MODULE 1.2: Typical Safeties

Grip Safety
A grip safety is a lever or other device situated on the grip of a weapon which must be actuated by the operator’s hand as a natural consequence of holding the weapon in a firing position, in order for the weapon to fire. The M1911 is a popular handgun with a grip safety.

Traditional Double-Action semi-automatic pistols are designed to be carried with the hammer down (De-cocked) on a chambered round. The pistol is considered safe in this state, and the first trigger pull will both cock and fire. However, the act of chambering a round automatically cocks the hammer. In some designs, it is necessary to hold the hammer and carefully control its movement to the down position while pulling the trigger, in order to avoid an unintentional discharge.
A Decocker or decocking lever allows the hammer to be dropped on a live cartridge without discharging, via disengaging, retracting or covering the firing pin. This eliminates the need to control the fall of the hammer, although since all mechanisms can fail it is still necessary to keep the muzzle of the gun pointed in a safe direction while operating the decocker.
A decock/safety adds a safety function to the decock lever. This allows the gun to be carried as either a cocked and locked single action, or a traditional double action.
Examples of a decocking lever are many of the SigSauer line of pistols such as the Sig P226. The earliest use of a cocking/decocking lever is the Sauer 38H from 1938.

Firing Pin Block
A Firing Pin Block prevents the firing pin from traveling forward unless the trigger is pulled.

Magazine Disconnect
A magazine disconnect is an internal mechanism that disconnects the trigger of a firearm when its magazine is removed. As with any safety-equipped firearm, there is debate about the necessity of a magazine disconnect, which has been available on certain pistols since the beginning of the 20th Century. Most magazine capable firearms have no magazine disconnect.
The arguments in favor of a magazine disconnect are that if the gun cannot fire without a magazine, then an accidental discharge can be prevented if someone removes the magazine but forgets that a round has been chambered. Also, if losing possession of the firearm is imminent, its operator can render it useless by removing the magazine.
The arguments against a magazine disconnect are that without a magazine the firearm is useless except as a club. Without the feature, if a magazine was lost or otherwise not available, then at least the gun could be chambered with a single round to be used as a single shot weapon. From a technical standpoint, a magazine disconnect adds extra parts to a weapon and thus increases complexity which creates additional risk of component failure while potentially increasing production costs. In some cases, the disconnect adversely affects the trigger feel.
Some experienced firearms operators see little value in having a magazine disconnect due to their belief that proper handling and care can offer equal safety. Some also see magazine disconnects being introduced as a way to appease anti-gun politicians and hope to prevent them from forcing such features onto guns by law.

Other Safeties
Examples of the variety of typical semi-auto mechanisms are a stiff double-action trigger pull with the safety off (Beretta 92), a double-action with no external safety (SIG-Sauer P-series, or Kel-Tec P-32), or a crisp single action trigger pull with a manual safety engaged (M1911 and certain configurations of the HK USP). An alternative are striker-fired or “safe action” type weapons which have a consistent trigger pull requiring force greater than required by a single-action design, but lighter than needed for a double-action trigger. Many such weapons do not have an external safety or external hammer (Glock pistols and the Walther P99 and variants). In both cases, the action is very simple—a trigger pull always sends a discharge—and there are internal safeties to prevent non-trigger-pull discharge (e.g., dropping the gun).


Almost all modern handguns, except some exact replicas of antique models, have safeties to prevent accidental discharge and have one or more safeties that require an intentional trigger pull to make the gun discharge. However, the exact configuration depends on handgun type, year, make, and model.

Double-action revolvers
On double-action revolvers, there are no external safety devices; a trigger pull will always result in firing, unless the chamber being indexed into battery is empty. In general, the heavy trigger pull required to cock and then fire the weapon prevents accidental discharges from dropping or mishandling the gun. In addition to that fact, most modern double-action revolvers do have an internal safety, either a hammer block or a transfer bar, that prevents firing not originating from a trigger pull (e.g., gun is dropped).

Single-action revolvers
Single-action revolvers have no external safeties, and they usually have no internal safeties, such as a hammer block or transfer bar, to render them drop-safe. Real antiques are in this category; modern replicas may have hammer blocks. Therefore, carrying them with a loaded chamber under the hammer is not safe. When they are carried (concealed or openly), the hammer should be left down on an empty chamber.


When do you carry out Safety Procedures? 
  •  When receiving a firearm or removing it from a GUN SAFE.
  • Before handing a firearm over to someone else.
  • Before cleaning a firearm
Safety Precautions should be carried out in the following way: Safety Procedures for a Pistol
  • Identify a safe direction
  • Point the firearm in the safe direction, keeping your finger off the trigger.
  • Ensure Safety catch is on.
  • Remove the magazine.
  • Cock pistol open and inspect the chamber and magazine well.
  • Release the slide.
  • Do not replace the magazine.
Safety Procedures for a Revolver
  • Identify a safe direction
  • Point the firearm in the safe direction, keeping your finger off the trigger.
  • Press the cylinder release catch and open the cylinder.
  • Visually inspect each chamber to ensure that they are indeed empty.
  • Use the ejector rod to remove any rounds in the chambers of the cylinder.
  • Close the cylinder


  •  Contact the range officer beforehand to ensure you understand all special arrangements of that specific range where applicable
  • When you arrive at the shooting range your firearm must be in a holster, bag or manufacturers’ box. Do not carry your firearm in your hand.  This is unprofessional and will lead to cancellation of your assessment
  • When you are on the range and need to leave for an emergency you must obtain permission from the range officer
  • No cellular phones, no alcohol or any form of drugs are allowed on the range.
  • You will only load your firearm on the command of the range officer
  • You only fire when the range officer gives his or her commands. It is critical that a shooting exercise is completed orderly.  If you ever find yourself in a position where an exercise is not orderly or safe, rather leave and report this.  Don’t be a part of statistics.
  • Eye and ear protection is compulsory even if you are not participating in the shooting activities. The ability to have the sense of hearing and seeing is a privilege, “keep it that way”
  • Do not handle a firearm if someone is in front of you
  • Firearms must always point downrange at the backstop wall
  • Know where the designated safe direction is and only use that as a safe direction.
  • Make sure you know where to shoot from, if not ask the range officer
  • Never turn around when on the firing line. There is not excuse
  • Follow the range officer’s commands at all times
  • Do all exercises as explained by the range officer. If you don’t understand his or her explanation, it is your responsibility to ask
  • If your firearm jams or malfunctions go to the kneeling position and correct this. If this is a major malfunction, unload your firearm and wait until the exercise is completed.
  • No children are allowed on the range.


9.1. Eye Protection
Wear eye protection as required by the Range Officer to protect your eyes against gun residue, backlash or pieces of metal, sand or other target bits.

9.2. Ear Protection
  • This is compulsory. When firing small calibre, you might not feel the need to protect your ears.  You need to understand that the damage caused by a small calibre can affect your years after the incident.
  • With larger calibre, you might feel the damage there and then
  • When you use, this equipment ensure that it was manufactured for this purpose. Ear protection used in the building industry might not give adequate protection.


Dangers of different carry conditions

Condition 1:
Full magazine, round in chamber, hammer cocked and safety on.
The user of the firearm must remember that the safety catch has been applied and the user should be trained not to forget this in a combat situation. Some of the safety catches don’t lock all the moving parts of a firearm, they simply lock the trigger. A hard knock or dropping the firearm can make it fire. Remember, the safety catch is only a mechanical device and prone to malfunctions.
Condition 2
Full magazine, round in chamber, hammer forward
This mode is unsafe unless the firearm is equipped  with an inertia firing pin. Many pistols do not have inertia firing pins, so the hammer is resting against the base of the firing pin, with the nose in direct contact with the primer, a sharp tap or a fall can cause the round to fire. If a firearm in the half cock position is dropped and if the sear snaps, there will be sufficient energy to drive the inertia firing pin forward to fire the waiting cartridge
Condition 3
Full magazine, no round in chamber, hammer forward.
This condition is very safe but unwise for a possible combat situation because of the delay caused by cycling the first round into the chamber manually.  This condition has a high psychological value due to  the fact that cycling the round shows that you are gun-ready.
Condition 4
Full magazine, no round in chamber, hammer cocked for easier loading
This condition makes cycling for people with poor hand or wrist strength easier.  It is unwise for a possible combat situation due to the delay caused by cycling the first round into the chamber manually. It should be remembered that the level of threat should in all cases determine the type of carry  condition
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