Should Military Issued Handguns Have A Manual Safety?

    Photo of a Polish soldier aiming his PR-15 pistol. Image from FB Radom.

    In the civilian world of handgun ownership, we can choose for ourselves which handguns we buy based on features that they may, or may not have, such as a manual safety. When it comes to the issued handguns of the armed forces, however, naturally, the decision of which firearm, or which features said firearm will have is in the hands of legislators and a select few within the armed forces.

    As many of the faithful readers of TFB are aware, there are modern examples of some militaries that have chosen to issue handguns with manual safeties, such as the United States with their recently acquired SIG P320, designated the M17.  The British Armed Forces, on the other hand, chose to abstain from manual safeties when they issued the Glock 17, designated the L131A1.  The top photo is from Poland, which features their PR-15 pistol equipped with a decocker only.

    Manual Safety for military handguns?

    Photo credit: SIG SAUER

    Manual Safety For Military Handguns?

    Image from

    Manual Safety For Military Handguns?

    Photo by Pierre Courtejoie during a joint weapons training between the US and UK. Image from

    My friend and I have gone back and forth on this argument as it relates to military sidearms.  Although we’re both in law enforcement and we’re both issued Glock 17s.  For my first year in law enforcement, I was issued a Smith & Wesson 410 with a manual safety.  I had the leeway to buy my own duty gun, so I chose a Glock and have been issued a Glock 22 and 17 since.  In terms of military procurement, I argue that keeping fingers out of trigger guards (unless on-target) is a training issue.  I also argue that training a large force with minimal time spent on handgun training could actually simplify things by only having to focus on trigger fingers as the ultimate safety.

    Manual Safety For Military Handguns?

    Czech Army’s SP-01 Phantom is equipped with a decocker only with no manual safety.

    I understand that my background in law enforcement is different than the military.  However, it’s hard for me to ignore the fact that for over 15 years, I’ve carried a safety-less pistol, with a round chambered 100 percent of the time with no safety issues.  On the other hand, I know law enforcement hasn’t been immune from ND’s either.  Finding statistics on this topic is difficult.  It’s also hard to distinguish rifles from pistols if only numbers are presented.  It’s also complicated to separate actual ND’s from “horseplay” and blatant abandonment of the four rules of gun safety, not to mention the unfortunate possibility of suicide that may appear accidental.

    Manual Safety For Military Handguns?

    Polish PR-15 pistol. Photo credit: FB Radom.

    Many handgun owners have examples of pistols with and without manual safeties.  When it comes to self-defense pistols though, people generally have a preference of one or the other.  I’d like to hear your preference, but from a military-issue standpoint.  Some people may prefer one or the other for themselves while having the opinion that the military should issue the opposite.  You don’t have to be a veteran to participate since we can all have opinions and share them freely.  Although, military veterans may have formed their opinion based on ND’s they may have been witness to.  They may also help shed some light on how much, or how little the handgun is trained with.

    Where do you stand on the topic of military pistols?  Do you think they should include a manual safety, or should that feature be excluded?  Please let us know what draws you to your conclusion as well.

    Doug E

    Doug has been a firearms enthusiast since age 16 after getting to shoot with a friend. Since then he’s taken many others out to the range for their first time. He is a husband, father, grandfather, police officer, outdoorsman, artist and a student of history. Doug has been a TFB reader from the start and is happy to be a contributor of content. Doug can be reached at battleshipgrey61 AT, or battleshipgrey61 on Instagram.