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Why does the U.S. military require manual safeties on pistols?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by cluttonfred, May 25, 2008.

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  1. cluttonfred

    cluttonfred Member

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    Does anybody know why the U.S. military is so enamored of manual safeties?

    The DAO auto pistol with no manual safety (whichever of the many variations you like) is proven safe and reliable by millions of police and military users around the world, not to mention double-action revolvers in police and military service for over a century.

    Why does the Pentagon think manual safeties are essential? Just leftover from the days of single-action autos, or is there a good reason?
     
  2. RX-178

    RX-178 Member

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    I think they just want the controls to be as similar to the previous weapons as possible, to make the transition easier.
     
  3. 45auto

    45auto Member

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    They are safer.

    And, their primary weapons, rifles, have manual safeties also.
     
  4. cluttonfred

    cluttonfred Member

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    That's my point...I don't think that they are. A safety adds another action, another level of complication. What if you forget to decock something like an M9 and don't realize it? What if you think the safety is on, but it's not?

    It seems to me that a long, deliberate trigger pull like a modern DAO revolver or auto pistol with internal safeties is the safest way to go. Drop it, jump up and down on it, etc. and it won't go off. Give it a long, deliberate pull of the trigger and it shoots. Simple.

    I guess my question is really about why the U.S. military seems to think the manual safety is essential yet many other militaries and police forces do not.
     
  5. Johannes_Paulsen

    Johannes_Paulsen Member

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    I think, in general, there is a healthy bit of conservatism in all armies. A sort of distrust of what may just be new and passing fads in weapons. They've always used manual safeties on pistols in the past, therefore they will want to use them in the future barring some massive revolution in thinking. The Army already has a "plan", so to speak, for dealing with pistols with manual safeties; to introduce a Glock, for instance, would require them to come up with a new plan. So they're not likely to do so if they can reasonably avoid that change.
     
  6. Treo

    Treo member

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    You do realize that if it's down to pistols things are not goin' good right?

    Every piece of equipment the Army ever issued me was designed to be used by an idiot who was being shot at. IOW every thing was simplfied ( I am NOT saying that G.I.s are idiots) to the lowest common denominator.

    When we went to the range the RSO ordered every one to load their weapon , chamber a round , safe the weapon, get ready to shoot then they actually instructed us to move the selector lever EXACTLY one click to the semi auto position & commence firing.

    The point is that instead of teaching common sense gun safety the Army teaches you to do it by the numbers. and one of the numbers is keep your weapon on safe until they tell you other wise.

    P.S. I expect that a lot of guys in Iraq & Afgahnistan carry their M-9s decocked
     
  7. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    Excluding certain units, the military services don't train to shoot from the leather, and carry using full-flap holsters. Manual safties provide an extra layer of insurance against neglegent discharges. Those two factors are enough to offset any interest in DOA/No Manual Safety pistols for general issue.

    For the record, Colt and John Browning tried to sell the Army a pistol design with not grip or safety lock (manual safety) back around 1904. Even then they wouldn't buy it.
     
  8. Eightball

    Eightball Member

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    Something tells me that being in and out of a tank, humvee, etc, might necessitate a manual safety in a fashion that it could be hard for us to "get" until we do it. But this is just a shot in the dark.

    Or, maybe people in the pentagon don't want us to be armed with Glocks or other "cop"-ish weapons, but rather more traditional sidearms.
     
  9. freebird60

    freebird60 Member

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    Every piece of equipment the Army ever issued me was designed to be used by an idiot who was being shot at. IOW every thing was simplfied ( I am NOT saying that G.I.s are idiots) to the lowest common denominator. This was always my impression. That and half the time we had our weapons unloaded.
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2008
  10. GTSteve03

    GTSteve03 Member

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    The standard issue small arms like the M4 and M16 have manual safeties, so I would imagine they're trying to be consistent with the manual of arms and have everything work basically the same way.
     
  11. wally

    wally Member

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    It takes far more training to shoot well with the DA pull than the SA. I'd wager for most troopers the DA first shot of the M9 is a throw-away most of the time (or they thumb cock on the draw in action).

    I'd not hold up police shooting results as an example of effectiveness, obviously stress has a lot to do with it, but I suspect the DAO handicap sure doesn't help!

    I've never been able to adjust to the DA/SA operations and any DAO is a big handicap to me compared to SA. Only the "half-cocked" striker guns (Glocks, XD, M&P etc.) can come close.

    --wally.
     
  12. ftierson

    ftierson Member.

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    Someone didn't want to see Glock win the original M9 contract...

    :)

    Forrest
     
  13. CWL

    CWL Member

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    Safeties perform a function, if you can't operate a gun that has a safety, that shows something about the competence of the operator, not the gun.

    Don't forget that AKMs have safeties on them, but our enemies don't seem to have problems operating them against us.
     
  14. TimboKhan

    TimboKhan Moderator

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    Why? It's pretty simple, man. You have a whole bunch of people that carry pistols, and few among them are really interested in shooting. A good number of those people fire their pistols only in qualification, and then never again. Add to that equation that the pistol quals are signifigantly less involved than the rifle quals (at least in my experience), and what you get is a real need for a safety device. Trust me, having been at the losing end of a negligent discharge, they aren't foolproof, but my guess is that they have saved lives.
     
  15. JoeSlomo

    JoeSlomo Member

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    The proficiency level of the average soldier with their weapon ranges from low to criminal. Some units do better than others, but the army likes manual safeties so that the typical low skilled folks have one less thing to think about to prevent themselves from having an unintended discharge, IE, keep it on safe.

    Outside of the special operations community, there are actually very few units that show any real proficiency with their weapons training and employment. The light units do better than the heavy units, and the Infantry units do better than the support.

    Most organizations require soldiers to zero and qualify twice a year, with a standard of success being hitting 23 of 40 targets. That's pretty pathetic.
     
  16. RustyShackelford

    RustyShackelford member

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    Reasons for safeties...

    Speaking as a military veteran who served four years on active duty in law enforcement/MP units I can tell you that ambi safety controls are a very GOOD idea! ;)

    I've seen about "80-90 %" of my co-workers playing with loaded issued weapons, :eek:

    I have also seen "trained US service members" have ADs and discharge weapons in clearing barrels.

    I too have been careless while turning in a M-9 9mmNATO but it was with a mag NOT a safety, :D.

    Rusty
     
  17. KurtC

    KurtC Member

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    As I recall, Glock was making shovels and knives during the M9 trials.

    As for safeties. When you are cold, wet, hungry, covered in mud and haven't slept for 3 days, it is very important that your weapon have an On/Off button to make sure it only goes bang when what little is left of your mind decides so.

    This is extremely important when operating in an environment where one little AD could down a plane load of paratroopers, or give away the position of an entire unit. It serves as a manual indicator to the person carrying the weapon, and a visual indicator for team and squad leaders.

    For the rank and file groundpounders, small arms will always have safeties.
     
  18. cluttonfred

    cluttonfred Member

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    I still just don't buy it...are U.S. soldiers somehow less capable than Austrian, Indians, Irish, Norwegians, Dutch, etc.?

    Wikipedia list of countries using Glock pistols as issue sidearms for military, or police use.
     
  19. mljdeckard

    mljdeckard Member

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    I think that it would be best to issue the pistol with the fewest things to screw up. (Glock)

    I certainly have never had a problem using a Glock in an operational environment, getting in and out of vehicles, on horseback, in a variety of holsters and environments.
     
  20. Xzyl

    Xzyl Member

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    Then could someone explain to me how the Sig P-226 made it as a finalist during the M9 trails and how the M11 made it into service at all since neither has a manual safety?

    I am also having a hard time understanding why your more likely to have an AD with a gun you know will go off if the trigger is touched as opposed to a gun that may go off if the trigger touched depending on the status of the safety and the user's awareness of that status.

    And would not the LCD argument apply to LE as well?

    Does the current issue holster cover the trigger?
     
  21. ftierson

    ftierson Member.

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    Glock is still making shovels and knives...

    Too...

    Just goes to show how our recollections can mislead us...

    The Austrian Government adopted the Glock 17 in 1980, followed quickly by the Netherlands and Sweden.

    The Glock was 'dismissed' from the XM9 trials because is was DAO (according to whoever pigeonholed the 'applicants') and because it didn't have a manual safety...

    It's a good thing that our troops didn't get stuck with it for those reasons...

    Especially since it has turned out to be so unsuccessful...

    Forrest
     
  22. RichardB

    RichardB Member

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    "As for safeties. When you are cold, wet, hungry, covered in mud and haven't slept for 3 days, it is very important that your weapon have an On/Off button to make sure it only goes bang when what little is left of your mind decides so."

    This is the answer. Stress and fatigue, and showing off make people do stupid things, like accidently kill the guy next to him. It happens too frequently even with the manual safetys. What other Armies do is their business, but ours assumes a soldier is smart enough to click a safety lever before firing.
     
  23. KurtC

    KurtC Member

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    The only thing in this world worse than having to intentionally take a human life, is to have taken one accidentally, especially if it is one of your buddies.

    When you eat, sleep and **** with your hand on your weapon, that safety is a comforting thing. Especially when you realize that your buddy is also eating, sleeping and ****ting with his hand on a weapon. You really need to spend some time as grunt to understand this. We were taught from day one to keep the safety on unless actually firing the weapon. Fingers find their way into the triggerguard very easily when you are scared ****less.

    The M9 and M11 came out after my time, but I believe the M11 is of limited issue. You won't find it on the TO&E of typical line units.

    All of my current guns are DAO with no safety, but I would certainly choose one with a safety to go back into the bush with.
     
  24. wristtwister

    wristtwister Member

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    Personally,

    I like having a safety on a pistol. I've learned to draw my weapons and disengage the safety during that motion, so it's a non-issue for the most part. I suspect that the reason the government doesn't buy weapons without safeties on them is to stop unintentional holes in their soldiers from mishandling or accidental trigger pulls with something in the pipe.

    WT
     
  25. Confederate

    Confederate Member

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    There is no rhyme or reason in the military's regulations. Military officers are not accustomed to being questioned on their decisions and many of their decisions are based on bone-headed preconceptions and base stupidity. Beretta 9mm pistols have a large capacity and can feed all sorts of bullet configurations, but we've been roped into all kinds of idiot treaties that require the use of ball ammo. How many military personnel are dead because of these decisions no one knows, but even lubrication problems in desert enviorons haven't been addressed. The CLP that worked very well in damp environs simply collects dust and grit in the desert, yet CLP it is!

    In all fairness, I suppose these guys look at these 18- and 19-year old kids and figure they can save a few lives by putting manual safeties on guns. I've driven past guards that don't even have loaded clips in their Berettas. Makes one wonder why the military, in this day of terrorism, is still using flaps on their holsters. Even up til 1865, rows of soldiers marched towards each other shooting rather than running, ducking and firing at each other. Very civilized, you know. By World War I, it finally had dawned on some of these geniuses that this probably wasn't the greatest way to fight.
     
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