Using a Springfield Armory XD and a Beretta 92 as examples, Rob Pincus defines appropriate manually operated safeties for defensive pistols. When we talk about choosing a self-defense handgun at this point in the evolution of defensive firearms, we recommend that you have a firearm that does not have any manually operated external safeties that require actions that are not already inherent in the process of defending yourself with the firearm.
What Does That Mean?
It’s easy to understand that cumbersome language when looking at a self-defense handgun like the Springfield XD, on which there are two manually operated safeties. One is the grip safety and the other is the trigger disconnect safety on the front of the trigger. Both are parts that you must engage to fire the XD. You are not doing anything extra, not taking any extra steps that are not part of firing the gun. The XD has appropriate manually operated safeties.
The Beretta 92 has a manual safety that you must disengage by making an extra movement that has nothing to do with firing the gun to defend yourself. You must use your thumb to push the safety lever forward and make it so that the trigger and the hammer are actually connected. Making any extra movements with a self-defense handgun is not a good idea when you are under stress in a worst-case scenario and when every fraction of a second counts. The Beretta 92 does not have appropriate manually operated safeties.
Safer and Better
The XD’s controls are not only more efficient for the defensive shooter, but also safer because both safeties must be disengaged before the weapon will fire. There is very little chance this will happen and cause a negligent discharge.
Compare the types of safeties when doing handgun training to appreciate the differences.