safeties: handguns vs. longarms


May 13, 2003, 12:52 AM
OK, not sure if it has been covered a billion times in this format... :evil:

Most longarms that I know of have a manual safety. Although the triggers are frequently lighter than many defensive handguns, is this really "safe enough" if you are sloppy with the trigger finger or other motions where a branch, piece of shirt or bit of holter might come in direct contact with the trigger?

Do you feel more comfortable with a handgun that has a manual safety?

If you say "no" then do you keep the safety off of your longarms? If you do use the safety... why? I mean, if it is all about the trigger finger, does one or two extra pounds of pressure REALLY make that much of a difference?

cheers, honest question. Sorry if the 'search' would have given me a zillion opinions.

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May 13, 2003, 08:09 AM
There should be another selection for decocker-only handguns, which I would choose over a manual safety.

Mal H
May 13, 2003, 09:33 AM
I feel perfectly comfortable without a safety on a handgun (the majority of mine don't have one so I guess I better be comfortable with that).

For longarms I prefer a safety since it is often being carried in the open and in the woods. Having a tree branch able to fire your gun isn't a desirable attribute of a rifle or shotgun. I've never dropped a rifle that I can recall, but I might and a safety would make that type of mistake a little less exciting as well.

[This is more of a General Discussion type of thread. I'll move it there.]

May 13, 2003, 10:40 AM
Whenever my handgun (DA first shot) is secured in a holster on my person, the safety is off. However, whenever it's off my person, the safety is on.

Whenever a rifle is "on duty," whether slung over my shoulder or carried at a ready position, the safety is ALWAYS on (unless I'm about to shoot). Unlike a DA handgun, almost all rifles are internally "cocked and unlocked" if the safety is off.

May 13, 2003, 10:47 AM
I went with "significant difference". For the most part, the two just don't compare in the way they are handled and their relative chance to cover things due to barrel length. Also, a handgun must be able to fire quicker than a rifle, since shouldering a rifle takes longer, and handguns are used for short range defense.

There is plenty of overlap in the comparisons, but that covers the basic difference.

May 13, 2003, 10:59 AM
I voted for signifigant difference. I prefer DA handguns with no safety (de-cocker is okay). I also like a manual safety on my long guns for the above mentioned reasons (tree branches, falling, etc).

May 13, 2003, 11:12 AM
If my rifle didn't have a 3lb trigger that was uncovered, I wouldn't care if there was a safety or not. But since its out in the open, and the trigger pull is so light a safety is preferred. Vigilance is still king though.

May 13, 2003, 11:14 AM
Good stuff, I'm intrigued by the responses. I was trying to describe the reason why virtually all longarms I know of have safeties and many handguns do not to a friend, the posts help clarify this.

Thanks for the help Mal, as well.

May 13, 2003, 11:19 AM
For my 10/22, I don't usually bother with the safty. I figure its 8# trigger is enough so that if it was going to fire, then somebody was trying to fire it intentionally! :p

But for my Enfield, which only has a couple# trigger, I use the safety untill im 'close' to ready to fire.. The Enfield safty also has the added benefit of keeping the bolt in place. Its springloaded, so it likes to pop open without much upward pressure.

My Glock doesnt have an option :D

With the Remmington 700 with like a 5 oz trigger, a round doesnt even go in the chamber untill im on target! :eek:

May 13, 2003, 04:29 PM
i prefer safety. in case some idiot took my weapon and going to use it against me and the safety is on and the enemy doesn't know how to use it, it buys me time.

May 13, 2003, 05:10 PM
My only handgun does not have a manual safety, it's a Glock -> No ND or "premature discharge" yet.
My SL8 does have a safety, which I use -> Failures to fire from still engaged safety.
My Enfield has a safety, which I don't use because it has to be disengaged anyways to operate the bolt -> No problem so far.

Generally, from the scenarios I see for me, I can do without manual safeties:
- At the range NO loaded weapon is laid down or slung. When I load them, I want to fire them immediately.
- For HD my handgun is in condition 3. When the SHTF I'll rack the slide and the gun will be ready to go immediately, without a safety that I could forget to disengage.
- On Spitsbergen we'll carry our rifles in cond. 3, too. There'll be six to eight people walking in single file and two or three will carry rifles. Not one of them will like walking in front of a gun with a loaded chamber. And operating the bolt of my Enfield can be done just as fast as disengaging its safety.

pale horse
May 13, 2003, 05:19 PM
I prefer safetys on all my weapons. But my best safety is between my ears. The difference for me is I use my long rifle up and then switch to my sidearm. Generally when I go shooting all my weapons that are on me are loaded. If its a gun its loaded and if its not you should be reloading it quickly.

Thats just me though. The first safety rule says all guns are always loaded. I figure that if all my guns are loaded then there will be no problem with handling them. There will hopefully be no "Opps I did not know it was loaded." statement coming from my mouth.

Standing Wolf
May 13, 2003, 06:18 PM
The only time I ever use a safety mechanism is when I'm carrying my model 1911. I believe every firearm is always loaded, even if you know it's not, and every safety is always broken, even if you know it's not.

May 13, 2003, 06:48 PM
This is where I spout some canned line like, "the only safety you need is between your ears."

Actually, it differs as per the gun. The safeties on my bolts have never been engaged, nor have the ones on my pump guns. The reason is that they do not get loaded up until I'm on the firing line. I don't feel the need for a manual safety on my Glock, as my holster covers the trigger, and I have good handling skills. I do use the safety on my 1911 due to the signifcantly lighter trigger and greater sensativity to AD/ND during holstering.

May 13, 2003, 06:53 PM
I believe every firearm is always loaded, even if you know it's not, and every safety is always broken, even if you know it's not. No flames meant, but that is a dumbed down version of common sense. A gun is not a magical device that can load itself and produce bullets from mid-air. If I pick up a gun, let's say a 1911, drop the mag, rack the slide, visually check the status of the mag and chamber, what's the problem with turning it up and looking up the barrel to check the status of the bore? It's not going to load itself. Having said that, I would never trust anyone else to clear the gun for me, and if I cleared a gun, I would expect someone to check it themselves when handling it. I also won't point the gun at someone even if I've just cleared it simply because they don't know that, and I would go ballistic if someone pointed one at me, even if they had just cleared it.

May 13, 2003, 07:14 PM
Don't use them on anything other than a cocked and locked 1911, so it doesn't matter to me whether the firearm has one or not.

May 13, 2003, 07:31 PM

Someone needs to revisit the old "Model 700 safety release accidental discharge" topic that used to float around the internet.

Same thing can happen with some of the older Mk-II Rugers.

Better to carry with an empy chamber than carry locked and loaded then have it go off when unlocked.

May 13, 2003, 08:40 PM
Mixed feelings... if I'm shooting alone, I don't use safeties, but the guns are ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS pointed in a safe direction. With bolt rifles, other than checking the safety for function prior to buying a rifle, I can't think of the last time I used the safety on any of my rifles.

Handguns for carry, for concealed carry, I currently have a Kahr P9 and a KelTec P32... neither has an external safety and I'm comfortable with that. On the other hand, and call me what you will, but I would prefer to see LEOs that carry open have some sort of safety on their pistols. If they have adequate amounts of training, then taking the safety should be second nature - on the other hand, if someone grabs your gun, a manual safety affords at least three seconds for the officer to retrieve his/her backup gun. Of course, the whole 'adequate training' in another issue of itself. I've shot 1911s my entire life and in no way am enamored of the SIG or Glock design so maybe that's got something to do with it. :p

May 13, 2003, 09:29 PM
So do you guys that don't use safeties hunt with a rifle with the chamber loaded or unloaded? If unloaded, do you load at your stand or do you wait for game to come?

May 13, 2003, 09:52 PM
When I am going to or at the range, I keep my guns unloaded until it is time to fire them. The only exception is that I will usually have a handgun loaded with an empty chamber.
When I carry a rifle or shotgun out hunting, I carry fully loaded with the safety on. You need to be able to fire as soon as the animal shows up, and working the action makes too much noise.
Besides, It takes a few years of experience to not get entirely shaken up as soon as you see the animal. Trying to work the action would just add one more thing to screw up.
If I am just out screwing around in the woods, loaded with an empty chamber. Same if I am going CCW. I live in a small town. The odds of me needing to fire before I can rack the slide are virtually nonexistent, so it doesn't pose a problem.
Lately, there has been a violent dog loose in my area, so I have taken to carrying with a loaded chamber. I don't want to have to rack the slide with a 70 pound dog hanging off my arm.
Now my Mosin-Nagant poses a challenge. I want to try hunting with it, but the safety is difficult to disengage. So, I would either have to carry without the safety on, or with the chamber empty...
I don't like either, but the latter seems to be the safer.

May 13, 2003, 10:04 PM
I prefer safeties on rifles. I have worked flicking off the safety into my muscle memory as part of my sequence for shouldering the rifle.
I dislike safeties on pistols, because I haven't got a quick smooth way of taking one mounted for righties off while keeping my sights on target (I'm a lefty).

May 13, 2003, 11:06 PM
Whats that popular comment? "A hardware solution to a software problem"

May 13, 2003, 11:11 PM
Dan, this is a little complex. First of all I like to hunt with one bullet in the rifle (like Barney Fife). I figure if I can't make a clean shot with one bullet it would just hurt the animal and even if I can track it down the meat won't taste too good because of fear hormones.

With the lever action Marlin I usually walk with the lever partway down with the cartridge in the chamber or the magazine depending on whether I am alone or not. (The Marlin has a spring loaded broken firing pin which won't work unless the lever is in the full up position. It also has a half cock notch which isn't really a safety but is an evolutionary holdover from the loading notch on the caplock rifles which preceded it in the 1800's.)

With the bolt action rifle I usually have the bolt unlocked and with the cartridge in the chamber or magazine depending upon whether I am alone.

For anything complex like climbing I eject the cartridge and leave the chamber open. When I sit down I load up and wait for the deer. Lever action is on half cock until the deer walks up.

May 13, 2003, 11:27 PM
Like stated before. My safety is between my ears.
(Hopefully that is enough);)

May 14, 2003, 11:34 AM
Thanks for the response MeekandMild. I usually just keep one in the chamber, with a full magazine, safety on. This is with bolt rifles, levers, pumps, semis, etc. I've never needed a second shot for deer but for groundhogs I've fired a round, missed, shucked the bolt, and got 'im on the second round. Different strokes for different folks I guess!

May 14, 2003, 11:42 AM
My safety comes from my training and the application there of. Probbly comes done to that level of training & comfort level w/ firearms.

May 14, 2003, 12:04 PM
I prefer a safety on a firearm. I find it to be one more level of redundant safety to good gun handling and safe techniques.

That said, I do not feel uncomfortable owning or carrying a weapon that has no conventional safety. Glock? No problem. Got one, like it. Sig-Sauer P232? Got one, carry it, like it. Revolvers? Got a few, carry one. No problems.

I also don't think that safeties should be mandated on firearms, etc etc etc.

Incidentally, the one weapon I do carry that has a safety (S&W 4506-1) is carried with the safety OFF. I engage the safety/decock when I reholster and then flick it back to FIRE once it is secured. Also when I put the gun down (as, in a gunlocker, etc).


May 15, 2003, 02:57 AM
Like Coronach said, I prefer safeties, but have several older guns (original Winchester M92 rifle & M97 shotgun) and revolvers with no manual safety, and I'm perfectly comfortable carrying them in the field.

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