I was in a discussion today with a retired military friend of mine who brought up something interesting in storing a rifle for readiness that I found very interesting. I knew the pieces but never really put them together before. This will also work for handguns with manual safeties.
First, a little back story on how this came up. We were talking about home defense and I have a handgun that has a round in the chamber. I also have a long gun that I have loaded with an empty chamber. Now, mind you, this guy has been deployed more than once to some less than friendly places with a beard. Anyway, the conversation moved to how he kept ready while deployed and what the military required.
Of course there is a lot more to the conversation than this, but thought this part might be useful to some of us. When he would be required to clear, he would clear chamber then dry fire. The dry fire was not to ensure that the rifle was unloaded, but to give him a check as to the condition of his rifle. Say they were attacked in the middle of the night, as he was grabbing his rifle, it was a quick check to see if the rifle would go into safe. Why this works is because the AR, like most firearms, will not allow you to put the firearm into safe if the firearm is not cocked. So, when you roll out of bed half asleep while your brain is struggling to catch up, you dont need to think about how you left your rifle. Will it go into safe? No? Good, rack and go. If the rifle were to go into safe, you would waste a lot more time trying to remember (keep in mind the state you are in) if there is a round in the chamber or not. You can picture the situation.
Anyway, I thought it was an interesting way to keep a defensive firearm with a real good way of knowing its state of readiness.
Interesting indeed, and I think it’s a valid method to consider (obviously as it helped keep him alive during his tour).
I think the key is that whatever your process is, you train that way so that your body automatically defaults to that process through muscle memory …that way you’re not attempting to execute a bunch of actions that you’re not used to in an emergency.
The one handgun I own that has an external safety can be engaged regardless of cocked or not. The one handgun I am aware of that the external safety can be engaged only when cocked is the 1911. There probably are others, but those are probably also single-action. With single-action, such as the 1911, it is important that the external safety be engaged when a round is chambered. I prefer my DA/SA Berettas, and they do not have external safeties, they have decockers. My holstered handgun is chambered and hot, but hammer-down for DA first shot. When a round is chambered, and in DA, they have a long, strong first trigger pull, after that, a very short, light trigger pull.
Rifles, also, have several different actions, and how the external safety can be engaged depends on the rifle. You mentioned the AR-platform and how that safety works. Your method works on that platform, but not necessarily on others. As @JamesR stated, “whatever your process is, you train that way so that your body automatically defaults to that process through muscle memory”. That is the key, training and practice.
And, even if you happen to have a Glock in the family, the thumb movement to disengage the safety is a part of the draw, so you would not lose any time…
versus, never training to disengage a safety, and picking up a Browning Hi-Power, 1911, TT-33, or several others that have a safety… in an emergency or if you happen to have a venerable member of the family like the 1911 or Browning Hi-Power… or even the TT-33
Interesting, but my firearms that might need to be pressed into service quickly (home or self defense) are loaded, I don’t have to guess as to their state. I know there is a round in the chamber and if there is an external safety it’s on.
Operating the safety is a ritual in the steps taken for practice during training over and over. I spend five minutes every other day practicing my draw starting with slow steps then working on speed at the end. Repetition and muscle memory. No I am not as good as Jerry McCuleck but I have something to aim for. See what I did there?
The one handgun I own that does have an external safety, it is disengaged in the opposite direction from those handguns, and the same with the decockers on the Beretta PX4’s I carry. So, even if I practiced that on my handguns, it would still be a fail picking-up the 1911, etal. I do recall the one time I did fire a 1911, and discovering that issue.
That was one of the reasons I decided not to buy a 1911, as the method to disengage the external safety was opposite from my EDC handgun at the time (the decocker on the PX-4 in 9mm, though I always carry it hot and in DA). I did not want to unlearn how to operate my regular firearm, just to have a 1911. I did like how it shot, and I was interested in getting the PX-4 in .45, so shooting the 1911 convinced me to get the PX-4, which I bought. That is now my primary EDC. It has the same manual of arms as my PX-4 9mm, so there was nothing to learn as to its operation.
The type of rifle safety youre talking about is the one I use for my AR. I think it started with Delta forces. As for my hand guns, my EDC has an external safety, but i dont use it anymore. Took a class with Rob Pincus who explained it by comparing to driving a stick shift. We all misshift at times. Nothing worse than needing to pull the trigger to protect your life and it goes click. My home defense hand gun is kept the same way. Granted, if i had kids in the house, i might reconsider. Just my honest opinion.
Having double clutched and shifted without a clutch, I must say there is a huge difference in missing a gear, or shifting without a clutch or needing to double clutch… and having your safety engaged.
As a former armorer, I would never carry a 1911 without the safety engaged if it is loaded and chambered, and I do not generally lower the hammer once the firearm is loaded, though I have done that.
If your firearm is a SA such as the 1911 or Browning Hi-Power, once there is a rd chambered, the safety should be engaged.
I will be a facetious smart a$$ at this point.
Would you walk around with your trousers unzipped, just to avoid shifting, to save time, to bring your ummm… to bear over the urinal quicker? Or do you use the safety and keep your fly zipped or buttoned?
I like manual safeties as stated upon drawing the safety is disengaged. Did this for years. If i have a weapon without the safety I still run my thumb against the slide/frame can’t seem to break the habit. Also I’m more concerned about holstering without a manual saftey
Not worried about the holstering, but training and practice with a safety, it becomes automatic to disengage the safety on the draw, and as you do, the thumb still sweeps the side to disengage when no safety, so there is no lost time, as it is all in the same movement.
But, holstering is not a problem, always check for shirt tails fingers and other obstructions before holstering, with or without a safety.
2 of my handguns have manual safeties, and one doesn’t. My thumb will still slide down on the de-cocker whenever I bring out my CZ. It has just become ingrained in my draw stroke now, and it doesn’t hurt anything when I’m working with the CZ