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View Full Version : Safties, Triggers, and Fingers, Oh My!



RonaldBeal
01-26-2005, 08:16 AM
After reading the several recent threads on keeping fingers off the trigger, I have a few thoughts:
From a purely tactical standpoint, Using any handgun with an external manual safety (such as the M1911's) you should dis-engage the safety as soon as the weapon is presented for use.
From a purely legal standpoint, you should leave the safety engaged for as long as possible, until the moment just before you pull the trigger.
The user has to compromise either tactics or legal liability, when using this type of safety system.
A handgun with a trigger safety system, such as a Glock,creates an optimum condition where both the safty is engaged as long as possible, and no extra actions are required to dis-engage the safety.
Therefore, I would conclude: Given the current legal climate in The United States, I believe, all other factors being equal, for self defense purposes, A handgun with a Glock style trigger safety is superior in both tactics and legal liability, than a handgun with an external manual safety.
Now before I get flamed, and labeled a troll, let me qualify this. All things are NOT equal between handguns, and the mode of operation of a safety is not the only factor that should be considered. Egronomics, reliability, accuracy, comfort of use of the shooter, price, ammo,etc... all play a role in selecting a handgun.
Thoughts on external manual safeties:
The purpose of a safety is to prevent a firearm from an accidental discharge (the gun firing from some condition OTHER than the trigger being pulled.) External Manual safeties also may reduce the chance of a negligent discharge( pulling the trigger when you shouldn't.)
Generally a handgun will be presented (unholstered) for two reasons.
1: Anticipation of use- you are on high alert, and expect to use the gun.
2: Utility- you are servicing,loading,unloading,cleaning,showing your gun to friends etc...
A trigger safety is at a disadvantage when a gun is presented in a utility situation, because there is one less barrier from a negligent discharge.
Therefore I would conclude: Given the current legal climate in The United States, I believe, all other factors being equal, a handgun with an external manual safety is superior to a handgun with a trigger safety for sporting use, range use, collection, display, "fun gun" use etc...
If someone plans to use a handgun with an external manual safety for self defense use, I believe the following conduct should apply to using the safety:
If you are presenting the gun for anticipated use, the safety should be dis-engaged for best tactical advantage. The anticipation of use indicates the risk of death should outweigh the risk of legal liability.
If you are presenting the gun for a utility purpose, the safety should remain engaged.
Of the course the ultimate safety is to keep your finger off the trigger.
Summary:
I am not a fan or hater of any particular firearm (I only use Glock and M1911 as examples because I think most people on this board are familiar with them.)
After thinking through this post, I have decided I should update my self defense.38 special wheelgun to a DAO pistol with trigger safety.
Hope all of this is food for thought.
Have a good day
Stay safe
and don't shoot me ;-)

Gabriel Suarez
01-26-2005, 08:39 AM
Ronald,

First welcome. Second, you'll find that this place is different. Here we take our study (and not ourselves) seriously. You will not get flamed for disagreeing. You will not get banned for arguing with me or anyone else. The conversations here are the same as if we were sitting around in my war room drinking coffee. I think you'll find it refreshing.

And BTW, your post makes excellent sense to me.

Gabe

InTheBlack
01-26-2005, 09:25 AM
Good idea to compare & contrast "liability" vs "usage."

Nigel_C
01-26-2005, 12:33 PM
Gabe, Catchy new Title.. you have a Desk plack for that ?

michael
01-26-2005, 02:07 PM
Welcome Ronald. Sit back, have yourself a Starbucks and join in.

Makes sense to me to.;)

Paco
01-26-2005, 03:11 PM
Hey Roland. Regardless of the specific discussion; you think and write with precision. I sure like that.

DaveJames
01-26-2005, 10:00 PM
RB,, hard to fault your chain of thought, my only point and its just a pet pive of mine,,,

There are no accidental discharges, they are negligent as you state later on in your remarks.

Ammo Lab
01-26-2005, 11:48 PM
From a purely tactical standpoint, Using any handgun with an external manual safety (such as the M1911's) you should dis-engage the safety as soon as the weapon is presented for use.

I strongly disagree with this statement; if you are gripping the 1911 properly with your thumb in the high safety (on the safety) position there is absolutely no time difference between shots fired and timed with the safety on and the safety off.
The 1911 safety should never be disengaged until the exact moment that you have decided to fire and your finger is moving to the trigger, both are done instantaneously without added delay or movement.


From a purely legal standpoint, you should leave the safety engaged for as long as possible, until the moment just before you pull the trigger.

I am going to disagree with your statement right here as stated, there is no legal requirement to keep a loaded weapon that you have drawn and pointed at another human being at on safe; once you have produced the firearm and are pointing it at that person every legal standard says they are prudent in believing you not only intend to and are capable of using it that you will do so at anytime as you have deployed lethal force which is the highest legal standard of force and they are completely justified in responding with lethal force as is anyone around you if they do or do not and who around decides to intervene is going to depend upon luck, circumstance, and timing.


The user has to compromise either tactics or legal liability, when using this type of safety system.

Only if the user is inexperienced and incapable of properly operating the 1911 firearm, any person capable of properly gripping the pistol and capable of moving their finger onto the trigger is capable of disengaging the safety as the hand is contracted and neither is a fine muscle movement.


A handgun with a trigger safety system, such as a Glock,creates an optimum condition where both the safty is engaged as long as possible, and no extra actions are required to dis-engage the safety.
Therefore, I would conclude: Given the current legal climate in The United States, I believe, all other factors being equal, for self defense purposes, A handgun with a Glock style trigger safety is superior in both tactics and legal liability, than a handgun with an external manual safety.

It is an opinion you obviously do not share but it has come up many many times in the past 19 years and FWIW it is a losing one in the court system due to the basic premise of the location and purpose of the Glock safe action trigger system. The Glock SA trigger system is not a weapon safety it is a trigger actuation system by it's own design and engineering specifications.


Of the course the ultimate safety is to keep your finger off the trigger.


100%

RonaldBeal
01-27-2005, 07:12 AM
I certainly understand the reasoning behind "There are no accidental discharges, they are negligent..."

"accident" from dictionary.com:
ac·ci·dent
n.
An unexpected and undesirable event, especially one resulting in damage or harm: car accidents on icy roads.
An unforeseen incident: A series of happy accidents led to his promotion.
An instance of involuntary urination or defecation in one's clothing.
Lack of intention; chance: ran into an old friend by accident.
Logic. A circumstance or attribute that is not essential to the nature of something.

neg·li·gence
Pronunciation: 'ne-gli-j&ns
Function: noun
: failure to exercise the degree of care expected of a person of ordinary prudence in like circumstances in protecting others from a foreseeable and unreasonable risk of harm in a particular situation; also : conduct that reflects this failure called also ordinary negligence simple negligence


I do think there can be accidental discharges that are not negligent. There are certain designs and implementations in firearms that have failed in ways not anticipated. I do not think this is negligence on the part of the buyer/owner, because I believe it is unreasonable to expect everyone who buys a gun to be an expert on mechanics, engineering, metallurgy, and gunsmithing.
Even the claim that it is negligence on part of the designer or manufacturer may be unreasonable. Often a inherent design failure is more a failure of imaganation than failing to "exercise the degree of care expected of a person of ordinary prudence in like circumstances" Sometimes you just can't anticipate EVERY possible thing that may happen to a firearm.
Respectfully
Ronald Beal

RonaldBeal
01-27-2005, 08:20 AM
Ammolab:
A:
you say "... if you are gripping the 1911 properly with your thumb in the high safety (on the safety) position there is absolutely no time difference between shots fired and timed with the safety on and the safety off."
and later you say "Only if the user is inexperienced and incapable of properly operating the 1911 firearm, any person capable of properly gripping the pistol and capable of moving their finger onto the trigger is capable of disengaging the safety as the hand is contracted and neither is a fine muscle movement."
I agree with both of these statements, however, I think they add credence to my belief that the 1911 safety system creates a tactical libality.
1. There ARE situations when you cannot properly grip the pistol. Your hand is injured, and you cannot get proper grip, your hand is restrained and you must use your weak hand, you are engaged in combatives and/or retaining your pistol and cannot get proper grip, etc...
Your rationalization is that you can train away the tactical liabilities, but that dosn't remove the fact that all other things being equal, it still is a tactical liability. Bang, vs saftey-bang, even if there is no difference in time, there still is one more step that can go wrong.
B:
You say:
"I am going to disagree with your statement right here as stated, there is no legal requirement to keep a loaded weapon that you have drawn and pointed at another human being at on safe; once you have produced the firearm and are pointing it at that person every legal standard says they are prudent in believing you not only intend to and are capable of using it that you will do so at anytime as you have deployed lethal force which is the highest legal standard of force and they are completely justified in responding with lethal force as is anyone around you if they do or do not and who around decides to intervene is going to depend upon luck, circumstance, and timing."
I am no expert in law, but what you state makes sense. First let me ask... This being the case why do you say "The 1911 safety should never be disengaged until the exact moment that you have decided to fire and your finger is moving to the trigger" when you do not have to,( again bang, vs saftey-bang)instead of dis-engaging the safty the moment you draw the weapon?
Additionally let me clarify my position:
I said "From a purely legal standpoint, you should leave the safety engaged for as long as possible, until the moment just before you pull the trigger."
What I should have said:
A handgun with trigger safety has a safety mechanism engaged up until the moment the trigger is pulled, that reduces the likelyhood of an accidental discharge. A handgun with an external manual safety may or MAY NOT have a mechanism engaged that reduces the likelyhood of an accidental discharge. Therefore, IF the external manual safety is dis-engaged, there is greater possibility of an AD, and the associated legal expenses that may come along with that AD. So, from a purely legal standpoint, having a safety engaged until the moment before you pull the trigger reduces the chance of an AD and it's associated legal liability. (granted it is a small chance, but one none the less)
C:
You say "... The Glock SA trigger system is not a weapon safety it is a trigger actuation system by it's own design and engineering specifications."
regardless of what we call it, it's purpose is to prevent the weapon from firing from a condition other than the trigger being pulled (AD). The "safety" on a M1911 does this as well, making the gun "safer" than with the safety dis-engaged. The 1911 safety ALSO makes the gun safer from pulling the trigger when it's not meant to be pulled, which a glock trigger safety does not.
My conclusion is that a 1911 with safety engaged is "safer" all around for everyone (including bad guys) than a glock. However it is less safe when the safety is dis-engaged (greater chance of AD.) Therefore I stand by my earlier conclusions that all other things being equal, a trigger safety such as glock is better for self defense, and an external manual safety such as m1911 is better for a range gun.
D:
At least we agree that keeping your finger off the trigger is the best solution.
E:
Again, type of safety system is not the only factor that should go into your choice of gun. You, Ammo lab, seem to be familiar and comfortable with the 1911, which means a whole lot more than what kind of safety it has. I don't think you made a bad choice. I do think for someone just starting, and not having a pre-aquired familiarity with a particular manual of arms however, there are better choices.
Respectfully
Ronald Beal

Have a good day
Stay safe
and don't shoot me ;-)

Ammo Lab
01-27-2005, 01:42 PM
Ammolab:
I agree with both of these statements, however, I think they add credence to my belief that the 1911 safety system creates a tactical libality.
Disagree with the use and term of tactical liability, the 1911 safety system is a mechanical advantage, the lack of or use of proper tactics may be a liability but the mechanical device and it's operation have zero equality with tactics.


1. There ARE situations when you cannot properly grip the pistol. Your hand is injured, and you cannot get proper grip, your hand is restrained and you must use your weak hand, you are engaged in combatives and/or retaining your pistol and cannot get proper grip, etc....

If one cannot properly grip the 1911 pistol as produced it will not operate period end of story that is the primary reason that the very valuable grip safety feature is in place. Anyone who can make a fist can operate the pistol, if they cannot apply sufficient pressure to operate the safety systems the pistol will not function under it's own recoil in any event.


Your rationalization is that you can train away the tactical liabilities, but that doesn't remove the fact that all other things being equal, it still is a tactical liability. Bang, vs safety-bang, even if there is no difference in time, there still is one more step that can go wrong.

No rationalization, personal combat experience and direct hands own exposure to more than 5000+ hours of firearms training and 27 years with the 1911 pistol.
Despite what is written by persons lacking actual hands on experience "steps" i.e. operating a thumb safety does not diminish during combat stress, the exact opposite reaction occurs and greater clarity and concentration are available. Using the thumb safety once properly trained is far less difficult than cycling the action on the Remington 870 or changing M16 magazines or loading and cycling a 105mm gun. Combat does not remove the capabilities of the human predator unless they have panicked and frozen it enhances them and greatly improves strength, vision, and muscle reaction speed. If the person has not been instructed properly in operation of the firearm or equipment and reverts to snatch and go responses then yes the Glock pistol may be easier to use under some circumstances.


I am no expert in law, but what you state makes sense. First let me ask... This being the case why do you say "The 1911 safety should never be disengaged until the exact moment that you have decided to fire and your finger is moving to the trigger" when you do not have to,( again bang, vs saftey-bang)instead of dis-engaging the safty the moment you draw the weapon?.

Because the 1911 weapon safety is designed to reduce the danger to and account for the use of the weapon as a restraining object as well as an offensive tool and more often than not human predators need to be restrained at gun point far less than they need to be shot. Stress increases the strength and dexterity of the person and greatly increases the reflexive speed of the mind and body and the presence of a true mechanical lock-out device greatly adds to the "tactical safety" of the situation.


Additionally let me clarify my position:
I said "From a purely legal standpoint, you should leave the safety engaged for as long as possible, until the moment just before you pull the trigger."
What I should have said:
A handgun with trigger safety has a safety mechanism engaged up until the moment the trigger is pulled, that reduces the likelyhood of an accidental discharge. A handgun with an external manual safety may or MAY NOT have a mechanism engaged that reduces the likelyhood of an accidental discharge. Therefore, IF the external manual safety is dis-engaged, there is greater possibility of an AD, and the associated legal expenses that may come along with that AD. So, from a purely legal standpoint, having a safety engaged until the moment before you pull the trigger reduces the chance of an AD and it's associated legal liability. (granted it is a small chance, but one none the less)


Agreed but I would argue that the loss of life from that in-deliberate action represents a far greater concern than simple liability.



Therefore I stand by my earlier conclusions that all other things being equal, a trigger safety such as glock is better for self defense, and an external manual safety such as m1911 is better for a range gun.

Absolutely and completely 100% incorrect, you are reversed but it is your opinion and you are entitled to it. I sincerely hope that the day never comes when you have to stand behind it before Judge and Jury as you will lose.


You, Ammo lab, seem to be familiar and comfortable with the 1911, which means a whole lot more than what kind of safety it has. I don't think you made a bad choice. I do think for someone just starting, and not having a pre-aquired familiarity with a particular manual of arms however, there are better choices.


Familiarity is always a benefit but the advantage of being able to second guess others and learn from their mistakes is of much greater value as is the case with the argument you have presented. While well stated it's premise if fatally flawed as you fail to recognize the reasons to not have the "safety" mounted in the trigger mechanism.

Not with standing the errors as stated and inaccurate conclusions as to the physiological response and condition of the human animal under stress the logic behind the argument is flawed in the operation of the system as the principle advantage of the mechanical weapon safety is that it is not mounted in, near, or directly around the firing mechanism of the weapon such systems fail the human condition due to their design and ergonomic position, they function solely to prevent in-opportune operation of the device when in contact with the environment not the shooter and that is where the true liability begins.

InTheBlack
01-27-2005, 02:24 PM
>>>
Stress increases the ... dexterity of the person...
>>>

Huh? You think the exact opposite of the generally accepted "gross motor skills" teaching? That's worth a thread of its own!

>>>
The 1911 safety should never be disengaged until the exact moment that you have decided to fire and your finger is moving to the trigger, both are done instantaneously without added delay or movement.
>>>

Well, it kinda depends on the size of your hand and length of your thumb. I get a much better one-handed grip with my thumb UNDER the safety, and it takes a manipulation to get it there after disengaging the safety.

And of course, holding one-left-handed with a 1911 having a one-sided safety necessitates keeping it disengaged.

OTOH its a good thing for the safety to be engaged if you get disarmed.

Ammo Lab
01-27-2005, 03:46 PM
>>>
Stress increases the ... dexterity of the person...
>>>

Huh? You think the exact opposite of the generally accepted "gross motor skills" teaching? That's worth a thread of its own!

.

It may be but you will find that from fighter pilots to professional ping pong players they all play and function more capably while under stress and the more experienced they are to adrenaline and high stress the less reaction they have.




>>>
The 1911 safety should never be disengaged until the exact moment that you have decided to fire and your finger is moving to the trigger, both are done instantaneously without added delay or movement.
>>>

Well, it kinda depends on the size of your hand and length of your thumb. I get a much better one-handed grip with my thumb UNDER the safety, and it takes a manipulation to get it there after disengaging the safety.

And of course, holding one-left-handed with a 1911 having a one-sided safety necessitates keeping it disengaged.

OTOH its a good thing for the safety to be engaged if you get disarmed.

If your weapon does not fit you, you should change weapons or alter it so that it does. If you cannot operate your weapons controls properly with each hand then it should be modified so that you can do so as we do with all other human-machine interfaces and controls. Most people would say that only a fool would purchase a right handed keyboard yet many persons who would never otherwise purchase such a product will use and depend upon and carry the most dangerous handheld device they will ever possess as a right handed only firearm. If you cannot use your firearm and all of it's controls all the time in any manner it needs to be addressed.