For the rifle experts: Bolt gun safeties.


January 4, 2010, 06:09 PM
I think it might be useful to have a list of bolt gun makes and models, and the safeties they have.

Rifle make/model
Type (sear block, trigger block, ???)
Location (rear of bolt, tang, side of receiver, ???)
Bolt lock (2-position locking, 3-position locking, 2-position no lock, 2-position separate lock control)
Problems reported

Can anyone start to fill in the list?:)

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January 4, 2010, 06:21 PM
Bottom line: Which is safer? A safety on a rifle, or a safe shooter?

Shadow Man
January 4, 2010, 06:35 PM
Both are necessary Offfhand; safeties on rifles can fail, and the safest of shooters can make a mistake. But way to go OT on the first reply... :rolleyes:

Armed Bear, I'll check my gun cabinet and get back to you.

January 4, 2010, 06:40 PM
BTW I'm thinking of hunting rifles, and I think it's of interest to most of us who carry a gun in the field to know how it might behave when dropped, whether you can lock the bolt down, etc.

I realized that I really don't know what I think I do about it. For example, is the M70 really a sear-block vs. the similar CZ that is a trigger block? That's what I think but I realize that I don't know -- and manufacturers are unlikely to tell you these details for some reason. (Okay, sometimes the truth, like, "Really, our gun has been known to go off by itself!" or "We took off the bolt lock because the safety doesn't really work right anyway!" is bad marketing.:D)

January 4, 2010, 06:53 PM
Montana Rifle Company 1999 (Winchester M70 copy)
striker-blocking (rear and center)
rear of bolt
3-position, bolt locking

Ruger M77 MkII
sear-blocking and striker-blocking (rear), striker blocking (center)
side of receiver
3-position, bolt locking

January 4, 2010, 06:56 PM
dmazur- How does a striker block work? I'm not into dropping my rifles to test them, but it would sound like sear- and striker-blocking would be drop-safe, at least insofar as any gun can be. Is that a correct assumption?

January 4, 2010, 07:59 PM
I don't have the rifle in front of me, but the M70 style safety actually lifts the cocking piece away from the sear a little and blocks it. It has to lift it or you could set up a ND by pulling the trigger with the safety on...when you took the safety off, the sear probably wouldn't engage the cocking piece. As far as I can tell, this safety doesn't try to block the sear. With the cocking piece blocked, it doesn't need to.

Ruger's safety isn't really a M70 style safety, even though it has 3 positions. When you pull the safety all the way to the rear, it slips into a notch machined into the end of the striker. It doesn't lift the striker. In either the center or rear positions, the safety rotates a step above the sear and blocks it. With a Ruger 3-position safety, the striker isn't blocked when you are loading/unloading with the safety in the center position, but the sear is.

Both the M70 and Ruger safeties lock the bolt closed in the rear position with a little pin that moves into a hole in the bolt handle.

With either design, everything has to fit correctly or it isn't safe, even if the design is. ( :) ) I believe the M70 style is as foolproof as you can get, but the Ruger is a close second. I believe the typical problem that occurs with Rugers is that someone drops in an aftermarket sear that doesn't fit. The correct ones are slightly oversized and are supposed to be dressed until the safety step just "kisses" it as you put the safety on.

Dropping causes inertia, which does nothing with a properly fitted safety that has all the critical moving parts locked up tight. Inertia can cause ND's with poorly fitted parts, as the parts can move.

Regarding trigger pulls, I remember the first time I read about the "kitchen floor" test following trigger work...I really laughed at that one: As a final test, thump the butt of the cocked and unloaded rifle on the kitchen floor. The sear shouldn't release the striker.

Other useful tests include slamming the bolt closed, hard, to see if this affects trigger pull or the safety. If after slamming the bolt closed, the sear releases when the safety is removed, there are loose parts somewhere.

Did any of this help, or just make it less clear?

Shadow Man
January 4, 2010, 08:32 PM
Here goes:

Sporterized M1903A3 - Bolt lock. (I didn't sporterize it, I inherited it that way!)
Stock M1903A3 - Bolt lock.
Arisaka Type 38 - Bolt lock.
Stevens 325 - Trigger lock. (I believe it's a 325...I forgot from the gun cabinet to here)
Mannlicher Schoenauer M61 - Trigger lock.
IBA Chandler M40 - Trigger lock.

There's also a .22LR target rifle I occasionally use for pest control, and it has a trigger safety that resets every time you work the bolt. Can't remember the make/model right off-hand.

War Squirrel
January 4, 2010, 08:37 PM
Springfield U.S. Krag .30-40
Striker Block
Rear of Bolt
2 Position

January 4, 2010, 08:39 PM
Pre-64 type 3 postion M70 and Mauser type military safeties, push back on the striker (or cocking piece as called on a mauser) through which the firing pin is mounted on interupted grooves, thereby locking the firing pin back away from the bolt face.

January 4, 2010, 09:38 PM
Safties that only block the trigger I don't trust for spit.

Shadow Man
January 4, 2010, 11:49 PM
Safties that only block the trigger I don't trust for spit.

What are you planning on doing to the gun!? Not trying to be unoriginal, but to steal a line from a film: "Well, this is my safety, sir. (Flexes index finger)" Yeah, I'd love it if all my bolt guns had a safety that locked the bolt tight, but I've never felt "under safetied" with a simple trigger lock.

January 5, 2010, 11:00 AM
What are you planning on doing to the gun!?

I've gotten my boot hung up in vegetation more than once this year, and dropped my gun. You don't PLAN to drop your gun in the field. You just DO.

January 5, 2010, 11:03 AM
BTW by "bolt lock" I mean, does the rifle allow you to lock the bolt down using the safety or some other control?

That's separate from the function of a safety really, but it's often combined on the same control.

Shadow Man
January 5, 2010, 11:32 AM
True enough, I've dropped my guns more than once, I guess I just got lucky and didn't have a ND.

Art Eatman
January 5, 2010, 12:37 PM
Kinda drifting from the first post, but thinking about safety in general: Years ago, the old folks harped at me to never trust the safety. Okay, they generally work, but that doesn't mean an absolute 100.000% reliability, at least not in my own little mind.

So if I'm not ready to shoot, the rifle is empty--or at the very least the bolt is fully open. If I'm out doing the walking-hunting thing, the bolt handle is up, since none of my rifles will go Bang! in that condition. The only time I'm all loaded and locked is when I'm sittin' and lookin'.

I don't mean to be harsh, Armed Bear, but I do suggest giving more thought to walking in the boonies. One thing I've never, ever done is get my feet tangled in vines or brush when carrying a loaded rifle or shotgun. I seriously work at avoiding that; it's a major part of my outdoors doings. At the very least, I figure I can't shoot Bambi if I'm lying on my tookus with a busted-up rifle...

More drift: I've always been sorta shook at how many people just really can't walk in rough country. It's a whole 'nother ball game from city sidewalks or residential lawns, and takes some learning-how to get good at it. Some terrain and vegetation, it's danged near like slow ballet-dancing. "Just walking" and "hunting walking" are two different things.

Vern Humphrey
January 5, 2010, 12:51 PM
How does a striker block work?
A striker-blocking safety uses a cut in the back of the striker (which is the back part of the firing pin.) The safety rotates into the cut and cams the striker back, moving the bent off the sear, and holding it locked.

There is no chain of parts between safety and striker -- so in theory at least, a striker-blocking safety is less likely to fail than a trigger-blocking or sear-blocking safety.

When you add in the fact that almost all striker-blocking safties do lock the the bolt down on full safty, but also allow for a middle position which allows you to load and unload with the safety engaged, that makes it a winner in many people's eyes.

January 5, 2010, 01:02 PM
One thing I've never, ever done is get my feet tangled in vines or brush when carrying a loaded rifle or shotgun.

Anyone who has hunted wild birds here has dropped a gun. Those who have done it for a while have inevitably broken a stock. Anyone who walks around with the gun unchambered or open doesn't get any birds. That's just life. You learn to hold the shotgun in certain directions.

It's true, I haven't dropped a rifle yet, but when I'm side-hilling on steep shale in a canyon and looking for the deer that I saw running by, it would be pretty arrogant to assume that I never will. There's nothing wrong with getting the best possible equipment, along with trying to be safe.

January 5, 2010, 01:15 PM
Comparing M70 vs Ruger 3-position safeties -

Looking at how they work, they are very similar in function. Both provide a middle position for unloading, and both lock the bolt down when in the "back" or fully on position.

The Ruger doesn't appear to fully engage the cut in the striker. By this I mean it moves in front of it, and it would probably block it if the safety blocking the sear failed, but it doesn't engage it the way the M70 safety does. So I think of it as "backing up" the sear-blocking safety rather than as the primary safety.

Your question as to "drop proof" is hard to answer, and I probably didn't. I believe if you have positively blocked the moving part that causes ignition (the striker), you are done. Dropping won't make it fire. The M70 achieves this by blocking the striker directly, and ignores the rest of the firing chain. The Ruger is "belts and suspenders", blocking both the sear and the striker. Is this also drop proof? Yes. Is it better than the M70? I don't know.

January 5, 2010, 11:48 PM
As a newb I'd like to add....

If you gents could list and explain the various safety types (Pros/Cons as well) that would be great.

(Unless their is a thread/sticky that has that....)

January 6, 2010, 01:05 AM
Someone will have to compile such a list from various responses, I'd guess. I'm familiar with a few types, so I'll give it a go -

Winchester 1895, 9410 "tang safety" - blocks hammer from falling to firing position, but permits cocking/lowering hammer. Lever action is not locked by safety. Loading/unloading can be done with safety on.
Winchester M70 3-position safety - blocks striker in rear position and locks bolt, blocks striker in middle position to permit loading/unloading, forward for firing.
Ruger M77 MkII (Hawkeye similar) - blocks striker and sear in rear position and locks bolt, blocks sear in middle position to permit loading/unloading, forward for firing.
Browning SA22 crossbolt button safety - blocks trigger in "safe", permits firing in "fire". Bolt is not locked by safety.
M1 Garand safety - back (safe) blocks trigger and hammer, forward (fire) permits firing. Bolt is not locked by safety.
Remington 700 2-position safety - blocks sear in rear position, forward for firing. Bolt is not locked by safety. (Variations may exist that lock bolt with safety on, requiring moving safety to "fire" to load/unload.)

Starting with lever-action rifles, many believe the exposed hammer is already a safety, especially if it is a rebounding hammer. However, some folks manage to drop the hammer on a live round, so Winchester came up with a tang safety to permit lowering a cocked hammer without the risk associated with the hammer slipping.

Bolt actions are next, and the argument is generally 3-position vs. 2-position. The 3-position safeties can be loud, and the length of throw is considerable. 2-position safeties can be quieter in some cases, and can be generally operated without removing your hand from the stock. 3-positions usually lock the bolt when on, so you don't have to worry about brush snagging it and lifting it to an open position, which generally inhibits firing. Some folks think safeties on a bolt-action rifle are unnecessary, as they don't chamber a round until ready to shoot.

So-called crossbolt safeties are common on pump shotguns, Remington 7600's, and similar designs. I used a Browning SA22 as an example. There is no bolt handle to worry about locking down, so the action is generally free for loading/unloading regardless of the position of the safety (which should be on.)

The Garand safety is kind of unique. I believe Ruger copied it for their Mini-14.

Sorry for the thread drift, but I'm not the first offender... :)

January 6, 2010, 09:17 AM
4 types safeties:

1. Locks the firing pin

2. Locks the sear (that holds back the spring loaded firing pin OR a spring loaded inertia(mass) that will strike the firing pin)

3. Locks the trigger (that when pulled, moves/releases the sear)

4. Locks a spring loaded inertia(mass) (hammer usually) that will strike the firing pin, firing pin floats or is held back by a spring

January 6, 2010, 09:49 AM
Safties that only block the trigger I don't trust for spit.

I agree. Sear blocking safeties have failed time and again. Because people want single stage triggers set to minimum movement and weight, all you have is about a hundredth of an inch of sear holding that firing pin back. Sometimes accidental discharges happen to shock dislodging the sear, sometimes it is due to folks adjusting for too light a trigger pull, sometimes the design is faulty.

The trigger mechanism that came with the Remington M721 through late model M700's was faulty. When you put the safety on, it blocked the sear and locked the bolt handle down. However a number of these rifles had accidental discharges when the safety was taken off.

A grey beard that I shoot with, he recounted a story of two hardware store new M721's that discharged, "through the floor boards", when the owners took the safeties off to unload the rifles.

I never cared for a sear blocking safety, but that is what is on my M700. I have adjusted it, slapped it, dropped it on its butt with the safety on, worked the bolt extra fast, to ensure that it it does not over ride. On my M700, Remington changed the trigger so the bolt is not locked down when the safety is on. That was to reduce the chance of an accidental discharge as you don't have to take the safety off to open the bolt.

My favorite safeties are the M1903, M98 Mauser, M70. These safeties cam the firing pin back, and allow you to remove the bolt with the firing pin held back.

The M1917 safety is good, it at least cams the firing pin back.

My SAKO Finnbear has a sear blocking safety.

Wincheste M52D .22LR, sear blocking safety.

H&R M12 .22LR sear blocking safety.

Anschutz M54 .22LR, the wing safety cams the firing back. Later mechanisms went to a sear blocking safety.

Since small bore is fired single shot, and the rifles generally don't have magazines, safeties are hardly ever used.

Most aftermarket over ride triggers incorporate a sear blocking safety.

I like the Marlin lever through action safety. Older Marlins had a half cock only safety. With the through action safety, if you put it on and happen to drop the hammer, going to half cock, you won't discharge the rifle.

The M1 and M14 have outstanding safeties. When you put the safety on, it actually cams the hammer back and locks the hammer into position. You can bayonet someone then butt stroke them on the way down and you will not have an accidental discharge.

My French Berthier and MAS 36, no safety! :what:I bet the French had a bunch of accidental discharges :eek:

Martini Henry, no Safety!. At least it is a single shot rifle, you are less likely to forget if it was loaded.

The Mosin Nagant safety is absolutely positive as you pull back on the cocking piece and rotate it. This positively holds the firing back. Cumbersome but effective.

I like the Arisaka safety. You push the bolt cap and rotate. It holds the firing pin back and also functions as a gas block for gas that got in the bolt body. It is also easy to take off, just push and rotate with thumb pressure. Too bad no one copied it, but post war, all the rifles were into single stage triggers and sear blocking safeties.

I never had much use for the Lee Enfield safety. Apparently neither did the British military as we both agree the half cock safety is more positive.

January 6, 2010, 01:12 PM
...Mechanical safeties aren't... I look upon them as AD attenuating devices. My Mosin-Nagant safety is pretty good, but such a pain to use, I avoid it, since I feel it's possible to lose my grip when taking it off and drop the pin accidentally. I have had it not catch the sear, and though I didn't drop the cocking piece, it did uncock. I just always watch my trigger discipline, and stay mindful of my muzzle. I also never turn loose of my gun, even in a fall. I'll take a bad fall rather than give up control of my muzzle. However, I'll avoid snag-filled areas or unload when they're unavoidable.

Vern Humphrey
January 6, 2010, 03:49 PM
You can add the Martini-Henry to the list of rifles without safeties. The theory was troops didn't load until ordered by an officer or NCO.

One flaw in that is that Martini-Henry carbines were issued to mounted troops -- who had to carry them empty. Managing a horse with one hand and loading with the other could be problematical. In one famous case during the Zulu war an officer took out a mounted patrol to locate a new headquarters site. Accompanying the patrol was the French Prince Imperial (the son of Louis Napoleon.) The officer and Prince Imperial had handguns, but in saddle holsters.

They came upon a Zulu village with the cook fires still burning. Now you and I would have said, "Uh, oh! Load! Scouts out! Form square!" But they said, "This is convenient. Let's have a spot of tea, what?" They had just finished tea when the Zulus, who had crept up on them, jumped up at bad breath distance. In the race for the horses, the Prince Imperial only managed to get one foot in the stirrup and only made a short distance clinging to a paniced horse before falling.

And so ended any hopes for a restoration of the Napoleonic dynasty in France.

January 6, 2010, 04:34 PM
Obviusly not a bolt rifle, but on the subject of safeties, here's an interesting variation of a safety on one of my double rifles. It migh be termed a "safety safety" but more usually called a safety bolt, or block, because it prevents the safety from being disengaged. Usually found on dangerous game rifles, such as this one, the purpose is to prevent the safety from being accidently disengaged by one's gun bearer. As situation not uncommon on safari. When a shooting situation arises, the hunter, with rifle now in hand, flicks the bolter to the side so the main safety can be operated as needed.

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