Manual Safety vs No Safety

manual thumb safety

There is a small debate in the comments of another post about the manual safety and I thought I would open it up to a broader debate. I believe that a shooters feelings about a manual safety come down to 1 of 2 fears…

#1 – A fear that the gun will go off when I don’t want it to.

These shooters worry more about a negligent discharge during administrative handling or accidentally shooting a threat after they subdued them. They believe that their training will give them the presence of mind to disengage the safety to engage a threat.

#2 – A fear that the gun will NOT go off when I want it to.

These shooters worry that in a time of stress they could forget to disengage the safety under stress. They believe that their training will allow them to handle the firearm safely in non-stressful situations.

As a side note there are some people who are afraid of both #1 and #2… they say “Guns scare me.”

I fall into group #2.

Do you think this sums up the debate? And which side do you fall into? Let me know in the comments.4


  1. Anthony says

    Your categorization seems logical to me. I happen to fall into group #2 myself, which is why I wish there was a Shield that didn’t have the vestigial thumb safety.

    I also think there are people who don’t fit into either of your groups, and I call them “stupid.”

  2. Eric says

    I would prefer a gun with an manual safety because I want an additional step between possession and discharge of a firearm, conscious that there are both positives and negatives associated with that decision.
    For me, personally, I am willing to exchange a degradation in likely response time in order to have an increase in the difficulty to have the gun go bang when I wouldn’t have wanted it to.
    These kinds of issues always fall on the matrix between ‘speed’, ‘safety’ and ‘convenience’. Carrying concealed or even concealed off-body increases response time relative to on the hip loose holster carry a la Josey Wales, but people choose concealed over open (where allowed) because there are other benefits they view more highly than raw reaction time.
    Specifically and primarily, I would prefer a manual safety because I have young kids in the house and while there are obviously storage and training options to take (and I take them) kids are the Great Randomizer of Events, and if a manual safety provides me a couple extra grains of Peace of Mind, that is valuable to me.
    I should note that the PPQ I carry does not have a manual safety, because in spite of my desire to have that feature I did not find a gun I shot well enough and whose design and manufacture I liked enough at the time which had one. In order to meet my safety requirements I decided to carry open chamber, a decision which I’m sure will elicit howls of scorn all on its own.

    • Mike Zelekovic says

      I like the Walther PPQ M2 but like you I like the manual safety. My solution like you is to carry it open chamberedl

  3. glockcrazz says

    I’m in group #2.
    Almost all my pistols have no manual safety. But I still hold a high thumb grip so when I shoot my 1911 I have no issues.

  4. John Davis says

    Clean gun, well maintained; regular practice. Most everything else is trivial, including this safety issue—just my opinion.

  5. Matt says

    I don’t fall into 1 or 2 and I don’t think there is a 3. I run a 1911 in competition and I shoot it so much I can’t remember a time when I forgot to take off the safety. I choose to carry a gun without a manual safety because I can hide it and shoot it well. I practice with that gun enough to be comfortable with its manual of arms.

    I can’t make myself pull the trigger on a gun without checking it if I am not wanting it to go off. It takes me 3 or 4 tries when I start to dry fire to stop looking in the chamber every time I put the gun in the holster or take it out.

  6. TexTopCat says

    My issue is that safeties are not the same on all of the guns that I own. Some of the safeties are ON when the lever is up and some of the safeties are OFF when the lever is up. So, I carry Glocks

  7. Stephen Beronius says

    I do not want to use a safety on a gun loaded for home defense or carry. Neither of my SD handguns have safeties. (Walther PPQ. Ruger LCR .357.) No one but me has any business touching, knowing or seeing these guns. The range, competition or hunting are a different matter. These situations are often social. There may be a need for someone else to pick up, move, inspect or try my gun. A safety is added security against accidental discharge. All of the guns I am interested in for competition have safeties and that is ok.

  8. Marc Middleton says

    I carry and use a no manual safety, M&P, I have used my dad’s colt commander, it all comes down to practice and time handling the the particular firearm, I don’t feel comfortable with a Glock/ M&P style carried inside waist band, I prefer manual safety for this style carry, I carry with one in the tube. It’s all personal preference and training with what you decide to carry. Training training training

  9. says

    I prefer a manual frame mounted safety on a semi auto pistol, like a 1911.

    Slide mounted safeties, like those on DA semi autos, work backwards and are confusing if one tries to use both. For me, the 1911 safety is so simple to use, so natural to find with the thumb. Back, “in the old days” when some of us used S&W Model 59s and 39s I found it easier to just holster the gun with one in the chamber, safety off, hammer down. When drawing the hammer was cocked so all shots were single action. A 1911 was just easier, and a heck of a lot safer, so it was preferred.

    After saying all of the above, I find no problem with a Glock 23 as the thumb still follows the old route even though there is no safety there.

    Do I feel safer with a manual frame mounted safety? Yes. Do I have a fear that such a safety won’t be disengaged? No.

  10. Gerry says

    I carry a Cz-75b, it actually has some amazing design elements. The manual safety only engages in condition 1 carry (hammer cocked) with the hammer in double (not cocked) action mode the firing pin has to blocks to be released only upon trigger pull. So on the same gun ive confidently carried both ways.

  11. Pete says

    I carry open chamber and specifically ordered my carry firearm with a manual safety. I thumb the safety while racking the slide in one smooth motion. I have no worries about not being able to defend myself. On the other hand, I worry constantly about my children. Having one more layer of extra security in the off chance one of my children gets ahold of my gun (you just never know- maybe from the holster on the side of my bed where it’s kept at the ready while I sleep if they should happen to get up in the middle of the night) far outweighs the negligible disadvantage I might have in a hostile situation. After all, I’m with my children every single day, and what really are the chances I’ll have to draw in self defense? Train more for SHTF situations, keep firearms under lock and key whenever they’re not on your person. Stay safe everybody.

    • legion7 says

      Right there with you. I have a 1911, safety on, in a blackhawk serpa level 3 retention holster, and I have it on me, or up VERY high in the house. Why? I have a pecocious 2 year old AND a very intelligent 5 year old. When I’m by myself a Kahr cm40 in my back jeans pocket works fine. I have a private range so I get to shoot several times a week. Training, training, training…

  12. says

    I am in group #2 all the way. The last thing I want is to have to worry whether or not I’ll forget/fail to turn the safety off if I have to use it in a hurry. We can argue that training/practice will take care of that, but the same can be said for making sure it does NOT fire when it’s not supposed to. The difference is that IMO I’d be most likely to screw up while suddenly and hurriedly drawing and firing at an attacker. After that I can slow down and be more careful.

  13. Michael says

    I carry a SIG P226. It’s SA/DA so I’m comfortable carrying it condition 2. When I do carry my 1911, it’s condition 1, since it has a manual safety.

  14. punknil says

    I like having a light weight, crisp single-action trigger on my 1911, in exchange for being able to shoot exactly when i think “shoot”, I have a thumb and grip safety so that the gun doesn’t go off any time something jabs my hip in the wrong spot.

  15. Dmitry K says

    I have a bunch of pistols. Cz,(75, SP01, 52, 82), Tanfoglio Witness, taurus 24/7 OSS, arcus 98DA, M1911, Tokarev, K100. Beretta PX4. Turkish K2 and Zigana. Bunch of them. ALL of them have MANUAL safety. Do not get me wrong. I love glocks. I love M&P. I love them to SHOOT. They are accurate and reliable. Not to own. I want that manual safety. It doesn’t take much time to flick it off, but oh does it give me a piece of mind. I do NOT want to accidentally shoot myself or others because I pressed on the trigger harder then I had to (Glock, XDM, M&P). Once again, I LOVE Glock and M&P… As range guns. I would NOT carry one or have one on my nightstand. I want that extra step. I want a peace of mind that I can touch the trigger without gun going off. My first pistol was a makarov. I was trained on it. It has SAFETY. As you draw it you flick safety off. It takes less then raking the slide in XDM or Glock (if you carry it with empty chamber). As you are done, you flick the safety back on and holster the gun. WITHOUT FEAR OF BLOWING A WHOLE IN YOUR LEG.

  16. Rick S says

    I have been bugging the poor guys at Walther to come out with an optional thumb safety since the day I first picked up their PPQ. They must think some one in florida is obsessed! I get the argument for being able to identify, draw and engage a threat in the few split seconds that you hopefully get before your attacker is on you. And the idea that ANY safety will only complicate someone’s ooda loop. However, I mostly carry IWB due to the South Florida heat, and the idea of putting on another layer to conceal my OWB is only slightly less desirable as the inevitable thoughts of having a N/D in the IWB. Due to work restrictions while at work my weapon is in a holster in my Vertx edc bag (pricey but worth it) and said bag is always with in easy reach. The point I’m slowly getting too is that in my pants or in my bag a N/D would be disconcerting to say the least. All my holsters are either HSP incogs or US Gruntgear. Top notch kydex holsters so I am confident that once holstered no problem. A thumb safety gives me 100% piece of mind. I can already hear the crowd saying keep your finger off the trigger when out of the holster dummy and no problem also. With the heavily armed and sometimes trigger happy community I live in (criminal, civilian, and LE) it would be wise to reholster your weapon quickly once you’ve determined no other threat exists. That is the final reason for my wanting a thumb safety. Getting a loaded firearm back in the holster while under the stress of good training / or a bad day in real life. With my attention divided between the threat, bystanders and LE showing up I would hate to not notice that my shirt tail found its way into my amazing holster.
    I am more than willing to train to the safety rather then live with the consequences of a N/D. My current carry weapon is the SW M&P 9mm w/safety. Love it, but…..the PPQ is calling. Take care, stay safe.


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