Manual safeties and teaching new shooters.


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GigaBuist
March 16, 2004, 12:06 AM
Not to start a flame war on Glocks, but after seeing yet another "I won't carry a Glock because of a manual safety" I began to wonder.

I do not CCW currently (few more months on that one) so my perspective is skewed.

I cannot, for the life of me, remember that last time I actually flicked a manual safety and have it actually make myself feel safer.

This has probably got something to do with how I was "re-taught" how to shoot 2 years ago. They're just not that useful, at least on the firing line. Perhaps I'm wrong, but if you follow the four rules there's no reason to employ the use of a safety at the range.

I'm fond of taking new shooters out for their first few ventures into the land of freedom. It's just something about my really cherry, docile, personality I guess that warms them up to the idea that shooters aren't raging lunatics :) Invariable when showing them how to operate a few different arms before we had out I always get the question "Where's the safety?" Even non-shooters know guns are supposed to have them I guess. My response is usually "Uhm, it's here." I flick it up, I flick it down and then say, "Don't bother with it. Keep your finger off the trigger until you've got your target and keep it pointed in a safe directions at all times. Do not set it down unless you've verified it's unloaded and everybody will be fine." Given my limited selection of hanguns invariable a Glock comes along and their eyes do one of these: :what: when I show them the manual safety on a Glock. That kind of helps drive the point home I guess. Finger on the trigger == bad. Really really bad.

I tend to equate "Don't worry, the safety is on" equal to "Don't worry, it's not loaded" in terms of responsibility when handling arms. I'm probably biased though as it seems all shooters on either side of my family think a safety magically makes the arm 100% docile and non deadly. After having my father (not much of a shooter, but been around guns his whole life) drop a mag into my Glock and rack the slide with his finger in the trigger guard and it POINTED AT MY STOMACH I've just got a bad taste in my mouth about the whole issue. Yes, I explained to him how the safety worked. I guess he figured there would be a loud "click" when the safety disengaged or something.

Any thoughts on this point of view? Aside from the Glock thing and CCW in general -- I'm just talking about range time. I'm sure as heck not going to stuff my CZ-75B into a holster for carry without the manual safety on (if in SA mode) nor am I staying anybody should attempt such a thing.

Am I totally off the wall for instructing new shooters to not even bother with a safety? I do show them where it is, and roughly how it works before shooting -- but let them know it's pointless. Don't bother flicking it on unless there's a malfunction and I want you to set the loaded weapon down for me to inspect it. Sometimes happens with my AR-15 given the shotty mags I seem to have aquired.

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mete
March 16, 2004, 07:05 AM
Safeties are mechanical devices that at times are not made properly so they don't work. They also can break or wear out. There are many different gun designs and the owner must be entirely familiar with the operation of that gun. But the safety is used ONLY after all the safety procedures have been followed. .....I've seen far too many shooters who are careless with their guns, and when I comment they say 'it's ok I have the safety on" !! ...If you have a safety ,use it but don't depend on it.

CAPTAIN MIKE
March 16, 2004, 07:17 AM
As a long-time shooter and instructor, I have always made sure anyone who's with me on the range --- experienced or not --- exercises the Most Important Safety of All: the one inside your HEAD. At the point of being a Pain in the *** I pro-actively take it upon myself to act as a range safety officer with everyone I shoot with unless there is an official one acting that day.

Let's face it: Anyone who has a firearm in their hand has a built-in safety within their brain cavity, and the "basics" of remembering that "All Guns Are Loaded" (among other rules) should be among the VERY FIRST THINGS that all new shooters are taught and all experienced shooters are "Reminded" of. We can NEVER forget.

Recently, the Desert Sportsmen Rifle & Pistol Club in Las Vegas experienced its very first fatality in over 40 years of operations. The man who died was a long-time shooter who died while attempting to clean his firearm at the range and while the forensic types will say "what happened" from a technical standpoint, the plain truth of it is that he died accidentally by his own hand by forgetting that "All Guns Are Loaded" and he failed to check one more time. This time it was a fatal mistake.

Yes - built in safeties on firearms are good. We should use them if available. But we should "Engage Brain" before we "Engage Firearms" each and every time.

Let's NOT FORGET.

Very Respectfully Submitted:

Trebor
March 16, 2004, 09:23 AM
The problem I have with Glocks specifically is the lack of a manual safety (other than on the trigger) combined with the relatively light trigger and short trigger travel required to discharge the pistol. No one would advocate carrying a cocked 1911 with the safety OFF, but I fail to see how carrying a chambered Glock is much different.

The Glock is often compared to a DA revolver because in both cases all you have to do is draw and fire, with a consistent trigger pull from shot to shot, and without having to disengage a safety, but a revolver has a much heavier trigger pull with a longer trigger distance.

I don't have any problem carrying a DA revolver, or a DA/SA pistol with the hammer down and the safety OFF, but the light trigger and short reset required to discharge the Glock doesn't give me enough confidence in the weapon to carry it in a civilian CCW environment. I might have a different opinion if I was a LEO who carried openly in a security holster, but I'm not and I have to make decisions based on my situation.

zahc
March 16, 2004, 10:24 AM
No one would advocate carrying a cocked 1911 with the safety OFF, but I fail to see how carrying a chambered Glock is much different.

But it is different, because the 1911 has a grip safety, and the glock doesn't. Carrying a condition 0 1911 is more like carrying a springfield XD.

Carrying a glock is more like carrying a conditon 0 highpower.

pax
March 16, 2004, 11:53 AM
Good comments, GigaBuist.

Generally I agree with you as far as new shooters needing to be taught not to rely upon the manual safety. Safe shooting starts there. If you think about it, the casual attitude of "it's okay, the safety is on" is really just ignorance about or negligence toward Safety Rule #1: All Guns Are Loaded.

That said, when I teach a newbie on a gun that has a manual safety, I start them right out getting in the habit of putting the safety 'on' the very instant the gun goes off target, and flicking it 'off' as the gun is being raised to the target. I do this because most of the people I work with are budding self-defense shooters, and I want them to build in, right from the very start, the muscle memory & habit of flicking the safety off as they go to shoot. I hate the thought of one of them trying to use a gun in a moment of high stress, and forgetting the safety, and getting killed because they couldn't get the safety off in time. YMMV, of course.

Trebor ~

If a Glock feels unsafe to you, don't carry one. *shrug*

pax

Life's tragedy is that we get old too soon and wise too late. -- Benjamin Franklin

Master Blaster
March 16, 2004, 12:19 PM
The manual safety for a Glock when its being carried is the device that prevents you from pulling the trigger. Its called a good holster that covers the trigger completely.

I have been CCwing a glock G-26 with a round in the chamber on a daily basis for quite some time with no problems whatsoever.

Holster that covers trigger,
Finger off trigger until ready to shoot.

patentnonsense
March 16, 2004, 12:29 PM
My one-liner for teaching is:

"The safety... isn't.
It helps a little, but you must NOT ever think of a gun as being safe."

etc. etc.

Trebor
March 16, 2004, 02:50 PM
If a Glock feels unsafe to you, don't carry one. *shrug*

Good advice. Everyone should decide for themselves what they are comfortable carrying. I just don't like the short reset and light trigger for CCW personally, but YMMV.

Standing Wolf
March 16, 2004, 03:03 PM
The only safety mechanism that counts is the one between the shooter's ears—and it better be engaged 100% of the time.

Majic
March 16, 2004, 04:24 PM
One thing to consider is that not all ranges are formal ranges. You may not find benches and the shooters wear holsters. Then a safety can be very important on certain firearms as they maybe holstered with partially full magazines.
Just because you have limited experiences, don't saddle the new shooter with your limitations when they may next find a totally different setting. Never just ignore a safety and certainly don't teach that to a new shooter. The firearm should function many more times than it will malfunction. What do you think the new shooter will envariably learn?

rust collector
March 16, 2004, 09:01 PM
I could never figure out why some firearms such as the Colt .22 pistol and (older) Ruger .22 pistols require you to take the gun off safe to open the action and check 'em. I have had a gun discharge when taken off safe (no trigger contact) and I'd rather not have to switch a manual safety off just to clear or ensure an empty chamber.

Anyone hazard a guess at the thinking behind this feature?

Kharn
March 16, 2004, 09:13 PM
Rust collector:
For guns with a full-length slide (like the 1911), I'd assume it would be so that holstering would not push the slide out of battery.

Kharn

Majic
March 16, 2004, 09:30 PM
You must not handled many of the older single action pistols Rust Collector.

rust collector
March 16, 2004, 11:00 PM
True enough, Majik, I don't have much 1911 time. The two guns mentioned aren't full slide models (Ruger doesn't have an external slide), but the same logic may apply.

What then keeps the slide from going out of battery on my PPK/S? On guns with no manual safety like the old Radom I used to have?

Thanks for the benefit of your experience.

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