The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > Hogan's Alley > Handguns: The Semi-automatic Forum

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old October 4, 2022, 11:40 PM   #1
44 AMP
Staff
 
Join Date: March 11, 2006
Location: Upper US
Posts: 26,121
What do you consider a "safety"?

What do you consider a safety??

Specific to handguns, we hear a lot of terms thrown about, safety, active safety, passive safety, manual safety, safety feature, safety lock, and probably some others I can't think of right now...

I make a distinction between a safety and a safety feature.

To me, a safety is a mechanical switch, button, lever etc that must be manually applied (ON), and manually removed (OFF) to allow the gun to fire by pulling the trigger. I believe these are also referred to as active safeties, because you must actively turn them on and they stay on until you turn them off and it requires a separate, specific manual action to change from on to off.

One of the things a safety does is to not only prevent accidental discharge, but also prevents intentional firing of the gun. In other words, with the safety on, deliberately pulling the trigger will not fire the gun.

A disconnector is not, to me, a safety, it is a safety feature.

I consider the grip safety to be a safety feature. They put themselves "on" and are turned off by gripping the gun correctly.

Now, obviously, if you are looking to order a part, you must use the name the maker gives it, but for purposes of casual conversation, how do you define "the safety"??
__________________
All else being equal (and it almost never is) bigger bullets tend to work better.
44 AMP is offline  
Old October 5, 2022, 12:16 AM   #2
JohnKSa
Staff
 
Join Date: February 12, 2001
Location: DFW Area
Posts: 24,343
Any kind of safety, by definition is also a safety feature whether it is a manual safety or a passive safety.
Quote:
To me, a safety is a mechanical switch, button, lever etc that must be manually applied (ON), and manually removed (OFF) to allow the gun to fire by pulling the trigger.
There's already a name for that. A manual safety.
Quote:
I consider the grip safety to be a safety feature.
A passive safety is certainly a safety feature. Rebounding hammer safeties, transfer bar safeties, magazine safeties, firing pin safeties, etc.--those are all passive safeties and therefore, of course, also safety features.

There are some safety features that are not generally considered to be manual or passive safeties. Trigger guards, for example, are a safety feature that aren't generally considered to be safeties.

Other examples of safety features not considered to be either manual or passive safeties are holsters that cover the trigger, loaded chamber indicators, gas vents, etc.
Quote:
...how do you define "the safety"??
The value of language for communication is inextricably linked with the idea that words have established meanings. This is how people know what is being communicated when a word is used.

If everyone makes up their own definitions for words that are already in use, that's pretty much the opposite of communication
__________________
Do you know about the TEXAS State Rifle Association?
JohnKSa is offline  
Old October 5, 2022, 08:49 AM   #3
Limnophile
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 2, 2015
Location: Issaquah, Washington
Posts: 1,014
Quote:
Originally Posted by 44 AMP View Post
I make a distinction between a safety and a safety feature.

To me, a safety is a mechanical switch, button, lever etc that must be manually applied (ON), and manually removed (OFF) to allow the gun to fire by pulling the trigger. I believe these are also referred to as active safeties, because you must actively turn them on and they stay on until you turn them off and it requires a separate, specific manual action to change from on to off.

One of the things a safety does is to not only prevent accidental discharge, but also prevents intentional firing of the gun. In other words, with the safety on, deliberately pulling the trigger will not fire the gun.
I agree with the distinction you make and see its value.

Let's see what Merriam-Webster has to say:

safety noun
safe·​ty | \ ˈsāf-tē \
plural safeties
Definition of safety (Entry 1 of 2)

2: a device (as on a weapon or a machine) designed to prevent inadvertent or hazardous operation
… .

The M-W definition is more inclusive than yours, but your definition comports with my understanding of an affirmative safety without the need to qualify the label. After all, when one makes a firearm safe, it denotes taking affirmative action to render it temporarily inoperable. A passive safety does nothing to prevent inadvertent operation.
Limnophile is offline  
Old October 5, 2022, 09:00 AM   #4
Jim Watson
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 25, 2001
Location: Alabama
Posts: 17,845
When I say "safety" I mean what Colt used to call a "safety catch", a manual safety.
Until we get down into nitpicking over what or where a "safety" is.

If I refer to some other device, I will specify "grip safety", "magazine safety", or "firing pin safety." Actually I more often say "magazine disconnect" and "firing pin obstruction."

I suppose one should call the doohickey on a Glock trigger a "trigger safety."
Jim Watson is online now  
Old October 5, 2022, 09:32 AM   #5
HiBC
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 13, 2006
Posts: 7,926
I have the 1911 thumb routine as "unconscious competence" I don't have to think about it and it works.
Yet I bought my Shield Plus in the "No Safety" version. I did because a true self defense situation may be off guard,off balance,sudden, and ANY extra motion or bumble might be fatal.

First safety is between my ears.
Next is Col Cooper's 4 rules.
Critically important is a proper holster with good retention. That includes "pocket carry"
Then keep the booger hook off the trigger till its "Go time"

I DO use the safety when one is there. Its another layer. But I do not consider "Its on safe" to mean its OK to get sloppy.
HiBC is offline  
Old October 5, 2022, 11:36 AM   #6
44 AMP
Staff
 
Join Date: March 11, 2006
Location: Upper US
Posts: 26,121
TO be a bit more clear, hopefully, I am referring to a part on the gun when I say "the safety".

Dictionary definitions of words are a fine standard, BUT are not always applicable to the definition of term in a specific context. There are dictionaries/glossaries with definitions as used in specific contexts that are not found in general dictionaries.

Quote:
The value of language for communication is inextricably linked with the idea that words have established meanings. This is how people know what is being communicated when a word is used.

If everyone makes up their own definitions for words that are already in use, that's pretty much the opposite of communication
Which is why I posed the question.

Quote:
First safety is between my ears.
Next is Col Cooper's 4 rules.
Critically important is a proper holster with good retention. That includes "pocket carry"
Then keep the booger hook off the trigger till its "Go time"
#1, absolutely and always true
#2 They aren't "Cooper's 4 rules. They are the first 4 rules of firearm safety, which Cooper advocated above the others (and for good reason)
#3 Holsters and carry methods are part of being safe while carrying, but are not part of the gun.
#4 Same as #3, important, things we need to do be safe, but not part of the gun.

Quote:
I DO use the safety when one is there. Its another layer. But I do not consider "Its on safe" to mean its OK to get sloppy.
ONE (of the many) important things the NRA always taught was not to put 100% faith and trust in any mechanical safety. While it might be rare, any mechanical safety CAN FAIL.

There are many different variations of mechanisms, and lots of different things are called "safeties", so I was curious how different folks use and define the term, and thought a separate thread on the question was better than sidetracking an existing discussion in some other thread.
__________________
All else being equal (and it almost never is) bigger bullets tend to work better.
44 AMP is offline  
Old October 5, 2022, 11:59 AM   #7
wild cat mccane
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 22, 2011
Posts: 3,221
Welp, out of current production (excluding 1911 Series 70), what guns do you know of that do not come with firing pin blocks?

I can only think of a few. P3AT/LCP, SKYY, pretend custom CZs starting at the Shadow line...not much else.
__________________
My wife is a pulmonologist (respiratory Dr) and epidemiologist. If you have any questions on COVID, please reach out to me in PM.
wild cat mccane is offline  
Old October 5, 2022, 12:02 PM   #8
RickB
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 1, 2000
Location: Boise, ID
Posts: 8,383
I like the idea of a distinction between "safety" and "safety feature", even if everyone doesn't agree on the choice of wording.

In general, when there is a discussion of "safeties", it is the manual safety that prevents the gun from firing even if the trigger is pulled, distinct from, say, the popular trigger "blade" on most modern striker-fired guns.

Only a mechanical device that prevents the gun from firing even when pulling the trigger, is "a safety", as far as I'm concerned, and lumping together grip safeties, blades, geegaws, doohickies, disconnectors, etc., together as "safety features" is fine with me.
__________________
Runs off at the mouth about anything 1911 related on this site and half the time is flat out wrong.
RickB is offline  
Old October 5, 2022, 01:45 PM   #9
wild cat mccane
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 22, 2011
Posts: 3,221
It might be being pedantic. Honestly.

Is a half notch on a Sig P938 a safety to you or not? I'm not sure it matters. It's a mechanical don't fire feature on the gun. But the P938 lacks a firing pin block. Is that not a safety? But it has a physical safety. So....shrug?
__________________
My wife is a pulmonologist (respiratory Dr) and epidemiologist. If you have any questions on COVID, please reach out to me in PM.
wild cat mccane is offline  
Old October 5, 2022, 01:50 PM   #10
wild cat mccane
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 22, 2011
Posts: 3,221
Silliest safety demonstration is the original Walther P99 commercial where the gun falls from a helicopter.

P99 AS trigger has the "dingus" built into the back of the trigger.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=50_q3iNGjfA

12:50
__________________
My wife is a pulmonologist (respiratory Dr) and epidemiologist. If you have any questions on COVID, please reach out to me in PM.
wild cat mccane is offline  
Old October 5, 2022, 01:50 PM   #11
eflyguy
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 1, 2021
Posts: 333
Everyone has an opinion, but I generally refer to "a safety" as a thumb-safety like on a 1911 or my daughter's Shield. We both carry with a round chambered and ready to fire, but she is more comfortable with the thumb safety on her Shield.

Every pistol I own has safety mechanisms of various types, but my Glocks don't have a "thumb safety" and that makes no difference to me.
eflyguy is offline  
Old October 5, 2022, 03:27 PM   #12
sevt_chevelle
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 13, 2013
Posts: 299
What's a pretend custom CZ?
sevt_chevelle is offline  
Old October 5, 2022, 04:16 PM   #13
wild cat mccane
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 22, 2011
Posts: 3,221
For example, the Shadow 2 i just bought is a pretend custom gun.

It was built only for Production. Most reviewers who arent me note it isnt a carry gun. Pretend custom bc it only exists for Production and no other da sa gun lacks a fpb.

I care most about drop tests than I care about any other safety. I think those are most important. If you follow the rule of no finger on trigger, we're dealing with the real safety of the gun. I want the gun not to fire on the chance it is dropped and guts inside that want to release, release.

If I drop a sa/da in sa like the P226, PX4 (G), 2022, P99, SP-01 or whatever, it isn't going to fire. No thumb safety on them. Is it mechanically safe? yes. Physically there is something in the way of the pin.

But none of those above have a physical safety.
__________________
My wife is a pulmonologist (respiratory Dr) and epidemiologist. If you have any questions on COVID, please reach out to me in PM.

Last edited by wild cat mccane; October 5, 2022 at 04:59 PM.
wild cat mccane is offline  
Old October 5, 2022, 08:03 PM   #14
Sgt127
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 13, 2002
Posts: 1,032
That thumb thingy on a 1911, Browning HP and on my P365, I have come to call an “Off Switch”.
Sgt127 is offline  
Old October 5, 2022, 08:14 PM   #15
TunnelRat
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 22, 2011
Posts: 11,901
What do you consider a "safety"?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Limnophile View Post
A passive safety does nothing to prevent inadvertent operation.
Perhaps this is a matter of perspective, but the above statement is untrue both in terms of the definition of inadvertent and the practical use of firearms. Passive safeties such as trigger tab safeties or firing pin blocks absolutely can prevent forms of inadvertent operation. Absent a Hollywood movie scenario, think Jamie Lee Curtis in “True Lies”, a firearm discharging when dropped is generally not intended. I accept that those passive safeties cannot stop a trigger being pressed to the rear by say a snagging garment or a poorly placed finger on behalf of the user, but they do prevent inadvertent operation in a form.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Last edited by TunnelRat; October 5, 2022 at 09:57 PM. Reason: Alleviating confusion for some
TunnelRat is offline  
Old October 5, 2022, 08:15 PM   #16
Aguila Blanca
Staff
 
Join Date: September 25, 2008
Location: CONUS
Posts: 17,567
What **I** consider to be a safety is unimportant. What is important, IMHO, is what a jury might consider to be a safety device if I am ever on trial after having used my firearm for self defense.
__________________
NRA Life Member / Certified Instructor
NRA Chief RSO / CMP RSO
1911 Certified Armorer
Jeepaholic
Aguila Blanca is offline  
Old October 5, 2022, 08:42 PM   #17
44 AMP
Staff
 
Join Date: March 11, 2006
Location: Upper US
Posts: 26,121
Quote:
Passive safeties such as trigger tab safeties or firing pin blocks absolutely prevent inadvertent operation.
I disagree.

Quote:
I accept that those passive safeties cannot stop a trigger being pressed to the rear by say a snagging garment or a poorly placed finger on behalf of the user, but they do prevent inadvertent operation.
Isn't the snagging garment /poorly placed finger firing the gun the very definition of "inadvertent operation"?? (or one of them, anyway??)

As far as I can see the only thing that "absolutely prevents inadvertent operation" is not having any ammunition in the gun.

And I mean actually no ammunition physically present in the gun, not just the BELIEF that there is no ammo in the gun.

Despite the presence of every safety and safety feature the maker builds into the gun, people have, and can "inadvertently operate" the gun and fire it.

Quote:
What is important, IMHO, is what a jury might consider to be a safety device if I am ever on trial after having used my firearm for self defense.
I can understand what the jury thinks being important, but I'm a bit fuzzy about how a safety's function or lack of function applies in a self defense case. Isn't the entire basis of claiming self defense that you did intentionally shoot someone and that it was justifiable??

Just seems to me that if you didn't intend to shoot someone, and you did, then it was an accident, not self defense.

Of course, the prosecutor can spin things any way they want, they're not under oath to tell the truth!
__________________
All else being equal (and it almost never is) bigger bullets tend to work better.
44 AMP is offline  
Old October 5, 2022, 08:54 PM   #18
TunnelRat
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 22, 2011
Posts: 11,901
What do you consider a "safety"?

Quote:
Originally Posted by 44 AMP View Post
I disagree.



Isn't the snagging garment /poorly placed finger firing the gun the very definition of "inadvertent operation"?? (or one of them, anyway??)

As far as I can see the only thing that "absolutely prevents inadvertent operation" is not having any ammunition in the gun.

And I mean actually no ammunition physically present in the gun, not just the BELIEF that there is no ammo in the gun.

Despite the presence of every safety and safety feature the maker builds into the gun, people have, and can "inadvertently operate" the gun and fire it.

Based on the definition of “inadvertent” and the fact that it wasn’t further clarified in the comment to which I was replying, passive safeties do in fact prevent a from of inadvertent discharge. Snagging of the trigger is one form of inadvertent discharge, but it is not the only form. I specifically gave a form which is prevented, or at the very least mitigated, by passive safeties.

Looking at your additional comments, I’ll add that my use of the word absolutely was meant as, “it is absolutely true that a passive safety can prevent a form of inadvertent discharge”. This was in response to a blanket statement saying passive safeties do “nothing” to prevent inadvertent discharges. This was not meant to be read as me saying “passive safeties prevent inadvertent discharges absolutely”. I thought it was clear what I meant, but I will go back and make the edit. I am also aware that despite passive or active safeties people can inadvertently discharge firearms. I specifically mentioned such a scenario in the comment from which you quoted and I’ve repeated the same in multiple threads, including sharing my own experience of an inadvertent discharge with a pistol that had an active safety in the form of a manual safety and what I guess we would call a passive safety in the form of a magazine disconnect.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Last edited by TunnelRat; October 5, 2022 at 10:36 PM.
TunnelRat is offline  
Old October 6, 2022, 02:14 AM   #19
44 AMP
Staff
 
Join Date: March 11, 2006
Location: Upper US
Posts: 26,121
No safety can do anything if it isn't used, or worse, when it is used and fails to function properly.

Sometimes, the stars line up so that things just break. There are even extremely rare times when things break in such a way that they work part of the time, but not all the time.

I know of one instance where putting the manual safety ON actually FIRED the pistol!!! (yes, the gun was broken, the gunsmith confirmed that it was broken, and broken in a way he had never seen or heard of before)
__________________
All else being equal (and it almost never is) bigger bullets tend to work better.
44 AMP is offline  
Old October 6, 2022, 06:28 AM   #20
Shadow9mm
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 21, 2012
Location: Indianapolis, IN
Posts: 3,195
What do I consider to be a safety? A button or lever that has to be intentional manually actuated to make the gun operational.

Many guns have passive safety features, internal and external.

EDIT:
English tends to be very context dependent. So while when dealing with firearms the term safety generally refers specifically to manual safeties. Under the word safeties applies to all mechanics that keep the firearm from discharged without the trigger being intentional pulled.
__________________
I don't believe in "range fodder" that is why I reload.

Last edited by Shadow9mm; October 7, 2022 at 07:14 AM.
Shadow9mm is offline  
Old October 6, 2022, 07:42 AM   #21
adamBomb
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 19, 2015
Location: coastal NC
Posts: 640
If I were to ask a 100 people on the street what a safety is on a gun 99 of them would describe a manual safety. When people throw around the term safety, thats what they mean. As everyone has pointed out though there are many types. This is no different then any industry. Just as an example, I work in tech and people throw around the work 'multimedia' daily but when a client says that to you they need to clarify what exactly they are referring to.
adamBomb is offline  
Old October 6, 2022, 09:01 AM   #22
Aguila Blanca
Staff
 
Join Date: September 25, 2008
Location: CONUS
Posts: 17,567
Quote:
Originally Posted by 44 AMP
Quote:
What is important, IMHO, is what a jury might consider to be a safety device if I am ever on trial after having used my firearm for self defense.
I can understand what the jury thinks being important, but I'm a bit fuzzy about how a safety's function or lack of function applies in a self defense case. Isn't the entire basis of claiming self defense that you did intentionally shoot someone and that it was justifiable??

Just seems to me that if you didn't intend to shoot someone, and you did, then it was an accident, not self defense.

Of course, the prosecutor can spin things any way they want, they're not under oath to tell the truth!
It isn't always clear to anyone other than the shooter that a self-defense shooting is, in fact, a self-defense shooting. And that ignores the fact that some prosecutors simply don't think plebians should be allowed to have guns and to defend themselves.

I can't control what a prosecutor might tell a jury. If a shooting is at all questionable, I don't discount the possibility that a prosecutor will tell a jury that I intentionally removed or disabled a safety device on my firearm in order to make it easier for me to kill people. Sure, if I have a competent defense attorney he/she should try to refute that argument -- but I would prefer not to have to refute that argument at all.

As I think Frank Ettin has expressed in discussions about using reloaded ammunition for self-defense: Why give the opposition things they can use against you?
__________________
NRA Life Member / Certified Instructor
NRA Chief RSO / CMP RSO
1911 Certified Armorer
Jeepaholic
Aguila Blanca is offline  
Old October 6, 2022, 11:21 AM   #23
44 AMP
Staff
 
Join Date: March 11, 2006
Location: Upper US
Posts: 26,121
Quote:
I don't discount the possibility that a prosecutor will tell a jury that I intentionally removed or disabled a safety device on my firearm in order to make it easier for me to kill people. Sure, if I have a competent defense attorney he/she should try to refute that argument -- but I would prefer not to have to refute that argument at all.
Not to go too far down this rabbit hole, but it seems to me that IF the prosecutor makes such a claim, you're going to have to refute it, whether you modified the gun in any way, or not.
__________________
All else being equal (and it almost never is) bigger bullets tend to work better.
44 AMP is offline  
Old October 6, 2022, 07:18 PM   #24
Aguila Blanca
Staff
 
Join Date: September 25, 2008
Location: CONUS
Posts: 17,567
I just think it's a lot easier to be able to say "This firearm is exactly the way it left the factory, with all factory safety devices intact," which can be verified by expert witnesses for both sides, than it is to say, "Well, I removed the dingleframmis, but I don't consider that to be a safety even though the manufacturer says it's a safety device."

Basically, I'm inherently a risk-averse person. I've been an expert witness in a number of (non-firearms, non-criminal) court cases, and I've seen first-hand, up close and personal, how effectively even a second-rate attorney can twist words. YMMV.
__________________
NRA Life Member / Certified Instructor
NRA Chief RSO / CMP RSO
1911 Certified Armorer
Jeepaholic
Aguila Blanca is offline  
Old October 7, 2022, 01:34 AM   #25
JohnKSa
Staff
 
Join Date: February 12, 2001
Location: DFW Area
Posts: 24,343
All safeties, whether passive or manual are also safety features, but 'safety feature' is a term that encompasses more than just 'safeties'.

A safety feature is anything that is designed to:
Prevent a potentially dangerous occurrence
Make a potentially dangerous occurrence less likely
Make a potentially dangerous occurrence less dangerous

Safety features include things like:

Triggerguards
Manual safeties
Passive safeties
Design features that are intended to protect the shooter from injury or reduce the chances of injury/serious injury if certain failures occur.
Design features that are intended to reduce the likelihood of failures that could cause injury.

Manual and passive safeties are in a specific category of safety features. This category is focused on preventing the gun from firing inadvertently.

Manual safeties do this via some means that requires the shooter to make a particular action to engage and disengage the safety. The safety will not be engaged if the shooter doesn't take the specific action required to engage the safety. The safety will not be disengaged unless the shooter takes the specific action required to disengage the safety.

Passive safeties engage automatically as a consequence of normal operation without the shooter taking any action to engage them and often (but not always) disengage automatically as a consequence of normal operation when certain conditions are met. Some passive safeties engage automatically but must be manually disengaged.
__________________
Do you know about the TEXAS State Rifle Association?
JohnKSa is offline  
Reply

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 07:48 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2022, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2021 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent: thefiringline.com
Page generated in 0.09733 seconds with 10 queries