mag disconnect: thoughts on the pros and cons?


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HSBB
February 28, 2008, 09:03 PM
I'm planning on buying a full-size M&P9 in the near future. Since I live in MD where an internal lock is mandated, I'm going with an after-market one like the Omega or Visualock as opposed to the factory one that operates with the little key. I figure I might as well keep the gun's innards as simple as possible.

I am still chasing my tail on the mag. disconnect option though. I understand the possible benefit in a retention struggle. I also understand that it could save the day in case of a major safety lapse during administrative handling.

The biggest arguments against it seem to be: 1. inability to fire the round in the chamber during a magazine change. 2. The possibility that it may malfunction and render the gun inoperable at the worst possible time. 3. PITA during games like IDPA.

Rather than rehashing the points above, I'd love to hear from folks about which they think is the greater evil. Or put another way, which of these arguments carries the most weight, in your opinion?

Thanks in advance for any thoughtful replies! :D

EDIT: Please consider that there are four young boys in the house. See Post 14.

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Eightball
February 28, 2008, 09:05 PM
which of these arguments carries the most weight, in your opinion?
2. The possibility that it may malfunction and render the gun inoperable at the worst possible time.There ya go.

skywarp_
February 28, 2008, 09:28 PM
Pros:



Cons: One more thing to go wrong.

Geronimo45
February 28, 2008, 09:31 PM
The chance of malfunction would be more important than being able to fire one round during a mag change... and you're not (by current wisdom) supposed to be in a shooting position when doing a tac reload. They're for when you're safe (for the moment).
Now, I don't recall any incidents where the disconnect fouled up the gun so it wouldn't work.
My revolver has a mag disconnect, and it's never had any problems. :p

Sunray
February 28, 2008, 09:51 PM
A mag disconnect isn't an internal lock. It just keeps the pistol from firing without a mag in the pistol. Haven't looked at an M&P, but the mag safety on a BHP severely increases the trigger pull. In any case, the M&P manual says all S&W M&P's have a mag safety. It's not an option.
There's a free downloadable .pdf manual here. There's one on Smith's site too, but this one downloads much faster. http://stevespages.com/page7b.htm

Landric
February 28, 2008, 10:29 PM
It really depends on what your primary use of the gun will be. For IDPA or such as the primary use, I'd slip the mag disconnect for sure. For a carry gun, it has its pros and cons. For uniform duty I think the disconnect makes some sense, for CCW not as much.

The disconnect in the M&P does not effect the trigger pull at all, and its function is such that it is highly unlikely that it could malfunction and cause a failure to fire. Again, its all a matter of choice and what you can find locally or order. I have several M&Ps, some with the disconnect, some without.

Geronimo45
February 28, 2008, 11:14 PM
for CCW not as much.
It might serve a useful purpose if you spend a lot of time around kids who like to grab things - as an extra safety measure. I don't think it's a good idea to toss it in the crib and say "Teethe on that Hi-Power and quit yer squawkin'," though. :p

PPGMD
February 28, 2008, 11:19 PM
For police when dealing with a gun grab having a mag disconnect is helpful because they can eject the magazine and know that even if the guy gets the gun he can't fire it at you unless he gets a magazine.

Remember that the M&P was designed for that market. I remember seeing a series of pictures from a gun grab attempt where ejecting the magazine was the first thing an assisting officer did.

But Smith knows that civilians likely don't want that feature so they only offer it as an option.

berkbw
February 29, 2008, 09:31 AM
If you look at the M&P manual where it states that the guns are intended th have this feature, those that do not will have the warning on the frame. By and large, civilians will usually opt to not have it, and the M&P types will opt for.
b-

Conqueror
February 29, 2008, 10:09 AM
The only Pro is that it placates the manufacturer's weenie lawyers. Everything else about magazine safeties sucks.

chupacabrah
February 29, 2008, 10:18 AM
I got my M&P without the mag safety....I didn't really see any (many) advantages from it. Maaaybe in the event of a struggle you could drop the mag, but then if you recover the gun, you would have to go get the magazine before you could fire a round. and if the BG gets the gun....all he'd have to do is get the magazine after he pistol whips you a few times.

SlipperyShooter
February 29, 2008, 10:30 AM
I just purchased an M&P 9mm and I specifically avoided the magazine disconnect.

Several reasons:

1) The only reason it is there is to prevent me from doing something very stupid (namely, pulling the trigger with a round in the chamber when not ready, such as while cleaning). I am ultra-cautious NOT to do that already. I say somewhat facetiously, I figure doing so might be a rather good lesson for me to learn.......

2) It seems to me that "most" problems with a pistol involve in some fashion the magazine and I don't want to be utterly incapable of firing my pistol because of a mag problem.

3) During the worst possible scenario (reloading in a firefight) I can't imagine being unable to fire the round that is already in the chamber because I couldn't get the next mag properly inserted.

4) It is simply one more thing to go wrong with the gun.

5) I have read various accounts with different pistols that seem to indicate grinding or wear during dry firing either because of the magazine disconnect feature itself or because a mag wasn't seated properly on a gun with that feature. Seems to be foolish abuse on my firearm for no reason.

6) The M&P already has the sear lever for additional safety (you are going to check the chamber anyway, when cleaning).

Personally, I would have purchased another pistol if the M&P didn't come WITHOUT that feature. I talked to one dealer who indicated that getting one with the disconnect is starting to get difficult.

Chipperman
February 29, 2008, 10:52 AM
I would never CCW a gun with a mag disconnect, unless I had no other choice.

HSBB
February 29, 2008, 12:01 PM
Thanks for the considered responses, everyone!

Does the presence of four boys in the house--all under seven--change anyone's answer?

I realize that security/safety can and should come via many means (locks, safes, training, etc.) but I wonder if I can ever have too many redundancies given the kids?

berkbw
February 29, 2008, 12:09 PM
if you can safely stash a mag where only you can get it, and fast, it's a pro.
b-

JDGray
February 29, 2008, 12:09 PM
I dont own a gun with one. If I'm in a struggle, and loosing my weapon, I dont think I'd be thinking " I'll just pop the mag out, and they can have my gun" Or what if in the panic, I drop a mag, now I'm only left with a club.

No thanks:barf:

DougDubya
February 29, 2008, 01:17 PM
Pros - several Illinois State Troopers proved, within the first few years of the ISP issuing the Smith and Wesson Model 39, that the mag disconnect is a weapon sterilization tool in the event of a suspect trying to disarm and murder the 39's owner.

Magazine disconnect malfunctions are unrecorded in the history of shootouts, and the only picture of a mag disconnect failure was fabricated for a photograph in a Paladin Press publication, in the form of a "reinactment" of a hypothetical situation.

Cons - on the HiPower, it mucks up the trigger awfully. But since the HiPower has a dedicated off LEVER, the mag disconnect is not necessary. However, that's not the case for an M&P.

HSBB
February 29, 2008, 02:05 PM
Doug, you REALLY are one of the writers who picked up the mantle of the incomparable Don Pendleton?! :what: Unbelievable!

I consumed The Executioner books like they were crack when I was a kid. What a small world! (I guess that would be the world of hyper-violent gun porn novels...:D)

TwitchALot
February 29, 2008, 02:20 PM
Does the presence of four boys in the house--all under seven--change anyone's answer?

I realize that security/safety can and should come via many means (locks, safes, training, etc.) but I wonder if I can ever have too many redundancies given the kids?

If you're at home, you should have a gun on your hip- if your kids are willing to disarm you and shoot you with your own weapon, you have bigger problems.

The rest of your guns should be in a safe- if they can and do break into that, you have big problems as well. If that's the case, I can't imagine a magazine disconnect stopping them from using the gun, if they wanted to.

Magazine disconnects make sense for officers and perhaps OC'ers, but mechanical safeties are not substitutes for responsibility. It may help if you get into a ground fight and risk having your gun taken (and for officers, this is much more likely), but other than that, I think it's a liability. What if you didn't seat the mag properly before you left the house (and it appears that you did)? You need your gun, unholster, your mag drops out, and you're SOL.

fastbolt
February 29, 2008, 03:20 PM
If you don't mind a bit of a slow download (depending on your connection speed), here's a link to the 3-part 2008 product catalog. The first part, specifically page 22, contains the info about which M&P pistol models have which features, and includes state compliance info, as well.

http://www.smith-wesson.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/CustomContentDisplay?langId=-1&storeId=10001&catalogId=10001&content=13014&sectionId=10504

FWIW, the column indicating the presence of an internal lock can be a bit confusing, since a "Y" mark in the column is used to identify both the key-operated and thumb-operated (otherwise called thumb safeties) internal locks. I called and had this explained to me. Cross-referencing the model number which interests someone, and then checking elsewhere on the website, may help determine whether a model listed as having an internal lock has a key-operated lock or the thumb safety (lock) ... or, simply call Customer Service and ask about whatever model interests you and let them determine the features possessed by a specific model (like I did, just to be on the safe side).

Personally, I've never had a problem carrying and using S&W traditional pistols which incorporate a magazine disconnect feature, and I've been carrying one or another of them since 1990. I've carried issued pistols with this feature and I also own several models with this feature.

I've never worried about retaining the capability to shoot the chambered round during the middle of reloading technique, either. I've watched a lot of LE and CCW shooters on the firing line over the years, and the significant majority of them have a hard enough time just trying to keep their focus on the requirements of performing a reload. I'd seriously wonder what would happen if they were confronted with the added distraction of realizing & recognizing the 'need' to shoot during an interrupted reloading manipulation, performed under stress as it is, and then actually be able to interrupt their reloading manipulation to act upon the realization in time, without fumbling.

A number of folks have a seemingly hard enough time simply depressing a magazine catch, as it is, and that's something for which they've probably practiced (hopefully).

I don't have an interest in IDPA, so I can't presume to address that concern.

The magazine disconnect safety on the M&P pistol is rather elegantly simple, in design and function. A steel lever and a spring. Somebody earned their money the day it was designed.

Looking at the design and operation, the only concern I could envision was one where an inattentive owner/user used some improper cleaning method and somehow managed to break off the steel lever inside the magazine well. I would not try to run a shop towel or rag down through the grip as a cleaning method, for example, because it might create excessive pressure against the lever in a manner not intended by the design and not normally encountered during normal operation of the pistol. If somebody were to somehow manage to break off the steel lever, depending how short the remaining portion of the lever was, it might not be possible to have the magazine body lift and rotate the lever in the manner designed to allow the normal functioning of the trigger bar & sear to fire the pistol.

The only problem I've seen occur involving a magazine safety being present in a S&W pistol is when a user doesn't properly insert and seat a magazine. Of course, if this results in the magazine dropping completely, or even partially, from the pistol during the firing of the first round ... which I've seen occur when a magazine isn't properly seated ... the presence or lack of a magazine safety is probably going to be a moot point without ammunition being fed into the chamber.

I always check to make sure that my holster doesn't cause an unintentional magazine release, and I occasionally check to make sure my primary magazine is properly seated in the pistol. I've seen any number of LE folks reseat a magazine in their holstered pistol (after topping off a magazine, or replacing a partially spent magazine before beginning a different course of fire, etc.) and not use sufficient pressure to completely and properly seat a full magazine. Checking the condition by gently tugging on the toe of the magazine base can reveal an improperly seated magazine condition before it's discovered the hard way in some situations.

I worry more about user errors than mechanical problems ... (presuming a properly maintained gun in normal, good working condition, of course) ... but that's because I see many more problems occur which are the result of user errors than the actual guns ...

Naturally, the safe storage and control of firearms to prevent unauthorized persons (especially children) from having access to them is the responsibility of all gun owners/users.

MarcusWendt
February 29, 2008, 03:53 PM
I'm pretty ambivalent about it, but once I start shooting my M&P in USPSA I may change my mind.

HSBB
February 29, 2008, 04:02 PM
Thanks for the great reply, fastbolt.

I get a good sense of why you don't feel the mag disconnect is a liability, but can you talk about what you perceive to be its advantages?

ArmedBear
February 29, 2008, 04:09 PM
California mandates the thing for approving any new pistol design in the state. It's kind of neither here nor there to me, with this caveat: I'd only want it on a pistol that was engineered to have it. Like many things, if something is part of the design, it can often be included with no real downsides. But if it's tacked onto an existing later (as with the ancient BHP), that seems to me to be asking for trouble.

However, I agree that, if someone is trying to grab my gun, I probably won't be thinking "I'll drop the magazine". I might start pulling the trigger, though.

A poorly-seated magazine is a valid concern with some gun designs. Of course, I don't want to use such a design for anything but plinking with or without a mag disconnect! Seriously, do you want to bet your life on a gun that takes special care to make sure the magazine is seated?!? I've got guns like that. I consider them useful only for "sporting purposes". They live in a safe, empty, unless I'm using them for recreational shooting.

My primary HD handgun is a DAO revolver. Two controls, no safety, no chamber to check, no slide to bite, no FTE, no clearing a jam or FTF.

The backup is a semiauto, and it has the old-fashioned but very positive and reliable magazine latch at the base of the grip. It's a bit slower to drop an empty magazine, but the full one latches more reliably and positively.

I'm not Bruce Willis in Last Man Standing anyway -- notice how he drops the magazines, but you never see him putting new ones in? How DOES he do it while holding both 1911s? I'd like to know.:)

Anyway, the HD semi has an LCI -- unobtrusive, but can be checked by sight or by feel without taking your finger off the trigger. I think it's one of the oldest gun designs to have one. I like it. I think the feature (also mandated by California for new gun designs) is a good one to have. I don't like the mandate, because I'm also a recreational shooter and I don't need my .22 target pistol to have a !@#$ LCI. However, in a defensive firearm, I think that being able to check for a loaded chamber easily, at any time, in the dark, without using both hands, is a great thing.

WRT the LCI, I'm more concerned about making sure the chamber IS loaded than making sure it's clear. When I want the gun to be empty and safe, I lock it open. It's when I want it loaded that I want the ease of checking it in the dark.

fastbolt
February 29, 2008, 04:36 PM
It has been documented to have saved LE lives.

I wouldn't be at all surprised to hear that it may have saved the life of a non-LE member of the general public at some time or another, but these sorts of things aren't generally tracked in the same way that LE-related events are tracked and reviewed.

When it's presented as an option, it's something for the individual (or LE agency) to decide for themselves after reviewing their own needs and circumstances and making an informed decision about whether the option fulfills a perceived need.

I remember discussing this subject with a factory rep one time. Wasn't looking for either an endorsement or rebuttal of the usefulness of a magazine safety. Just having a conversation. He's also a long time competitive shooter. He mentioned that while he didn't use a magazine safety-equipped model for competition, that when it came time to select a model for his wife to have at home, he chose one equipped with the magazine safety. He apparently had no concerns regarding the presence of the magazine safety and the reliability of the weapon when it came to it potentially being used by his wife as a defensive weapon. He also apparently felt it offered her some useful options when it came to safety.

It may be one added layer of 'safety' when it comes to the interaction of human and weapon, although the primary 'safety', and responsibility, does lie between the ears and on the shoulders of the person handling the weapon.

I certainly wouldn't rely exclusively on the weapon being rendered inoperative by removal of a magazine from a pistol equipped with such a safety ... certainly not to the point of becoming complacent and wrongfully thinking the normal rules of safe firearm handling could be discarded and ignored. I'd welcome the potential choice to make it that much harder for the weapon to be used against me by an attacker should I be about to lose control of the weapon during a struggle, though.

It's just a mechanical device, subject to the same advantages & disadvantages of all mechanical devices ... and the same potential problems when it comes to being produced, handled and used by people. :uhoh: :scrutiny:

fastbolt
March 26, 2008, 05:27 PM
I need to post a correction to one part of the information previously posted about the thumb safety option on the M&P45's, which I've since learned is incorrect.

I had to look into the thumb safety models a bit more.

The thumb safety option requires a different sear housing block.

The safety levers do not go into the same spot as the ILS device, but anchor at the rear (roll pin) and require a different length sear lever and a spring and plunger to accommodate the up & down movement of the levers.

The safety lever, when lifted upward into the SAFE position, actually blocks the rearward movement of the trigger bar and prevents the bar's contact with the sear. (FWIW, I have no idea why the S&W product catalog lists the models with safety levers as having the ILS, marked with a "Y" in the ILS column, though. Maybe somebody at corporate considers the thumb safety to be similar enough to a lock. Dunno.)

I was given some conflicting info about the functioning of the thumb safety option at different times. Apparently not all of the folks at S&W had been given the specific info about the thumb safety option's operation, so I was unintentionally given incorrect info at one point. (The armorer's manual doesn't yet incorporate that info.)

Hey, it can happen. It's not like it's the first time I've received some incorrect info when calling and asking about something ... or that it hasn't happened when talking to other manufacturers, for that matter. ;)

Hook686
March 26, 2008, 10:26 PM
I think it a plus on the safety side. I have never seen 1st hand a weapon retention scenario, but have personally seen a couple ND. In the most recent and a club 'Tactical weapons' match, a competator, retired shefiff deputy, dropped the magazine, pulled the slid, which only went about half way, pulled the trigger to a thunderous 'BOOM'. It happens. Had that weapon had the disconnect, there would have been no 'BOOM'.

Drail
March 26, 2008, 11:58 PM
Mag disconnects have taught too many people a very bad habit.

M_Olson
March 27, 2008, 09:17 AM
I actually bought the M&P with the mag disconnect, but I didnt want it. I completely forgot to specify that i wanted the model without it. Is it possible to have a gunsmith remove it?

berkbw
March 27, 2008, 09:44 AM
There IS a pro - at least in my mind.

Scenario: I'm sitting, being kicked back with my protection peice, and some event outside of my house takes place, requireing me haul tail outside IMMEDIATLY. Rather than have to throw on some cover garment, I can stick the mag in my pocket, and go out with the gun in or on my desk. I would feel safe with doing that.

b-

Coronach
March 27, 2008, 09:44 AM
My opinions:

1. It's a steaming bowlfull of "Doesn't Really Matter" on the M&P. The chances of benefitting from having the disconnect are about the same as suffering from having it- really really really freaking small- assuming you're doing everything right as a CCWer or range-shooter.

2. The design of the disconnect has no impact on trigger pull in the M&P, unlike the BHP, so this is also a non-issue.

3. It is possible to develop bad habits with the disconnect, but that's on you. Don't blame the gun for your bad decisions.

4. While the disconnect does add mechanical complexity to the gun, and useless complexity is bad in general, there would have to be something egregiously wrong for it to cause a problem. This something would almost certainly cause the gun to be non-functional anyway, so this is pretty much a non-issue as well.

5. You can buy M&Ps without the disconnect very easily. They may not be standard, but they're certainly a very available option.

In conclusion? It really doesn't matter all that stinkin' much.

Mike

Cliff47
March 27, 2008, 10:37 AM
I grew up on the BHP design, and the magazine disconnect (it is NOT a safety in the true sense of the word) just seems like a natural way of life. After all, the best safety is the one between your ears (as my Grandfather used to say).

Mot45acp
March 27, 2008, 12:37 PM
But Smith knows that civilians likely don't want that feature so they only offer it as an option.

Just like the internal lock on their revolvers?

Mad Magyar
March 27, 2008, 02:44 PM
I think it's a must for LEO's. If I was placed in the position in handing over my piece to a BG either in compliance or struggle, just a finger push on the mag release would serve it's purpose.

Ltlabner
March 27, 2008, 03:56 PM
It's all be pretty well covered, but for me personally, expecting my first child, having a mag safety makes a lot of sense.

And it's not just LE's who benefit from a way to defeat a gun grab by the bad guys. Bad guys are employing team tactics more and more so the chances of having several targets, and getting into a grappling situation goes way up. To me, and it's just my opinion, having a way to "turn the gun off" if you sense you are losing a struggle with a BG is a good thing.

Some people get wrapped up in the notion of a high-noon western shoot out where the BG stands 25' way and you duke it out. Internet bravado leads people to think they will cooly plug BG after BG and never let any of them within 10'. The chances of having your gun grabbed are actually pretty high IMO.

And the kid aspect is wise also. While my child will have their hand smacked the first time they grab for one, things can happen in the bink of an eye.

But I do agree that having a mag safety can lead to people getting into the habbit of pulling the trigger when the mag is out. I even caught myself doing it with a Beretta 85 when I first got it.

PPGMD
March 27, 2008, 04:00 PM
Just like the internal lock on their revolvers?


Serves a completely different purpose. The internal lock is a feature to lock the weapon out completely, the mag disconnect is an automatic safety (at least it's viewed that way) that can be used to quickly make the weapon safe in a gun grab scenario for military and law enforcement professions.

TwitchALot
March 27, 2008, 05:47 PM
I'm not Bruce Willis in Last Man Standing anyway -- notice how he drops the magazines, but you never see him putting new ones in? How DOES he do it while holding both 1911s? I'd like to know.

Ever seen "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider"? That's how he reloads with guns in both hands. :neener:

TwitchALot
March 27, 2008, 06:42 PM
I've watched a lot of LE and CCW shooters on the firing line over the years, and the significant majority of them have a hard enough time just trying to keep their focus on the requirements of performing a reload. I'd seriously wonder what would happen if they were confronted with the added distraction of realizing & recognizing the 'need' to shoot during an interrupted reloading manipulation, performed under stress as it is, and then actually be able to interrupt their reloading manipulation to act upon the realization in time, without fumbling.

The first time I trained in a mock room (and the first time I've been to a formal shooting school), the instructor raised a target on my left as I was doing a tactical reload (I checked to make sure I was good for a couple seconds, and sure enough, he deliberately raised a target as my full mag was coming up to the gun).

The second I saw the target I dropped my full mag (while putting my support side hand on the grip of the gun, of course) and fired the round I had in the chamber. I certainly didn't hesitate and I certainly wasn't "confused." And again, it was my first time being formally trained in such a manner.

If you are reasonably well-trained, the way you reload should be nearly instinctive. Being my first time at a formal school, I managed to drop my mag and regain my grip and sight picture quickly and efficiently under some degree of duress (the instructor cussing and yelling at me, simulating the attacker) when the threat popped up while I was reloading. I wasn't told that's what I should do if a BG came out while I was reloading nor did I know that was going to happen. It was just instinctive for me to address the threat (which was a bigger priority than reloading) before addressing my reload.


The point is that the problem you mention above is a training problem. I did what I did instinctively, others didn't. But either way, it can be addressed with proper training. Train hard, train often, and train well. Train, train, train. That's the lesson here. If you have a magazine disconnect and get into a ground fight, and you aren't trained to drop that mag, it's not going to do you any good, and it will likely harm you if you need to shoot during a reload. Since I've never been trained to drop my mag when a threat is close (and I suspect many haven't), a magazine disconnect is a liability to me and isn't particularly useful.

For others, like LEO and OCers, again, it may be useful, but ONLY with the proper TRAINING. That's what most stuff always comes back to- proper training. If you train with a mag disconnect safety in a gun and practice dropping your mag when you get to close combat, it may help you. If you don't, you may pay for it, possibility with your life. So again, train hard, train often, and train well.

SimpleIsGood229
March 27, 2008, 10:16 PM
Originally Posted by HSBB
Does the presence of four boys in the house--all under seven--change anyone's answer?
Nope. Firearms safety is psychological --NOT mechanical.

A mag disconnect is only something that can go wrong, that offers no benefits.

Hook686
March 28, 2008, 02:09 AM
PPGMD
Senior Member



Join Date: 03-20-07
Posts: 710 Quote:
Just like the internal lock on their revolvers?

Serves a completely different purpose. The internal lock is a feature to lock the weapon out completely, the mag disconnect is an automatic safety (at least it's viewed that way) that can be used to quickly make the weapon safe in a gun grab scenario for military and law enforcement professions.

... and to meet the legal requirements of some jurisdictions ... such as California, a very big consumer of firearms.

stevelyn
March 28, 2008, 11:39 AM
the mag disconnect is an automatic safety (at least it's viewed that way) that can be used to quickly make the weapon safe in a gun grab scenario for military and law enforcement professions.

Perhaps, but none of our training doctrine teaches or even considers mag disconnects as an option during a gun grab attempt. Guns used in LE with mag disconnects are a very small minority.

The focus is on retention and countering a grab attempt using alternate methods and weapons.

Coronach
March 28, 2008, 11:45 AM
Perhaps, but none of our training doctrine teaches or even considers mag disconnects as an option during a gun grab attempt. Guns used in LE with mag disconnects are a very small minority.This has not been my experience. A minority, perhaps, but that is partly becuase Glock used to be a monolithic piece of market share, with no mag disconnect as an option. But I have seen many guns in LE set up with mag disconnects. Not most, but a sizeable minority.

Mike

DougDubya
March 28, 2008, 02:59 PM
Nope. Firearms safety is psychological --NOT mechanical.

A mag disconnect is only something that can go wrong, that offers no benefits.

Again, tell that to cops who would be corpses if your design philosophy ever became universal doctrine.

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