Safety catches, do you use yours?


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zemio
January 8, 2010, 03:34 AM
Hi Team. This is my 1st thread on THR, so if I inadvertently tread on some bunions, do please bear with me.

Safety catches, useful or invention of the devil?

Me personally I never ever use them, my thinking being that a safety catch prevents a fully loaded and cocked weapon from firing by mechanical interference, a situation I'm not good with. Most of my hunting is done with a .22LR Voere, the safety on that being a vague feeling but seemingly effective little lever on the right hand rear of the bolt receiver. However, even if it clicked between *fire* and *safe* like a Rolex watch, I still wouldn't use it, the above argument applying.

Standard field walkin' practice for me is bolt forward and lever up on an empty breech, left thumb (I'm a south paw) up and holding the bolt forward.
Once I'm somewhere I expect to see game any time it's as above except for a round up the spout.
Oh how I have wished for an effective "half cock" like the one on my bud's BSA Monarch .222! Trying to "Half cock" the Voere is neither safe nor sensible, an accidentally squeezed trigger will result in the bolt lever either flipping all the way up or snapping down and *BOOM*:eek:
I'm told this suspicion of safety catches is a New Zealand thing, Im interested to see if this carries over.

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dmazur
January 8, 2010, 03:53 AM
One of the most-debated points is "Do you carry your rifle with one in the chamber?"

Here's a link to a recent post about safeties in general, which kind of touches on this question without running into it head on -

http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=496226

My experience has been that hunters who follow "spot and stalk" sometimes carry a rifle with the chamber empty. Plenty of time to set up and take the shot, so why not?

On the other hand, still hunters who generally jump a deer at close range in brush don't like this practice. There simply isn't enough time. So some of these folks use their safety, and may be concerned about how "positive" it is.

A study of the Four Rules doesn't reveal anything that says, "...but it's OK if the safety is on."

I believe very few hunters implicitly trust safeties, but that doesn't mean they aren't ever used.

ny32182
January 8, 2010, 10:40 AM
Me personally I never ever use them, my thinking being that a safety catch prevents a fully loaded and cocked weapon from firing by mechanical interference, a situation I'm not good with.

I'm not sure I understand this... a safety prevents a loaded weapon from being fired via mechanical interference with the trigger. Yes, that is the job of the safety... how can you not be good with it?

If I were carrying a rifle, which I never do really, but if I did... I would definitely engage the safety, since there is nothing positively keeping foreign objects from touching the trigger. If you are walking through the woods and hit a twig wrong, or slip and fall onto a pile of sticks or something, I'd consider the chances of getting the trigger hit in such a manner to be very real and definitely a situation worthy of using the external manual safety.

If I were carrying a pistol on the other hand, which I do often, I would prefer that the design not even have an external manual safety in that case... the holster is my "safety", since it fully encases the trigger area such that no foreign object can get to the trigger. And once it is out of the holster, I don't want there to be anything keeping the trigger from being pulled.

MrPink
January 8, 2010, 10:59 AM
I still hunt whitetail in the Green Mountains of VT with a Winchester 70. Loaded, safety on for reasons staed in the previous post. Of course, basic four rules of gun handling safety because nothing is absolute.

I use the Win 70 - thinking about a Kimber 84M - because I prefer that the safety disengages the firing pin, unlike the Rem 700 which locks the trigger (the sear could still slip). In my mind, better - still not absolute - safety.

Uncle Mike
January 8, 2010, 11:04 AM
Locked and loaded! All the time!

desidog
January 8, 2010, 12:41 PM
What is distrust of a safety? It is, after all, an inanimate bunch of metal parts. It won't lie to you.

With most all modern firearms, the safeties are well engineered and work. That's not to say there isn't a remote chance of a failure; but it is very remote. The most common failure with safeties is people forgetting to turn them off before attempting a shot.

On a rifle, to not use a safety is more dangerous than to use one, when stalking...there are many more factors that might cause an ignition. Still, a loaded gun is a loaded gun, and should ALWAYS be treated as such, safety or no.

briansmithwins
January 8, 2010, 01:08 PM
Obey the 4 rules and it doesn't matter if the safety is on or not, nobody will get hurt.

A well designed safety can prevent the 1 in a 1,000,000 AD from dropping a rifle on the branch that hit the trigger. OTOH, it's much more likely to prevent you from taking that shot at the 'once in a lifetime' buck.

Decide what you're going to do with the safety and train that way. As long as you're consistent muscle memory os your friend.

BSW

jem375
January 8, 2010, 01:17 PM
Some people just don't realize the many accidental discharges that happen with firearms. Of course the safety should be on if a round is in the chamber, common sense...

GunsAmerica Fan
January 8, 2010, 01:37 PM
When I've hunted alone I never have used a safety, and many of the rifles and shotguns I've used don't even have one. I have hunted deer with a Sharps and a Springfield Trapdoor, as well as a flintlock. For shotguns, I have always hunted with hammer doubles and none of european guns have a safety.

briansmithwins
January 8, 2010, 01:37 PM
Some people just don't realize the many accidental discharges that happen with firearms. Of course the safety should be on if a round is in the chamber, common sense...

I think the word you wanted there was 'negligent'. Having your finger on the trigger, falling, and shooting your hunting buddy in the back is negligence, not an accident.

BSW

CZguy
January 8, 2010, 01:49 PM
I use every safety that I can.

I put the mechanical safety on, then I keep the gun pointed in a safe direction, and most importantly, I engage the safety in between my ears.

Mr_Pale_Horse
January 8, 2010, 02:15 PM
Take the time to understand how your firearm is designed to function. Apply this knowledge to your situation.

Try not to use words like 'never (ever)' and 'always'.

Unintended consequences are less likely with study and forethought.

dougw47
January 8, 2010, 02:45 PM
I am confident in my Winchester Model 70's safety's. All these years never had a problem...yet.

Rem 700, 30-06 had one go off on my when I released the safety.

Winchester 94AE has a safety, I use it...just push the button...I forgot the first time in the field, but not since.

Marlin 336 has a half-cock, but I don't trust it...easy enough to chamber a round when the time comes.

rcmodel
January 8, 2010, 03:02 PM
It would appear to me that anyone who would ask that question has never been through Basic Training in the military.

OF COURSE you use the safety when the gun is loaded.

Not doing so would get you ostracized, if not slapped up side the head in the circles I have run with my whole life.

As for Trap-Doors and hammer guns, you were using the safety if you had the hammer on the half-cock notch.
Which I assume you did.
It would be very foolish indeed to lower the hammer completely on a loaded round!

rc

Clipper
January 8, 2010, 04:23 PM
I use the safety on all my rifles with the exception of my Mosin-Nagant. It's more dangerous, in my opinion to use it then not.

ArmedBear
January 8, 2010, 04:32 PM
Maybe you don't load the chamber as soon as you start walking. But sooner or later you'll have to load it, or the gun won't be good for much.

The way I see it, a quality safety is one link in the chain that helps prevent tragedy.

Keeping the chamber empty if there's no reason to have it loaded is one. Keeping the gun pointed in a safe direction at all times is another. Keeping your finger off the trigger is yet another, as is not dropping the gun.

In the real world, bad things happen even to smart, cautious people. The safety is there as a last resort, if the other measures fail (like if you fall down a hillside and bump the trigger on the way down, with no control over where the gun is pointed). As such, the safety is essential IMO. If everything always went as planned, you wouldn't need it. But things don't.

I want to have as many layers of prevention in place, as possible.

bhk
January 8, 2010, 04:38 PM
I always use a safety when hunting and have seen bad things happen when they are not used. Each of these involved a degree of neglegence, but would not have happened with an engaged safety. I bird hunt a lot, and have seen guns of other hunters go off a couple of times when the trigger was accidentally engaged by brush or heavy gloves. Not good. Would not have happened with an engaged safety. I also had a buddy briefly place his shotgun on the ground with the safety off when picking up a bird. His dog stepped into the trigger guard, discharging his 20 gauge. Scared the crap out of me as I was less than a yard from the gun.

In each of these cases, more common sense with gun handling techniques would have prevented these discharges - safety on or off. But the safety adds a cushion to the margin of error, and those errors unfortunately do happen if you spend enough time afield with guns (many decades, in my case).

I think the recent interest in concealed handgun carry and it's techniques have actually helped the cause of all shooters. The stress in all handgun carry and action shooting instruction is to keep the finger OUT of the trigger guard and ALONG THE SIDE of the pistol frame unless actually shooting. This is good, and much better than the old hunting safety recommendation of just keeping your finger off the trigger. It is amazing how many hunters carrying in a ready to shoot situation (as much of bird hunting is) keep their fingers within the trigger guard. Not good - especially with gloves on!

Walkalong
January 8, 2010, 06:49 PM
Me personally I never ever use themTo each their own. They were put there for a reason, for safety. I guess safety does not interest you. Adios.

351 WINCHESTER
January 8, 2010, 06:57 PM
For my enfield I chamber a round, but don't close the bolt. No way the gun can discharge and it's a snap to close the bolt.

Guns and more
January 8, 2010, 06:59 PM
Ask Plaxico Burris. He didn't have a safety on his Glock.

Guns and more
January 8, 2010, 07:01 PM
I use every safety that I can.

I put the mechanical safety on, then I keep the gun pointed in a safe direction, and most importantly, I engage the safety in between my ears.
Nice!

Pony Express
January 8, 2010, 07:02 PM
OF COURSE you use the safety when the gun is loaded.

Not doing so would get you ostracized, if not slapped up side the head in the circles I have run with my whole life.

Bingo. I always carry the gun with a round chambered and the safety on. Fear of putting a fellow hunter (or shooter, or anybody else in the woods/on the range) in danger keeps my gun pointed right at the ground until I see something cute and cuddly to point it at.

briansmithwins
January 8, 2010, 07:21 PM
'Burress was at the Latin Quarter nightclub Nov. 29 when he shot himself in the thigh after a gun tucked in the waist of his track pants slipped down his leg and fired.'

From: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/08/03/sportsline/main5208505.shtml

Yeah, right. He was playing with the trigger and he shot himself. Multiple 4 rule violations.

BSW

zemio
January 8, 2010, 07:21 PM
Interesting posts. Most make sense. No, I've never been in the green machine, but I do have a fine appreciation of fire arms and what they can do. I've yet to meet the projectile that cared why it was being fired or which way it was headed. My whole argument is just this: firing pin back or firing pin forward. Safety catches sort of (please mark the 'sort of') remind me of ABS brakes, yes they are good idea and yes they can save your bacon, but as my driving instructor said 'A good driver can often salvage a bad situation, but a better one would never have let it develop in the 1st place.' I agree with a safety catch being a link in the chain, but I would also forward the proposition that 1 link less is 1 less to fail.

That Burris fella sounds like a tardo who probably would have managed to drown himself in the toilet bowl anyhow.

CZguy
January 8, 2010, 08:23 PM
I agree with a safety catch being a link in the chain, but I would also forward the proposition that 1 link less is 1 less to fail.

Interesting theory...........but it just doesn't make sense to me. I guess that many things in life come down to the decision's that we make.

jeremy1391
January 9, 2010, 03:05 PM
safeties on firearms are a good thing, especially if you have on gear and are carrying with one in the chamber. i know a guy didnt have the safety on his M4 engaged it snagged his gear and BAM negligent discharge into his buddies foot, his friend suffered nerve damage and cant feel any of his toes on that foot anymore. now if his safety were on the chances of this happening would have dropped to almost never possible.

ArmedBear
January 9, 2010, 03:12 PM
1 link less is 1 less to fail?

Well, I guess if you don't ever use the safety, it will never fail. Of course, that makes no sense whatsoever.

That's why you DO use it, but you don't RELY on it as if it can never fail.

aquapong
January 9, 2010, 03:27 PM
http://www.xdtalk.com/gallery/data/509/Hoot.JPG

zemio
January 9, 2010, 08:17 PM
Thanks for the posts, team, interesting reading. I liked the movie BHD too. Just out of curiosity, did anyone find that chap in the chow line's argument "this is my safety!" a fair and reasonable explanation for why he was carrying a loaded assault rifle in a base canteen? Amazing looking pigs tho! Hunting pigs with dogs and a knife is a popular pastime here, but I'm not sure I would want to duke it out with one of those...

Rexster
January 9, 2010, 09:41 PM
Browning BLR - I carry chambered, and use the half-cock position, with the hammer spur folded forward, a truly good safety system, IMHO. The act of placing the hammer to full-cock unfolds the spur to firing position, so it works the same way as a traditional lever rifle's half-cock feature; no separate motion required.

Marlin lever rifle, with crossbolt safety: I loathe this type of safety, or more precisely, its location, and don't use it, except as an unloading aid. In brushy country, this type of safety can be bumped, changing the position of the safety. I may eventually get the kits that replace these safeties with a dummy screw.

Ruger No. 1 - I use the tang-mounted safety, round chambered, but since this safety does not, mechanically, do as much to prevent a round from being fired, I trust if less, and am more likely to have the chamber empty when moving. It depends on how rough/cluttered the terrain.

Winchester Model 70 - This is an excellent, ergonomic safety, that disconnects the firing mechanism. I trust this safety more than any other, equivalent to the 98 Mauser, anyway, and have no problem keeping a round chambered when moving. Dropping the weapon, or a blow to any part of the weapon, cannot cause it to fire. A derivative of the Mauser 98 design, these weapons had to be safe for soldiers to carry chambered while in battle.

Ruger Mini-14 - I am a lefty, and love this safety system. I have no problem with keeping a round chambered while moving.

AR15 - I hate this safety. It is ready to fire, with the "dingus*" down. I trained myself for two decades that when a safety lever is pointed downward, the weapon is on-safe, which is true of pistols I used in the past. Then, I take up the AR15 system, and find a safety that is ready to fire when the lever is vertically downward. While the MOTION of off-safe-ing an AR15 is natural enough, the vertical lever can cause me a crisis of confidence, no matter how much I train. One time I did a dynamic entry with an AR15, and this crisis of confidence surfaced. I don't plan to ever do so again. I have elected myself to be the shotgun guy, or the boltcutter/prybar guy, for the rare occasions I have to do this stuff. (Our SWAT team does most dynamic entries; we patrolman only do this if death or injury is imminent for people within.)

Remington 870 - I prefer to unlock the action, and keep it slightly open, or empty the chamber, rather than trust the safety. I won't trust a mere crossbolt. There are times I will RUN while carrying with a round half-chambered, and the action partly open, because I use a couple of these weapons on police patrol. When I have to really pour on the speed, I will grip the forend and barrel together, hard, with the chamber halfway open. When the guns ride in a vehicle, or are slung, the chamber is empty.

*Col. Jeff Cooper's term for a slide-mounted safety lever typical of the Beretta M9/M92 and S&W 1st-3rd Generation autopistols.

moooose102
January 9, 2010, 09:48 PM
i almost always carry my gun(s) loaded, with one in the chamber, with the safety in the safe position. the exception to that rule, is with my lever action rifles. they allow me to half cock them, and that is what i do, on those, i do not use the safety.

Rexster
January 9, 2010, 09:52 PM
Regarding the BHD scene, Paul Howe, a REAL Delta Operator who LIVED the battle portrayed in BHD, advocates USING the AR15's safety. (Don't take my word for it; read his stuff.) Do not mistake screenwriting for reality, folks! Moving through brush can cause a trigger to be pulled, and any number of other things can possibly strike or push a trigger.

My DA pistols are safe enough if my finger (and brain) constitute the safety, but they generally ride in holsters with covered trigger guards, or are in my "workspace" in front of my face, where hazards can be monitored. If I have to push through brush with a pistol in my hands, I can use index fingers along both sides of the triggerguard to shield the trigger, or the trigger finger on one side, and my body on the other.

Boba Fett
January 9, 2010, 10:01 PM
http://www.xdtalk.com/gallery/data/509/Hoot.JPG

There ya go.


But that doesn't mean I don't also use the weapon safeties as well.

I trust the safeties on my rifles, BUT I also follow the four rules.

Used in conjunction, I have no need to fear a loaded chamber.

Smith357
January 9, 2010, 10:06 PM
In the field when either sitting or stalking I have one on in chamber and use the safety. I also make it claer to all i hunt with when I'm loaded and that the safety is engauged, i also make it clear to all when I have unloaded and the rifle and it is clear. On the range I do not walk around with the gun loaded and do not use the safety.

rust collector
January 9, 2010, 10:22 PM
I was taught to use a safety, but not to rely upon it. This has worked very well for me. On the target range, we have the luxury of keeping the bolt open until we're in position. Not so when hunting.

If you keep the bolt handle raised or the bolt or slide slightly out of battery, you may be relying on another mechanical device, the disconnector, to prevent unwanted discharge. A fall can close the action and derail this plan, so I think danger arises from not appreciating the danger.

I teach the kids to assume the worst, but use every advantage. Don't load until you are in the field. Keep the safety on but don't rely on it. Fire only when target is IDed and the foreground and background are known to be safe. Finger protects trigger in the meanwhile, but muzzle always pointed in a safe direction until it's firing time.

Why do you think firearms are designed with safeties if they are useless?

double bogey
January 10, 2010, 01:33 AM
I won't hunt around someone who doesn't use the safety.

Tim the student
January 10, 2010, 02:19 AM
my thinking being that a safety catch prevents a fully loaded and cocked weapon from firing by mechanical interference

Isn't that the point of them?

The 4 rules should take care of them, but sometimes the rules get broken. A safety is one more thing that may help if the safety between your ears is ever broken.

When I hunt, I always carry with one in the pipe, safety on. If you train with a safety, it is no more of an issue than learning how to properly pull a trigger.

When I was in Iraq, the safety was always on, unless I was actively shooting. Even going through doors.

Not doing so would get you ostracized, if not slapped up side the head in the circles I have run with my whole life.

Yep.

but as my driving instructor said 'A good driver can often salvage a bad situation, but a better one would never have let it develop in the 1st place.'

OK, sure. But what about when some drunk monkey runs a red light and T-bones you? You can prevent most things, but not all. Does he wear a seatbelt? Surely not, since he would never let himself get into a bad situation.

I won't hunt around someone who doesn't use the safety.

Indeed.

sumpnz
January 10, 2010, 02:24 AM
I carry with a full mag but an empty chamber when I know there's no chance of needing to make a snapshot (i.e. it's dark, I've already shot my animal, hiking through an area known not to have the game of interest, in the truck (mag unloaded here), etc). Once I'm in a situation where it's possible to encounter game and legal to shoot it I chamber a round and engage the safety. If I'm going to cross a fence line, I'll unchamber if alone. Otherwise if there's someone else there, one crosses without their gun, and then all guns for the party are handed over and then the rest of the party crosses and gets their still chambered, safety'd gun back.

It's not that hard to train to disengage the safety while shouldering the rifle. The last elk I shot I honestly cannot remember how or when I set the safety to fire. The deer I shot this year I think I know when I did that, but I'm not positive (soon as I saw the horns and was in the process of shouldering the rifle). And that came from just a handful of range trips and hunting trips. It was not intentionally drilled in.

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