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Safety catches, do you use yours?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by zemio, Jan 8, 2010.

  1. zemio

    zemio New Member

    Jan 6, 2010
    Sherenden, New Zealand.
    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.
  2. dmazur

    dmazur Senior Member

    Apr 28, 2007
    Pacific NW
    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 -


    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.
  3. ny32182

    ny32182 Mentor

    Oct 17, 2003
    Clemson, SC
    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.
  4. MrPink

    MrPink Member

    Jan 3, 2003
    hither and yon
    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.
  5. Uncle Mike

    Uncle Mike Senior Member

    Nov 5, 2008
    never never land...never land here!
    Locked and loaded! All the time!
  6. desidog

    desidog Senior Member

    Nov 21, 2008
    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.
  7. briansmithwins

    briansmithwins Senior Member

    Aug 1, 2005
    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.

  8. jem375

    jem375 Participating Member

    Jan 4, 2003
    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...
  9. GunsAmerica Fan

    GunsAmerica Fan Member

    Dec 16, 2009
    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.
  10. briansmithwins

    briansmithwins Senior Member

    Aug 1, 2005
    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.

  11. CZguy

    CZguy Senior Member

    Mar 25, 2004
    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.
  12. Mr_Pale_Horse

    Mr_Pale_Horse Active Member

    Nov 27, 2007
    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.
  13. dougw47

    dougw47 Member

    Jan 1, 2010
    Lone Oak, TX

    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.
  14. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    Sep 17, 2007
    Eastern KS
    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!

  15. Clipper

    Clipper Senior Member

    Apr 15, 2006
    Mt. Morris, MI.
    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.
  16. ArmedBear

    ArmedBear Senior Elder

    Sep 8, 2005
    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.
  17. bhk

    bhk Participating Member

    Jun 17, 2006
    Wooded acreage in rural midwest
    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!
  18. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    Nov 20, 2006
    To each their own. They were put there for a reason, for safety. I guess safety does not interest you. Adios.
  19. 351 WINCHESTER

    351 WINCHESTER Senior Member

    Mar 19, 2007
    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.
  20. Guns and more

    Guns and more member

    May 6, 2008
    Ask Plaxico Burris. He didn't have a safety on his Glock.

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