Concealed Carry & Home Defense

CCW Weekend: Who Wants A Manual Safety On A Carry Gun?

Guns and Gear Contributor

By Sam Hoober, Alien Gear Holsters

The manual safety, thumb safety, or whatever you want to call it gets a lot of heat when people start talking about concealed carry and concealed carry pistols. There’s some good reason for it; deactivating the safety under stress is easier said than done.

So, should you even bother with one? Or getting a gun with one? Even in today’s poly-striker pistol-dominated market, there are still a good number of pistols equipped with one.

The answer? Should you bother with the manual safety?

It depends.

Besides single- and double-action pistols that have always had them (1911, Beretta 92) popular examples include the Smith and Wesson M&P series, Ruger’s EC9s and Security 9 pistols, Taurus G2C and G2S pistols, a good number of Sig Sauer pistols such as safety-equipped variants of the P320 and P365, and many more besides.

So the thing about a lot of the guns previously mentioned is that many are compact, affordable pistols that don’t necessarily need a manual safety to operate safely. However, some people prefer to have them so the pistol can be placed on safe for storage or if a person doesn’t feel comfortable carrying a live pistol. Some people also feel it’s a good idea to have a manual safety engaged if they have little ones at home.

Another thing that many of the pistols previously mentioned have in common is the manual safety lever itself, or more specifically, an attribute of the manual safety lever itself.

They’re tiny. They’re usually pretty stiff. In other words, hard to operate under stress, which leads to the crux of why some manual safeties are not worth trifling with.

If a manual safety is difficult to operate under ideal conditions, you shouldn’t bother with it. A manual safety that is easy to operate, however, is viable if you train sufficiently.

So here’s what that means.

The 1911 pistol is a proven self-defense pistol. So is the Browning Hi Power. Both of these handguns have a long track record in the field and also in competition. In both instances, the manual safety is easily accessed by the shooting hand thumb. Operation is intuitive and simple; swipe up to activate, down to turn it off.

The CZ 75 and its clones also have a well-placed manual safety, typically located on the frame in easy reach of the thumb.

Train with the pistol a bit and incorporate deactivating the safety into your draw and presentation of the pistol. After a few repetitions, you’ll have an idea of how it works; after a few dozen, you start to really get the hang of it. Eventually, taking it on and off becomes muscle memory.

Thing about the 1911, and the Hi Power, and the CZ 75 and so on is that the thumb safety is located in an easily-accessed location and the safety lever itself is (typically) easy to index with the thumb. They’re easy to operate. On many affordable plastic fantastics? Not so much.

Granted, the S&W M&P full-size and M&P Compact pistols are an exception; the manual safety levers are generous in size and are therefore easy to use.

Okay, we get it. A manual safety lever is fine if it’s easy to use and you train with it.

But what about the parental crowd? What about people who are concerned with someone else accessing the pistol?

For concerned parents, get a safe or lockbox and make sure that your child/children cannot get into it. (Make sure the key is hidden or otherwise inaccessible, don’t give them the combo and don’t leave it open, etc.) When the gun is not stored, keep it in a holster and on your person.

Ladies, do not leave it in your purse if you refuse to carry on the body. There are some secure concealed carry purses out there, to be sure, but store the pistol safely if your purse isn’t on you.

For newbies concerned with the potential for discharge, unless you’re carrying a pistol that requires carrying in Condition One (ie 1911, Hi Power, CZ-75 in single-action mode, Sig P238/938 and all other Colt Mustang derivatives) there’s no real need for a manual safety so long as you’re carrying the pistol in a proper holster. If the trigger guard is protected, the trigger cannot be pressed and there is no danger of discharge.

In practiced hands, a single-action semi-auto is just as fast to get the first shot on target; only the lazy shooter (who doesn’t train) will have issues, so don’t go believing the “striker only” hype.

There’s nothing wrong with a manual safety, if it’s the right kind.

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Sam Hoober is Contributing Editor for AlienGearHolsters.com, a subsidiary of Hayden, ID, based Tedder Industries, where he writes about gun accessories, gun safety, open and concealed carry tips. Click here to visit aliengearholsters.com.