A Case for 1911’s Being “Safe” Without the Manual Safety in Competition

    As many readers here know, I’ve been a long time Glock shooter in competition. My G34 in its various iterations has been showcased on TFB through reviews of various components as companies submit products for testing. That, or I take unilateral action and upgrade it. It has been a trusty weapon system, with only a single malfunction in the last three years of shooting.

    However, I did not choose it for its reliability, instead opting for the platform as I was petrified of being disqualified during matches for failing to engage external safeties during abandoning a firearm. Having watched various 1911 shooters be DQ’d for failure to engage a safety or having actually seen it once be disengaged by the box itself, the Glock (or various other striker fired weapons for that matter) was a logical choice.

    Still, it seems to be that they are logical choices only because of illogical thinking. Almost all competition circuits require that the external safety must be engaged on a 1911 despite the fact that the weapon is completely safe when the backstrap safety is in place. That backstrap is the functional equivalent of the “dingus” on almost all modern striker-fired semi autos. Engaging the manual safety just seems silly to me and a relic of antiquated thinking.

    To me, the weapon must be safe (meaning unable to be fired without purposeful human intervention) and so long as it meets that requirement, the weapon should be deemed sufficiently “safe” for competition purposes.

    The most common argument for requiring the 1911 to engage the safety is the often opined “but someone may pin that safety in place.” And yes, in those cases, the shooter must engage the safety to meet the intent of the rules. For anyone who does not pin it, why is there a requirement for all to suffer for the few who modify their weapons? Further, with all weapons subject to RO and/or MD evaluation at any time, why is this relevant when the intent of the rule can always be followed?

    Further, various DA/SA guns are deemed “safe” just in a decocked position. Beretta 92 G’s and Sig P226 style handguns are perfectly OK to be abandoned with absolutely no safeties engaged, just a decocked hammer. To me, this seems like a double-standard created out of an absurd abundance of caution, not taking into account the actual mechanics of the weapon systems.

    Instead, the rules should be modified to reflect that weapons shall be “safe” to a similar definition as above when abandoned, not just arbitrarily require that all safeties be engaged on a given weapon. Rules as currently written stifle innovation and otherwise send shooters away from great platforms that would otherwise be enjoyed in competition.

    Nathan S

    One of TFB’s resident Jarheads, Nathan now works within the firearms industry. A consecutive Marine rifle and pistol expert, he enjoys local 3-gun, NFA, gunsmithing, MSR’s, & high-speed gear. Nathan has traveled to over 30 countries working with US DoD & foreign MoDs.

    The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.