Why does the U.S. military require manual safeties on pistols?


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Owlnmole
May 25, 2008, 07:20 AM
Does anybody know why the U.S. military is so enamored of manual safeties?

The DAO auto pistol with no manual safety (whichever of the many variations you like) is proven safe and reliable by millions of police and military users around the world, not to mention double-action revolvers in police and military service for over a century.

Why does the Pentagon think manual safeties are essential? Just leftover from the days of single-action autos, or is there a good reason?

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RX-178
May 25, 2008, 07:22 AM
I think they just want the controls to be as similar to the previous weapons as possible, to make the transition easier.

45auto
May 25, 2008, 08:42 AM
They are safer.

And, their primary weapons, rifles, have manual safeties also.

Owlnmole
May 25, 2008, 09:37 AM
They are safer.

That's my point...I don't think that they are. A safety adds another action, another level of complication. What if you forget to decock something like an M9 and don't realize it? What if you think the safety is on, but it's not?

It seems to me that a long, deliberate trigger pull like a modern DAO revolver or auto pistol with internal safeties is the safest way to go. Drop it, jump up and down on it, etc. and it won't go off. Give it a long, deliberate pull of the trigger and it shoots. Simple.

I guess my question is really about why the U.S. military seems to think the manual safety is essential yet many other militaries and police forces do not.

Johannes_Paulsen
May 25, 2008, 09:38 AM
I think, in general, there is a healthy bit of conservatism in all armies. A sort of distrust of what may just be new and passing fads in weapons. They've always used manual safeties on pistols in the past, therefore they will want to use them in the future barring some massive revolution in thinking. The Army already has a "plan", so to speak, for dealing with pistols with manual safeties; to introduce a Glock, for instance, would require them to come up with a new plan. So they're not likely to do so if they can reasonably avoid that change.

Treo
May 25, 2008, 09:52 AM
You do realize that if it's down to pistols things are not goin' good right?

Every piece of equipment the Army ever issued me was designed to be used by an idiot who was being shot at. IOW every thing was simplfied ( I am NOT saying that G.I.s are idiots) to the lowest common denominator.

When we went to the range the RSO ordered every one to load their weapon , chamber a round , safe the weapon, get ready to shoot then they actually instructed us to move the selector lever EXACTLY one click to the semi auto position & commence firing.

The point is that instead of teaching common sense gun safety the Army teaches you to do it by the numbers. and one of the numbers is keep your weapon on safe until they tell you other wise.

P.S. I expect that a lot of guys in Iraq & Afgahnistan carry their M-9s decocked

Old Fuff
May 25, 2008, 09:56 AM
Excluding certain units, the military services don't train to shoot from the leather, and carry using full-flap holsters. Manual safties provide an extra layer of insurance against neglegent discharges. Those two factors are enough to offset any interest in DOA/No Manual Safety pistols for general issue.

For the record, Colt and John Browning tried to sell the Army a pistol design with not grip or safety lock (manual safety) back around 1904. Even then they wouldn't buy it.

Eightball
May 25, 2008, 09:58 AM
Something tells me that being in and out of a tank, humvee, etc, might necessitate a manual safety in a fashion that it could be hard for us to "get" until we do it. But this is just a shot in the dark.

Or, maybe people in the pentagon don't want us to be armed with Glocks or other "cop"-ish weapons, but rather more traditional sidearms.

freebird60
May 25, 2008, 12:38 PM
Every piece of equipment the Army ever issued me was designed to be used by an idiot who was being shot at. IOW every thing was simplfied ( I am NOT saying that G.I.s are idiots) to the lowest common denominator. This was always my impression. That and half the time we had our weapons unloaded.

GTSteve03
May 25, 2008, 12:41 PM
The standard issue small arms like the M4 and M16 have manual safeties, so I would imagine they're trying to be consistent with the manual of arms and have everything work basically the same way.

wally
May 25, 2008, 01:03 PM
It seems to me that a long, deliberate trigger pull like a modern DAO revolver or auto pistol

It takes far more training to shoot well with the DA pull than the SA. I'd wager for most troopers the DA first shot of the M9 is a throw-away most of the time (or they thumb cock on the draw in action).

I'd not hold up police shooting results as an example of effectiveness, obviously stress has a lot to do with it, but I suspect the DAO handicap sure doesn't help!

I've never been able to adjust to the DA/SA operations and any DAO is a big handicap to me compared to SA. Only the "half-cocked" striker guns (Glocks, XD, M&P etc.) can come close.

--wally.

ftierson
May 25, 2008, 01:43 PM
Someone didn't want to see Glock win the original M9 contract...

:)

Forrest

CWL
May 25, 2008, 03:39 PM
Safeties perform a function, if you can't operate a gun that has a safety, that shows something about the competence of the operator, not the gun.

Don't forget that AKMs have safeties on them, but our enemies don't seem to have problems operating them against us.

TimboKhan
May 25, 2008, 03:49 PM
Why? It's pretty simple, man. You have a whole bunch of people that carry pistols, and few among them are really interested in shooting. A good number of those people fire their pistols only in qualification, and then never again. Add to that equation that the pistol quals are signifigantly less involved than the rifle quals (at least in my experience), and what you get is a real need for a safety device. Trust me, having been at the losing end of a negligent discharge, they aren't foolproof, but my guess is that they have saved lives.

JoeSlomo
May 25, 2008, 05:16 PM
Does anybody know why the U.S. military is so enamored of manual safeties?

The proficiency level of the average soldier with their weapon ranges from low to criminal. Some units do better than others, but the army likes manual safeties so that the typical low skilled folks have one less thing to think about to prevent themselves from having an unintended discharge, IE, keep it on safe.

Outside of the special operations community, there are actually very few units that show any real proficiency with their weapons training and employment. The light units do better than the heavy units, and the Infantry units do better than the support.

Most organizations require soldiers to zero and qualify twice a year, with a standard of success being hitting 23 of 40 targets. That's pretty pathetic.

RustyShackelford
May 25, 2008, 05:28 PM
Speaking as a military veteran who served four years on active duty in law enforcement/MP units I can tell you that ambi safety controls are a very GOOD idea! ;)

I've seen about "80-90 %" of my co-workers playing with loaded issued weapons, :eek:

I have also seen "trained US service members" have ADs and discharge weapons in clearing barrels.

I too have been careless while turning in a M-9 9mmNATO but it was with a mag NOT a safety, :D.

Rusty

KurtC
May 25, 2008, 06:43 PM
Someone didn't want to see Glock win the original M9 contract

As I recall, Glock was making shovels and knives during the M9 trials.

As for safeties. When you are cold, wet, hungry, covered in mud and haven't slept for 3 days, it is very important that your weapon have an On/Off button to make sure it only goes bang when what little is left of your mind decides so.

This is extremely important when operating in an environment where one little AD could down a plane load of paratroopers, or give away the position of an entire unit. It serves as a manual indicator to the person carrying the weapon, and a visual indicator for team and squad leaders.

For the rank and file groundpounders, small arms will always have safeties.

Owlnmole
May 25, 2008, 07:05 PM
I still just don't buy it...are U.S. soldiers somehow less capable than Austrian, Indians, Irish, Norwegians, Dutch, etc.?

Wikipedia list (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glock_17#Users) of countries using Glock pistols as issue sidearms for military, or police use.

mljdeckard
May 25, 2008, 07:10 PM
I think that it would be best to issue the pistol with the fewest things to screw up. (Glock)

I certainly have never had a problem using a Glock in an operational environment, getting in and out of vehicles, on horseback, in a variety of holsters and environments.

Xzyl
May 25, 2008, 07:16 PM
Then could someone explain to me how the Sig P-226 made it as a finalist during the M9 trails and how the M11 made it into service at all since neither has a manual safety?

I am also having a hard time understanding why your more likely to have an AD with a gun you know will go off if the trigger is touched as opposed to a gun that may go off if the trigger touched depending on the status of the safety and the user's awareness of that status.

And would not the LCD argument apply to LE as well?

Does the current issue holster cover the trigger?

ftierson
May 25, 2008, 08:02 PM
Originally posted by KurtC
As I recall, Glock was making shovels and knives during the M9 trials.

Glock is still making shovels and knives...

Too...

Just goes to show how our recollections can mislead us...

The Austrian Government adopted the Glock 17 in 1980, followed quickly by the Netherlands and Sweden.

The Glock was 'dismissed' from the XM9 trials because is was DAO (according to whoever pigeonholed the 'applicants') and because it didn't have a manual safety...

It's a good thing that our troops didn't get stuck with it for those reasons...

Especially since it has turned out to be so unsuccessful...

Forrest

RichardB
May 25, 2008, 08:20 PM
"As for safeties. When you are cold, wet, hungry, covered in mud and haven't slept for 3 days, it is very important that your weapon have an On/Off button to make sure it only goes bang when what little is left of your mind decides so."

This is the answer. Stress and fatigue, and showing off make people do stupid things, like accidently kill the guy next to him. It happens too frequently even with the manual safetys. What other Armies do is their business, but ours assumes a soldier is smart enough to click a safety lever before firing.

KurtC
May 25, 2008, 09:26 PM
The only thing in this world worse than having to intentionally take a human life, is to have taken one accidentally, especially if it is one of your buddies.

When you eat, sleep and **** with your hand on your weapon, that safety is a comforting thing. Especially when you realize that your buddy is also eating, sleeping and ****ting with his hand on a weapon. You really need to spend some time as grunt to understand this. We were taught from day one to keep the safety on unless actually firing the weapon. Fingers find their way into the triggerguard very easily when you are scared ****less.

The M9 and M11 came out after my time, but I believe the M11 is of limited issue. You won't find it on the TO&E of typical line units.

All of my current guns are DAO with no safety, but I would certainly choose one with a safety to go back into the bush with.

wristtwister
May 27, 2008, 08:53 PM
I like having a safety on a pistol. I've learned to draw my weapons and disengage the safety during that motion, so it's a non-issue for the most part. I suspect that the reason the government doesn't buy weapons without safeties on them is to stop unintentional holes in their soldiers from mishandling or accidental trigger pulls with something in the pipe.

WT

Confederate
May 27, 2008, 11:01 PM
There is no rhyme or reason in the military's regulations. Military officers are not accustomed to being questioned on their decisions and many of their decisions are based on bone-headed preconceptions and base stupidity. Beretta 9mm pistols have a large capacity and can feed all sorts of bullet configurations, but we've been roped into all kinds of idiot treaties that require the use of ball ammo. How many military personnel are dead because of these decisions no one knows, but even lubrication problems in desert enviorons haven't been addressed. The CLP that worked very well in damp environs simply collects dust and grit in the desert, yet CLP it is!

In all fairness, I suppose these guys look at these 18- and 19-year old kids and figure they can save a few lives by putting manual safeties on guns. I've driven past guards that don't even have loaded clips in their Berettas. Makes one wonder why the military, in this day of terrorism, is still using flaps on their holsters. Even up til 1865, rows of soldiers marched towards each other shooting rather than running, ducking and firing at each other. Very civilized, you know. By World War I, it finally had dawned on some of these geniuses that this probably wasn't the greatest way to fight.

another okie
May 27, 2008, 11:49 PM
"Does anybody know why the U.S. military is so enamored of manual safeties?"

Experience.

walking arsenal
May 27, 2008, 11:56 PM
Care to expand on that okie?

Owlnmole
May 28, 2008, 03:35 AM
Agreed, please do expand, since if "experience" and "known quantity" were the primary arguments then we'd still be using flintlocks.

TAB
May 28, 2008, 03:37 AM
how about, out of any given population

50% of the people are bellow average IQ.

plexreticle
May 28, 2008, 04:17 AM
There are three ways to do something: The right way, the wrong way and the Army way.

Grunt
May 28, 2008, 04:54 AM
Ever work a military firing line? I do it every day and while you do get classes of shooters there that are "into shooting" or the nature of their job requires them to be more proficent with firearms, these are the exceptions rather than the rule. Most of the classes we teach deal with the base populace types, the cooks and bakers and candlestick makers. You can preach safety to them all day long but when you still remove them from the firing line because they sweep the firing line or other times leave their booger hooks on the boom buttons and accidently fire a round (yes, I've seen both instances like that happen) you come to realize that a manual safety isn't a bad idea at all!:eek:

RichardB
May 28, 2008, 05:33 AM
To those it offends to have to remember to disengage a safety, you have the option of not (re) enlisting. Besides the Army prefers to use artillery or air support much more than side arms.

45auto
May 28, 2008, 06:57 AM
A safety adds another action, another level of complication. What if you forget to decock something like an M9 and don't realize it? What if you think the safety is on, but it's not?


The weapons that are used frequently, rifles, all have safeties...why wouldn't a pistol? Why is it difficult to operate a manual safety on a pistol, but not on a rifle?

U.S. soldiers somehow less capable than Austrian, Indians, Irish, Norwegians, Dutch, etc.?


:) Now, pretend we are "objective".

Given the abilities, capabilities and experience of the armies you mentioned, which army and "equipment" would you most likely emulate? In other "words", how would those other armies even know if manual safeties are good or bad in wartime?

FranklyTodd
May 28, 2008, 08:38 AM
This is an interesting thread, especially watching as some seem to support the use of safeties in the military, but distance themselves from them for LE/civilian use.

Paraphrase: Civilians are better trained, less stressed (distracted), and the consequences of an AD/ND are lower for a civilian. :what:

I understand those that would like to see the military use DAO, and I understand those that think safeties are good for both. Those are just differences in opinion, and have been beaten to death. :banghead:

I'd love to hear more from those that think the military definitely SHOULD have a safety, and LE and/or CCW definitely SHOULD NOT. That seems an undefendable position to me... :scrutiny: :p BTW - I'm interested because of the heat I've taken for adding a thumb safety to my Glock 26... :neener:

Mp7
May 28, 2008, 09:14 AM
the few % of above average IQ Soldiers are probably on this forum.

For the rest IMHO itīs a very good idea to have an "ON/OFF"
button on the gun.
(You might want to make them look like on playstations in the future)

...but even for everyone else...me and you all
like someone said before:
After 3 days without sleep with your incompetent
CIC making corrupt decisions, not enough vehicle or bodyarmor
and IEDs and Suicidebombs everywhere....
I would love to have an ON/OFF Button, and by God
even for smart guys like us the ON/OFF Symbol from
playstations/TVs etc would not be a bad idea. :)

02$.
Mp7

MASTEROFMALICE
May 28, 2008, 09:26 AM
Fine. I'll come right out and say it, and there's not a serviceman here who will disagree with me.

When I was in the Marine Corps I met both the finest human beings and the biggest idiots on the planet.

The safeties are for group 2.

FranklyTodd
May 28, 2008, 09:30 AM
When I was in the Marine Corps I met both the finest human beings and the biggest idiots on the planet.

I appreciate your candor - but, it certainly doesn't follow that LE/civilians that CCW are brighter - at least not the ones I've met!!

The folks I've met at ranges, in my CCW class, cops, etc.... most are good-hearted people, but at least for many their day job isn't as a rocket scientist...

Many that bash safeties kind of go the other way - a safety is too "complicated" so "guns for dummies" should never have a safety. I've never understood this - I've always felt if a mistake had to be made, I'd rather chance me forgetting to take the safety off and getting shot, compared to me shooting someone unintentionally...

Note that's my personal position with striker-fired light trigger pulls (ie Glock). I carry a DAO revolver with a long 12lb pull - no craving for a safety on that!

MASTEROFMALICE
May 28, 2008, 11:14 AM
I appreciate your candor - but, it certainly doesn't follow that LE/civilians that CCW are brighter - at least not the ones I've met!!

I didn't say that civilians are smarter or crazier or taller. I merely said that I met men who who would single-handedly face down an entire armed nation to protect America (the finest) and men who I wouldn't give powdered soap to, for fear they'd somehow put out an eye with it (the biggest idiots).

Mainsail
May 28, 2008, 11:20 AM
When I was flying heavies we transitioned from the S&W M56 (model 15) to the M9. We loaded at a clearing barrel, decocked, and carried it safety off.

RustyShackelford
May 28, 2008, 12:14 PM
As a US Army veteran, 4 years/active duty, I can tell you honestly that many service members get way to worked up over small arms, :rolleyes:. A few officers/NCOs/lower enlisted had what I'd call the right frame of mind; that weapons are not toys, that they should be secured but within reach while deployed/in the field/etc and that proper training can reduce ADs/incidents. I feel that far to many people who enlist keep the same fear/ill will about guns then lash out for very petty reasons. All the regs and red tape around weapons/ammo show how the US Army is way to amped over small arms too. Soldiers go through the same weapons training the same way. Bias, condisending or slanted views should not keep soldiers from carrying or using loaded weapons if needed.

Rusty

FLORIDA KEVIN
May 28, 2008, 12:45 PM
When I was in the Navy from 1974-1980 when perfoming sentry duties we carried .45 autos with in flap holsters with no mag in the weapon and 2 loaded mags in the belt , the primary purpose of the sentry was to sound the alarm ! We were in a secure location (tied uo to a tender in the middle of a harbor ) with a Marine detachment aboard ! We were told that the biggest hazzard to armed sentries was other armed sentries and boredom !! we/I would have prefered a loaded revolver with 6 shots ready than to an unloaded auto ! but we didnt make the rules ! The use of a safety on a sidearm is of little consequence to a soldier in the field if it gets down to fighting with sidearms it is most likely not a gunfight anymore but has become hand to hand combat ! The use of a safety makes little diference ! Kevin

MCgunner
May 28, 2008, 01:48 PM
Does the military NOT carry condition 3, anyway? I guess that depends on duty? I mean, maybe MP guards carry hammer down, safety on, don't know. Heck, back in "the day", most MPs around air bases were armed with a Smith and Wesson .38 revolver.

another okie
May 28, 2008, 08:36 PM
Well, since you asked...

"On March 17, 1845,Captain Terrett, First Dragoons, was dismounting from his horse on the parade ground. He had withdrawn his pistol from its holster, which was attached to the saddle, and somehow the reins became entangled in the lock. The pistol discharged and fatally wounded Terrett, who died within a few minutes."

Leo E. Olisen, "Fort Scott: Courage and Conflict on the Border," page 49.

It also pays to remember that for the majority of the years the armed forces have issued a semi auto, it was single action, for which you would surely want a safety. For that matter, in the vast majority of the years since 1775 the armed forces have issued single action handguns.

varoadking
May 28, 2008, 09:56 PM
The Austrian Government adopted the Glock 17 in 1980, followed quickly by the Netherlands and Sweden.


Close...

1963 - Glock GesmbH established in Deutsch-Wagram
1963 - Glock's first product: plastic curtain rods
1970s - Plastic kitchen boxes, machine gun ammo belts, shovels, and utility knives are offered.
1980 - Company founder Gaston Glock starts developing a gun
1982 - The Austrian army decides on the Glock 17
1984 - With service in the Norwegian army, the Glock leaves Austria
1986 - G18 introduced
1986 - Glock Inc. in Smyrna, GA, established
1988 - G17L and G19 introduced
1988 - All Glocks get serrated frontstraps and backstraps
1990 - G22 and G23 introduced: the first ever .40 S&W guns
1990 - G20 and G21 introduced
1994 - G24 introduced
1995 - G25, G26 and G27 introduced
1997 - G29 and G30 introduced
1998 - G31, G32, G33, G34, G35 introduced
1999 - G36 introduced

IdahoLT1
May 29, 2008, 03:45 AM
Ive seen military training videos where they teach them to carry in DA mode. When they get into a firefight, they have the first DA pull followed by SA pulls. When all is over, they decock, turn the safety back off and leave it in DA mode.

everallm
May 29, 2008, 09:25 AM
There's a "Safety Button" because real life doesn't come with a "Reset Button"

JHansenAK47
May 29, 2008, 09:53 PM
My brother is an MP and he was telling me he carries his M9 safety off with the hammer cocked back to the hammer safety catch. (halfcock) Along with most of the soldiers in his unit that are going to Iraq that have pistols. If you ever tried to put a beretta 92 at halfcock on safe it takes significantly more force to work the decocker on the safety than fully cocked or completely decocked. Kind of acts like a safety to prevent accidentally putting the pistol on safe. Then again he is an MP and they carry pistols all the time doing police work on base.

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