Handgun Safeties

Handgun Safeties

Purpose of the Pistol Safety

Think of the safety as your seatbelt in a car. Just as a seatbelt helps to prevent serious injury during an accident, the safety on a pistol is designed to help avoid accidental discharge, making it safer to handle. It works by blocking the pistol from firing until you intentionally switch the safety off.

However, just like wearing a seatbelt doesn't give you a free pass to drive recklessly, having the safety engaged on a firearm doesn't mean you can be careless with it. Even with the safety on, things can go wrong. A mechanical failure or a simple user error could potentially cause the pistol to fire. So, while the safety is a vital tool that significantly reduces the risk of accidental discharge, it's not foolproof. It's crucial to always remember the fundamental safety rules when handling a firearm and use good old common sense. The safety feature is there to assist, not to replace safe handling practices.

Different Pistol Safety Mechanisms

Pistols come with various safety mechanisms, which can be classified into external (manual) and internal (automatic).

Manual Safeties:

  • Thumb safety, often found on the frame of the pistol, prevents the trigger from being pulled or the hammer from striking the firing pin.
  • Grip safety is a lever that, when at rest, rests against the sear, blocking the trigger from traveling far. The grip safety is disengaged when the shooter has a firm hold on the pistol’s grip.
  • Trigger lever safety is designed to function like the grip safety. To disengage it, you need to press the lever fully into the trigger bow.
  • Decocker safely lowers the hammer without the risk of discharging a round.

Internal Safeties:

These are mechanisms that are built into the design of the firearm. For instance, Glocks and the Sig Sauer P320 have internal safeties that prevent accidental discharge even when the gun is dropped. Take Glock, for instance. The Glock Safe Action system comprises three passive, independently operating safeties: the trigger safety, the firing pin safety (a mechanical block that prevents the firing pin from moving forward unless the trigger is pulled), and the drop safety (prevents the trigger from moving backward in the event the gun is dropped.) On the SIG P320, the primary safety is a lock lever designed to catch the striker in case of malfunction, preventing it from hitting the primer. The second safety is the disconnector that prevents the pistol from discharging when the slide is drawn backward. Finally, there's a backup sear notch that catches the striker if it inadvertently slips off the primary sear surface.

At GRITR Sports, we offer a wide range of pistol safety mechanisms, including the highly sought-after 1911 ambi safeties.


What is the purpose of the safety on a pistol?

The safety on a pistol is designed to prevent the firearm from discharging accidentally. It's a device that blocks the gun's action, ensuring safer handling by preventing it from firing until the safety is intentionally disengaged.

Can a gun fire even if the safety is on?

While the safety mechanism is designed to prevent accidental discharge, there can be instances when a firearm discharges even with the safety engaged due to mechanical failure or user error. Therefore, always handle firearms with care and never rely solely on the safety mechanism.

Do all guns have a safety?

All modern firearms incorporate some form of safety mechanism, whether it's a manual safety that can be turned on and off or an internal safety system that works automatically. Always check the specifications of your particular firearm to understand its safety features.