Manual Safety on a Self-Defense Handgun

ENJOY THIS FREE VIDEO!

Watch even more great videos when you become a Personal Defense Network Member!
  • Choose Annual or Monthly Plan
  • Bonus Video Downloads
  • New Videos Every Week
  • View on Computer or Mobile
Learn More

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.

Older Models

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.

Discussion
  • (will not be published)

6 Responses to “Manual Safety on a Self-Defense Handgun”
  1. Steve

    It seems that if we have a firearm without safety, let’s take the grip and the trigger, the firearm is just as safe as with safety when we follow proper technique. How likely is it for a firearm without these two types of safeties to fire without being touched? Fairly impossible. So, are not the safety systems just there to appease gun ignorant group and then another mechanism that may fail and / or that must be maintained? With the safety at the slide with proper technique one does not need to engage this safety to holster the firearm correct?

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi, Steve. Manufacturers still put manual safeties on their handguns for various reasons such as customer preference, tooling, cost to redesign, etc. As for holstering a pistol without the safety engaged (when equipped) really depends on the type of gun. It would be unadvisable to holster a single-action only gun with a light crisp trigger without engaging the manual safety. As for the other types (Double Action only, Double Action / Single Action, Modern Striker Fired) generally speaking it would be more efficient and safe to holster these without engaging the manual safety. That said, the DA/SA must be de-cocked prior to holstering. Also, training should include the thumb motion of deactivating the safety during extension just in case it became engaged accidentally while in the holster.

      Reply
    • Customer Service

      There are a lot of reasons why manufacturers still put manual safeties on guns that seemingly don’t require them varies. There are certain types of handguns that come with manual safeties that are safe to carry holstered with them disengaged. The general list is below and is predicated on the gun having a trigger that requires 5 or more pounds of trigger press. It is also recommended that if carrying a gun with a thumb safety that isn’t used the person should move the thumbs as if disengaging the safety as the gun moves through extension. This is to ensure the safety didn’t accidentally become engaged while in the holster.

      Modern Striker Fired: Thumb safety disengaged
      Double Action Only: Thumb safety disengaged
      Double Action / Single-Action: Gun de-cocked and Thumb safety disengaged

      Single Action Only: Thumb safety must be utilized because of the combination of a light trigger pull and cocked hammer.

      Reply
  2. shooting north

    Rob,
    My issue weapon when I was in the US Army was a M1911A1. Training made a downward sweep of the safety second nature. I currently carry a striker fired pistol that also has a manual safety, again second nature to take the safety off when necessary. I just purchased a Taurus PT92 and again a downward sweep of the safety makes the firearm ready weather in single or double action. For me a manual safety is not a bad thing. Keeps me ready over a broad range of firearms, if it’s not there I have lost nothing.

    Reply
    • James Russell

      SN,

      Truly super points concerning the issue at hand, with the aspect of having a ‘wider knowledge base’ being accentuated!!!

      I was raised with wheel guns mostly, but 1911’s were the first automatics that I learned to shoot, and as you noted, disengaging the safety was simply part and parcel of learning to draw the weapon properly for engagement.

      I liken the issue of having an external safety to not having one on a sidearm, to the issue of transmissions in automobiles:

      I was taught to drive a stick (3 on the tree and 4 on the Floor initially, and in trucks, not cars), so when I hopped into a rig with the automatic for the first time, it was like “Oh, a few less things to do. Sweet.”

      I think of people under 40 years of age today (and certainly those who are 30 years and younger), who might NEVER have been taught to drive a stick shift in their lives!!

      What happens in an emergency situation, when someone needs help, and such a person needs to drive injured individuals to the hospital? They hop into a rig with a stick shift and just look at the stick in horror, not knowing what to do!

      I read a very strange news article, where a carjacker got very upset (but didn’t shoot the innocent person thankfully) that the car he was trying to steal, had a stick shift in it, and the GTA thief didn’t know how to drive it!

      Reply
  3. Gary

    A very safe and appropriate option with DA/SA guns is not engage the safety and only use it as a decocker which many designs are already meant to do. When the Illinois State Police began to carry this type of pistol this is what they did. There is no reason to carry these pistols with the safety engaged.

    Reply

Tags: Free Videos