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Why do SAO handguns need manual safeties, but striker fired ones dont?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by MemeMagic, Feb 26, 2017.

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  1. ATLDave

    ATLDave Member

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    Of course, there are also striker-fired guns with external safeties. The military just adopted one!

    And there are hammer-fired guns that are very drop-safe.

    The issues discussed here aren't really striker-dependent. It just happened that Glock normalized striker-fired AND safety-less semis at the same time.
     
  2. Cannibul

    Cannibul Member

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    One of the reasons I like the Springfield Armory XD series is they have a grip safety. Now if they would just build one in 10mm.
     
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  3. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

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    I will say this - after instructing handgun courses for nearly 20yrs, I've yet to have an ND/AD with a striker gun or DAO. Pure SA's - including DA/SA's cocked to SA for slow fire - are the only ND/AD's I've ever had happen by any of my students. It's not common, but with folks less familiar with their trigger, that short & light break can be a problem.

    (Note - I also don't allow Serpa type retention holsters in my dynamic handgun courses, a choice to which I attribute some mitigation of ND/AD's).
     
  4. hollywood63

    hollywood63 Member

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  5. Ed Ames

    Ed Ames Member

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    Start with this: there are single action pistols without manual safeties. Old guns like the Tokarev, newer guns like the Springfield XD series. From what I've read the original idea for the 1911 didn't include a manual safety but it was added at the request of the US army.

    However, there aren't many reasonable people who think it is a good idea to carry a gun with nothing but a light crisp "surprise break" trigger keeping it from firing. At the same time, the idea of a long relatively heavy trigger pull as "good enough" has been accepted for over 100 years. Nobody is clamoring for safeties on revolvers. Nobody caries a revolver with the hammer back. SA pistols without hammers and without manual safeties use a relatively long/heavy DA-style pull.

    So, from a usability perspective, what is the best way to have a light crisp trigger break but still have a gun you can carry? Well, guns that can do DA (revolvers, DA/SA pistols, etc.) can be decocked and require only a (long, heavy) trigger pull to fire. Very common configuration, and they frequently don't have manual safeties. Single action only guns, on the other hand, require the hammer be cocked somehow.

    Some guns have a hammer, and many people find cocking the hammer before use acceptable. The Tokarev was that way. The 1911 was originally intended to be that way. Single action revolvers are that way. However, not all guns have an accessible hammer, and from an ergonomic perspective cocking a hammer is much harder than pushing on a safety.

    So that gives you the reason people don't carry cocked and unlocked (the "ideal" trigger is too light for carry), the reason single-action pistols generally have a safety (because it is easier to work than cocking a hammer, especially if the hammer/firing mechanism is enclosed), and examples of single action pistols that don't have a manual safety (XD, Tokarev).
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2017
  6. ATLDave

    ATLDave Member

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    Unless and until those fools in New Jersey get their way and we start having gun triggers equipped with fingerprint sensors, that's not the only thing that can make gun go bang. As discussed above, a great many things can - and have, in multiple well-proven instances - apply sufficient pressure on a Glock or other similar trigger to cause the gun to discharge. Finger-off-trigger will avoid about 99.9+% of AD/ND's. But not all of them.
     
  7. ATLDave

    ATLDave Member

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    I've seen (and DQ'ed) two different shooters who ND'ed their Glocks during courses of fire. Both were trying to get the gun running again after some kind of failure-to-fire problem, and both of them, feeling the heat of competition, got their finger on the trigger as they were aggressively grabbing is. Both of them readily acknowledged that the F'ed up, and that's not indicative of a design flaw, but people ABSOLUTELY experience AD/ND's with striker guns. The stats of large police departments also demonstrate that it happens quite a bit.
     
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  8. north east redneck
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    north east redneck Member

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    My two main carry guns are a .38 j frame S&W and a M&P .45c. neither has an external manually activated safety. Both have stock triggers at around 10lbs+(MA compliant). I shoot them a lot, they work for me. In regards to the striker fired gun, it isn't cocked fully until the trigger is depressed(in the case of the M&P).
    Keep your finger off the trigger until you want to shoot.
    To me trigger discipline isn't just about where my index finger is, it's about everything that could contact the trigger.
     
  9. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

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    I'll not disagree with the context of this - which wasn't the context of my comment, but it IS a fair point. I've been a ping-pong ball for different competitions as I've moved around the country, and have seen ND/AD's in every single competition type I've ever fired. Consider that might mean 1 instance out of only 10-15 competitions I've attended, as I've only participated in some of these sports for a year or less before moving on to the next thing. Malfunctions, naturally, introduce a multiplier for the likelihood, since the shooters mental state is compromised by the time loss and processing the malfunction, and because not many folks practice coming back to the trigger AFTER coming back to the target during their malfunction drills (picked that up from a cowboy action shooter around 2002/3).

    ND/AD's happen, no mater what firearm you're using, no matter what safety is involved. Just has been my experience to have seen the "under trained public" in general be less likely to screw up with a heavier, longer traveling trigger. It has equally been my experience for competition, all bets should be on seeing an ND/AD sooner or later, much more frequently than you'd ever see outside of competition. I've always wondered - are shooters mentally accepting a lapse in safety and trading for speed simply because they know the 180/170 rules cover them more completely than any other firearms context?

    No matter what firearm type you're holding, at some point in time, the only thing between quiet and "bang" is your finger. It might be a competitive shooter or a class student who daftly turns completely around - firearm included - to ask for clarification on a CoF, or a Bullseye shooter who adjusts their one hand grip with their finger on the trigger, or an officer with tunnel vision and numb hands due to stress who breaks the shot on a complying perp... At some point, if you're using a firearm, it WILL come down to nothing between quiet and "bang" except...

     
  10. ATLDave

    ATLDave Member

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    I think you actually answered your own question before you answered it! The fact of the matter is that, physiologically, the degradation of motor control and decision-making is the same under stressful competition as in other stressful circumstances. People aren't deciding to skimp on safety.... they're just melting down under pressure. The flop sweat that comes from a running clock and a not-running gun is pretty severe, and leaves some competitors physically shaking afterward. At that point, it's very easy for them to just grab as much gun as possible in order to manhandle it into compliance and then BANG! Easy to do, but not OK.

    As the MD and CRO of a match that attracts a lot of new-to-competition shooters, I've seen this, or similar safety-related DQ issues, happen to very seasoned shooters, including combat veterans and long time LEO's. My personal view - which I've shared after-the-fact with a lot of DQ'ed shooters - is that when one feels the flop sweat soaking your pits, that's the time to get very intentional and mindful of safety issues. Let the shooting and running and reloading be subconscious if you can/must, but when things get rough, make safety a conscious focus.

    While I'm a proponent of a (sensibly-designed) safety on semi-autos, one thing the finger-is-safety have right is that there's no substitute for judgment and focus.
     
  11. MTMilitiaman

    MTMilitiaman Member

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    Horse-pucky. Firearms are simple tools with few moving parts and operating firearms safely and responsibly is common sense. The Four Rules are simple enough and one has only be willing to implement these simple, common sense rules. If you have a drivers license, operating a firearm safely should present no problems. I was first taught the rules when I was four years old. I've had no problems with my Glocks. They go bang every time you pull the trigger and never when you don't. I don't see a problem there...

    The main reason is trigger weight. DAO hammer fired autos and striker fired autos have almost twice the trigger pull weight of a good SAO trigger--6 to 8 pounds for the former vs 3 to 5 pounds for the latter.

    The presence of a safety does not excuse poor judgement. If you aren't comfortable carrying a handgun without a safety, you might be relying on the safety too much.

    I've tried to get my G20 to drop the striker getting clothing or the thumb break of my holster in the trigger guard. In order to even get something into the trigger guard, it has to be pointed into the body at a ridiculous angle--you basically have to try to accomplish the feat--like you're trying to shoot yourself. It is very hard, nearly impossible to accomplish. Even then, I've never been able to discharge my Glock with anything other than my finger. And if you drop the slide on any auto while chambering a round with your finger on the trigger, it will discharge, including a 1911.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2017
  12. Steve C

    Steve C Member

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    Safeties including both passive and manual are there for only one function and that is to prevent unintentional discharge of the firearm if it is dropped or the shooter has otherwise lost control of the weapon. Safeties are not installed on firearms to prevent discharge from intentional or careless handling though some seem to use the manual safety in that way.

    SAO weapons and many DA semi autos are of old design that without a manual safety does not have a sure way to prevent the hammer or striker from disengaging from the sear if it is subject to a hard blow. Many of the polymer pin fired weapons have enough passive safety features to make them "safe" without the need of a manual safety however manufacturers are willing to provide one for customers that feel the need.
     
  13. Walt Sherrill

    Walt Sherrill Member

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    Some striker-fired guns do have safeties. Some (arguably MOST) striker-fired guns are more like DA/SA gun on the first trigger pull, in that the trigger is heavier than most SA guns.

    I've owned DA/SA guns that have lighter triggers than a Glock. I'm as likely to have a negligent discharge with one as the other. I've got some striker-fired guns that I feel perfectly safe carrying and shooting, and have no reservations about using them for CARRY. I also have an Ruger SR-9c, with a very unobtrusive safety -- and that seems like the best of both worlds, 'cause if you choose not to use the safety, you don't even notice that it's there!.

    If you don't like striker-fired guns without safeties you have two options: 1) don't buy THAT gun, or 2) buy one with a safety. Making broad statements about the good or bad traits of a given action and safety type ignores the wide range of different models and functionality in the market place.
     
  14. danez71

    danez71 Member

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    And yet mfgrs still put safety feature on tools like circular saw that have a 2 step process to turn it on and cars have feature that only allows them to be started with the clutch pushed in or the trans in park.

    Overwhelmingly, most SAO pistols do not come from the factory with 3-5 lb trigger pulls. It seems most are about equal or within about a lb or so of glocks etc.


    While you say it's nearly impossible, there are many documented cases of it accidently happening.


    You can make an argument against but it's hardly "Horse-pucky", as you said.
     
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  15. Fine Figure of a Man

    Fine Figure of a Man Member

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    Would you like to put OSHA and a bunch of trial lawyers in charge of handgun design?
     
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  16. danez71

    danez71 Member

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    No... and I never remotely alluded that I would.

    He said they were simple tools and indicated it's a matter of common sense. That arguement does have some merit at some level but falls flat when actually looking at the comparison to simple power tool.


    BTW, there are at least a handful of people here that think if OSHA was in charge, they'd pratically mandate suppressors. However, they'd be more likely to require full face protection, minimum rated leather gloves that cover close to the elbows, ear muffs, filters or respirators, and 'lock out tag out' procedures.
     
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  17. pblanc

    pblanc Member

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    It didn't seem too difficult for this police chief to get clothing caught up in his holster and shoot himself in the leg with his Glock:

     
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  18. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator Staff Member

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    Others have, without trying.
     
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  19. Fine Figure of a Man

    Fine Figure of a Man Member

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    And a two step process to pull the trigger.
     
  20. ATLDave

    ATLDave Member

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    Taking the safety off on a pistol is no more part of the "process to pull the trigger" than loading the gun is. Pulling the trigger on a safety-equipped gun is the same. What's different is making the gun ready to fire in response to a trigger pull.
     
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  21. danez71

    danez71 Member

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    Ummm..... ok.

    That doesn't support his statement or undermine anything I've said.... or create any new perspective. So I'm not sure what your intent is. Are you just trying to stir the pot?
     
  22. danez71

    danez71 Member

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    Very good point.
     
  23. Pyro

    Pyro Member

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    My 2 cents.

    I would prefer to have manual safeties on all firearms however many are sold now-a-days without one. I'm "ok" with DOA firearms needing a long, dedicated "staple-gun" trigger pull not requiring a safety. I believe this is why DOA revolvers made by many respectable companies were never designed with a manual safety. Having carried a 4-inch S&W 686 for a couple years for work I never had a moment when I felt concerned the trigger may accidentally get pulled, however I was still aware it could happen and took considerations whenever holstering.

    Autoloaders are another story to me. There are a lot less moving parts when a DOA or striker-fired SAO autoloader's trigger (Glock) is pulled back, being much lighter than a revolver. I remember one story of a gentleman holstering a Glock into an old, leather holster as he sat in his car. A flap of loose leather caught the trigger and as he pushed the firearm down the trigger was pushed up, causing an ND and giving his vehicle a new air vent. This ND seemed to have been caused by the user's failure to use a proper holster rather than the firearm itself however I wonder if it was a DOA revolver if he would feel the resistance/cylinder turning and become aware of what was happening.
     
  24. pblanc

    pblanc Member

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  25. ATLDave

    ATLDave Member

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    Thanks. There's a level of doggedness around this "safeties are hard" view that boggles my mind. The premise seems to be that a person will:
    • Have sufficient situational awareness to be able to recognize the need for lethal force (i.e., not be taken so unawares as to be defenseless);
    • Have sufficient control over their faculties to draw a weapon, including clearing any cover garment or opening the glove box or manipulating any retention devices or storage compartments between their hands and the gun;
    • Have sufficient judgment and decision-making faculties to accurately assess the situation and make a sound shoot/no-shoot decision that comports with law (and morality, if you care about that);
    • Have sufficient dexterity to get a workable grip on the weapon (including lightweight semi-autos that are known to have malfunctions if not gripped securely); and
    • Have sufficient fine motor control to pull the trigger straight to the rear, quickly and perhaps repeatedly, sufficiently well to "place" shots in vital areas; BUT
    • Be unable to push/grab a lever during the draw that is positioned to require nothing more than the standard firing grip.
    This last hardly seems like the weakest link in the chain to me. Meanwhile, the average non-LEO, non-combat-zone person who carries a gun will need to shoot someone, on average, somewhere between zero and one times in their life, with the mean, median, and mode at or near zero. Yet they will holster a loaded weapon countless times, and in most or all of those instances, a discharge would be somewhere in the very-bad to catastrophic range.

    But adults are adults, and get to make their own decisions. That's cool.
     
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