manual gun safety

Why Some Prefer Manual Safety Over Trigger Safety

Since the advent of a the Glock 17, the handgun market has become awash in polymer striker-fired pistols with only a single gun safety mechanism - a trigger safety. For many, this is enough and indeed, some regard gun safety mechanisms as being reserved only for rookies, worrywarts and - worst of all - California.

However, for some people it isn't enough. Just like there's a good reason to buy a quality gun belt to carry, there's a good reason to consider which safety mechanism you prefer.

The Rise Of The Trigger Safety

manual trigger safety

One of the most popular safety mechanisms at the moment is the trigger safety. The reason for this is basically Glock, because so very many people have them and thus other gun makers decided to make basically the same pistol.

Glock's integrated trigger safety uses a bifurcated lower trigger assembly, with one part acting as a safety lever. The lever component of the trigger unblocks the firing pin and the trigger bar when actuated, so the gun cannot fire if the trigger is pulled. Thus, it functions as three safety mechanisms in one - a trigger safety, firing pin safety and also drop safety, since the firing pin and trigger bar are locked until a trigger pull occurs.

As Glocks became ubiquitous (for good reasons) and acquired hordes of smug fanboys, other gunmakers have copied the format and that's why integrated trigger safeties are so widespread. With adequate care, they are perfectly safe and many are designed to not allow drop firing. It's also one reason why some people don't prefer to buy or carry such pistols.

Manual Safety Still Has A Place

manual safety for handguns

While the safety located only in or around the trigger, a lot of people still prefer a manual safety.

How a manual safety works depends on the design of the safety; some deactivate the trigger, some block the firing pin and others block the slide. Single-action automatics, such as the 1911, often will only allow the safety to engage when the hammer is cocked. However, in single action/double action pistols, such as the Beretta 92, CZ 75 and many others, the safety can be engaged with the hammer at any position.

Double action only pistols can also be had with a manual safety, such as Smith and Wesson M&P pistols. Once engaged, the gun doesn't fire.

There is also a safety mechanism called a decocker, which decocks a pistol. Some SA/DA pistols will have both a decocker and a safety, though with some models you have to choose one or the other. Some double-action only pistols have a decocker, though engaging it requires recocking the pistol (racking the slide) after decocking.

Guarding Against Accidental Discharge

holster with trigger guard

The advantage, and the reason why many people prefer the manual safety, is the safety has to be deactivated in order for the pistol to fire, thus preventing - ostensibly - an accidental discharge. Trigger safeties merely require the trigger be actuated.

Decockers, by contrast, put a pistol into double action mode, which requires a much longer trigger pull (often requiring double the pressure of a single action trigger pull) and thus will deter any unintentional pulls of the trigger

This, many feel a manual safety mechanism affords one much more "protection," if you will, against an unintentional discharge. Anyone who gets their hands on a Glock or other trigger safety-only pistol can fire it if they depress the trigger.

This is why many gun owners with small children feel a manual safety is absolutely necessary. A toddler could conceivably set off a Glock, but would find it much more difficult to disengage a safety catch. Likewise, some concealed (or open) carriers feel more confident about carrying with an additional mechanical action being needed besides pulling the trigger to fire the pistol. On the other hand, some perceive a tactical disadvantage since that's one extra step you have to take before neutralizing a threat.

Getting a Holster that completely covers the trigger guard will also go a long way to prevent accidental discharges.

Ultimately, what safety device a person prefers is entirely a personal preference. Also, the best safety device is mindfulness. Be mindful of a firearm at all times, and what could go wrong with it.

Sam Hoober  

About The Author

Born in southeastern Washington State, Sam Hoober graduated in 2011 from Eastern Washington University. He resides in the great Inland Northwest, with his wife and child. His varied interests and hobbies include camping, fishing, hunting, and spending time at the gun range as often as possible.

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