Safeties, triggers, and the ultimate safety?

Safeties, triggers, and the ultimate safety?

This is a discussion on Safeties, triggers, and the ultimate safety? within the Defensive Carry Guns forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; What is the purpose of an external manual safety on a gun? Other than the obvious, to keep the gun from being fired, I think ...

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  1. #1
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    Safeties, triggers, and the ultimate safety?

    What is the purpose of an external manual safety on a gun?

    Other than the obvious, to keep the gun from being fired, I think it has several uses. One is to make it a bit safer when it's out of the holster and especially when it's placed in a glove box, slid under the seat, or put in the console to quickly step into that no gun zone we couldn't avoid.

    A great use for a safety is in the event of a gun grab, if the gun has the safety engaged, it will take the BG longer to figure out how to fire the gun and he may never figure it out - well not in time to do harm anyway.

    But you know one thing I've found about safeties? They're on when I thought they were off and off when I thought they were on. Don't know how that happens anymore than I know what makes socks disappear.

    I can take or leave an external manual safety on a handgun, the 1911 not included. That brings me to "safety" that is built into triggers and the ultimate safety - the brain. That ultimate safety brings me to near frenzy and ranting about "the brain is the real safety". BS, BS, BS!

    I wonder when we say that in reference to guns if we realize how many fingers and hands have been cut off with power tools, simply because someone's "ultimate safety" failed? Industries have long admitted that the brain is NOT so safe and they put mechanical safeties on every power tool and machine manufactured.

    If the brain is such a great safety device, how come there are so many automobile accidents? Brain failure. How come we "knew better than that" but still had an accident? Brain failure. And as we get tired, distracted, and startled on top of frightened under stress, that "ultimate safety" seems to have real problems like, tunnel vision, deafness, inadvertent finger on the trigger, grip strength, sympathic reaction, and on it goes.

    While can take or leave an external manual safety, I don't much want to trust my life solely on somebody's brain. I've simply seen too many brain failures to believe the brain is so great. I find much more comfort in a long, heavier trigger pull as a compliment to, or many times an over-ride to the brain. Ernst Landgon once told me that a government agency he worked for found that heavier trigger pulls was a deterant to ADs, but pull length was a much more important factor than pull weight. The two together, well...

    When I'm using power tools, I find myself, removing guards sometimes for convenience or time sake, and when I do that, I am totally reliant on my brain to protect me. If something happens that my brain didn't expect or couldn't respond to correctly or quickly enough, I could get hurt. If I hadn't removed the guard(s) maybe the guard would compensate for the the brain's fallacy(s).

    I believe the same is true for guns, if your brain is the only safety and it's tired, confused, frightened, distracted, stressed, etc. I wonder how "safe" it really is?

    Hmmm, that was a little harsh wasn't it? But, man, do I feel better!!!


  2. #2
    Member Array ramtough47's Avatar
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    Tangle I'm glad you feel better after posting your feeling concerning safties, and the brain not doing such a good job,etc.etc....I thought you had some good points,BUT when it comes to guns and especially carry one for self protection, the only safety i want is between my ears and the index finger on my right hand. I can't tell you how many times i have witnessed people who thought they new how to manipulate their external safety on their new fangled-high powered pistol only to find out when stress is introduced to the situation, that their gun won't work and if fear was also present it would probably be even worse.I'm not saying someone who carries a H&K or Sig or a Beretta or any other who use external safeties like theirs can't work it, they just need to really practice it daily, as we all should no mater what we carry. Just my .02 worth.

  3. #3
    Distinguished Member Array Gideon's Avatar
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    I guess that's why we must handle guns the same way, every time, without exception so that safe handling of a weapon is ingrained very deeply. When I'm tired or surprised, I may not think real fast, but my body does. It's kind of like hunting birds or rabbits. As a kid, I grew up hunting them with an old 16 ga pump. It got to the point where I can identify a pheasant, shoot it, pump the gun and return the safety to on and not recollect having a consious thought.

    So with my Kahr, which has no safety other than a DAO trigger pull, I try to handle it as if loaded even when I know it's not.

    Another part of this whole safety issues is how the weapon is carried and employed. In the woods hunting, when you're busting through brush you need a robust safety that's ideally located. For a pistol used for CC, you may not need anything becasue of the inherent safety provided by the holster and means of carry.

    For defense, I like the Kahr because theres no thinking, just point and shoot. Same for my S&W 637. For my 1911, I could practice enough to make it automatic but no matter how much practice it's still an awkward sweep of the thumb for me.

    the one safety I've never ever used is that little key lock on the guns. I know they're because of a law and I guess they might be useful for long term "inactive" storage or for the safe if you're away.

    God Bless all

    Gideon

  4. #4
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    Tangle - for me mechanical safeties are ''might-be's".

    By that I mean I have NEVER placed total trust in them - handgun or rifle. Arguably, a safety like on an Enfield rifle - is perhaps about as trustworthy as they get - seeing as how it locks the mechanism so totally.

    With 1911 of course we have main safety and the grip safety - a very good combination IMO for condition #1 carry. When I carried my BHP C&L however - I was less happy than had it been a 1911 - only reason I did actually do it was cos the safety on my BHP Practical (an ambi) has a very positive detent and so it is very much on or off.

    I do feel myself that the brain is a major safety device - in as much as even on a bad day - if we religiously follow the four rules then there should be no mishaps. Needless to say as we know - alcohol/drugs and guns do not mix - and there the brain safety can (could) be compromized.

    That said I still consider that with enough attention to the four rules - even if we are overtired, perhaps a tad sluggish from a coupla late day beers at home - ''rule instinct'' should still apply. I may have said before when we discussed intoxication or tiredness - I personally find I still have my ''voice of reason'' - even if I am physically slowed. It is the ability to rationalize and analyze even when less than fully compos mentis.

    Thus - for me anyways I follow the ''gun is always loaded'' route - and pay greatest attention to rule #2 ..... such that if I did screw up at least a discharge will go safe in direction.

    One thing I find quite a drawback at times is, when dry firing I have to remember that I can use the trigger!!! This after numerous checks for empty. I am so imbued with ''finger off trigger'' - I just hope in extremeis I get to use it fast . No - I jest - because I manage perfectly alright in IDPA!

    Perhaps the best is exploitation of all safety avenues - the gun and the mind - both together.
    Chris - P95
    NRA Certified Instructor & NRA Life Member.

    "To own a gun and assume that you are armed
    is like owning a piano and assuming that you are a musician!."


    http://www.rkba-2a.com/ - a portal for 2A links, articles and some videos.

  5. #5
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    I didn't mean to give the impression that the brain was NOT important, it is. But after driving for years, working with power tools, handling knives, using the same operating procedure day after day, people still have accidents because of brain failures. We fall down stairs, fall off ladders, step in holes, bump into one another, spill stuff, drop stuff, lock our keys in the car, forget things, say the wrong thing, run red lights and stop signs, etc. Yet somehow this same brain is supposed to have the ability to follow other operating procedures, i.e. the 4 safety rules without making a mistake.

    All I'm saying is it seems to me long trigger pulls with heavier pull weights (6.5# or more) give us more margin for brain error than short, light trigger pulls or external manual safeties. The problem with manual safeties, is again, it requires the brain to do one more task under duress.

    I too, religiously practice the 4 rules of safety. But how do we experience, train, or practice for heart pounding life or death, brain numbing, situations? We can't, so we really don't know how we might respond under dire stress.

    tests show that a large portion of trainees in simulators, come out the other end saying they distinctly remember having their finger along the frame, but the video tape shows a different story - they had their finger on the trigger most of the time; not along side the frame and they could hardly believe the video.

    In another study, a pressure sensor was put on a Sig 226 trigger and trainees, were put in a stressful simulator. Again, all were confident that they did NOT have their fingers on the trigger. Not only did they have their fingers on the trigger, a goodly portion of them was applying enough pressure to fire the gun, even though they did not intend to shoot, and didn't even know their finger was on the trigger!

    Another thing Ernst Langdon told me about training SWAT teams - he has to continually remind them to take their fingers off the triggers.

    I just seems to me that we need as much margin for error as practical as long as the margin doesn't expose us to danger itself.

  6. #6
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    I do agree Tangle - the ubiquitous ''brain fart'' is a known entity

    One reason I like the SIG so much is that being DA/SA - it probably would in an extreme situation give me a small safety margin if I were to inadvertently take up trigger contact early, before a decision is made to actually fire. As you do rightly say - no amount of practice and training will guarantee the actual reaction under sudden and intense life-threatening pressure.

    The SIG DA is beyond my trigger pull measure scale but I'll guess it's around 11# - SA breaks at 5#. If I am actually shooting, intentionally from DA, then I don't notice that poundage much - and it has smooth travel but - were I to be resting trigger finger on it - it certainly is less likely to result in an ND. By comparison it might be argued that the same situation on a 4 1/2" 1911 trigger could, if safety off, lead to an ND.

    My R9 trigger is a butter smooth 7# but travel is quite long - and that makes for the need to be deliberate and so possibly safer when stressed.

    Sorry - rambling again!
    Chris - P95
    NRA Certified Instructor & NRA Life Member.

    "To own a gun and assume that you are armed
    is like owning a piano and assuming that you are a musician!."


    http://www.rkba-2a.com/ - a portal for 2A links, articles and some videos.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Array KC135's Avatar
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    Safety not being in the position you 'think' you left it is a training issue.

    Tell me folks, what is one of the most natural reaction a person can have?

    Don't get it?

    Trying to catch something that has been dropped!

    Can you train yourself out of this natural reaction?????Well try not to grab anything you drop.....and see.

    In the past year there have been two documented cases of 'dropped guns' killing LEOs.

    Guns? those WO manual safties...one Glock, and one Sig. From eyewitnesses in one case, and in investigation in the other, both were attempts to grab dropped guns. If you really searched hard, I am sure it happens often enough that I am very consicous of the problem when I carry a Glock.

    Can it happen with a gun with manual safety???Only if gun is carried with safety off, or safety is put off in grab, but even that would not let the 1911 fire unless the grip safety were also depressed.
    Keep the shotgun handy!!

  8. #8
    VIP Member Array Euclidean's Avatar
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    I am (almost) strictly used to a handgun being a pull and fire affair. In my way of thinking if you pull the trigger the gun is going to go off.

    I'm afraid of external safeties on a carry gun because I don't want to hear click instead of bang. I personally think of a heavy double action trigger pull as being that slim margin of error allowance that I personally desire.

    I think perhaps the most interesting safety system I own is on my XD. The trigger is basically a Glock trigger, but due to the presence of the grip safety, you cannot fire the pistol unless you clearly intend to. You can set the pistol in a support and pull the trigger and it will not fire. I have to admit I first saw the grip safety as compensation for the fact that this is a single action pistol, but now I'm beginning to think it's all rather clever the way they designed this handgun.

    I think all that revolver shooting is my greatest asset however. You pull the trigger, it goes bang every single time. You don't want it to go bang, well your only choice is don't pull the trigger. You can't physically create an ambiguous situation where the gun may or may not fire when the trigger is pulled, not even on these newfangled wheelguns with the cursed internal locks.

    However to me this all points to one thing: individual subjectivity configures into what is or is not a gun design which is more conducive to proper safety depending on the person.

  9. #9
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    I like the external safety combine with my heavy DA trigger. Yes the brain occasionally fails to work things out. I have used my HK so long that the safety comes off as I draw by instinct alone. Training is important. Why do PD officers have AD's? Its just a simple explaination of brain farts. It could happen to anyone who handles a gun alot. Like all of us.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Array AirForceShooter's Avatar
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    There is only ONE safety. Your Trigger finger.

    I carry at condition 0.
    It's worked for 40 years for me both in combat and civilian use.

    AFS
    Gun control is hitting what you aim at

  11. #11
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    I used to carry with the safety on. (DA)

    One day I was practicing with a "replica" BB gun. (CO2) I set up several targets and as I walked near them I pretended they were BGs and opened fire as quickly as I could. (I tried to simulate a stressful situation.)

    The problem I ran into was that occasionally I "missed" swiping the safety completely off. This resulted in the trigger not moving back when I pulled it. The odd thing is that it took me a second or two to realize what happened and that I had not disengaged the safety.

    By the time I realized what was going on... actually disengaged the safety and fired... I realized someone could have gotten off a couple of shots toward me as I was messing around with the gun.

    Bottom line is that I carry with NO safety and if the gun has one it is off. The trigger guard completely covers the gun, I use positive retention, and the gun is never removed from the holster unless it is to be shot (or inspected). This is what works best for me.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Array rachilders's Avatar
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    To expand a bit on the discussion here, what type of external "safety" would everyone prefer if they could pick and choose one for their favorite guns? I know there are quite a few people who like no safety at all except the one that's between their ears, but I personally prefer some sort of safety system. If nothing else, it's simply because to me they're an added layer of protection when trying to prevent accidental discharge. However, that doesn't mean they're fool proof or your brain doesn't need to be engaged and fully functional when handling a firearm. Besides, a little redundancy doesn't hurt and while I may get some negative comments about this next statement, I'd rather have a gun not go bang when I expect it to (because I forgot to disengage the safety) than have it fire when I DIDN'T expect it to. It's a quick and easy thing to flip the safety off, but once a bullets been fired there's no calling it back. I want to make sure that in all cases possible, that bullet is being fired at something I'm aiming at and not in a direction - and at a time - I never intended!

    I have numerous handguns, including autos, single and double shot - think Derringer - and revolvers. Some like my S&W revolvers have no external safety at all, other's have a bolt that blocks the hammer from striking the firing pin.

    Most of us seem to use auto's and they all come with some sort of "safety". Among the autos, a few have decock only, some have a slide or trigger lock and several incorporate a variation of all the above. My personal favorites are the decock only that's on my CZ40P and the decock/safety combo on my Taurus PT945. With the 40P, it's like carrying a revolver without a safety, only you can decock the gun without pulling the trigger. The gun remains at half cock and being a DA/SA pistol, all you do is pull the trigger to fire.

    My favorite overall is the design of the Taurus. It's a three position switch that in the up position locks the slide, 1911 style. In the center it's disengaged and the down spot decocks the gun, then returns to the center. I think it's the best setup because you can carry cocked and locked, locked and uncocked but can fire DA by disengaging the safety or you can decock if you want, but still fire DA if required.
    "... Americans... we want a safe home, to keep the money we make and shoot bad guys." -- Denny Crane

  13. #13
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    ra - I must say if SIG did the Taurus trick it'd be the very ideal for me - I like that principle a lot.

    That said, the DA travel and poundage on the SIG leaves me with no worries over either safety or first shot efficiency.
    Chris - P95
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    "To own a gun and assume that you are armed
    is like owning a piano and assuming that you are a musician!."


    http://www.rkba-2a.com/ - a portal for 2A links, articles and some videos.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by rachilders
    ...but I personally prefer some sort of safety system. If nothing else, it's simply because to me they're an added layer of protection when trying to prevent accidental discharge. However, that doesn't mean they're fool proof or your brain doesn't need to be engaged and fully functional when handling a firearm...
    My view exactly with the clarification that "safety" includes both a manual external safety, e.g. 1911 or a long, heavy trigger stroke, e.g. Sig DA/SA, DAO, or DAK.

    Quote Originally Posted by rachilders
    ...My favorite overall is the design of the Taurus. It's a three position switch that in the up position locks the slide, 1911 style. In the center it's disengaged and the down spot decocks the gun, then returns to the center....
    My H&K USP operates that way and even has the lever in the same place the 1911 thumb safety is. I too, like the carry options it gives me.

    Quote Originally Posted by P95Carry
    That said, the DA travel and poundage on the SIG leaves me with no worries over either safety or first shot efficiency.
    Me too!

  15. #15
    Senior Member Array rachilders's Avatar
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    The Taurus seemed to offer the best of all worlds, that's why I decided to get it. The price was right too, $350 NIB. It's like a 1911/Sig226 hybrid. It only has a 8+1 capability, but I have a spare mag. If I need to fire off more than 16 rounds, especially with a 45, I'm in deep poop and will probably need more than a few extra bullets to pull my butt out of the fire.
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    "... Americans... we want a safe home, to keep the money we make and shoot bad guys." -- Denny Crane

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