibly shoot it at an IDPA match and then carry it until the next match. That’s a lot of trigger time which, in a way, is a pretty good safety too.

    Also, excellent article, Nathaniel.

  • Evil13RT

    I agree that this slips into the realm of training, culture, and preference.

    In the last thread most of the arguments were anecdotal. “This guy got shot because he forgot his safety was on”… Yea, and I saw a guy with a glock put a hole in a schoolhouses ceiling while explaining how qualified he was to use that weapon.

    Poor training gets poor results.
    If we’re choosing the best system for untrained shooters, it’s a mixed bag. The safety is the most effective way to prevent an accidental discharge so long as you remember to use it. Whether the gun is safe is purely the users choice.

    If you don’t have trigger discipline and aren’t methodical then no trigger rig or interruption mechanism will prevent an accident. That said, the rest are all non-optional.
    If you decide to get a New York glock with a 20lb trigger, there’s no way to turn it off.

  • guest

    “…in favor of the safety-less fantastic plastic. ”

    NO! The Glock HAS safeties! Safeties that guarantee (take that word with a small pinch of salt) that in no situation other than a deliberate pull of the trigger will fire the weapon!
    This word “safety” is completely misunderstood. A car having a key to turn the engine on is NOT to prevent you from driving under the influence. It is however to hinder a car from being stolen.

    So in the same sense there is NO “safety” that can prevent the shooter from being an idiot and shooting himself in his own leg. Believing that a gun is “safe” – in any scenario – is entirely dependant on the gray matter of the shooter, and nothing else. Everything else is just a crutch.

    • iksnilol

      Uh, how can you call it a safety if it is on the trigger?

      I mean, you need to pull the trigger to pull the trigger? That’s what we call a safety? Should we make a gas pedal with a smaller pedal on top of it to prevent people from accidentally pressing the gas?

      • guest

        Stop talking out of your rear end. Since when did Glock as a company, or anyone else for that matter say the THREE safeties the gun has prevent the gun from inadvertent discharge caused by the user pulling the trigger? Never has anyone said such a thing. And furthermore: there is NO gun mfg, at least not a single one that does not have a proper legal backing, that ever said in any manual that a loaded gun is “safe”, even with the “safety” engaged.
        THERE IS NO SUCH FUCTION THAT CAN PREVENT SOMEONE FROM FIRING A LOADED WEAPON! Even if there is, say on a commercial AR, the manual will say: take out the mag, empty the gun, check and double-check, now the gun is safe.
        So whatever false crutch of security or “safety” you think some “safety” button/lever provides you, is just that: a false feeling of security. And since it is a false “safety” that in no legal terms – or in any guaranteed mechanical function – can guarantee accidental discharge after engaging the trigger, the Glock does not have it. This is like saying “oh, my car is now safe because it has a sign that reads – do not drive drunk!”. One could of course use such a sign, but it does not mean anything and does nothing by itself. The logical conclusion is to exclude it, as many people would percieve it as a liability waiver.

        What the three safeties in it will however prevent is accidental discharge due to vibration, shock, etc. Any other scenario other than a trigger pull. And few guns can do that, that is except Glock and the myriad of Glock clones. The rest of all safety-related gun handling always was and will be up to the user – where it belongs!
        So that being said – the definition of “safety” as you imagine it, does not exist, as it as Norwegians put it: faller på sin egen urimelighet.

        • iksnilol

          Ja, men problemet er at det er ikke bare fingeren din som kan trekke av avtrekkeren. Så det er du som burde vennligst ikke snakke ut av bakenden din.

          Translation: It isn’t only your booger hook that can trip the trigger. That’s why it is nice to have an additional way to prevent firing. Unless you intend to hold the pistol in hand all the time whilst cupping the trigger guard with the other hand.

      • Kivaari

        Like a S&W revolver. No manual safety, just a passive internal safety to prevent discharges if dropped. The firing pin in Glocks or hammers on S&W (M&P) and Colt (Python era) revolvers can’t fire even if the hammer is cocked when dropped. If the hammer falls, a passive safety blocks the firing pin. Even a properly maintained Colt M1873 SAA should not fire if dropped, and the hammer falls. The half-cock notch should catch the hammer before it hits. Those can be broken from mishandling, but they should work.
        Glocks and similar pistols are designed to be passively safe, and always ready for use. To complete the “package” the holster used must cover the trigger window. No ability to touch the trigger until it is removed from the holster should exist. No one should be putting their finger on the trigger until it has safely cleared the holster. Then unless you need bullets going instantly, the trigger finger is indexed alongside the frame. That gun wont fire until you want it to fire. It will remain safe if you use safe handling practices and return it to the holster. I don’t know how a Glock or similar pistol can fire until desired. Sure they could be poorly made like Taurus does/did. Most NDs I know of happen when people are trying to “safe” the gun. Like unloading it or making it ready for use. Having the added feature of a manual safety adds confusion. I don’t like cocked and locked SA pistols. Some people like packing a M1911, fully loaded with the hammer down. Getting the gun to that condition is more dangerous than simply chambering a round in a Glock and shoving it into a holster.

    • I understand the difference between manual and automatic safeties, cool your jets.

      It’s obvious from context I was talking about manual safeties only.

    • Wrong. A Glock will *readily* fore in cases other than a “deliberate pull of the trigger”.

      All you have to do is foul the trigger – something that is not unheard of, especially while holstering.

      Yes, a Glock is *drop safe*. Of course, so is a Series 80 1911 – and you wouldn’t carry one of those ready to fire with no manual safety engaged.

      The Glock will not fire unless something pulls the trigger, true. However, that something doesn’t have to be a finger – the Glock has no magic spell cast on it that can tell the difference between your finger and, say, the tail of your shirt, or the cord on your windbreaker.

  • Joel

    On a M1911, he manual safeties are different from a drop safety. The drop safety is a component of the Series 80 design. The drop safety prevents the firing pin from moving forward under inertia in the case of a drop. Glocks and many other pistols use other mechanisms for the same effect.

    In pre Series 80 designs, it was possible for the firing pin to move forward when dropped. There are also other ways of mitigating this effect. Ruger uses a very light weight firing pin to limit the pin’s inertia.

    As far as I know (and I am not a M1911 guy), the grip safety and thumb safety do not act upon the firing pin. They work on the hammer and sear, I believe.

    • That is correct. What I said is not strictly accurate as conceivably you could have the firing pin move via inertia on a pre-Series 80 design.

      The same thing, by the way, is true of an AR-15, which is still a pretty drop safe design.

      What will not happen with any 1911, and which would be much, much, much more likely to cause a discharge when dropped, is the hammer or trigger slipping the sear. This is a major problem with Single Action Armys, for example. On the 1911, the grip safety prevents rearward movement of the trigger and greatly reduces the chances of that happening.

      • Kivaari

        That is why so many NDs happen when people carried M1911s or SAA loaded and on “half-cock”. A position that is not a safe position. While in the NG, one of the soldiers was a police officer. Command let him pack his Combat Commander at the Yakima Firing Center during our 2-weeks annual training. I asked him why he had it on “half-cock” and he said for “safety”. Once more, here was a “trained soldier” AND police officer. Once more displaying no clue about firearms use and safety. That is why I prefer revolvers and Glocks. The simplicity of making them safe yet ready is the least complex of any design. Fewer things to learn, means fewer things to go wrong. Watch people at a range with Old Reliable a M1911. Worse give them a S&W M59. It is scary to be within range. So many people simply forget how to make their guns run. Fewer seem to know how to make them safe. KISS.

    • Ken

      Grip safety blocks trigger alone. Thumb safety blocks both sear and hammer.

  • adverse4

    Never shot a firearm without a safety until recently. Both pistols had that little extra trigger. They went off with very little pressure, to me anyway, and were very accurate. All kinds of things besides children’s fingers can find their way inside a trigger guard. I’ll keep my firearms with a manual safety. Flipping off the safety is second nature to me, along with finger outside the guard. Being left handed with right handed firearms has never been a problem either. Muscle memory is a wonderful thing, comes with practice.

    • LG

      Precisely. Muscle memory and practice are the crux. If one has not garnered the reflex of removing the manual safet on his weapon then he is in sufficiently drilled. At that point blame one’s last of craft and not the weapon. Maybe some really need no manual safeties because of lack of craft.

      • Heck, years of carrying a 1911 mean that I “sweep the safety” automatically, just as I get the pistol into my peripheral vision (not visually based; I mean that’s the arm angle at which I do it, even if I have my eyes closed).

        I even do it on guns that lack a safety switch.

  • Arandor Thinnorion

    I am not a fan of manual safeties. However, I’m even less a fan of Glock-type pistols. I prefer a double-action with a decocker like the CZ-75.

    Many people love their cocked and locked 1911s and Hi-Powers. Many people love their Glock-type pistol. It’s good we have a variety to choose from. If I could not use a double action then I would move to a Hi-Power.

    It is naive to believe there should be *no* manual safety on any firearms if for no other reason than some people like the sense of security it gives them–regardless of whether it provides any great real security.

  • Limonata

    You can have all the arguments you want pro or con. IMHO, it does not matter one way or the other. What matters is proper training, knowledge of your firearm and practice, practice and practice. With those last items, you can have either. How do I know, because there are people everyday carrying one way or the other without incident. With firearms, consistency is important. People have a million things going on in their heads everyday. Simple and consistent operation will prevent accidents and/or prepare you for when you actually must use your firearm. There is no single correct answer. There is finding what fits you and consistently practicing until there is very little thought involved.

    • Travis

      100% agree!

  • TechnoTriticale

    The vast majority of SA and DA revolvers have never had separate safeties. There’s probably a message there. The SA’s were simply never carried cocked. The DA’s have stiff trigger pulls.

    Question: is there a specific trigger pull weight that is thought to be stout enough to reduce AD/ND upon startle reflex? This seems to be key in why DA revolvers are considered to have adequately safe fire control design.

    • Sulaco

      The SA’s were carried hammer over an empty chamber…

      • Because they weren’t drop safe. Modern guns *are* generally drop safe, and drop safety isn’t what we’re concerned with here.

        • Sulaco

          It’s certainly part and parsal of why safeties were designed and how they were developed and why. Techno was discussing the way SA were carried and why, re read it.

    • retfed

      Back in the 70s or early 80s the old Police Marksman magazine had a story regarding a test of startle reflex. The testers gave a subject a safe pistol and told him to advance on a subject at the other end of a simulated alley. As the subject passed a certain point, a person hidden in an alcove reached out and squeezed the back of the subject’s thigh. (Today that would be some form of harassment.) ONE HUNDRED PERCENT of the subjects fired a shot when that happened. The weapon involved was a K-frame revolver with a 10-to-12-pound trigger pull.
      The lesson to me is, keep your finger out of the trigger guard till it’s time to shoot.
      The lesson was reinforced for me recently when the rookie NYPD copper was convicted of manslaughter for a fatal ND he had with a Glock with a 12-pound “NY” trigger.

      • TechnoTriticale

        Thanks for that data point. I’ll discard the heavy trigger pull theory of DA revolver safety.

        • IIRC, that study involved cops trained to lightly rest their finger on the trigger. A longer, heavier trigger pull *won’t* protect against the startle reflex in that scenario. You cannot replace “keep your booger hook off the loud button!” with a mechanism.

          However, it is documentable that DA triggers (whether DA/SA semis, DAO, or traditional DA revolvers) tend to have lower ND rates overall, when missed o large numbers of people (like cops or soldiers). Because, that trigger provides an extra opportunity to notice that you’re doing *before* the sear trips.

    • RealitiCzech

      A trigger that’s too strong to permit an adrenaline-fueled trigger pull is probably going to be near-impossible to be pulled in a normal state.

    • ARCNA442

      There is a line of thought that it is the – length – of the trigger pull that matters and not the weight. The theory goes that it gives the brain more time to recognize that the trigger is being pulled and stop.

      • Exactly. A slightly higher pull weight helps, *particularly* in the “foiled trigger guard” scenario, because you are more likely to notice the resistance before it fires.

        But length of pull helps more for avoiding accidentally pulling the trigger. Particularly since, for all but the most highly trained (i.e., not your average shooter, including cops and *especially* PVT Skippy), fingertips are drawn to touch triggers under stress like flies on dog crap.

  • Decades before Jack Weaver popularized the stance, here is Colt’s J. Henry Fitzgerald. This photo can be found in his book “Shooting” published in 1930.

    • Johnny G

      J. Henry Fitzgerald (of the ‘Fitz’ Special) and Jack Weaver, both LA County Deputies? Me thinks there was something of an institutional memory there.

      • My understanding is that Fitz was a former NY State Police trooper.

      • Kivaari

        The “Fitz Special” was an absolutely horrible modification to DA revolvers. Cutting the front of the trigger guard off, allowed snagging on pockets, holsters, or any other thing. The unsupported trigger guard was easy to bend, disabling the gun.

    • Kivaari

      I thought is was funny that the hold became the Weaver Stance, when we had been using it before we had ever heard of Jack Weaver. It is a natural hold for anyone using a handgun, except a one-armed man.

      • Wolf Baginski

        The way of using a pistol has its roots in the cavalry. WW1 saw a huge increase in the use by soldiers on foot, and something like CQB. The British cavalry were trained much more like mounted infantry while other armies still had a fetish for the sword and lance. Either way, one-handed pistol use was the norm.

        It’s also worth remembering the influence of people such as Fairbairn and Sykes, who were officers of the Shanghai Municipal Police. There were a lot of changes between the two world wars, such as tanks and trucks replacing horses. Essentially, it became possible to use both hands to hold a pistol.

        Jack Weaver was well after that change.

    • Don Ward

      Because the Fitzgerald Stance doesn’t have the same ring to it.

  • Mark K

    As for pistols, I suggest that the HK P7 series solves this issue -it has a safety but not in the traditional sense- as it isn’t a hinderance.

    • The P7 does not have a manual safety.

      • Mark K

        Correct; my point exactly.

    • Peter (BE)

      German polizei was quick to replace them after a series of unintentional discharges.

      • Mark K

        Citation needed…

        • Mark K

          I belive they were in service from 1979 to 2008; not exactly “qiuckly” replaced…

      • NJSP added a slew of “unintended drain holes” in the floorboards of their cruisers with the P7.

        The problem with relying on a “safety” disengaged by grip pressure is that the normal human response to stress is to squeeze what you’re holding. It’s the same issue with a grip safety on a 1911 – it isn’t here to keep you from an an ND while the gun is in your hand – it’s there to make the gun drop safe. (Admittedly, the P7 is more drop safe than a pre-Series 80 1911, be cause the firing pin can’t reach the primer and fire it from pin inertia if it falls muzzle down…)

  • gordon

    My loose cloths have a preternatural ability to get into to my trigger guard when I am holstering.I don’t think I have ever pushed the gun down far enough to discharge when that has happened but it is enough to make me appreciate the manual safety. I practice drawing and dry firing every day to make sure I will remove the safety should the time come that i need to under stress.

    • There are more than a few people (mostly cops, AFAIK) with the mark of Glock Leg, from precisely that issue.

  • retfed

    The first gun I was issued didn’t have an outside safety; it was a S&W Model 10. And the last one I was issued didn’t either: a Sig P229 DAK. I guess you could say the more things change . . .
    In between I carried DA/SA, SAO, Glock, and 1911 pistols, and they all have their pros and cons.
    I will say, though, that in the city I worked in for 30 years, the only two fatal NDs I know of involved 1911s,and the only ND I personally witnessed involved a Beretta 84 (for you whippersnappers, that has an outside safety, too).
    I personally don’t like manual safeties on pistols because I spent my entire career in the Midwest, where gloves are mandatory about 11 months out of the year, and I was always worried about missing the safety. But if you like them, be my guest.
    (By the way, the NJSP carried the P7 for a while and had several NDs with them. Turned out the troopers were taping down the squeeze-cockers to make sure they would work if a hasty draw produced a bad grip.)

    • Kivaari

      I had not heard that about the P7 and NJSP. I can believe it as I’ve met too many cops that have no clue how and why their guns operate as the do. That was also a huge command failure. If the sergeant didn’t notice and correct that stupidity, he shouldn’t be a sergeant. The P7 advantage was of course the instant return to un-cocked and safe as soon as the grip was relaxed.

      • The P7 is notorious for the number of “extra drain holes” it put in the floorboards of NJSP cruisers, entirely from guys f*cking around with their pistols.

        • Kivaari

          Ignorant troopers. The pistol was quite safe, very accurate, but required training carried out, that included suspension for troopers found with taped down cocking devices.

          • nicholsda

            NJ, need more be said? A state that thinks FMJ is safer than JHP rounds in all cases.

          • Not “safer”. They had legislators who thought the Hague Conventuons should apply to cops, because they focussed on “unnecessary suffering” and assumed (being wholly ignorant of guns) that hollowpoints were torture.

          • nicholsda

            I’ll give you that. Most gun grabbers and their ilk are totally ignorant.

          • Kivaari

            NYPD used Winchester USA cheap training ammo as service ammo.
            Remember the incident where they shot the innocent guy 41 times? Ball ammo and poor training.

          • nicholsda

            Nope, but I do remember them being such bad shots that they injured 9 civilians while getting one murderer. 16 rounds total fired and that many injured sure shows a lack of training. Sort of falls in line with the FBI stats that say they miss 70% of the time.

          • Kivaari

            NYPD is known for shooting innocent bystanders. The public has more to fear from NY cops than NY robbers.

          • nicholsda

            So true.

          • Kivaari

            It was February 5, 1999, when a pile of NYPD cops shot Amadou Diallo 41 times. It was a case of jumping to the gun. The cops chased him into the entrance to his home, and demanded he produce ID. He presented his wallet, and was shot leaving him with 41 GSWs. One cop fired one shot and stopped. All of my life, especially while working as a cop, NYPD was the poster agency for how not to use firearms. They haven’t gotten much better. Too many blue on blue shootings. Too many innocent bystanders, too many innocent people in the path of drunken off-duty cops. Too many bad cops with inadequate training. A common failure in large departments. Most of the shootings among my peers in my region were handled better. However, Seattle had some really negligent shootings. “Warning shots” that travelled blocks and hit innocent people. One cop had 3 fatal shootings in 2 years. He simply “murdered” a couple people even by the standards of the 70s.
            Crazy “SWAT” actions like the Yesler Terrace incident. Seattle was supposed to be the agency to follow. Had we acted as poorly as they did, we’d be fired. I had family members in 3 shootings. They did ’em right.

          • nicholsda

            Yep. NYPD has shot its own undercover cops who had identified themselves. There is training and then there is NYPD training. You don’t want the latter type.

          • Kivaari

            NJSP troopers still wear that NAZI-like hat. They act like the bad guys, enforcing extremist gun laws.

          • Yup, ignorant. But the design also lends itself to such accidents. Given that the shooter activated safety is deactivated by gripping the gun firmly, and the natural human response to gripping a gun is to grip it firmly (monkey doesn’t want to drop the banana), you basically have a single action pistol with the safety off.

            In effect, it’s very much like carrying a 1911 while relying *only* on the grip safety.

            The P7 is a very well built design (although I have issues with the the action – the Germans keep trying it, but keep running into the same problems, because they are *inherent* to gas delayed blowback), that unfortunately ignores human physiology and reflexes. The squeeze cocker would be *awesomely* safe… for robots.

          • Kivaari

            I had no trouble with the P7. Mine was a Gen 1 with the exposed magazine release. That was OK, but the Gen 2 made it flush, and less likely to be bumped. Gen 3 went to the ambi-release up by the trigger. OK. The only thing I had against it, was the pile of tiny parts and springs. It is a hard gun to carry in harsh environments where a total strip down would be in order. The P7 doesn’t ignore anything, except the unwillingness of people to train with the gun. Most failures in gun handling result from inadequate training and commitment to use ONE GUN. The desire of sportsmen and cops to own many different models overcomes the practical need to know your gun well.
            As I said of myself, once I was fully committed to the Glock, other than revolvers that worked the same way (shove the trigger to the rear and it goes bang) every thing else became toys.
            I understand the desire to have a bunch of guns. They are fun. If you carry you need to settle on guns that operate the same way, and the best way for most is like a Glock or revolver.

          • retfed

            The P7 was the most accurate pistol I’ve ever shot; it was like pointing your finger. I knew several agents who carried them on the job, but I never would, and if I were in charge I would never authorize it for duty or off-duty carry. Once the safety is squeezed, the trigger pull is waaaay too light. Police hold more people at gunpoint than they ever shoot, which with the P7 means holding a cocked pistol with about a 2-pound trigger on someone. Not a good idea.
            And have you ever shot a 72-round qualification with a P7? I have, and at the end I was almost afraid to holster the gun for fear it would catch the holster on fire.
            But it’s fun to play with.
            I agree with you about the one-gun thing, especially with the P7. It’s so unlike anything else that you can’t easily switch back and forth.

          • Kivaari

            I disagree. Upon drawing the P7 one doesn’t have to squeeze it hard, thus cocking the gun and making it ready to fire. Draw and point it at the opponent. If things as going bad, squeeze the grip, keeping you finger indexed, just like you should do with any handgun or rifle. Should you need to shoot, shoot. To instantly render the gun safe and ready, relax your grip. It only takes a pound to keep the gun cocked and ready, no death grip required. From everything I have seen about NDs with P7s comes from untrained people. For NJSP to tape down the cocking lever, is absolutely stupid. That shows a poor quality officer and sergeants. Command failure from the top down. and the bottom up. Why would anyone defeat the whole idea behind the P7?

  • Pod

    My first pistol, a Beretta Px4 Storm subcompact, had that big honkin’ manual safety/decocker. Most instructors I talked to actually advised getting a pistol with a manual safety as your first pistol. I will say for the new shooter, it provides a psychological level of comfort. And yes, with practice you can be fast with it.

    Pistols I bought after that had no manual safety.

    • Bill

      A “psychological sense of comfort” can lead to a dangerous level of complacency.

      • Pod

        I agree. Hence why I moved on to pistols with no manual safety about six months after. Insert “This is my safety” finger screen capture from Black Hawk Down. But if someone wants a pistol with a manual safety, I’m not going to stop them. There’s too much at stake right now to harass someone over their choice of firearm. I’m just glad they went out and bought a gun.

  • CommonSense23

    One of the things I wished people would realized about pistols is they are a emergency weapons. If you thought you had a chance of getting into gunfight or needing to use your weapon you would bring a long gun. If you brought a long gun you probably are wounded if you are switching to your sidearm. You don’t know what state you would be in using your gun. I know quite a few individual who are only alive cause their weapon didn’t have a safety when they were wounded. Same goes for drawing your weapon. The less you have to do to get your gun to fire the better.

    • Kivaari

      Yep. Like a S&W M10 .38 revolver, it is ready to go when needed.

  • Sulaco

    I think the entire debate is missing a key factor, time context, in the “olden” days people had daily family history and usage of arms both long and short. They knew and understood how arms worked from personal experience. These days most people have never even held a real gun much less shot one repeatedly at home or on a range. “It’s not safe, is gun.” was in the DNA of people of the 20 and 30’s even into the 40’s and war time. After WWII not so much and declining in a hurry.

  • Reed

    I found this article to be well thought out and an excellent addition to the previous article.

    That said, the CZ fanboy in me had a conniption fit at the end despite still liking glocks.

    • CZs are fantastic handguns, and I wouldn’t think twice about carrying one.

      However, my own preference is for the stock Glock trigger system and pull as a working firearm.

      • Reed

        I see where you’re coming from. I do actually like Glocks and have never had the issues I read about concerning triggers and grip angles and rectangular prisims being somehow aesthetically offensive.

        Like I said, the fanboy in me, not the reasonable adult in me.
        I’d rather you carry what works for you.

        Might be a G19 hiding amongst my CZs…

  • jamezb

    Any firearm… Safety or not … is, in the end only as safe as the person holding it. I prefer safeties myself. They don’t slow ME down, but If I lose retention, there’s at least a chance the person grabbing the gun will not be familiar with the particular firearm, and take a second or two to figure the safety out. That might give you a second or two to regain control of the weapon, draw your backup, or jump out the window as the case may be. There’s no malfunction as scary as a screw loose behind the trigger. if there IS one – I’d prefer it not be able to automatically release the striker with a gentle 4.5 lb pull.

  • Kivaari

    Yes! A good defense pistol or revolver doesn’t need a manual safety. When a loaded handgun rests in its holster, it should be ready at all times, without the need to move anything but the trigger.

    • Pete M


  • Kivaari

    This is why I no longer use a big variety of handguns. I never liked Glocks until I was issued one. Once I did adequate training, I became a firm believer in Glock-type pistols and S&W revolvers. Except for a recent toy in the form of a Beretta PX4m that I never intend to carry for anything serious, I use Glocks and S&W. Neither needs a manual safety, both remain at the ready all the time. I believe the best course of action for serious gun users is to pick a design and stick with it. After decades of owning dozens of various operating systems, I found no desire to have anything else. If I hunted that would make a difference. If I shot bullseye, that would be different. But, for serious use, and I don’t consider handgun hunting or bullseye serious pursuits FOR ME. 40 years ago maybe. Today, I shoot less, but for a reason.

    • Ridge

      Are you willing to carry the S&W around with the hammer back? In and out of holsters, getting in and out of cars? Because both the S&W in that condition and the Glock are only a short, 4-5 lb trigger pull away from BANG. If you don’t carry the revolver hammer back for safety reasons, then you are being fooled by the appearance of the Glock and its concealed striker. Intensive training could make you feel comfortable with both that way, but 90% of owners don’t have the time and money for weekly or monthly hours and hours of range time. Personally, when I see such a gun at the range, I leave. Because most of the people I deal with are not Delta Force, Seal Team, Swat team, or even police. Most are just average joes with jobs, families, bills….and don’t have the extra scratch to spend hundreds of dollars on ammo or can take time from job and family to do that intensive training. And those are the people more likely to have a ND. I don’t need a trip to the hospital. The Glock was designed as a military battlefield weapon. A casual civilian owner needs a safety on a semi-automatic handgun. For his and his family’s, neighbor’s, dog’s sake.


      • Kivaari

        What? Who carries any revolver around cocked? Why would anyone pack a revolver of any kind cocked? A modern (post 1910 pretty much) DA revolver is quite safe to carry fully loaded with the hammer down. The gun remains at rest and fully READY to use. Even those S&W revolvers I have with visible hammers are safe but ready.
        Why is a Glock unsafe while in a holster? A fully loaded Glock, is not going to go off if bumped or dropped. In a proper holster there is no way to access the trigger. Glocks are carried fully loaded and ready to use at all times. Just like a modern DA revolver, the springs are at rest. Just like a M19 S&W and M19 Glock can be drawn, aimed and fired and returned to the holster where it instantly return to a safe mode. I wont carry a handgun that NEEDS a manual safety to be disengaged to fire it. I prefer handguns that are READY. I have a new Beretta that has a hammer drop manual safety. I have it because it come with it. I only use the safety lever to
        de-cock the pistol. Had I bought the “G” model the safety would automatically return to the ready position. That is preferable to the “F” model that allows the safety to be left depressed where in order to fire it has to be manually moved. For me, that is a waste of time. It doesn’t make the pistol any safer in my hands.
        Safety is more a state of mind. If YOU are uncomfortable packing a S&W M19 or a “hammerless” Centennial, that’s a personal issue. Both are safe. If you wont use proper handling and holsters than you should not have any handgun.

        • Ridge

          Thanks for the reply-

          “What? Who carries any revolver around cocked? Why would anyone pack a revolver of any kind cocked?”

          not carry a revolver with the hammer back? You will keep your finger
          off the trigger, right? If you are carrying a Glock or other striker
          fired gun with no manual safety, a 4-5 trigger pull and a round in the
          chamber; you are doing the equivalent. Excellent holsters for revolvers
          exist. And if you are in a combat zone where you might need that extra
          microsecond, then pulling a cocked revolver could give you that extra
          edge. Isn’t that the rational for a non-safety semi-auto? One sounds
          foolish, the other quite reasonable. The only difference to the primer
          of the cartridge is marketing and gun store salesmanship.

          all the training ( limited or mythical for many causal users) is
          necessary for the responsible carry of such non-safety guns, then the
          same training could be used with guns that have manual safeties with
          perhaps fewer NDs and fewer tragedies or injuries. And because the
          chances of a ND are greater with said non-safety guns, when I see one at
          the range, I leave. That sounds crazy to some, but the choice of being
          shot accidentally vs firing a few rounds from my revolver or 1911;
          well, I’ll come back later. And since none of us are perfect in gun
          safety 100% of the time (including police instructors with years of
          experience), that’s ok. Its my choice.


      • Kivaari

        You leave a gun range when you see guns?

        • Ridge

          Just particular guns. Guns that have a greater propensity for ND in the hands of poorly trained or careless people.

          • Kivaari

            That is every gun made.

      • Peter (BE)

        A cocked S&W revolver has a far lighter trigger pull than a Glock, and no trigger safety to boot, so I don’t think your comparison is valid, although you have a good point about being fooled by appearences.

        • Kivaari

          I don’t get the “fooled by appearances”. I look at a Glock, and It doesn’t fool me about anything.

  • Jim

    I disagree. I am a retired LEO and also shot in PPC and won a number of trophies. This was back in the revolver days! I actually had a MAS39 rifle and sold it as quickly as I could because it ha no safety. I also o not like, nor will I have a pistol that does not have a manual safety on it. I carry a Taurus 24/7 mainly because it has a decocker and safety on it. I carry the weapon decocked with the safety on. When I need to fire it, I simply have to knock off the safety and pull the trigger. Works great for me. Additionally I have not been able to get it to strike a dummy round by shaking it or dropping it. My next carry firearm will be a S&W M&P 9mm precision performance with the ported bbl.

  • Cmex

    You make good points. The only time I think, however, that safeties are not a plus, is when users may have to use a weapon they are unfamiliarized with — a training issue.

  • 40mmCattleDog

    I get handguns are a deeply personal thing and have no issue with someone carrying a gun with a safety but there is no reason a striker fired pistol like a glock should be considered any less “safe” when a good holster really is your first safety. A good solid holster that protects the trigger is really what people should focus on.

    • Pete M


    • Excellent point! After the 4 Rules, a quality holster is the best safety (unless you’re packing a Nambu or Taurus 24/7).

      • …or are wearing a cover garment that could get stuck in the trigger guard of your “no manual safety, light & short trigger pull” pistol while reholstering…

        • Kivaari

          Users need to use them safely.

          • You know, when designing equipment, addressing safety concerns with, “Well, if users just don’t mistakes, ever, it’s perfectly safe!” is literally not even in the risk mitigation process…

          • Kivaari

            Or you can issue a MAS 36 rifle without a manual safety and a policy on use, solves the issue. It wasn’t until the French adopted a self-loading weapon that a manual safety became a desirable feature. I’d bet a few of the Hairy Ones got slapped up alongside the head when they had ignored good handling practices.
            The P7 or Glock doesn’t fit your contention. Hand a person a Glock or P7 and if they follow safe handling practices neither will present a problem.

  • Able_Dart

    While I tend to agree the time for manual safeties has already passed us by, we may wish to consider, while we are still within the interminable hell of the US military’s pistol reconsideration process, that there is still need for the double action/single action hammer fired pistol.

    The majority of US soldiers, sailors, and airmen who will be issued pistols are not trained police officers, special operators, or enthusiasts. Additionally, many striker-fired designs continue to have reliability problems over the beach. It will likely not behoove anyone if the military adopts a striker fired pistol.

  • Out of the Fray

    Best article I have read in a long time……………

  • James Francis

    This is silly, it’s a matter of personal preference. First, the manual safety should have very little if any effect on speed. 1911 pattern race guns have been around for a long time and continue to be popular. In the end it’s a matter of personal preference and need.

    Personally, in a rigid, OWB duty holster there is nothing simpler than a good striker fired handgun. But, as I carry mostly appendix, with the barrel constantly flagging my balls, I prefer a manual safety to prevent the errant loose cloth or other surprises that might end up in and around the trigger guard.

    • I feel.the same way, even though my preferred carry position (IWB, behind he hip, muzzle.slightly to the rear) means the worst I’d do to myself would be ruin a pair of trousers and a bit of “ballistic road rash” less severe than the last tarmac PLF I did.

  • Jim Drickamer

    Manual safeties have the same usefulness as magazine disconnects. If a police officer is disarmed, it may happen that the bad guy does not know how to move the safety to the fire position or to seat the magazine fully. At least, it might prevent him from shooting at the officer for the time it takes the officer to draw a back-up weapon, for him to get out of Dodge, or for the cavalry to arrive. It might save a life. Of course, that is a lot of maybes there.

    • retfed

      When the Illinois State Police became one of the first big agencies to carry autos in 1967, they carried the S&W Model 39, which had a mag disconnector. They trained their troopers to drop the magazine out of the gun if they felt that they were losing a fight over it. It supposedly saved over 20 troopers during the 35 or so years the ISP carried 39/59/459, etc. pistols.
      Of course, the ISP also carried their pistols in crappy insecure thumb-break holsters on their pants belts (no separate gunbelt) back then, so they had other issues. (But the holsters were shiny, pretty patent leather, so they looked good.) Since they went to Glocks in the early 2000s, and switched to secure holsters, I don’t think they’ve had a problem.

      • Kivaari

        Holsters and training have saved more lives than manual safeties. What did cops use for safeties on all those DA revolvers they carried for 90 years?

  • SpartacusKhan

    I was fairly sure the other article had to be satire, this one clinches it. No one could possible take this seriously, you’ve all been fooled. There is NO WAY someone would trade in a CZ for a glock, it would be like trading in a Ferrari for a Pinto with cushionless plastic seats and no engine or brakes towed by a blind donkey who randomly bites people in the leg.

    • Technically, I sold my CZ for quick cash, and then later bought the Glock when I had more means.

      Don’t regret it, though. CZs are fine firearms, but the Glock is a more durable, corrosion-resistant, lighter, and smaller weapon.

      • SpartacusKhan

        Those reasons really sound like you’re reaching for justifications, to me at least, and tupperware is most certainly not more durable than steel. Corrosion-resistance? Really? Next you’ll tell me about the consistent trigger-pull. While you and I certainly have very different things we look for in pistols, I really can’t think of a single feature that nearly any other manufacturer doesn’t do better than glock, and I have quite the imagination. Glock has name recognition and a huge amount of aesthetic customization options, and yeah, they don’t weigh much – which is not a good thing when you actually need to shoot it. I would rather have rock-solid reliability (not just to fire, but NOT to fire, as in having a manual safety) and pin-point accuracy and faster follow-up shots and a fantastic trigger (vs. the worst trigger on any pistol ever – glock’s) than save a few ounces on my belt. The glock just seems like a “me too” gun, which I also don’t find appealing, along with the striker and that bladed trigger shoe and DAO is just – no. YMMV, though I really think maybe you should hold a CZ again and see if the warm fuzzies don’t overwhelm you.

        • Kivaari

          If you think the plastic frames of Glocks are not durable, you have not been paying attention. I’ve seen many worn out steel and aluminum frame pistols. I’ve not seen a worn out Glock. I’ve seen abused ones. I’ve seen more ruined 1911s and many steel framed revolvers shot to uselessness.

          • nicholsda

            Let me know when the plastic fantastic gets to be [S]100[/S] 105 years old and is still working.

          • Kivaari

            Put 30,000rounds through most metal framed pistols and they will be worn out. Durable. Pistols are not designed to go on forever. They are consumables. Many of the military pistols and rifles have only a few thousand round life expectancy.

  • jerry young

    I think manual safeties are needed more than ever on self defense guns, my reasoning goes like this, today we have more and more people carrying guns which I’m all for but even though for the most part most people are trained to shoot and do it well and some have taken classes in self defense most people have never been in a tense situation where they’re under fire, no matter what training one has or how well they can shoot, all the book learning and one on one instruction will not prepare someone for the stress of an encounter, so things that shouldn’t happen do like drawing your gun with your finger on the trigger possibly shooting yourself or others bystanders, just common sense tells us put a safety on the gun to ensure the safety of all innocents, a safety doesn’t have to be a manual safety it can be passive like the grip safety I do like the decocker function on some models while not a safety of sorts it does help make a double action firearm safer to carry but I disagree with the trigger safety, most accidental discharges happen because of trigger contact so to me putting a safety on the trigger is absurd, for most when tension is high common sense and training is forgotten

  • Joe Goins

    I think this is a good article. However, it doesn’t distinguish a difference between active safeties that require the user to toggle and passive safeties that you disable in the standard course of firing (grip and trigger safeties).

    • I don’t discuss automatic/passive safeties in the article at all (except the 1911’s grip safety). The subject is essentially restricted to manual safeties.

  • Joe Goins

    @nathaniel_f:disqus Thank you for not using Black Hawk Down’s “this is my safety” to justify anything.

  • LazyReader

    *A discussion between two engineers*

    “Hey! I got an idea, what if we eliminate the safety”
    “What if you drop it, or it snags”
    “PFFFT, Like that’ll ever happen”

    • Kivaari

      Do Glocks go off when dropped? I’ve never seen it happen. I have never heard of one doing so. I’ve heard people say they Glock fired when it was hit with “something”. It can’t happen.

  • tomah57

    Murphy’s law& a few video cameras has proven you need a manual operated safety.

  • Kafir1911

    You are right about training. However your average everyday cop let alone civilians do not train enough to not have a safety or decocker in many situations. A lot depends on personal preference but lightly trained maybe not so much.

  • wjkuleck

    Call me a dinosaur, perhaps; my first firearm was, and is, a DCM Remington-UMC M1911 acquired in 1960. My history with Glocks is not quite as extensive, though I have been a certified Glock armorer. I remain uneasy carrying a pistol with nothing to prevent an inadvertent trigger pull and consequential negligent discharge. It’s not just fingers in the trigger guard, it’s coat toggles and the like. We might think we can control the environment around our pistol, but stuff happens. It won’t happen to those for whom the manual safety is applied.

    I do not denigrate those who differ with me, or have different epistemologies. I just may not choose to join them in their preferences.

    • Yup. The two best layouts of modern pistol designs (particularly for “agency” issue) are, IMNSHO, a true DAO with no safety (the *length* of pull provides you safety margin, just like they do with DA revolvers) or a striker fired gun with a “mash down to go” safety.

    • Kivaari

      It isn’t the fault of Glock that people use poor handling techniques.

      • As I’ve said elsewhere, “People, unfortunately, will continue to be people.”

        Engineering to account for normal human responses and reflexes is more realistic than insisting that a problem is a training problem.

        • Kivaari

          verything comes down to training. If the design is bad, it is just bad and goes away. The P7 is a fine pistol, it is safe, accurate, easy to use and worst of all an over-priced HK.

          • If a particular design has a significantly higher accident rate than another design that does the same job, it is fair to say the design with a higher accident rate is inferior (because it is less safe) for most users.

            The P7 didn’t bring *anything* to the table that couldn’t be achieved in safer designs.

            Likewise, the addition of a well designed and implemented manual safety to striker fired pistols wouldn’t actually harm their positive qualities. But having a gun with a short pull length trigger (like a SA semi), with a pull weight comparable to a SA semi (IIRC, the Glock standard trigger pull spec is within the US Army spec for the 1911) is no different than carrying a SA semi cocked, with the safety off.

          • Kivaari

            All that was said when revolvers were being replaced with semi-auto pistols. I watched a cop packing a M39-2 take down a robbery suspect. The cops couldn’t remember how to make his gun safe. He ended up riding the hammer down with a thumb. It all goes to training. The P7, out of production probably due to people just not adapting to the design and the huge price, brought things to the table. The instant return to un-cocked and safe as soon as the gun left the hand or the grip was relaxed was a good thing. Just think about a cop being disarmed of a P7, and the bad guy figuring out how to make it run. Perhaps I am an exception to the rule, but since I had used lots of guns, I adapted to it without issue. My idea being pick one gun as stick with it. Those people having NDs with the P7 simply were not trained. People need to be instructed, and then practice on their own. Police in many places simply wont be given adequate training.
            Look at how the LASO was/is having issues with the M&P. Simply poor training and poor self-education by the officers. Perhaps I was lucky to work with people that could use a 3.5 pound connector in the Glocks, and not have NDs. Hand them an AR15, and stand clear. We were much better off when we had MP5s. That little bit of extra complexity (the charging handle) confused some. It takes time. Same with the M97 Winchester shotguns so common in my younger days. I knew of quite a few police car doors, roofs and jail structures getting shot.

          • The problem with the “simply not trained” argument is it ignores the fact that some designs *inherently* require more training, because it is easier to make mistakes with them.

            Yes, sometimes training *is* the answer – a person with a traditional DA/SA semi with a decocker needs to be taught to *always* decock at the end of a firing string, just as a person with a SA semi needs to be taught to always disengage the safety as they present the pistol.

            But it doesn’t change the fact that some designs require more training than others to be just as safe – for example, a decocking safety DA/SA requires less training than a safety only DA/SA, a decock only DA/SA requires less training than a decocking safety, and a DAO requires less training than all three.

            And a short, light, trigger pull pistol with no true manual safety requires more training than any of them except (maybe) the safety only DA/SA, because the training it requires more attention to detail each and every moment the gun is out of the holster than remembering to flick a switch. It’s a far more complex task, and far less forgiving of inattention.

          • Kivaari

            As you point out a person with a new gun needs to be trained. Look at the military and most police departments (especially metro) where recruits often have never fired any gun. Hand them a pistol, rifle and shotgun, and it takes more than a week of training to make them safe. How much time do the academies teach firearms? Many places devote a week. They wont become safe with just a pistol, let alone a shotgun and rifle. Training is inadequate. Where do we se issues? Big departments. Small departments. Some people fear private citizens with guns. Over the years, I’ve learned they aren’t so bad. I’ve seen too many untrained cops.

          • Your answer only underscores why it’s best (especially for “agency” purchases) to select designs that are more forgiving and, thus, require less training to be as safe.

            It’s the same reason we don’t use Ferraris for basic driver education

          • Kivaari

            Good people, having good instruction equals performance. Everything you say mitigates against adopting DA revolvers, since there is change.

          • I’m sorry, at what point did I advocate issuing DA revolvers? While they are the simplest design to train for safe use, the ammo capacity and reloading method are negatives that far outweigh the simplicity of safely handling them.

            But it isnt a choice between a Model 10 S&W or a Glock type pistol. Phrasing your argument that way creates a false binary solution. There are *plenty* of quality choices in semiautomatic pistols other than a short, light trigger without a manual safety.

            What I’ve advocated has been semiautomatic pistols with either a thumb safety or an actual DA trigger (that doesn’t require riding the hammer down to decock them, whether they have a decocker or are DAO).

            Frankly, a DAO with no external and a decent trigger, gives you the training advantages of the old DA revolver (there’s exactly one more button than a revolver – the slide release) with the ammo capacity and ease of reloading of a modern semiautomatic (which more than makes up for that extra button). It’s basically a “flat revolver” that carries 2-3 times the ammo.

          • Kivaari

            My point wasn’t that you advocated any pistol. You seemed to express fear at change. Just like the fear of going to DA revolvers, than auto-loaders, than Glock types over the last century plus. My point was, pick a good gun, the P7, was good but too costly and required training that people didn’t take, than SA/DA S&W M39/59 types and similar (S&Ws were awkward in the 59 series, unreliable) and eventually Glock and Glock clones. Regardless of what is issues, people will screw up simply because they are screw-ups and it doesn’t matter what they are handed. My point take the issue gun of proven design, all are safe, train with it or find a new job. Individuals need to spend hours in front of the TV playing with the pistol, regardless of the spouse not liking it. Weeks of handling it with dummy ammo, field cleaning, and real shooting makes it part of you. I don’t recall ever making a screw up with a Glock.

          • I don’t fear change. That’s why I switched from a 1911 in .45ACP to a DAO “Plastic Fantastic” in 9mm – because the data and my hands on experience showed it to be a superior choice, despite twenty years of shouting “No Europellets! No Combat Tupperware! The 1911 is the finest fighting handgun ever! A 9mm might to get any bigger, but a .45 certainly won’t get smaller!”

            What I “fear” are designs that have higher risk than other designs, without offering enough offsetting advantages to make them a net winner.

            Most shooters, *particularly* people using “company” guns, do not get adequate training – nor will they. Training budgets (both time and money) are zero sum games, and use of a handgun beyond lowest common denominator competency tends to fall by the wayside, and most won’t use their own time and money for more training.

            And the designs you advocate require MORE training (both initial and sustainment) to be AS safe. And more attention paid during use to be as safe. A design that requires less training to be as safe means either a savings overall, or the opportunity for additional training in other areas (either skills in other areas, or more advanced pistol training) for the same schedule and cost.

          • Kivaari

            That’s why I say in a professional setting, they need to pick one gun. I’d choose a Glock 17 or 19 over all others. I am testing a Beretta PX4F and wan to try a PX4C (not compact – constant – DAO) for FUN. I think the claim the P7 is unsafe or the LASO M&Ps are is simply wrong. Training is key. We’d still have M10s if people were unwilling to train. Sure some don’t. Civil actions against them is in order. I suspect NYPD pays out millions in claims to innocent bystanders hit by stray bullets. Like the recent manslaughter case where a cop hit a person with a deflected bullet. Poor training = dead innocent bystander.

          • You keep deliberately avoiding the key point I’m making.

            Some choices of equipment take more effort to achieve equal results (including, in this case, safety) than orhwe choices you can make that do the same job. That is a ad equipment choice, unless the other advantages so outweigh the disadvantage of the increased training requirement as to make it a no-brainer.

            Unless your choice to insist on a short, light trigger without a manual safety comes with definitive advantages so overwhelming in other areas that outweigh the safety concern, it’s a suboptimal choice.

            Continuing to cry, “More training!” isnt an answer. (It’s a good idea, but not an answer, unless you personally can ensure the extra training *will* take place in all cases.)

            So, are manual safeties or double action triggers so impossible to use properly under stress that logic mandates avoiding them and just accepting the all too common reality of the increased fact of NDs when large groups of users are issued pistols that lack either?

  • Formynder

    So far the only gripe I have with the article is the use of Lieutenant Colonels instead of the more proper Lieutenants Colonel.

    Other than that, this was rather solidly stated.

    • No, “Lieutenant Colonels” is correct.

      Unlike, say, “Sergeants Major”, the first word is the *modifier*, not the base. The SERGEANT Major is the “Sergeant over all”. The Lieutenant COLONEL is “the guy who stands in for the colonel”.

      You wouldn’t say “Masters Sergeant” instead of “Master Sergeants”, would you? ?

      • Formynder

        Not the case here. Sergeant Major and Lieutenant Colonel are both ranks based on the Napoleonic army. Much like attorney general, which pluralizes to attorneys general, it follows the same form.

        However, given what I just researched, most sources are saying both cases are proper, without much in the way of sourcing at all.

        • Napoleonic?

          Try Medieval and Early Renaissance.

          Heck, George Washington was a Lieutenant Colonel

          You had the Captain (“head”). It wasn’t a specific rank, but a title meaning the commander of a specific force (of any size.). Originally an Eastern Roman Empire title, Latinized in the very early Dark Ages when Justinian reconquered Italy for the Empire.

          He generally had the Sergeant (“servant”) who was his senior enlisted man. He handled logistics, because that’s what a nobleman in charge of a force *does* – he tells his *butler* to make sure the food and impedimenta are handled. Again, a *Roman* office (although our word for it passed from the Latin to Medieval French due to the Norman Conquest in 1066.)

          The Captain sometimes had a Lieutenant, who stood in for the Captain when the Captain wasnt available (“lieu” = “in place of” + “tenant” = “occupant”, I.e., “guy who occupies the office in place of”).

          If you had multiple units, the overall commander would be the Captain General (“head of all”) – note that “general” is not the rank, it is a modifier to “captain”. He would usually have a Lieutenant General, and might have a Sergeant Major General (“big sergeant of all”), who would handle QM details.

          The ranks of Sergeant Major, Major, and Major General (this is why Lieutenant General outranks Major General) are all derived from Sergeant Major General, by dropping different parts off.

          Colonel derives from “column”, as in “column leader”. It’s Italian, and comes from the Late Medieval period where a group of companies moving together was called a “column”. The first instances of it being used as a rank (for mercenary units, because “Captain General” was generally a well to do citizen who didn’t actually lead the forces he “commanded” in the field) directly are from the 1500s in Italy. The French made it a formal rank in the Royal Army in 1534.

          Once Colonel was the title for the regimental commander of national (as opposed to a title awarded to mercenaries only), another problem arose – the guy who raised the regiment for the King, and thus was its Colonel, was generally a nobleman who didnt command them in the field. He needed a deputy to be his field commander. Following the example of the Lieutenant and Lieutenant General, this deputy leader was the “Lieutenant Colonel” – again, “colonel” is the base, “lieutenant” is the modifier. Generally speaking, the Lieutenant Colonel (selected by the Colonel) would be a professional officer , because the Colonel didn’t want to see his regiment lose (in addition to being a matter of honor and pride, frankly, it was economic as well – the king only paid the Colonel a set rate for a set number of trained, equipped, bodies, wih the occasional bonus for success – but the Colonel was wholly responsible for *all* expenses directly. Yes, it was a “mercenary” solution, albeit one masked in the guise of residual feudalism…)

  • Whitney Philbrick

    The Preference for manual safety comes from a predominant focus on the “firing” use of the gun, and understandably so. If it doesn’t go bang when you need it, why bother having one?
    But I think it misses the fact that by and large what mostly happens with guns, handguns in particular, is that they are carried. They also are taken in and out of holsters and safes and drawers. I think the long gun analogy is the M1 carbine vs the Garand. The carbine is a most unsatisfactory battle rifle but it’s carried by those who have more need to be able to do their primary job and a Garand would hinder or prevent that job. So a carbine is better than a pistol but allows the primary mission to be accomplished.
    If you consider that most civilians (let’s define as anyone non military or non LEO) never fire their guns in anger, and that they spend their days around other innocent civilians and with a media eager to publicize any accident by a “gun carrying nut” the focus on “extra” safety devices makes good sense. It’s a “first do no harm” mentality and it has its own logic.
    Where I’m parked it’s up to each individual to make their own logical decision based on their level of training, risk/threat assessment and daily environment. As long as the decision is thought out and logic based and then backed up by as much training and range time as possible, either way can work.

  • desert

    Stop sending me emails! I try to read an article and you popup a damned advertizement right in the middle of it blasting me out with noise…I don’t need your site bad enough to put up with that childish crap!!!

  • waltinvt

    In an effort to better understand the arguments and be open to the possibility I may be missing something, will someone please objectively explain what difference there is between carrying a revolver with the hammer fully cocked and a round under the hammer and carrying a striker-fire handgun with a round chambered?

    Assume in both cases an average gun owner, reasonably experienced with a decent, modern weapon, a good quality holster that covers the trigger and no manual safety.

    • Cottersay

      I asked the same question, but instead inserted a cocked but NOT locked 1911 with the grip safety deactivated and a 5.5lb trigger. The answers were absurd, and were all predicated on a human being infallible, and that if you are REALLY (really!) well trained, an accident couldn’t possibly happen.

      Well, I’m well trained and I’m a human, but I’ll still keep my thumb safety!!

  • sean

    The only good safety is a good holster

    • Kivaari

      The primary safety is the user.

      • nicholsda

        The primary safety is the space between the ears. Sadly, many have that area filled with mush. Work in a gun shop and I’ll guaranty you’ll see one at least once a week.

        • Kivaari

          I owned 2 gun stores, worked in others. As well as being a retired cop. The lack of knowledge bout guns is common, even in police departments and military. Ignorance in the gun world is common. Every time yo see a chance to educate, you do.

      • Mazryonh

        Sure, control of one’s “booger hook” is the primary safety, but we’re all fallible sooner or later.

        • Kivaari

          Does that mean we should not have a gun?

          • Mazryonh

            I did not say that.

            It’s a game of odds. A carried and loaded gun is always there. It doesn’t know and doesn’t care if the user is mentally ill, or emotionally compromised, or if the user “had a few too many” to forget trigger discipline or the loaded nature of the gun. It’s simply human nature to not be in tip-top condition some of the time.

            Not all of us can train so that safe gun handling is second nature, which you can read about with all the accidental self-shootings, or the cases where kids get their hands on unsecured guns (sometimes carried by others) and end up shooting themselves or other people. Manual safeties and other kinds of safeties can reduce the chances of that happening, but it’s still not completely safe, such as with the cases of “Glock leg.”

          • Kivaari

            There are still NO ACCIDENTS, there are still NEGLIGNET DISCHARGES. You can’t make guns so safe that idiots wont shoot them when unintended. Those suffering from Glock leg, failed to perform. About the only case I’ve read about that is close to being an accident was the coat tie that entered the trigger window. Now, people should know to cut those off. I find it hard to get anything into the trigger guard since I always guard the window with my indexed finger. I can feel anything that gets close to the trigger.
            I’ve heard so many claims from NEWLEY issued officers, claiming the gun went off when hit with a baton, car door, flashlight, or dropped or simply fired “in the holster”. I remember people having “accidents” wit SA revolvers. One friend shot himself in the leg. He could not explain how he did it, but he sure didn’t blame the gun.

  • Rosser

    Consider the military issuing handguns to new soldiers who’ve never held a real one before in their lives. The Army doesn’t have time for that SAW gunner to develop the needed muscle memory to do the right thing. As a 2LT, I want to see that my joes have the safety engaged. I’ll issue the command to lock and load when we head out the gate.
    An O-6 of my acquaintance reports that they issued Glocks to the Iraqi army. As soon as they mounted up, the reports of accidental discharges would start coming in.
    All to say: you can’t cure stupid – but you can sometimes delay the consequences.

    • Kivaari

      Iraqi soldiers having NDs, is to be expected, since training is non-existent. Look at US cops firing rounds when they shouldn’t. It is all a lack of training and self control.
      Hand a new soldier that has never handled a gun until joining the service. Issuing a gun as simple as a revolver or Glock makes training easier and safer. Hand most soldiers that have simply qualified with an M9 or M4, and they screw up. Having a safety like the M9 makes training more complex.

      • Rosser

        Agreed. As a trained shooter, the answer is relatively easy – protection of self through ease and speed of employment has priority. Arming the untrained – probably lean towards safety. Of course, once they figure out how to leave the safety off safe, you have either no safety or one more bit of risk management – constant vigilance with NCOs walking the line checking.
        And now on to one of my favorite rants: our attempts to make life (and guns?) risk free. My friends and I wonder how we ever survived our childhoods. I wouldn’t trade mine for anything. I wrote earlier that there’s no cure for stupid. Happily, it’s possible to learn and outgrow it, something I think we’re denying our kids.

  • AirborneSoldier

    Too many of the safties offered today satisfy lawyers, while not being large enough to reliably, consistently, and quickly manipulate them.

    • My favorite “lawyer safety” is one magazine disconnect Ruger did. The manuals carefully explained how to remove it “for detail cleaning”, and (piously tongue in cheek) cautioned one should remember to reinstall it afterwards, as the gun would merrily work fine without it installed.

  • Martin Buck

    One point about safeties. When John M. Browning was developing the eventual 1911, his only customers were the Army and the Generals that ran it. At the time, a soldier was a horseman who participated in cavalry charges and the like. The top brass feared that an inexperienced trooper would inadvertently pull the trigger while riding, and accidentally on purpose plug the officer riding at their front. So they insisted on a grip safety, over John M.’s objections. They later insisted on a manual safety as well due to the single action of the 1911. Up to then they had been using double action but anaemic Colt .38s. I’m not sure if Sergeant York ever used the safety on his 1911, but he proved what a useful tool it could be, combined with boldness and quick wits. And the 1911 has been with us ever since.

  • Ghost930

    I think the manual safety issue also tends to be somewhat mission/job guided. A manual safety being present on a Police firearm, has on more than one occasion saved lives when the assailant got an officers duty gun, and couldn’t figure out the safety in time to harm anyone. Secondly, in a military environment, it’s one more way to “soldier proof” a weapon (can’t even remember how many ND’s we had in Iraq from M-9s). On a single action semi auto platform, I would argue it’s pretty much a needed item, especially if the pistol doesn’t have a grip safety (ala Browning HP). For double action striker fired guns, again depends on what you are doing, and the reason you are carrying a handgun.

  • M1911


    That really is great information. There has been so much misinformation on this subject and it is great that you and Drake actually tested it and published the results.

  • Ondřej Turek

    Ahem, “and civilian shooters almost nonexistent besides gentlemen carrying

    Ever heard the name Beatrix Potter? The author of the “Peter the rabbit” books for kids? Well, there exists sort of diary of her. And it contains an interesting notion: one rainy afternoon, I believe 9 people of both sexes were sitting in a british countryside inn. The conversation turned towards firearms, and the diary notes that of all the people present, only one _did not_ have a gun (revolver) on her.

    Or another example: when the Anarchists robbed a London jewellery store, several armed civilians pursued them alongside the police. Etc., etc.

    Freeman always had guns. Claiming the contrary is “Progressive” myth.

  • Jim

    One of main reasons Glocks are so popular with U.S. law enforcement is the fact that they were one of the easiest autoloading pistols to transition to from revolvers. Back in the late ’80’s and early ’90’s when LE agencies were going to autos, the Glocks were chosen because they had the fewest ‘buttons, levers and thing-a-ma-jigs’ to fool with when firing the pistol. All those multiple features on some pistols confused a lot of the revolver shooters to the point where they couldn’t fire the pistol under stressful conditions. Some of the pistols with de-cocking levers actually got cops shot because they were required to carry the pistol in de-cock or ‘safe mode’ (S&W M39/59 family). Second generation pistols with the spring loaded auto return de-cocking lever solved most of those early problems. I was an early fan of Glocks for the simple reason that it had no ‘safety’. If you wanted to shoot it, you pulled the trigger. If you didn’t want to shoot it, you didn’t pull the trigger. Quick and simple. Just like a revolver. During early training sessions, some of the old time revolvers shooters didn’t like the Glock because it had no ‘safety’. I asked them to show me where the ‘safety’ was on their revolver. End of argument.

  • retfed

    That’s swell in theory, but try holding someone at gunpoint and relaxing your grip on the gun. It will never happen. If you need to point a gun at someone, your hand will automatically squeeze the grip, and if you don’t need to squeeze the grip, you don’t need to be pointing a gun at someone.
    I know the squeeze cocker is not a safety; I just used that as a shorthand term.
    Like i said, they’re great on the range. Just not for police work.
    Like I said in my original post, I’ve used revolvers, DA/SA autos, DAO autos, 1911s, and Glocks on the job. They’re all better than the P7 for police work.

    • Kivaari

      THEORY? I may not have used a P7 at the time, But I sure as hell know what its like to hold a suspect at the point of a pistols, revolver, shotgun or machinegun. I never unintentionally discharged a round into a suspect.

    • Kivaari

      That comes from someone that has never done police work, trained police officers or done similar personal training.

  • Agreed on the P7 for general issue. It would be ok for the gun guys but not so much for those not interested in guns.

  • Kivaari

    Excellent. Than you know, it is training that matters. That having cops switching guns creates issues. That the only way to solve it is with high quality training. I would support the use of DAO pistols.
    I just think blasting the P7 is wrong. I loved them.
    I prefer the Glock. For those unwilling to train I guess you can substitute a NY trigger, a mechanical override to a training issue.
    Like most cops I worked in small towns. Where 90% of cops work. We simply did not have issues I’ve seen elsewhere. But we fired 350 rounds per month.
    The basic academy is inadequate.
    When I started in the 60s, if you didn’t already know guns, you were not considered. The sheriff used to interview a person, while a revolver sat on his desk. He’d ask the person to look at it. If they fumbled or didn’t do a safety check, they got bumped from the list.

    • retfed

      Thank you for your reply. I agree with you about Glocks and DAOs. I carried Glocks (17 and 19) for years and I love them. I like the P7, but not for police work.
      People who glibly talk about “training issues” never seem to consider that training time is finite. The more time you spend teaching idiosyncrasies of a unique weapon, the less time you have to spend teaching useful survival skills. That was my only point.
      I don’t think the NY trigger is a real answer (I don’t want to start another argument), because it so badly affects accuracy and it doesn’t stop NDs, as the recent NYPD officer’s conviction shows.
      Back in the 70s, the old Police Marksman magazine ran a story about startle reflex. The methodology is too complicated to go into here, but suffice it to say that an induced startle reflex caused 100% of the subjects tested to ND a K-frame revolver. Training (and strict enforcement in subsequent training) results in safety; million-pound triggers don’t.

      • Kivaari

        NY triggers are the dumbest idea around. That is how NYPD “solved” their issue of poor training. I find it impossible to believe a startle reflex caused 100% of the subjects to fire the gun. I started in 1968, with time out for the Navy, and then back I ’70. We indexed our fingers alongside the frame in ’68. I never heard of a shot being fired from a startle reflex using a K-frame Smith. Were they holding a cocked revolver with their finger on the trigger? That’s the only way to get even a smaller fraction of people to shoot.
        We issued 3.5 pound connectors in our Glocks. My last issue gun was a G34 with the factory 3.5. We did not have issues.
        My idea is that an agency needs to pick a suitable gun. To me that means a 9mm that fits the hands of 90+% of the users and now a Gen4 can accommodate the left over 10%. Then they need to train with the thing. When I did the academy, our state certified shotgun training was firing 5 shots. Quite a few had never used a shotgun. They were “Certified”. At least today they do a better job locally. Real qualification courses from what I gather. I retired in 2002. We had fired 350 rounds per month. Our MP certification class required a minimum of 800 rounds. Beyond the pistol we shot 30-60 additional MP5 rounds, depending on the focus.

        • retfed

          The way they did the test was, they handed the subject (a sworn officer) a safe K-frame (hammer down) and told him to advance on a threat at the other end of a darkened simulated alley. When the officer passed a certain point, a tester hidden in an alcove reached out and squeezed the back of the officer’s thigh. This caused a 100% ND rate. (The officers were told to have their finger on the trigger; if it was alongside the frame like it should have been, they wouldn’t have been able to test anything.)
          My original Glock 17, a Gen 1 made in 1988, came from the factory with a 3.5-pound trigger. I had a NY trigger put on it (in 1989 the NY trigger, which was developed for the NY State Police, not the NYPD, gave the gun a 5-pound trigger pull.) I liked that very much. Now they come from the factory with a 5-pound trigger.
          If I recall right, our shotgun qual was 25 rounds of 00 and 5 slugs, at 25 yards.
          The pistol qual I taught was 72 rounds, ranging from 1.5 yards to 25 yards. Now it’s 50 rounds from the same distances.

  • Kivaari

    I just never had trouble holding anyone at gun point. I guess I can’t relate to those that have trouble doing so.

    • retfed

      I never did either, but you and I are not the norm in policing anymore.
      I think we agree more than we disagree. Let’s keep it that way.
      (Hey, wanna start another argument? I’ll go first: 1911s suck!)

  • Archie Montgomery

    Amazing! One suspects many writers are so insecure in their opinions and conclusions they are emotionally ‘self forced’ to convince everyone else of their beliefs. Associated with this is the modern culture idea of ‘new’ versus ‘outdated’.

    Examples being:
    1. Revolvers are inadequate for self-defense.
    2. Holsters with uncovered triggers or trigger guards are dangerous past discussion.
    3. Iron sights – especially for rifles – are laughably inadequate and outdated.
    4. This current attack on manual safeties and defensive arms which use them.
    5. Wood as a stock or grip material.
    6. The inadequacy of anything designed prior to [fill in a time period usually consistent with the point at which the author learned to read].

    Simply amazing. I suppose the soap must be sold.

  • Joshua Knott

    Nathaniel… were cool to me until you said that you traded a Glock for a Cz……. I have no other words for you sir, Good day.