Grip Safeties-death trap?
This is a discussion on Grip Safeties-death trap? within the Defensive Carry Guns forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; While reading the "1911 Sucks" thread, the topic has lead to some discussion regarding grip safeties. Some people have even gone so far as to ...
February 24th, 2012 01:48 AM
Grip Safeties-death trap?
While reading the "1911 Sucks" thread, the topic has lead to some discussion regarding grip safeties. Some people have even gone so far as to call this feature a "death trap", assuming by failure to grip properly.
The subject was specific about 1911s, but I am an XD fan, and mine have this feature. Spread across 3 pistols, I am sure I have fed close to 40,000rds or more. I have only had an issue with my sub-compact once and I believe it might have been "limp wristing" that caused it. Never once have I not been able to fire because of a poor grip engaging the grip safety. Never a failure because of a malfunctioning grip safety either. I practice aggressive tactical shooting techniques......meaning, I have thrown the gun to the ground, rapid holstering and draw, tap rack bang, diving, rolling, etc....no issues (no I am not a mall ninja )
Now my opinion, is that if someone were to regularly have issues with a grip safety, wouldn't this most likely be an issue of training with their gun? To call the feature a "death trap" and encourage disengagement of the mechanism.......to me, I see it similar to a poorly seated magazine. Train to cope with the situation autonomously, right?
I know some here are anti-safeties on a pistol. That's fine, I specifically would like to hear thoughts about "grip safeties".
“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
― Albert Einstein
February 24th, 2012 02:13 AM
In another thread running simultaneously, the discussion is about the USMC getting ready to down-select a new .45 ACP pistol for some special-ops groups. One hundred and one years after that pattern gun was first adopted by the US military, the two finalists are both 1911s. I think that alone speaks volumes for the positive experience of a grip safety in hard and dangerous use.
Certainly there are numerous incidents over 101 years of a 1911 that didn't fire because the grip safety wasn't depressed. I would hazard a guess that if someone regularly had problems with a grip safety, those incidents would arise primarily from a poor fit of the gun to the shooter's hand, rather than a training failure. Witness the popularity of the "memory groove" grip safety by Ed Brown, to positively mitigate against the web of the hand not coming into contact with the grip safety. The thing about the grip safety is that it's not supposed to be something the shooter consciously engages - the shooter's anatomy should automatically contact it. But the wide variation in human anatomy makes it inevitable that someone's hand won't depress the safety, and we know from experience that that is the case.
But to label a grip safety a "death trap" is both extreme and misleading... diatribe that flies in the face of experience.
NRA Endowment Member
NROI Chief Range Officer
February 24th, 2012 06:26 AM
I agree with Smitty all the way. It's a shooter issue not a weapon issue. The success of the 1911 and all the other platforms that employ this mechanism speaks for itself.
Originally Posted by gasmitty
“A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government.” --George Washington
February 24th, 2012 06:41 AM
Grip safety thoughts...
One can rely upon either experience or theory in answering this question. Based on my personal experience, which involves owning and shooting about a dozen 1911s over the last 40 years, I've never had a problem with a grip safety preventing me from firing the gun. Based upon theory, I can see the possibility that a mechanical failure or shooter grip problem could block the gun from firing in a time of emergency. Combining these two considerations, I have to conclude that being blocked from shooting by a faulty grip safety is a rare event - maybe a 1 in 10,000 chance or even less.
So the use of the term "death trap" for this is overblown and exaggerated. With 1911s, I am more concerned about forgetting to release the thumb safety under stress than a failure of the grip safety. If you forget to release the thumb safety and lose a couple of seconds while someone is attacking you, the problem could be fatal for you. For this reason I'm not a big fan of thumb safeties on a carry gun, but don't mind a grip safety.
Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the Peoples' Liberty's Teeth." - George Washington
February 24th, 2012 06:44 AM
I like grip safeties, but they are not a requirement for me. I have a XD and it has been flawless and I don't even think about the grip safety, and I have many pistols that do not have them and I have no issue with them not having one either.
Know Guns, Know Safety, Know Peace.
No Guns, No Safety, No Peace.
February 24th, 2012 06:50 AM
I can't speak about the XD since I have never used one, but for the 1911, the grip safety, IMO is anything but a "death trap". I personally don't see how someone can grip the gun without engaging the safety unless they are trying to. Even on the Mil-Spec guns if the gun is gripped properly, you engage the safety.
Freedom doesn't come free. It is bought and paid for by the lives and blood of our men and women in uniform.
NRA Life Member
February 24th, 2012 06:54 AM
I had an experience with my Kimber which led me to abandon the platform as my EDC and switch to something less complex and subject to malfunction.
Originally Posted by gasmitty
While firing on my range on a cold and windy November day, the sleeve of my field jacket somehow managed to get blown forward at the exact instant I fired. As the hammer cocked, it pinched the edge of my sleeve between it and the beaver tail/grip safety. The pistol was rendered inoperable, and it was only with extreme caution and difficulty that I was able to unattach it from my jacket sleeve with a round in the chamber, the slide within a hairbreadth of battery,the grip safety shoved down in the "fire" position, and the thumb safety un-engageable.
"There's something in me I can't describe. It's as if I saw a strange darkness before me, into which I must go."
February 24th, 2012 07:38 AM
Train your grip & you should not run into this issue. If you are trusting your life to something you should know how to use it.
"I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain."
- Roy Batty
February 24th, 2012 07:38 AM
A high grip on a stock Mil Spec 1911 can in fact prevent some shooters from depressing the GS enough to free up the trigger. I have done this myself. It happened while trying to get as high as I could with the web of my hand and placing my shooting hand thumb on top of the thumb safety while firing. The base of my hand wasn't able to put enough pressure on the GS because of the angle. It CAN happen.
I prefer the high ride BTGS with a speed bump for this reason. I've had zero issues with this setup.
I have large hands in case anyone is wondering if that makes a difference.
There's nothing like a funeral to make you feel alive
February 24th, 2012 07:58 AM
Originally Posted by deadguy
But what hasn't been mentioned yet is, the XD's slide cannot be fully retracted if the grip safety is not engaged. The problems with this range from annoyance at having to adjust to a full grasp of the pistol when trying to lock the slide back, to an inability to perform certain malfunction clearance techniques under pressure.
February 24th, 2012 08:05 AM
Guys, lots of people have problems with 1911 grip safeties. A gunsmith, a famous one, built a 1911 without a grip safety for a customer for that very reason. Why do you think we have 'memory' bumps on grip safeties? To help us remember something? I think every manufacturer recognizes a grip safety block as an issue and uses some kind of profile to minimize the risk. There are all manner of modified grip safety profiles to address the issue. Do you realize how many people 'pin' or have their grip safeties pinned? And, these are not people that don't know how to grip a gun or shoot.
I personally have problems with a 1911 grip safety IF, pay attention, IF I use a thumb riding the thumb safety grip. I have seen grip safety blocks occur with other students in the many classes I have attended.
It seems the 'thinner' one's hand is, the more likely the problem is to occur. Beefy hands rarely experience the problem.
That hardly makes it a death trap though. If a person experiences that problem, as I have, and many others have, and I kinda think I know how to grip a 1911, he needs to get it fixed by whatever means it takes. I've found one of the simplest and most efficient ways is to just replace the grip safety with a Caspian grip 'full ridge' safety. My problems went away after that.
I'm too young to be this old!
Getting old isn't good for you!
February 24th, 2012 08:13 AM
Everyone is going to have there own issues. I have never had any. If you have indeed fired over 40,000 rounds and had only one malfunction due to limp wristing, then why even ask. That's an amazing track record. Just continue to practice.
February 24th, 2012 09:03 AM
"...with liberty and justice for all..."
(Must be 18. Void where prohibited. Some restrictions may apply. Not available in all states). - D. Stanhope
D.R. Middlebrooks - Pro Shooting Coach & Custom Gunsmith
Tactical Shooting Academy & Custom Shop
February 24th, 2012 09:22 AM
I dont understand someone that condems a handgun, one that has been around for over 100 years and used by countless people, as being a "death trap" just because they happen to have an issue with one.
I mean... really?
You have an issue with a pistol that most people dont have issues with and then say its a death trap?
A handgun is a MACHINE. Master it. Become the boss of it. Make it work. Its an inanimate object that does only what you want it to.
If you can't make it work to your liking, then ditch it and get something more suited to you. If your hands are too small, too big, or too clumsy, then get something that eliminates the issue. Train with it until there is no thought required, until it becomes an extension of your hand, your body, your thought process.
I hear it alot at the range. That gun "sucks", "I cant shoot with it" or "it wont hit anything". And then I pick it up and shoot the center out of the target.
In most cases it isnt the gun.. its the shooter.
Thats what I think about grip safetys.
I want to have a job where the is no accountability,a job where I can do as I dang well please and make my own laws and act like a KING. I want to be on the Supreme Court.
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February 24th, 2012 09:48 AM
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