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Thread: Thumb on top of safety, do you use this method?

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    I've noticed that many books, articles, and courses teach one to keep the thumb pressing the safety down, at all times when firing. This then causes issues with the grip safety, on some pistols. (I'm speaking mainly of 1911's here.)

    The theory is that recoil can make your thumb "jump" up and flip the safety off. I've never had this happen in decades of shooting. I would say if that was occuring, then the person isn't gripping the gun tight enough or the recoil might be too much for that person and they might need to consider another caliber or gun.

    We generate the greatest gripping strength using our thumb and index finger and having the thumb up so high is not allowing one to grip the gun tightly. If this procedure is meant in case one's shooting hand is damaged in a gun fight, then that is time to shift to your other hand. You do pratice"weak hand" shooting, I assume.

    What are your opinions on this? Maybe you can make me see the light as none of the reasons make sense to me. Yes, I have fired many .45's, 10mm, 44 magnum, etc. and I've never had my thumb flip the safety on.

    open4years



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    Campaign Veteran Bookman's Avatar
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    This sounds like a really quick way to bleed.
    "All that is required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing." - Edmund Burke


    "I like people who stand on the Constitution... unless they're using it to wipe their feet." - Jon E Hutcherson

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    Sounds like a 'solution' from self-proclaimed experts in search of a problem.

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    I discovered the thumb on safety technique from Todd Jarrett who is a very well known shooting expert. I tried his technique and found it to be extremely useful and increased my accuracy exponentially.

    Disclaimer: This technique may not be acceptable or viable for all shooters. You may have your own opinions of Mr Jarrett; I have mine.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysa50-plo48

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    Tried it, didn't work for me. I've never had a problem with my thumb unintentionally pushing up the safety, either.

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    One good thing about guns with no safety leversis that there areno worries about accidently engaging one.

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    My Daughter carried a Makarov and her thumb did, indeed, force the safety up and caused a failure to fire.....more than once. The safety and firing pin even came off and pin was lost.

    Dear old Dad fixed it for her and it started to happen again. When she visited, I found the safety spring was weak and fixed that. She fell in love with one of my CZ82s and we swapped.

    It is kinda rare, but it does happen, though I would NOT recommend putting thumb ON TOP of safety.The Mak is the only pistol I have found to do that....though there may be others.

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    On a Springfield EMP, my thumb has activated the safety. So when I shoot one, my thumb is on the safety.

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    This wouldn't work on the Mak IJ-70 I'm carrying. The safety is on the slide.

    I suspect this depends entirely on where the location of the safety lever is, in relation to the thumb while fireing.

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    even If I were to accidentally hit the safety lever on my pistol, it would likely result in damage to the lever rather than engaging the safety. I carry a Hi-point C9, and the way they are designed, part of the function of the safety is to engage a small notch in the slide. I highly doubt that I will "accidentally" engage it while firing.

    here is the problem as I see it with developing any form of "universal" technique. every gun is different, and every hand that those guns go into is different. while I understand that most techniques are nothing more than variations on mainline universal techniques, each one will have to be adapted to suit the user, and the weapon that they are operating.
    while virtually everyone hails the traditional weaver stance as "the" gun grip to use, quite frankly I find that a good supported grip works much better for me .

    I would personally reccomend for people to modify traditional techniques to suit them, and not the other way around.

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    unreconstructed1 wrote:
    even If I were to accidentally hit the safety lever on my pistol, it would likely result in damage to the lever rather than engaging the safety. I carry a Hi-point C9, and the way they are designed, part of the function of the safety is to engage a small notch in the slide. I highly doubt that I will "accidentally" engage it while firing.

    here is the problem as I see it with developing any form of "universal" technique. every gun is different, and every hand that those guns go into is different. while I understand that most techniques are nothing more than variations on mainline universal techniques, each one will have to be adapted to suit the user, and the weapon that they are operating.
    while virtually everyone hails the traditional weaver stance as "the" gun grip to use, quite frankly I find that a good supported grip works much better for me .

    I would personally reccomend for people to modify traditional techniques to suit them, and not the other way around.
    I agree with you and with almost all of you. As was said, this position can cause loss of flesh in the web of the hand. Not good. It would also seem that your thumb would be in very close to a moving slide, also not good.

    I brought this up as I've considered going to one of the top "extensive" training courses and I know some instructors are ex-military and have an abrasive manner (No offense to those who have served.) and, from what I've read, they force their grip method on you whether you agree or notl They think it is the only way to hold a gun. I guess I could take a Glock but I don't know if that would make a difference.

    I saw a picture, in a gun magazine, of one holding a Glock, aiming at a target and he had his thumb up high as if he was pressing down on a non-existent safety. He might have had one added but I suspect he was trying to show the "correct" method.

    Thanks for the feedback.

    open4years

    (By the way, open4years means many years,not four! 4 was my abbreviation for "four. "I've been carrying openly on a regular basis since 1995.

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    My two semi-autos are Walthers, a PPK/s and a P.38. I carry them eith the safety ON and practice drawing them in a manner in which my thumb flicks the safety OFF in the course of the draw. I do this because with the safety ON, if a BG (or an obnoxious drunk) snatches my sidearm I will have a second or so to cold-cock the idiot. And seeing how the safeties are mounted on the slide itself on these particular pistols, a proper grip precludes an inadvertent engagement of the safety.

    While I respect the decisions of my bretheren and sisteren who choose to carry an M1911 "cocked and locked" with the safety on, and do not disparage their choice of weaponry, the old-fashioned Walther decocking safety provides a level of security and comfort that I personally find re-assuring.

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    Felid`Maximus wrote:
    One good thing about guns with no safety levers¬*is that there are¬*no worries about accidently engaging one.¬*
    One good thing about 1911s is there are no worries about accidentally engaging the thumb safety.

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    I tried this way of shooting a 1911 and like it a lot better than any other way. It seems to help a lot to control muzzle flip than any other grip. Too each his own.

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    marshaul wrote:
    Felid`Maximus wrote:
    One good thing about guns with no safety leversis that there areno worries about accidently engaging one.
    One good thing about 1911s is there are no worries about accidentally engaging the thumb safety.
    Well, since the 1911 still has a manual safety, there is still a chance that somebody shooting a 1911 will have the safety on when they didn't want it to be on. Maybe not for you due to your skill and habits, butprobably someone once aimeda 1911 perfectly only for the trigger not to work due to the safety being engaged. Hopefully they were at a shooting range.

    I'm not meaning necessarily because the thumb activated it during recoil. There are many ways a safety could become activated, including the user intentionally or subconsciously activating it and then forgetting.


    I've got nothing against safeties, people should use them if they like them.I useguns with safeties sometimes and am not too concerned.I just like the simplicity of a revolver where it is just point and shoot.

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    I don't understand how you can activate the safety on a 1911 by firing it. How the heck are you holding it? The pistol recoils up and back, rotating away from the thumb's usual position. If this happens, make sure the spring that holds the safety in the on or off position is strong enough. When you move the lever, it should make a nice snap into position.

    As for the technique, I do not like the idea of putting my thumb that close to the moving slide. Especially if you're in a hurry, you might put flesh where it doesn't belong, and ouch! Maye if I saw somebody do it in front of me and show me why it's a good idea, but a big maybe.

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    This isn't an issue with my Bersa Thunder .380.
    President/ Founding Member
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    What safety? See sig image to left <------

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    Tomahawk wrote:
    I don't understand how you can activate the safety on a 1911 by firing it. How the heck are you holding it? The pistol recoils up and back, rotating away from the thumb's usual position. If this happens, make sure the spring that holds the safety in the on or off position is strong enough. When you move the lever, it should make a nice snap into position.

    As for the technique, I do not like the idea of putting my thumb that close to the moving slide. Especially if you're in a hurry, you might put flesh where it doesn't belong, and ouch! Maye if I saw somebody do it in front of me and show me why it's a good idea, but a big maybe.
    I only do it when shooting the EMP. A full size or commander version I don't have a problem with flicking the safety to the safe position. Since there isn't much realestate, my thumb just seems to hit the safety just right in recoil to activate it. I've shot this way on the EMP for a while and I've never lost any flesh on my thumbs. No FTF or FTE either.

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    eyesopened wrote:
    Tomahawk wrote:
    I don't understand how you can activate the safety on a 1911 by firing it.
    I only do it when shooting the EMP. A full size or commander version I don't have a problem with flicking the safety to the safe position.
    Ah, the EMP's the small 9mm 1911, right? I guess the small size would make it possible.



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    Tomahawk wrote:
    eyesopened wrote:
    Tomahawk wrote:
    I don't understand how you can activate the safety on a 1911 by firing it.
    I only do it when shooting the EMP. A full size or commander version I don't have a problem with flicking the safety to the safe position.
    Ah, the EMP's the small 9mm 1911, right? I guess the small size would make it possible.

    I still don't see how it could happen. I have a Colt .380 in 1911 safety style, along with a .25 auto with a big safety and I've NEVER had my thumb flip the safety on with these or any of my guns.

    Perhaps I grip my gun tighter than some, I'm not sure. I have large hands yet I don't have a problem. Maybe it only happens in a gun fight!

    open4years

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