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Posted: 11/7/2003 11:45:17 AM EDT
Personally, I never use safeties and I teach newcomers to leave them off and ignore them. I reckon Cooper's Rules provide far more security than any mechanical device. If you are following Cooper's Rules you can't go wrong, so what's the point of an added mechanical complication to your manual of arms?

Recently a friend commented that most police have the same attitude, at least with regard to tactical long guns (I know it's a different story with single-action pistols). I was surprised to hear this.

Do you think this is true? What has been your experience with regard to safeties on tactical weapons? Any LEO experience to relate?
Link Posted: 11/7/2003 11:59:31 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 11/7/2003 12:00:40 PM EDT by Forest]
Originally Posted By urbanred: I reckon Cooper's Rules provide far more security than any mechanical device. If you are following Cooper's Rules you can't go wrong, so what's the point of an added mechanical complication to your manual of arms?
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Coopers rules are great - but we're talking about HUMANS here. They can & do make mistakes and forget. The safety is an added layer of [i]*WHOOPS*[/i] protection.
Recently a friend commented that most police have the same attitude, at least with regard to tactical long guns
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That's probably because most police don't know crap about firearms - long arms in particular. I mean have you watched some of these guys on TV durring events? I've seen them sweep their buddies & the public with their muzzles. I sure as heck hope that safety is on - because the one between their ears is defective. I took a class with a nationally renowned Police (SWAT in particular) firearms trainer this summer, Giles Stock. He always required your safety to be on. When the rifle comes up the safety comes off. Its a single fluid motion - no time is wasted and you have that extra level of protection.
Do you think this is true?
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Not of the well trained ones.
Link Posted: 11/7/2003 12:01:33 PM EDT
That's a big mistake in my book. Engaging/disengaging the safety is all part of my littany of safe practices with firearms. I don't allow myself to become too "familiar" with loaded weapons. Using the safety is part of my respect for the weapon, whether I actually "need" it or not.
Link Posted: 11/7/2003 12:10:11 PM EDT
With the AR its not a problem to just flip your thumb. An AK would be a differant story.
Link Posted: 11/7/2003 12:20:23 PM EDT
Coopers rules are great. But don't forget Murphy's Law. I'd keep everything as safe as possible.
Link Posted: 11/7/2003 12:21:49 PM EDT
There is a time and place for safeties. If I only ever used my firearms at the range, my safety would never be worn out. At the range, I don't load until I'm ready to fire. Hunting, the safety is always on until I'm actually preparing to take a shot. A negligent discharge is inexcusable in my opinion.
Link Posted: 11/7/2003 12:25:47 PM EDT
Yes. I use mine whenever I'm at the range and I still have ammo in the rifle, and I stop and put the gun down for whatever reason. Typicaly to adjust the sight, or a friend has gotten my attention for some reason. It's one more layer of protection, plus it reminds me that the gun it charged and loaded.
Link Posted: 11/7/2003 12:27:52 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 11/7/2003 12:32:22 PM EDT by Ridge]
I'd like to take the question a little further if I may. If you use your safety, how often do you engage the safety? For instance. Everytime you lower the weapon? Everytime you move to a new position? Disengage safety before engaging targets, move through positions reacting to targets (ie clearing a house). When threat is over put weapon back on safe? What do you think? Hopefully this is contributing to the relavent topic...
Link Posted: 11/7/2003 12:53:40 PM EDT
Hi Everyone – I have been a member of a Special Response Team for the last 7 years. Our SRT has trained heavily with several noted experts and Local Response Teams. Our Team protocol is: When the rifle comes up the safety comes off. Every time you lower the weapon, the safety is engaged. I agree with armonic: It's one more layer of protection, plus it reminds me that the gun it charged and loaded. When training and on actual incidents in the field, we use the utmost caution. The SAFETY DEVICE is one! Michael J
Link Posted: 11/7/2003 12:55:22 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 11/7/2003 2:27:59 PM EDT by Tweak]
urbanred, With the AR there is no excuse not to use the safety. I've never been to an LE class in which its use was NOT taught. Ridge, Safety goes on and dust cover gets closed before moving. Safety goes and dust cover gets closed when you think you're done shooting. Trigger finger comes off the trigger the second that your sights leave the target. If you're moving the safety is on and the dust cover is closed.
Link Posted: 11/7/2003 1:04:31 PM EDT
"When the rifle comes up the safety comes off. Every time you lower the weapon, the safety is engaged" I'll second that. "Recently a friend commented that most police have the same attitude, at least with regard to tactical long guns" I don't want to be around the ones with this attitude.
Link Posted: 11/7/2003 1:26:24 PM EDT
I teach instructors to teach patrolman to use ar's and I always teach the use of the safety. As others have said when the weapon comes up the safety goes off.
Link Posted: 11/7/2003 1:27:13 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 11/7/2003 1:29:56 PM EDT by Forest]
Originally Posted By Ridge: I'd like to take the question a little further if I may. If you use your safety, how often do you engage the safety? .... Hopefully this is contributing to the relavent topic
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Ridge, GREAT question! For me I put it back on safe after I've checked the area for hostiles, then we can 'safe' and lower the carbine (after engaging the target we were taught to always check for more bad guys). [i]Edited to add:[/i] I just saw Tweaks response - he explains it more clearly than I could.
Link Posted: 11/7/2003 1:36:29 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Tweak: urbanred, With the AR there is no excuse not to use the safety. I've never been to an LE class in which it's use was NOT taught. Ridge, Safety goes on and dust cover gets closed before moving. Safety goes and dust cover gets closed when you think you're done shooting. Trigger finger comes off the trigger the second that your sights leave the target. If you're moving the safety is on and the dust cover is closed.
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This what I was taught during USMC rifle range training. I still follow it today.
Link Posted: 11/7/2003 1:44:26 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 11/7/2003 1:44:59 PM EDT by DevL]
If the rifle is stored (under bed, in trunk etc) chmaber empty, saftey off, dust cover closed. If rifle is loaded in a period of non action (walking around, moving to location etc) safety on, dust cover closed. If anything is actively going on I am NOT gonna mess with the safety or dust cover till every thing is back to somewhat normal then I will put the safety on and close the dust cover again. I understand the military teaches it differently but for urban use there wiull be VERY few shots fired and at VERY close range and I dont want to get caught fiddling with the dust cover when someone rounds the corner.
Link Posted: 11/7/2003 2:08:50 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 11/7/2003 2:10:06 PM EDT by bartonkj]
I can't comment on Law Enforcement training, but I can comment on Military training. The Marine Corps beats into you 4 weapons safety rules (I believe these are word for word): 1) Treat every weapon as if it were loaded; 2) Never point a weapon at anything you do not intend to shoot; 3) Keep your finger straight and off the trigger until you are ready to fire; 4) Keep your weapon on safe until you intend to fire. Note specific mention of the safety - especially its use until the last instant. As an anecdote: The television show "Wildest Police Videos" that used to be on Fox (not sure if it is still on the air) had one incident where a man with a knife was held at bay, I think on a roof or wall, by many police. Some were armed with pistols and at least one was armed with a carbine. The man with a knife jumped down and ran past the officers. They gave chase across a street and a few officers tackled the man with the knife. The officer with the carbine was in the rear and accidentally fired his weapon while he was running across the street. The carbine was pointed down at roughly 45 degrees. It was clear in the video that a fired shot impacted the pavement in front of the officer (and it was replayed many times because the tackle by other offices was in the same frame). Luckily nobody was injured. Of course none of this was mentioned by John Bunell as he was narrating.... This officer clearly was not following safety rules 3 & 4 above. Mechanical safeties are an important supplement to the intelligent safety between the operators ears. Since not all between the ears safeties are the most dilligent - using a mechanical safety should be unfailing in firearms training and use.
Link Posted: 11/7/2003 2:11:13 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 11/7/2003 2:26:59 PM EDT by ar-jedi]
DEVL, IGNORE BELOW. i thought you meant "fiddling" as in "i have to get it open ASAFP so i can shoot this MF, thrice". now i reread things and see that you mean "fiddling" as in repeatedly opening and closing as you bring the weapon up and down "between engagements". regards.
Originally Posted By DevL: I understand the military teaches it differently but for urban use there wiull be VERY few shots fired and at VERY close range and I dont want to get caught fiddling with the dust cover when someone rounds the corner.
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eh? perhaps i'm confused. even if the dust cover is initially closed, the rifle will still fire and continue to function normally, no? i.e., cocked and locked, bolt in battery against a live round, flip safety off, pull trigger, cartridge goes bang, gas expands, the bolt slides back, releases the dust cover catch, and the cover swings open. empty shell is extracted then ejected. bolt comes forward, strips new round from the mag, and we're back in battery and ready to rock and roll again. is there a "timing" problem here that i'm not aware of? is there a race condition with the empty brass being ejected vs the dust cover swinging down? ar-jedi
Link Posted: 11/7/2003 2:14:46 PM EDT
I think he's talking about not having to close the dust cover if he has to fire the weapon and there is still a possibility of a threat?
Link Posted: 11/7/2003 2:17:33 PM EDT
Originally Posted By bartonkj: Mechanical safeties are an important supplement to the intelligent safety between the operators ears. Since not all between the ears safeties are the most dilligent - using a mechanical safety should be unfailing in firearms training and use.
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how do we reconcile that >60% of USA police officers (and a great many more police officers and soldiers outside the USA) are issued and carry daily a firearm without a safety? ar-jedi ps: in case anyone is perplexed by my query, i speak of the omnipresent [and in many folks' eyes, venerable] Glock.
Link Posted: 11/7/2003 2:22:39 PM EDT
Theres no excuse to not use a manual safety.
Link Posted: 11/7/2003 2:41:46 PM EDT
I use the safety, but assume it doesn't work. I prefer a clear chamber when not ready to shoot. I prefer shooting at paper and rodents. They don't shoot back. Pete
Link Posted: 11/7/2003 2:44:39 PM EDT
Originally Posted By DevL: If anything is actively going on I am NOT gonna mess with the safety or dust cover till every thing is back to somewhat normal then I will put the safety on and close the dust cover again.
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DevL, You talking to me? [:)] I said close it and safe it, "when you think you're done shooting." We're never [b]done[/b] shooting, merely pausing. Some pauses are longer than others. If the pause is long enough, safe it and close it. Longer still, sling it. Still longer, case it. Still longer, stow it.
for urban use there will be VERY few shots fired and at VERY close range.
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I believe that mindset is called "training to the minimum standard." Train to do all the things you want to be able to accomplish in a fight. That way you will accomplish all those that you don't forget to do. Forest, Yeah, I kinda got the lines down since I say them often. [lol] Lumpy, Indeed, no excuse and not using it is probably grounds for legal action if a shooting goes wrong. As far as Cooper's Rules, and the copy of them that the USMC uses, doesn't he carry a 1911 in Condition One? Those older guns have manual safeties IIRC. [devil]
Link Posted: 11/7/2003 3:42:36 PM EDT
On my 1911, safety is used all the time. On my AR, not so much. About the only time I would use it is if I were say in a combat zone where there was an immenant danger of having to engage something, such as to require carrying a chambered round, I would have it engaged as I went about the day. However, as long as there is fighting going on, it would not get used. "This is my safety sir". Thats how I was raised, and also taught in the military. We were also taught to store our rifles safety off, and upon picking up a rifle, the first thing one did was attempt to put it "on safe". If it would go, then that ment that the hammer was down on an empty chamber and the weapon was safe. If it went on safe, then that meant the hammer was cocked and there could possibly be a round in the chamber, thus making it a live weapon and in need of being checked further as to its true condition. This is just what I do personally and not meant to be construed as advice for someone else.
Link Posted: 11/7/2003 4:17:35 PM EDT
The safety is on until my finger hits the trigger, Even if im by myself at the range and jus set the AR down to check a target the safety goes on, w/ an AR its easy to do, not much more than a thumb movement, I personally would have a problem with ppl moving about ,etc and not using the safety.
Link Posted: 11/7/2003 4:46:30 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Hawkeye: and upon picking up a rifle, the first thing one did was attempt to put it "on safe". If it would go, then that ment that the hammer was down on an empty chamber and the weapon was safe.
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It [b]most likely[/b] means the hammer is down. Selectors can stick. It in no way means the chamber is empty. Easy enough for a gremlin to pick up a loaded weapon, remove the mag, shotgun the action, drop the hammer then close it back up. Why it would happen? Dunno. Could it happen? Yes, people are stupid. I assume you always check the chamber every time you pick up your rifle, just in case. Granted, hammer down on a loaded chamber isn't too dangerous. Would take an act of dog to get the round to fire. ARs should be stored with the hammer down and the bolt forward to save the springs. Make sure that none have muzzle caps on. They trap moisture in the bore and bolt. I set up a Glock like this once (I bore easily) with trigger back and a live round in the chamber. Confused hel out of my buddies who thought it couldn't be done. [:)]
Link Posted: 11/7/2003 4:49:03 PM EDT
Originally Posted By die-tryin: The safety is on until my finger hits the trigger,
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Precisely, Sights Safety Squeeze in that order
Link Posted: 11/7/2003 6:43:52 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Tweak: I assume you always check the chamber every time you pick up your rifle, just in case.
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Yes. Would have brain damage from my father beating me about the cranium had I not heeded his words on that to the point of automatic reaction when growing up. Bad choice of words on my part previsouly. Didnt mean to say "empty chamber". Fingers were ahead of my brain. Yes, someone could purposely set up an AR with a round in the chamber and the hammer down, but short of banging the muzzle on the ground, I doubt one could purposely make it go off. I too have done the loaded Glock gig. Thats one of the easier ones to do. [;)] Again, not meant to be taken as an approved method for anyone else.
Link Posted: 11/7/2003 6:50:07 PM EDT
Originally Posted By stinkeypete: I use the safety, but assume it doesn't work.
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Yup, I use it diligently but I don't trust it for an instant. Same for "unloaded" weapons.
Link Posted: 11/7/2003 6:56:54 PM EDT
inferno, make note to self not to shoot or hunt with urbanred. [b]urbanred Member Registered: Jul 2003 Posts: 24 of 25 USA[/b] only time (and only some of it) i don't use a safety is when i'm bird hunting (shotgun) by myself. every other time it's on.
Link Posted: 11/7/2003 6:59:38 PM EDT
Son, are you carrying a hot weapon? Put that safety on! Sir, this is my safety, waving trigger finger in his face. I own Glocks for the same reason.
Link Posted: 11/7/2003 7:00:28 PM EDT
Originally Posted By stinkeypete: I use the safety, but assume it doesn't work.
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Yup, I use it diligently but I don't trust it for an instant. Same for "unloaded" weapons.
Link Posted: 11/7/2003 7:18:05 PM EDT
Originally Posted By stinkeypete: I use the safety, but assume it doesn't work. I prefer a clear chamber when not ready to shoot. I prefer shooting at paper and rodents. They don't shoot back. Pete
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Link Posted: 11/7/2003 8:03:41 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 11/7/2003 8:04:15 PM EDT by MickAr15]
I would not want to be the LEO that had to testify at a trial that their department, as part of their training, were taught [b]NOT[/b] to use the safety.
Link Posted: 11/7/2003 8:19:32 PM EDT
Just remember folks, a large portion of the handguns on the market have NO manual safeties on them. The only one you can trust is the one between your ears. Whether it works or not, is entirely up to you. Police have used revolvers for many years. Many police agencies use dao handguns, thus they usually have no safety. Its much easier to train someone to always keep their finger off the trigger, than it is to have them remember to put the safety on and off. If you finger isnt on the trigger, the gun wont fire. In real life, muzzles sweep people, safeties get forgotten. Like it or not, it happens. Many times, its unavoidable. The one constant is that you keep your finger off the trigger until you intend to fire. And no, this doesnt mean you can throw all the other rules of gun safety out the window.
Link Posted: 11/7/2003 9:16:04 PM EDT
I have always been taught to take the safety off as I am shouldering the weapon and bringing it to ready, or raising the pistol. It's what works for me. Safety goes on, loaded or not.
Link Posted: 11/8/2003 5:28:49 AM EDT
Wise young man! You have a good teacher.
Link Posted: 11/8/2003 5:54:33 AM EDT
I have to disagree here. Not only is my safety on all the time, I use a chamber-flag when I am at the range. In my book there is no room/excuse for not being safe.
Link Posted: 11/8/2003 7:10:24 AM EDT
Originally Posted By inferno715: inferno, make note to self not to shoot or hunt with urbanred.
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I train a lot of new shooters. Usually with revolvers. Here's a little-known fact (both among the general public and, apparently, AR15.com) about the oldest and most successful repeating handgun design ever: no safety. Meanwhile, someone already mentioned the Glock. Also, there are a number of very nice DAO pistols which - wait for it! - don't have safeties. Are these Bad Guns? Clearly there is a widespead and legitimate school of thought which insists that the only real safety is the one between your ears, and that mechanical safeties are unnecessarily redundant.
Link Posted: 11/8/2003 7:29:19 AM EDT
Originally Posted By Sniper_Wolfe: I have always been taught to take the safety off as I am shouldering the weapon and bringing it to ready, or raising the pistol. It's what works for me. Safety goes on, loaded or not.
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Ditto. Store it like Hawkeye said as thats the way they brainwash it into you in basic training. As soon as we drew weapons we pulled the charging handle and put them on safe. When moving rifle was always on safe. live fire ranges, rifle was on safe until you were aiming and ready to fire. To flick the safety takes all of .00001 seconds
Link Posted: 11/8/2003 8:00:08 AM EDT
Originally Posted By desertmoon: Wise young man! You have a good teacher.
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It's what I have always done, and it was also reinforced while taking the carbine class down at Gunstock. I don't know them all, but I know the guy who taught it had some pretty serious credentials.
Link Posted: 11/8/2003 8:40:07 AM EDT
The importance of using a safety has a lot to do with whether the firearm is being carried in single action or double action mode and/or is being carried with an empty chamber. FWIW, some LE agencies carry their 870’s with an empty chamber and the safety off. Given the specific characteristics of that firearm, this approach makes some sense (though I personally disagree with it).
Link Posted: 11/8/2003 8:55:02 AM EDT
Originally Posted By urbanred: Meanwhile, someone already mentioned the Glock. Also, there are a number of very nice DAO pistols which - wait for it! - don't have safeties. Are these Bad Guns?
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No they are not bad guns. They do however require a greater deal of awareness to operate safely. Just because they have been operated in an unsafe manner for years doesn't make them 'bad'. Think of the safety as an 'extra layer' of protection. If your firearm has a positive safety - USE IT! If it doesn't you better not have your head up your A$$ (which unfortunetly is not the case with too many who carry revolvers and/or Glocks). Note I preach the use of the safety, but my primary handgun is a Glock.
Clearly there is a widespead and legitimate school of thought which insists that the only real safety is the one between your ears, and that mechanical safeties are unnecessarily redundant.
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That is certainly true - around people who understand and follow the safty rules w/o need to think about them. 99% of shooters do not qualify for that level of 'experience'. Note that quote from BHD that M-Forgery posted was from one such 'highly trained' operator (from Delta). Most Military, LEO, Citizens don't get that level of training or experience.
Link Posted: 11/8/2003 9:31:09 AM EDT
Just a quick comment about the BHD quote. Paul Howe, the Delta operator who was there and the most quoted in the book, teaches safety on until you bring the gun up and the sights go on target. I have coworkers who have trained with him and you can get further confirmation on his website.
Link Posted: 11/8/2003 9:37:16 AM EDT
Let's also not forget that the, so called, "no safety" guns predominately use long, or heavy, triggers. It's difficult to AD a DA revolver but it still happens, often while re holstering or drawing.
Link Posted: 11/8/2003 5:23:21 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 11/8/2003 5:26:03 PM EDT by bartonkj]
Originally Posted By ar-jedi: how do we reconcile that >60% of USA police officers (and a great many more police officers and soldiers outside the USA) are issued and carry daily a firearm without a safety?
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Others have touched on this to some extent already, but since I don't read this site as frequently as some.... If a firearm does not have a manual safety then you really have to rely on your own safe handling practices. However, there is a big difference between a DAO or DA/SA pistol without a manual safety that requires a longer and heavier trigger pull than an AR15. And btw - most (if not all) of those pistols have a firing pin disconnect of some sort or another to prevent the hammer from activating the firing pin in the event the hammer trips without a trigger pull - ARs don't have a disconnect like this. I still say though - if a firearm has a safety - use it.
Link Posted: 11/8/2003 6:44:35 PM EDT
Great stuff guys! Excellent discussion. It makes sense to me if you have a safety to use it all the time especially at the range and casual shooting (You can never be too safe). But I would tend to agree with Devl that if you are in a SHTF situation and there's a good chance you will have to react quickly to multiple targets while moving, I would treat the AR like my glock, with safety off and FINGER OUT OF THE TRIGGERGUARD, ready to quickly react. The only reason I would do this in a situation like this is that I have manipulated the safety many many times and occasionally (very rarely but it does happen) I will miss or not flip it all the way, which will cause a split second of hesitation. This fraction of a moment could mean life or death. I've never taken any formal training other than the military and practice this way because it seems the best compromise. I would definately consider any other advice given here by people who have been through the training or first hand experience.
Link Posted: 11/9/2003 5:32:32 AM EDT
Originally Posted By Ridge: But I would tend to agree with Devl that if you are in a SHTF situation and there's a good chance you will have to react quickly to multiple targets while moving, I would treat the AR like my glock, with safety off and FINGER OUT OF THE TRIGGERGUARD, ready to quickly react.
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This is what I assumed would be a common answer. I was surprised by the vehemence of the responses. I have never met a weapons professional (in person) who had much regard for mechanical safeties, especially as noobies tend to think of them as substitutes or effective supplements for safe handling. On the other hand, military field manuals make a big deal of them. Generally, I consider the problem this way: if you are carrying a gun around, with no intention of using it, it should be unloaded. Simple as that. An unloaded gun needs no safety. If you are thinking of using the gun, you load it. Now it is ready to be fired, but you are still safe because the muzzle is pointed in a safe direction and your finger is outside the trigger guard. Again, no mechanical safety required. An imtermediate condition would be gun which is kept handy for immediate use (a personal defense gun, for example). In this case I (personally) would keep it loaded but no round chambered; no safety needed. If I determine an immediate threat, I chamber a round (clearly, you can probably tell I am a bigger fan of revolvers and DA pistols than of SA pistols; revolvers and DA pistols would be loaded and ready to go; I wouldn't ever consider using an AR-15 for personal defense). Some handguns like the M1911 were designed with the safety as an integral part of the manual of arms, and that's fine. But I suspect that most other firearms with safeties have them because of engineering inertia or because the military was nervous about dealing with thousands of recruits new to firearms. Sure, if you know you are going to have lots of barely-trained men walking around ranges and bases and on exercises with firearms, you are going to train them to use mechanical safeties. It is also easier for NCOs to tell whether a gun has its safety engaged than to tell whether it's loaded. But once a person has made a decision to handle firearms on his own and in his own way, I would expect him to use his personal judgement as to the best manual of arms for him. Some folks still want to use the safety, and that's fine; but don't pretend for a moment that actually makes the situation "more safe." As with most things, there is doctrine and there is judgement. Doctrine is often more popular because it is easier. Judgement can be hard.
Link Posted: 11/10/2003 2:27:59 PM EDT
My "manual of arms" goes like this: Take the gun out of the case. Action is closed on empty chamber, no magazine. Open action to check chamber. Lock action open, leave safety off. Set it down on the bench. From there it depends on what I'm going to do next. If I'm shooting at the range I insert magazine, close bolt/slide, and begin firing without engaging safety. Shoot 'til slide/bolt locks back, remove magazine, verify empty chamber and set it back down, safety off. Otherwise I insert magazine, drop bolt/slide, and engage safety. (on SA, for DA with safety I'd decock and take safety back off, on DA revolver or DAO that doesn't apply) Movement is with finger out of triggerguard and safety on. Safety comes off and finger on trigger when bringing it up to fire, back on and finger out when bringing it back down to "ready" position. At the end of the day take magazine out, open action to verify clear chamber, close action, and if it won't hurt it to dry-fire pull trigger (while pointed downrange of course) and put in case.
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